Sex is a central issue, both a cause and effect, in the health or ill health of families because it is a foundational element in the male/female relationship and therefore creates or fails to create well-being for the entire family. As a core element of the relationship, a couple’s sex life can be generalized as a barometer of well-being. If there is mutual happiness and satisfaction in sex, so goes the relationship. If sex is not mutually satisfying, there are issues afoot. So bedroom issues don’t stay just in the bedroom.
This Letter is the start of one guy’s non-clinical views on what a healthy sex life is and how to get there. The hope here is that this introduction can lead to discussions where men can exchange perspectives in a positive forum that leads to increased growth towards a happy, healthy sex life and greater family well-being. In all my years of talking with other guys, I’ve rarely, rarely discussed sex in a salacious manner. Despite what the media might portray, guys just don’t do that. As uncomfortable though as this topic may be, we should cover anything worthy of discussion as long as we’re heading leading toward the goal of greater family well-being. Sex topics certainly fit that criteria.
* How do men and women reconcile different sexual drives?
* What role does fantasy play in sex?
* How does family leadership affect your sex life?
* Do children affect sexual intimacy?
* What is sexual intimacy?
* Is porn destructive to the family?
Sex is viewed differently as people age and mature, as relationships change, as children enter the scene, as economics change, as stress is introduced, as marriage is challenged and as those challenges are surmounted or not, and as hormones fluctuate. Fortunately society handles the whole thing with dignity and delicacy. Oh wait, strike that. Society does a horrible job regarding sex.
I guess the best place to start when trying to communicate something that has many meanings is to define terms. Sex is generically used as a term to reference interaction between body parts of two people. But that definition is pretty limiting. Between a husband and wife, sex is more commonly used to reference the act of coitus, making love. However, sex has so many facets and nuances that it might make sense to identify the many scenarios of sex to draw out the meaningful elements that inhibit or enhance a couple’s sex life.
Discovery Sex is an introduction into sex acts or of a new relationship. Enjoying the pleasures of one’s own body and providing pleasure to someone else’s seems like the nirvana of sex. Newness can last years as God’s ever refreshing batteries seek discharge. However, for some, the psychological aspects of sex quickly emerge. Newness wears off and chasing frontiers of exploration often separate men from women as different comfort zones develop. Furthermore, women’s connection to sex is significantly more emotional than men’s; therefore, men appear to pursue the physical act of sex while women pursue the relational. The thrill of Discovery Sex can be mistaken for love. Lust is confused with love which sometimes leads individuals to seek that newness elsewhere in order to recreate that thrill rather than do the heavy lifting of recreating the relationship.
Love Making – Let’s call this our base line. It’s the intimate act where husband and wife share intercourse in order to give and get mutually. Each partner pursues pleasure in a balance of selfishness and selflessness that establishes sharing and intimacy not found in other aspects of the relationship. The fore play and after play aspects of sex establish important relational ritual. This type of sex is the heart and soul of a healthy sex life in marriage. A balanced exchange of all life’s elements provides context for Love Making. For the man, sex is a precursor to harmony; whereas for women, harmony is a precursor to sex.
Pre Travel Sex is sex before one heads out of town for a night. The relational reason ostensibly is to wish him well with an act of love. If a multi-night stay away, it’s an opportunity to be together before a long absence. At some level, it could be a reminder of what awaits at home with a faithful return and a subtle request to be faithful.
Fantasy Sex in mature relationships is more akin to Discovery Sex than normal Love Making. A more prolonged time together where sex is the objective and the normal routine is set aside for more variety. In younger relationships Discovery and Fantasy may be synonymous, but as time passes, more factors become part of the equation can leave Fantasy outside the bedroom door. Fantasy is a outward exhibition of passion and desire and is an important psychological element in sex, primarily for men, but requires a delicate relational balance to maintain. It likely requires more focus and intentionality from the woman’s part when hormonal input that is lacking during segments of the menstrual cycle. Though a man likely can participate in an instant’s notice, Fantasy Sex is a relational objective that takes a great deal more than just showing up. Therefore being an intentional family leader is key to a successful Fantasy Sex life.
Vacation Sex is the carefree opportunity to return to a life of adventure in an environment outside of the norm. Fantasy Sex during a vacation is more likely if enough of the other boxes are checked, children taken care of, hormones available, no time crunch, and time together is maximized.
Assistance Sex is when a woman is on her period, but a man would prefer to ‘be together’ anyway. It’s a substitute for Love Making. The couple must navigate the rocky terrain of Assistance due to a woman feeling ‘unclean’ during her period, unsexy, unhelpful, and possibly unloved. If Assistance is routinely requested without reciprocating physical touch, the woman will build up a belief her main purpose in life is to provide a man physical release. The reciprocation (back rubs, hair stroking, foot rubs, etc,) must be genuine and untethered to Assistance or it will be seen as manipulation and given no credence.
Accommodation Sex is when one party, typically the woman, provides her body while half heartedly engaging emotionally or psychologically. She submits to a man’s physical drives without participating fully. There is a subtle but meaningful difference between participating without the ability or intent to orgasm for the woman and just submitting physically in order to avoid conflict. If she’s filing her nails or reading a book, solid clues you’re having Accommodation Sex. Intimacy requires two people, so Accommodation Sex is a woman’s partial retreat from the relationship when something within the relationship is amiss, but not so broken that a full withdrawal from sex is required. Or, if the relationship is so imbalanced the woman feels she must submit out of duty, for the children’s sake, for economics, or for safety. If any of those reasons exist, intimacy is not on the menu.
Physical Touch is intimate contact throughout the daily relationship. It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature, and likely shouldn’t be, but is critical for developing a loving relationship for those who relate to world physically. Holding hands, making contact whenever you pass by with loving intent while avoiding groping is quality physical touch.
No doubt there are other scenarios that provide meaningful distinctions. By providing these different definitions, the idea is to show that there are commonalities within all our marriages that sex evolves and follows common paths as men and women age, as children enter the scene, as relationships mature or are challenged by the many circumstances of life. Sex seems to be a barometer of health, but not always in a straightforward manner.
There is much more to say and I will say it, but for now…
To your continued success,
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