Is Sex Important To Your Relationship?
The Answer May Surprise You
By Carlyle Jansen
A common question is whether sex is really that important. Some folks wonder whether we should place so much value on sex in our relationships or our sexuality, whether single or partnered. Isn’t it just a trivial part of our lives? After all, you can technically survive without sex (although the species can’t).
The short answer is that it depends on whom you ask. To some a sexual connection is important; to others, not so much. We all have our priorities, and neither is more virtuous than another. Our sexuality is one of many aspects of our lives that makes us whole. For some, their sexual connection and exploration is very important. For others, exercise, professional development, hobbies, parenting, or a variety of other aspects of life are a priority. Some folks also have schedules where they can squeeze more of their priorities including sexual connection into their weekly schedules than others with a tighter schedule and believe that sex happens when everything else is done (and who ever gets everything done in a day?).
What if I am Not Interested in Ever Having Sex Again?
Many people tell me that they would be perfectly content never having sex for the rest of their lives. This is a valid choice for living your life and many are quite happy with no sexual connection. I have met however my fair share of folks who were surprised to rediscover and revel in their sexual exploration after rekindling their sex life, vowing to never let sex off their radar again.
Moreover, if you do not value the sexual aspect of your relationship and have a partner who does, this discrepancy can create some challenges. In this case, you may need to find some kind of compromise or negotiate alternate sexual arrangements for your partner. Some couples do stay together because they love each other and agree on parameters for getting their sexual needs met in other relationships. It is very tricky, but more common than many think. Unfortunately, however, in many relationships with different priorities around their sexuality, one partner can be tempted to make their own secret alternative arrangements. Dishonesty is never recommended and maintaining a secret can take an emotional – and physical – toll, not to mention the relationship turmoil if and when the secret gets out. While hard, it is better to talk about the challenges and deepen the connection with honesty, openness and compassion.
Talking about sex, like many other taboo topics, is hard but generally necessary. If the notion of your partner meeting their sexual needs outside of your relationship makes you cringe, then you may wish to rethink your priorities. If you want sex to be a unique bond between just the two of you, then it needs to move up the priority list. Which does not mean having sex when you don’t want to; it means figuring out what will make you interested- or even excited- about having sex again.
What would help you value your sex life?
Sex will generally not be a priority if it is unsatisfying, boring and/ or painful. Who wants to prioritize something that is unfulfilling? And who wants to have sex with a partner who is going through the motions just so that they can cross it off the to-do list? Contemplate what would make sex fulfilling- or even exciting- to you, ensuring your needs and desires are met. Fill in your partner on what would make sex better for you, what would make you value that aspect of the relationship more, but don’t put the effort all on their plate. We all need to take responsibility for ensuring our own needs are met. Ask for what you want and bring some of your own creativity to your sex life. There are plenty of resources out there to help both of you come up with ideas.
If, on the other hand, sex is painful, there are many forms of sexual expression and a few types of sex, (depending on the type of pain) that can still be enjoyed with pleasure and connection. Some excellent resources for assisting you through fixing or managing the pain include the books: When Sex Hurts and Healing Pelvic Pain. Seeing a pelvic physiotherapist also helps many people reduce or even eliminate the pain experienced with sex.
Finally, if you need help with the kids, cleaning, home renovations, or anything else (especially if your partner is watching TV while you do) then perhaps a discussion about your priorities overall as a couple or family would help, and balance them all in ways that you all feel overall satisfied with where energy and attention are focused with your time together and apart. With help in other tasks that you value, you may find yourself more interested in moving sex up your list of priorities as well.
It’s Up to You
Happy and healthy sex takes a commitment like anything else in life. You can’t improve your health, advance your career, or fix up the house if you don’t make it a priority. And it is legitimate – not better or worse, but legitimate- to make sex a priority, to put time, energy, and even a little money into a healthy sexual relationship with yourself and/ or another(s). Most folks find great satisfaction, connection, and pleasure in valuing their erotic life. And it can be energizing too for your relationship and for yourself.
The Bottom Line
Don’t minimize your needs and priorities. They are yours alone to choose. And don’t trivialize your partner’s desires and priorities. There is no right or wrong when it comes to our priorities in our lives. And each choice as to where we put our energy has its advantages and missed opportunities. It is up to you to create the life that you want. And to co-create the partnership together.
Carlyle Jansen is the founder of Good For Her, a sexuality shop and workshop centre in Toronto. If you have questions or comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit goodforher.com