How Important Is Sex in a Marriage?

"Do Whatever It Takes"

Cathi Hanauer & Daniel Jones

Cathi: Virtually every marriage, no matter how steamy at the beginning, goes through sexual dry spells. As long as you have other ways of connecting and having fun together during those dry spells, that's okay. The problem comes when sex and passion drop out of a marriage purely because caring for each other is so low on your list of priorities that you start to treat one another like roommates. Often, making time to have sex can end up being less about the physical act than about taking a moment to reconnect, share a laugh or a moment of affection and remember why you've committed to this person in the first place.

Dan: See, I wonder if this is one of those questions that's different for men and women. Married or not, most men seem to need sex regularly. For women, I believe passion is an essential: a sense of desiring and being desired. But sex with their husbands? I'll bet many could take it or leave it. (By the way, I'm talking about everyone else's sex life here, not my own, which is, of course, perfect.)

What is important for all of us married people is that we air our expectations and needs and work at ways to meet them. Some people schedule dates with their spouse, go to hotels, watch porn, take ballroom dancing lessons, send dirty text messages to each other '- whatever it takes, as long as you're honest and not overly greedy. Don't be embarrassed about what you need. And don't keep your needs and desires in marriage all to yourself as your resentment festers and divorce looms. In marriage, a little effort to please the other person can go a long way.

"Sex Fizzles Long before Love"

Dr. Sarah Stedman

An ideal marriage would be one that includes a balance between mind, spirit and body. So the question becomes: Which of these components truly anchors a marriage through "better or worse"? It is my belief that sex and passion can be part of any relationship '- and are therefore pretty easy to attain. Everything else requires a certain depth of intimacy and commitment to the partnership. When the physical component is missing or troubled for whatever reason, it is even more important for the other sustaining elements to be present.

As we grow older, our bodies change '- but so do our notions about romantic and sexual love. So in their young married years, couples need to recognize the importance of becoming one another's dearest friend, of building interests together and stimulating each other intellectually, because a couple's sex life is likely to fizzle out long before their love for one another. And if that is done successfully, people will realize that life holds few joys more satisfying than the process of growing old with your life partner.

"It's All about Intimacy"

Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW

Sex is very important to a marriage. Just ask the one out of every three spouses who's in a marriage where there's a sexual desire gap. That is, one spouse is desperately unhappy because this person isn't having sex nearly as often as he or she would like, and the other wonders, "What's the big deal? It's just sex." But for the spouse yearning for more touch, it is a big deal. Sex isn't just a physical release, it's about feeling wanted, connected and loved.

When this sort of misunderstanding occurs, intimacy on all levels fades. Couples stop spending time together, snuggling on the couch, engaging in meaningful conversation, laughing at each other's jokes. Friendship is replaced by resentment, hostility and a painful distancing. This puts marriages at risk of infidelity and/or divorce. But the good news is that regardless of the reasons for a sexual meltdown '- whether it's due to biological, personal or relationship issues '- excellent help is available. Anyone wanting a more robust and passionate love life can have it

"Sex Keeps Love Alive"

Dr. Ruth

I think sex is the glue that holds a relationship together. If one or both partners is sexually frustrated, that's likely to wreak havoc on the relationship, often in ways that the couple doesn't even realize. They may be snapping at each other over other matters when the real conflict stems from problems in the sexual arena. The more discord there is in a relationship, the less likely it is that the couple is going to want to have sex. This in turn establishes a vicious cycle that causes not only the couple's sex life, but also the relationship, to spiral downward.

Another pitfall of an asexual relationship is that all physical contact can eventually cease. Hugs and kisses aren't a substitute for sex, but such physical contact is also a necessary component of a healthy relationship. If two people are acting like roommates, then after a while their reasons for staying together become increasingly questionable. For these reasons, it's vital for couples of any age to be proactive and to keep the fires of passion burning. If their sexual fires become completely extinguished, slowly but surely their relationship will die out too.


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