Love and Marriage: Sex and Sensuality are Keys to Success
Dr. Rita DeMaria is a staff therapist and Director of Healthy Relationships and Wellness at Council for Relationships.
With Valentine’s Day coming up, it’s a perfect time for couples to assess the sensuality and intimacy levels in their relationship. Many couples put their intimate sensual and sexual relationship on the back burner and then wonder what happened to the ‘spark’ between them.
Many people do not make time for pleasure, for sexuality and sensuality. Not taking time for pleasure is among the half-dozen enemies of sexuality. The number one sexual saboteur, though, is stress.
Sex education and enrichment programs at Council for Relationships are designed to give couples the knowledge and the skills they need to have a passionate and sexually fulfilling romantic relationship. One of the most common complaints is lack of desire or imbalance between frequency and desire. Working on basic relationship skills – how to communicate, how to fight, how to ask for changes in behavior – often uncovers the emotional roots in lack of desire. You’re not going to have great sex if you’re holding grudges or are angry. Unresolved anger destroys passion.
Once couples learn to clear the air between, they usually discover they have been actually been avoiding intimacy. Women often complain that the only time they get touched is when ‘he’ wants sex. Women often yearn for kissing goodbye or hello, touching when watching TV, or little hugs while making dinner. And it’s all got to do with differences in chemistry between men and women. Many people have no idea how the hormonal differences between men and women impact their relationship on a daily basis. Intimacy, the union between love and romance, is the product of deep pleasure, but to experience that pleasure fully, we have to feel safe, nurtured, and cared for. That goes for men, as well as women, despite myths about male sexuality.
All couples need to establish a healthy sexual rhythm or dance that works for them. For most people, that means some pattern of regular sexual activity. When couples are rarely having sex, sometimes, the problem is physical, but more often, it’s caused by anger, grief, inhibitions, or fears. Communication is essential. You have to be willing to say what you want; don’t assume your partner knows what your want. Both partners need to feel free to ask for sex whenever he or she is in the mood. The keys are communicating, bonding, fighting fair, and negotiating.
Intimacy means talking about problems and helping your partner meet his or her needs. In a compatible marriage, non-sexual as well as sexual desires…are gratified. For many couples an important barrier to a happy sex life is simple lack of knowledge, despite all the media and articles that abound. Without knowledge, people believe in such sexual myths as men know everything about sex and are responsible for the sexual outcome; that simultaneous orgasm is the norm; that sex means intercourse; and that good sex is always spontaneous.
For over 20 years, Council for Relationships has offered intensive weekend workshops for couples who wish to explore and enrich their sexual relationship in a safe environment so that they can explore attitudes toward sex, improve communication skills around needs and wants, learn the language of sex, and learn ways to increase intimacy. There are also workshops that will introduce you to the stages of love in intimate relationships, teach essential information about the chemistry of romantic love, as well as emotional differences between men and women. The goals of these programs are to help couples create passionate partnership and explore attitudes and inhibitions that interfere with enhancing sensuality, sexuality, emotional, and spiritual sense of love and intimacy with your partner.