The importance of “aftersex”
When it comes to sexuality in marriage, there’s plenty of talk about foreplay, the preparation and lead-up to intercourse. Foreplay is important, but I don’t think we give enough thought to what comes after. I may have invented a word in the title but whatever you call it (pillow talk, afterglow, after-care, etc.) give some thought to how you spend the moments after a sexual encounter. A relatively recent study has shown that our post-sex behavior can affect our overall satisfaction with sex.
The stereotype is that men immediately roll over and fall asleep after sex. There is some biological basis to that idea. Men tend to have a very drastic drop in arousal and energy level immediately following orgasm, while women tend to come down more gradually. That means that husbands may need to be more conscious of being mentally and physically involved with their wives after their orgasm. Obviously, job one is for a husband to make sure his wife has achieved her own orgasm, if she desires one. (Yes, it is possible to have a fulfilling sexual experience without orgasm, for both men and women.) That being said, orgasms are not the goal of sex. The goal is increased intimacy, and building intimacy through sexuality is not achieved solely through orgasms .
Be intentional about your aftersex time. Cuddling and caressing are good, but take time to communicate after you make love. Words of love and affirmation will be more powerful in those moments. They will be amplified by the hormones released in the body during sex. These hormones, primarily oxytocin and vasopressin, promote bonding in our brains. This is just one example of the ways God designed sexuality to work for married couples, and why sexuality is important to a healthy marriage. (It also explains why studies have shown that sex is more fulfilling within committed relationships.) After sex is the perfect time to reaffirm your love for each other.
It can also be helpful sometimes to discuss the “nuts and bolts” of your sexual activity. Ask questions, be honest and encouraging, and be open to change. Share with each other specific things you found enjoyable or less than enjoyable. Talk about different things you may want to try in your next sexual encounter. Discuss in non-critical language the ways you might try to improve your sex lives. Despite what many may think, good sex doesn’t necessarily come naturally. It’s a learned skill like anything else, and since it’s a shared experience, improvement requires regular communication with your spouse.
Have sex with your spouse. Lots of it. Focus on effective foreplay. But don’t neglect aftersex activities.