SEX IN MARRIAGE – PART 1.
IS SEX AN ISSUE IN MARRIAGE?
One day while attending some group workout in some public space, I got to hear so many stories about how lack of flexibility is a “sex killer”. The lack of flexibility is a story for another day.
One particular man spoke about how he was going to divorce the wife because for three months, he had not had sex with her and before then he would get home, find the wife asleep, wake her up for sex, and she would simply turn and the man would do his thing, ejaculate and sleep.
In his narration, he complained of the wife calling him a stranger because he came home late. To him, as so long he got late working to provide for the family, he had no issues. By and by each of them got busy. The Husband working and wife raising children and that is how they stopped engaging in any other topic but that of children and the needs of the home.
There are many couples who are as dissatisfied just like this man because sex is not happening in their marriage. Some of these couple believe it is the only reason why the two got married and sex the only thing that should not stop happening in the marriage.
While I agree that sex is very important to human beings, I also acknowledge that it does not exist in a vacuum. Satisfactory sex needs to have other areas of a marriage functioning. Satisfactory sex works consistently where there is quality relationship, the bond between the sex partners is good and conflicts are resolved and not carried forward.
In John Gottman words, sex needs to be about passion, ability to connect as well as communication as opposed to skills and techniques. When it is about skills attention is paid on erection and time spent on penetration and if or whether orgasm is achieved or not.
While good skills and techniques are important, they are simply not helpful, they may not produce satisfying sex or even emotional bonding thereafter. For a couple in a marriage or those enjoying a lasting relationship, the process is equally important as the skills.
Common myths about sex
- All women have/need multiple orgasms
- That all women need penetrative sex to orgasm
- That all women squirt.
- That any sexual contact should lead to sex
- That a hard penis and its performance define the quality of sex
- That the bigger the penis, the better the performance.
- That the longer a man lasts in penetration, the better the sex.
Sex is a creative art that the two people involved need to build. Before working on the sex positions and new techniques, ask yourself the following questions.
- Do we have a sense of belonging with each other?
- Have we resolved all our issues as a couple?
- Does my partner or myself have any unhealed painful sexual experiences?
- Are we comfortable with our particular gender?
- Do we love our bodies?
- Are we free to express ourselves and our needs to our partner sexually?
- Do we have freedom to try new things that we have not tried before/make the journey adventurous and enjoyable?
When one answers no to these questions then there need to be communication on the areas that need adjustment. This again may be a hard task depending on the way the couple was socialized. To some talking about sex is something they learnt shouldn’t happen because either sex issue was taught with so much shame to them or it was a topic never to be discussed.
While too much sex or lack of it is believed to be a cause of marital problems, sex challenges represent more than just one issue in marriage. They represent unresolved issues, lack of emotional bonding, faulty beliefs and attitudes towards sexuality and inability to communicate sexual needs.
Beliefs and attitudes held about sex.
The perspectives that different people have when it comes to sex originates from the sex education in their younger life and the sexual experiences they have had. Those who were taught that sex is Gods special gift to the married seem to be having more positive view point to sex.
Those that were taught that sex is bad manners, a bad thing, were not expected to feel or talk about sex, or whom any sexual behavior attracted ridicule, being shamed or punished, seem to struggle through sex and even feel some level of guilt or shame while engaging sexually even in a marriage setup.
To explore further, it helps to reflect on the following questions. Who first taught you about sex/sexuality? Was sex a topic your family could freely engage in? were questions on sex and sexuality answered? Did your parents and other adults close to you show love and affection? Did you have someone to talk to if you had sexual feelings towards a friend, classmate etc.?
These will provide you with the attitude and beliefs that you hold and probably point you to their origin. Does the attitude you hold enhance pleasure or reduce it? Should you find yourself stuck, then it’s important to seek help. Having pleasurable sexual experience is what each person involved needs.
In a group discussion on sex issues among women, A Lady shared that she could not initiate sex, has never initiated and thinks she will never initiate. Asked the reason behind her stand, she said that what she was taught from young age is that it was immoral to have sexual needs or even urges and that when they came about, she was supposed to ignore them.
She had learnt to ignore her sexual needs, a practice she continued to do in marriage. Further, she believed that speaking her sexual needs or even initiating sex in her marriage would have her integrity questioned and feared she’d be thought of as a whore.
Lady B shared that she had been given sex education by her mother who spoke about sex in normal tones, with no shame, as a precious gift from God, as a special gift and special gifts were to be considered and treated as precious.
She had embraced and seen sex in that perspective and when she got married, she was ready to explore and enjoy the gift of sex. These would freely talk about sex right from premarital stage. In their marriage, it became normal to dialogue around sex just like any other area. She confessed to reaching orgasm almost in all the sexual encounters.
Lady C complained to have never experienced an orgasm and that her sexual life was marked by pain, vaginal dryness and sorrow. Whereas they seemed to manage all other issues with ease, Sex created so much tension between her and her spouse.
Asked how she got introduced to sex and by who, she mentioned that she had been abused by their gardener who severally forced himself on her. He parents worked far from home and had tasked the gardener to be opening the gate and house for her when she came from school. This molestation started when she was 6 years and continued until she was 12 years.
Despite having always used lubricants, She had never experienced any form of pleasure. She suffered two sexual dysfunctions: lack of desire for sex and inability to orgasm. She felt that the marriage would have been more enjoyable without sex involved.
How to communicate about sex
Be patient when raising sex topic because most people come from backgrounds where sex is not openly spoken out and therefore may find it difficult or shameful to discuss sex
Most people feel sexually vulnerable. Do not therefore criticize your partner but rather help them know how you like things done.
Do not take it personally when your partner shares what sexually turns them on or off. It is about them, not about you. Let understanding your partners needs remain the goal.
Compromise; – Accommodate each other. How many times you would like to have sex, how each of you love things done etc. needs to be discussed and considerations done for each member.
If these tips are not improving your marriage life, then it is possible that you may need to let go some of those past experiences that hinder satisfying sex or seek services of a Sex Therapist.
By Joan Kirera-family therapist. For more visit www.joankirera.com: Facebook: joan kirera, YouTube: joan kirera