Dr. Shannon Chavez answers questions on marriage, relationships and keeping sex fresh!
Why do you think the marriage rate has dropped to one-third of what it was 1920?
The marriage rate has dropped because we are changing roles and expectations in our culture regarding marriage and relationships. Marriage is a tradition that is based on our cultural and social environment. In the 1920’s women had different roles than they do today. It was socially acceptable for women to get married, have children, and take care of the home. Nowadays, women are more educated, working in male-dominated industries, financially independent and waiting to have a family. They are socialized towards a more egalitarian role affecting the rate at which both men and women pursue marriage. Because of the cultural lag, couples are not provided with the right support to sustain a marriage in today’s world and are less encouraged to get married at a younger age. There are also more children raised in single-parent homes that changes social schemas on marriage and expectations when it comes to romantic relationships. The more gender roles change, the bigger impact it will have on marriage.
Why do you think couples are waiting much longer before taking the plunge?
Couples are waiting longer to get married because there are more expectations and priorities set towards education and occupations. Most young couples are waiting to become more financially stable before getting married to set a good foundation for the future. Others wait until after college and graduate school where they have secured a good job and a sense of responsibility in the relationship. Young people are much more independent today than in the past which makes for longer periods of dating and waiting until marriage. Also, it is socially acceptable to be a serial dater with a strategy of quantity vs. quality, which makes it more difficult for individuals to find compatibility.
What is the number one issue couples are dealing with today?
Communication is the #1 issue of couples. It comes down to not enough communication, ineffective communication, and lack of asserting one another’s needs leading to anger, resentment, and conflict. Couples often communicate too much about some things and not enough about others i.e. finances, unhappiness – less about sex, and what’s going well. Couples don’t learn effective tools for communication unless they seek help. There is less dialogue and more passive, aggressive, or defensive styles of communicating. Couples also bring the baggage of relationship’s past into new relationships – lots of unresolved conflicts when it comes to love. Once couples learn tools for effective communication, they can work through most concerns and make a positive impact on all relationships in their lives.
What do you recommend to couples to improve communication, sex,connection, etc?
Be vulnerable. Get to know yourself at every stage of your relationship. Each person in a partnership is constantly in her/his own sexual evolution. Our bodies change, our minds evolve, and our lifestyle is impacted by the choices we make and how we live our lives. Sex is often the first to go when a couple is under stress or changes occur in the relationship. Sex is always a way to stay connected and keep intimacy alive. Sex doesn’t have to be intercourse or even physical. Sex can be any form of giving and receiving pleasure together that involves consent, trust, fantasy, and communication. I recommend that couples remember that less is more. Kissing, touching, and eye contact are the primary tools needed to keep the connection alive.
How to keep sex fresh?
Sex can get boring just like anything else in life. Keep sex fresh by remembering that it is a union of mind, body, and emotions. We also store both emotional and physical memories related to pleasure that can activate our arousal and lead to more sexual desire. Thinking about a positive sexual experience with a partner can evoke feelings of desire. Sharing a memory with your partner can build intimacy and be a reminder of sexual attraction and healthy attachment. Compliments go a long way. Tell your partner he/she looks attractive, show gratitude for receiving affection, touch, and sex from a partner. Talk about new ways to be sexual together. Try new things! It doesn’t have to be kinky or involve something out of your comfort zone. Involve the part of your brain that makes you feel creative and alive. If you feel good in your body, sex will feel amazing. Work on your body image and personal thoughts toward self. Encourage your partner to do the same.