Sexual intimacy is as important for the health and vitality of the marriage relationship as is emotional closeness and spiritual connection. Sexual nourishment that feeds both husband and wife is the dessert of married life.
Strengthening your marriage intimately — emotionally, spiritually and sexually — is one of the most important efforts in which you can put your time and energy. So-called desire discrepancies between husband and wife can be a thing of the past, as couples come to understand the intricacies of intimacy and mutual sexual fulfillment.
Couples can create a rich and fulfilling intimate relationship with the help of these six suggestions:
- Make your sexual relationship a matter of prayer.
- Make your intimate relationship a priority.
- Get better educated about sex, intimacy and marriage.
- Be willing and able to discuss your sexual relationship openly and honestly.
- Overcome intimate inhibitors, such as negative thoughts, fears, or relationship issues.
- Relax, have fun and be playful with each other!
To read the full article on Meridian Magazine click here.
About the Author: Laura M. Brotherson
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Sex Therapist, Laura M. Brotherson is the founder of "The Marital Intimacy Institute"" with a mission to help couples create "sextraordinary" marriages. She counsels with couples and individuals in private practice (and online) and is passionate about helping couples navigate the intricacies of intimacy--specializing in healthy sexuality, sex therapy, and sex addiction. She is the author of the best-selling book And They Were Not Ashamed — Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment, Knowing HER Intimately: 12 Keys for Creating a Sextraordinary Marriage, and her latest book --From Honeymoon to Happily Ever After: 23 Keys to Prepare for a Sextraordinary Marriage, with nearly 100,000 copies sold. She also has a fabulous online course for women to help them develop their "Sexual Wholeness."
As a Certified Family Life Educator, Laura is also actively engaged in helping to build strong marriages and families by providing marriage education through Couples Cruises, articles, newsletters, radio and television broadcasts, "The Marital Intimacy Show" podcasts, and presenting at conferences and workshops. Laura is a regular contributor to the KSL Television "Studio 5" morning show.
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I wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said, and to me, nothing is more important than building a strong, vibrant, intimate marrital relationship.
However, these tips almost assume that both husband and wife both view marriage as a priority and something that they each want to build and progress. What do you suggest when one partner desperately wants this type of connection but the other does not? As the years pass with little progress, how can the spouse with higher “desire” refrain from feeling resentment, discouragement, and despair and instead continue loving his/her spouse fully and unconditionally?
Your article on “desire gap” is helpful, but if I recall, seems to be addressed to the wife with lower desire. Do you have suggestions for the husband with higher desire for connection?
Laura’s Reply to Jimbalaya post dated 8-1-07
Good questions. My heart goes out to you and other spouses in similar situations. This is a common predicament in which many men find themselves. Often it is the husband that wants to work on the sexual relationship and the wife doesn’t.
Ideas that may be helpful can be found in our Straight Talk Q&A question on how to get one’s spouse to read our book: http://www.strengtheningmarriage.com/qa.php#QA1.
Your question is basically “How do I get my spouse to change?” which I address in this article: http://deseretbook.com/mormon-life/news/story?story_id=7640.
When you want something to be a certain way in your relationship so badly, it’s hard not to feel resentment and discouragement at your situation. The thing I hope we can all really learn is that the only person we can directly change is ourselves. I can’t change my husband, but I can change ME — my responses, attitudes, behaviors, words, etc.– which makes it easier for my husband to WANT to change and then to put in the necessary effort to change.
Your focus needs to be on seeking God’s sustaining power to help you function as optimally as possible even in a less-than-ideal circumstance. This is critical to removing any psychological pressure your longing places on her to change.
We make it more difficult for our spouses to change when they feel any sort of pressure from us. Even if you think you aren’t putting pressure on her, just wanting something so badly and having an emotional attachment to the outcome means that there is some psychological pressure being felt by her (even if subconsciously).
In addition, your focus needs to be on becoming an expert at making your wife feel loved, accepted, and cherished unconditionally. You must hold her in a place of NOT needing her to change, which unlocks the door for her to actually become the person or develop the relationship you so desperately desire.
Keep the focus on you and your behavior, your attitude, your conversation with her, etc. because that is where you have the most power. Discipline yourself to not get distracted by focusing on her attitudes and behaviors (or lack thereof). Keep your focus on YOU! You CAN change your spouse, but it comes by changing yourself.
I wish I had an easier answer for you, but this is one that actually works! This is the soul-stretching work that too many people are unwilling to engage in, but which holds the keys to receiving their heart’s desires.
It’s likely that your wife either doesn’t know what to do to change her feelings about sex, or thinks sex is unworthy of her time and effort, or has relationship issues with you that you don’t know about, or that she has given up hope that she’ll ever be able to enjoy sex, or just doesn’t like herself…the list can go on and on.
She may see sex as a low priority compared to a relationship issue, for instance, and resents your focus on that part of the marriage when she is more concerned about something else before she can “warm up” to that issue.
The unfortunate thing for most couples is that the man tries to improve the intimate relationship by focusing on the sex and the wife tries to improve the relationship by focusing on the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the relationship. Given the different wiring of men and women these approaches are like two ships passing in the night. One or both of you have to do what is not natural for you in order to address the problems in a way that the spouse can understand.
Excellent suggestions! I agree in order to have a healthy marriage intimately both partners need to be open to express how they feel spiritually, emotionally and sexually.