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by Cherie Morris, J.D., CDC

Meet the Unhappy Couple

Megan and Chuck just didn’t vibe anymore. They barely talked to each other, except for handling household logistics as they both navigated high-powered careers, childcare and aging parents. There wasn’t much left between them, including sex. They occasionally performed a perfunctory ritual of intercourse that left both of them slightly dissatisfied. The box was checked (rarely), but they were just going through the motions.

As they drifted apart, other people in their lives, including potential new partners, seemed more interesting. The lack of intimacy, sexual and otherwise, left them thinking something better existed outside of marriage, both inside and outside of the bedroom. 

Reality Check

Unfortunately, the reality is that replacing one partner with another and taking all your baggage with you doesn’t change anything at all. However, working to repair what isn’t working with someone (and accepting your personal role in it) may make a profound difference that can create a new relationship with your existing partner. 

In my professional experience, sexual intimacy stands as a cornerstone in relationship dynamics, often underestimated yet profoundly impactful.

As a divorce coach, I've witnessed many couples navigate the complexities of marital discord. Time and again, one recurring theme emerges: the crucial significance of maintaining a healthy sexual connection. In this article, I’ll try to shed a little light on why sexual and communication intimacy matters in relationships, including its role as a safeguard against divorce.

The Perspective of a Divorce Coach

I was a long-practicing lawyer, but I shifted entirely to relationship coaching when I realized that solving legal problems left people, frequently, still unhappy. I obtained additional certifications as a coach, transformative mediator, and parent coordinator and use all of these skills to build relationships with the individuals and couples I work with.

I’ve been a divorce coach for about 9 years now, so I have the rather unique lens of seeing people at nearly every stage of a relationship crisis: contemplating, in the midst of, or with post-divorce difficulties. All of them share a similar disconnect: lack of intimacy now or previously with their partner. This isn’t always sexual. Although, I notice a strong connection between a disconnect in sex and all other areas. A pattern of lacking sexual intimacy can lead to an inability to repair other categories of dissatisfaction. 

And though it isn’t pleasant to think about, if you aren’t having sex with your partner, they may have sex with someone else. Infidelity opens the door to emotional entanglements and betrayal that may lead to divorce. Many couples find themselves on the other side of infidelity more quickly than they would expect when facing difficulty with intimacy. They struggle to connect and are no longer speaking the same language.

When I notice this pattern, I take action to help couples (when willing) repair the disconnect - before deciding to divorce. Sharing the emotional, financial, and spiritual reality of what divorce means for a couple and their child(ren), if any, is profound. Avoiding this major life transition, if possible, with both partners participating in repair, can work. Restoring intimacy is always critical.

Understanding the role of sexual intimacy 

Here are just a few reasons why sexual intimacy is so important to relationships:

  1. It’s a foundation for emotional connection. Sexual intimacy serves as a conduit for deeper emotional connection between partners. Through physical closeness and vulnerability, couples strengthen their bond, fostering a sense of trust, understanding, and mutual support. When this aspect is lacking, emotional disconnection may ensue, paving the way for resentment and dissatisfaction to seep into the relationship.
  2. It’s a core expression of love and affection. For many couples, sexual intimacy serves as the primary mode of expressing love and affection. It transcends mere physical gratification, embodying the deep emotional connection shared between partners. When individuals feel desired and valued by their significant other, it cultivates a sense of security and fulfillment within the relationship.
  3. It provides stress relief and relaxation. In today's fast-paced world, stress often permeates most facets of life, including relationships. Sexual intimacy offers a unique avenue for stress relief and relaxation, serving as a release valve for pent-up tension and anxiety. Engaging in intimate moments with a partner can promote feelings of relaxation, contentment, and overall well-being, thereby fostering a harmonious environment conducive to relationship longevity.
  4. It enhances communication. Effective communication lies at the heart of every successful relationship. Sexual intimacy provides a non-verbal means of communication, allowing partners to convey their desires, needs, and emotions in a profound and intimate manner. By prioritizing open dialogue and attentiveness to each other's cues, couples can strengthen their connection both in and out of the bedroom.
  5. It preserves the power of physical attraction. Physical attraction often serves as an initial catalyst for romantic relationships. However, maintaining this attraction over time requires ongoing effort and investment. Sexual intimacy plays a pivotal role in preserving physical attraction by fostering intimacy, passion, and desire between partners. By prioritizing this aspect of their relationship, couples can reignite the spark and prevent complacency from setting in.
  6. It cultivates relationship satisfaction. Research consistently highlights the correlation between sexual satisfaction and overall relationship satisfaction. Couples who prioritize sexual intimacy tend to report higher levels of relationship fulfillment and longevity. Conversely, neglecting this aspect of the relationship can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, and ultimately, dissatisfaction, laying the groundwork for marital discord and, in some cases, divorce.

Repairing the Unhappy Couple

Megan and Chuck were willing to try and re-establish the connection between them. They started the hard work of talking with each other, with me facilitating the conversation and helping them to move toward rebuilding. It wasn’t a quick or easy fix but, over time, they found a way to re-connect and have a new relationship with each other. 

These success stories make the work I do as a “divorce coach” intensely satisfying. Understanding what can be done, with kindness and compassion, can preserve and reignite a relationship. In the event the repair doesn’t happen, it is still possible to treat each other more kindly and have a cooperative relationship ending with the tools to do better with another partner and to take better care of yourself and your child(ren).

In my professional experience, sexual intimacy serves as a cornerstone of healthy and fulfilling relationships, playing a pivotal role in safeguarding against the pitfalls of divorce. As a divorce coach, I advocate for couples to prioritize this aspect of their relationship, recognizing its essential impact on emotional connection, communication, and overall relationship satisfaction. By nurturing a vibrant and fulfilling sexual connection, couples can fortify the foundation of their relationship, ensuring its resilience in the face of adversity. 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about this and how we might work together, please reach out to me at deardivorcecoach.com.

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