Have you ever noticed that many people still seem to carry the belief that our sex lives get worse, not better, after marriage? In fact there are several bad taste jokes to amplify the message: “What’s the best diet to reduce sex? Wedding Cake!”

As a sex therapist I find this belief is not only destructive but untrue. In fact, research has shown that married couples enjoy more sex on a regular basis than singles. So, let’s revisit how the perception that sex is worse after marriage impacts our relationships today.

I’ve shared this sermon from the 1800s with you before. Once upon a time, people were taught that sex is shameful and to be used only for procreation. This sermon is directed toward wives to be. It’s full of admonishments that sex is not something to enjoy but rather to endure as infrequently as possible. It reads: “One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY.” The sermon continues with advice for women on ways to avoid sex noting that, “Most men are by nature rather perverted, and if given half a chance, would engage in quite a variety of the most revolting practices.

I once again share this sermon not to belittle religious points of view but simply to challenge couples to honestly evaluate whether or not they’ve internalized these perspectives to the detriment of their relationship. It’s important for couples to examine how they view sex and intimacy.

What about you? Are you suffering from feelings of shame over your needs or the desires of your partner? Where does this shame come from? Talk about it. Open communication is the first step toward healthy intimacy.