The difference between the sexes plays out differently in the bedroom too
There is a secret that we sex therapists know that most couples don’t know: horny, angry men are still horny. Horny, angry women don’t experience sexual desire, at least not towards the object of their anger.
This fascinating male/female difference has actually been proven in research. Angry wives withhold sex. But horny, angry men tend to be irritable and critical toward their partners, making wives even more irate. What a vicious circle. It stands to reason, then, that a major reason why so many couples experience diminishing sexual desire might be that their relationships need an attitude adjustment.
When couples come into my office for sexual or marital therapy, they often feel angry, helpless and hopeless about fixing their relationship. Things have deteriorated to the point where they are picking on each other. Or, if they aren’t saying mean things, the silence between them feels cold as ice. And the anger over whatever the issue may be grows.
Ironically, even though I’m a sex therapist, one of my first interventions has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with words. If you want to repair a troubled relationship, or cement loving feelings in a relationship that is already thriving, remember the potential power of paying compliments. When you sincerely praise or admire your mate, even if the two of you are going through rough relationship seas, you create a little island of safety, warmth, and good feelings toward each another.
Remember how it used to be
Compliments are a huge part of the courting process. Starting out, each of you noticed the appealing qualities in the other. Part of the wooing process was verbalising your delight in the other person. You each said, out loud, how much you saw your beloved as “handsome”, “pretty”, “smart”, “sexy”, “talented”, “funny” and so on.
Typically, the established couple who comes to see me for marital distress is very busy. Usually, the two people split the myriad day-to-day tasks, trying their best, working hard and contributing something to the smooth running of their two lives. (Or three or four or more lives, if children are involved.) Each person can feel overworked and underappreciated. In ongoing relationships, unfortunately, compliments can be hard to find.
Giving sincere compliments to your partner in an established relationship shows the other person that you’re not taking them for granted, that you notice the good things they do for the couple or the family. Or that you still find them physically and emotionally appealing.
Words, it turns out, are an important currency of love. So when things are looking bad in your relationship, remember this: sometimes words are more powerful than the deed!
Elna McIntosh is a sexologist and has for the past 30 years helped couples and individuals to explore their sexuality “outside of the box”. Her greatest claim to fame – surviving breast cancer … twice.