Sex: The Ecstasy—and for some—The “Eh.” There’s probably no other part of marriage that can challenge couples more than their sex lives. It’s not uncommon for one spouse to have a much different sex drive than the other. It’s easy for a couple to experience seasons of their marriage when their sex life seems incredible and other seasons when it becomes boring and humdrum. Stress, health changes, medication, children, and relational issues can all impact and complicate your sex life. And talking about it can sometimes feel embarrassing or awkward. 

These challenges within a couple’s sex life can cause conflict and misunderstanding. And it can make a person wonder: just how much does sex matter in marriage? 

According to marriage experts, sex matters, and it matters a lot. But maybe not for the usual reasons we think it does.

Here are four reasons why sex matters in marriage: 

1. Sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy are directly connected.

Sexual intimacy actually increases the emotional intimacy in marriage—that’s the affection, understanding, warmth, and compassion shared between a couple. In turn, emotional intimacy has a positive effect on sexual satisfaction and frequency in marriage. Often, one person in a marriage feels more of a need for emotional intimacy while the other leans toward sexual intimacy. Nothing abnormal about that. But understanding how both kinds of intimacy build on each other can help both people get in sync with sex in their marriage.

2. Sexual intimacy builds trust.

By its very nature, sex requires incredible vulnerability. You and your spouse literally “bare it all” to each other. You open yourselves up to the possibility of either acceptance or rejection from each other on a core level. That level of intimacy magnifies why trust is all the more important. When trust is strengthened, the marriage relationship grows stronger

3. Sexual trust translates into deeper connection.

Sex is one of the parts of marriage shared between you and your spouse. It’s such a deep, unique, intimate connection—many people would rather talk openly about what’s happening in their bank than in their bedroom. What connects you in marriage is so very only between you and your spouse, it underlines the need to protect your marriage from anything that could threaten it. 

4. Sex in marriage has health benefits.

We can’t overlook the fact that sex does the body and the mind good. It’s been shown that sex can boost your immune system, alleviate stress, increase self-confidence, improve heart health, and help with memory. Not to mention, you’re enjoying these benefits while bonding with the one you love the most. You’re connecting intimately while you boost your health. Win-win. 

It’s worth working through the sexual issues that can come up and strengthening your sex life. 

Keep in mind, you and your spouse are two different people with different sex drives and different outlooks on sex. As awkward as it may be sometimes, it’s important for spouses to talk openly about their sex life—expectations, what’s comfortable and uncomfortable, what turns each other on, what are mood killers, how important sex is for them, and their relationship needs. The more you and your spouse talk about why sex matters in your marriage as you build that precious trust and deepen that one-of-a-kind connection, the less awkward it becomes. Talking about it is key to working through differences and staying in a common rhythm, meeting each other’s needs through the various seasons of marriage. 

Related: 10 Things Every Married Couple Needs To Know About Sex

Just like other parts of your marriage, strengthening your sex life strengthens your marriage. And also like all other parts of your marriage, sexual intimacy is an area that you continually grow in and learn about as a couple. Resources like the links found below can help. If problems persist with sex in your marriage, it may be worth seeing a professional counselor. Do what it takes to become closer in your sexual relationship like you would any other part of your marriage. Because at the end of the day, sex does matter to the strength and health of your marriage. ☆ Invest in your marriage this week.

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***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear that someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR SPOUSE SHOULD BE FULFILLING, NOT FRUSTRATING.

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