Is your sexual life suffering in some way?
Maybe you feel confused because different areas of your relationship seem satisfactory, but when it comes to sex you and your spouse just cannot figure out how to make it better. Perhaps talking about sex seems too uncomfortable and too embarrassing, so you simply don’t discuss it. Do you want more sexual contact; however, your spouse doesn’t have as much desire and he/she pushes you away? What if you get into arguments because it feels like all your partner wants from you is sex? You might be the couple who hasn’t been intimate with each other for years and only the thought of having sex with your partner makes you feel awkward, angry, and insecure. You might also be the couple who would like to move your sexual life into a different level—start experimenting more—however, your partner objects and fights you on your ideas. All of that can lead to power struggles, constant bitter arguments, and more emotional distance.
Problems with sex and intimacy in a relationship are more common than you think!
In fact, the vast majority of couples struggle with their sex life—they just don’t talk about it because they often treat it as a “shameful secret.” Because sex as a subject can be a taboo, that only adds to your alienation and stigma.
Remember, people have difficulty with sex and intimacy, and that is normal. Low sexual desire in women and premature ejaculation or lax erections in men are the most common sexual problems reported in North America. Schnarch noted that 71 percent of couples reported having sex no more than once or twice a month. Only 29 percent had sex at least once or twice a week, which everyone thinks is the norm. Do these numbers surprise you? Truly, you are not alone, and there is help!
But how important is satisfying sex in sustaining a love relationship?
Healthy sexuality between partners not only creates a shared pleasure, serves as a tension reducer to deal with the stressors of life, but most importantly, it deepens and strengthens the bond.
MaCarthy noted that contented couples attribute only 15 to 20 percent of their happiness to a pleasing sex life, but unhappy partners ascribe 50 to 70 percent of their distress to sexual problems. Johnson explained that the reason why sex is such a huge issue for dissatisfied partners is because sex is the first thing affected when a relationship falters.
Did you know that often sexual distress is a sign of a couple loosing emotional connection with one another? They may not feel emotionally safe with each other what further impacts their desire. Less desire means less sex. That leads to more hurt feelings and less connection. Johnson said it well: no safe connection/bond, no sex; no sex, no bond.
The longer the couple avoids resolving their sexual problems, the harder it is to break the cycle. Avoidance becomes a self-fulfilling trap. The longer the partners are in a not fulfilling sex relationship (what usually means that they are also not fulfilled in their emotional connection), the more they blame each other.
Sexuality involves partners’ attitudes, feelings, experiences, perceptions, and values. In therapy, I help couples explore these aspects of sexuality so that they don’t become a source of guilt or negative feelings. My hope is to help you work as an intimate sexual team, so that you both know how to talk about sex and intimacy, and eventually, you find a way of feeling satisfied and more connected to your partner.
What if talking about my sexual life is too uncomfortable and embarrassing?
Indeed, discussing your intimate life with a strange person can be very intimidating. We can talk about what beliefs and values make it difficult for you to discuss this topic. Perhaps one of these beliefs prevents you from talking with you partner about sexual issues, creating even more physical and/or emotional disconnection between you two. Being curious instead of avoidant of talking about your sexual issues is what may open the door to new ways of dealing with the problem. My hope is to create a very safe environment so that we can slowly start discovering what keeps you and your partner from having a good sexual and intimate relationship with one another.
I don’t want to be blamed for all the problems that we have with sex!
Partners who experience either low or high desire for sex or who struggle with performance often fear that all the attention in the therapy room will be on them because they think that they somehow need to “get fixed” or “improve.” This is a misperception that, unfortunately, keeps many people from getting help. It takes two to create a satisfactory relationship—whether it is a sexual or emotional one. My intention is to always look at the issues with the “relational lens on.” Meaning, how is that problem talked about and approached within the relationship? Can you stay emotionally engaged, present, and responsive to each other while talking about something that is “emotionally charged?” My job is to help you have this type of conversation, and I am never in a position to judge or “fix” anyone.
I am still not sure if I want to involve an outside person into our bedroom conversations
Talking about sex and intimacy can be tough as it is; therefore, if you are motivated to start working on the problem, you need to decide who you feel most comfortable with talking about these sensitive issues. Come in, meet with me, and then decide if you want to talk to me about your intimacy problems. If it is not me, I will do my best to refer you to someone who might be a better fit.