OK, I know you're trying to figure out what in the world sex and passion in your marriage has to do with Health & Nutrition, but it was under the “Health” tab at Fox News. 🙂 Besides, how many times have you heard that married people live longer? And obviously, happy, supportive marriages are not just good for the soul, they must be good for the body, too, even if only for the lower stress levels!
First, let's get past the guilt
Before we go further, I think we should cover something I hear about a lot from friends – they feel guilty somehow if they enjoy sex, as if that's wrong somehow. How sad! You've probably been asked this before, but guess who invented sex? And He didn't invent it only for making babies, as amazing as that part of it is. He's smart, He knows that when channeled correctly, in a healthy marriage, it can be powerful and fun and a beautiful way to keep spouses close and families strong, in this world that often beats up on us. If you've ever heard of Pope John Paul II's, “Theology of the Body“, you know that there is even more to it than most of us ever tap into, but I won't go into that here. Just believe that it is meant to be a special, and even a holy way for spouses to enjoy each other and to keep their marriage strong.
So what about it?
Have you settled for a marriage with no spice or fun? If you and your spouse are both fine with that (and you're sure that's true for you both, and one of you isn't just “playing the martyr”), then that's up to you. But what if there's something more? What if it could be really great between you, and the only thing holding you back is the commitment to do just a little work toward that goal? Wait until you read the following excerpt, it all makes sense!
Here's an excerpt from the Fox News article on passion:
“Passionate love has been found to suppress activity in the areas of the brain that control critical thought. But the areas activated during passionate love are identical to those fired up during other euphoric states, such as with cocaine use and sexual arousal. So how does this “drug addiction” of sexual desire help you and your relationship?
— helps you get closer to one another. There's less of a need to critically analyze one's character and personality. This love-is-blind component helps you tolerate your lover's faults and get along better.
— motivates you to work harder for the relationship. It increases areas of the brain associated with euphoria and reward.
— fulfills your needs, e.g., self-esteem, nurturance, dominance, submission and self-actualization, making it even more of a personal investment.
— keeps you happier, decreasing levels of brain activity associated with distress and depression.
— is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Research continues to find that passionate love and sexual arousal are tightly linked.”
By the way:
The above excerpt is another reason why sex/passion outside of marriage isn't a good idea. Before getting married you shouldn't be suppressing the areas of your brain responsible for critical thinking – this would be shutting down important “warning signs”! You don't want the “love is blind” component or the extra bonding that passion brings until you're sure this is the right person to spend the rest of your life with.
Another excerpt later in the article:
“Unless you're perfectly fine with a ho-hum relationship (and I suppose some people are), don't brush it off as “it's just not there.” Don't let what everyone — and what research — dictates as a time cap on passion become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can stay passionately mad about each other. It just takes work!”
Read therest of the article for tips on HOW to get the passion back
I also found this article, “Secrets of rekindling romance and passion in your marriage.” Here's another good one, called “Married, with Passion“: “Marriage is an exercise in mutual submission. Admittedly, there are times you're too pooped to whoop; but if you're the only one too pooped, you may be willing to whoop anyway because you know that will please your spouse.“
Now, if you're one of those who would say, “We never had passion in the first place“, don't try to use that as an excuse to settle. I heard Dr. Phil use this great quote a few years ago, “Sometimes we make the right decisions, and sometimes we make the decision right.” Imagine how many less broken families we'd have if only people lived by that! I happen to think love is a lot like running: it's much much more about what we are telling ourselves than anything else. If that chatterbox in your brain is constantly saying, “I'm not attracted to him/her“, or “He/She doesn't know what they're doing in bed“, or “I've never loved him/her“, then of course things are going to stink between you! Instead, start looking at and dwelling on the things you love about your spouse; if you can't find any, then look in the mirror and face your own negativity. Ask yourself what is your payback for continuing to live like this and not making the effort to get things better? What are you getting out of it that you're hanging onto?
(By the way, be sure to see the resources and then the comments below if you are in a “sex-starved” marriage, it's much more common than you think.)
I'm not saying that everyday is always going to be hot and romantic. Kent & I will sometimes go a few days where it seems like we've hardly even talked amidst all the kids' shuttles, homework, lunch-packing, dishes, laundry, errands, etc.; but we definitely still have enough great times together to keep the spark alive. (We've always been fairly good at communicating, and also, NFP has played a big role in our marriage and keeps things interesting. Oh, and we make sure to plan date nights – it's amazing what speaking in full sentences can do for a marriage.)
Here's another great article on keeping the heat in your marriage amidst everyday life: Habits of Hot Marriages.
I know life is sometimes very difficult, and I know that some spouses are very difficult to live with – what I'm talking about here won't apply to everyone or every circumstance. But for most people a few things could make a big difference:
- A no-brainer: you MUST learn to communicate better with each other, whether it's about your needs, your pet-peeves, the good, the bad, all of the above – get some good counseling if necessary. (Many insurance plans cover it.) Kent & I sometimes get over blow-ups via email – it keeps things calm. 🙂
- Look at yourself and how YOU could change. It's amazing how this softens the heart in the other spouse and makes them want to change, too. Look at your own selfishness issues – we all have them. Read this Gary Smalley book. (But only read the section for you, not the part for your spouse…trust me on this.) Here's another one a friend recommended: Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs.
- Most importantly, ask God for help. One of my favorite verses: “Nothing is impossible with God” Luke 1:37. He wants your marriage to be strong and healthy even more than you do. I remember a time when I thought there was NO WAY things could ever be good between Kent & I again, there were just TOO many “issues”. It wasn't very long after I'd had that thought that almost everything was resolved…only God could pull that off. (Read more about that here.)
Do NOT settle for less than what your marriage could be. If you have kids you must know that they are watching you. Is this the marriage you would want for them? If not, then give them a solid example of what a healthy marriage looks like.
Passion in your marriage = closer relationship = better marriage = stronger families = happier and less stressful lives = healthier bodies & peaceful souls!
- The Pain of Low Libido
- Is your marriage in a bad spot? Don't believe these lies.
- My Conversion Story and how God healed our marriage
- Helpful Marriage/Sex Books– That link has a list of books by Michelle Weiner-Davis. I’ve only read her book, “Divorce Busting”, and while it isn’t Christian-based, it still made great sense and helped me a lot when Kent & I were having marriage trouble. Also, scroll down at that link to see other books she’s written called, “The Sex-Starved Marriage” and “The Sex-Starved Wife”, both books that I think will help commenters below.
- The first thing to do if your marriage is feeling rotten: rent this Fireproof movie.
- Good News About Sex and Marriage: Answers to Your Honest Questions About Catholic Teaching by Christopher West – another book that explains very well what the Catholic Church really teaches on often misunderstood topics.
- Remember that the estrogens from our diet (drink healthy milk without hormones and find a local source of healthy meat without hormones), along with estrogens in our environment (such as in the unsafe types of water bottles) can all lead to low libido!
- Read how a diet without enough healthy fats can also contribute to low sex drive
- Stressed out? Health & Nutrition not high on the priority list right now?
- Read about my “food conversion” story (I used to sneak even more chocolate than I do now.)
- Tips on getting exercise into your life
***Read more: Are Purity & Abstinence possible?