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.