If it’s been a bit lacklustre between the sheets lately, it may be time to talk to your husband about taking your sex life from all right to all night.
When we talk about finding happiness, topics that come to mind may include personal fulfilment, self-care, positive thinking, embracing chaos and living in the present. However, there is something that is often left out of the discussion – sex.
Psychotherapist Jean Chen, director at Relationship Matters, has seen first-hand how a reluctance to talk about sex can lead to issues in the bedroom. According to her, sex issues are so often at the core of unhappy marriages, heartbreak, and overall unhappiness in general.
Problems in this realm are incredibly common. However, bringing up topics like body shame, inability to climax, poor performance or total lack of sex isn’t exactly fitting for any casual conversation. So, people shy away from such topics and assume that everyone else’s sex lives are just fine.
Sex is a normal part of being human. An enjoyable sex life is said to be strongly correlated to a good relationship, and good relationships make us happy. Sex also has the ability to release hormones that increase intimacy and bonding, and improve mood, immunity and overall health.
At the same time, it can help decrease feelings of loneliness and depression, and boost confidence and enhance quality of life. The calorie burn can even make it a great form of exercise. Asian attitudes towards sex tend to be more conservative, and that can make us ill-informed when making choices about sexuality and relationships. Nonetheless, Jean explains that the situation isn’t as dire as it seems.
“I would think that, in general, it’s harder to talk about sex in Asia,” she says. “But truth be told, it’s just socially more difficult to talk about sex in public over here. Privately, I believe that couples are much more open about the state of their sex life and talk about it as much as Westerners do.”
That doesn’t mean that everyone in Singapore has a thriving and healthy sex life. “It’s equally as common to fight about sex as it is about money,” reveals Jean. “Different couples have different preferences, and some couples just naturally place more emphasis on sex while others do not.
“A dwindling sex life only becomes a problem when there isn’t a mutual desire for sex between husband and wife. That’s when cracks in a relationship start to show. It is a good thing if they can talk about their issues in a non-aggressive way as problems in the bedroom could cause couples to grow apart. They can become frustrated, resentful or even angry, and that can lead to divorce. If you can’t resolve a conflict, seeking therapy could be beneficial.”
It’s natural for the maintenance of a good sex life to require more effort and planning as we grow older.
In the early stages of a marriage, couples tend to have spontaneous sex frequently. Still, amidst busy work schedules, chores and family commitments, sex can end up being the last thing on the priority list.
An increasingly stressful lifestyle among men is also said to be contributing to more incidences of performance anxiety, which could be adding to a diminished sex life. “Around 35 percent of my patients – from as young as 24 years old – come to see me for erectile dysfunction (ED),” says Dr Muhd Taufiq, a resident doctor at DTAP Clinic Somerset.
“ED can be very damaging to a marriage. It can cause unhappiness and dissatisfaction for both parties. For the man, his confidence levels will be deeply affected. He may feel ashamed. For his wife, she may start to question her perceived value, her attractiveness, or it may even make her suspicious of her husband. These are all real concerns, and I’ve seen them happen to my patients.
“The problem is compounded when the couple refuses to talk about their problems. A man affected by ED may refuse to admit that he’s facing dysfunction. And if the issue is not communicated between husband and wife, a break-up could occur.”
START THE CONVERSATION
In Dr Taufiq’s view, open communication when it comes to sexual dysfunction is vital to improving a lacklustre marriage that has lost its spark. As embarrassing as it is, talking to each other could make or break a long-term relationship.
Jean agrees. “Have a genuine conversation with your husband where you can both air your concerns. Check in with each other,” she advises.
“Ask questions like ‘are you happy?’, ‘do you feel emotionally connected to me?’, and ‘do you enjoy having sex with me?’ Even couples who have a good relationship on the surface may still be facing sexual issues. If things are getting stale, the earlier you see an accredited therapist, the more helpful it’ll be.”
These easy intimacy tips can lead to a sexy boost in the bedroom:
Make time for it! Sex isn’t always spontaneous. Just like how you would plan a date night that works for both of your schedules, you can also make time for intimacy.
More than intercourse. There is more to a good sex life than the deed alone. Text or call each other during the day, send sexy messages, give loving compliments, and hug or touch your spouse more. Little gestures can go a long way to show affection and interest.
Play more. Try to have a more playful attitude in your everyday life. It will enhance the quality of your relationship, encourage adventure and set you up for better sex – after all, it’s meant to be fun!
Try something new. Whether it’s a location, position or even role-play, there are so many ways to change things up.
It’s OK to laugh. Learn to laugh during intimacy. Laughter helps to create closer connections, while also triggering a release of feel- good endorphins.
Prioritise! The health of your relationship should be more important than things like the cleanliness of your house or answering emails. If the mood is right, the pile of dishes can wait.
Why watch rom-coms when you can start living them? Get out of your marriage rut with our creative date night suggestions for every budget
Plan a photoshoot
Get dressed in your best and head to a scenic spot in Singapore to snap photos of each other. You can do this by yourselves with a phone or rope in a friend with a fancy camera for help.
Get colouring together
The simplest activities can bring you closer together. Hit up a cafe and bring along a colouring book for the perfect bonding session loaded with plenty of quality time.
Catch an outdoor movie
Turn a done-to-death movie date on its head by bringing your beau to an outdoor film screening instead. Find out more at facebook. com/apemoviemob.
Head to the beach
Take a short ferry ride to Lazarus Island, and be rewarded with sandy beaches and a whole lot of serenity. It’s practically a one-day honeymoon. Get tickets at easybook.com.
Play mini golf
If regular golf is too serious for the young-at-heart couple, Holey Moley is a good place to show you’ve still got game. There are cocktails on the side, too. Find out more at holeymoley.com.sg.
Relive the good old days
Go back in time and jive to some synthesised tunes at Cherry Discotheque, which frequently hosts ’80s and ’90s themed nights. Keep up with their schedule on Instagram @ cherrydiscotheque.
Look into the future
A tarot card reading could steer you in the right direction for a better relationship, or provide a couple of laughs. Get a reading and get informed at tarotinsingapore.com.
Go on a virtual adventure
Get a room at Virtual Room Singapore, where there’s nothing more romantic than fighting off zombies together. Book a date at Singapore. virtual-room.com.
Let it all go
Grab your hubby and have a smashing good time at The Fragment Room where there are crates full of stress-relieving breakables. Details at thefragmentroom.com.
Take your romantic dinner out to sea by having it on a cruise. It’s not cheap, but a momentary escape from land could be the spark your marriage needs. Find out more at tallship.com.sg.
Float near the Marina
If a cruise doesn’t float your boat, try a floating doughnut instead where you can lap up the gentle waves on the waters around Marina Bay while sipping on a glass of champagne. More details at flodoco.com.
Take to the skies
Don’t fall in love… fly in love! Indoor skydiving is a safe experience for the thrill-seeking couple. For a liberating time with your husband, book a session at iflysingapore.com.
When it comes to feeling cherished, some prefer actions over gifts, and other desire kind words over touch. What’s your love language?
Romantic relationships tend to work better if you understand each other’s needs. If things are feeling a little disconnected or lacklustre, it could be worth finding out what you and your husband’s unique love languages are.
Dr Gary Chapman came up with the concept to describe the five key ways we prefer to give and receive love over 25 years ago. This concept is still helping people today to improve their relationships because it’s said that knowing each person’s love language is fundamental to a meaningful relationship. Which love language do you identify with?
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: This is all about using words to praise the other person and build them up. If this is your husband’s love language, they’ll feel best if you express your gratitude verbally when they help you out. If they look beautiful or you’re proud of them, tell them.
GIFTS: Material goods may not mean much for some people. However, if this is your love language, being given a gift can be seen as the ultimate symbol of love, care and thoughtfulness.
ACTS OF SERVICE: Instead of material gifts, some might prefer acts of service. These are about doing something nice, such as cleaning the house, washing dishes or picking up the kids from school.
QUALITY TIME: The chores are done. Meals are cooked. There’s even a gift waiting for you at home. However, none of it will mean anything if you prefer to receive your partner’s undivided attention. Communicating in this love language can be as simple as taking a walk or eating a meal together.
PHYSICAL TOUCH: Little explanation is needed here. This love language is all about prioritising physical affection – hugs, holding hands, kissing and intimate time together.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: NATALYA MOLOK AND CHERRIE LIM