THE INTRINSIC VALUE OF A HEALTHY SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

Sex is one of the most talked about and least talked about subjects in the world. Studies confirm what happy couples already know; there is intrinsic value in a healthy sexual relationship. When couples are attuned to each others’ sexual needs, they behave romantically toward one another and develop a very loving and respectful relationship. But this is not a new idea. The time-honored wedding vows have always explicitly acknowledged that sex is a benefit, a responsibility, and an obligation associated with marriage. What are the secrets of a good sexual relationship in marriage? Here are a few thoughts on the matter. • Keep your sex life healthy. Research demonstrates a strong connection between sexual intimacy and satisfaction in marriage. Yet many couples describe an unfortunate decline in sexual interest following marriage. Reasons for declining interest run the gamut from exhaustion to marital conflict, childbearing, interruptions by children, erectile dysfunction, lack of interest, illness, etc. However there is no good excuse for not communicating about sexual intimacy and affection in your marriage. If you and your spouse are not communicating about sex, watch out! Without it, changing expectations and needs will go unmet, rendering the relationship vulnerable to intruders. The “instruction booklet” on marriage emphatically states that satisfaction with intimacy and sexual pleasure are essential, but not sufficient ingredients for a happy marriage. This means that while sexual love is essential, it is not automatic. A fulfilling sex life must be actively pursued and yes, it must be scheduled like a date. • The problem of bait and switch. Most couples describe their sexual attraction prior to marriage. Not surprising, sexual passion is usually one of the great selling points of a relationship. While dating, most partners are passionate, romantic and attentive to each other. They tend to be good listeners, they solve problems together, and they are excellent companions. In other words, they do all the right things on the road to falling in love. After marriage, however, many spouses begin to take that same relationship for granted. They may intentionally ignore or avoid each others’ sexual advances. But rest assured that even when couples talk less, their behavior speaks volumes if their playfulness and common interests are replaced by demands, criticism, and interpersonal rejection. • Marriage is an everyday affair. Before marriage, couples work hard to understand each other. We inform each other when our feelings are hurt. We express our likes and dislikes but try to remain open to new ideas. We monitor our combativeness, our tone of voice, and our attitudes as we work toward becoming a functional couple. Once married, however, it is easy to forget that we are working as teammates on joint goals and shared interests. The marital relationship is designed to reduce stress by increasing interpersonal support. As a couple, we are building a home together using our own creativity and designs for comfort,...

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