We all know what sex is, the physical offering of ourselves to one another.
Intimacy is a bit more complex. It is being emotionally close to your partner, being able to completely share your inner world, who you really are, with that person. It is about being vulnerable and connecting honestly and in-depth in all areas of your life.
When we exchange vows and say yes to a marriage of forever, part of that commitment includes saying yes to developing and growing in every facet of life, including intimacy and sexual desire. If you want to have powerful intimacy and sex with your partner, you must discard your Hollywood movie views and expectations of romance and love and develop a new model centered on a more differentiated Self. Think through these three misconceptions that serve as roadblocks for many.
- Sex is natural, and, consequently, great sex should come without much effort.
It just happens, right? Wrong! Sexual desire is extraordinarily complex, especially as couples move from dating to a long-term relationship.
Great sex, especially in a long-term relationship, is far from easy. In fact, it may be easier to coordinate all the systems on the space shuttle. I would quickly add, however, it is worth it!
- Women are less interested in sex than men.
This is a common myth that is simply unsupported by data. Helen Fisher examined ninety-three societies and found that men and women had roughly equal sex drives in seventy-two of them.
In his book Intimacy and Desire, David Schnarch offers that if the sex is good, women are often more interested in it than men. He also points out that wives are typically more sexually knowledgeable than their husbands.
If you are a woman and feel insecure about not having a strong sex drive, know it is likely in you. I believe God intended sexuality to be a natural and meaningful expression of your Self.
- Sex is reserved for the young.
I can’t tell you the number of depressing articles I have read that told me my sexual prime as a male peaked at the age of eighteen. If this is true, then for me at the ripe age of fifty-eight, the party’s been long over.
The original data establishing sexual peaks was determined by sexual hormone level measurements. In men, testosterone levels topped out around the age of eighteen, and women’s estrogen levels reached their apex when women hit their mid to late twenties. These hormonal mileposts have been called “genital prime” because they occur when our genitals respond most urgently to arousal. Don’t let this discourage you. Genital prime has little to do with sexual prime. It is well documented that the greatest, most enjoyable, and most effective sex organ is the human mind.
Don’t believe me? Look at some of the statistics. More than 50 percent of older adults say sex gets better with age. Men between the ages of fifty and sixty-nine are the most confident with themselves and their capacity to perform sexually. An article on sexuality in older adults in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine showed that 54 percent of sexually active persons (ages seventy-five to eighty-five) reported having sex at least two to three times per month; 23 percent reported having sex once a week or more. These statistics astound me. Taken together, they reveal that your golden years, sexually speaking, may very well be ahead of you.
Love is not a state of being or merely a strong feeling but a series of determined decisions and actions. Maintaining intimacy to continue on a journey of sexual development past the initial stage of romantic love and leftovers takes courage and work.