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How Important is Sex in a Relationship?

The importance of sex in a healthy relationship cannot be understated. Well, mostly.

See, as a guy, it’s definitely one of the most important things if not THE most important thing. It’s a primal thing, really. On the other hand, many women would say it’s just as important, but may be more likely to overlook the issue if everything else in the relationship is going well.

Here’s a simple way to sum things up: Men often choose a woman based upon the sex (or the prospect of it), and end up falling in love; while women generally choose a man based upon the love they feel, and end up enjoying sex. I know that “all” is a total generalization, but you get my point. Men tend to focus on sex. Women tend to focus on love.

But let me get personal here, I’m divorced. My ex is a lovely woman, whom I still love dearly. However, we had many challenges in our marriage. One of the byproducts of all that (though some might argue it to actually be the cause) is that we quit having sex. The effect of this on me was challenging. Often, I’d feel sexually frustrated and felt resentment towards my ex because we weren’t being intimate.

The implications of all these factors are big because sex is a deep and powerful form of intimacy. It bonds and connects two people in ways that few other things can. It’s beyond the mind. It’s beyond the body, too. There is a deep energetic connection that bonds two people when they make love.

It’s not just the intermingling of juices. It’s not even that two people shared an act of love with someone, that they most likely hold sacred. What’s really happened is that there has been a union between two people that transcends time and space. And we know it. Yet it’s very hard to quantify. Right? We all know how close we feel to someone after we have sex. That doesn’t mean it’s the magical elixir for all that might be off or dysfunctional in a relationship.

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But, heck, it sure does mean that it helps bring us together. The term “makeup sex” is just that. It brings us closer. If you’ve had a hard day and your hackles are all up towards your partner, yet at the end of the day you go to bed and make love, then the chances are that you will soften towards them and feel closer after making love.

I know many women may be saying that they just can’t have sex when they don’t feel close to their partner. It’s a valid point. I’m not saying you should.

What I am suggesting is this: if you want to feel more connected to your partner but are allowing squabbles and minor disagreements set your emotional agenda, simply let this anger fall away. Consider that the simple act of saying “yes” to your partner, and to passion, may begin to shift the dynamic. If you’re both honoring each other correctly, sex will most likely help you feel closer to your love.

Back to my marriage, there were often times when we had fought or just felt distance between us. This continued on and on so that we continued to grow apart over time. It could have been different. Many experts approach relationship challenges from the “deficiency model.” In this model, they identify what isn’t working, and work to fix those problems.

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Makes lots of sense, right? Something is broken, so go fix it. What doesn’t jive with this approach is that it doesn’t typically address what is the core issue—a solid foundation in the relationship.

Relationship expert John Gottman has done outstanding research on relationships and what makes them work. This is where Gottman is different. He doesn’t suggest fixing anything. Rather, his approach is all about creating a solid foundation in the relationship. One where both people feel a strong, deep bond between each other. In doing this, there is a stronger bond and a level of goodwill that flows. When your man comes home at the end of the day and is in caveman mode, you don’t take it personally. And when your woman just wants to talk and be heard, you are happy to listen because you know she just needs an ear.

In short, everything becomes easier. The little things just fall to the wayside. The big things are more easily handled, especially because there isn’t a backlog of resentment and anger over previous unresolved issues. Comprende?

So how do you do this?

Well, Gottman teaches much of this in his workshops and writing. I do suggest that if you haven’t read it yet that you check out his book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert. It includes excellent tips and guidance on creating and sustaining intimate relationships. You don’t have to be married to learn immensely from this book.

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And, yes, having a healthy sex life is part of all this. Keep this in mind too, there are many things you can do that are flirtatious, intimate and nourishing besides just the act of sex. Foreplay is lots of fun and definitely helps set the tone for better lovemaking. It for sure creates more emotional intimacy which strengthens the bonds of lovemaking.

Personally, I know that my failed marriage would have benefitted enormously from more of the Gottman foundation-building work. We didn’t have the tools at that point though to go that route. It was sad to end a relationship with someone that I still had deep love for, but it was necessary. I’m hoping that you have and/or find the tools in your intimate relationships to foster a deep bond and foundation. And that you have a healthy and satisfying sex life with your partner!

I’d love to hear more about your experience of love and sex in your life, please feel free to share your comments below.

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