How Important is Sex in a Relationship?

This is a question I get asked a lot – in a variety of ways.

Men want to know: Am I justified in wanting sex and insisting on it, if my partner doesn’t?

And, women want to know: if there’s love and respect, how important is sex — really? Can’t we just love each other without it?

These are big questions that I’d like to give some attention to.

Let’s begin with a simple question I feel is important to answer:

Do each of you want to be celibate — without reservation?

Be honest here with yourself. If you’re the partner who doesn’t want sex, is this really what your partner wants?

If your answer is, “yes,” I believe you can live together, without sex, harmoniously.

But… if the answer is “no,” a sexless relationship can be a real battle zone. Sure, it can be work, but at what cost? Usually the cost includes boatloads of anger, resentment, and painful disconnects.

I work with men in sexless, or nearly sexless, relationships every day. Are they okay? Do they love their partners without sex? Yes, they’re okay, and yes, they still love their partners. But they often feel unloved, depressed, and hopeless.

If one of you is hungering for sex and feeling denied that form of expression, there will be pain and turmoil. You can count on that. Ignoring the turmoil (by forcing your partner to deal with it alone) or not talking about it, only brings resentment and the eventual death of love.

Red Heart Karen Brody

So, what do you do if…

You don’t want sex?

You have no sex drive?

Your partner doesn’t turn you on?

Let me ask you this:

Can you say, in all honesty, that you’ve realized your sexual potential — that you’ve been to the sexual mountaintop and back?

If you’re willing to give up sex (and you’re not physically incapacitated) I imagine the answer is NO. I say this because if you’d been to the mountaintop, you’d clearly want to go back!

And if you haven’t been to that mountaintop, why in the world would you head back downhill, now?

So many of us run from the vulnerability of lovemaking, before our nakedness can deliver us into erotic bliss.

We run from our uncomfortability and our shame when sex is calling us to heal. When I hear that my clients wives, women between 35 and 55, say they’re done with sex, I know that they never even got started. They never learned to open themselves to ecstatic pleasure, because if they had, they couldn’t possibly drop it so easily – even if their bodies and circumstances had changed.

Many of these women will say that have no sex drive or desire, especially after having children, or in and around their menopause. Undoubtedly these life events change our bodies and the way we respond to sex and what we want sexually, but they shouldn’t be the reason to close ourselves off from this most powerful channel for healing. I imagine that if you’ve renounced sex in your marriage, you’re putting out way more energy to keep saying “no” than you would if you simply opened yourself to what sex can bring.

Waiting to feel the “drive” or for the mood to be sexual, is like waiting for the mood to strike you to love your children, or to move your body. When we see lovemaking as a means to open our hearts, and as a spiritual path in and of itself, we make it a priority to show up and work through our intimacy blocks.

If the sex is not pleasurable for you and that’s the issue, there is a lot that can be done. First, you have to be completely honest and forthright about this with yourself and your partner. Don’t blame your lover for not delivering on the pleasure you crave, but share this truth as a way to get closer and explore new possibilities.

Deep soulful sex does not just come for most women. It has to be invited and cultivated. If a woman wants her man to be more skillful and sensitive as a lover, her first step want to be that she invites him and opens herself to him. She cannot be a closed door that says “keep out,” and expect to be taken to the ecstatic summit.

If you’re a man and you’re always getting turned down, I imagine you’re lacking confidence and the know-how for how to open your woman. The first thing to do is to back up and revisit where you’re coming from. Are you leading with your heart or with your neediness and shame? Your heart is a powerful compass and you want to use it. Your woman could be open if she felt that your lead was more certain, more passionate, more clear in its intention.

Do you bring her a sexual gift, or is your hand stretched out, asking her to fill your cup?

Sex is important for two people who love each other — again because it’s the highest form of expressing love. Sex heals. So, unless you both agree that you don’t want to get naked together anymore, my suggestion is that you come out of the celibacy closet and work it out.

If you’re not making love, you’re putting far too much energy into avoiding that pink elephant in the room — when you could be jumping for joy, together, at the top of the mountain.