There is plenty of misinformation about couples’ sexual relationships online. It’s troubling because: a) searching for answers to questions online is SO easy; b) it can be difficult to know if you’ve found reliable and valid information that’s based on work done by experts; and c) you will come across worst case scenarios. And there’s plenty of the latter about sex and long-term relationships/marriage. For those with anxiety, reading other’s comments and posts can exacerbate something we’re already concerned with AND give us new ideas for things to worry about and compare ourselves to! So, in this blog, we’re tackling myths about sex in long-term relationships and clarifying what is true and based on actual science.
Myth #1 “Fantasizing about others is a bad sign for my relationship.”
Believing this is a problem because we’re sexual beings; it’s common that we see someone we find very attractive. We’re programmed to procreate. Believing this myth can lead to guilt and shame about our sexual selves. It’s also a problem for those with reduced desire because fantasizing CAN BE a reliable way to get turned on enough to have an orgasm.
Truth #1 Many individuals in healthy, loving relationships DO fantasize about others. It can even enhance the couple’s connection.
In our culture, we’re presented with TONS of sexy people and sexual situations or innuendo. This exists not only in the media but on how people dress and carry themselves in real life. Again, we’re sexual beings with the urge to reproduce. So if an image of someone else comes to mind during sexy time with our partner, it’s physiological and to be expected.
What if you’re fantasizing about an ex? How about someone in your life you’re also emotionally attracted to? If in your fantasies, you are acting out another side of yourself that you feel too vulnerable to share with your long-term partner then this could be an opportunity to grow yourself sexually. If you’re still unsure about sharing it with your partner, I’d recommend you first talk about this in therapy.
On the other hand, if you’re having an ‘emotional’ affair (i.e. have grown too close to another and have sexual fantasies about this person) this likely indicates there IS an issue in the primary relationship that needs work. Not that the marriage is “bad” but just that something needs to be addressed with a professional’s help.
Myth #2 “Sex should be spontaneous, not planned.”
Many couples scoff at marriage counselors who suggest that couples schedule time for sex. They recall the early romance where sex wasn’t planned…or was it?
Truth #2 In early romance, we DID plan for sex, but in different ways.
Women shaved their legs and some men manscaped. Both showered and put on something nice. Perhaps you hoped that dinner or date night would lead to sex. For busy couples and those past the early romance phase, having sex (even planned sex) is better than having little to no sex.
Yes, it’s not the impulsive and highly passionate kind that’s typical in the first stage of relationships. And many people admit to missing that intense experience. But think about it: we couldn’t run our lives caring for children, a household, careers and reaching our highest potential if we remained in that wild state all the time! Know that it is normal that relationships and sexual relationships change as time goes on but sex certainly can be fun and connecting.
Myth #3 “Having children shouldn’t change sex between a couple.”
In the midst of all the changes that take place in a couple’s life with starting a career, buying a home and welcoming children, it is certainly nice to rely on what is known. As human beings, we tend to seek comfort in the customary, especially during times of great change. For many couples, that includes believing sex should, and would, remain the same after children. To believe that and to expect it can be a cause of a lot of frustration and insecurity in the relationship.
Truth #3 Having biological children changes our bodies and having children changes how we see ourselves and our partner.
We often hear males lament that their partner’s sexual drive and interest level decreased in pregnancy and after the baby arrives. When women go through pregnancy, their hormones change and their bodies change. Things shift and droop and even the vagina can change and sex can feel differently. If they nurse, that can suppress a woman’s sex drive. Also holding and touching a newborn for hours each day can fulfill a woman’s need for touch. It’s not uncommon for mothers to feel “touched out” even though they love their partners very much, perhaps even more now that this person is the father of their child. Becoming parents changes how one sees him/herself. We’re more grounded and responsible and have a broader view of the world. Often we become less self-centered, which is a wonderful thing.
Focus on enjoying each other and having new experiences can be a great opportunity to grow closer together.
If you or you and your partner are struggling with these myths and they’re impacting your sex life, don’t suffer in silence. Sex can and should be a pleasurable and fun part of our lives, so reach out to get help. Call us at 908-246-3074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an individual or couples appointment.