How Important is Sex to a Happy Marriage?

    When seeking out relationship and marriage advice, it’s not infrequent to see absolutes being tossed around by so-called experts. Things you MUST do or consider in order to be successful. Steps you HAVE TO take in order to win the marriage game. Characteristics of ALL happy couples.

    While these might be true for most folks – helpful guidelines – the minute I see sweeping generalizations touted as fact, I tune out. There’s no way it’s true for every single couple ever in the existence of coupledom. Most? Sure. ALL? Bullshit.

    It’s all about context.

    One of the concepts I talk about so often with couples I coach is context. Context is all the “stuff” surrounding what’s going on. The environment, time, culture, identity, emotions, past experience… all of those things (and more) impact what’s going on at any given moment. Which is why a strategy or tactic that might have been helpful for one couple won’t necessarily work for every other. Their context is different!

    Yes, a regular sex life with your spouse can provide great relational rewards (I’ve written about them before). Couples who have regular sex are often more satisfied with their relationship and feel closer to their partners. Sex is most definitely a way to foster intimacy with your boo, and practice practical relationship skills like communication and vulnerability. And duh, there are also a variety of individual health benefits. However! Many of these benefits can come from sexual behaviors other than intercourse- snuggling, cuddling, touching, rubbing, kissing, etc.

    That being said, the amount and kind of sex that’s ideal for each couple is going to differ from that of every other couple. Sure, there might be some similarities, but not uniformity. What’s important is not the frequency of sex or type of sex.

    What’s important is compatibility.

    And communication.

    People have different needs, drives, and desires. Many of those may be a result of their context! (See! It’s such a valuable way of looking at things!) It’s wildly helpful to know what those are for yourself. For example…

    How much touch and physical affection feels good for you in a relationship?
    How important is sex in your love life?
    What type of sex makes you feel loved and desired?

    Once you know what some of those needs are for yourself, and sometimes it takes some thought and reflection, you are in a place to communicate those needs to your partner. Are those things that you need (maybe a lot of touch throughout the day, but your own space while you sleep, and frequent sex is ok as long at includes plenty of foreplay) able to be fulfilled by your partner? Can you comfortably fulfill their needs as well? That’s compatibility.

    Compatibility – NOT a prescribed sexual script – is what is essential for long-term sexual satisfaction in a marriage.


    Colby Marie Z is a sex & relationship coach, educator, speaker and blogger based out of Providence, RI.  She is a doctoral candidate in human sexuality, an avid (slash obnoxious) football fan, and has been proudly talking about sexual  pleasure, confidence, and satisfaction for 10+ years.  You can find out more about Colby at sexloveandallthefeels.com, or connect with her on Twitter or Instagram.

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