Many couples face sex issues in marriage which is a primary areas of concern for maintaining the sexual intimacy in your married life. This is where the real struggle begins.
No doubt, that sex issues in marriage can encompass a great deal of our attention. As it gets a great deal of attention from our thought and in their symbolism.
In this article we will FOCUS on why lack of sexual intimacy can create unwanted boundaries in your relationship.
Here, we will look at sex. In particular, how sex moves us toward or away from WE.
Many of the premarital couples with whom I meet are quite open with each other about their sexuality.
For some reason, this seems to shift over time. As best as I can tell you, this seems to be the evolution of that shift:
In the early part of the relationship, both are more available about their sexuality, since there is little “baggage” in the relationship.
Then, over time, the frequency, timing, and type of sexual relating moves toward a more natural state for the individuals which leads to lack of sexual intimacy and sex issues in marriage.
Unfortunately, it is impossible for our preferences of frequency, timing and type of relating to be a direct match. There will always be a variance between two people.
At some point, usually late at night, one is interested in making love, and the other is not.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the time that many couples talk (argue) about their sexual relating.
One or both are hurt by the exchange, creating a small “nick” in the sexual self-esteem.
Now, that sexual self-esteem is held more closely and more personally than many other areas of self-esteem which again creates ignorance in a relationship.
Over time, these small “nicks” scar over until there is more scar tissue than healthy tissue.
Soon, the healthy discussions about the sexuality of the relationship disappear. Silence or arguing is all that remains.
Yet sex is one of the unifying aspects of marriage. It can be a source of intimacy or its demon.
There is the ancient Greek myth that originally, people were two headed, four armed, and four legged. But these people kept trying to get to the gods.
Over time, the gods tired of this behavior and decided to split the people in two.
The separation left male and female. And in sex, we are trying to unify our lost parts.
You don’t have to have any belief in the Greek pantheon of gods to see the symbolism so powerfully displayed in this story. Part of relating is an attempt to bring wholeness to us.
Remember the idea of complementarity, finding wholeness in relationship. Sex is the physical symbolizing of this.
In Christian faith, the idea of “two becoming one flesh” is also symbolized in sexual union.
While we might point the finger of blame at the church for many of our hang-ups about sex and our own sexuality,
Christian theology leaves us with a powerful image for the potential of sexuality.
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# The Reality of Sex Issues in Marriage
Many people are amazed to discover that sex is not just a way of “getting off.”
It has the potential of being a deeply bonding experience for a WE. Because of the sexualized nature of our culture, that part is often missed.
Instead, we create an illusion of the sexual encounter. We are left to fantasize based on magazines, advertising, movies, soap operas, and many other areas.
Our encounters rarely live up to those expectations . . . and they shouldn’t have to!
Unfortunately, we generally don’t have trainers working to help us create the perfect bodies, directors to script the perfect scene, and writers to tell us what to do.
Sex is, contrary to the media depiction, imperfect, messy, and way more spiritual than any love scene could portray.
In other words, we have missed out on a great deal in sex because we have bought the media package.
But marital sexuality potentially has a greater depth than many couples ever experience—it is just devoid of the “stuff” we have been sold by the media.
If you find that your sexual relationship is not what you wish, you may want to make some shifts.
# The Energy of Sexuality
Sexuality and sex is a matter of tapping into our sexual energy. Unfortunately, this energy rarely flows as freely as it should.
Most people have various blocks to their sexuality. Many of these are a result of earlier life experiences.
Few of us are raised in environments devoid of negative messages about sexuality.
In fact, many find their sexual energy curtailed by shame.
Many are shamed at early ages about their bodies, causing difficulties in allowing their sexual energy to be later encompassed in their bodies.
Still others have their very sexuality shamed, either by abuse, teasing, or punishment for natural developmental points.
When this happens, our sexual energy is affected in profound ways.
It takes an extra effort to recapture and enjoy one’s natural sexuality.
For some of us, the shaming leaves us unable to participate in sexual relating as often as we would like. For others, the shaming has the opposite action.
It propels us to sexualize everything in an attempt to overcome the shame.
And by the way, traditional sex therapy may be of little help. The approach in sex therapy is generally to try to “ramp up” the sexuality of the one less interested in sex.
Many sex therapists recommend artificial means of creating arousal. They may recommend provocative dress, pornography, losing weight, or other external means.
But that misses the fact that the sexual energy is blocked for a reason. That reason may be left for the individual to determine, but external means do not fix the problem.
# A Different Approach
That may lead you to wonder what the answer is. Since sex is both a fuel for WE and a side effect of WE, the first point of exploration is the condition of WE.
If the WE is in good shape, it is more likely that there is a “holding place” for the couple’s sexual relating. If there are problems in WE, there are likely to be problems in sexual relating.
So first, intervene in the areas where there are problems with WE, and then return to explore the sexual relationship.
If WE is in place, consider these points in exploring your sexual relating:
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1) If you can’t say NO, you can’t say YES. This is a central point to boundaries, and it is also a central point to sexual relating.
Until you can really say “no” to sex and to a request for sex, you cannot fully participate in sex.
2) Sex and sexuality grows and deepens in the course of a relationship. What many couples interpret as a “cooling” of their relationship is really a deepening of their connection.
Perhaps the physical intensity has shifted to a lower level, but the psychic connection has likely increased.
A couple, over time, learns what works for each other. The excitement of discovery is replaced with the comfort of familiarity, allowing intimacy to deepen.
3) “New and different” can be attempts to artificially heighten the excitement. That moves us in the wrong direction.
While it can often be fun to find different ways of relating and responding, there is a danger when this becomes a pursuit in order to recapture something.
“New and different” is the icing on the cake, not the method of treating a less than fulfilling relationship.
4) Sex is deeper than we make it, and less difficult, all at the same time. Couples can err on either side.
A “quickie” is rarely fully satisfying as the standard. It can be nice as a part of a full sex life.
Sex takes time, not just for the act, but also for the connecting necessary for fulfilling sex.
At the same time, we often miss opportunities for sexual connecting, concerned that there isn’t enough time.
Most studies show that a normal (as opposed to the “gourmet” sex of special occasions) period of making love ranges from 15 minutes to ½ an hour.
We often act as if we need all night. If we wait until we have all night, not much will happen in the sexual relationship of a couple.
5) Generally speaking, there are some gender differences in sex. For many men, sex is a way of connecting, of building intimacy. That’s how men think about sex.
For many women, sex is a result of emotional connection with man. It is the by-product of intimacy. While this is not absolute, it is a strong enough issue to cause difficulties for many couples.
Assume a couple is trying to reconnect after a long day. He may see sex as a way of creating that connection. She may see the need to be connected before relating sexually.
A conflict can quickly emerge. Ironically, that conflict is a result of both people trying to connect. That is the tragedy of this gender difference.
6) Create non-conflict times to discuss your sexual relationship. Since many discussions about sex occur in the midst of conflicts over sex, it is important for couples to explore their sexual relationship when there is not a conflict.
This can allow more realistic sharing of feelings and concerns. In fact, such discussions are deeply intimate.
They involve sharing parts of ourselves that we normally keep hidden, even from our spouses.
7) Making love is not just about intercourse. While we often lose track of this, intercourse is only one part of sexual relating.
Making love can run the gamut from holding hands and kissing to full intercourse.
If we limit making love to intercourse, we miss some great times of relating. Cuddling in the morning, or kissing on the couch all can be about making love.
The problem is that when we limit sex to intercourse, we are caught in the position to see whether all our connecting leads there. But what if we enlarge the definition?
Then we can all find times for those moments of connection and help spice up the long-term marital relationship.
And the result is that our sexual energy is released and flowing more than just in the moment of intercourse. The goal is no longer orgasm, but connection—WE!
The danger of sexuality in the marital relationship is erring at either end: making it too important or not important enough.
Every couple must struggle with the fact that we are not going to have identical needs or preferences as our spouse.
Again, that is the magic of a marital relationship. It pulls us toward balance when we attend to what our spouse adds to the relationship.
Our task in marriage is to discover a sexual relationship that is fulfilling to both, and that propels the relationship toward WE. Part of that task teaches us a great deal about ourselves.
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