Which Comes First?
DOES GOOD SEX IMPROVE A MARRIAGE OR DOES A BETTER MARRIAGE ENCOURAGE A GOOD SEX LIFE?
Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus
I came across an article in the New York Times online about how marriages with good sex tend to be happier marriages. This really just confirmed what so many of us in the field already know: sex affects a marriage ‒ big time. So, does a good sex life improve a marriage or does a better marriage encourage a good sex life? That is the million dollar question. The answer we see every day in our center is “both.”
The idea that sex creates greater intimacy sometimes gets lost in our society which seems to have decided that the only way it “should” work is the other way… by intimacy encouraging sex. Ironically, there is a subtle bias against using sex to create intimacy. “She only slept with him to get him off her case.” “I’m not gonna have sex if I don’t feel close to him,” “I can’t believe she had sex with him when she wasn’t in the mood.”
These are phrases we hear often spoken critically and just accept as the way it should be. But maybe that’s a bias that is worth re-thinking. So many times couples get stuck in a complicated tangle of “working out issues,” or “working on their communication” and that can take years. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Maybe if we start to think of sex not only as a means of expressing intimacy when it already exists, but rather as a tool to help reintroduce or recreate intimacy it might give us a new, more practical framework. When you get the cycle moving in a positive direction, that is when you help a couple move back into the bedroom, often that behavior can begin to heal a marriage and put it back on track. What follows, as a result, can be more intimacy and better communication. Perhaps we should be more open to using sex to help heal a relationship. Sometimes a behavioral answer can address a problem more directly and quickly than long term analysis.
So, before you are quick to dismiss the idea of sex because you are not “in the mood,” or things have been tense with you and your partner recently, maybe consider the idea that sex may help heal and build the intimacy between the two of you. It’s worked for many others and it’s certainly worth a try.