I have heard it at least a dozen times this week. A woman explaining to me that she doesn’t feel like being intimate with her husband, meaning she’s not down for having sex, until she feels a stronger emotional connection with him. Maybe he’s distant and stressed. Maybe there’s been hurt that has left lingering resentment. Maybe communication is stalled and misunderstandings are plentiful. That said, for whatever reason, or no reason at all, she isn’t feeling “connected” and she isn’t putting out. How can she be expected to be physically intimate when she’s missing emotional intimacy?
Joel and Katie had been married for six years. In the last twelve months they’d had sex exactly two times. The longer they went without sex, the more distant Joel got. The more distant Joel got, the less Katie wanted to be around him, let alone be touched by him. Needless to say, the romance was completely dead and the relationship was hanging on by a hair. Katie got three relationship coaching sessions as a gift from her sister. At the beginning of our call she informed me she didn’t think there was much that could be done in three sessions. She was pretty sure her situation was much more dire then that. After listening to her describe the situation on the home front I bet her $100 dollars we could fix things, or at least dramatically improve them in one session. I had only one condition, she had to do her homework assignment period - no questions asked - no cheating - no bull.
Her homework - Katie had to agree to have sex with Joel at least six days out of the next seven before our next call. There was a very long silent stall on the line before she hesitantly agreed and took the bet. At the end of the week I was $100 bucks richer, and Katie had been showered with affection and attention. Joel had taken her out for two romantic “dates”, sent her flowers at work, and had been more then willing to hang on her every word in conversation. He was quite attentive. Was it the sex? Sort of but not really. What created the connection was Oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a feel good brain chemical. It’s often referred to as the cuddling chemical or the love hormone. It influences all kinds of behaviors including, maybe especially, “pair bonding”. Though men do generate Oxytocin naturally, they don’t match the production levels in women. The one time both men and women experience higher levels of Oxytocin is immediately after sex, resulting in, you guessed it, “pair bonding”. Simply put, sex leads to the emotional intimacy women crave and by “holding out” until intimacy happens, it makes intimacy much, much harder to get.
The bottom line is sex is not optional if you want an emotionally healthy marriage, at least if you’re married to a man. It’s part of the reason there is usually a very high degree of connection in the beginning stages of relationships. There is usually a lot of sex. So, ladies, no excuses, no cheating, no bull. Do your homework, then get back to me. Chances are very good you’ll be glad you didn’t bet me $100.00.