“A good way to change someone’s attitude is to change your own, because the same sun that melts butter hardens clay.” – Unknown
The New Year is a time of transformation in your relationship. You know what didn’t work, and you know what sometimes worked, so it’s time to prepare to get your relationship back on track. We spend a lot of money and time buying our gym memberships and cookbooks to get our body in shape, but we forget our relationship needs a plan too. Your relationship can be neglected in all types of ways. Letting your body go, using food, cigarettes, alcohol or drugs to manage chronic stress all affect how we relate to ourselves as well as our partner. We get bombarded with losing weight ads, new healthy foods to try, as well as new exercise workouts. The best workout for your relationship and the quickest way to feel connected and encouraged in your relationship is to have sex with your partner. Not only that, every cell in your body responds in a positive way when you have sex in a committed, healthy relationship. Couples who have sex are healthier, more connected and less depressed. What drug could offer you all of that and more?
Many women are reluctant to engage in this new “workout” of adding frequent sex to their marriage. The kids, the chores, their busy schedule, as well as their partners has them feeling frazzled and beat down. They no longer feel sexual, or perhaps they feel it is too much work. Statistics support that up to 40% of women lose their libido or struggle with feeling sexual toward their partner. There may be medical as well as self esteem issues causing this problem, but research also suggests that engaging in the act of love making itself can begin to help women feel more sexual and alleviate depression and anxiety. A big part of this issue is marital discord.
When women no longer feel close to their partner, it is difficult for them to want to have sex, and many times this loss of connection fuels the feelings of depression and anxiety that sex would help alleviate. A vicious cycle is difficult to break, unless women begin to understand they aren’t having sex for anyone but themselves and their health. When women can begin to see sex as a way of promoting their own health, they won’t use it as a form of punishment when they are not connected with their spouse. Sex should never be used as a bribe or a reward anymore than eating healthy or exercising should be. Sex is an expression of love, connection, and a form of taking care of yourself. One should eat healthy because your body needs good food to function well, and you should exercise to help alleviate stress and keep your body in good shape. Sex, eating well and exercise are all cheaper and healthier than a psychotherapist, physician, or medications.
The loss of connection is no little thing, and many times it underlies depression, which compromises ones’ ability to enjoy life. However, using this loss of connection as an excuse for not exercising, not eating healthy, or not engaging in sex is being irresponsible. This new year, step up to the plate. Confront the real issues, but keep them separate from taking care of yourself. If you have problems with low libido, there are many medical/emotional reasons that can cause you to feel dead inside. Below are suggestions of where you and your partner should begin.
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1. Make an appointment with your physician and tell them you would like to be referred to an OB/GYN physician or a urologist who specializes in sexual dysfunction. No matter if you are a man or a woman, this should be addressed for your health and the health of your marriage.
2. There is a wonderful website for couples called www.middlesexmd.com. I am an expert for this group, as well as several other professionals. It is run by a physician who specializes in sexual issues. Go to the site as a couple, read the articles and talk about them as a couple.
3. If you grew up thinking sex was dirty, you have to make “new tapes” in your head. Religion can be wonderful to inspire and encourage people, but it can also make people feel shamed or inhibited about their sexual health. You are an adult; it’s time to reassess what those old tapes are telling you.
4. Couples deal with a sexual issue better than you can deal with it on your own. Talk to your partner about your feelings. Guys, you need to take time, and sit with your partner and LISTEN. Don’t tell her she’s crazy or you don’t understand. Tell her you love her and you are sure your love can see her through this. If guys have the low libido, ladies, be as loving and supportive as I have suggested (1/3 of all men deal with erectile dysfunction).
When I first began as a psychotherapist, I was trained to do marital therapy only. After two months I quickly realized I needed additional sexual training. Almost every marriage that is struggling has a sexual component. When sex stops, one person is feeling rejected, and most likely they use sex to project that feeling on to their partner. Let’s stop this cycle in the New Year. Ladies, become the initiator in love making for a healthier and happier 2012. -Mary Jo Rapini
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