I've been married for going on 6 years now and my wife and I had a breakthrough of sorts after some very tough times. I wanted to share what I learned for posterity sake. Maybe someone will find the right word at the right time by reading this, and I hope to God that if that's you, everything works out.
Just to cut to the important parts, my most important personal discovery was that there is an important cycle that forms the core of every relationship, and helping that cycle spin lays the foundation for a much deeper relationship. The cycle comes from fulfilling the biggest desire of men and the biggest desire of women: Sex for men, closeness for women.
After spending a lot of time with my wife trying to figure out why we were having tough times, that was our discovery. We also discovered that when those desires aren't met, they are either smothered -- equaling stress and sadness -- or displaced outside of the marriage -- equaling infidelity.
There is so much more to a good marriage than this, but it is simply the easiest advice I have found I could give to any other married couple that works wonders. Two simple rules:
For men, never ever say no when you wife wants to be close (talk). This is your priority beyond any others -- work, kids, the sky falling down. Talk until your jaw won't move, open your heart and express your feelings. This is what women want, and your wife doesn't expect you to be perfect, she just wants you to try.
For women, never ever say no when your husband wants to have sex. This is your priority beyond any others -- work, kids, the sky falling down. Let him in until you are raw, and never ever humiliate his desires. This is what men want, and your husband doesn't expect you to be perfect, he just wants you to try.
There is also an important stipulation to these rules: You are never to enforce them except upon yourself. If you are a man, tell your wife they do work, and set the example for her -- always be there for her and always be close to her. Do not demand her to be sexual. The closest you should get is to suggest that if she is sexual and you are sensual, everyone will be happy at a basic level and the relationship will become more healthy than ever.
This cycle of desire could also be called passion. However, the magical thing is that you can make
passion by simply giving the other what they want from you as a marriage partner. Its worth noting that it helps if both parties help each other as they would a charity -- giving with no thought of return.
Let me tell you that in my marriage, it was a close one. However here I am, and we love each-other more than ever. It is never too late to spark the passion, and with passion you will find that many of the parts of a relationship that don't work will be cajoled into motion.
About pornography and flirting:
These are not evil or marriage-enders, but they don't help. Both pornography and flirting allow you as to vent some sexual or sensual frustration out. If you are very frustrated, wank until you're bleeding because its better than getting divorced. However, sometimes when your wife or husband is available, and you've flirted/wanked your fill, you're going to leave her/him out in the cold.
Your partner can feel when she's been hung out to dry, and maybe just maybe next time around your partner won't be as available for you because he or she doesn't want to feel rejected. -- This is the danger of pornography and flirting, because they can potentially block up the cycle I was just talking about.
In a vacuum, there's no harm with either, but when your partner's feelings come into play (and this can change from person to person), sometimes porn and flirting are detrimental to your relationship. This was in fact the case with my relationship. I watched porn and my wife flirted with guys. We both thought they were harmless, but as it turns out, now that we've stopped, its sex-a-poluza for me, and she feels like I am her #1 best friend (super sexy friend).
So if you're one of those guys who has a wife who doesn't like you watching porn, settle in your mind for an upgrade. Say to yourself, "You know what's better than having sex with my hand? Having sex with my wife's vagina." Then go tell your wife that you've given up pornography because she is more beautiful to you. Tell her you'd rather have sex with her, but its just that you have such a big appetite that you either had to watch porn or be very very sexually frustrated (which is extremely bad for a relationship).
Side note: I have a theory that masturbation itself is less potent in this "sexual seepage" than when you also use porn as a helper. In fact, I think if you are thinking of your wife or nothing at all during the process it is very healthy for you as a person. Regardless, some women see "the hand" as a competitor, and so respect her if its the case guys.
Explaining sexual frustration to a woman:
Women usually don't understand what being sexually frustrated is like because they usually have lower sex drive than men. However, my wife and I discovered we actually do have common ground.
You know how men often say women are "naggy", "clingy", and "needy"? How women have this insatiable desire to do things together all the time that makes absolutely no sense to men? That's the exact same thing
, as how women say men talk with a small brain in their crotch, and women would rather sleep than have sex. And both are true! Women need so much emotional attention, and men need so much sexual attention.
When my wife and I discovered this parallel, I discovered how to treat her emotions: exactly like I would treat my sex drive, which is summed up with, lots and lots all the time every day
. Now she gets it too -- she knows that I need to get it on, and when I want it, its incredibly important to me. This was again a great breakthrough for both of us and allowed us to respect the differences in man and woman as parallel and not as perpendicular.
So I hope this was helpful. Its all based on my own experiences and not any science or books or anything. God bless and if you're that guy in a tough spot, you can do it my friend.