Healthy Relationships and Their Impact on the FamilyJul 22, 2020 ● By Jennifer Bugajsky
Photo credit: Monkey Business for Adobe Stock
In today’s world, so many families are overworked and stressed. Parents struggle to balance the demands of work and family, and as a result their health and relationships suffer. In many households, making money and providing for kids’ activities are the number one priority. This type of family focus leaves couples in unfulfilling relationships, causing more stress to the family and contributing to divorce and domestic violence concerns. Our children need us not just our financial support, they need us to show them what healthy living looks like. The best gift you can give your children is parents with a loving, healthy example of marriage.
One of the keys to having a healthy marriage or long-term partnership is making sex a priority. A nourishing sex life has amazing physical health benefits including reducing stress and anxiety, improving mood, better sleep, strengthening your immune system, relieving pain and menstrual cramps and increasing blood circulation (as a fun cardio workout) and much more.
These incredible health benefits indicate sex was not designed just for procreation, but also for purification, relaxation and personal pleasure. If you do not treat sex like a priority, then your marriage or partnership will suffer as it is not getting the attention it needs to stay healthy. This ends up having a ripple impact on your overall physical and emotional health, as well as the health of your family.
So why are we not taking advantage of this more often?
The truth is, most couples put sex on the backburner, especially after becoming parents. Many believe healthy sexuality is not an important factor in being a healthy, successful parent and a healthy, successful person. For many of us, we were taught to please others and make others’ needs a priority, rather than our own pleasure. We were not taught the value of a healthy sex life. We were not taught it improves our health, strengthens our relationships, and ultimately provides positive influences for our children. In Western culture, we were often taught that talking about sex made us feel dirty. We may have been taught to fear sexuality, whereas other cultures may teach about the responsibility and the pleasure of sex.
Your parents likely never talked about sex or showed you how to embrace your sexuality. By not talking about it, they modeled for you that sex and healthy sexuality was not a priority, a lesson you may be holding onto unknowingly. It is so important to educate ourselves and our families on the value and benefits of embracing our sexuality rather than fearing it.
According to Peggy Orenstein in a 2016 TedX Talk, there was a study done with 300 Dutch vs. American college women at a university talking about their early experience of sex. The Dutch college students embodied everything we say we want for our young women to embody and had greater self-esteem. “They had fewer negative consequences like disease, pregnancy and regret. They experienced more positive outcomes, being able to communicate with their partner, preparing for the experience of responsibility and enjoying themselves,” explains Orenstein.
The difference noticed was that the Dutch women had open and honest conversations with their doctors, teachers and parents at an early age about sex, pleasure and the importance of mutual trust. The American families typically focused on teaching the risks and dangers of sex, specifically contraception, disease protection and consent. However, in other cultures they teach the responsibility as well as the pleasure and joys of sex. There is a big difference in one’s self-esteem and overall happiness when the discussion focuses on responsibility and pleasure vs. the risks and dangers.
It is vitally important that more awareness be provided to our children on the benefits of a healthy sex life and reproductive health. We can do this through education and modeling of healthy relationships with our own partners. Sexuality is more than just sex. Rather than hiding from sex, we need to be more open with our children on the value and importance of healthy sexuality.
It is not about making our children feel like they should be “having sex” in their youth or outside of monogamy or marriage. It is important that each family demonstrate healthy sexuality in a way that honors their beliefs and experiences. Teaching sexuality is about understanding the human body and reproductive health. It is about understanding the exquisite depth and beauty of love making and why they should value relationships. And it is about teaching our children shameless self-love and self-care.
When we teach embracing rather than fearing sexuality, we create a better world where sex is no longer considered taboo, shameful, or dirty—where men and women no longer suffer in silence or settle for mediocre relationships, and where sexual abuse is no longer hushed and tolerated. We can create a world where sex is respected and life-giving, conversations within ourselves and others are comfortable and relationships with self and others are sexually fulfilling. The way we view sexuality has a ripple effect on how we show up in the world, and a long term effect on the relationships our children choose.
At The Freedom Keys, we realize that sexuality is a sensitive topic that requires a lot of tenderness and care. We want to offer Natural Awakenings Chicago readers the opportunity to schedule a free private consultation to learn more about our sexuality programs, and how they may be of benefit to you. Schedule your session today or contact Jen for more information.
Jennifer Clark Bugajsky is a women’s sexuality coach based in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit her website at The Freedom Keys. Follow her on social media at @the_freedom_keys