Caring sexual love within marriage is for many couples the bond that nurtures the loving relationship. A good sex life revitalises intimacy and commitment while stimulating a sense of excitement and oneness. For many couples this a place of freedom, laughter and pleasure in which the relationship is rejuvenated and the anxieties of modern living are shut out. Within marriage, love and sex can enhance the quality andstability of the relationship. But many couples also struggle with the integration of love and intimacy within their married lives.
While building the sexual relationship is one of the most joyous tasks of marriage, it sometimes encounters difficulties in that the needs and resources of both partners must be accommodated. Each partner enters the marriage relationship with a separate experience of social, family, psychological and behavioural influences that has shaped their sexual identity. In many cases individuals need to overcome feelings of shyness, sexual anxiety, inhibition, the fear of total expression and inherited societal taboos. The integration and acceptance of individual sexual difference takes time. It requires patience, sensitivity, subtlety, imagination and willingness.
In the modern world of expressive sexual freedom many individuals enter the marital relationship with higher expectations of sexual gratification, some of which may be unrealistic. In some cases individuals demean the essence of sexual love by treating their spouse as a sexual object, rather than a loving partner.
Sexual love within marriage needs privacy and freedom from interruption. When these conditions are not met sex is frequently postponed and this eventuality can lead to feelings of hurt and rejection, many of which may be misplaced.
“Well it doesn’t matter because we don’t have a sex life anymore.”
“You wouldn’t postpone a day’s shopping, but you would postpone making love.”
“I’ve never refused you, not once ever.”
Sexual love is also vulnerable to the pressures of modern living as many couples experience stress, anxiety and fatigue can affect the desire to make love. Many forms of illness diminish sexual desire. The sexual relationship sometimes enters a valley period after the first child is born as new mothers take time to adjust to their demanding new world. The difficulty experienced by many couples is that when sexual love has been absent for a prolonged time frustrations enter the relationship, which if not addressed can damage the oneness of the sexual and emotional bond.
Discuss with your partner the impact that sexual loving has on your relationship! What does each of you feel are the obstacles to a more meaningful life of sexual loving? Do you feel you are meeting one another’s needs, and what is it that might need to happen to improve your sex lives?
If you are encountering problems in your relationship or if you would like to explore unresolved relationship issues, and would like to speak to a marriage and relationship counsellor, you might like to contact ACCORD Catholic Marriage Care Counselling Service.
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