Couple working on gratitude to improve the sexual satisfactoion in their marriage

Here Are Some Simple Things to Consider That Will Improve The Sexual Satisfaction In Your Relationship

The intensely romantic period of a relationship, what we may call infatuation, typically lasts only 18 months to 3 years. Then the hormones and biochemicals that were activated in the body begin to fade, and partners must adjust to keep the fires burning. Sexual satisfaction is important to keep relationships thriving and fortunately, there are several possible ways to do this. One that may be surprising is the effect of simply expressing more gratitude to your partner.

In addition, during this period of COVID, you might be experiencing a lack of motivation for sex with your partner just due to the daily stress of living through a pandemic and a presidential election year. Stress increases the likelihood of experiencing anxiety, frustration, depression, and sleeplessness–all of which may decrease interest in sex. Unfortunately, during this stressful time, people need more contact and connection in whatever way they can safely get it. Gratitude is one of those ways.

Why Gratitude Works

Research shows that expressions of gratitude lead to many emotional and physical benefits, including improved blood pressure and sleep.  Expressing gratitude or acknowledgment is not expensive, but you may notice that you or your partner are stingy about sharing it. This is a sad state of affairs, especially since John Gottman’s research has shown that happy couples communicate positive statements to each other 5 times more often than do unhappy couples.

This simple act of positive expression–even more than expressions of love–is what people need most to function well and feel happy about their relationship.

Try expressing gratitude to your partner for something he or she did that impacted you or your relationship. Notice how an acknowledgment of your partner like this includes an appreciation of your couple as a whole. Then stop and notice how your partner appears to you once you have shared gratitude. You will likely see each other in a more positive light than before. It may be easier to discuss other matters and make requests after giving or receiving appreciation. And you may even feel more motivated to connect sexually! 

Evidence that Gratitude Leads to Sexual Satisfaction

New studies show, in fact, that expressions of gratitude can increase sexual motivation and satisfaction in committed relationships. A study by psychologist Ashlyn Brady concluded, “that experiencing and receiving gratitude increased the motivation to meet a partner’s sexual needs.” She and her team based this on the prediction that expressions of gratitude would increase what they call “sexual communal strength” which is “the extent to which people are motivated to be responsive to their partner’s sexual needs–because gratitude motivates partners to maintain close relationships.” After three months of study, they found that partners were more sexually satisfied the more they expressed and received gratitude.

Some Ways to Apply Gratitude in Your Relationship

  • Start a gratitude journal in which you note things you are grateful for in your life.
  • Start a list of things you appreciate about your partner and your relationship. Then begin and end each day for at least a week by sharing praise and gratitude; acknowledge the things each of you has accomplished or contributed to your relationship. Notice how you feel at the end of the week, and if your sexual motivation and satisfaction increased. This “Sharing Praise” exercise is described in Lifelong Love.
  • Generosity is a great way to express gratitude. Find a way every day to do something generous for your partner–in your daily life or in bed! 
  • Let your partner know that you appreciate their expressions of gratitude.

Some Additional Tips for Enhancing Sexual Satisfaction

  • Give each other massages, neck rubs, back rubs, or foot rubs.
  • Try a 7-second kiss once a day for a week. When you both get home at the end of a day or when you leave in the morning, try experiencing a full 7-second kiss on the lips.
  • Romanticize your environment: add a candle or romantic music, try new bedding, put sensual aromas in a diffuser, etc.
  • Stop and look into each other’s eyes for a few minutes in silence.
  • Bring some whipped cream to bed with you!
  • Share a glass of wine together.
  • Look at sexually erotic material together–magazines, books or videos.
  • Create a statement or “proclamation” about your intimacy that inspires you and say it together every day. We call this a “couple proclamation.”  We recently created one that we are saying now which is “We are grateful, hot and happy!” Try it, and fake it until you make it!

There are probably many other ways you can think of to enhance your sexual satisfaction with your partner. Don’t be afraid to take some time and brainstorm about it together. And remember that simple expressions of gratitude go a long way. 

Phyllis Koch-Sheras, Ph.D. and Peter Sheras, Ph.D. have helped couples learn to experience and express their gratitude to each other and to improve their sexual satisfaction for decades. If you want help with your relationship, call them at 434-971-4701 or check out their book Lifelong Love

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