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Sexual Intimacy

QUESTION: If my wife and I are regularly engaging in sexual intimacy, doesn't that mean that our overall marital intimacy must be pretty good?


The idea that frequent sexual intimacy is a predictor of the overall health of a marriage is, at best, only a partial truth. While it is certainly true that lack of physical intimacy usually suggests that a marriage is in trouble, regular sexual intercourse is only part of the intimacy that should be shared between a husband and a wife. Men are more likely to assume that their marriage relationship is "okay" when there is frequent sexual intimacy. This is because men tend to find the greatest satisfaction in marriage through the sense of significance that comes with a perception of having performed positively. When a man feels that he is adequate, he is likely to feel valued in a relationship, and therefore, feels intimately connected. A husband will generally feel a sense of closeness and/or connection through engaging in activities with and for his wife. He may continue to seek sexual intercourse with his wife in the midst of a climate that is characterized by marital conflict. He will do so, finding sexual contact a reassurance that his marriage is going to be okay.

A woman, on the other hand, is less likely to desire sexual intimacy when she feels devalued, ignored, or distanced from her marital partner. A wife experiences feelings of closeness and connection to her husband when her emotional needs are being met. Sharing ideas, thoughts, goals, and feelings are all important avenues to establishing intimacy between her and her spouse. It is not uncommon for a wife who is feeling emotionally cutoff from her husband, to develop negative feelings about being physically responsive. If the emotional connection remains broken indefinitely, she will eventually begin to feel defrauded in the relationship and come to believe that her husband sees her as a sexual object rather than a marital partner.

It is important for both husbands and wives to understand that men and women define and view intimacy differently. In a real sense, men may be viewed as "do-ers" and women as "be-ers." The overall health of a marriage should be seen as directly proportionate to the amount of investment being made by each spouse in meeting the intimacy needs of one another. Regularly engaging in sexual intimacy, without regard for meeting emotional, mental, and even spiritual needs, should not be viewed as an indicator of the health of a marriage.

Marital Intimacy - Learn More!

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