You can’t have a marriage blog without talking about sex, right? Even the healthiest and happiest couples reach points in their relationships when sex becomes an issue. Sex is an important part of a marriage and we will share many future posts about the issue of sex. However, we want you to know a few basic things first. Based on what we hear and see in couples therapy everyday about the sexual struggles that can show up in a marriage, here are 8 things we want married couples to know about sex.
1)There are ebbs and flows of sexual satisfaction in every marriage.
We want you to expect a significant change in sexual desire, motivation and energy during major life transitions. High stress situations such as job changes, moves, having a baby, pregnancy, a death or significant loss and medical issues can all cause sexual desire to take a hit. If your sexual relationship is taking a negative turn during a major life transition, it does not necessarily mean it has become your new normal. However, once the waters have calmed and you notice sexual disconnection has continued, this may be a sign of other issues going on. Which leads us to our next point…
2) Sex is often not the root issue.
As marriage counselors, when we hear couples fight about sex, we think one main thought: “I wonder what is really going on here.” We wonder this because when relationships become distressed, sex is one of the first things to be impacted. Often, sexual issues are a reaction of something deeper in the relationship.
3) No two partners have the same sex drive.
It is normal and common for one partner in the relationship to have a higher sex drive than the other. It is quite impossible for two people to have exactly the same sexual needs and drive. What does this mean? Sexual differences do not need to create a divide, but rather, open the door for an honest conversation about needs. It is okay to say “I don’t have the same sexual drive as you….but, here is how I’m willing to meet your needs.” It is okay to say “I have a much higher sexual drive than you….but, here is how I’m willing to meet your needs.”
4) Handle past sexual experiences with care.
If either partner has a history of sexual trauma or negative experiences involving sex or sexual contact, sex can continue to be a sensitive subject in your marriage. We encourage you to share your sensitivities with each other and handle them with great care. We find that couples experience greater emotional connection and sexual satisfaction (what a nice combo!) when spouses understand any sensitivities or triggers due to any past negative sexual experiences or abuse.
5) You can’t ask for sex, but no other way to connect.
If you are desiring more sex from your partner but the ONLY time you express a desire for closeness is in when you are asking for sex, expect to be shot down. If your spouse has expressed concerns about distance or disconnection and the only thing they see you are concerned about is sex, they may start to resent sex altogether. If you are desiring more sex, you may think about other ways, in addition to sex, that you can reach out to your partner for closeness. Think about other ways you also enjoy closeness with your partner and ask for those things too. In doing so, you may find a more open and pleasant response when you initiate sex.
6) Women often need an emotional connection before a physical/sexual one. Men often need physical/sexual connection to lead to a deeper emotional connection.
Why did God do this? It makes no sense, in fact, it seems downright cruel. But John Gray, the author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, wrote a book about all these differences. Women are just wired differently. But, when we learn that our partner is not doing this on purpose, that it’s just part of their DNA, it can help lower walls, create compassion and get couples on the same page emotionally and physically.
7) Healthy couples talk about sex.
It can be uncomfortable, we know, but necessary. Clarify your wants with your partner. Maybe your spouse’s hope is to have sex three times a week while you were hoping three times a month. You may want sex to be spontaneous, while your partner wants to be seduced with a sexy text or note on the bathroom mirror to start the intrigue. You may not fully know your own wants, hopes or needs. Allow yourself to be introspective and give yourself permission to be honest about your own sexual desires. You may have no idea what your partner wants either, and you won’t if you don’t share it with each other.
8) Sex can save your life.
Truly! If you don’t believe us, Google it! There are so many health benefits related to sex. For example, oxytocin is released with an orgasm, which can lower stress. Sex can help with prostate cancer, lessen pain associated with migraines, help ward off depression, help the immune system, lower blood pressure, improve bladder control and…well, there are just too many to list. Soooo many benefits. We are not doctors and no, your husbands didn’t tell us to write #8 but it’s all true. I mean, Google doesn’t lie!!