Tag Archives: sex

Reasons Women May Not Desire Sex

Happy couples can attest to the fact that a healthy sex life is part of a healthy marriage. In fact, research has shown a very high correlation between the amount of sex in a marriage and the level of satisfaction by the partners. Sometimes sex is a stumbling block in a marriage, but don’t give up hope that things can greatly improve.

I wanted to share a post from the blog Hot, Holy & Humorous, which deals with wives who have low libido or just don’t want to be physically intimate. It’s written sensitively to the women who may experience this and is one of the most comprehensive lists I have seen. Whether “stress is sucking the life out of your libido” or there are physiological, body image, or other reasons, most women can probably relate to some of these issues at one point or another. Identifying the “why” is part of the challenge and may help you both find a solution.

Read the full post here: For Wives: When You Don’t Desire Sex. Then, she followed up with More on Wife’s Low Sex Drive which links to a variety of other blog posts on the subject.

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Ambro courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Strategies for Manly Married Men

Lots of men seem to be looking for a magic button of sorts to satisfy their partners in bed. I’m guessing that is why there are so many magazines and books focused on various sexual techniques, finding the elusive “g-spot” and other tips for men.

Notwithstanding the fact that women can be a bit complicated, when I read the following paragraph from Tom Basson’s blog, I thought it might just be the best sexual advice I’ve read for husbands to always remember. The article is called This one goes out to all the manly men, and he offers very good advice on how to create the love story in your life you’ve always wanted.

“Husbands, make love to your wife’s heart, not just her body. As ferociously as possible, find that woman’s heart and connect with it. Learn everything about her and connect with her in as many ways as possible. Understand her story and care about her past. Then her body will respond in ways she never thought humanly possible, and, for that matter, so will yours.”

The advice isn’t only intended to satisfy a mate sexually, but to build a better connection between both partners and satisfy a deep longing in both of them. Husbands and wives have a deep desire for connection, and the pace and technological influences of our day don’t help us meet that desire. Instead, they create obstacles that impede us in our drive for true connection, because they take our eye off the ball with many distractions.

What can you do to move your love story forward, and to bring you and your spouse closer together? How can you truly connect this week, understand your mate’s cares, desires and longings? How can you help stay connected despite your many obligations? How can you remove distractions that get in the way of your focus on your spouse? If it seems like too much of a challenge, read on.

How much time are you spending a day together?

Here’s one possible way to get a jump start. Dustin Reichmann at Engaged Marriage blog has a 10-minute test drive, with eight short things you can do with only 10-15 minutes of time to spend each day with your spouse. He nicely did the math for us, and explained that if we spend just 15 minutes a day connecting with our spouse, we will spend more than 91 hours together in a year. And this type of daily connection is more important than an annual vacation, especially if you are neglecting the rest of the year.

So check out the 100-minute challenge (10 days, 10 minutes) and you’ll see the steps are not at all daunting. For instance, day 5 is relaxing with your favorite dessert or drink together while sharing three things about your day, and day 6 is sharing a foot or back massage. Days 1 and 10 involve rating your marriage to see if you have made a difference in just 10 days. I think these bite-size challenges are a great way to infuse a little extra connection into your day.

What other ideas do you have to help you build a daily connection? Discuss your ideas with your spouse, and feel free to share your ideas here!

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. The book tells the true stories that demonstrate that marriage can thrive even in the most difficult circumstances. Learn from 12 inspiring couples who experienced child loss, infidelity, drug addiction, cancer, financial crises, brain injury, stranger rape, military service, infertility, opposing religions, unsupportive families, interracial relationships, raising special-needs children, and much more. These couples found the pressures of life didn’t destroy them; instead, they crystallized their commitment to each other. Available from Amazon.com or at your favorite e-book retailer.

Photo by Ambro courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net.

How Birth Control May Put a Wet Blanket on Your Sex Life

A frequent concern of married couples is change in sex drive, especially a common decrease in sex drive for the woman. I’ve shared many possible problems and solutions, including foods that may increase libido and 4 tips to boost libido.

I probably haven’t spent enough time talking about medications being a very common cause of low libido. The medications that reduce sex drive could be taken by either spouse. However, birth control (i.e. the birth control pill or variations) is probably the most frequently used medication that is known to cause a significant decline in libido for users. This decline is potentially long-lasting because of  hormonal changes.

Paul and Lori Byerly recently covered the latest research on the effects of the birth control pill on your sex life. They did a terrific job outlining the research findings at The Marriage Bed. I would encourage you to read this post.

Some couples have medical reasons to choose this option despite the side effects, or otherwise feel it is the right choice for them. Even if that is the case, it is important to have the facts about all medication side effects, especially those that may affect the quality of your marriage and sex life. 

I would add that Dustin Riechmann at Engaged Marriage has written about natural family planning, which some people joke about, but which has shown to be quite effective (99%) when properly used. For Dustin and his wife and for a growing number of people who want to choose a family planning method that is environmentally friendly, without side effects and fits their moral worldview, it’s worth learning about.

Lori’s upcoming book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriagewill be available December 8th on Amazon.com. Read about 12 inspiring couples who used adversity to strengthen their marriages. To learn more, go to www.LoriDLowe.com.  Visit the book’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/LastingBliss.

TOP 10 Marriage Blog Nominations
Stu and Lisa Gray of Stupendous Marriage are gathering nominations for their 3rd Annual Top Marriage Blogs List. If you’re looking for other marriage blogs, check out their list from the last couple of years. Also, you can check out my blogroll page lots of good sites. In any case, feel free to nominate any of your favorite blogs and encourage the community that gives back to marriages. I’ll let you know when the voting starts as well.

Related Links:
These ladies add a lot of thoughtful discussion to today’s blog post topic:
Julie Sibert with Intimacy in Marriage talks about the effects of birth control
Sheila Gregoire with To Love, Honor & Vacuum talks about the range of birth control options and what is best.
Hot, Holy & Humorous writes Want to Rave about Your Birth Control?

Photo by nuttakit courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Which Foods Can Boost Libido?

“Keep the Sparks Alive” Series

Sometimes a change or dip in libido has more to do with hormone or energy levels that have changed. Other times, it’s a matter of exhaustion or being overscheduled.  Experts say particularly for women, scheduling time for date nights and intimacy is key to maintaining a strong connection.

For an increasing number of couples, ubiquitous technology and inability to unplug is making it difficult to physically connect and interact with others in a human way. (Achieve True Connectivity.) Share at least an hour of your day with your loved ones while you are disconnected from technology, including TV, cell phone or computer. (Read Is the Cell Phone Impeding Your Relationship?)

If you’re getting enough rest, and giving each other dedicated time, you might find certain foods affect your level of desire. It’s certainly worth supplementing diet before looking to modern medicine. Some foods have smells or shapes that affect us, and others can alter our body chemistry. Quite a lot of foods can have a substantial affect on our sex drive. Experiment with how certain foods make you feel.

Let’s start with my favorite. Chocolate has long been considered a love drug, because the ingredients phenylethylamine, tryptophan and anadamine make us feel good. In addition, the caffeine in chocolate may boost female libido. Dark chocolate is the most effective. A 2006 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who ate chocolate on a daily basis had higher sexual function than those who didn’t. In addition to the ingredients above, it contains serotonin to boost your mood. Husbands, you have a very good reason to keep your mates supplied with dark chocolate. Wives, a small amount is ideal.

A great summer treat, watermelon helps improve blood flow to the heart and genitalia because it is rich in citruline, which helps relax blood vessels.

A yummie vegetable that helps increase sex drive in men and women is asparagus, which is rich in folate. Folate helps increase production of histamine, which is essential to maintaining libido. Avocados also increase libidos in men and women due to their B6, folic acid and potassium levels.

Researchers believe figs, which are high in amino acids, can increase libido and increase sexual stamina.

Oysters are said to increase libido in both genders, but those who (like me) dislike them can take a zinc supplement—or they could try pumpkin seeds, also rich in zinc (and without the sliminess).

Sauerkraut is another proven libido booster, at least for men. A 2002 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that 90 percent of men felt a noticeable libido boost after eating sauerkraut.

Eggs, nuts, chilies, nutmeg, turkey, brown rice, garlic and fish (especially salmon) all contribute to healthy sex lives for both partners.

For MEN:

Foods high in zinc boost sperm production. And naturally enhancing your diet can help maintain testosterone levels. Ideal foods include broccoli, steak, beans, bananas, pine nuts, and celery.

For WOMEN:

Libido-enhancing foods help us maintain estrogen levels. Soy has been shown to boost women’s sex drive. Please note: Women with a history of breast cancer should not eat large amounts of soy due to increase recurrence rates. Basil is said to stimulate female fertility and boost libido. Foods that help maintain testosterone levels can also help.

Effective SCENTS

The following SCENTS are helpful because they increase penile blood flow: lemons, doughnuts, and licorice. (However, eating the doughnuts has the opposite effect.) For women, smelling licorice and cucumbers or baby powder provides powerful pheromones.

Sources: You Being Beautiful by Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., Libido-Increasing Food, and Love Hacks.

 Photo by Ambro courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com

Blogger Educates Men on Getting Lucky with Wives

Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

When eight women get together to talk openly about love, sex, and marriage, it can be a very eye-opening experience. Sarah Barton (not her real name) found such value in these discussions with her friends that she opted to make those talks public with the blog, Anonymous8, on the condition that they all keep their identities a secret. Why? For one, they want to be as honest as possible, and for two, many of the women have children old enough to be completely embarrassed by their moms’ candor. The resulting discussions are “smart discussions on taboo topics” on everything involved with love and marriage. Check out the discussions here at Anonymous8 from date night ideas to tips from a woman who needs no sex advice.

Initially designed to be a womens-only forum, Sarah found that quite a few men enjoyed lurking around to hear what women really had to say. The more she heard from men, the more she realized how frustrated some of them are about their love lives, particularly after kids come and their wife’s sex drive and available time falls. As a result, Sarah penned Getting Lucky with the Wife to help men keep their relationships fresh and to learn to communicate effectively with their wives in a way that is respectful and not nagging. This book is aimed at couples in which the husband has a higher sex drive than the wife, and it’s written for husbands who would like to increase the amount of quality sex in their marriage.

Sarah has a background in her “real life” in strategic planning, so the 60-page e-book is more than a quick read; it’s a business book about your most personal business. By following the steps, husbands end up with an action plan they can immediately begin to put into practice.

Starting by providing a knowledge base of a woman’s body, it begins with some education about why a woman’s sex drive can be different and why it doesn’t mean she isn’t attracted to her mate. He can start to understand what’s going on with his wife and then help her understand the importance of sex in his life.

Sarah then helps husbands understand what has worked in the past, whether that’s date nights, helping out at home, increasing romance, etc. There are plenty of ideas on how to change the patterns that occur in many marriages. I think the most important aspect of the book includes tips on how best to communicate with the wife about these matters in a way that isn’t blaming, demeaning or disrespectful. In fact, the husband is invited to tell the wife about the book and the steps he is taking rather than using it as a secret strategy to get into bed more often. It’s about both partners getting more of what they want and nurturing the relationship.

Sarah says if sex is important to you, fight for it. She adds that there are many ideas in the book worth trying, and even if only one idea is effective for you to improve your long-term love life, it would certainly be worth the $18 cost of the book. I think the book is an excellent tool for men and women who want to help bridge the gap between the differences in their sex drives and who wish to understand each other better. If this sounds like you, check out Getting Lucky with the Wife (affiliate link). Sarah even offers a 30-day moneyback guarantee if you think it wasn’t effective.

LINKS:
So Cute, So Hard on a Marriagea good post from the Wall Street Journal about the effects of children in a marriage and pre-emptive steps that can help.

Keys to thriving in marriage and how happily married couples can help build and support marriages from StrengtheningMarriage.com.

Considering bariatric surgery? Read about how marriage rules may change after bariatric surgery.

The Truth about Sex in Marriage

Contrary to popular belief, sex is not the overriding factor in either marital happiness or marital distress, says Scott Haltzman, M.D., author of The Secrets of Happily Married Men. It can be a barometer of how things are going, but research shows sex contributes just 15 to 20 percent toward making the relationship satisfying. However, unhappy couples report their sex life is responsible for 50 to 75 percent of their unhappiness. 

While it’s difficult to give blanket advice (no pun intended) to couples when they are each different, Dr. Haltzman says the most common issues involve:

1)      Most men (77 percent in his survey) have a higher sex drive than their wives. Dr. Haltzman says hormone and brain chemical differences are among the most likely reasons for the difference. In particular, testosterone levels are higher in men, with women having about 10 percent of men’s level. Testosterone levels fall as women age, particularly after having children.

2)      Women have an intimacy imperative. Women have 10 times the level of oxytocin in their brains than do men. This puts the emotional connection at a premium for wives, desiring closeness above all else. Men’s level of oxytocin surges to our level only after orgasm.

3)      Women want to feel intimacy, closeness, romance, relationship to help them feel “in the mood.” For women, good sex is as much emotional as physical. Men should use conversation to learn about their wife’s needs, says Dr. Haltzman. Let her know you just want to understand her feelings about sex. Being romantic just to get sex doesn’t work for women.

4)      Life is overly busy. Prima magazine showed women in the 1950s had sex more frequently than today’s women—an average of twice a week for our grandmother’s generation. Back then there was one TV station that turned off at 10 p .m. Generally, only one person in the family worked while the other looked after the children. Today’s families are often so busy and stressed they report they don’t have (or make) time for intimacy.

5)      Men tend to compartmentalize their feelings and concerns, while women’s more developed corpus collosum (the communication strip between the two cerebral hemispheres) allows women to integrate all the data in their brains and experience more subtleties. Her thoughts on one subject spill over into other areas.

6)      Men are more turned on by concrete things they can see, which is why 76 percent want the lights on during sex. Women are more turned on by abstract, emotional things—romance, commitment, intimacy. (Only 36% of women want the lights on.)

Dr. Haltzman says it’s a mistake to think that simply turning on the “romance” will make your love life flourish. Bringing gifts, helping around the house more, and spending time listening can be very erotic for the wife. But if a woman withholds until everything is “just right” the couple’s intimacy issues won’t improve. The longer married couples avoid sex, the more difficult it is to generate positive sexual relationship when they do start again.

The doctor’s advice? Make love even if you don’t feel emotionally connected. (Sorry ladies, I didn’t say it.) You sit through your son’s soccer game in the rain and do many other things out of obligation, and making love should be a part of a healthy marriage. “I’m not suggesting sexual coercion here,” says Dr. Haltzman. “I’m recommending a regular rhythm of sexual attachment with the understanding that some sexual experiences will be better for him than her and some better for her than him, but that the best sexuality does integrate intimacy, pleasuring and eroticism for both people.”

Husbands would do well to include separate activities of G-rated touching and kissing, sensual pleasures from massage to candles to cuddling (without expectations), being playful, and exploring eroticism as well as sex. Dr. Haltzman’s entire book (Secrets of Happily Married Men) is helpful for men who want to better understand their wives, so if you want to learn more, check it out.

Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com

The Surprising Natural Antidepressant You Might Receive from Your Husband

File this study under “most likely research to be shared by men around the world.” You can also file it under “post containing the most words that I never thought I’d be writing about.” But it’s terribly interesting and far-reaching, so here goes: It turns out scientists think semen has special powers to reduce depression when absorbed into the vagina via unprotected sex. Really and truly; it’s too early to be an April Fool’s post.

I will place a forewarning here early in this post, just as research psychologist, Jesse Bering,  did when he wrote the article for Scientific American that I stumbled across, “An ode to the many evolved virtues of human semen.” Having unprotected sex is clearly a risky proposition in today’s world. That’s why this information is intended for married/committed readers. Please be wise in your application of this data. I also give credit to the author for his well-mannered apology for what will likely to result in an increase in ejaculatory humor, “Ladies, forgive me for what I have done.”

OK, back to the “rich vat of seminal theory,” as Bering so aptly calls it. It all began back in 2006 when Gordon Gallup and Rebecca Burch were studying menstrual synchrony (that fact that women in the same household tend to synchronize their menstrual cycles). Because lesbian women did not have the same effect on one another, Gallup and Burch began to look at the possible effects of semen, realizing quickly how little is known about how the chemicals in semen influence female biology, behavior and psychology.

A little biological background is helpful. Semen (or seminal plasma) contains only 1 to 5 percent sperm. The rest of the chemical composition includes more than 50 compounds with various functions. A few of the more notable elements include cortisol (increases affection), estrone (mood elevator), prolactin (a natural antidepressant), oxytocin (mood elevator), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (antidepressant), melatonin (induces sleep), and serotonin (well-known antidepressant neurotransmitter), among many others. It’s not a stretch for researchers to then consider whether semen would have antidepressive effects, given its composition. The presence of two female hormones in semen (FSH and LH) may indicate that it has some power to trigger ovulation.

Bering also notes that the vagina has long been known as an ideal route for drug delivery because of the many arteries and blood vessels in the area. Chemicals that enter the body through the vagina “have an almost direct line to the peripheral vascular system.”

Results of Study
Now that you know biologically why the theory seems plausible, what did the researchers actually study and discover? They recruited 293 college females from the SUNY-Albany campus, who filled out anonymous surveys about their sexual behavior. They compared women who had sexual activity with condoms with those who did not. They also tracked depressive symptoms using the Beck Depression Inventory, a fairly common clinical tool.

After adjusting for frequency of sexual intercourse, women who had sex and “never” used condoms showed significantly lower depressive symptoms than those who “usually” or “always” used condoms. The unprotected, sexually active women were also less depressed than those who abstained from sex. Sexually active women who used condoms were “just as depressed” as those practicing abstinence. (This takes care of the argument that happier people have sex, or that having sex makes for happier people.)  I repeat my above statement that this article is intended for married/committed couples as unprotected sex with multiple partners remains a very high risk.

In addition, women having sex who “never” used condoms were much less likely to have attempted suicide than those who “sometimes” or “usually” used them.

Still, I immediately thought about hormonal birth control and its possible effects. It turns out the researchers also controlled for that possibility. They also controlled for frequency of sex and duration of the relationship with the male partner.

In an important caveat, the researchers admit that the results are “preliminary and correlational in nature, and as such are only suggestive.” They say that to gather more definitive evidence would ideally require the measurement of seminal components in the recipient’s blood.

Let’s see if they are able to replicate the results, or if they even plan to. There certainly are other plausible explanations for the results.

Ladies, are you surprised by the results? Do you think there could be other causes for the reduced levels of depression? Men, have you always thought you held a special power in your loins?

Related Link:
After I scheduled this post to publish, I found The Generous Husband just posted about this very same topic. Paul lists other potential positive attributes of semen, including pain control and better sleep.

Photo credit: ©Pavel Losevsky/PhotoXpress.com

How to Improve and Increase Sex in Your Marriage

“Keeping the Spark Alive” Series

There are many ways to maintain romantic sparks, but many of us are clearly not making time or effort for romance.

I recently reviewed some ongoing survey results at the Crucible Institute, founded by David Schnarch, PhD, author of Passionate Marriage. (The web site offers relationship advice to awaken your passion and feelings of intimacy.) The incomplete survey—which already includes thousands of participants—reported that 12 percent of those surveyed in relationships had not had sex in the last year. More than 20 percent more only had sex a few times in the last year. It’s not that married couples should reach a certain magic number per week, but these statistics show many couples are having major problems in the area of sharing sexuality.

How do we keep from becoming merely roommates, or liven things up if you could use a little romantic boost?

Fill the Emotional Needs Bucket
Reuters reported early this month that three out of ten people surveyed who were in a relationship more than five years say they never receive any compliments from their partners. Recalling that it takes five positive interactions for every one interaction to maintain a positive relationship, couples are certainly missing out on a lot of positivity. (Read the details of the 5:1 ratio.)

Find something each day for which you can genuinely compliment your spouse—whether it’s something they’ve done well at work or at home, a physical quality you appreciate, or another trait you find endearing. Keep in mind, men as well as women like to hear that you are physically attracted to them. While women may receive compliments about their hair or dress, men aren’t likely to get this kind of feedback from friends or coworkers. (That would be a little awkward to hear, “Dude, love that tie, where did you get it?” from another guy.)

Having plenty of physical touch throughout the day, spending 15 minutes each day connecting with one another, and listening to one another will go a long way toward filling each other’s emotional buckets. Be open about your fears and desires, and talk about your dreams for the future.

Fill the Physical Needs Bucket
The obstacle that I hear about most often for romance is being too tired—or even chronically exhausted. Women’s Day reported this month that 41 percent of married women would choose an extra hour of sleep over sex with their husband. (Not so surprising, is it?) With so many dual-career families, child rearing responsibilities, sports and extracurricular activities for older children, daily chores and more, it’s not surprising so many people are drained. Sleep difficulties, especially as we age, can add to the challenge of feeling rested. Couples who go to bed at different times can create additional challenges, because the sleeping partner is not likely to want to wake up for romance once they are asleep.

Suki Hanfling, certified sex therapist, says in the Women’s Day article, if you’ve been dragging all day, “waiting until bedtime to have sex almost guarantees no nookie.” She suggests choosing a time when you’re more awake, such as in the mornings or on the weekend after a nap. Yes, you may even have to schedule sex to make sure it happens.

If your partner is the one who is over-tired, and you are hoping to increase the amount of hanky-panky, figure out a way for him or her to get a nap. If one of you is chronically exhausted, it’s time to consider revamping your responsibilities or visiting the doctor. Avoid telling yourselves that “these are the difficult years when we have young children, and it will get better when the kids get older.” While that may be true to some extent, you need to prioritize your sex lives now, before you lose touch with one another.

Hanfling suggests you don’t have to be turned on to do the deed. A Penn State survey showed even women who had lost their desire said that when they did have sex, they enjoyed it. “Be open to each other’s advances and communicate, in a loving way, what feels good.”

The Woman’s Day article, Put the Spark Back Into Your Marriage at Any Age, has a lot of helpful advice from several experts for couples as they age.

Prioritize–Reignite or Keep Fire Burning
I think it’s important to mention that it’s generally easier to keep your romantic flames burning (or at least flickering) than it is to reignite them once the fire has gone cold. That is not to say that it’s impossible, but you may need to give yourselves more time to get back in the groove. Some couples may need outside assistance to help them reconnect if sex has been long absent from their marriage.

If you’re looking to open up communication about intimacy, I recommend reading Hot Monogamy together and taking the surveys together. At a minimum, start the conversation (without blame) about how you miss being with your partner the way you used to be.

What will it take for you to keep the romantic sparks going in your marriage, or to reignite them if they’ve gone out? Are you and your partner open to reevaluating your priorities and lives to make sure there’s some time for intimacy?

Related Link:
Help for the Sex-Starved Wife, this Time Magazine interview with Michele Weiner-Davis shares invaluable information for women who have a higher sex drive than their husbands.

Read Refinding Intimacy from Anonymous8′s blog about the dry spells that most couples go through. Guest poster Julie Sibert says, “After all, it’s not ‘sex’ that mows the yard, signs the permission slips or feeds the dog.  Sex seems like such a ‘negotiable’ – and everything else that ‘has to be done’ screams a bit louder.  The irony to it all is that nurtured sexual intimacy actually better equips a couple to ‘do life together.’”

Photo credit: ©PhotoXpress.com

What Men and Women Always Need More of in Relationships

“Happy Life: Happy Marriage” Series

I was hoping someone would disagree with my post We Can’t Get No Satisfaction and argue that they are completely satisfied with all that life has to offer. However, if that person exists, he or she has not joined our discussion.  (I think people who have learned to be content in their circumstances certainly do exist, but it’s not likely they could stifle their unmet desires entirely.)

The interesting, yet challenging, part of our inability to be satisfied is that men and women tend to differ as to their areas of primary insatiability. The inability to understand the areas in which your spouse is likely to be dissatisfied can certainly bring conflict into your marriage, and probably already has.

Men and women in general have equally insatiable natures, says Dennis Prager, author of Happiness is a Serious Problem. They share many areas in which they may be unsatisfied, such as material wealth or finding a meaningful purpose. However, each gender has one particular area that is plagued with insatiability. Prager says for women, that area is emotional intimacy; for men, it is sexual variety.  (He goes on to explain that social influence causes men to search for different sexual partners.) Both of these longings are equally strong and can cause dissatisfaction and discord in the relationship.

Prager says the solution lies in first understanding one’s own sex. Much of our frustration may be related to believing that we can attain the unattainable—the ability to be satisfied with something that few can be satisfied about. We must understand our own desires, and then try to understand our partner’s frustrated desires. Within reason, we should attempt to fulfill our spouse’s needs. We also should be understanding when our partner isn’t able to satisfy our desires.

For example, a woman even in a good marriage with a loving husband may be frustrated that she does not receive enough emotional intimacy. Even if she has expressed her need and maybe even increases the amount of emotional intimacy she shares with her spouse, she may never be completely satisfied with their level of intimacy. If she is aware that she can’t be completely fulfilled in this area, perhaps she can appreciate what she does have with her partner. However, the man has a responsibility to attempt to understand her, and work to establish a deeper relationship with her, allowing for time with her and making romantic gestures such as loving touches, giving flowers or other acts that demonstrate love.

Men may also benefit from understanding it is not in their nature to be satisfied sexually. A man may be setting himself up for failure if he thinks he can fulfill his desire for sexual variety by having an extramarital affair, says Prager. “A sexual affair doesn’t quell a man’s urge for variety for anything approaching a year. Shortly after his affair, he is back to sexual square one.” Sharing a good sex life is important to the marriage, even if his desires may not be entirely satisfied. “The man must know that even in the best circumstances—frequent and satisfying sexual relationship with a partner whom he loves—he will still walk around (especially in contemporary Western societies, with their sexual bombardments) with sexual frustration.” Reminding himself of his insatiable sexual nature may help the man appreciate the sex life he shares with this wife.

Understanding how to be happy within marriage means we may have to fight natural impulses to be unhappy or dissatisfied. We can control our mind and remind ourselves of the positive aspects in our relationship. Being grateful, and expressing that gratitude has been repeatedly proven to boost relationships. It is possible to be happy in a relationship, even when we are not completely satisfied.

Do you agree or disagree with the areas of insatiability for men and women? Are they difficult areas to overcome?

Interesting Links:
Check out cool giveaways this week at the Dating Divas.

A bad marriage is worse for her than for him from The Generous Husband. It’s true that research shows a bad marriage impacts the wife emotionally and physically more than the husband.

Photo credit: ©Pavel Losevsky/PhotoXpress.com

Delaying Sex Leads to Higher Sexual Satisfaction & More Stable Marriages

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

While it’s common for couples to have sex before marriage, a study released just before the new year and reported on WebMD says couples who wait until marriage are happier with the quality of sex than couples who have intercourse before the vows. Those who delayed sex were also happier in their marriages than those who had premarital sex.

Since a significant portion of the readers here are unmarried, and many of the married couples have children who are of dating age, I thought it was pertinent research to share.

The study appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology and involved more than 2,000 married participants. Those who waited to have sex reported 15% higher sexual quality, 22% higher marital stability, and 20% higher relationship satisfaction. The benefits were about half as strong for couples who became sexually active later in their relationships but before their wedding. Study author Dean Busby, PhD, surmised that the delay may have allowed the couples to develop stronger relationship skills and gave them more time to get to know one another.

Busby and his team controlled for the influence of religion, because that often influences when couples choose to initiate intimacy. “Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” Busby says.

In our culture, it is common for couples to view sex in the early stages of a relationship as a way to test compatibility, explain the researchers. However, they conclude that “the longer a couple waited to become sexually involved, the better that sexual quality, relationship communication, relationship satisfaction and perceived relationship stability was in marriage.”

Do you think it’s reasonable to delay intimacy in a relationship until a couple gets to know one another well, or are committed to one another?

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