Enjoying Physical Intimacy in Marriage (Dr. Liz Hale)
SEX. If Hollywood and happenstance has been your greatest teacher, there is much more learning to be had as you approach this wonderful journey of marriage. While there are certainly the mechanics of “having sex,” it takes great understanding, much effort, and ongoing dialogues for “making love.” The latter makes all the difference! And why settle for less when you can have all the emotional bonding and joy that sexual intimacy brings to marriage.
Consider having the following discussion:
Introduction. When and how was sex first introduced to you? How did you feel about it? How do you wish that introduction had been different?
Role. What role do you believe sex should play in marriage? Should one partner go along with sex when the arousal isn’t there just to please their partner?
Reasons. Under what circumstances should a married couple make love? Pro-creation, stress reduction, pleasure, self-esteem, intimacy? Can it be playful, funny, and spiritual?
Meaning. What placement would you like love making to have in your marriage? Frequency? Who should initiate? How can one partner say “not tonight, Honey” without causing hurt and rejection in the other?
Protection. Discuss views on birth control AND privacy. Commit to never discussing this intimate part of your relationship with anyone else in order to maintain the utmost safety in your union.
Embrace Sexuality. Take 100% accountability for your sexuality. Be responsible for making peace with your body; enhance what you can and accept what is! Keep your head in the game – your arousal is your responsibility and doesn’t come as automatic as a man’s. At times, allow yourself to agree to make love even if you’re not completely in the mood….arousal often follows!
Understand Differences. It’s not enough to know that male and female bodies are different but that views and meaning regarding sex are unique to men and women. Invest time and energy in learning how your bodies work together – communicate what is pleasurable to you and learn what is pleasurable to your husband. Be willing to push your personal comfort zone and work together to determine loving expressions and positions that are comfortable to both.
Nurture Feelings. Men often make love in order to feel and express love. Women, however, want to feel and express love in order to make love. Take responsibility for address issues as they arise; nurture feelings of love and respect; frequently remind yourself of your husband’s wonderful qualities and why you love him.
Understand Barriers. Work to understand and overcome your personal barriers and inhibitions. Reprogram old beliefs and misunderstandings that prevent you from sexual arousal and connection with your husband. Cross-wiring between sex and shame is sadly common and yet with professional help, you can learn to uncross those wires and enjoy a healthy sexuality.
Maintain Connection. Even outside the bedroom, reach for your spouse and lovingly and playfully connect with him. Men need 4-times the touch that women need. So, take advantage of those opportunities to pat, hug, squeeze, and rub his nonsexual body parts throughout the demands of the day!
Focus on Connection. Maintain a solid focus as a couple on mutual pleasures, not the movie pressures of perfect performance. Cooperate as an “intimate team.” You will feel more self-assured as you incorporate positive, realistic expectations.
Integrate Sexuality into Manhood. Embrace that your sexuality is a lifelong and developmental process, and involves physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and relational features. (Hollywood isn’t’ able to show all that!) Learn to become mature sexually; conquer sexual objectification with emotional intimacy and connection.
Welcome Conflict Resolution. Here’s an interesting fact: Your sexual satisfaction in marriage is directly influenced by the satisfaction of your conflict resolution (especially for your wife!). Cooperate with your wife on the day-to-day, ordinary events that need to be addressed. Don’t put her off…or she will be much more likely to put you off!
Become Knowledgeable. Don’t fall victim to society’s pressure that you “should just know what to do” in lovemaking. Learn about sexual anatomy, physiology, psychology, and relationship health. You are 100% accountable for your mind-body-spiritual connection around sexuality. Women and men have differing arousal patterns; be flexible in your approach to ‘how it should be done’ to create an enjoyable experience for both of you.
Understand Motivations. When a woman feels loved and appreciated outside the marriage bed, she is much more willing to express her love inside the marriage bed. Current research has determined that when a man helps out with household chores and responsibilities, a woman views him as supportive and loving. Since a husband helping out around the house makes his a wife feel appreciative, grateful, and loved.…men, pick up that dish towel!
photo cred: Anatoliy Bityukov