Marriage During a Pandemic
Picture going to work every day. Remember when that was possible? Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and nearly everybody’s daily lives changed. For many married couples, change meant that all of a sudden they were spending a lot more time in their house with their spouse. Did being in quarantine together make your sex life better or worse?
A 2015 study suggests that couples who engaged in sexual activity at least once a week were more satisfied in their relationships.
With any luck, the pandemic hasn’t made your sex life worse. For many people, though, the pressures of being around children more often, as well as trying to help them with online schooling, figuring out all those Zoom meetings for work, and never really getting a break from your spouse, has led many couples in the wrong direction, sex-wise (though one survey shows an equal number of couples reporting no decline or an uptick). A decline in sex could affect a person’s overall well-being and mental health.
The problems of not being sexually satisfied
When someone is not having their sexual needs met or is feeling sexually unsatisfied in a partnership, especially with the increased concerns over the pandemic, they can feel increased stress in daily life.
For many people, though, simply having more sex is easier said than done. All the added anxiety and aggravation from a more unwieldy workload and family dynamic build up, leading to feelings of exhaustion and being too overwhelmed to even think of having sex on a regular basis.
This can lead to serious problems both for yourself and your relationship, including more anxiety, less sleep or a weakened immune system.
When you have sex, your body releases “feel-good” hormones, such as endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. These hormones can help you cope with stress and anxiety. When you aren’t having sex, anxiety may increase over time. You may just feel anxious or uneasy but not understand why specifically. Of course, some of that stress will be from everyday life as well as increased concerns over the widespread COVID-19 situation, but all of this gets tougher to handle if you’re not getting your sexual needs met.
Sex helps you sleep better. Those same hormones that are released during sex, such as oxytocin, can improve your quality of sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that adults need at least seven or more hours of sleep each night for physical and mental well-being. Having regular sex will allow you to get more restful sleep each night.
Weakened immune system
This is a big one during the pandemic. When you have sex on a regular basis, it increases certain protective antibodies within the body. Those antibodies can be your defense against viruses and bacteria. Along with everything you are doing to avoid getting COVID-19—washing your hands, wearing a mask, living in a quarantine bubble with your family—having regular sex should be a part of a healthier lifestyle.
A study completed at Wilkes-Barre University showed that people who had sex once or twice a week got fewer colds. They experienced an increase of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva, and the more IgA people have, the better off they are in fighting colds.
How to increase the frequency of sex
With all the mental and physical problems that occur when couples don’t have sex, it’s important to find ways to maintain sexual frequency in your marriage. Good communication plays a part.
Partners should talk with each other, so they understand the other’s wants and needs. Silence can be deafening and detrimental to a marriage in the long term. So put the kids to bed early and really talk together, listen to each other and truly connect. Starting the conversation may lead to a greater feeling of connection in your marriage, and that alone may improve intimacy in the bedroom.
Another way to increase the frequency of sex in your marriage is to schedule it. This might sound unromantic, but if you actually have a plan to hit the sheets with your partner every Wednesday and Saturday night, it’s more likely to happen. You might start looking forward to sex, not just because of the benefits, but because of the regular anticipation of a weekly or twice-weekly treat.
Finally, achieving sexual well-being in a marriage is a process. It’s not going to be perfect all the time, especially during these uncertain times, but when you make sex a priority in your marriage, your overall relationship could become stronger.