Sexual Satisfaction and Relationships: "Let's Marvin Gaye and Get it On!"
“We never have sex anymore. I feel rejected…unloved…alone.”
“It’s like we’re roommates. We rarely make love, and when we do it’s passionless -- we’re just going through the motions.”
As therapists, we hear these types of statements often – from both wives and husbands (don’t believe the stereotypes). And we know that sexual satisfaction is a significant contributor to overall relationship contentment. Simply put, when a partner is unhappy with their sex life, they are generally unhappy with the relationship. We also know that sexual intimacy and connection can be difficult terrain for couples to navigate. Each partner brings into the relationship their beliefs and expectations about what their sex life will look like. And typically, each partner defines sexual satisfaction differently. How often they have sex, what activities they engage in, how much emotional connection they create with one another – all of these play a part in crafting a satisfying and enjoyable sex life. And not being able to communicate their sexual needs, wants, or frustrations can create resentment, hurt feelings and isolation. There are some basic elements that help couples create a healthy sex life: Each partner having a positive view of sex Understanding the importance of an enjoyable sex life as a contributor to your overall relationship Each partner taking responsibility for their sexual satisfaction and being willing to ask for what they want and desire Feeling valued by one another and connected to each other Believing your spouse understands your sexual needs Feeling good about yourself, your body, and your sexuality Being willing to learn and develop sexual skills
There are also larger relationship challenges that sometimes spill over into the bedroom. Issues of unresolved anger, feeling unheard or being unappreciated, feeling disconnected from one another – all of these make creating intimacy and sexual satisfaction difficult. As Julie Sibert, from intimacyinmarriage.com says about wedding days, “No one stands at the altar and imagines the day they stop making love to their spouse. If sex has faded from your relationship it may be time to seek some help.
Research indicates that couples don’t seek help for sexual problems due to: Feeling embarrassed and assuming their issues are unique Having low expectations of how fulfilling their sex life can be Hoping the problem will get better in time Believing that counseling doesn’t address sexuality
Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. A good therapist can assist you in communicating with one another about your sexual desires, hopes and dreams. Starting the conversation is often the most difficult step in the journey. Find someone to help you start a dialogue about the sexual challenges in your marriage. You’ll be grateful you did!