Marriage… it’s a dedication of your life and love to another person until the day that death parts you. A commitment to see one another through all trials and tribulations of life, to heal one another when sick, to support one another when down. It is also a commitment to never, for the rest of your life, ever have sex or sexual contact with another human being again.
While the idea of having sex with only one person forever is a beautiful one, what happens when the sex begins to become stagnate, or even worse, stops altogether? Although we are told that sex is not the most important part of a marriage, truthfully, it’s actually a very important part. Sex is much more than just a physical touch or even an orgasm, sex allows a couple to maintain and even build on their intimacy. A way to connect, reflect and really tune in to one another. So with all of this in mind, one might wonder if spicing up one’s sex life could actually improve or even save one’s marriage. To obtain the answer, we enlisted a few experts to help us sort through the details.
How does having a healthy sex life benefit a marriage? According to Hilary Phillips, MS, LPC, a healthy sex life is what distinguishes our marriage from the other relationships in our lives. “The vulnerability and trust that go into a healthy sex life help to reinforce the emotional connection in a relationship, creating a positive feedback loop of emotional intimacy and physical intimacy.” Meaning, while all of our relationships involve friendship, trust and even support, the sexual relationship, or intimacy, that we maintain with our significant other is the one thing that seperates our marriage and builds a true, life-long partnership.
In what ways does a couple’s sex life lose “spice” after so many years of marriage and why? While most couples start off their realtionsip and even their marriage, hot and heavy for one another, it seems that time tends to slow down the pace and even tame the fire. “The most common reason that couples lose the ‘zsa zsa zsu’ is due to fatigue and the demands of every day life,” said Phillips. “Time becomes the most sought-after resource, and so couples often focus on efficiency in the bedroom: ‘I do x, you do y, we do z….and we go to sleep’.”
Phillips added that as time goes on, we stop making each other a priority. When couples first fall in love, their relationship and sex life trumps everything; family, friends even work. However, once kids and house work and family demands come into play, all of a sudden making a cake for the neighborhood block party or getting your child’s homework done is just more important than a romp in the bedroom. In addition to lack of time to engage in sex, Phillips said that the lack of time to enjoy the afterglow can also impact our sex lives in a negative way. Meaning, while we once could lay in bed, snuggling, talking, kissing and even considering another round, once we become overloaded with responsibilities, sex is just one more thing we have to hurry up and do. Often leading to a couple dreading the act rather than looking forward to it.
Can spicing things up actually improve or even save a couple’s marriage? With sex making such an impact on a couple’s intimacy levels, one must wonder what the impact of an improved sex life could be. According to Dr. Lindsey Hoskins, while having a spicer sex life may not be able to actualy ‘save’ a marriage, it could most certainly improve it. “Feeling intimately connected with one’s partner is one of the foundational elements of a healthy marriage,” she said. “Part of that connection should come from a shared physical relationship that is both safe and vulnerable, reliable and exciting.” Hoskins added that by exploring new sexual behaviors with our partners, we get to experience new things together, keeping the relationship fresh and allowing couples to look forward to intimate time together rather than viewing it as a chore. This means, a couple who’s marriage has been on edge could, in a sense, be reborn by exploring a different side of sex together, even bringing back feelings of ‘the first time’ for some.
What impact does a spicier sex life have on a couple’s emotional initimacy? Sex Therapist, Dr. Sonjia said that the emotional impact can in some ways, be even greater than the physical one. Sonjia said that a lack of sex, or even a stagnant sex life, can actually make partners feel undesired, often being the cause of extra-marital affairs. “Physiologically, research shows that people who have fulfilling sex are simply happier and healthier,” she added. “In addition, sexual pleasure produces oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, making people feel more connected to each other and more attractive to others (including their spouse). In other words, they get the ‘glow’ that turns people on and boosts self-esteem. People with better self-esteem are also easier to be married to.”
What are the obvious signs that a couple needs to spice up their sex life? While every couple could likely use a little boost, there are some marriages that are in more need than others. Logan Levkoff, sexual health educator and member of the Trojan(tm) sexual health advisory council, said that the symptoms are actually pretty easy to spot. Levkoff said that any time that a couple is experiencing diminished intimacy and communication, an emotional distance or even a decreased desire for sex, the marriage could be on a decline and it may be time to spice things up.
What is the best way to go about spicing up a marriage? Adding unfamiliar heat to a seasoned relationship can be a challenge; however, there are a few tips that couples can follow to get their sexually creative juices flowing. Here is what Levkoff suggests:
- Use special lubricants not only to make sex more comfortable, but to increase pleasure for both parties.
- Talk in code. Meaning, find a way to have ‘sexy talk’ with one another in a way that both of you understand, but your children won’t be able to catch on to.
- Increase foreplay. Foreplay is an absolute necessity in sex. Not only does it allow both parties to really explore one another, the building arousel can increase a woman’s overall desire for sex, and can also increase the strength and frequency of her orgasm.
- Try new positions. If you normally stick to the same one or two positions, throw them out the window for a week or two and explore some unkown territory. Sexual positions can be found in books, online and even through educational DVDs.
- Learn to play. Try introducing adult toys into the bedroom. Start by selecting one that you might and enjoy and one that he might enjoy. While toys do not need to be the focus of the sexual act itself, using them while in the midst of foreplay can open both of you up to new forms of pleasure.
If you’re up for a real challenge, try exploring fantasies. Every person, man or woman, has a sexual fantasy that is just waiting to be fulfilled. Take turns discussing one another’s fantasies and then make time, and a plan, to bring those fantasies to life.
While engaging in new techniques may seem intimidating to some, both parties need to remember that this is a marriage. If you trusted and loved one another enough to commit to an eternity together, shouldn’t that eternity involve a little touch of naughty? Try adding some of these suggestions to your traditional sex schedule and see what a difference it makes in your marriage. For other stories in this sex series, click here.