Various people have various definitions regarding what makes a healthy marriage. Determining individual standards including how important is sex in a marriage comes down to a number of personal and even spiritual beliefs. For instance, in Orthodox Judaism, it is considered a mitzvah to engage in sexual relations with ones spouse during Shabbat, provided the woman is not experiencing niddah. Other religions indicate this same sort of loving affection is Holy and Righteous while others claim sexual conduct of any kind as ‘a dirty secret.’ However, few of us ever really dictate our sex lives via religious outlines, and thus the importance factor is determined more by personal beliefs than anything else.
Most societal based accusations would claim that men believe sex is of higher importance in a marriage than women. Recent polls have indicated that while there is a hint of truth to this, what matters most is that both halves of the couple share the same degree of sexual interest, mostly. It is impossible for two people, especially of differing genders, to completely agree on issues regarding sex at any given time. During some hormonal cycles of either partner, there is a likelihood for either increased or decreased sexual interest. This means that while one partner may be experiencing a peak the other may be experiencing a lull, and while the two partners cycles through their hormonal strings, they occasionally meet in the middle.
Men have been taught that sexual prowess is positive endorsement while women have been taught that sexual prowess makes them slutty and unappealing. These societal attitudes are just as likely to influence the frequency and importance of sex in a marriage. Women often feel pushed to have more sex than they are really comfortable with while men feel slighted when their chronic advances are turned away. This type of sexual friction leads to a great deal of hurt feelings, and makes many people question how important is sex in a marriage. Some couples find that the hardest part about being together is learning to understand each other’s sexual needs, desires, and dysfunctions. And we all have some sort of sexual dysfunction. It’s not uncommon for many couples to experience at least some counseling revolving around their sex life. Women have been groomed to use sex as a weapon, to withhold it when things are not going well for them and to ‘give it up’ when their partners are ‘behaving.’ Men have been taught to expect a certain amount, and it’s not uncommon for him to express his fears of being inadequate by reaching into the age old slap of ‘if you’re not doing it with me, then who are you doing it with?’
Most couples can work through their sexual frustrations and miscommunications simply by learning to communicate about what is important to them and what works for them and what feels intolerable to them and why. Women may need more physical affection than men that has little or nothing to do with sex. Sometimes they just need to be touched without the intent of sexual contact. While men actually need this type of physical contact as well, it is rare for a man to openly admit this, as most boys are groomed by their fathers at young ages to need less, not to whine, and not to run to mommy when they fall down and need some comforting. Men who find themselves in a relationship with a lot of physical contact that doesn’t lead to sex may find themselves confused, as though his wife is sending him a mixed message. The woman of course, simply wants closeness without the expectation of sex all the time. Simple discussions and clarified expectations can help eradicate harmful feelings.
Sex is actually part of a healthy marriage. Many couples eventually fall into a place of deep comfort, where sex no longer plays a heavy role in their lives. But some couples are able to keep the magic alive well into their sixties and seventies. Sexual expression is an inherent and obviously pleasurable experience for most people. It is part of living and loving and growing together. The lack of it may signal a problem, especially if the couple has been together less than five years and one partner is truly dissatisfied with the current arrangement.
There is no key formula for determining how much sex is the sign of a healthy marriage. Sex for the wrong reasons isn’t healthy sex at all, but a diversion from other problems. Too little sex can be a temporary or permanent issue. So, how important is sex in a marriage? As important as it is to the individuals in the marriage. Frequency isn’t as important as quality, and frequency doesn’t indicate a healthy marriage. Acceptance, communication, and strong loving commitment is a sign of a healthy marriage.