By Paul Pearsall, PhD, professor
of psychology and Author of
A Healing Intimacy &The Pleasure
Prescription (Hunter House).
Sex involves more than procreation...or recreation. As countless studies have shown, an intimate, sexually satisfying relationship reduces the risk of heart disease...depression...migraine...premenstrual syndrome...and arthritis. It also boosts the immune system.
But sex is genuinely healing only if it transcends the mechanical, self-pleasure variety promoted by sex experts. Indeed, the central goal of sexual healing should not be orgasm...but connection with your partner.
PHYSIOLOGY OF HEALING SEX
Healing sex brings a marked decline in bloodstream levels of adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones provoke anxiety and reduce immune function.
In a study, women who were happily married had higher levels of natural killer cells and helper T cells than those in unhappy unions. Healing sex is also a potent antidote for social isolation, which has been linked to serious illness and premature death. A Yale study of 194 heart patients found that those without a spouse at home were twice as likely to die prematurely as those with a spouse.
HEALING SEX IS RARE
Most couples never experience sexual healing... because they're too quick to give up on their relationship. It takes at least four years to achieve the intimacy needed for sexual healing. Most couples split after only three years. Why do so many couples split? Because of lack of intimacy. Intimacy doesn't just happen. You make it happen by treating your partner with care and genuine affection...and by taking the time to really connect, both in casual conversation and via sex.
Three factors are central to a sexually healing relationship...
*Commitment. Affairs and on-again-off-again sexual relationships are not healing because the two people never form a meaningful bond.
*Consideration. The bond between a couple must extend beyond the bedroom. Each partner must continually express tenderness and caring toward the other...by smiling... touching...being polite...giving compliments ...and showing respect.
*Honesty. There must be no secrets within the relationship...only total connection and total confidence.
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