Marriage basics 101: Sex
Remember the four big sources of marital discord? ---kids, money, in-laws, and sex. Today’s blog is all about sex!
When couples first connect, sexual energy runs high. Perhaps this is the “chemistry” part of love. Most couples enjoy their attraction and contact. If they are young, (e.g. first marriage), they have plenty of energy, few distractions (no kids yet), and lots of libido. There is plenty of wood on the fire.
But as time goes on in the early years of marriage, sexual problems can emerge. Pregnancy, childbirth and babies can put a damper on sexual energy. The first year of family life is challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, and at times overwhelming. It is not usually a high point in a couple’s sexual relationship! Children bring a fundamental reordering in a marriage.
Furthermore, men and women are very different when it comes to sexuality. It is relatively easy (sometimes too easy) for men to achieve an orgasm. For women though, it can take longer and other factors come into play. For women, and many men, sexual function is impacted by fatigue, emotional state, preoccupations, health status, tension level and timing.
Over time, the frequency in which men and women make love can change too, due to the many circumstances of life. Now there are other priorities which were not in play during the early years of marriage. An adult can develop health problems which may reduce sexual desire. Long hours developing a career can diminish libido. Making time for love is more challenging and requires more intention. Those spontaneous moments of passion may be less frequent or seemingly, in the distant past.
Other concerns may emerge that were not present in earlier years. Many adults are not entirely comfortable with their bodies. They may have gained weight, are less physically active, or are more distracted, making it difficult for them to be really “in” their bodies and in the moment. All of these factors can affect sexuality.
Familiarity can also breed a lack of passion. The excitement of discovery may evolve into tedium. Couples can become bored with their sexual relationship.
Here are some tips on keeping the home fires burning!
Don’t rely on mind reading! Humans stink at it! In the early phases of relationship, initiating sex comes naturally. But as your life develops more moving parts, it’s harder to be spontaneous. Interestingly, humans often depend on “signals” to let their partner know they are interested in sex--a certain look, a touch, or an oblique reference. But don’t let sign language get in the way of good, old fashioned talk--like “How about making love tonight?” This is not against the law and gives your partner a chance to think about if he’s in the mood, or could get in the mood. This doesn’t mean you have to give up on spontaneous, in the moment, sex. It’s just helpful to have a couple of different ways to reach your goal.
Talk about your sexual relationship. I know that this can be hard. It is easy to feel embarrassed, awkward or defensive. But talking is the best way we have to understand each other’s needs. Sometime, when all is good, take the time to discuss how you can make your love life even better! Anything can be improved. Don’t talk when either partner is feeling angry or hurt.
Be in your body! Physically active adults have more sex drive and have more body awareness than sedentary ones. Duh! If you don’t use it, you lose it -in more ways than one. Getting sweaty together can start at the gym, on a hike or on a bike. And, it can end, you know where!
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