4 of 4 LOVE Posts in our Love Series!
Couple’s Love and Touch;
The ONLY thing that differentiates the marital relationship from all others.
By Tracy Lamperti,
Psychotherapist, Educator, Consultant
During the process of courting (or whatever you want to call it in this modern day), couples are intimately physical with each other typically at a higher rate than one year post marriage. Why??
· People are younger and hormones are running higher in the early stage.
· The “attraction” between the two leads to the arousal process.
· Sometimes, usually the woman, feels that sex is an “expected” part of winning and keeping the man and she is more agreeable to engage even if she might not feel like it.
· There may be a greater likelihood of the young couple engaging in dinner and drinks or attending parties where there may be alcohol and even drugs, lowering ones inhibitions.
· Younger couples have more energy and fewer things competing for their time. I can remember pre-children, my husband and I sitting all afternoon watching the Red Sox game. Ah, remember that????
I doubt that it even crosses the guy’s mind, “Hmmm, I wonder if our sex life will always be this active. Not that the woman is scheming in her mind, “I’ll hook him and then deny him.” Not at all, they are just doing what new and young couples do.
A year post marriage, lots of things have happened, as described in the post last week (children, mortgages, two income job requirements) and over time we have a situation where it is lucky if physical intimacy/sex is happening once a month.
Often, she has adopted an attitude that, “He wants it more than me. He should consider himself lucky to get it. I don’t have to do it. I’m taking care of the babies, the house, working…..” She becomes frustrated about the demands on her.
He comes to feel chronically frustrated, even at a biological level, that the rules have changed and because he is met with all of these “really valid reasons” that she is not sexually available to him, he is left to feel frustrated even more.
The person with the lower desire almost always dictates the frequency.
The result, the couple is prone to ever increasing stress reactions to the situations in the life they are living and to each other.
Here, we get even greater complications with the woman clinging to her children. After all, they need this as babies and young children, yet they never ask of her what her husband is asking. Now we have triangles forming, all under the same roof. The men may escape to their jobs or their friends. Thus, the two are now disjointed.
Oh, and not to mention, a very curious difference with the sexes, their arousal processes are triggered by very different stimuli. AND, some may not be aware that biologically/physically, as a man goes without sex, he has a greater and greater need. Once the need is met, he has a period of satisfaction and reduced need for sex. As a woman goes without sex, her need, biologically/physically falls away, rendering her without the need. When a woman’s need is met, she desires for it to be met again. So for a woman, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
Case example, a man and woman who have gone 2 weeks without engage in the act, the man feels very frustrated and the woman feels almost a complete lack of interest.
I see many couples in my work who are engaged in chronic conflict and unhappiness. Those feelings are often mirrored by what is happening in the bedroom, or in trying to get to or stay out of the bedroom.
I also see many couples who are NOT in significant conflict. However, their relationship is more like a close friend or brother-sister relationship; sexless. But since they are seeing me, a therapist, there is a problem somewhere, and often it reflects a longstanding issue with marital intimacy.
Sexual intimacy is the one and only thing that absolutely differentiates the marriage relationship from ALL other relationships. You might love your “bestie” to pieces, but you don’t have sex with her. He might work day in and day out with a co-worker/partner but he isn’t having sex with her. You might tell your therapist some very deep things about yourself, but you aren’t having sex with your therapist. He may play darts with his friends every Friday, but they aren’t having sex.
Sex is completely unique to the marital union.
Some people wonder how often the average couple has sex. The answer can have a wide range depending on age, lifestyle, hormones, health problems, pregnancy/birth/nursing/children, libido and just how healthy the marital relationship is.
This link will take you to the survey of Passionate Marriage. You can get your own results and then find out about thousands of couples answers.
But if you just want some basic and pretty valid info about frequency, here we go.
Here, you see that couples having sex once or twice a MONTH and couples having sex once or twice a WEEK are about tied at 30%.
About 10% are doing it 4-5 times/week.
About 18% are doing it several times/year.
About 11% have NOT done it at all in the last year!
This amounts to about 60% of couples having sex once or twice a month or less. Take the survey though and see the results of all the answers. It will only take about 5 minutes.
Do you want to improve or enhance your marital intimacy?
· Have black out electronic times.
· Schedule “dates.”
· Improve your non-sexual intimacy time.
· Talk to each other about desires and how you can meet one another’s needs.
· Take care of your health if it is a factor.
· Recognize if you are using your children or your role as a mother as an excuse and do something about it.
· Think “fun.” Use your imagination. Let’s face it, some days it’s about survival. You stop at McDonalds for supper. Other days you set out 7 courses with the tablecloth and candles. Sex is the same way. Quickies have their place. But if the extent to which you are having sex is just “trading orgasms” as the Passionate Marriage survey puts it, rethink that.
· Get your body moving. Exercise increases everything good. The hormonal boost will help your libido.
· If it’s easier to run down your “to do list” than make time for your spouse, rethink that too.
If you are struggling in this area, please seek help with a qualified professional.
Tracy Lamperti is certified in Healthy Sexuality, Rape Crisis Counseling, Traumatic Stress, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and has attended the following accredited continuing education, David Schnarch (world renowned sex therapist), Resurrecting Sex and the Sexual Crucible (30 hours total)
***Of course not all relationships fit the picture painted above. Some women have a higher sex drive than their husband. Some employees are having sex with their boss, etc…There are many different scenarios. The common dynamics are presented here for reference.
1 of 4 – Parents and Valentine’s Day
2 of 4 – The Importance of Touch
2 of 4 – Removing Barriers to Open Ourselves to Love
4 of 4 – Couples Love
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