Sexuality and Marital Intimacy

By Kalman Heller, PhD

Scheduling Sex

Couples constantly face the time issue. There isn’t any! If you wait for a quiet period when romantic behavior can surface and there is energy for prolonged lovemaking, you will only get to have sex a couple of times a year when you get away without the children! You need to schedule a date night when you plan to go to bed early enough that you are both still awake with a mutual commitment to make love. The door should be locked to prevent unexpected entrance of children. Of course, you don’t need to be limited to nights. Many couples find the best time is in the morning after children have left for school; others are able to work out lunchtime liaisons.

If the children are older, there is the usual embarrassment about “What will the children think?” Look at it this way. Parents hide their sexuality from their children, and then expect their children to grow up and understand that sex is an expression of love between two adults. It is healthy to be open about this. Healthy to explain to your children that husbands and wives express their love in part by touching each other in special ways. Healthy for children to know their parents are lovers. So don’t hide the fact that you are.

As for the lack of romanticism embedded in scheduled sex as opposed to spontaneous sex, I guarantee you that within minutes of gently arousing each other on a date night, you won’t even be thinking about the fact that this was scheduled. It will be just as satisfying and enjoyable as if it were spontaneous. Meanwhile research has shown that there are very clear relationship benefits from sex – couples have fewer disagreements for about 48 hours after making love. I guess that suggests if you have sex every few days, you’ll get along great!!

Communication Before, During, and After

Words are very erotic. You can do the exact same physical act over and over yet transform it endlessly with words. Whether it’s “talking dirty” or saying “Imagine we are sitting in a restaurant and right now I am slipping my hand into your pants!” Expressions of love, desire, telling your partner how hot she is, moaning – there are so many ways to intensify the experience with words.

Another important communication is to let your partner know what feels good and what doesn’t as it is happening – or to ask for something you want to experience. That’s all during. Actually, I have found many couples already do at least some of this. On the other hand, what is missing from most relationships is the before and after.

By before I’m not referring to general conversation, although it never hurts to be talking to each other. Too often couples are embarrassed to ask questions, to discuss likes and dislikes – everyone assumes they are supposed to know how to be good lovers, but how can you be unless you are able to talk about it. Of course, this includes the after as well, because the issue I’m addressing here is finding out what works and what doesn’t IN THIS RELATIONSHIP. Even if you are very experienced, you still don’t automatically know each other’s desires. So while you are snuggled together after making love, it is important to let each other know what might have been especially erotic that time. DO NOT use that time to be critical. Talking about what doesn’t work needs to be away from the time you have sex. It can be awkward, even upsetting, and not conducive to feeling good right away.

Of course, people often don’t even know what they want because they may not have explored their own sexuality enough to provide guidance. That’s what makes a place like the Grand Opening, a sexual boutique in Brookline, Mass., so helpful. Created and run by a woman, it is a comfortable place for women and men to go and find out about oils, sex toys, videos, and classes that can be taken to better understand how to have more satisfying sex.

Sex as Fun, a Release of Tension, and Good Exercise

In the stressed-out world we live in, people are always looking for ways to unwind, to escape from real-life concerns, and, of course, to find time to work out and shed some of those calories. Sex provides all of these. One single activity, preferably about 45-60 minutes of time, can achieve so many goals. And it’s free. You don’t even have to leave home to enjoy it! So turn the lights on (so many couples still have sex in the dark), put on music, light candles, open a fragrant bottle of oil, heck, get out the whipped cream or chocolate sauce (so much for burning off calories) and get some relief from childrearing, laundry, or the job that follows you everywhere.

I have tried to provide you with a brief guide to enhancing your sexual relationship and, simultaneously, improving your marital intimacy. A good reference for a more detailed exploration of this topic is David Schnarch’s book, “Passionate Marriage.”

I’ll close with the following thought:

Sexual and emotional intimacies are inextricably linked. A marriage that loses its passion becomes merely a good friendship and ceases to be a true marriage – which ultimately even ruins the friendship.

 

APA Reference
Heller, K. (2012). Sexuality and Marital Intimacy. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/sexuality-and-marital-intimacy/00012148
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.