Q. I’m glad to hear you talk about changes in sex, because that is a common concern we hear about: the changes in sex after marriage. What are some healthy expectations for people when they get married whether they’ve been sexually active before or not?
Expect change and see if you can be just a little friendlier toward it. There’s some research that suggests that romantic love is supposed to start and it’s supposed to end, and then couples go into a period of conflict or power struggle. And if they are able to successfully navigate the power struggle, then they move into this phase of ‘real love,’ so to speak.
Expect that conflict is going to happen, and if you can learn better conflict resolution skills, you’ll be able to navigate these changes more readily and with less distress.
Q. What should someone do when those changes are abusive?
Being willing and open to pursue professional help is really important there. Psychologist David Schnarch says that marriage is the cradle of adult development, so it’s really how we grow. And some of the changes that happen can be too difficult for people to handle on our own; some changes can feel really abusive.