LET'S TALK ABOUT IT
It is something I talk about often at work, but haven’t written much about. It is something very important to married couples, who are unfortunately the ones who seem to talk about it the least. It is a part of our lives that is affected by both mental and physical health, which is why I hope that you will find this article about sex helpful. I have only been married for nine years in 2019, but would like to think that my privileged position as a medical doctor gives me insight into a lot of the struggles people have in this area. It is amazing how many people do not realise the importance of good mental health for sexual health and enjoyment. We are not machines that can function well as long as the physical parts are working - poor mental health can manifest itself through low libido, low self esteem, poor relationships and sexual dissatisfaction. Psychological well-being contributes to the enjoyment of the gift of sex, especially in a loving relationship. Finding happiness in your life and helping your partner to do same can help your sex life. Improving your attitude towards sex can also help your relationship in the long term. It is not a talent: I find it funny when people talk about someone being a good/bad kisser, or being good in bed. The ability to have good sex is not a talent some are born with! This kind of thinking puts so much pressure on young people and new couples, leading to performance anxiety and even erectile dysfunction. I believe the best sex is something that happens between two people who take time to learn each other’s bodies. You do not have to sleep with fifty men/women to become good in bed! In this age of fast food and instant gratification, the idea of taking time to love and understand one person seems so archaic. People only care about their own feelings, lusts and satisfaction, with little regard for the needs of even the people they claim to love! If both husband and wife make it a priority to satisfy the other, rather than just themselves, sex will become a very enjoyable expression of love. Don’t give up on each other easily - practice does make perfect. It is not rent: Many married people see sex as an obligation or duty. This kind of thinking is more common in certain cultures and religions, and can suck the joy out of sexual intimacy. People want to feel wanted and valued - which is sadly why the stolen sex in an affair seems more fun than the ‘obligatory’ sex in some marriages. Although it is true that in marriage, you promise your body to your partner only, so technically he/she has no where else to go for this if the marriage vows are to be respected, it is still important not to get into a legalistic mindset with this, where the men, who are usually the main earners and most keen for sex, feel that it is their right to have it whenever they wish, and the women, who are often the homemakers and less keen for sex after a long day, feel that they have to ‘pay their rent’ at bedtime before they can have a peaceful sleep! It helps when couples are able to communicate their sexual needs to each other considerately, and find a common ground where both can feel cherished, not used. It is not food: This is the common phrase spouses throw at the husband or wife who has the greater desire for sex. Although sex is not food or essential for life, it is still a natural human desire, especially when you live with someone who is physically attracted to you, and hopefully vice versa. It is torture to expect someone to watch their attractive spouse everyday in the same bedroom, without touching! This is why temptation is easier avoided than resisted. Spouses should be considerate of the feelings/needs of their partners, and understand that the relationship is not all about you. In this age of independence and rights, people only want to do whatever suits them, whenever they want. I find that putting someone else’s needs above yours can sometimes help you to realise what true love really means. I am one of those Christian women who saved sex for marriage, and I will confess here to encourage others, that we had to push through the inital awkwardness and discomfort (like learner drivers) before discovering the ongoing pleasure of sex in marriage. When couples promise to be there for each other “for better or worse”, they don’t have to have great sex to stay married, but why would anyone choose the worse when they can have better? Why choose to live as housemates when you can be one in body and spirit? It all takes work, but is worth it. I know these things are never as simple as they sound. Many relationships have been through hard times, betrayals, hurt and trials that cannot be ignored. This is why talking is important. Pushing issues under the carpet will only lead to them being expressed as a lack of interest in sexual intimacy, bitterness and emotional separation. Nothing is too little or too big to discuss with each other when couples put aside their pride and preconceptions to understand, forgive and appreciate each other. Psycho-sexual and marriage counsellors are available to help, and you have to be ready to make changes and compromise. There are several books by experts on this topic, but none of them can help a marriage to succeed if self-centredness remains the order of the day. Everyone likes to feel loved and appreciated, and it can start with you improving your attitude and reaching out first. Selflessness is the new sexy. Stop thinking about what you want or don’t want all the time, seek to understand more than to be understood, make your spouse’s happiness a priority and see how much happier your life can be!