The Reason Sex Matters in a Marriage
By: Lisa Hayes
This post is part of the Happy Wives Club Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!
My youngest child is adopted. We tell him we’ve been with him since before he was born, which is true, because we followed his biological mother around for a good six months of the pregnancy. Like any new mother, after he was born, I was worried about almost everything. However, one of the things I worried about the most was bonding. I was afraid the bonding process would be complicated by the fact that he was adopted. To be fair, I’d had a similar paranoia regard my first child, who wasn’t adopted. But with our youngest, that fear was complicated by the fact that at birth, he was quite sick, and we weren’t able to hold him or cuddle him for days. It seemed like months. The infant ICU is not a warm and cuddly place.
When we finally were able to take him out of his little incubator for a few minutes at a time, he would writhe at any human touch, his little tiny arms pushing away from everything and everyone around him. The unfamiliar world was simply too much for him. My friends would tell me all he needed was holding and hugging to get better. However, he wanted none of it. His heart rate would soar with any stimulation outside the incubator. So, we touched him as little as possible and stared at him endlessly through the plastic box he slept in. We could only take him out to change his diaper.
One day one of the nurses saw me crying, while trying to change him before putting him back in the incubator. When she heard me out, all of my fears about future failing to bond, she smiled and assured me that nature always takes it’s course, but there was one way to give nature a hand up in the bonding department.
She told me that when he was able to come home, we needed to have a daily ritual of skin to skin bonding. She instructed me to spend at least an hour a day, more if possible with him laying on my bare stomach, him in a diaper, both of us wrapped in a blanket. She told me that skin to skin time would increase Oxytocin for both of us and that would expedite the bonding process. When he did finally come home, we spent many hours everyday, skin to skin wrapped in blankets, in what felt like an impenetrable cocoon of growing love. It was a heavenly oasis in the fog of the early days of chaos with a sick baby.
Nature did take it’s course. Trust me, we are very bonded.
I’m a relationship coach. I have heard it at least a dozen times this week. A woman explaining to me that she doesn’t feel like being intimate with her husband, meaning she’s not down for having sex, until she feels a stronger emotional connection with him. Maybe he’s distant and stressed. Maybe there’s been hurt that has left lingering resentment. Maybe communication is stalled and misunderstandings are plentiful. That said, for whatever reason, or no reason at all, she isn’t feeling “connected” and she isn’t putting out. How can she be expected to be physically intimate when she’s missing emotional intimacy?
As a wife, I know better.
Oxytocin is a feel good brain chemical. It’s often referred to as the cuddling chemical or the love hormone. It influences all kinds of behaviors including, maybe especially, “pair bonding”. Though men do generate Oxytocin naturally, they don’t match the production levels in women. The one time both men and women experience higher levels of Oxytocin is immediately after sex, resulting in, you guessed it, “pair bonding”. Simply put, sex leads to the emotional intimacy women crave and by “holding out” until intimacy happens, it makes intimacy much, much harder to get.
Bottom line, for more reasons than I can count, sex is critically important in a healthy marriage.
Now I get it. I’m married with kids. I know exactly how it feels to fall into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, wanting nothing more than sleep. I’ve felt the ache of obligation to get it on when I wanted nothing more than shut everything down. However, I also know the cost of shutting down physically. Intimacy breaks down. Closeness diminishes. Emotional bonds get strained.
This isn’t my first rodeo. I’m on my second marriage. I fondly refer to my first marriage as my practice marriage. An outsider might have said my practice marriage failed for any number of reasons ranging from getting married too young to lies and infidelity. Maybe the stars weren’t aligned.
From the inside I know what failed was our priorities. We let everything in our lives become more important than our bond. Our intimate life failed completely and the closeness and connection we had shared disappeared. Everything that happened after that, was a symptom, not the cause.
Again, lesson learned. If you ask either my husband or myself what our priorities are in our marriage, both of us will say our first priority is our sex life. That answer raises eyebrows because almost everyone expects us to say it’s our children. My husband and I often joke we’re only together for the sex. In the beginning that felt a bit dicey. Seven years later, I’m pretty proud we can still say that. Because of that commitment to that part of our marriage, our emotional connection is as strong today as it was in the beginning. Romance looks different, but it’s still a consistent component in our daily routines.
Putting it bluntly, married couples have sex. Roommates or business partners usually don’t. If you aren’t stoking the flames in the bedroom, or on the kitchen counter, you’ll become roommates very, very quickly. Having sex regularly encourages nature work her magic. Putting sex off for any reason is the equivalent of postponing the intimate bonding most women crave more of.
If you want more intimacy, more romance, more connection, and better communication, you can’t put sex on the line as a bargaining chip. You can’t withhold the one thing that will grow the connection, in hopes that connection will happen before instead of after. You don’t get it both ways. No matter how long you’ve been married, if you’re intimate life is broken, make no mistake, you are roommates, not lovers. (Tweetable!) You can’t be lovers and roommates. As a couple, you will be one or the other. If you want to be married to your lover, you have to start acting like lovers.
Fawn Weaver, the founder of the Happy Wives Club wrote a book about the best marriage secrets the world has to offer. They say the book is like “Eat, Pray, Love meets The 5 Love Languages.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy HERE.
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Lisa Hayes, The Love Whisperer, is an LOA Relationship Coach. She helps clients leverage Law of Attraction to get the relationships they dream about and build the lives they want. Lisa is the author of How to Escape from Relationship Hell, The Passion Plan, and Body Love Boot Camp. She is also co-founder of Good Vibe Coach Academy, specializing in LOA Coach Training. To get Lisa's FREE Audio, "How to Talk to a Man" click here.