In marriage, one of the most common causes of fights is the topic of sex. While there is a whole host of intimacy issues that couples fight about, the most common disagreement occurs over how often sex is (or isn't) happening.
You'd think that a simple fight once in awhile wouldn't hurt anything, but for some reason, fights about sex often get nasty. The high desire partner (the one who wants intimacy more often) feels unloved or disregarded, and these feelings amplify each time another sexual advance is rejected by the low desire partner (the one who wants intimacy less). At the same time, the low desire partner often feels pressured, controlled and objectified. A couple will often continue in this cycle of hurt, and these feelings damage the marriage.
With all these problems that come with intimacy, a lot of people wonder why sex is so important anyway. After all, you might have a perfect marriage if you didn't fight about it so much. Well, there are several reasons it's important. Here are three:
1. It's makes you a couple
Sex is something you share with your partner that you don't share with anyone else. Sure, you can talk to your spouse about what a rotten day you had at work or how you feel inadequate as a parent, but you can also talk to your friends or parents about those things. You can't have sex with anyone besides your spouse, however. As a result, intimacy truly sets you and your partner apart as a couple. If you're not being close to your partner in this way, the two of you may become less like a couple and more like roommates.
2. It is a unique expression of intimacy
Yes, you can hug and kiss your partner to show your love, but you also do those things to your mother, your cousin and even your friends. You can call your partner "sweetie" or "honey," but your spouse shares those titles with your children. Sex is a unique expression of intimacy that happens only with your spouse. It's an expression of love, romance and passion that exceeds a simple hug or kiss. Both you and your partner need that special expression of intimacy to feel truly loved.
3. It creates deeper conversations and brings couples closer
Intimacy requires communication - but not just any old "how was your day?" kind of communication. It takes a much more open, vulnerable and deep kind of interaction. The things you say to your partner during intimacy are much more personal than a discussion about what a tough day you had at work. You tell your partner what you like. You let your partner know how best to love you in a way that is much more personal than asking your partner to please you by taking out the trash, for example. Sex brings you much, much closer.
When couples come to me for counseling over difficulties with intimacy, they're sometimes surprised that I don't focus on specific details or the number of times they engage in sex per week. What's more important is making sure that sex becomes an intimate experience that brings both partners together. If this isn't happening, then the marriage isn't really happy.
Instead of arguing about intimacy and creating more distance, couples need to learn to really communicate feelings. Husbands and wives need to be open to hearing what their spouses want, feel and need. This is not only a recipe for a healthy sex life, but it's the recipe for a great marriage.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.