How much sex is good for your relationship? There really isn’t a recommended daily allowance for sex, in either short or long-term relationships. People’s sex drives differ greatly and so are their desires. Some people seem to have high sex drives and when they match that with an equally high sex drive partner, they are in absolute heaven. Others, consider themselves lucky having a ‘quickie’ once a month while there are thousands of other people who  suffer from little or no sex in their relationships.

Sex is, underestimated in relationships. Women get to become familiar and comfortable with their post-marriage life; that of domestic bliss and incredible motherhood, while men get so absorbed with work and responsibilities that sex becomes a distant memory. Naturally, things can go the other way round too – it is an undeniable reality , though, that ‘for women, a drastic drop in the frequency of sex comes after childbirth. Often, in the years that follow women do find themselves extremely tired and insecure with their changing bodies to the point that sex doesn’t become a priority.’

When that happens and a couple suffers from a dramatic decrease of any kind of sexual interaction, ‘a deep valley of physical and emotional disconnect has forms that neither partner knows how to bridge. It seems that the longer a relationship goes without sex, the more difficult it is to revive the sex life.’

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Many relationship experts believe that that a happy and healthy partnership begins and ends with sex, without, of course, disregarding  the necessity or occurrence of the occasional ‘dry’ spell in relationships. Especially when they go through life changes, couples are not expected to be as sexually active as they were before.

Psychologist and author, Dr Sharita Shah says, “A physical level of intimacy is only natural and is necessary between a couple, to show a level of comfort and affection. Sexual intimacy is one of the best ways to do it. You may express emotions verbally but nothing says it better than physical intimacy. Everyone has urges, like hunger urges, sleep urges, even sexual needs are necessary and biological in nature”

We tend to talk a lot about sex. Not surprisingly, sex is one of the most popular subjects to talk  about amongst many social groups. We joke and laugh about sex, we dream of romantic sexual expectations, we discuss about sex problems with our girlfriends and we also read a lot of stuff on sex. Generally, people, and especially women think and talk about sex a lot! Just, not with their partners; and that is one of the biggest problems in relationships!

Having the ‘sex talk’ especially if you are not happy about the bedroom situation, is one of the most vulnerable conversation a couple can have. Often, we worry about how our partner will deal with such kind of discussion. We shut down and keep our thoughts and sex troubles to ourselves in fear of rejection, misunderstanding and of creating a rift in between us and our partner. We worry our true desires won’t be accepted or even worse; they will be judged.

[quote_box_center]It helps to understand that sex is more than physical. Gina Ogden, a marriage and family therapist and sexologist in Cambridge, Mass., has couples draw a circle and divide it into quadrants.
For each area, she asks the couple to ‘say where you were when you met, and where you are now.’
Physical. ‘Is your back hurting?’ ‘Are you comfortable having sex since you gave birth?’
Emotional. ‘I’d like to know more about your feelings.’
Mental or cultural. ‘Were you raised to believe sex was bad?’
Spiritual. ‘What is the meaning of sex in your life?'[/quote_box_center]

In somewhere around 18 months to three years, experts believe that love’s initial romantic phase is at its highest. In that period we are literally intoxicated with our partner and we just can’t get enough of intimate moments with him or her. During that period we find it easier to talk about sex.

In long term relationships, when routine settles in, the ‘sex talk’ doesn’t occur that often. Stress, work anxieties, children, lack of time, aging, bad relationships or medical issues are some of the most common emotional and physiological sex killers.

The longer a couple goes without sex, and physical intimacy, the more disconnected they feel from one another and the more they shift from lovers to housemates. Regardless of the reason as to why they don’t engage in any sexual activity, the result unfortunately, ends up being the same. In 2009, Cosmopolitan magazine found in a survey that ‘the main reason that men and women cheat is due to a lack of a satisfying sex life in the home.’

While men usually cheat to get more sex, boost their ego and self-esteem women fall for infertility often looking for attention and affection. Family therapist Winifred Reilly emphasizes that:‘women cheat in order to fill an emotional void. Women tell me, ‘I was lonely, not connected, I didn’t feel close to my partner, and I was taken for granted. They say they wanted to have someone who would look into their eyes and make them feel sexy again.’

Rutgers University biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her?and Why We Love, says ‘men are more likely to cite sexual motivations for infidelity and are less likely to fall in love with an extramarital partner. Women, she says, tend to have an emotional connection with their lover and are more likely to have an affair because of loneliness.’

Starting to talk about what bothers you and what is it you desire and need most out of your partner on the sexual front, is a must if you want to fix things between you. Pamela Madsen, a fertility and sex educator provides some tips for breaking the ice that will enable you to start talking about sex again with your partner:

  • Be gentle. Need an opening line? ‘I love you, and I’d like to feel more connected to you.’
  • Never discuss sex right after having sex (unless you have only good things to say). Sex therapists say the best place to discuss sex is out of the bedroom—in the kitchen while making dinner, on a walk, taking a drive.

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  • Realize that the discussion may take more than one conversation. You don’t have to knock it out all in one sitting.
  • Don’t ascribe blame. Don’t psychoanalyze. Just describe what you feel is the problem. ‘You seem much less interested in sex than you used to be.’ Ask if your partner has noticed this as well.
  • Tell your partner five to 15 things you really like about him or her. Never say, ‘If you loved me, you would…’

Can a relationship survive without sex? There is no easy or straightforward answer. Surely there are many people who claim to be in a sexless relationship and happily married at the same time. We have to also bear in mind, though, that years ago sex was still a taboo and expectations were different. Needs were also mostly suppressed and not easily or openly expressed.

Love is indeed the most important ingredient in a relationship but sex is what fuels passion in it. Years of research and observation has indeed shown that without having sex as a means of physically and intimately connecting with our partners, all the other areas of the relationship suffer dangerously.

Undoubtedly, sex is very important to both men and women and one of the most basic ingredients to a happy marriage and healthy relationship intimacy. It is equally important, though, for a long term relationship to not be solemnly based on sex!

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Still, most couples overlook the importance of sex in their lives and they tend to ignore the fact that ‘one of the most common denominators with people who cheat on their spouses or report unhappiness in a relationship is a lack of satisfying sex life.’ The reality remains that while love may get you through the happy times, sex can get you through the trials and tribulations.

If you don’t feel happy with the way your sex life is going in your relationship, don’t just settle; do something about it today. Make time to discuss your needs openly with your partner, actively listen and show understanding to his/her desires as well and negotiate a relationship that meets both your needs.
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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. There are two basic approaches. You can 1) grit your teeth and survive, or 2) you can move on to someone else. There is ALWAYS one partner in a sexless relationship who is THRILLED with that. Always. That’s their goal, that’s what they’re happy with. Changing that status quo will make them resent you as much as you do them, now.

  2. Like you said: there is always ONE partner in a sexless relationship who is thrilled with that – the other one isn’t. If there is no solution to the matter, perhaps the unhappy one should MOVE ON while the happy one should get together with another individual who would be thrilled in a sexless relationship. Thank you for commenting 🙂

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