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The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell created the Employee Recommended Workplace Award to honour companies that put the health and total well-being of their employees first. Register for the 2020 Employee Recommended Workplace Award at: employeerecommended.com.

Do you agree that emotional turmoil in your relationship with your partner could also negatively influence work?

On any given day up to 30 per cent of all employees are at risk for experiencing mental health challenges, according to mental health technology platform Avail. One factor that can influence our mental health is our partner relationships. If not talked about, issues around emotional intimacy, loneliness and sexual frustration can influence our sense of well-being and motivation both during work and off work.

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Though it’s not appropriate to ask colleagues at work about their sex life, it’s a topic more adults would benefit from having open and honest conversations about with their partners.

Research shows that sex is good for your health. Bordy’s research suggests that sex can contribute to stronger heart health and lower risk for prostate and breast cancer, and it supports mental health by positively affecting one’s mood.

This micro skill challenges couples in loving relationships to evaluate their sex life because of the positive benefits for all aspects of life, at home and at work.

Awareness

Researchers report that in the United States the average adult is having sex nine fewer times per year in the 2010s compared with the 1990s. It appears many couples are putting less priority on sex. One reason may be economics, because many spend a lot of their energy and time worried about money and job security.

Clinical psychologist David Schnarch’s study of 20,000 couples found that only 26 per cent are having sex at least once a week. Other researchers have found that couples who have sex at least once a week are happier than those who do it less frequently.

It appears that many couples aren’t talking about or engaging in sex as much as they may think about it, because of the demands of work, parenting or caretaking.

Accountability

When we got married, sex was something that happened. However, few ever really talked about our expectations for sex: the kind, frequency and time of day that we most enjoy it. Reasons can vary, but most of us were never taught how to have an open conversation about sex. As a result, many couples don’t talk about the benefits sex can have on their relationships and health. Those who have sex at least once a week have higher amounts of the antibody immunoglobulin A, which promotes longevity, than those who have sex less often.

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I recall a conversation with the late, world-renowned psychiatrist William Glasser about sex and mental health. He was clear that sex matters and is needed for healthy relationships in couples. A simple scorecard he used showed that if a couple had more nasty arguments than loving sex in a year, then their relationship was likely doomed.

Ultimately, to have a healthy sex life each couple must be willing to talk and be open to each other about their needs and expectations for sex, agree on its benefits to their relationship, and be motivated to maintain or improve their sex life.

Action

Engaging in sex increases production of oxytocin (love hormone) that releases endorphins that influence mental health and boost our immunity system. It’s also a natural painkilling hormone.

Getting sex life on the right track:

Make talking about a healthy sex life a priority – Some couples have gotten so used to not talking about or having sex that they’ve lost their way and perhaps confidence and comfort level. To get back on track or to simply improve sex life begins with having a safe and non-judgmental conversation, starting with a simple question: “Are we satisfied with our sex life?” If the answer is no, this creates an opportunity for a new beginning.

Acknowledge the links between physical and mental health and sex drive – Couples where one or both partners feel overwhelmed by life’s demands and don’t pay attention to their physical fitness or nutrition, don’t get enough sleep or don’t take time to develop effective coping skills to reduce the impact of life challenges, risk having a lower libido. It takes two motivated and healthy people to have sex at least once a week. It’s helpful when each partner owns their libido and acknowledges it’s theirs to keep healthy. Individuals with low libido may need professional help and support so they’re motivated to have sex.

Make time for sex – As silly as it sounds, there’s nothing wrong with protecting a time when there are no distractions, and both partners know they have a time to enjoy each other. Sex that’s spontaneous can be wonderful, as well as sex that’s planned. Many people naturally schedule their time for sex without thinking that this is odd. Keep top of mind that sex is good for your health, happiness and relationship, provided that both you and your partner are in agreement, are physically and psychological safe, and are motivated.

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Read about the 2019 winners of the award and watch a video from the winners here. You can also purchase the benchmark report that outlines findings from 2018 at this link.

Bill Howatt is the founder of Howatt HR Consulting and a co-creator of the Employee Recommended Workplace Award.

You can find other stories like these at tgam.ca/workplaceaward.

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