This idea may not be earth shattering, but a May 2014 study has found some interesting correlations between sexual health, physical health, and relationship satisfaction. Let’s delve in.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland studied data from a 2010-2011 on 732 older couples (1464 people) from the National Social Life Health and Aging Project. The correlation they found was the poorer the health of either or both spouses, the less satisfied they claimed to be with their marriages. Conversely, the better health both spouses had (few to no illnesses, plenty of energy) the more satisfied they claimed to be with their unions.
How does this work?
Let’s break this down piece by piece, starting with sex because that appears to be the binding element between physical health and marital health. When a couple has sex, a cocktail of different hormones are released into the body, flooding it with the urge to bond and creating the fuzzy feelings of love. Sex isn’t the only method of getting these hormones into the body. Simply making skin-to-skin contact achieves the same result (albeit with a much smaller dose) with frequency of contact. Oxytocin is the chemical most responsible for bonding. The more affectionate a pair is, the more oxytocin is released. Frequent bursts of oxytocin lead to constant bonding between a pair, which in turn creates a long term pairing. In lay terms, physical closeness creates emotional closeness. On the other side of that, physical distance creates emotional distance.
There is a direct link between sexual and physical health. If the body is diseased or malnourished in any way, the drive for intimacy tanks. Deficiencies in zinc, vitamin e, omega 3 fatty acids, or magnesium are fairly normal for those eating the Standard American Diet that is nearly everybody, really. Malnutrition kicks off the cycle, no libido means no sex, which means no physical contact and that leads to emotional distance. That’s how couples grow apart and marital satisfaction hits an all-time low.
Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of health issues
Now keep in mind, you can be overweight and still be undernourished. That’s because calories aren’t nourishing – it’s the quality of the calories taken in that matter. Not having the proper balance of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients makes you sick (or just generally unwell) and so it’s no wonder intimacy decreases. Nobody wants to get busy when they feel terrible. They also become moody and irritable; all this can be traced back to a lousy diet which leads to marital dissatisfaction.
Take care of yourself
Eat nutrient dense (NOT calorie dense) food to jumpstart the cycle. In addition, take time just to make physical contact with your spouse. Hug and kiss each other when you get home from work, cuddle on the couch while watching TV, hold hands while out in public, make non-sexual contact a priority so that you create the environment for bonding to happen. Once you get the wheel spinning in the other direction, marital satisfaction should go up.