Many couples, both men and women, find any discussion of their sex life intensely embarrassing. This lack of discussion leads to difficulties in enjoying sexual pleasure and exploring sexual fantasies. Physical intimacy may be lost if the couple has not invested in learning about enjoying sex play together.
“What’s the one thing that differentiates good friends from lovers? Sex…
Stop having good sex and you stop feeling connected to your partner.” (p207 Hot Relationships 1999)
The discussion of investing in your sex life covers the following:
- ENJOYING SEX PLAY: especially over time, a woman can enjoy her own arousal through erotic sex play even if orgasm is missing.
- EMOTIONAL INTIMACY: a woman is more likely to feel amenable to sex if her partner invests in the companionable and loving aspects of the relationship.
- PHYSICAL INTIMACY: given that the immediate rewards of a sexual relationship have a strong male bias, a man needs to invest effort in making sex more rewarding for his partner.
A man’s desire for physical intimacy (male sex drive) leads to commitment to each other over a lifetime (emotional intimacy). A woman’s sexuality works quite differently. Her pleasure comes from being able to excite a man. She learns that sex motivates a man, initially perhaps to pay for dinner or buy her jewellery, but later to support her in the immense task of raising children.
Young women may enjoy exploring sex with different partners but ultimately most women want to be more than a notch on a man’s bedpost. They hope for companionship, through sharing interests, a sense of humour and common life goals. So a woman offers sex to a man over the longer-term because she identifies him as a worthy mate and a supportive companion.
Long-term sexual relationships
Sex is relatively straightforward in the first 10 years or so. In long-term relationships, sex can become limited in imagination and spontaneity, partly through habit and partly through poor communication. Over time, any couple who cares about their sex life will need to find new ways of enjoying sex play. This may involve investing in other areas of the relationship first.
If your sexual relationship has broken down, you need to start right back at the beginning. No one is likely to engage in sex as a loving act if there are issues in the wider relationship. The first step in revitalising any couple’s sex life is to talk through the general issues with a neutral third party (therapist). Relationships only survive through a willingness to give, on both sides.
Events in the past cannot be changed but it can help if each partner acknowledges what has happened and appreciates how the other person felt about the situation. Once the big issues have been resolved, decide together to invest some effort in the time you spend together generally. Put off addressing any change to your sex life until there is a firm foundation for the wider relationship. Wait until you feel some sexual anticipation returning to the relationship.
“It’s important to see three points: (1) change is possible; (2) it isn’t his fault that he is the way he is; and (3) there is no better alternative.” (p192 Why Men don’t get enough Sex and Women don’t get enough Love 1994)
I realised that if I wanted my partner to support me in my ambitions for family (which naturally included plans for his money and efforts) then it was reasonable that I should be willing to contribute towards his ambition for enjoying sex play with a partner. It’s important to recognise that men do not gain the same emotional intimacy from family life that women typically do.