Going through a rough patch with your partner can be a debilitating emotional experience — prolonged fighting and bitterness can make you feel more like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh than a functioning adult. And while rough patches can affect all areas of your life, they can be a total sex drive killer. Angry sex can sometimes be hot, but who wants to make love to someone they're pissed at for throwing a temper tantrum over the recycling?
"Not only can fights and overall stress affect arousal, but it can kill the connection and intimacy in a relationship altogether," says Kailen Rosenberg, a certified love, life, and relationship coach, as well as matchmaker and founder of The Lodge Social Club. "If experienced too often, [fighting] can destroy the true relationship and any opportunity for emotional trust for good."
Let's be clear: In long-term relationships, fights and rough patches are normal. Taking two complicated humans and trying to fit them together to form a relationship puzzle is one of the most difficult tasks on the planet, and any rom-com depictions of perfection are bullshit. However, constant bickering over small things — like clashing schedules, how to celebrate a holiday, or household chores — on a regular basis can be bad for your relationship. "When two people bicker, just the term alone shows the anxiety and the competitive need to be 'right,' which is problematic and dulling to anyone's sex life," Rosenberg says.
(Of course, these types of fights alone don't constitute emotional abuse, but you can take a look at the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's one-sheet overview if you think you might be experiencing any of the warning signs.)
The good news is, if it's just a rough patch, there are ways to push past the conflict and get back to a loving relationship. Ahead, we spoke to experts to get tips on how to regain intimacy and boost arousal after a rough patch.