Husband wife having sex

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This month, my wife Toni and I celebrated 25 years of marriage.

I love her more than I ever dreamed of.

And it’s also been a totally different experience than either of us thought it would be.

I love this picture of us leaving our wedding reception, because in many ways it show us stepping out into the world when we honestly had NO IDEA what life would bring us. We just had hopes and dreams.

I have no data on this, but I think leaders perhaps struggle in their marriages more than others do.

Anecdotally, at least, I hear from leader after leader who says it’s been tougher at home than they thought it would be. And Toni and I have had our share of struggles for sure.

If you’re looking for a post on marriage that outlines how couples should do 5 things that will make their marriage perfect, you need to read someone else’s blog.

The truth is, marriage is work. Hard work. But it’s wonderfully hard work.

Both of us have felt more pain than we ever knew was possible, and more deep joy than we ever realized existed.

I love her more than I have ever loved anyone or anything (except Christ, of course).

Our love has grown richer and better over time, but we’ve also had a few seasons where we wondered whether love had vaporized. There were seasons where the only reason it wasn’t over is because Jesus said it wasn’t over.

So we stayed. And our emotions eventually caught up with our obedience.

Through it all, Christ has kept us together and brought us a more wonderfully fulfilling relationship than either of us knew was possible.

On the other side of deep pain is deep joy. You’ve just got to make it there.

So what’s the key?

Well, there’s no one key, but here are 20 honest insights about making it to 25 years in marriage.

Some are observations. Some are directives. Either way, I hope they help WHEREVER you are in your marriage.

On the other side of deep pain is deep joy. You’ve just got to make it there.

1. Love is a decision, not an emotion

My dad always told me that love is an act of the will. He was right.

Culture says that love is an emotion. It’s something you feel, not something you do.

Culture couldn’t be more wrong.

True love is a decision…a decision to place someone else’s well being above yours. To stick through the tough times. To love when you don’t feel love.

God isn’t thrilled with you all the time, yet he loves you. It’s a decision, not an emotion.

Love is a decision, not an emotion.

2. Your emotions eventually catch up to your obedience

There have been a few seasons in our 25 years where we stayed together simple because we were being obedient. (I’d say Toni had to exercise her obedience more than I did.)

So you stay when you feel like leaving. You stay when you feel like doing something irresponsible.

You just obey what you believe God has called you to do in the situation. I believe God has called me to stay married to one woman for life, and Toni believes God has called her to stay married to one man for life.

And in the process of being obedient, we both discovered something incredible: your emotions eventually catch up to your obedience.

Though the joy may have left for a few days, a few weeks, and once or twice, for a season, it came back. Deeper, richer and more abundant than we ever expected.

Your emotions eventually catch up to your obedience.

3. Don’t make tomorrow’s decisions based on today’s emotions

So you can see I’ve learned not to trust my feelings, because like the rest of creation, my feelings were victims of the fall.

A quick lesson: don’t make tomorrow’s decisions based on today’s emotions.

Sometimes we defied stereotypical Christian advice and went to bed angry. But at least we went to bed together. And reason usually returned with the dawn.

Thank goodness on those days when emotion clouded judgment we just decided not to decide.

There’s wisdom in that for life, not just for marriage.

Don’t make tomorrow’s decisions based on today’s emotions. Decide not to decide.

4. Live your story…not someone else’s

You will be tempted to compare yourself to other couples and other ‘leadership’ couples you admire. That can be healthy. It can also be horrible.

Live your story.

I’ve heard famous preachers say they’ve never had a fight about money. I promise you we have.

You can feel terrible about that and think “what’s wrong with me?”, or you can bring that before God and work it out together.

5. Instagram lies

Nobody’s life is as great as they make it out to be on Instagram.

If you’re comparing your real life to someone else’s posted life, you will implode.

Not much more to say about that. You know what I mean.

Nobody’s life is a great as they make it out to be on Instagram.

6. Don’t put pressure on your spouse that only God can bear

I heard this from Tim Keller a few years ago (do not have a source…sorry).

With the disappearance of God from more and more of our culture, people have lost a sense of the divine and the majestic.

Consequently, our desire to worship—no longer directed toward God—gets directed at our spouses and children. It places pressure on them they were not designed to bear, and many marriages and families collapse from the pressure.

Pinterest has placed a ridiculous amount of pressure on wedding receptions and even home decor that the average family can’t live up to. The kind of majesty that used to go into a cathedral now goes into a two year old’s birthday party.

There is something fundamentally flawed with this, and the sooner you take that pressure off your spouse, off your kids and off yourself, the healthier you become.

Don’t put pressure on your spouse that only God can bear.

7. You probably married your opposite

All those things you loved about your spouse when you were dating are the some of the things that will drive you crazy when you’re married.

We just get attracted to our opposites.

Knowing that is progress in itself, and will help you delight in your spouse (when he or she isn’t driving you crazy over said opposites).

8. Counsellors are worth it

Toni and I first started seeing a counsellor when we were in our mid thirties. I should have gone when I was in my twenties.

I don’t know where I’d be as a person, husband, father and leader without the help I’ve had from some incredible Christian counsellors who have helped me see where I need grace and redemption.

I resisted going to counselling. If you’re resisting, stop. There’s freedom on the other side.

9. Progress starts when you see that you’re the problem

We had a great couple of first years, but when tension arose I thought none of it was my fault.

After all, I had little conflict as a single guy, so who had to be bringing all this tension in my marriage? Couldn’t have been me.

I could not have been more wrong.

Now I just assume I’m probably the problem. And I usually am. It’s simpler that way…in life and leadership.

10. Your unspoken assumptions can sink you

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything…or so we think.

In the kitchen, I take an ingredient out, and then I put it back. And wipe the counter. Then I take the next step in cooking whatever I’m cooking.

Toni takes everything out, makes a glorious meal, and cleans up later when the food is cooking.

I assumed my way was the right way. But there’s no right and wrong here, just different.

Yet we didn’t know what was driving our kitchen tension until we named it. Now we can laugh at it (most days).

When you surface the assumptions…you mitigate the conflict.

11. When you agree on values, you’ll agree a lot more

Because it’s often the little things you fight about, it’s important to understand where you agree on the big things.

Big things would include your faith, your approach to parenting, your philosophy of life, your priorities, your finances and more.

When you agree on your values, you’ll agree on a lot more.

12. Remember that if you leave, you take all your unresolved problems to your next relationship

This is simply true, and you’ve seen it 1000 times in others.

And you think you’ll be the exception to the rule.

You won’t be.

13. Pray together

Pray together. Out loud.

Yes it’s hard. Yes it’s awkward.

Yes, men resist it. And yes, pastors resist it.

Do it.

14. If you’re a guy, lead your marriage spiritually

My wife and I met in law school. A progressive, left-leaning law school.

Had I even suggested in any way that I was the spiritual head of a home, I would have been laughed out of the school. Or maybe arrested.

But 25 years in, there’s no question I need to lead my wife spiritually. My leadership needs to reflect Christ’s leadership (a servant’s attitude motivated by love), but it’s still leadership.

Most men resist taking spiritual leadership at home. Most male leaders resist taking authentic, Christ-motivated loving leadership at home.

Start leading in love.

15. Go on weekly date nights

In the early days we had no money for date nights. We went anyway.

When your kids are young, it’s especially important because most of your conversation is ‘transactional’ (you cook…I’ll drive the kids to soccer).

In the rough seasons, sometimes we’d spend the first half of date night resolving arguments we couldn’t finish in the hum of every day life. Not fun, but probably healthy.

But we had some awesome date nights too.

Don’t have time? Don’t have money?

Well, if you broke up, you’d date your new girlfriend.

So instead, date your wife. Your kids will thank you for it.

You’ll thank yourself for it one day too.

If you broke up, you’d date your new girlfriend. So, husbands, date your wife.

16. Don’t make your kids the centre of your family

In today’s culture, kids have become the centre of many homes.

Parents have stopped living for Christ and for each other and started basing all their decisions around their kids.

There are two problems with that.

First, your kids eventually leave…leaving you with a gaping hole.

Second, putting your kids at the centre of your home communicates to them that they’re more important than they are. And they know it. As Tim Elmore has suggested, this approach produces kids with high arrogance and low self-esteem.

Child-centered parenting produces self-centred kids.

The best gift you can give your kids is a Christ-centered, healthy marriage.

Child-centered parenting produces self-centered children.

17. Take personal vacations WITHOUT the kids

We were one of the few couples among our friends who did this, but every year Toni and I would get away even for a night or two WITHOUT the kids.

Our friends would tell us it had been 3, 5 even 10 years since they’d done it.

I’m so glad we took the time to do that. It renewed and remade us. We made significant progress on our relationships so many times we did that. Plus…so much of it was fun.

18. Take family vacations every year

We also took family vacations every year. Often they weren’t glorious. We did what we could afford.

But our kids (now 23 and 19) tell us it was one of their favourite things growing up and something that really bonded our family.

I wrote more about why and how we took those vacations in this Parent Cue post.

Bottom line? You don’t have to go to Disney…you just have to go.

19. Figure out how to be a couple again BEFORE your kids grow up

When our then 16 year old drove off in the car with his brother on the day he got his driver’s licence, Toni and I were left standing in the living room waving good bye.

Then we looked at each other and said “Oh my goodness…before we know it, they’re going to be gone.”

We realized we had WAY more life ahead of us where it would just be us.

So we started new hobbies we could enjoy together (snowshoeing, hiking, cycling) and really worked on our friendship.

My favourite thing to do on my days off is to hang out with my best friend.

20. Open the gift of sex…it’s from God

There’s so much funk about sex. For the record, I believe marriage is the context God designed for sex.

The irony of course is that too many married couples lose interest in sex. I’ve met way too many people who tell me (because I’m a pastor I guess) that they live in a sexless marriage.

Significantly, our culture only glamorizes sex outside of marriage.

When was the last time you saw a married couple on TV or in a movie in a love scene? Right…you can’t remember.

You’re probably even thinking gross, I wouldn’t want to see that. (Not that any of us should be watching steamy scenes, but you get the point).

And now you see the problem.

Why, in our culture, is it not weird when a couple at a bar in a movie hooks up or a wife whose husband is out of town gets it on with her boss, but it is weird when two people who have committed to each other for life have sex?

Why?

Married people: sex is a gift. Open it.

The more emotionally, relationally and spiritually close you get to your spouse, the better it gets.

Okay, that’s about all I’m comfortable saying about sex. 🙂

Married people: sex is a gift. Open it.

The Best and Hardest Journey is Your Personal Journey

The best and hardest journey is, of course, your personal journey.

How do you make it better?

Of all the books I’ve written, I’m most excited about my latest, Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the Seven Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.

In it, I outline 7 issues almost everyone experiences and almost no one expects. They’re the issues that take leaders out or take us under.

And even if your struggle with cynicism, pride, burnout or irrelevance doesn’t cause to exit ministry or leadership, not dealing with those issues can still thwart your potential and kill your team culture. A lot of the book is my journey toward health. It’s a long journey…and an imperfect one. I don’t get everything right, but the difference personal and spiritual health makes is astonishing, in both life and leadership.

And of course, the more progress I’ve made on those issues, the better my marriage has become.

I wrote it to help you make progress, spiritually, personally and in leadership. I hope it will guide people in the same way my favorite books have guided me.

Check out Didn’t See It Coming for yourself.

What About You?

I could not be more excited about the next 25 years. It feels like we have a foundation for more joy, less pain, and more of Christ…together. It hasn’t been easy…but it’s been completely worth it.

I’d love to hear from those of you who have made it through 6 months, a year, 10 years or 50 years of marriage.

What are you learning? What’s helped you?

Scroll down and leave a comment!

This Is What Happened When My Partner and I Had Sex Every Day for a Week

©2015 Piotr Powietrzynski Getty Images

After telling my daughter, Sylvie, one more exciting tale of my youth—in which I play with a large, unsupervised gang of children in a vacant lot—I finally get her to sleep. Then I (quietly) clap my hands together. It is time for my Mom Party.

Your basic Mom Party lasts roughly an hour before the celebrant slumps forward in a dead sleep. It has a few general components. One is food, which should be either sugary or salty (or in the case of salted caramel brownies, both). Add any sort of calming beverage—a glass or three of wine, a mug of decaf tea. Garnish with your choice of mindless entertainment: blogs that obsessively compare moisturizers, a trashy reality-TV marathon.

Humming, I head for the kitchen, extract a bag of chips from the pantry, and take out the magazine I swiped from the gym on the “Worst Celebrity Beach Bodies.” That is the moment that my husband Tom picks to approach me and give me a back rub. There is no such thing as an agenda-free back rub. Weary from Sylvie’s bedtime ritual, I ask for a rain check and hurry off to bed, while Tom glumly wanders into the living room to play computer chess.

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It is not the first night that this scenario has occurred. We have fallen into a pattern in which he tries to capitalize on a moment when we are finally alone, and I, after a long session of tending to a child, shut him down, viewing sex as just one more thing I have to do for someone.

While it can be tough to summon up the energy, Hilda Hutcherson, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University, says it’s critical to just do it. She lists the reasons why: Sex releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones with a similar structure to morphine, as well as oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that promotes feelings of devotion and trust.

Tom and I, enmeshed in our fast-moving lives, will sometimes let weeks go by. And I find the usual advice doled out to be embarrassing, not to mention unrealistic. I don’t want to “send him a racy text that’s not safe for work!” If I did, Tom would quickly write back, “Hi, hon, your account was hacked.” Or: “Are you having a stroke?”

So I canvass friends for more realistic strategies. Then I do something more difficult: I bring up the subject with Tom.

“Have you noticed we don’t have sex very often?” I ask Tom.

He is reading a book. “I have,” he says.

“Would you like to have sex more often?” I ask. His eyes do not leave the page. “I would,” he says.

I press on, asking him if he’d like to try the challenge issued in Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse, by the Reverend Ed Young and his wife, Lisa ($3; amazon.com). Perhaps unsurprisingly, he is game. As it happens, having sex once a week is the ideal for maximum well-being, according to a study of over 30,000 adults. If people had more, their happiness actually leveled off.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Masturbating Should Be Part of Your Self-Care Routine

The Sexperiment: Night 1

Couples therapist Esther Perel asserts that desire needs distance to thrive. She finds that people are most drawn to their partners when they are away—and then reunite. “This is rooted also in absence and in longing,” she says, “which is a major component of desire.” On the five days prior to our Sexperiment, Tom is away. I play music that reminds me of our early days together and look at my favorite picture of him. With the all-important distance, I am able to simulate a kind of mild crush, which lasts until his return. Aaand…action!

Night 2

“You can’t force desire, but you can create an atmosphere where desire might unfurl,” says Perel. “I suggest that people consciously create an erotic space, a space to be, not to do, to enjoy each other, to cultivate pleasure—a space not where sex must happen, but certainly can happen.” That evening, Tom transforms into the Australian bowerbird, who attempts to lure females to his bachelor pad by creating a lavish courtship site, decorating it with colorful shells, berries, and leaves. When a female arrives, the bird does a touchingly elaborate leaping and posturing dance in hopes of sealing the deal.

Tom dims the lights, brandishes a bottle of scented oil, and offers to give me a massage —not the usual stilted, two-minute Husband Shoulder Scrunch, but a 20-minute rubdown. If something happens in our consciously created erotic space, great. If it doesn’t, he says, he is willing to walk away. He does not have to walk away.

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Night 3

Many women I know get tense when sex is attempted late. My friend Avery says, “I’m immediately doing time calculations, like, ‘It’s 11, we’ll finish up by 11:45. I won’t fall asleep for a while afterward, so I’m looking at midnight earliest. I have to be up at 6. So, no.”

I tell Tom I sometimes have similar thoughts, so he puts Sylvie to bed earlier. Voilà: a free half hour. Which is plenty, according to a Penn State survey of sex researchers, who agreed that after foreplay, the optimal stretch for intercourse is not a Tantric marathon but 7 to 13 minutes.

Night 4

The stereotypically male definition of sex, says Perel, is that foreplay is the introduction to the “real” thing, but often, for women, it is the real thing. I try a technique recommended by a friend: Make out for 15 minutes, with no obligation to do anything further. Yes, it is the most obvious reverse psychology in the world, but more often than not, the slow buildup, emotional connection, rich concentration of nerve receptors in our lips, and aura of the suddenly forbidden result in action. As is the case with us.

Night 5

Perel tells me that “probably the biggest turn-on across the board” is when people see their partners holding court at a party, or doing something they’re passionate about—anytime that they are presenting their best selves to the world. “They don’t need you, and hence you don’t have to take care of them, emotionally or psychologically.”

So that night, at a party, I don’t go near him all night, and instead watch other women flirt with him. I see him as others do: tall, handsome, fit. After the party: success.

RELATED: 7 Things People in Long-Term Relationships Know About Great Sex

Night 6

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, says that women are more aroused than men by words—and that there is an evolutionary basis for this. Men derive intimacy from doing things side by side. “For millions of years, to do their daily job, men sat behind a bush together to look out over the grasslands and see where the animals were,” says Fisher. “If they swiveled to talk to each other, they wouldn’t be able to do their job. So you’ll see two men on a Sunday watching a football game in absolute silence. That is intimacy to men.”

Women, by contrast, find intimacy in words. “For millions of years, words have been women’s tools,” she tells me. “Everywhere in the world, women spend much more time holding their baby, literally in front of their face, talking to it. And women, as a result, get intimacy from talking.”

I think of Fisher’s remarks as we repair to our bed. I ask Tom if we could just lie together while he gives me compliments. Tom is a bit rusty at first. “You’re…a great mother,” he says, awkwardly stroking my hair.

I sit up quickly. “You know what? That may not necessarily be the best way to, you know…”

He nods, embarrassed. “Right. Right.” But when he hits upon some praise that is slightly more romantic, I realize that sweet words are my gateway: The method that relaxes and unlocks you, takes you away, elicits a physical response. Everyone has one, or many, even if they’re long buried.

Nights 7–10

We keep up the action for 10 straight nights. Soon we revert to a “sweet spot” of once a week. Sometimes the sex is spontaneous, sometimes planned, but we’re always mindful that it’s critical to maintaining our connection.

‘I had sex every day for a month and it saved my marriage’

My husband Damien and I have been together for 10 years and married for seven when I noticed I was bored. Was it the famous seven-year itch setting in? Am I that much of a cliché? I don’t know. I just know that after three kids in five years, two sometimes competing careers, and trying to maintain tiny shreds of a social life, we’d drifted apart.

We were flatmates rather than partners, and we generally slept with at least one child in between us in the bed.

FOR MORE STORIES LIKE THIS HEAD TO KIDSPOT.COM.AU

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I wanted to feel like a woman again

I wanted Damien to touch and cuddle me more, to connect with me emotionally, to look me in the eye when he talked to me, and to kiss me like he meant it – at least sometimes.

My body hadn’t felt like my own for so long. I had spent most of the past six years either pregnant or breastfeeding and I could barely stand to look in the mirror at the flabby, saggy stretched-out mess I had become. I wanted to feel like a woman again, not just a mum.

Couples behave better towards each other

When I suggested having sex every day for a month, Damien was on board straight away. He’s a scientist so he quickly rattled off all the “benefits” to having lots of sex. “Sex is super healthy,” he said with that air of authority he gets when he wants to convince me of something possibly dodgy.

“It lowers stress and risk of heart disease. It also builds confidence and is good for intimacy – and couples who have sex regularly are known to behave better towards each other.” Then he excused himself to ring up his best mate to tell him the news.

I wondered if couples who have sex regularly behave better towards each other because they’re having regular sex, or whether they’re having regular sex because they behave better towards each other. I was willing to find out.

We surrendered to the moment

I won’t lie: the first night everything felt awkward. I felt like I was doing it because I had to, rather than because I wanted to or because of that beautiful, organic process where one thing leads to another.

But I reminded myself it had been ages since one thing had led to another, and this whole thing was my idea in the first place. After just a few minutes though, all that was forgotten and we both surprisingly just surrendered to the moment.

The sex was predictable and not all that exciting. We had that paint-by-numbers sex that couples have when they know exactly what each other likes, and just want to get it done. But it was a start. We carried on like that for a few days – and then things started to get interesting.

Both Damien and I started to mix things up a little – and I was surprised to find I liked some things I didn’t think I would, and the excitement of not knowing what was coming next was pretty intoxicating too.

I felt like a teenager again

Of course, there were some days when I felt tired or irritated or just not in the mood, but each time I reminded myself of the reasons I was trying this experiment, and that there was worse homework in the world to have. Before I knew it, I was having a pretty good time again.

Sometimes things went on for over half an hour, as we rediscovered each other’s bodies, and our own. Other times we managed to get it done in five minutes while the kids were in the bath or playing on the trampoline, which was also fun in its own way.

The stolen moments made me feel like a teenager again. But no matter what, we had sex of some sort each day. My favourite was when we woke up in the morning and started the day with some sexy time.

I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to start the day that way, and whenever that happened I noticed that Damien checked in with me from work during the day, which I always love.

By the end of week two I noticed I felt more comfortable in my own skin

I started to walk around the house naked or in my underwear again like I used to. And Damien was always there to grab my bum or kiss me as we passed in the hall. When the experiment ended, I noticed that Damien and I were sharing more jokes, laughing together, smiling at each other across the room, and there was more touching – so much more touching!

And although I have no idea if that month of sex did anything to my risk of heart disease, I know Damien was right about one thing: we definitely behaved better towards each other.

The experiment ended a couple of months ago, and although we’re not quite keeping up with the pace we set back then, we’re still having a lot more sex than we used to, and we’re still behaving better towards each other too.

My confidence has skyrocketed and I feel like so much more than a mum. Damien is more affectionate, more importantly, we seem to have rediscovered that emotional intimacy we used to have.

We’re talking about making our month of sex an annual event, and I already can’t wait for the next one.

This article originally appeared on Kidspot and is republished here with permission.

For more on the topic of love and relationships, these are the 20 health benefits of sex (and it includes curing headaches and banishing wrinkles!). Plus, these are the 4 biggest relationship myths that are stopping you from finding love.

Apparently other than everyone’s nextdoor neighbor, Americans are having less sex than previous generations. Blame the political landscape, shoddy birth control access, limitless free porn on the internet, or the gig economy for the decline in the millennial libido—who can say for sure? Whatever the reason, Americans are boning less. As one of the top five horniest people of all time, this initially seemed concerning to me, but as it turns out, it might not be such a big deal.

To be sure, not having any sex or a experiencing a sharp decline could be a sign of an unhappy relationship. Check out the unmitigated horror that is r/deadbedrooms if you need further proof. But according to some recent science, your friend who brags about getting a blowie every morning probably isn’t any happier than you.

Much like washing your hair, you don’t need to have sex as often as you think—at least according to a 2015 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, which suggests any amount over once a week is simply overkill, especially if you’re not feeling it. That may seem obvious, but there’s a persistent belief out there that quantity of sex correlates precisely with the happiness of a couple, with no upper limit. Most long-term partners are doing it about once a week anyway; the average married couple has sex 51 times a year. And not only are married couples generally still out-sexing singles, but it turns out that not-strictly-sexual acts of affection, like hand holding or kissing, were actually better predictors of being “intensely” in love with your long-term partner than sexual frequency.

Recently, one of my friends was shocked—horrified— when I confessed that my boyfriend and I hadn’t had sex in a couple of weeks. He and I were doing great, but I’d been dealing with minor health problems (which tend to kill the mood), and we both were busy, and it just didn’t happen. Meanwhile, she and her boyfriend of four! years! were having sex every day. Unheard of! I’ll admit I felt jealous, and not a little bit competitive. I mean, in theory I’m certainly game to have sex every day; I think about those photos of Jake Gyllenhaal listening to Rihanna at least that often and get all hot and bothered, so why wasn’t I having sex as often as her? When I talked to my friend (read: interrogated her) further I found myself a lot less envious. It turns out she was often getting bored halfway through sex, which is even more unimaginable to me than having enough time and energy to have sex every day. Ultimately, they broke up a few weeks after we talked, which is perhaps unsurprising.

I myself did a very unscientific survey of about forty people on Twitter (of any gender and relationship status), asking about the frequency they have sex, if that’s changed over time, and if they’re happy. Almost all the answers fell into three categories. First, the single folks, or those who didn’t have a primary partner, reported having sex every month or every few months and mostly wished they had more, or had a monogamous partner. (One woman with multiple partners said she was having sex approximately 4 times a week, a true master of sexy time management.) The next group were people in monogamous relationships who were having sex 3-6 times a week. Most of them were in newer, younger relationships (think five months long and people who are in their twenties). All of them felt satisfied with the amount of sex they were having, but mentioned that at times, the frequency would wane if things got stressful or busy.

A WOMAN had sex with 18 men in one night while her husband watched — and she says it was the “best thing” for her marriage.

The swinger called Louise, who’s in her mid-30s, says her partner even handed out condoms to the blokes during the orgy.

1 Louise from Sydney wanted to experiment with group sex while her husband watched (stock photo)Credit: Getty – Contributor

Louise from Sydney in Australia spoke about her extreme experience on the Sex Files podcast.

She said her strict Catholic upbringing had originally stopped her from wanting to explore her sexuality.

But once she married her husband she started to regularly fantasise about having sex with other blokes.

‘YEARNED FOR ADVENTURE’

She said: “My husband was the first person I had sex with, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have fantasies about sex with strangers.

“So as a mum with a young family and a husband away for months on end, I yearned for adventure and the idea of being wanted.

“My local sex shop offered sex classes and one of those was about swingers’ clubs.

“I messaged my husband that I was going and off I went.”

A few years on from her initial interest in swinging, Louise started to imagine what it would be like to have sex with lots of men at once.

She told her husband about her fantasies and he was surprisingly supportive of them.

The randy mum started out by having sex with 10 guys in one night — which she said “felt amazing”.

‘THE SEX WAS GREAT’

She went on: “Yes, the sex was great but knowing these guys are here for me and me alone is really empowering.”

Louise even says her husband was fine with it and he’d enjoyed her telling him about it in explicit detail.

He was then present when she decided to romp with 18 men in a single night, giving out condoms to the group of blokes and watching Louise.

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How to Meet Emotional Needs

Introduction: Sexual compatibility is very important in most marriages. On rare occasion I find a couple happily married without any sex whatsoever, but in most cases, the quality of sex determines the quality of marriage. When a couple’s sexual relationship begins to suffer, the marriage is usually suffering. But when a sexual relationship is thriving, the marriage is also thriving.

Usually it’s the husband who has the greatest need for sex, but that isn’t always the case. I am finding increasing numbers of wives who need sexual fulfillment more than their husbands. However, whether it’s the husband or the wife with the greater need for sex, the one with lesser need is at risk for a sexual aversion.

In an effort to satisfy the spouse with the greater need for sex, the spouse with the lesser need often sacrifices his or her own emotional reactions. Instead of sex being an experience that they both enjoy together, sex becomes enjoyable only for the one with the greatest need. And it can become a nightmare for the other spouse. In all too many marriages, sacrifice leads to a sexual aversion, which, in turn, leads to no sex at all.

This column will help you overcome a sexual aversion if you suffer from it. But even if you don’t, it may help prevent you or your spouse from becoming its victim.

Dear Dr. Harley,

I have been married for nine years, and have two children. I have no interest in having sex. In fact, the thought of it is repulsive to me. I shudder when my husband reaches over and touches me when we are in bed together. Earlier in our marriage I had sex with my husband because I knew it was important to him, even though I was not interested. Sex was not disgusting to me then, just not enjoyable. Over time, however, I began to refuse him more and more often, and the thought of having sex became more and more unpleasant.

I finally told my husband that I no longer would have sex with him, and asked him to please stop trying. I feel guilty about not meeting his need for sex, but I feel so much better. I can finally go to bed and relax. I feel like a terrible burden has been lifted from me. I feel safe. But I am afraid for my marriage. I don’t believe we can go on like this forever. Do you have any advice?

C.R.

Dear C.R.

The reason that you and your husband fell in love with each other and were married is that you were successful in meeting some of each other’s most important emotional needs. You deposited so many love units into each other’s Love Banks that the love threshold was shattered, and you found each other irresistible.

But you were not necessarily meeting the same emotional needs. He may have met your need for conversation, and you may have met his needs for recreational companionship. He may not have needed to talk with you nearly as much as you needed to talk with him, but he may have spent hours at a time talking with you anyway. And you may have watched football with him on television, not because you enjoy violence on TV, but because you wanted to join him in his favorite recreational activities.

The reason you met your husband’s emotional needs is that you loved him, and wanted to make him happy. He was willing to do the same for you. You were both in the state of intimacy (see my basic concept, Negotiating in the Three States of Marriage) and in that state of mind, you were both willing to do whatever it took to meet each other’s emotional needs.

But, as is the case in many marriages, you are now no longer meeting those needs. And the source of your love for each other is being slowly but surely squeezed out. Your neglect of each other has probably already taken its toll, and you are probably no longer in love with each other.

It’s common sense to believe that spouses should try to meet each other’s emotional needs, regardless of what they happen to be. No one has ever seriously argued with me that we shouldn’t meet important emotional needs in marriage. And yet, in most marriages, spouses usually stop meeting them. Sometimes it’s intentional and sometimes it’s unintentional. They usually know that they should be meeting each other’s emotional needs, and yet they don’t or can’t do it.

The most common reason that spouses don’t meet each other’s needs is that they fall out of the state of intimacy and into the states of conflict or withdrawal. In either state of mind, people do not feel like making their spouses happy, because of the way they have been treated. Love Busters, such as angry outbursts, disrespectful judgments and selfish demands quickly destroy the state of intimacy.

If your husband were to be angry, disrespectful or demanding, would you want to watch football with him? If you treated him the same way, would he want to talk with you for hours? Not unless you each had the same needs yourselves. The only way you might meet those needs for each other is if you were doing it for yourselves. You might watch football with your husband because you simply wanted to see the game with someone, and he happened to be the only one around. He might talk with you for hours only if he needed to talk to someone, and you were there to talk with him. But if you didn’t have the same needs, he’d be watching football all by himself and you’d be reading a book instead of talking to him.

In most marriages, husbands and wives don’t have the same emotional needs, or at least they are not prioritized the same. Your marriage is that way, too. Sex has probably always been a very low priority for you, and a very high priority for your husband. And you may have emotional needs that don’t mean much to your husband, either. But when you were in the state of intimacy, you were willing to make love to him as often as he wanted, just to make him happy, even though sex wasn’t what you needed. Your husband may also have been willing to meet your needs, even though it may not have done that much for him.

You’d probably still be making love with him today, and cheerfully, if you could have remained in the state of intimacy for the past nine years. But there’s no marriage in existence that can achieve that kind of record, and sooner or later your husband was bound to make a mistake that drove you from the state of intimacy into conflict. He withdrew just enough love units for you to fall out of love, and at that moment, he wanted to make love.

You may remember the first time you tried to make love to your husband in the state of conflict, and you probably realized then that it was an experience you would not want to repeat. You never had enjoyed sex that much, but now you were trying to do it after your husband had hurt your feelings. You had taken your first step toward sexual aversion.

What Is an Aversive Reaction?

An aversion is a negative emotional reaction that’s been conditioned to a behavior. In other words, if you have bad experiences doing something, you will learn to associate those bad experiences with the task. The very thought of it will eventually create anxiety and unhappiness, and then doing it will make matters even worse.

Some psychologists, for reasons known only to them, like to shock rats. They have shown that if you subject a poor rat to an electric shock every time it takes a drink of water, it will not necessarily stop drinking water. But the rat will become very nervous whenever it does.

Humans go through the same experience. If your boss yells at you occasionally when you go to the water cooler, you will find yourself very tense whenever you drink from it. Your boss’s yelling, which gives you a negative emotional reaction, becomes conditioned to your drinking from the water cooler. It’s not the drinking itself that’s unpleasant, it’s the association of drinking with your boss yelling that triggers your reaction.

Aversions can be created in association with anything we do. Unpleasant classroom experiences can create “school phobia,” something many children have great difficulty overcoming. An automobile accident can leave people with a fear of driving. Even shopping for groceries can raise anxiety in people who have had a bad grocery shopping experience.

Aversions can also be created when spouses try to meet each other’s emotional needs, if the effort is associated with an unpleasant experience. There can be an aversion to meet the needs of admiration, affection, physical attractiveness, domestic support, family commitment, financial support, honesty and openness, recreational companionship, conversation and sexual fulfillment. These aversions can be created in a number of ways, but the most common is when a frustrated spouse becomes abusive when a need is not met to his or her satisfaction.

When one spouse tries to earn enough money for the other and he or she becomes angry with a paycheck that’s judged too small, an aversive reaction to earning a living can be created. When a spouse tries to be affectionate and is angrily rebuffed because it isn’t done “right” for some reason, an aversion to affection can be created. When a spouse tries to join in recreational activities, but has a miserable time, an aversion to recreational companionship can be created.

In other words, whenever someone tries to meet an emotional need, and finds the experience particularly unpleasant, there’s a great possibility that future efforts to meet that need will be associated with unpleasant feelings, an aversive reaction.

That’s one of the reasons that it’s so important to meet your spouse’s needs in a way that you find enjoyable, and why I put so much emphasis on the Policy of Joint Agreement. If you ever develop an aversion to meeting one of your spouse’s needs, you’ll find it impossible to meet. You will first have to overcome the aversion before you will ever be able to meet the need again.

Sexual Aversion

Sex is a very common aversion in marriage. Suppose a husband is upset with the frequency and manner in which his wife makes love to him. Instead of solving the problem with thoughtfulness and understanding, he becomes verbally and physically abusive whenever sex isn’t to his liking. He may not be abusive every time he makes love, and he may be very sensitive on almost every occasion. But whether his abuse is frequent or infrequent, his wife is likely to associate the unpleasantness of his abuse with the sex act itself. After a while, she finds the act extremely unpleasant, and tries to avoid it if she can. She has developed a sexual aversion.

C.R., you have probably developed your sexual aversion the way most women do, as a result of your husband pressuring you to have sex to him when you didn’t feel like it. In most cases of sexual aversion, a husband is the source of these unpleasant experiences.

You probably began your marriage not knowing how to enjoy sex, and made love to your husband out of a spirit of generosity. You may not have known how to become sexually aroused or how to climax. But as long as you were in the state of intimacy, the experience was somewhat pleasant for you, because the sex act made you feel more emotionally connected to him.

Eventually your husband did something that made you feel less than generous. He hurt your feelings. It may have been something he said to you that was angry or judgmental. But you made love to him anyway, out of obligation. That experience was downright unpleasant, because you had absolutely no interest in being emotionally connected to him at the time. You probably wanted him to get it over as quickly as possible. Your husband may have had no way of knowing that you were suffering, because you didn’t want to confront your husband with your resentment.

From that point on, your sexual experiences became predictably unpleasant. You made love because he expected it, not because you were willing, and you did whatever you could to avoid it or to make it brief. Whenever he would reach over and touch you at night, you knew that the nightmare was about to begin again. You eventually hated his touch. You may have told him how much it bothered you, but he would do it anyway. There was no way to stop him. Eventually, you developed an aversion to sex.

The same thing would have happened if you had tried to watch football with your husband. In the state of intimacy, you would have enjoyed the experience, because you felt emotionally bonded to him. But if he had hurt your feelings, and then expected you to watch football with him, it would have put you on the path of a football aversion.

If you had felt obligated to watch football with him, week after week, with no natural interest of your own, and no feeling of intimacy, it would have felt like torture to you. Eventually you would have felt disgust and revulsion whenever football was mentioned.

Had you started your marriage with an agreement that you would only make love to your husband when, and in a way that, you would enjoy it and respond sexually, you would never have had an aversion. Your sexual interest would have increased over the years.

Unlike football, you are wired physiologically to enjoy sex. If you had made love to your husband on your terms and for your pleasure, it would only have been a matter of time before all the connections would have been discovered. Then, you may have come to need sex more than he does.

But because you did not understand how important your emotional reaction was, you not only didn’t try to enjoy the experience sexually, but you also put yourself through emotional pain in your effort to meet your husband’s need for sex. Your effort to meet his need unconditionally did you in, and now you’re not meeting it at all.

Sexual aversion is usually poorly understood by those who have it. These people commonly report that engaging in sex is unpleasant, something they want to avoid. They may find that sexual arousal, and even a climax is also unpleasant. There isn’t anything they like about it, and some actually experience a panic attack in the sex act itself. When they’re asked to explain why they feel the way they do, few have a clear understanding of their reaction. They often blame themselves.

Their ignorance comes from a poor understanding of where their feelings come from. People often have the mistaken belief that they can decide to feel any way they want. They can decide to feel depressed or they can decide to feel cheerful. But those who suffer from chronic depression usually know it’s not that simple. And when people have a sexual aversion, they cannot simply decide to feel good about sex.

Emotional reactions are not based on our decisions and an emotional aversion is no exception. An aversion is an unconscious, physiological association of a particular behavior with an extremely unpleasant emotional experience. Those who have that association have no control over the aversive reaction that is inevitable.

So when a person has had repeatedly unpleasant experiences making love, and the association of those experiences with sexual behavior has led to an aversion, they experience emotional pain whenever lovemaking is anticipated or attempted.

As in your case, sexual aversion is a disaster of major proportions for couples. Sex is a need that should be met in marriage, but if a spouse has an aversion to meeting it, it becomes almost impossible as long as the aversion exists.

To avoid aversions in the first place, keep unpleasant experiences to a minimum. That’s why I am so adamant about couples learning to follow the Policy of Joint Agreement (never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse). If they apply the policy to their sexual relationships, making love would never be unpleasant for either partner. Not only does it help them create a lifestyle of compatibility, but it also eliminates the possibility of any aversion to meeting each other’s needs.

Steps to Overcoming Aversion to Sex

The symptoms of aversion to sex are fear of engaging in sex, trying to make the sex act as short as possible, finding that you need to build up your confidence and resolve before sex just to get through it, thinking of excuses to avoid or postpone sex, and feeling ill just prior to sex and somewhat depressed afterward. Some people actually experience panic attacks while engaged in sex. Your symptom of revulsion at the very thought of having sex is also a typical symptom.

Any of the symptoms of sexual aversion will interfere with your ability to meet your husband’s need. How can you meet his need for sex if you have even one of these reactions? You can’t. You must completely overcome the aversion if you ever hope to enjoy a sexual experience with your husband. And then be certain that the conditions that led to your aversion are never repeated.

Remember how you developed the aversion in the first place? You associated a certain behavior, having sex, with an unpleasant emotional reaction to something your husband did to you. Eventually the unpleasant reaction was triggered whenever you even thought about having sex with your husband, and certainly whenever you made love.

To overcome the aversion, you must break the association of sex with your husband from the unpleasant emotional reaction. The easiest way to do that is to associate sex with the state of relaxation.

Those without a sexual aversion may suggest that you take the direct route: Try to relax next time you make love. However, you and anyone else experiencing this hardship knows that the direct route is usually impossible to follow. The very thought of having sex with your husband probably puts you in a state of near-panic.

So that’s where we will begin — with your thoughts.

Step 1: Learn to relax when you think about sex.

The exercises that I am recommending to you will require about 15 minutes of your time every day. It is very important that you not miss a day, because the process will not work as well if you allow time gaps in the procedure.

Sit in a comfortable chair in a room by yourself with your eyes closed. If possible, play relaxing music in the background. Think of various experiences that you have had. Some of them will help you relax and others will make you feel tense. If you have an aversion to sex, whenever you think about making love, you will probably feel your tension rise and it will definitely feel unpleasant to you.

Stop thinking about sex, and redirect your thoughts to relaxing experiences. Then focus on relaxing each muscle in your body. Begin with your feet and move all the way up to your head, focusing your attention on relaxing every muscle along the way. It may take you five minutes or more before you know that all of your muscles are fully relaxed.

When you are completely relaxed, think about making love again, but this time remain completely relaxed. Don’t allow any muscle to tense up. As you think about sex, you will notice that some thoughts don’t bother you at all, but others, like making love to your husband, may make it almost impossible to remain relaxed.

Don’t think about making love to your husband just yet. Think only about sex, in general. Leave your husband out of your thoughts altogether. Investigate your own reactions to sex by imagining various aspects of sex. If you have any sexual fantasies, think about them, and what it is that makes them appealing to you. Then, without thinking of your husband, think about other aspects of sex that are less appealing or downright unappealing. Be completely relaxed while you are thinking of all of these things.

When your first fifteen minutes relaxation exercise is over, take notes of what you learned about yourself. What sexual thoughts were appealing to you, and what thoughts were unappealing? What thoughts made you feel relaxed, and what thoughts made it difficult for you to relax? The contents of this journal should not be shared with your husband until your sexual aversion is completely overcome and you have a mutually fulfilling sexual relationship with him.

If there were certain sexual thoughts (not related to your husband) that made your muscles feel tense, or made your stomach feel tight, repeat this 15 minute exercise each day until you can think about them without feeling tense. You should also journal after each session to help you think through the reactions you are experiencing.

Step 2: Learn to relax when you think about having sex with your husband.

If you have an aversion to sex with your husband, you will feel an unpleasant tension whenever you think of making love to him. So in this step, the goal is to be able to think about it without feeling tension or experiencing an unpleasant reaction.

As I’ve already explained, an aversive reaction is created when an unpleasant emotional reaction is associated with a situation or behavior. The way to reverse that association is to try to stop the unpleasant reaction from occurring when the situation or behavior is present. If you can feel relaxed just thinking about sex with your spouse, that also tends to “extinguish” the aversive association that was previously made.

Close your eyes, sit back, and relax. Be certain you are alone and without anything or anyone to distract you. Relax all your muscles from head to toe as you did before, and think about making love with your husband.

You will notice that certain thoughts are more upsetting than others. It could be that one of the ways your husband wants to make love is particularly upsetting to you. (The thought of him forcing his hand over your body, particularly putting it between your legs raises your anxiety level.) Eventually you will find that even thoughts of the most upsetting sex acts will no longer elicit an unpleasant reaction. That’s because with proper relaxation, you can extinguish your emotional reactions to almost anything.

The information you learn about yourself in this step will help you in the next step, so be sure to continue taking notes in your journal after each 15 minute session. You should document aspects of lovemaking with your husband that create the greatest stress for you. Even though you will learn to be relaxed when you think about them, you will not want to repeat them when you get back to making love to him again.

Step 3: Learn to relax when you think about having sex with your husband with him in the same room.

As soon as you have learned to be relaxed when thinking about making love to your husband, you are ready for the next step, inviting him to join you in the same room.

At first, he should simply sit somewhere else in the room and read a book. Even though he is not paying much attention to you, you may need to start practicing relaxation all over again. His very presence may make you tense.

If you relax all of your muscles from head to toe, you will eventually find yourself comfortable once again. Then, as you think about making love to him, continue to relax.

At this stage, your husband should not say or do anything but sit and read a book. If he cannot follow that simple instruction, we have serious problems. The reason you have a sexual aversion is that he has tried to make love to you in a way that is enjoyable for him, but unpleasant for you. To overcome your sexual aversion, he will need to learn to take your feelings into account when he makes love to you in the future.

But in this step, if he refuses to follow the assignment, and instead of quietly reading, he starts talking to you, or walks over and touches you, stop the procedure entirely. There is no hope for a successful transition to sex with your husband if he cannot follow your simplest requests.

It is essential for your husband to understand that you, not he, must be in complete control of your recovery process or it will not work. If he cannot or will not agree to that, it not only explains why you have the aversion to begin with, but also explains how his lack of cooperation has prevented your recovery.

Continue these exercises every day until you are completely relaxed thinking about making love to your husband with him in the same room. And don’t forget to take notes in your journal that describe your experience.

Step 4: Learn to relax when you talk to your husband about having sex with him.

Now you are ready to tell your husband what you are thinking. Sit back in your comfortable chair and close your eyes. At first, limit your description to sexual situations that you find easy to talk about, and avoid talking about those sex acts that you find particularly disturbing. When you first start talking about sex, you will find your tension rising again, but after a little practice, you will learn to be relaxed as you describe your feelings. He should say nothing to you as you talk to him. All he should do is listen.

As I mentioned earlier, if your husband decides to take charge, and tries to talk you into making love to him after you describe your thoughts, tell him that it is that very thing that created the aversion in the first place. If he cannot follow the program, end it.

Eventually, you should describe as many sexual situations to your husband as you can think of. You may want to refer to your journal to help you remember what some of them were. Whenever you talk about them, try to remain completely relaxed, and you will eventually find that even your most disturbing sexual memories will no longer elicit a tense or anxious response.

Step 5: Learn to relax when you make love to your husband.

You should ease into a sexual relationship with your husband very slowly and comfortably. Continue to spend 15 minutes each day on this assignment so that you do not lose momentum.

First, you should learn to become comfortable with affection, being able to hug, kiss and hold hands without any fear that it will lead to sex. Then, have your husband rub your arms, feet and lower legs, backs, and other non-erogenous zones (avoid breast, stomach and genital areas), again without it leading to sex. Do the same for him.

When you are comfortable being touched by your husband in non-erogenous zones, and you are comfortable touching him, you are ready to begin the first stages of making love.

I have not discussed feelings of sexual arousal with you, because our goal was to overcome aversive reactions. But by the time you are able to talk to your husband about having sex with him while feeling completely relaxed you may have already started to experience feelings of sexual arousal. The affection you experienced may also have led to feelings of sexual arousal. That feeling of sexual arousal is your signal to make love to your husband. Don’t ever try to make love without it.

Remember, if any aspect of lovemaking is unpleasant to you, figure out a way of making it enjoyable. Have your husband rub your back in a way that you enjoy, not just a way that he enjoys. Resist the temptation to go ahead and make love just to make your husband happy, because it is likely to set you back. Remember, if this program is not successful, you will probably go back to not making love at all.

When you are ready for intercourse, have your husband lay entirely motionless on his back at first. Sit or lay on top of him so that you are in complete control of the situation. Experiment with different positions and methods of intercourse so that you can learn how your body works to create the most enjoyable feelings. Only relinquish control to him after he has become educated in what it is that enables you to enjoy the experience with him.

Sometimes you will experience what behaviorists call “spontaneous recovery,” because your habits will all be very new. Spontaneous recovery is when you suddenly feel the old aversive reactions without any warning. When that happens, it just means that there are residual effects still present that crop up from time to time. You’ll find that these unexpected intrusions will decrease over time until they hardly ever occur.Amazingly enough, if you understand how to turn lovemaking into an enjoyable experience, you will probably want to make love more often than your husband does. Why? Because the more you enjoy something, the more you will want to do it. That’s why the Policy of Joint Agreement leads to passionate and frequent sex.


NEED HELP?
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PhotoAlto / Frederic Cirou / Getty Images

You’ve no doubt heard this complaint from one of your married friends:

We’re not having as much sex anymore.

It’s a complaint that plays right into the stereotype that once couples get married they have less sex. And there’s probably some truth to it because, as we all know, our lust and bong-hit-high-in-love feelings inevitably wear off a bit as the relationship wears on.

Bring kids into the picture, and often, one’s sex drive takes a nose dive. Especially for mothers.

Low libido is a very common issue for new mothers as they are healing from childbirth, grappling with fluctuating hormones and extreme sleep deprivation.

While we know adjusting to a new baby can profoundly impact a couple’s life (including sexual intimacy), we, as a society, act like it shouldn’t. We act like there’s something wrong with a new mother needing a timeout from sex.

New mothers who admit to having less sex drive are often met with people urging, “Just do it anyway,” and “You’ll get in the mood.”

But what if you don’t get in the mood, even when you take this advice? What then?

Why aren’t the feelings of the woman valid? Shouldn’t she be listening to her body? Her mind?

I’m not sure where we got this idea that a husband owns his wife’s vagina. Or that he is entitled to intercourse, oral sex, fondling, or groping. I’m pretty sure I didn’t see that covenant in the paperwork. But I have an inkling that this entitlement is very much based in misogyny and male privilege.

Men are led to believe, often since they are young boys, that women should have sex with them when they want it. Even when their wives are not “in the mood.” Because sex is the way he feels intimate. Sex is the way he connects. Because putting your husband’s sexual desires first is supposedly the best way to avoid divorce.

These antiquated and sexist designs for marriage are damaging to women.

When a married mom doesn’t put out, she’s called “cold” and “selfish” and the dreaded “bitch.” She’s told she must have “something else going on” mentally. Outsiders to the marriage, and maybe even therapists, will question if the wife was ever sexually assaulted. Does she have a history of trauma? They’ll try to make connections that aren’t there. Because how could a wife possibly not want to have sex with her husband?

It is sickening and horrific to think of a woman having sex against her will, married or not. It’s disgusting that we automatically assume something must be “wrong” with a woman who is having a gap in her groove. Beyond all that, it’s dangerous.

Suggesting that married women and mothers should just “do it anyway” is sexual bullying and coercion. If a husband acts on the “just do it anyway” cliché and forces it — that’s called rape.

When we attack married mothers for not putting out, we’re reaffirming once again what’s important in this society.

A man’s needs, not a woman’s. A man’s voice, not a woman’s voice.

Marriage traditionalists are the most vocal about the importance of sex in a marriage. Their arguments, though rooted in hoary misogyny, sometimes draw on the more modern notion of “love languages.”

The love languages phenomenon started in the ’90s with a Christian-based book about relationships and marriage. One of the “love languages” is touch or physical intimacy. Marriage traditionalists will claim that if a partner loves through “touch,” it must be satisfied to have a successful marriage.

This idea in itself wouldn’t necessarily be a problem. It could mean something as simple as: Hey, my partner needs a little hand-holding. (Fine. You got it.)

But the troubling part of this book is how it seems to encourage coercive and sexually abusive behavior. A sex demanding spouse should not be using Bible verses or Christian books to pressure their partner into sex. If someone doesn’t want to have sex, the sex shouldn’t happen. Period.

By not speaking out about spousal sex intimidation and abuse, by not holding husbands accountable, by not calling their pressure what it is — coercion and assault — it’s morally wrong. And it’s a crime.

We turn a blind eye when husbands pressure their wives for sex, because how could a husband demanding sex from his wife possibly be harassment? His sex drive is considered natural. His pleasure a given.

It’s not harassment when it’s your husband, right? Isn’t a sexually demanding husband normal? Aren’t they just horny husbands? Don’t they all do it?

This type of erroneous thinking lends itself to less obvious assaults, manipulation, and even in some cases, violence.

But because it can be done in a marriage, it’s even deemed normal and acceptable.

Mismatched libidos among couples can be frustrating. I get it. But it’s also very normal and prevalent. So many factors can contribute to sex drive — external stressors in one’s environment, diet, sleep, medical issues, etc.

Postpartum women are given the green light to bone at six weeks after birthing a baby. Never mind the fact that pregnancy literally tears a woman’s body from limb to limb, molecule by molecule for nine solid months. Bah! You’re fine. Get back on the horse!

Never mind that a new mother may have had full abdominal surgery, in the form of a C-section. That doesn’t take immense healing or anything. Never mind episiotomies. Seriously? Are you looking for a pity party, postpartum women? We all know it’s super easy to heal when your vagina is ripped from front to back. If you don’t want sex after vaginal stitches, what’s wrong with you, women?

Forget those postpartum haywire female hormones and sleep deprivation after giving birth. Those are just theories; that shit ain’t real!

Sarcasm aside, when a woman is out of the postpartum stage, her menstrual cycle returns. A period comes with its own set of hormone fluctuations that vary and change all month long.

If we all know a woman’s sex drive is largely impacted by biological elements beyond her control, why aren’t men more understanding? Why isn’t society more understanding?

Why are a man’s sexual needs the ones always tended to? What about what the women need? The mothers? What about the support they need to feel sexy?

Women are not only impacted by biology, but they are also sexually influenced by social and cultural factors in their environment. For example, married mothers tend to work the majority of the “second shift.” Second shift is the domestic work done at your shared home, after working your paid job all day.

Women are disproportionately scrubbing toilets. And we’re exhausted. Married moms are disproportionately handling matters related to childrearing. They are touched-out. How can a mom feel horny when she’s doing most of the work? When she’s the one tending to the kids?

Instead of telling married mothers that they should do it anyway, even if they’re not in the mood, we should encourage men to do something that would contribute to a woman’s arousal.

For starters, men should respect a woman’s rejection. They should respect her body and her choices. They should respect consent. Consent still needs to be considered, even in a marriage.

A man’s actions, or inactions, in the household affect a woman’s arousal environment. We should expect married dads to pick up more of a woman’s second-shift duties. That means helping equally with parenting and domestic tasks.

From the outside, people who berate and belittle women for not satisfying the sexual needs of their husbands are bullies. They are unsupportive. Their unfair, and frankly, deeply flawed marital criticism is rooted in years of oppression against women.

No one, I repeat, no one should think it’s okay for a woman to have sex against her will. Not even with a spouse.

This post originally appeared on Ravishly.

In any relationship, there are many tedious jobs that regularly need to be checked off the to-do list. Taking out the garbage, doing the laundry, raking the leaves, cleaning the bathroom, paying the bills, and on and on. But the one thing that should never become a chore is sex.

Sure, you’re both constantly being pulled in different directions with work and family commitments and are most likely exhausted at the end of each day, but sex isn’t just another task to be completed before you move onto the next one. And that is one of the main issues, among others, that husbands should understand during intimate moments with their wives.

  1. You Don’t Get Bonus Points For Speed

We get it. You’re excited that you and your wife finally have alone time and can do anything and everything you both want in the bedroom. That’s all the more reason that you shouldn’t just rush into sex, but rather take it slow and make the most of the moment. Sex and relationship expert Megan Fleming, Ph.D stresses that while not all women or wives are turned on by the same things, there may be some patterns as to where husbands are falling short sexually. “A common thing I hear in my practice is that men like to ‘Go for the Gold’ meaning they haven’t been kissing and caressing,” Fleming says. “It’s more of a version of ‘Do you wanna…?’ and the next thing you know she feels like he’s grabbing for her vagina.”

  1. Embrace Foreplay

So, what’s a guy who really, really, really wants to have sex with his wife to do then? Dr. Jane Greer, New York based marriage and sex therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, advises, “Don’t rush foreplay. Women really enjoy a slow hand and a lot of foreplay, love sweet talk, and love feeling sexy and feeling like they are attractive to you. Compliment them on how desirable they are to you.” We promise, the extra time and attention you give your wife won’t hurt.

  1. Take It Easy

The song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” may have won Daft Punk a Grammy, but it won’t win you any praise from your wife if that’s your approach in the bedroom. “A lot of guys have trouble adjusting their touch to the level that women prefer,” Michael Aaron, Ph.D., a New York-based sex therapist in private practice, says. “Guys may think that they are being sensual, but women may often experience their touch as too rough.” Bottom line here, make sure you and your wife are on the same page as to what feels good and what doesn’t. “For some women, stimulating their nipples or clitoris before they’re sufficiently aroused will be a source of frustration and irritation rather than a turn-on,” Greer adds. “Before you stimulate any areas around the breasts or genitals, make sure your partner is aroused through kissing and stroking. Ensure there is some excitement already there before you move forward.”

  1. It’s Not All About You

“If you come before her and stop, without following up to make sure she orgasmed as well, that can be a turn-off,” Greer says. There are definitely some guys out there who believe that sex is over as soon as they climax. Don’t be one of those guys. “Keep in mind the Golden vs. the Platinum Rule,” Fleming says. “Do unto your partner sexually what really turns them on vs. the Golden (what turns you on).”

5. Know The Basics

For a word with only three letters, sex sure is complicated. That’s why it’s important for you to do learn if your moves are actually turning your wife on rather than just getting her close to an orgasm—but ultimately letting her down in the end. Do your research: there are a number of excellent guides available such as She Comes First by Ian Kerner and Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind Blowing Sex. Fleming points out that two thirds of women don’t orgasm from penetration alone and need extra clitoral stimulation. Any techniques you learn along the way will enhance your love life and deepen your sexual connection. The more you know….

Does Your Husband Need Sex?

In many marriages (but not all), sexual intimacy is very high on a husband’s list. In books like William Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs, sex is listed as the number one thing a husband needs in marriage. Many men would nod in agreement and tell their wives in so many words that they need sex; however, I’ve never known of a man to die because he didn’t have it.

I’ve heard Christian speakers say things like, “A woman should never say no to her husband’s sexual advances.” If he needs sex and you’re the only one who can give it to him, sex becomes less romantic than cooking him dinner. You may feel like a “sex dispenser,” just there to meet your husband’s biological needs. Even if you once liked sex, all pleasure and anticipation has been drained out of it.

This is certainly not God’s design for sexuality in marriage. A couple who operates with this thinking is doomed to experience no “intimacy” in sexual intimacy. So how do we reconcile the “need” factor without sex becoming an on-demand obligation?

Is Sex Really A Need?

We have a strange relationship to the word need in our society. We claim to need everything from a cup of Starbucks to the most recent smartphone. In reality, we need very little to survive. Food, shelter, community, and family. However, there are other things we don’t need for survival but that are necessary to function in our world. For example, you don’t need a car . . . but you do. You won’t die without a car, but unless you live in a big city, it would be very difficult to navigate life without one. We also have emotional needs, like feeling loved and valued. While we won’t die without feeling loved, we also may not want to keep living.

Think of sex in a similar vein. No one needs sex, but a marriage needs sexual intimacy to thrive. Intimacy in the bedroom is directly correlated to overall marital happiness. When a couple regularly engages in sex, even their body chemistry is working to build a positive emotional connection.

In most marriages, the husband is the more constant reminder of the need for sex. Because he has more testosterone and his body is wired to respond sexually, it’s usually on his mind much more often than it’s on hers. In other marriages, the woman is unsatisfied if too many days go by without sex. God has wired our bodies to express the importance of sexual intimacy, whether it is the husband or wife who prompts the other.

Even God’s Word tells us that regular sex should be a priority in marriage. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul says that both the husband and wife should meet each other’s sexual needs and should be having sex regularly (yes, that’s in the Bible!).

When your husband tells you he needs sex, he is really saying, “This is the primary way I know how to be close to you.” He may also be saying, “I need you to help me be a man of integrity. I want to focus on your body and being intimate with you. This helps me fight temptation.”

Beyond an Obligation

Most men not only want sex, they want their wives to enjoy it. It’s not enough to give him your body while the rest of you is mentally a thousand miles away. The most satisfied husband is the man who has a satisfied wife.

If you’ve fallen into the pattern of “checking the sex box” to meet your husband’s needs, it’s likely that neither of you feel sexually fulfilled. Your response to that statement might be, “You mean I have to like it too! Can’t I just fake it?” Instead of seeing this as even more of an obligation, step back and consider it as good news. Your husband isn’t fully satisfied just to have a physical release; he wants intimacy with you. He wants to build sexual memories with you and learn how to bring you great pleasure. This means that you are not just a sexual object to him. He wants you to be his lover—to have fun and explore each other.

In order to accept his invitation, you may need to switch gears mentally. Your sexual relationship will never be fulfilling if it is oriented only around your husband’s needs. Do you feel free to be sexual and to pursue your sexual pleasure in the bedroom? When was the last time you initiated sexually?

Here are three practical things you can do to meet your husband’s need while also awakening your own sexual drive.

1. Say No So You Can Say Yes

One of the beefs I have with the “never say no” policy is that it creates a dynamic in marriage in which sex revolves exclusively around a husband’s needs. While he desires a sexual encounter, she desires intimacy. What if we told a husband, “No matter how tired or distracted you are, never say no when your wife wants to talk or cuddle”? Would you really want talking to become an obligation for your husband? The goal is to have both you and your husband fulfilled and satisfied in intimacy. That takes communication, sensitivity, and compromise.

Instead of saying no, I’d encourage you to say “not now.” In other words, if you had sex right when your husband asks, you may be distracted, exhausted, or frustrated and not able to enjoy it. Even a willing wife will grow resentful with this pattern. When your husband initiates, give him a time within the next 24 hours when you will be ready to say yes. This gives you time to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally so that sex can be fulfilling to you too. It also teaches your husband to consider your needs instead of just communicating his.

2. Invest in Your Sex Life

Unless you have been blessed to have a high sex drive, experiencing sexual arousal and fulfillment takes some effort on your part. Your sexual appetite will be little to none unless you work on developing it. Don’t take the Fifty Shades of Grey shortcut. Instead, make a priority to work on building healthy intimacy with your husband.

When was the last time you bought something special for the bedroom? Or spent time planning a creative sexual date? When did you last pray about your sex life, asking God to show you how to enjoy intimacy with your husband?

If you are ready to invest in intimacy, I recommend the ten-week Bible study Passion Pursuit. It shows you how to make passion a priority in a way that honors your husband and God.

3. Shift Your Paradigm

I used to view my husband’s sex drive as a curse. My mental dialogue sounded like this: Not again! Didn’t we just do it? I’ve learned over the years to view my husband’s desire for me to be a gift rather than an obligation. This has been a major paradigm shift that has changed the atmosphere of our love life.

One day Mike asked me, “Aren’t you glad that I want to be with you all the time? Isn’t it a good thing that I desire you and want to be intimate with you?” I had to agree with him. If it weren’t for sexual intimacy, Mike might get lost in his own little world and be content for weeks without connecting with me. This one special part of our relationship causes him to think about me often. Our sex life makes our relationship different than every other relationship he has.

Instead of lamenting the fact that your husband needs sex, why not celebrate that your husband needs you!

There has been some media discussion about this answer. Unfortunately the original answer has been selectively quoted and used out of context. The suggestion was made that the person answering the question, both a husband and wife, might be supporting rape in marriage. Let us be clear. Rape is rape. Rape can never be justified and is abhorrent to us as Christians. Also – in the media report, only the wife’s responsibilities, and not the husband’s, were highlighted, to support the point the journalist was making. This is misleading. The Bible speaks of a very high standard for husbands – one in which domestic violence, rape or selfish behaviour has absolutely no place and such actions can never be justified or reconciled with the love Jesus calls his followers to show. – Editor

This is a great question, and being a bloke, I sub-contracted out to my wife on this one, so much of what I’ve written here is based on a conversation I had with her.

Let’s just think for a minute about sex in general. The Bible tells us that sex is good, and that’s it’s good for marriage. As you may well know, sex is created by God for a husband and a wife to enjoy in their marriage – and it’s something that is good for their relationship, since having it in your marriage is part of God’s plan for bonding you and giving you a healthy relationship.

Remember Genesis 2:24-25:

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The image of ‘one flesh’ is a sexual one. The husband and the wife ‘become one’ as they are married and have sex with one another. And in this pre-Fall situation, there is no shame in being naked – they are totally open with each other, and comfortable with each other.

At the point where God joins this man and woman then, he talks about sex. It’s good, in the sense that it’s a fundamental part of God’s design for marriage, and marriage isn’t going to work as well if it’s not happening. We know from relationship studies that regular sex in a marriage relationship is good for the marriage itself, and for the well-being and fulfilment (and security) of each person in the marriage.

That’s the first thing. Having that in mind, it’s probably worth considering why the question has come up for you. Is it because of a lack of desire on your part that this issue has come up? If that’s the case, it would be worth thinking through why that might be – not to find something or someone to blame, just to know yourself and what’s going on in your heart and mind better. For example, is there something in your relationship with your husband that is ‘short-circuiting’ your desire? Do you resent him in some way, or feel that he resents you? Is there something unresolved that you might not think about consciously, but could be affecting your sexual desire for him?

Or perhaps you’re chronically tired or stressed. Either of these (and many others things) could mean that you just find it really hard to get excited about sex, or at least sex at the frequency your husband seems to want. Maybe you’re still suffering the effects of some past trauma in your relationship or another relationship? I don’t know, but it’s worth reflecting on these things – only you know yourself this well – and working out whether there is something that’s making it hard to want to have sex with your husband.

In terms of actually answering your question directly (finally!), the Bible does speak about saying ‘no’ to sex.

1 Corinthians 7:3-5:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The apostle Paul is speaking here in the context of what I mentioned above: that sex is part of marriage – it’s part of the way God designed marriage to work. And so marriage ceases to work as it’s designed if one person denies the other person sex. That’s why Paul says,“Do not deprive on another, except perhaps by agreement…” Paul’s priority is to encourage good marriages, in which the husband and the wife are servants of one another. And I can tell that you want to do what’s right, because you asked as”a good Christian wife”. So you’re heading in the right direction.

Having said that, there may be legitimate reasons for not having sex. Perhaps you can’t bear the thought of it, because you’ve just had a baby, perhaps you’re unwell, perhaps it’s something else. If this is the case, one of the most important things you can do it talk about it with your husband. Tell him what you’re thinking and try to explain what’s going on for you. He will appreciate this much more than you giving him a hint that you’re not interested in sex tonight.

It should be said clearly that God has a very high standard for husbands. A husband forcing sex or not taking account of his wife’s needs or welfare is wrong. A husband is called upon to love his wife and put her needs before his own. Ephesians 5:25 says ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…(Ephesians 5:25 NIV1984). Jesus showed us the ultimate in sacrifice for others.

Above all, continue to pray to God that he would work in you by his Spirit, to make you servant-hearted and give you good knowledge of yourself and your motives. He’s a good God and he wants our marriages to work!

I hope that answers your question.

Some resources that might help:
Married for God: making your marriage the best it can be by Christopher Ash – this book is really helpful in showing us what the Bible says about sex and marriage – very biblical and practical.
One Flesh by Amelia and Greg Clarke – talks frankly about sex in a Christian marriage, and includes a focus on newlyweds. I think there’s a sequel coming out soon for rest-of-life sex. Really worth reading for every Christian couple.
Arch Hart – this guy has written a ton of excellent stuff on relationships and marriage. He’s done a lot of research and is particularly helpful in helping couples communicate better, about sex and everything else. Anything by him is worth reading.

Three years ago I had sex every single day, for one whole year.

To answer the most popular questions I’ve been asked since: No, it was not with 365 men. It was with one, my husband. Yes, even while I was on my period. I have no idea what my kids were doing while we were having sex. I assume not watching us. And finally, no, I didn’t do it to save my marriage. I did it to save myself, the effect it had on my marriage was merely a perk.

Shortly after having my third child, I remember getting out of the shower, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and wondering, “Who let my mom in here?” From that point on, I didn’t let myself be naked. I kept the lights off during sex, hid my stomach and boobs inside a camisole, and I waited for my husband to leave the bedroom before barreling from the shower to my closet to get dressed.

As the years went by, the absence of my naked body began to worry me. Did my husband, Andy, even know what I looked like naked anymore? Could he draw a nude picture of me that didn’t also have a giant duvet over my body or a Spanx seam running vertically down my stomach?

I came up with the idea to have sex for a year after speaking with a friend who’d done just that, every night of her marriage.

“It’s just something we do,” she said flatly. As routine as daylight, she and her husband had had sex every day since they’d gotten married, and they were one of the most loving, hilarious and strong couples I’d known.

Brittany Gibbons and her husband, Andy. Courtesy of Brittany Gibbons

Having sex every day for a year seemed obnoxious, but also an intriguing way to force myself into facing my body each day. I mean eventually, the covers would have to come off and the lights would have to stay on, right?

Andy, as expected, was on board. And for a whole year, save for being parted by travel or the stomach flu, we had sex with each other.

It started off rough. I’d be standing at the sink taking out my contacts when it’d hit me … I still had to have sex before falling asleep. As a work from home mom of three, the thought exhausted me. It wasn’t that sex was a chore that I dreaded, but allotting time out of my day to do it felt impossible and selfish and draining. I just wanted to lay in bed and watch The Tonight Show and eat cereal and not have anyone touch me.

But as the months passed, I started looking forward to it. Sex begat more sex, and those connected, loved up feelings began to creep outside of the bedroom — or in our case, the laundry room, the closet and our garage — and into our everyday lives. We were more romantic with each other, touching arms as we passed, kissing longer before work and not just the cold familiar peck. Our relationship was stronger and better when our intimacy was flourishing.

I was no longer hyper-aware of the sounds my curvy body was making.

On a personal level, the changes in the way I saw my body were staggering. Three months in, I found myself enjoying sex again, making a playlist of songs that turned me on and was no longer hyper-aware of the sounds my curvy body was making. Like the way my thighs clapped together or my tummy smacked his.

Six months in, I took off the cami I’d hidden my body inside of, not caring that my boobs plopped off into my armpits. For the first time, I was more concerned with every part of sex that felt good than finding a flattering angle to hide my stomach or back fat. My body was being enjoyed by the both of us, equally.

A year in, I stopped wearing clothes entirely. At least, I assume that is what my kids would say. I stopped that primal run from the shower, and now lazily walked to the closet naked. I made school lunches in my underwear, and didn’t reflexively pull away when Andy came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. My relationship with my husband, and my body, had changed in amazing ways.

Now, three years later, we’re still having sex every single night.

Oh my God, I’m joking.

I totally don’t have sex with my husband every day, not anymore. Not because we’re sick of each other — although I’ll admit, my pelvis and thighs welcomed the rest — but because we’re humans, not robots. However, the effects and lessons from the experience are still apparent in our marriage even now.

Courtesy of Brittany Gibbons

First, we learned that it’s hard and that’s normal. The majority of people around you are not having sex every single day. They’re busy being stressed at work, coordinating their kids’ soccer schedules and paying bills. Fitting sex into all of that is difficult, but for us, it’s necessary. Sex is what reminds us that we’re intimate partners and not just roommates in charge of keeping kids alive.

Second, we learned the exact amount of sex life we need to keep us happy in our marriage, and we’re able to adjust our lives around that.

I no longer freak out if two weeks pass and we forget to have sex, because we work to connect in other ways. Intimacy doesn’t always mean penetration. Sometimes it’s making out on the couch like teenagers, sometimes it’s Andy triple checking the DVR to make sure all my fall TV shows are set to record. We all get to decide what turns us on. The point is, the effort to show love to each other is there.

Lastly, I learned that I am a better wife, a better mother and a better woman when I take the time to be secure in my relationship and selfish about feeling good about myself. I am not the best version of myself when I am insecure and panicky. I’m basically a walking vague relationship Facebook post.

I am so much more focused when worrying about my sex life is off the table. Or on the table, depending on if it’s a school day and Andy calls off work. Okay, enough sex puns.

Having regular sex with my husband isn’t making my marriage divorce-proof or immune to infidelity or angst, but it is helping me feel confident enough in my skin to survive it if it does happen.

I used to joke that I never wanted to have to be in a position to date again, because my body wasn’t “showroom ready.” While I naturally hope to stay married to Andy until the end of time, and should I die first, haunt him, I don’t have that fear anymore, because my definition of desirable has changed.

It was never about anyone wanting me, it was about me wanting myself. And it only took an entire year of getting laid to figure that out.

Brittany Gibbons is the author of Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin … Every Inch of It.

‘I Had Sex Every Day For A Month And It Saved My Marriage’

My husband Damien and I have been together for ten years and married for seven when I noticed I was bored.

Was it the famous seven-year itch setting in? Am I that much of a cliché?

I don’t know. I just know that after three kids in five years, two sometimes competing careers, and trying to maintain tiny shreds of a social life, we’d drifted apart.

We were flatmates rather than partners, and we generally slept with at least one child in between us in the bed.

I wanted Damien to touch and cuddle me more, to connect with me emotionally, to look me in the eye when he talked to me, and to kiss me like he meant it – at least sometimes.

I’d been pregnant or breastfeeding for six years – I wanted to feel like a woman again. Photo: Getty Images.Source:Whimn

My body hadn’t felt like my own for so long. I had spent most of the past six years either pregnant or breastfeeding and I could barely stand to look in the mirror at the flabby, saggy stretched-out mess I had become.

I wanted to feel like a woman again, not just a mum.

When I suggested having sex every day for a month, Damien was on board straight away. He’s a scientist so he quickly rattled off all the “benefits” to having lots of sex.

“Sex is super healthy,” he said with that air of authority he gets when he wants to convince me of something possibly dodgy.

“It lowers stress and risk of heart disease. It also builds confidence and is good for intimacy – and couples who have sex regularly are known to behave better towards each other.”

Then he excused himself to ring up his best mate to tell him the news.

I wondered if couples who have sex regularly behave better towards each other because they’re having regular sex, or whether they’re having regular sex because they behave better towards each other.

I was willing to find out.

To be honest, the first night was awkward. Image: StocksySource:Whimn

I won’t lie: the first night everything felt awkward. I felt like I was doing it because I had to, rather than because I wanted to or because of that beautiful, organic process where one thing leads to another.

But I reminded myself it had been ages since one thing had led to another, and this whole thing was my idea in the first place. After just a few minutes though, all that was forgotten and we both surprisingly just surrendered to the moment.

The sex was predictable and not all that exciting. We had that paint-by-numbers sex that couples have when they know exactly what each other likes, and just want to get it done. But it was a start.

We carried on like that for a few days – and then things started to get interesting.

Both Damien and I started to mix things up a little – and I was surprised to find I liked some things I didn’t think I would, and the excitement of not knowing what was coming next was pretty intoxicating too.

All of a sudden – the sex turned wild. Photo: iStockSource:Whimn

Of course, there were some days when I felt tired or irritated or just not in the mood, but each time I reminded myself of the reasons I was trying this experiment, and that there was worse homework in the world to have. Before I knew it, I was having a pretty good time again.

Sometimes things went on for over half an hour, as we rediscovered each other’s bodies, and our own. Other times we managed to get it done in five minutes while the kids were in the bath or playing on the trampoline, which was also fun in its own way.

The stolen moments made me feel like a teenager again.

But no matter what, we had sex of some sort each day. My favourite was when we woke up in the morning and started the day with some sexy time.

I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to start the day that way, and whenever that happened I noticed that Damien checked in with me from work during the day, which I always love.

By the end of week two I noticed I felt more comfortable in my own skin. I started to walk around the house naked or in my underwear again like I used to. And Damien was always there to grab my bum or kiss me as we passed in the hall.

Suddenly we couldn’t pass each other in the hall without touching. Photo: iStockSource:Whimn

When the experiment ended, I noticed that Damien and I were sharing more jokes, laughing together, smiling at each other across the room, and there was more touching – so much more touching!

And although I have no idea if that month of sex did anything to my risk of heart disease, I know Damien was right about one thing: we definitely behaved better towards each other.

The experiment ended a couple of months ago, and although we’re not quite keeping up with the pace we set back then, we’re still having a lot more sex than we used to, and we’re still behaving better towards each other too.

My confidence has skyrocketed and I feel like so much more than a mum.

Damien is more affectionate, more importantly, we seem to have rediscovered that emotional intimacy we used to have.

We’re talking about making our month of sex an annual event, and I already can’t wait for the next one.

Would you have sex with a robot?

Would you have sex with a robot?