How To Spice Up Your Marriage: A Practical Guide For Couples
A rewarding sex life is a gift many couples cherish—a gift they hope to never lose. The wonders of love often defy words. When expressed through sexual longings and desire, love can elevate a relationship to remarkable heights. Couples frequently describe how close they feel to each other through sexual expression. Clearly, the benefits of sex are far-reaching.
You and your partner/spouse deserve the gifts that physical intimacy can offer your relationship.
But, as you may already know, sex isn’t always simple and straightforward, and maintaining a fulfilling sex life can become pretty challenging for many couples. If you and your partner are struggling with dwindling sexual desire and loss of sexual activity, you’re not alone. In fact, many couples struggle to keep sexual passion and desire alive in their relationships. Here’s what the research says about long-term relationships/marriage and sex:
- As many as 33% of women age eighteen to fifty-nine report a loss of sexual desire, as well as a loss of interest in sex;
- On average, people in their forties report having half the amount of sex as people thirty and younger;
- It is estimated that as many as 15% of married couples have not had sex in the last six months to a year;
- Couples in a sexless marriage are more likely to consider divorce than couples who are sexually active;
- Married couples who report having no sex life also report less marital satisfaction (though it may be their marital dissatisfaction that is leading to the lack of sex).
Why I Created a Website for Couples Wanting Greater Sexual Intimacy & Fulfillment…
While many couples describe experiences of passionate love-making early on in their relationship, many of us are all too familiar with the painful reality of a passionless—and even in some cases a sexless—marriage as the years tick by. Sadly, the fate of too many couples seems to follow a predictable path: passion fades, sexual excitement dwindles, and before long, it takes Herculean efforts for even a modicum of intimacy in the marriage to exist.
And something that’s important to remember (and something that not all people are aware of) is that sex is not important just for sex’s sake: it is important for your relationship’s sake. So when sex falls by the wayside, something important is lost in your relationship or marriage.
As a psychologist and couples counselor for twenty years, I’ve witnessed the struggles of couples searching to re-ignite intimacy. Intimate relationships require a special type of emotional closeness, one that can be nurtured through the expression of your sexual needs. As you’ll discover, sexual intimacy feeds emotional intimacy, and it’s this emotional foundation that allows couples the security needed for deeper sexual expressiveness. The blending of the sexual and emotional is vital to intimate relationships, and it needs your attention. When this aspect of the relationship is neglected, you and your partner may feel increasingly unsatisfied and experience an ever-widening distance between you.
Couples often report that when the “sex is great” in their marriage/relationship, it only occupies a small percentage of their overall attention. But when there are problems in the bedroom, or when the sexual seesaw feels hopelessly imbalanced, sex seems to negatively consume much of their emotional energy.
Sex And Marriage: What Couples Have to Say about Their Sexual Struggles…
“I’m afraid my husband isn’t attracted to me anymore… He hardly touches me.”
One of the most painful emotional experiences is to feel undesired by the person you love. There are different reasons why this might happen in a relationship, and as you’ll discover, effective communication around what you each need sexually is essential in addressing this delicate relationship issue.
“We’re not having enough (or any) sex! I feel like we’re roommates rather than romantic partners… I want a partner and a lover.”
This ubiquitous complaint seems to creep into so many marriages, and with good reason: Hectic lives, the demands of parenting, the emotional and physical fallout of stress, medication or medical issues, to name a few, can really take a toll on a couple’s shared libido. Learning ways to protect and nurture your sexual relationship is paramount to overcoming this issue.
“I’m afraid I’m not satisfying my husband (or wife) sexually.”
Sometimes these fears are unfounded and, of course, there are times when these fears are based in reality. Understanding each other’s sexual needs, creating a mindset that encourages sexual exploration, discovering new sexual techniques and feeling emotionally secure enough to experiment in the bedroom can go a long way in addressing this sexual issue.
“I think my husband has a fear of intimacy… It feels like he can’t (or doesn’t want to) get too close to me.”
Emotional and sexual intimacy—that deep sense of feeling seen and close to one another—isn’t for the faint of heart. While we may crave a deep and satisfying connection with our partner (whether emotionally, sexually, or spiritually), for some of us this isn’t always easy to achieve (despite our partner’s emotional availability and willingness). Deeply ingrained internal blocks, attitudes and defenses about sex that were erected in childhood may be standing in the way. One important topic we’ll be looking at closely is how a fear of intimacy may be negatively impacting your ability to connect with one another sexually and emotionally.
“I don’t like my body and rarely feel sexual.”
Sexual and physical intimacy bring us face-to-face with our own bodily insecurities and hangups. Our body takes center stage during love-making, and therefore, our relationship to our body (a relationship that might involve intense conflict) becomes highly relevant with regards to our ability to express ourselves sexually. Understanding this relationship is paramount to understanding the ways in which your relationship to your body enhances or dampens sexual expressiveness and satisfaction.
“I still feel very sexual, but is this normal at my age? I guess I feel trapped between feeling sexually alive and believing I’m somehow wrong for feeling this way because of my age.”
Fulfilling and passionate sex isn’t just for the young! Survey studies of the sex lives of older people show that nearly three-quarters of individuals age 57 to 64, and more than twenty-five percent between ages 75 to 85, engaged in sexual behavior in the last year. Unfortunately, many older couples I’ve worked with struggle with deep-seated, restrictive beliefs that they are somehow acting inappropriately for their age group if sexual fulfillment remains a high priority. We’ll be examining this important issue in the Sex After 50 series.
Discovering How to Spice Up Your Relationship Sexually…
The above issues are just a few of the topics we’ll explore in greater detail. And while we will touch upon the physical and medical issues that can negatively impact sexual desire and satisfaction, the central focus of How to Spice Up Your Marriage is an in-depth exploration of the psychological workings that can enhance a gratifying sex life or stand in the way of passion and sexual fulfillment. And, as you’ll discover, effective communication is one important part of creating a rewarding love-life. So many couples realize the importance of effective couples communication yet mistakenly fail to bring their communication know-how into the sexual realm.
We’ll be placing the important psychological and emotional issues that drive sex under the microscope so that you can have a greater understanding and appreciation of the ways in which you and your partner connect sexually and the different relationship and emotional issues that can stand in the way of rich and rewarding sexual engagement.
Exploring the different hurdles that might exist in your relationship, hurdles that may be undermining sexual fulfillment, is a central task when building a stronger sexual union and stronger relationship overall. In addition to helping you and your partner reach a greater understanding of each other’s sexual needs (an understanding that can be used to heighten sexual satisfaction), we will also be discussing practical steps that you can take to spice up your sex life.
After working with couples for twenty years, I’ve had a front row seat to the psychological and emotional dynamics entwined with sex, sexuality and intimacy. Some of these dynamics can be a bit complicated and challenging for couples to grapple with. If this weren’t the case, wouldn’t we all be sexually confident and having mind-blowing sex whenever the mood struck?
But the truth is, relationships are complex, emotional intimacy isn’t always easy to achieve and maintain and, as you might already know, the sexual expression of intimate love can easily derail and get lost.
Sex in marriage can lead to a deepening of emotional closeness and, sadly, I’ve also seen how problems in the bedroom can lead to significant wounding and emotional estrangement within a marriage or relationship.
This is why attention and care must be given to this vital part of your relationship!
The Goal – Greater Intimacy in Marriage or Your Relationship
Our mission at How to Spice Up Your Marriage is to help you create a sexual blueprint that can help guide you and your spouse/partner toward greater self-expression, fulfillment and connectedness. It’s important to remember that some trial and error will be required in your intimacy journey, a journey that will also benefit from a non-judgmental, open attitude as you each explore new and exciting relationship and sexual territory.
Remember, the benefits of a healthy sex life go far beyond what happens in the bedroom. Through meaningful sexual expression and connection, you and your partner will be nurturing all aspects of your union: this includes strengthening the very foundation on which your relationship rests, deepening the emotional bond that brings meaning to your life, as well as adding elements of excitement, fun and abandon to your marriage or relationship.
Sex should be fun, sex should be celebrated, and your relationship should be celebrated through sex.
Take your time as you look around. We’ll be adding new articles and videos on a regular basis—updates based on the work I’ve done with couples, as well as information based upon the latest research findings on sexuality. I hope you discover the information and the “how tos” needed to help reawaken passion and add spice to your relationship.
Dr. Rich Nicastro
P.S. Sex and sexuality are multi-dimensional topics. While I hope you’ve found something helpful on this site, I’m including a few links below to informative websites that address important issues about sexual health and behavior. I hope you find the information useful!
- The “frequently asked questions” page of the Kinsey Institute addresses such issues such as masturbation, Internet porn, BDSM, sex and aging, to name a few.
- Sexualityandu.ca is a Canadian website dedicated to sexual health created by The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). There is a wide range of information here, so take your time looking around.
- If you’re looking for a sex educator or sex therapist, the American Association of Sex Educators Counselors and Therapists is a great place to start. You would search the “Locate a Professional” section of the website to find a certified sex therapist in your area.
Photo credits (from top down):