Recently, I heard someone state that women use sex as a reward when their spouse or significant other obeys their demands. At first, I agreed. I do know women who use sex in that manner. Do some women use sex as a reward or punishment? YES! Do some men use sex as a reward or punishment? YES! I paused and thought about this topic longer to evaluate how some people use sex.
Sex as a Measure of Performance Early in relationships, sex can be a measure of performance. Some people say to themselves, “I want my significant other to like me or to want me, so I’m going to make sure this sexual experience is unforgettable.” Said differently, “I’m going to put it on them.” These folks tend to perform sexually beyond their ability to maintain those sexual acts. For example, some people may engage in threesomes. Some people may partake in oral sex or anal sex only to abruptly cease those activities after the relationship has matured and they feel more secure in the relationship. Outside of performing beyond their long-term capabilities men and women are combating societal pressures to have sex earlier in relationships resulting in them extending themselves physically before the relationship blossoms. For those in a more stable relationship, they’ve typically moved beyond sex as a measure of performance.
Sex as a Means of Connection
These couples have been together for a longer time normally, and are comfortable either being in a healthy relationship or by themselves. They usually aren’t driven by the fear of their spouse or significant other sleeping around. At this stage in the relationship, sex takes on a different meaning. Since they don’t have anything to prove, they simply have sex as a means of connecting emotionally and physically. When couples in this stage come together, they are using their words and their bodies to remind each other of the love shared and expressing that love in the physical act of sex. For these couples, as long as they are connecting emotionally outside the bedroom and physically inside the bedroom, they tend to look beyond themselves and engage in sex when they are in the mood and when they aren’t in the mood; no rewards and no punishments.
However, when these couples neglect their emotional connection, they begin to neglect their physical connection. When the connection begins to erode, the number of minor irritations and annoyances increases. While these couples have had periods of connection, what was true of connected couples may no longer be true for them. One person may become insecure, mistrusting, and focus on themselves more and damage the connection in the relationship resulting in more minor frustrations and unresolved conflict.
To resolve the loss of connection, Some couples force themselves to have sex during this time knowing that a connected couple has a better chance at longevity than an unconnected couple. However, the reasons some couples connect may highlight unaddressed issues within themselves or in the relationship. Some people fear that if they don’t have sex with their spouse that they will seek sexual fulfillment elsewhere. Some people have sex out of obligation because the Bible says “…The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.” (I should write about that Scripture and the various interpretations of it.) Some people have sex knowing they’ve allowed the busyness of life to get in the way and they want to get their relationship back on track and rekindle the physical connection to jump-start the emotional connection. Could it be that sex is not being used as a reward or a punishment? Could it be that some people need to have an emotional connection to stimulate the physical arousal needed to engage in sex? Does this happen more quickly when the trash is taken out? Is it easier when you’ve gone on a date? The good thing is, you get to decide. Is it a reward or a punishment?
I encourage couples to connect emotionally and physically as frequently as possible and prioritize time spent together. If you’re focused on pleasing your spouse and they are focused on pleasing you, how can that go wrong? If you’re connecting out of fear, lean in, and understand that fear. It will make you a better person and spouse.
Ask your partner: what can I do that would make you feel valued this week? Then follow through with what you can do.
Connect daily. Connect deeply.