“I know I’m supposed to be having sex with my husband. GAH!” That’s often the reaction by women when someone brings up sex in a marriage talk or book. It’s ok. Get it out of your system.
How do we get to where we don’t just KNOW we’re supposed to have sex, but that we see WHY and HOW it’s good, and catch a glimpse for WHY it was created? And maybe even start to enjoy it? You might even like sex!
Sex is too important to our marriages. So while it’s not the easiest thing in the world to talk about, I want to encourage you in your marriages in this way too.
So I thought I’d start with a little about the emotional connectivity part of sex. I love being emotionally connected to my husband. I love the feeling of clicking, being “on”, knowing what he’s thinking and feeling without him having to say much or anything.
And I really hate the feeling of being “off”, of feeling like there’s just something I can’t put my finger on, asking over and over “Are you ok?” and all the other “off” kind of feelings we have.
If you’re like me, you like the emotional connection in your marriage. Being close with your husband. Feeling connected. Understood. The feeling after a real, connecting conversation where you lose all track of time.
We like the emotional bonding and connectedness feeling in our marriage.
So, what does that have to do with sex, exactly?
Did you know that during sex all kinds of hormones are released? Makes sense, right?
Ok, so two of the main hormones released for women are Dopamine – the do it again hormone – and oxytocin – the cuddle and connection hormone. What does this mean for us women? Well I promise I’ll circle back around to dopamine, but for now, I’ll focus on oxytocin. That means that especially after sex is when we feel all cuddly and connected to our husbands. Especially after.
Vasopressin – the monogamy hormone – and has a similar effect on men as oxytocin in women. It bonds our husbands to us and makes them want just us.
Ok, so let’s take a second here to 10,000 foot view this.
I’m a mom of 3 running around preschool/toddler humans and I’m currently growing one. I am SO in the tired mom phase. My husband and I both work and run kids and do all the things. So “not feeling connected” is a real feeling I experience. Is this a feeling you experience?
Your husband does too! Only he expresses it differently – by wanting to have sex. For him, vasopressin is released in the arousal and pre-ejaculation phases of sex. During sex. And so to him, having sex is an emotionally bonding experience.
And it is for you, too – usually after, when the surge of oxytocin is released and you want to cuddle and be close and feel close.
For women, we can get oxytocin surges in other ways too, although much smaller, and we often tend towards those, especially when we’re tired or otherwise feeling tapped out, whether that’s emotionally or physically. A really deep, connecting conversation will give an oxytocin surge. That relational connection.
Ok, so real question. Why do you think God made men feel a closeness connection DURING sex and women feel a closeness connection AFTER sex?
We can never fully understand God’s ways, since they are higher than our ways. But I think a reason is because it’s an active choosing marriage over self. God calls us to die to self and when we think of our husband’s needs simply being DIFFERENT than ours, not bad, just DIFFERENT, we can see that it’s all a part of God’s design.
That emotional connection and release of the vasopressin is something that we as wives are meant to fulfill. Just us. Which is a cool gift and design for how God wants us bonded together as one.
Dopamine, the other main hormone that is released, is the “do it again hormone.” So for sex that means the more the more. Unfortunately it also means the less the less.
Many of us get our dopamine a much easier way – scrolling. We’ll take it in the little doses of satisfaction from checking out just for a minute to catch the latest feed. And then we do it again and again and again.
And I don’t know about you but there are so many days when I think “how much time did I spend just scrolling?!” then “oh man what did I miss to just be scrolling” and “did I even learn or see anything that great?” That’s just me. When the only thing I have to tell my husband at the end of the day is about Beyonce’s ridiculous baby announcement that was trending on Facebook, I definitely got my fill of dopamine in the wrong place.
We need to fight for connection in our marriages. And fight the things that would distract us from making those connections. Eye contact. Hand holding. Kissing. Conversations about more than our calendars. Deep impactful conversations. Time together. Time away together. Having sex. Growing together. Acknowledging the growth in the other person. Choosing them again and again and again. Fighting for connection.
And whether it’s easy to admit or not, sex is a big part of emotional connection because it’s what it was created for. To bring husband and wife together as one in a way that’s a totally awesome and beautiful mystery of two becoming one.