After the Orgasm: Nurturing Intimacy After Sex

After the Orgasm: Nurturing Intimacy After Sex

“He jumps out of bed like he’s late for an appointment. I’ve never seen him move so quickly. I end up feeling really alone. It’s confusing to be so close to him physically and emotionally one minute, and then to act like what just happened didn’t really happen…”

~Dominica, describing her husband’s behavior and her experience after sex

A great deal has been written in the marriage/relationship help literature about how to boost your sexual pleasure, increase passion and desire, and ways to satisfy your spouse/partner sexually. Clearly what happens before and during sex are important to a healthy and satisfying marriage/relationship.

But what about what happens right after sex?

Many couples fail to recognize that the power and experience of love-making isn’t isolated to the act of sex. The physical closeness, blending and merger of our bodies mirrors a powerful emotional interconnection and blending that occurs during sex. Sex is always physical and emotional—and the emotional stirrings triggered through sex continue after the orgasm (or after the sexual experience).

During and after sex, one’s emotional needs and vulnerabilities are heightened, giving couples an opportunity to nurture emotional intimacy. Unfortunately, like Dominica’s husband in the opening quote, many couples fail to recognize and nurture this post-sex opportunity. They quickly jump back onto the run-away train of life, failing to acknowledge and savor the enhanced emotional connectedness that comes with physical intimacy.

Your Emotional World During and After Sex

For many, an emotional bubble is created during and after making love—and life inside this bubble is different from ordinary, day-to-day life in many ways. Under ideal conditions (and to differing degrees), a deeper experience of connection, oneness, pleasure, sensuality, exploration, vitality and playfulness permeate this space. The perception of time may even cease when you’re in this erotic-intimacy bubble. This gives love-making a transcendent and transformative quality.

Exiting this space can be jarring if a transition is ignored or minimized. Care should be taken to foster a transitional space that bridges the experience of love-making and the reality of daily living—a transition that honors the expression of love, connection and vulnerabilities that occurred inside the bubble. This transition doesn’t have to be a time-consuming process as long as it is nurtured properly.

Relationship Help: So what should couples do to address this issue?

The first step is to understand that both you and your spouse’s/partner’s emotional needs and vulnerabilities remain heightened not only during, but also after sex. Denying this reality means denying opportunities to feed each other emotionally.

Relationship Reality: After sex, the potential to nurture emotional intimacy is elevated.

Awareness of these opportunities isn’t enough, however. Actions speak louder than words: Behaving more lovingly and compassionately toward each other—giving each other a little more attention, reassuring one another, directly expressing your love through words, as well as sharing what was special about the sexual experience for you can go a long way in building and maintaining intimacy.

Finally, it may be important to monitor your typical post-sex reactions and behavior. Without self-judgment, examine how you feel and how you behave toward your spouse/partner after sex.

Be mindful of your experience of emotional closeness—are you open to and accepting of an increase in emotional intimacy, or do you feel uneasy and find yourself shutting an emotional door in order to avoid a deeper level of connection?

Do you acknowledge and hold in consciousness the pleasures and closeness that just occurred (thereby feeding the deeper emotional connection that has been created), or do you crack open the bubble and jump back into the responsibilities and frenetic pace of life outside the bubble?

Understanding your typical post-sex reactions can go a long way in helping you reverse any patterns that may not be working for you or your spouse/partner.

Marriage/Relationship Books-Resources

Passion, sex and intimacy are essential aspects of a healthy marriage/relationship. For a comprehensive guide to enhancing sex and passion in your marriage/relationship, check out my workbook, Don’t Let Marriage Ruin Your Sex Life: Keep the Fires of Passion Burning.

Until next time,

Dr. Rich Nicastro

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