Marriage + Sex = Boredom?

If you’ve watched VH1’s “Single Ladies”, (as I do religiously), then you would have recognized that the writers do a pretty good job of representing the life of the single lady as one that is fairly exciting. From the array of different men these gorgeous, well-dressed divas get to date, one would assume that singleness is all sexy fun to the hilt. Of course the girls do have their share of heartbreaks but as television goes, this is often remedied by the next hot dude to come along; an option which we married people should not even allow to cross our minds.

This brings me to the question of marriage and how it is represented in the movies. Since Hollywood pays scant attention to giving on screen marriages the same type of steamy, passionate scenes often afforded to singles “playing the field” or hooking up, many are fed the subliminal message that marriage plus sex equals boredom with a capital B. Many actually fear marriage because they assume it will spell the death of passion and excitement. While admittedly a long-term relationship like marriage will have its own set of challenges because a couple can become accustomed to each other, this should not automatically signal the end of romance and passion; especially if a couple is diligent about their relationship.

In my recently published book, “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain!” I seek to dispel the common myth which suggests that the quality of sex in marriage is necessarily poor. Read the following excerpt, to catch my thoughts on this issue.

MYTH 2: Marriage often signals the end (or at least the slow death) of regular, passionate, uninhibited sex. 

FACT: Not only has research shown that married people have the most sex but the regularity also means that they get to practise knowing each other’s bodies pretty well. This “practice-makes-perfect” routine means that far from inculcating boredom, husbands now have the opportunity to become the connoisseur of one woman’s body as opposed to being the mediocre player of several; the same holds true for women. Women also get to bask in the security of a committed relationship and can grow sexually with their partners from orgasmic strength to orgasmic strength.

Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, agrees with this premise when she states that “a woman’s sexual interest is greatest when she’s in a stable relationship.”  Another study conducted at the University of Chicago by the National Health and Social Life Survey, confirms that it is far more likely for unmarried women to experience anxiety about sexual performance hence hindering their ability to climax when compared to married women. How does this translate? Married women, by virtue of the emotional security they feel, tend to be more sexually confident and therefore more sexually responsive and orgasmic than women in other types of relationships.

The stability of marriage not only increases a woman’s desire for her partner but research has also shown that her husband’s sexual responsiveness as controlled by his testosterone levels, also becomes regulated by his wife’s menstrual cycle and by her own hormone levels. In fact, women in their twenties who have sex less than once a week have been found to have problems with ovulation, with regular menstrual cycles and even with maintaining regular sexual desire. This strengthens the notion that the regularity of marital sex can filter down and have a positive impact on all other areas of a woman’s reproductive health, thereby, increasing her sense of well-being.  And what do we want to do most when we feel well? Have more great sex of course!

Far from decreasing the incidences for passionate encounters, the psycho-emotional effects of the marital bond should encourage couples to work on the quality of their sexual relationship. Great sex is not so much about meeting the national average as it is about each couple finding and perfecting their own dance. At the same time, we don’t deny that the more a couple has sex, the greater their desire for each other will be.

© 2012 Denise J Charles   Taken from: “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain!”

It Takes Two To Tango

It’s the common, old, chicken and egg scenario, when we examine the issue of a lack of sex in marriage. Does a flawed or strained relationship lead to a decrease in sexual activity or does a decrease in sexual activity cause a flawed or strained relationship? Which comes first? Well your guess may be as good as mine but I think that there is perhaps a significant amount of dove-tailing between these two issues.

For most of us women, we need to feel loved and appreciated outside the bedroom before we can comfortably get our groove on with our man. So that loving phone call just to see how our day is going or neck massage just after we walk through the door, can go a long way towards heating things up a bit later. Since we also love to talk, when our man takes the time to communicate with us, it sends the signal that we are important enough for him to step outside his own comfort zone just in order to connect with us; especially since most men don’t relish talking. But this begs the question of how we should respond to our spouse’s amorous moves when the relationship leaves a lot to be desired.

What if he never calls during the day or fails to show sensitivity on our hormonally-challenged days? What if he never really talks to us nor rubs our tired feet at night? Should we still give in to sex when our emotional needs clearly aren’t being met? If we do pull away sexually, is there any hope for healing in the relationship?

Most husbands I have spoken to have given a resounding “IT’S VERY IMPORTANT!” to the question of what sex means to them. We all know that for most men, sex is akin to breathing oxygen. They are energized, revived and defined by it. Truth be told; sex does a lot of this for us women as well. The defining difference between us, however, tends to be how we engage our desire for sex. We women tend to be more holistic individuals who are all about the overall health and tone of the relationship.  This is why when our partners are inattentive or insensitive, many of us literally shut down sexually; we’re having none of that “coochie” stuff when there is tension brewing between us. Conversely, our partners tend to want to use the old “roll in the hay” ploy, to solve all manner of problems. So, we’re acting angry and upset with them but they want to caress our “you know what” to get us in the mood. Most of us women aren’t the least bit interested in this, until we can at least talk it over.

So how do we move our marriages forward when the tensions produce a lack of interest in sex?  What if the sex is so bad that we’ve lost enthusiasm and this begins to fuel even more tension? There will probably be no improvement until we can both step back a bit from our own personal desires, to see what is best for the relationship. Am I suggesting that we put our personal needs, preferences and requirements on the back burner? You bet I am! There is not a successful marriage or intimate relationship alive that can survive without some element of sacrifice. I’m sorry, but unlike some relationship idealists, I’m not a firm believer in any such thing called a fifty-fifty relationship.  From my own personal and counseling experience, they just don’t exist!  What I can say, is that the same person shouldn’t always have to do the sacrificing in order to preserve the sanity of the relationship. When the woman always gives in, or the man always has to set his needs aside, then there is a decided lack of balance which can backfire. Nevertheless, I don’t believe that it’s useful to measure which partner does it more than the other; this is counterproductive and can fuel resentment.

While we may never solve the chicken and egg conundrum, we can both learn to work together to make our ‘sexual tango’ less of a fight and more of a dance. To the men who want to experience a vibrant sex life and to the women who desire a more whole and satisfying relationship, the following tips may prove useful:

Advice for Men
• Know your wife and honour her preferences;  if she needs an apology before you attempt to do the tango then be big enough to  say “I’m sorry” before you’re even tempted to touch
• Don’t allow arguments and disagreements to brew overnight if you can help it; in other words, don’t let the sun go down on your wrath (and then expect to touch that smiling “happy face” next morning)
• Your wife is turned on by talk; so talk to her and not at her
• Be kind and thoughtful always,  especially when there’s no ulterior motive; you can never give your spouse too much attention
• Don’t assume you’re a fantastic lover; ask her first
• Try not to act as though sex is an end in itself; this signals that you believe that it’s all about you; instead use it to convey love and intense passion that is specific to your spouse. Take heed to Rihanna’s song and make her feel like she’s “the only girl in the world”; the object of your affection.

Advice for Women
• Accept that sex is super-important for  your spouse and is  most likely his preferred method of communication
• As much as you may be tempted  to, don’t use sex as a means of reward or punishment; this belittles what should be a super-significant part of your relationship
• Understand that  when there is  no sex,  you are also depriving yourself of the pleasure you deserve; it’s definitely a lose/lose  situation
• The prolonged absence of physical intimacy (except in cases of illness) is likely to drive you farther apart so don’t instigate or encourage it
• Try to separate the unsettling incident from your spouse; confront the issue without tearing him to pieces; when you belittle your partner it will be even harder to find him sexually appealing
• Use your sensuality as a gift and allow your sex to strip down barriers between you and your spouse; sex can become a gateway to deeper communication and understanding if you allow it to.

Extra Large Condoms and Other Urban Legends

The following excerpt from a chapter of my latest book,  How To Have Mind Blowing  Sex Without Losing Your Brain! looks at the issue of sexual myths and zeroes in on the major myth of penis size. I thought it would be great to have my on-line readers celebrate my book’s first year in publication (August 2011).  For more great reading on sex,  follow the link here if you’re interested in purchasing the kindle version from Amazon. For paper-back editions e mail us: betterblends@gmail.com

Extra Large Condoms and Other Urban Legends: De-Bunking Popular Sexual Myths

Men are savage sexual beasts who are always ready to have a go at it and women love to say “no” when what they really mean is “yes” with a capital “Y”. If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had your fill of these and other sexual myths or misconceptions. How can we hope to enjoy the best sex ever, if our minds are filled with faulty ideas and ill-conceived notions about male and female sexuality? I contend that unless we get our “stinking-thinking” right, we have a challenge on our hands. I am not simply talking about our flawed ideas about the sex act itself or about the logistics of sex but at a deeper level, I’m thinking more about our ideas and attitudes towards our own sexuality.

For example, as a child growing up, there was a popular notion that women past a certain age didn’t enjoy sex but “gave it up” as in surrendered it for more worthy pursuits, usually described somewhat euphemistically as “serving the Lord”. So peri-menopausal or menopausal women regularly believed that subsuming their sexuality at this point in their lives, was a preferred behaviour. This was after all an integral part of the self-sacrifice which resulted in higher levels of spirituality; or so they thought. Conversely, notions about male sexuality emphasised an instantaneous readiness for sex that did not depend on knowledge, relationship or even polite conversation; and to boot, this insatiable hunger changed little with age! As a result, while women were being taught to subsume their sexuality at varying points in their lives, men were being taught to unleash theirs, regardless of the consequences.

I believe that there are many social cues relayed through casual conversations or learned through observation which continue to have an impact on the psychology of sex. Although space will not permit us to challenge each faulty notion which may exist, we will continue in this chapter by attempting to unravel some of the more popular misconceptions which can impact our sexual self-concept and by extension affect the way we navigate our sexual relationships.

MYTH 1: The size of the male penis is paramount for a woman’s pleasure.
FACT: There is a standing joke that there really is no need for extra-large condoms because such men who claim to need them, really only have extra-large egos. Whether you agree with this evaluation or not, there is no denying the fact that we live in a phallus-dominant society (that is, a society where everything important to man is built to resemble the penis). From the design of lipsticks, to pens, to gear-shifts and the obvious Obelisk in Washington, phallic symbols abound. This slew of everyday tools and implements designed by men, are thought to convey their ever-present obsession with their penis.

Let’s face it, men are not only seemingly defined by sex but they place great stock in the tool designed to do the job. I distinctly remember as a young girl growing up, noticing how many males would regularly cup or cradle their genitals when talking in social settings as if there was a constant need to affirm that it was still there. While some may think that this behaviour is ample proof of Freud’s “castration anxiety” theory; (the belief in an unconscious fear of penile-loss which develops during childhood and lasts a lifetime), I believe that it also confirms men’s tendency to externalise their sexuality.

The over-externalisation of sex involves a spiritual-emotional disengagement with the sex act by focusing primarily on the sex organ as the “tool” which does the job. In this paradigm of sex, it’s the penis doing the work and not necessarily the man per se. It is this type of thinking which has contributed to the obsession with penis-size. Not only do men believe that the size of their penis relates directly to their ability to give sexual pleasure but many women have themselves bought into this notion. Failure to reach a climax for these women, may therefore lead to the complaint that the “penis was too small”.

The fact remains, however, that the greatest sexual tool needed to enjoy great sex is the brain. How we feel about ourselves; our sexual self-concept, our ease and comfort with our sexuality and our thinking patterns with respect to sex, have a greater part to play in our enjoyment of the act than any old penis. It is a medical fact that the vagina is not a gaping hole to be filled or plugged; it is an expandable space. This simply means that it will normally adapt and adjust to the size of the penis which enters it. For women who have had children and who may experience some sense of “slackness” (actually overt stretching of the vaginal wall) this can be remedied by the regular exercising of the pelvic floor muscles (imagine stopping your urine flow) and by the selection of sexual positions which allow the female’s legs to be closed. For example, the couple can lie on their side, while the husband enters his wife’s vagina from the rear.

The overt reliance on the male penis as the source of all sexual pleasure has placed an undue sense of responsibility on men for the extent of female pleasure. Right thinking women, nonetheless, must own their sexuality and understand that the responsibility for their own pleasure first lies with their brains; their thinking of and attitudes towards sex. If you’re a man, a healthy, functional view of sexuality should also mean that you understand that women are far more concerned with how they are treated and valued in the context of a relationship, than they are with pure penis-size. The sexually whole woman wants to make love to her husband and lover, not just his penis.  

© Copyright  2011 Denise J Charles.

Are You Ready For Love?

ImageIf you’re single but dissatisfied with your status, you may be thinking that a relationship will set everything right. Sure, like any other person you imagined that by now you would have been married or at least settled in a serious relationship. You have no doubt carefully perused your internal list of requirements repeatedly but when it comes to a mate, no one you’ve dated so far has even come close.  Maybe there have been some exciting prospects in your past but then some mishap or the other snatched the possibility of your taking your relationship to the next level. But as anxious as you may be to get this aspect of your life all settled, are you really ready for love? Are you prepared to make the sacrifices required for a committed relationship, much less marriage? Do you have what it takes to tango with someone for the long haul?

The following twenty questions, while not exhaustive, (and their answers), should help you to determine how prepared you are for this next step. Read carefully and try to answer honestly without merely giving what you think the right answer should be. They are a great starting point for self-reflection and even for dialogue with friends.

  1. Do you love yourself?
  2. Are you actively pursuing your own life goals?
  3. Have you resolved past hurts from previous relationships or from your childhood?
  4. If such issues remain unresolved at the moment, are you at least aware of these hurts and actively seeking to put them in perspective?
  5. Do you really know what you want in a relationship?
  6. Do you expect that a relationship will make you feel whole or complete?
  7. Are you comfortable communicating your expectations?
  8. Is marriage a part of what you’re looking for in a love relationship or is it not a deal-breaker for you?
  9. Is marriage simply a legal contract to you for easy “bailing out” or is it a “higher-order” covenant?
  10. Are you prepared to practice sexual exclusivity?
  11. Are you prepared to establish adequate emotional boundaries with friends of the opposite sex, in order to protect your relationship from possible emotional infidelity/disloyalty?
  12. Are you willing to relinquish some of your independence or autonomy in favour of interdependence?
  13. Are you aware of the personal strengths which you can bring to a relationship?
  14. Are you aware of personal weaknesses which you need to work on?
  15. Are you prepared to compromise?
  16. Are you willing to sacrifice some personal preferences for the greater good of your relationship?
  17. How financially stable are you?
  18. Do you harbor childish/fairytale expectations about relationships or marriage?
  19. Do you expect your partner to be near perfect?
  20. Do you expect that your partner will meet all of your needs?

While relationship  readiness does not always mean having it all together,  your level of preparation and self-awareness will greatly increase your chances for relationship success.