Valentine’s Day can be a very special time for many of us. It reminds us of the importance of love in our relationships. Love is associated with healthiness, vibrancy, and life. One of the most important parts of love is our love-life within the relationship. It’s our belief at Doctor of Living, that a healthy love-life is a reflection of overall health and all five pillars of health.
Healthy nutrition leads to healthy sexual performance and strong sexual desire. A healthy love-life leads to regular physical activity. Healthy physical activity has an impact on a healthy love-life. Toxins can damage our bodies and impair our love-life. A healthy emotional state is important to achieving a healthy love-life. Finally, a healthy love-life in a supported relationship leads to a deeper spiritual connection with your partner. When we consider our partner’s needs first before our own desires, we have develop a deepened spiritual connection within that relationship.
For some of us, however, our love life hurts. It may be hurting in the sense that it isn’t what we would like it to be. And it may be hurting in the sense that we are physically in pain. And it may be hurting in the sense that our feelings have been hurt. Whatever the case may be, if your love-life is hurting, let’s talk about some steps to help.
First off, let’s start with relieving some angst, when discussing this topic. So many of us feel like we can’t talk about our love life. Many of us have religious beliefs that help guide our practice on love-life. Christianity is the largest religion in United States representing 73.7% of the total population. Judaism is next at 2.1% % and Islam third at .8%. In light of the distribution of religious beliefs, I thought it would be helpful to seek out some advice from the religious text as it relates to love life.
Here’s a quote from the Bible. It comes from 1st Corinthians chapter 7:5. “Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” The Jewish Torah “requires that a husband fulfill his wife’s need for intimacy.” In Exodus 21:10 it lists “marital intimacy as one of the three basic things that a husband must provide his wife (in addition to food and clothing.)” In Islamic law, “Marriage is greatly encouraged in Islam, partially because it provides a lawful institution in which to fulfill one’s sexual urges.” The implication of the advice in all 3 of the US’ major religions is that your love life is important within a marriage. It’s important for your relationship, as the inherent tendency of us as human beings is to desire a love-life. As such, if your love-life is not fulfilled inside of a healthy relationship then you or your partner will find an unhealthy alternative.
Most of us won’t have problems with our love-life as newlyweds, but most of us aren’t newlyweds very long. Then, life happens! For many of us, we accept that our love life may not be as good as it once was. Sadly, I think many of us even anticipate this. The truth is though, as we learned from religious wisdom, our love life is important and should be practiced often. Yet many of us are suffering in silence right now, victims of a poor love-life and waiting for just the right time to reach out to someone we trust to talk about pressing issues on our mind. One study showed that even when people are having trouble with their love-life they’re unlikely to discuss it with their own physician. Many physicians may not bring the topic up either.
Our health determines our love-life
Our health plays a major role in our love life in two ways. How often we experience a healthy love life and how satisfied we are with it. One study interviewed over 15,000 people about the impact of health on their sex life. The study authors state that it was one of the largest population surveys on how health conditions affect the frequency of sexual activity and enjoyment of sexual activity. When our health is bad, our sex life suffers. And that’s a big problem with the rising incidence of chronic disease in this country.
The differences between those who had sex in the previous 4 weeks in people with “bad or very bad health” and those with “very good health” were dramatic. In men, ONLY 35.7% of participants had sex when health was described as bad over the last 4 weeks vs 74.8% had sex within the last 4 weeks when health was described as “good. ” For women, it was 34% when health was bad vs. 69.3% when health was good. Satisfaction was also reduced when health was bad. In men, a mere 45.4% were satisfied when health was bad vs 69.5% were satisfied when health was good. In women, 48.6% were satisfied when health was bad vs 65.6% when health was good.4
It may seem intuitive, that as we get older our health will suffer and, as it does, so too will our love life. The study did find that people’s sex life declined after 45 years of age in men and 35 years of age in women. Still, ½ of people reported having sexual activity in the past year between 65-74 years of age and 39.3% reported sex in the previous 4 weeks. Love life as we get older can be important for maintaining our health and most certainly is a reflection of our overall health.
The topic of love life is still, even in 2019, uncomfortable to talk about for many people. Just because it’s uncomfortable, doesn’t mean that it isn’t important. For most couples, it’s part of how we define the quality of our relationship. If one partner is having difficulty in this department it can place strain on the relationship, leading to arguments, assumptions, and eventually despair. If you are experiencing any of these emotions, you are not alone. Our approach to the mind, body and soul, gives us the unique perspective on all facets of our health and this brings us to my suggested stepwise approach to making your love life better.
Step #1: Take an honest look at the state of your love life. Take a deep look in the mirror and ask yourself and only yourself whether or not your love life is where it needs to be. Could it be better? Do you want it to be better?
Step #2: Discuss your love life with your partner. Discuss the specifics. Talk about why it isn’t up to speed. Is it your energy level? Isn’t the time of day? Is it the distractions in your life? Is it the inability to perform? Is it your mood? Is it your reflection of yourself or your self-image? As you’re discussing this with your partner you will find increased support and decreased frustration.
This is a really important step. One common physical problem for men is erectile dysfunction. If you or your partner has this problem, you are not alone. One study found 5-20% of men have moderate-to-severe erectile dysfunction. The same study found up to 70% of men with ED are not treated. This problem can be addressed with medications and also with lifestyle. We have planned another PODCAST completely dedicated to erectile dysfunction and lifestyle, so stay tuned. The incidence of ED can be associated with diets and lifestyles that cause heart disease and stroke, so the identification of ED and its impact on your love life, may also save you or your partner’s life.
One common physical problem for women is sex can be painful. In one study, dyspareunia or painful sexual activity with marked distress occurred in up to 10-20% of US women. This can be from multiple reasons, but often involve a specific reason. If you or your partner have this problem, please discuss it. Identifying this problem can help lead to solutions. Identify the specifics.
There are numerous other potential problems, including one’s mental health. Depression and anxiety can impair one’s love life. It may be one’s weight. It may be one’s medical history, including history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure.
Step #3: Write down your concerns. I know this step seems obvious, but so many people forget to do this. They get to their doctor’s office and forget. The stress of the doctor’s office often leads to poor thinking. In addition, as you think about step number two, there may be more than one thing that’s a potential source for your reduced love-life. Particularly, if it’s your inability to physically perform. Keep it in a safe place. This is only to be shared with a trusted source. Sharing this information with the wrong party will lead to a worsening problem. GUARANTEED! Seriously, be cautious with uneducated opinions.
Step #4: Discuss it with your physician, psychologist, sex therapist… There are many reasons why one might not be able to perform. This may be something that you want to discuss with your physician. Physicians are specifically trained to address these issues with their patients. Starting with your primary care physician or your general practitioner is a good place to start.
Consider a seeing this trusted expert with your partner. This can help to ensure that the problems are accurately identified and lead to a greater inter-relationship understanding.
Step #5: Set some goals. At this point, you have identified the problem, discuss it with your partner, discuss it with your physician, and set some goals. Write them out if it helps. Plot out a reasonable time course for re-evaluating your goals. Stick to the plan. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t succeed at first, but assess what you did. If you need to start over with the process. Improving your love life is a goal worth working towards.
In conclusion, our love life is important. We don’t have let it decline. We shouldn’t expect that it will disappear. We should remain committed to a healthy love life with our partners. We should pursue problems, when they are there. At Doctor of Living, we believe that our nutrition, physical activity, toxin avoidance, emotional wellness and spiritual connections are all important in the creation of a healthy love life and a health love life is a symptom of overall good 5 Pillar Health.
Happy Valentine’s Day to all!
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States. Accessed on February 14th, 2019.
 https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/judaism-and-sexuality/. Accessed on February 14th, 2019.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_sexual_jurisprudence. Accessed on Feburary 14th, 2019.
 “Associations between health and sexual lifestyles in Britain: findings from the third National Survery of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3).” Lancet 2013.: 382:1830-44.
 “Epidemiology of erectile dysfunction.” Kubin, et al. Int J Impot Res. 2003, Feb; 15 (1): 63-71.
 Dyspareunia in Women. Seehusen, MD. Am Fam Physician. 2014 Oct 1; 90 (7): 465-470.