You are a sexual person from the day you are born until the day you die. So why is it such a delicate and embarrassing topic for married couples to discuss, not only with each other but with their counselor? It’s typically the elephant in the room, but often at the core of what brings them to my office... at all ages and stages of marriage.
Normal couples have sexual problems. When 60% of people have ongoing sexual desire problems, and another 25% have them intermittently, by any scientific standard it's reasonable to say normal people have sexual desire problems. Arguably, you're abnormal if you don't!
Sex is an amazing way, over and over again, to connect and cement the bond between husband and wife throughout the lifetime of their marriage. A special connection we (should) share with no one else. But it also has the power to breakdown and destroy a marriage. Researchers are persuaded that regular sex keeps a marriage strong and fulfilled while lack of it has the potential to destroy any marriage. It is said that a couple living without sex will possibly separate within 12 months. But it can definitely be a Catch-22. Women need to feel satisfied emotionally in order to satisfy their husbands sexually. Men need to feel satisfied sexually in order to satisfy their wives emotionally.
When relationships are rocky, wives wait for their husbands to be more loving, more communicative, to spend more time together before they pay attention to their sexual relationship. Husbands wait for wives to be more sexy, flirtatious, and receptive to their sexual advances before they put energy into their relationships. As you might imagine, this can be a very, very long and lonely wait. Withholding sex is common among couples and can cause a lot of damage to the relationship.
Far too often I hear:
We’re too busy
We’re in a rut
I don’t enjoy it
We’re too tired
I’m not in the mood
It’s just not a priority
What’s the big deal
Unfortunately, I hear that mostly from the women… though there are exceptions. Research does show most women simply don’t think about sex as much as men do.
When women ignore their husbands sexual needs, husbands feel incredibly hurt, rejected and angry and they shut down. Basically, it becomes, “why should I give you what you need…” helping around the house, putting the kids to bed, etc., “if I’m not getting what I need?” And of course this is rarely outwardly said… but the actions are quite loud.
“We women think of sex as being primarily just a physical need for a man; but it isn’t. One of man’s deepest emotional needs is to feel that his wife desires him. It gives him a sense of well-being in all areas of his life. Shaunti Feldhahn, Researcher
The key to maintaining a vital sexual life with your spouse is to integrate intimacy, non-demand pleasuring. Intimacy is very misunderstood… as somehow sex and intimacy became one and the same. Sex without the intimacy is physical… the connection and bonding of a couple is not there. I have met many couples where sex is not an issue, but they have never truly been intimate with each other. It is important to be just as good a lover outside the bedroom as in the bedroom.
Communication is the key that unlocks sexual fulfillment. Communication is intimacy, especially for women. A 2011 study at John Hopkins School of Public Health revealed that sex is far more enjoyable for people who communicate, understand another person’s emotions, and empathize with their spouse. Precisely want a women needs to bring them to a point of desiring sex. FOREPLAY!
Over a series of four separate studies by Anik Debrot and colleagues (2017), they were able to pinpoint the way that everyday kissing, hugging, and touch between spouses contributes uniquely to relationship satisfaction and overall well-being. As the authors concluded, “Hence, sex seems not only beneficial because of its physiological effects… but because it promotes a stronger and more positive connection with the spouse.” Over time, such experiences build to strengthen the bonds between spouses, meaning that their long-term relationship satisfaction is bolstered as well.
It’s time to reevaluate our priorities. In healthy relationships, couples are willing to take care of each other’s needs. I get it… it’s a balancing act. But when we put everything else before our relationship… the kids, job, technology, sports, friends, etc., and that includes sex, your spouse and relationship suffer.
One final piece of this which can’t be ignored; the health benefits of marital sex. Research shows that having sex with someone you love is far better for hearts because genuine affection causes the release of higher levels of oxytocin, the love hormone. It’s proven to lower blood pressure and have a protective effect on your cardiovascular system. Check out the attached list, Emotional & Physical Benefits of Marital Sex.
Not to mention that “Sex adds years to your life”
Bottom line, we need more sex with our spouses because it matters. We need to make it a priority in our marriages, taking whatever steps necessary to STOP making excuses. We have to recognize and embrace that marriage and sex is about each person giving 100%. And it starts with YOU.