I've interacted with thousands of married couples (both online and in person) and I've discovered an alarming trend along the way...most couples are discouraged by the state of their sex lives. Most of these couples aren't sure why their sex life is so disappointing, so they have no idea where to start to correct the problem.

Married couples shouldn't live in a perpetual state of sexual dysfunction and disappointment. I know the reasons that cause sexual tension can be very complex, but I'm convinced that the most common ten reasons are the ones below.

I hope this list helps spark some healthy dialogue in your marriage and you'll commit to working together to improve the sexual intimacy and satisfaction in your relationship. It takes more than sex to build a strong marriage, but it's nearly impossible to build a strong marriage without it!

(In no particular order):

1. Past abuse

Tragically, many people have experienced some form of sexual abuse in their past. Abuse can cause deep and lasting scars. If you're haunted by the pain of abuse, I encourage you to seek out counseling. Not just for the sake of your sex life, but for your peace of mind and emotional healing.

2. Hormonal imbalance

Sometimes, a lack of sex drive or satisfaction can be attribute to an imbalance of your hormones. If you think this might be an issue for you, ask your doctor. There are some very effective treatment options that will not only help with sex, but will often also help you feel much better overall.

3. Lack of communication

I'm amazed at how many couples simply don't talk about the sexual aspect of their marriage. Talk about it. Share your fears, your fantasies and your frustrations.

4. Secrecy

Secrecy is an enemy of intimacy. Sometimes a lack of connection sexually is a symptom of a deeper trust issue in the marriage.

5. Poor physical health

If you're out of shape, you're probably not going to have a vibrant sex life. Strive to make physical health (eating right, working out, etc.) a priority in your marriage. It will lead to more happiness and satisfaction both in and out of the bedroom.

6. Mental infidelity

This one is going to step on some toes, but true intimacy in marriage requires not only physical monogamy, but also mental monogamy. Porn and racy romance novels and rewired our brains to live in a fantasy world that doesn't involve our spouses.

7. Resentment

If there's a lack of forgiveness in your marriage, it will create a toxic force that will harm your sex life and most every other part of your relationship.

8. Feelings of inadequacy

We're bombarded by airbrushed images of physical "perfection" and they can lead to unrealistic expectations and feelings of inadequacy. If you've fallen victim to this, talk about it with your spouse. Build each others' confidence.

9. Sex as a bargaining chip

Whenever you take on the mindset that sex can be given as a reward or withheld as a punishment in your marriage, it cheapens sex and eventually causes resentment. When sex is seen as a transactional relationship (I'll do this for you if you'll do something for me), then your treating your spouse like a prostitute.

10. Exhaustion

For those of you who have young kids at home or crazy work hours, you know how exhaustion can take a toll on the libido.

11. You fill in the blank

No two relationships are exactly the same, so your main issue may be nowhere on this list. Whatever your struggle may be, talk about it with your spouse. Work together to find a solution. Your marriage is always worth fighting for!

This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.

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