Practically Married: Part 6 – Sex
It feels good, boosts your immune system, reduces stress, and unlike most other recreational activities you might choose, it’s free! There are so many great reasons to have sex, but the most important is that it increases the connection between you and your partner.
Although sex has all of these positive attributes, in some relationships it can be a source of tension. From demanding schedules, to low desire, to body image issues, maintaining a satisfying sex life can be a challenge in the best of marriages.
The good news is that having enough sex after marriage shouldn’t be quite as difficult as sitcoms and comedians would have you believe.
According to Quantum Love author and relationship expert Dr. Laura Berman, married people have more sex (including oral) than their single counterparts.
Surveys show that married couples have sex on average slightly more than once per week, with couples under age 29 reporting twice per week. People are often curious about such numbers, but sexual satisfaction in marriage is not measured by meeting (or exceeding) a statistic; it’s about spouses meeting each other’s needs for intimacy, frequency and variety.
Of course before you can meet your partner’s needs, you must understand what they are. A great way to learn is to start from the beginning and learn one another’s sexual histories. If you don’t already know these answers, start with:
- How did you first learn about sex?
- What was your first sexual experience like?
- Have you had any negative sexual experiences?
Sharing memories will help you understand each other better when it comes to sexual desires and inhibitions. You can also use this occasion to discuss your shared sexual history as a couple. It will benefit the relationship to be open about what has given you pleasure and a sense of connection, and what (if anything) has made you feel uncomfortable.
If you or your partner have complaints about intimacy, it’s crucial to explore the underlying causes in order to seek solutions. If there is a problem with sexual functioning, discussing concerns with a physician can lead to appropriate medical treatment. Psychological issues related to body image, depression, frequent viewing of pornography, or internalized messages about sex, might be best addressed with individual or couples counseling. Resentment over money issues, the division of household responsibilities or a lack of romance can also be the source of sexual problems. Again, identifying the cause is the first step in being able to negotiate (or renegotiate) a solution.
A lack of sexual frequency and satisfaction often has more benign origins such as fatigue, stress and difficulty finding time in overscheduled lives. This is particularly true as careers ramp up and children enter the picture. Although those issues are not always easy to address, when the sexual health of your marriage is at stake, it’s necessary to reprioritize your life in a way that creates opportunities for intimacy. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that sex has to be spontaneous to be satisfying. You may have to schedule it!
No matter the obstacles, it’s worth it to prioritize sex in your marriage. It provides an opportunity to connect with your spouse on an intense level and gives you a safe and accepting space to express your sexuality without worrying where the relationship is going. You can explore each other’s desires, and dream up new fantasies to try together. Long-term commitment gives you the time to learn ways to pleasure your spouse, and in turn, teach your spouse (through conversation as well as practice) how to sexually satisfy you.