I enjoy sex, a lot — the act alone, encompasses so many options and opportunities for pleasure, connection and even exercise. I also talk about sex in marriage a lot, usually with people who aren’t getting it right or simply aren’t getting it.
Most of the time, I work with couples to move them toward “daily intimacy.”
But I find that most people assume that daily intimacy means sexual intercourse daily. It doesn’t!
I define “intimacy” as loving experiences that bring you closer together (mentally, emotionally, and physically) — experiences that you couldn’t have in front of others without making them uncomfortable, nor would you brag about paying someone to do them for you. (For example: If you get regular massages from a professional and might consider Grandma accompanying you to a session, then thatmassage is not an act of intimacy for you.)
Having sex every day certainly fits well within this description of intimacy, and it’s a great way to kick start a new or a floundering sex life. However, having sex every day in marriage (or other long term relationships) can easily start to feel expected, mechanical, monotonous, … even lifeless.
Sex then begins to rank right up there with brushing our teeth or taking a shower; it feels good, but we don’t do it for enjoyment or deeper connection with each other, we do it out of routineor need.
Some couples get stuck in this monotony, while others go overboard trying to avoid boring, mechanical sex. They turn sex into a contact sport with assigned positions and sometimes even a team of players, all in a desperate attempt to keep things exciting.
As a woman, using sex as a means to an end leaves you feeling as though YOU were the one used as a means to an end.
If the focus becomes checking off items on a checklist or successfully implementing the plays in a “how to have hot sex” playbook, you’d feel like the ball in a soccer game being kicked around, until you reach the goal.
I don’t know about you but I need to feel like we’re the goal — like loving and building a stronger bond is the goal.
If intimacy is contingent on daily sex acts (and resulting goal-oriented orgasmic explosions), a potentially beautiful experience then turns into an Olympic event. And I must say, there is a reason the summer games only happen once every four years!
Sex is NOT sport, it’s not even an outlet. No five-point spread, no pat on the bottom for a “good game.”
When we associate extreme sex, or sex in general, as the way to have a meaningful experience with one another, all other forms of connecting pale by comparison. As a result, we stop seeking the simpler moments … radiant appreciation and quiet presence fall away. We need endless drama and thrills. If we’re not having Olympic style sex, we’re having stadium-sized arguments, which only disconnect us further.
Remember, I did say earlier that I love sex (a lot).
My husband and I share a long-standing, star-spangled-banner sex life, you know, with the rocket’s red glare and bombs bursting in air.
We also practice daily intimacy … but not always daily intercourse.
It feels good to reconnect with ourselves and each other in new ways as whole people, not just the sum of our sexual parts. We come back together stronger, even more aware of each other and our needs. Our love grows ever more resilient and unbreakable. Win-win!
There are rules and recommendations across many religious and spiritual traditions, such as Judaism, Catholicism, and Hinduism that encourage abstinence periodically in marriage, either based on the woman’s menstrual cycle or the phases of the moon.
Even Osho, in his talks on Tantra, encourages replacing lustful need with the desire to elevate our experience of each other in the most divine human expression available to us, sex. While I’m not suggesting that you take marital abstinence up as a spiritual practice, the tradition holds some practical truths that you can use to your advantage.
Here are five powerful, intimacy-building reasons you should not have sex daily in your marriage:
1. You remove the pressure to perform and reduce the focus on quantity (vs. quality)
2. You create space for more quality experiences with each other, across the full spectrum of intimacy
3. You find opportunities to re-discover and re-awaken YOU, as an individual.
4. Your partner gets to notice and be reminded why they love YOU, not just sex with you.
5. You cement your bond in more than one way.
Even in baseball, we can’t win the game based on the bat connecting with the ball alone. The players need to run, catch, be aware of the other players’ positions, communicate, and support one another. Not having sex every day, doesn’t mean you disconnect from each other.
On those no-sex days here are some suggestions on how to still “play a good game” as partners:
- Flirt with your spouse
- Tease each other sensually and get comfortable with uncomfortable arousal
- Talk about what’s important to you while lovingly stroking each other
- Sleep naked together
- Really look at each other, see into each other
- Be playful and have fun
Sex is most enjoyable when it’s approached with a sense of discovery, exploration and appreciating every moment. After taking a timeout from having sex, come back to it and let sex be about what feels truly good and right to both of you and build on that; uncovering the buried pleasure.
Turn “the game” into a loving, sensual adventure.