What’s the Sexual Temperature in Your Marriage? How you and your spouse can make the proper adjustments to make your marriage’s sexual temperature just right. BY DENISE J. CHARLES
Before you can crank up the heat in your marriage you must first take the temperature.
“ The couple that becomes locked in a mode of not connecting sexually can grow accustomed to operating at this level and this unfortunately can become their new marital norm.”
There is an old British nursery rhyme that talks about porridge that is either hot, cold or "in a pot nine days old." I don’t know if the poet ever thought that his poetry could ever be used to describe our sex lives but the comparisons are interesting.
Our married sex does have a temperature, in fact, just like porridge. There is a climate that defines our marriages in general, which naturally spills over into the bedroom. This climate and the resulting temperature can be sizzling hot, blistering cold, lukewarm, or stale and soggy like porridge left lying around for nine days or more—definitely not pleasant to the taste.
As much as we would all love to have an enduring and sizzling sex life, most of us know that this is not always realistically possible. While the temperature of our marriages and, by extension, our sex lives will shift and change with time, two things are important to note. We should know where our marriage is located on the thermometer at any given point in time and we should also be equipped to respond to any changes which may be unfavorable.
There are any number of reasons why the sexual temperature in a relationship may run cold. A refusal to deal with deeper issues like anger and unforgiveness or a break-down in communication can all slowly kill a couple’s desire to connect sexually. Such a relationship may be characterized by very little touching in or outside the bedroom. In the same way that having loads of sex leads to even more sex, sexlessness is also a self-perpetuating behavior. The couple that becomes locked in a mode of not connecting sexually can grow accustomed to operating at this level and this unfortunately can become their new marital norm.
Probably worse than being either cold or hot is the characteristic of being lukewarm. This type of sexual climate is particularly dangerous because a couple can, at times, be fooled into thinking that everything in the relationship is okay. When a couple has developed flawed ways of handling conflict or when there is a lack of honesty in the relationship, sex can become a way of covering up tension. It is assumed that if there is still that sexual-click, then everything else will perhaps fall into place. This, however, is not always the case and, over time, a sexual connection, which has no depth can become eroded.
Lukewarmness is also identified when sex becomes run-of-the-mill or routine. A lack of effort or inventiveness can lead to bedroom boredom and the sex, while existent, is not up to scratch in terms of quality; somewhat like the porridge left lying around for days on end.
If we’ve been there and done that, then there is no question we know and love when it’s hot. A sizzling sexual temperature is identified by a number of qualities that include, but are not limited to the following: sustained physical attraction, loads of sexual tension, sexual spontaneity, planned sexual episodes, sexual variety, sexual satisfaction, playfulness, emotional attraction and sexual inquiry.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, these features represent some of the critical areas needed for the sustaining of sexual heat. Are couples who experience this type of sex life simply lucky? Does fate just bring two people with an irresistible attraction together and the rest is history?
Maintaining the sizzle past the honeymoon and the initial stages of our relationship requires living out our marriages with a certain level of intentionality. This means deliberately making an effort to intensify our attraction to each other by keeping things fresh.
Of course, this includes paying attention to our physical appearance and attractiveness, as well as exploring new knowledge which will allow us to diversify our sexual experiences. At a higher level, however, it also includes more meaningful ideals like spending quality time together and exposing ourselves to our spouses in ways that strengthen our emotional attraction.
Because emotional connection has the power to go beyond something as fickle and as adjustable as how we look, it perhaps holds greater stock in its ability to bind a couple together, hence enriching their sexual relationship.
When we look at the issue of our marriage's sexual temperature, it is likely that we have all gone through bouts of coldness, heat and lukewarmness with some variations in between each scale. The truth is that the climate of our marriage is unlikely to exist at one continuous, favorable level. Life just isn’t like that. Issues like the presence of babies, work pressure, financial challenges, mid-life crises, empty nesting, and illness, can all impact the sexual temperature of our relationships. And of course there is the issue of low desire in either partner, which can also affect how the sexual climate plays out.
So what do we do when life happens in the midst of a marriage that we are building? Our response should be based on a certain level of relationship awareness. We can’t hope to improve what we are not first aware of. At a very basic level this may require being clear as a couple about our individual sexual expectations at various junctures in the relationship. This is necessary since what we expect may not even be fixed. Ultimately, making adjustments to sexual temperature requires deliberate action on the part of each spouse. This includes communication and a willingness to confront and compromise to meet each other’s sexual needs for the greater good of the relationship.