I tend to be the friend my friends call when there is a relationship problem. I am certainly unqualified to be a therapist, but I have studied gender and communication for several years. Basically I know enough to be dangerous. Any of my friends will tell you, if you call me because you are having a hard time with your husband, and are certain you don’t love each other anymore, my response will always be the same; when is the last time you slept with him?
Of course at this they snarl. “Sleep with him? I can’t sleep with him.” And then they go on to list a slew of reasons on why they couldn’t possibly have sex with the man they married. Once they finish, nearly teary eyed, I say the words they hope I had moved on from, “call me back after you start regularly sleeping with your husband.” And you want to know a secret? They rarely have to.
Sex is important. Next week I will talk about how sex alone isn’t enough, but this week I just wanted to focus on why it cannot be overlooked. Whether you want to or not, your marriage needs it. Trust me, I get it, watching Survivor in your underwear and eating double stuffed Oreo’s is just as romantic a night to me as any. I have heard many women ask the question, “does having sex actually matter when our relationship is based on such a deep level of friendship?” The short answer to that is, yes.
If it didn’t matter, you wouldn’t need a husband. Your best friend can hold you while you cry and binge on Netflix with a cup of Noosa (personal favorite). Your husband is supposed to be those things for you, and more. Since I hate trying to convince people of anything by my sheer opinion, let me tell you why I say this. BRING ON THE FACTS:
For starters, sex is the only thing that you share with your spouse that you do not share with anyone else (I hope). I am a communications professor, so trust me on this, sex does require a level of communication that you literally cannot experience otherwise. There is a certain level of trust and vulnerability that comes with the sexual experience that is bar none the more intimate emotional moment and conversation you can ever come across. Think about the things you say to your partner during sexual intimacy. It’s the only time in your life you are that vulnerable with someone, and the communication you use reflects it. And let’s also dispel some of the popular myths; studies have shown that while television and movies may depict marriage as the old ball and chain where sex goes to die, it just isn’t supported by the data.
On average, 61% of single people report not having sex in the last year while 25% of married couples say they still have sex 2-3x a week. This number is less than 5% when compared to single people. Married people also report having better sex than single people, and according to Dr. Laura Berman, married people even experience oral sex more than single people. Basically when it comes to married sex life vs. single sex life, it’s no contest. Someone please alert high school boys.
So what do we do if our marriage is not in the 25% of couples who are having sex 2-3x a week? It’s actually a better fix than one might think, you…just…do it? Experts all agree that the cure to craving more sex, is actually having more sex. Regular sex increases your desire for sex. The hormones you experience with your partner in sex will actually rewire your brain to want more, even if that desire was not initially there. If you wait till both of you are ‘in the mood’ you will probably watch a ship set sail. A sad ship. That feels alone and rejected. No one wants to be on that ship.
The problem with sex, is that human beings are hardwired to want it, and if you can’t have sex with your spouse, it is a painful reality that you or they, may seek sex elsewhere. The actuality of the importance men place on sex is a stark one. Sex is extremely vital to how men show love. Research consistently shows that between 80-90% of men say that sex is the most important aspect of their marriage. He isn’t being a pervert, it is literally part of how he shows you he loves you.
In a study by marriage experts Gary and Barbara Rosberg, it was found that the vast majority of married men, indicate that female initiation of sex is among their top sexual needs. He doesn’t just want to be having sex with you, he wants to know that you want to be having sex with him. This is something women get wrong all the time. Men are actually pretty vulnerable, and they feel more masculine, when the woman they chose to spend their entire life with, still desires them. Remember that. It’s not enough for you to just “let him have sex with you,” he needs you to initiate sex. For most married men, sex cannot be separated from love. So when you reject his sexual advances, you are rejecting love from him, or in short, you are rejecting HIM. He probably doesn’t really want to cuddle you after that. He’s hurt, badly. For the average woman, talking, and laughing, and sharing emotional intimacy is how they feel loved. Without that, many women may not want to have sex. Its a two-way street we are navigating. Good thing we can fix it once we understand what one another needs.
One more piece of data I found interesting, even if your husband is not asking for sex, studies show that men who minimize the importance of sex in their relationships, do so out of past hurt or rejection, and are trying to prevent future pain.
For some of us, we may have found ourselves in a marriage with the 10-20% of men, who don’t identify sex as a primary need. It’s normal in marriage for one party to be less interested in the sexual provocation of the other party. Do it anyway.
The Bible notes the importance of sex in marriage. Paul writes to the newly found church in Corinth, which by the way in Bible times was the equivalent to a modern day Las Vegas (sin city) “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Often women don’t need sex to express love. The problem is, that your husband does. So you do it for him. Plus, the more you do it, the more you will start to want to do it. The benefits of sex include, better sleep, better intimacy, less stress, and even a better immune system. Sex is awesome, and God gave you a partner with whom you could enjoy the intimacy and deep connection that sex can bring.
So the next time you are eating those Oreo’s, while watching your favorite episode of Law & Order, surprise him. Hit the pause button, and let him feel desired by you. Turns out, it will be pretty awesome.
Heather is the author of 5 Christian books including Life AfterEden available now.