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Intimacy in Marriage: What’s Your Sexual Type? January 12, 2012

Posted by occhristiancounseling in Dr. Curtis Lehmann, sexuality.
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by Dr. Curtis Lehmann, Psych Assistant @ OC Christian Counseling

Sexual intimacy in marriage is an important component in developing a secure relationship bond between a man and a woman. But there are a number of ways that sexuality can go wrong in a marriage. In general, people can go in two directions: sexual compulsion and sexual restriction. Sexual compulsion simply means someone who pursues sexual activities, ranging from forcing a partner to have sex to simply being the one who tends to ask for sex. On the other hand, sexual restriction can range from complete abstinence from any form of sexual expression to a lack of desire in sexuality. It helps to simply identify where you and your spouse might be on the continuum from sexual restriction to sexual compulsion. In some cases, the distance might be far off and in other cases you might both find yourselves at the same spot.

The next step is to gain a better understanding of how each of your attitudes toward sex developed. Of course, sexual compulsion can be the result of a biological predisposition towards having sex, but other influences include the media, past experiences with sex or sexual abuse, and addiction to sexual behavior. The precursors of being sexual restricted can also be biological, but often are heavily influenced by body image issues, a history of sexual abuse, and emotional or relational problems. If you take some time to reflect, individually and/or as a couple, you may find yourself having a better idea why you and your spouse have the attitudes toward sex that you do.

Finally, this knowledge needs to be applied to your marriage. In a healthy marriage, both spouses should know how the other partner feels about sexuality and how it relates to their feeling connected. Each should care deeply about how the other person has been hurt by their families, so-called friends, and by society in their sexual development. One primary goal in the marriage must be to develop the ability to feel how the other person feels, to be deeply empathic about the other person’s emotions. As a side note, although sexual compromise is nice, a focus on “meeting half-way” can be destructive when one person has a greater amount of pain than the other. Rather, forming a deep desire to surrender one’s desires for the sake of loving the other ought to be the aim. If done whole-heartedly, this attitude is so much more rewarding than sexual intimacy.

Some questions to consider:

How far separated are we on our attitudes towards sexual intimacy? If we are far apart, have I grown resentful towards my partner or have I loved him or her the way they are? If we are close together, do we both still need to have healing in our sexuality? How can I build intimacy in our relationship through non-sexual means? How can I build intimacy through sexual means?

If sexuality is a concern in your marriage, consider speaking with a couple’s therapist. Although it may sometime be an embarrassing issue to discuss, couple’s therapists are trained to help partners work together to bring healing to the relationship, which often leads to a more satisfying sexual experience.

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