There's a pattern I notice to couples who've stopped having:
- good arguments
- the ability to repair the bad ones
- satisfying, connecting sex
They've usually stopped talking first.
Sometimes they've fought the same fight (different content but same fight) over and over again, until they are both exhausted. Rather than risk another possible fight failure, they slowly stop talking and then avoid it altogether.
Or, they had sex that worked well for them--desire flowed, arousal happened, bodies functioned. And then it didn't; maybe one person got depressed or another couldn't get hard or resentment set in. (Anxiety and resentment rarely fuel sexual desire for your partner.) Maybe one person starts a self-critical loop about their body. Maybe someone had a child, lost a job, was injured. That's when couples make assumptions ("you don't desire me anymore," or "you never want sex" or "all you ever think about is sex")--rather than ask questions.
Some couples never learned to talk, at least not about anything challenging or difficult. They grew up in volatile, emotionally violent homes so they learned to lay low to protect themselves. . Or on the other end of the spectrum, they never saw adults really talk to each other; being polite and distant was seen as "proper."
There's a great quote by Timothy Ferriss that I think couples should memorize:
"A person's success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have."
So, if you don't know how to have a difficult conversation with your mate, there are lots of ways to learn. Try some books. (I suggest, "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone.") There are podcasts and TED talks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjY56aFwQus). Ask a friend to help you practice. Talk to someone you admire who seems comfortable telling the truth. Get advice from those you think handle difficult conversations well.
We owe it to ourselves and our important relationships to push through the discomfort and connect--when it's easy and when it's difficult.