The biggest discrepancy between men and women is the way they look at relationships. Women need a relationship to have sex. Guys need sex to have a relationship. That says everything. Guys could do without the relationship if they just had sex, most of the time. Women think they could do without the sex if they had a great relationship. But…they can’t, nor should they. Women’s ambiguous feelings toward sex and relationships tend to initiate most of the conflict within the relationship and marriage. It’s not that women don’t want sex; it’s simply that they want the relationship more. Guys cannot understand this, and they go to great lengths to try and “trick” the system, but the system is set in place, and the only one who gets tricked is the guy and whoever he is in a relationship with.
Typically, when men marry they feel a sense of accomplishment. They found someone to share their life with, help them face their battles and be their sexual companion. They may want kids, and trust this woman to help raise the children to grow up to be responsible adults. Women want all of this, and more. They want a relationship. They want to share their lives with their partner and feel connected. Women achieve this connection by talking in an intimate setting.
Men talk about this need to talk, and may joke about it, but they really don’t understand the importance of it until they are in their mid forties. Up until that time, it seems unnecessary to many men, and they draw no correlation between their ability to communicate with their wives and the frequency of sex they engage in. They should. Men are making a huge mistake if they tease or belittle this need for closeness that women have. Women cannot fight the need, and the majority of affairs women have are due to their finding another partner who addresses their need for verbal closeness. It’s not right, but it happens, and it happens much more frequently than the men to whom they are married could ever imagine. When men find out their spouse has cheated they are justifiably angry and tell her, “How could you do this to me?” “I gave you everything.” “Anything you wanted, I did for you.” “Why?”
He may have done a lot, given a lot, but he assumed his wife loved him the way he loved her. She didn’t. She wanted a relationship and that was the one thing he could not/did not give her.
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Cheating is never an acceptable solution to any problem, but not understanding why cheating occurred makes you more vulnerable to it happening again. If you are a guy, don’t assume that once you marry your emotional work is done. If you are a woman, talk to your partner and tell them directly what you need. They cannot guess, nor should they. If you can’t admit to what you need to feel sexual with them, or connected with them, then seek counseling. Marriages that express more anger are marriages where sex has been limited or used as a weapon. If you use sex as a way of getting back or hurting your partner, it will backfire on you when you least expect it. How do couples make sure they emotionally connect in a world where both people are working, traveling or have kids to take care of? It’s not that difficult, but the need for an emotional as well as a sexual connection has to be valued. These suggestions will help bring more intimacy into your new year:
1. Couples who talk about their sex life have a more intimate closeness and engage in sex more frequently. Set aside ten minutes each day to be together, hold hands and talk. One of the biggest problems with sex is talking about it. Suffering in silence is not recommended, nor is blaming or shaming.
2. If you feel “dead” or “numb” when you make love, that is a problem. Go to your physician and ask for a referral to an Urologist who specializes in sexual dysfunction. If the feelings are more due to conflict in your relationship, begin with a counselor.
3. When you notice distance in your relationship, confront it directly. Passively waiting for it to “blow over” is being neglectful of the most important relationship in your life.
4. No relationship or marriage just ends. There are warning signs. A fever means you are getting sick; withdrawal means someone is unhappy in the relationship.
5. Frequency of intercourse is a matter of personal preference. As a general rule, once a week is a good place to begin. Many of my patients have gone for a year without sex; this is too long. It isn’t healthy physically or emotionally for either partner. Intercourse is only one type of sex; there are unlimited ways to show physical and emotional intimacy.
Many influences in our lives dictate our comfort with our sexuality. Talking about these influences and encouraging your partner to trust you with their feelings are integral parts of a healthy marriage. Feeling ashamed or embarrassed about your sexuality and blaming your partner because they enjoy their sexuality is self righteous and demeaning. When one partner is unhappy with the frequency of sex in their marriage, the worst thing you can say is, “I’m going to leave and find it elsewhere.” The best thing you can do as a couple is to address the issue together. Go to the physician and counselor together. Intimacy and sex is the glue that holds a healthy marriage together, but it must include a verbal/emotional connection to enhance the symbolism. After all, meaningless sex is everywhere, hence its name. –Mary Jo Rapini
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