Relationship Sex Problems – Question and Answers – Part 1

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The internet can be a daunting space to get accurate answers about couple sex. Here are some frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Can I come in on my own to address our sex problems if my partner doesn’t want to come? 

A. Absolutely. Yes, while sex problems impact both members of the couple and are best viewed from a couple lens (e.g., Hansen, 2007), oftentimes one member may come in first to see what counselling is like. Feel free to call me if you aren’t sure if you or both of you should come in.

Q. I’ve tried sex toys and lingerie to spice up our sex life but nothing is working. What am I doing wrong?

A. Trying to get at couple sex from a toy or clothing perspective is missing the mark, according to couples expert Sue Johnson (2013). Emotional intimacy is one of the main keys to sexual intimacy. The closer the couple feels emotionally, the more they can be vulnerable with each other, the more they experience those yummy hormones like oxytocin (the same ones that get released during breastfeeding). Those hormones help ignite sexual desire and then sex! And then more emotionally connected sex helps ignite more of the oxytocin and it’s like a never ending pleasure cycle.

Q. Doesn’t sex automatically get boring and passion-less after that initial spark leaves?

A. No. In fact, expert couples researchers Ellyn Bader & Peter Pearson have created a theory of stages of couple development based on decades of work with couples and found the last stage, Mutual Interdependence, to be the most satisfying and sexually meaningful.

Q. Well then why does it seem like sexual desire drops off after that initial fun stage in a relationship?

A. You’re right, we know that the love potion of chemicals and hormones like oxytocin and testosterone drop after about 18 months into a relationship (earlier if there has been a substantial commitment like moving in together or engagement; McEvoy, M., 2015). However,  also know that committed partners in a mutually satisfying relationship are having sex that is way more trusting, risking, vulnerable, deep and mutually connecting than those in the first stage in a relationship! And becoming a better bonded couple can change that love potion for the better (see questions above).

Q. Why should I care about whether my couples therapist has any experience or training in sex issues?

A. Couples therapists trained in sex issues go above and beyond increasing the emotional bond of the couple and can design a course of therapy that can address other specific causes of sexual problems such as:

  • high performance or anticipatory anxiety,
  • negative sex beliefs or experiences, and
  • lack of sexual information or experience.

Feel free to contact me to learn how I can tailor our couples therapy to address your relationship sex problems. I work from where you are at and create a safe and supportive environment for you to grow as a couple.

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References:

Bader, E., & Pearson, P.T. (2012). In quest of the mythical mate: A developmental approach to diagnosis and treatment in couples therapy. Routledge, NY.

Hansen, N.M. (2007). When sex hurts: Couples’ experiences of female sexual pain. Unpublished Master’s Thesis: UBC.

Johnson, S. (2013). Love Sense: The revolutionary new science of romantic relationships. Little Brown.

McEvoy, M. (2015). Imago Relationship Therapy; Presentation for the British Columbia Association of Clinical Counsellors.