In marriage unresolved conflicts can build up, or a general growing apart can occur, and this is often reflected in the couple’s sex life, or lack of it. Psychologists believe that sex is an important aspect of keeping a long-term relationship happy, and the connection between the two, strong. Evolutionary psychologists believe that since it is easier for two people to survive in the wild together than one, Mother Nature made sex pleasurable, to keep the two together, and help them stay connected while raising children. So then Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” from a psychology standpoint, does indeed occur. Since sex is a significant part of being a couple, it can actually heal problems on the relationship side of things. Let’s face it, when someone gives you pleasure, it is hard to stay angry, or act cold toward them. It can open up the channels of communication. Sex often leads to the two letting their guards down and in the end, finding common ground. Certainly, intercourse is not the answer to everything. But pleasurable, ongoing, satisfying sex can make you both feel worthwhile, desirable, and loved. The act of giving and being present with a lover can also communicate tenderness, and care in a special kind of way that words cannot express. This mutual expression of love breaks down the walls of resentment, frustration, or the feeling of just being taken for granted.
When the couple isn’t having sex, or isn’t interested, this is indicative of deeper issues. Suffice to say, there are several pitfalls that may ensnare couples on the path to long-term sexual and relationship satisfaction. One such problem, one person believes the quality or frequency of sex is insufficient. Due to this, they harbor resentment against the other. The one may become sarcastic, passive-aggressive or just lose enthusiasm. Oftentimes, it is the man who is disgruntled, though not always. To overcome this buildup of resentment, one person should find other ways in which they can be satisfied, while the other should find ways to satisfy their partner, without feeling as though it is some kind of defeat. For some couples, parenting can simply get in the way of a good sex life. There is nothing more unsexy than parenting. You focus completely on the kids and push your needs aside, in order to meet theirs. But your needs don’t disappear. They are still there, underneath the surface, and sooner or later must be met. It gets hard for some couples to find the balance between parenting, and giving their marriage attention, particularly when children are young and need so much care. But it is important to spend some time alone as a couple. Try to schedule it in, get a sitter, or leave them with the in-laws, and have some alone time.
There are those couples where, one or both people grew up in repressive households so they have difficulty communicating with their partner about sex. They feel ashamed. Their view is that sex isn’t a significant part of life or of a marriage. The problem is this tight view of sex can make a partner feel reticent and self-conscious when making a pass, trying to discuss a desire, need, or a fantasy, or talking about a problem with the other. Then between the two reside feelings of rejection and betrayal. Sex is an important unifier, keeping couples together. But there is a time when it needs to be renewed, reworked, renovated and done differently. Some couples however fall into a rut and struggle to break out of it. Psychologists say there is such a thing as Bed Death. Two such experts Michael Karson, Ph.D., and Kirsten Ging uncovered this phenomenon, first among lesbians and then among all other sexual orientations. Bed Death usually occurs after the couple has clocked 500 hours of sex. After that, both partners tend to lose interest. This is when the spark needs to be rekindled. Usually, the couple starts to think back to those heady days of yore, the honeymoon phase. You should never compare your sex life now to how it was back then. Nor should Hollywood or porn be your guides. Instead, use your shared sexuality as an exploration to find out more about yourselves, and one another. Have conversations to find out what really turns the other person on, why that is, and vice versa. Introduce novelty, intrigue, teasing, freedom, fun, and excitement. Make a time and space where it is free for you to play together. Plan out what you’d like to try and present it to one another. Explore not only what but why, and probe deeper into the psychology of yourselves, and each other. Sexuality is one of the avenues where we learn things about ourselves that often aren’t readily apparent in other spheres of life. There are plenty of other entrapments that couples can succumb to. But with loving care, an open-mind, good communication skills, patience, deep love and tenderness, nothing is so terrible that it cannot be overcome. For a little advice on how to reactivate the action in your marital bed read, Sex Full of Marriage: How to Spice up Your sex life and Keep it Interesting in the Bedroom by Debra Johnson.