Where did all the sex go? As a therapist who works with adults who are experiencing relationship challenges, one of the most common issues that people bring in to discuss with me is a lack of sex and intimacy. Clients who disclose such a personal issue to me, someone they have just met, take a risk and go way out of their comfort zone. Many tell me that they feel such a relief in being able to state the truth openly and that they feel hopeful that they will now get help. For many couples, being sexual with each other signifies that they are successful, and when they are no longer experiencing intimacy, then some equate this with a feeling of failure.
How Did They Get There?
Some of these clients convey to me during a couples or individual therapy session that they once were very amorous, and had satisfying intimate experiences at one time. So how do people that were once passionate become roommates? Others state that their relationship was never very sexual and so this has been a constant challenge for them. It’s very important to note that some of these clients have had traumatic experiences, which are still impacting them; while some have chronic pain, or other health issues as well, which compound the intimacy challenges.
What seems to come across in my office from some of my clients is that they have at some point either knowingly or unknowingly stopped cherishing their mate. According to the dictionary, to cherish means to, “treat with affection and tenderness; hold dear”. How many couples are able to treat their partner with tenderness and affection on a regular basis? Also, how does one cherish their mate when they have anger and resentment for them? Remember, many people are dealing with the aftermath of one or multiple affairs in their relationship, how do these couples move forward sexually when there is so much relational trauma that has occurred? I am trained in the Emotionally Focused Couples and Gottman Couples Therapy Models, and I love John Gottman’s article on creating a culture of appreciation in your relationship: https://www.gottman.com/blog/3-steps-reconnect-feel-disconnected-partner/
Is Our Partner Responsible for Our Happiness?
Quite often, clients attempt to make their partner responsible for their own happiness. For many in couples therapy, seeing an individual therapist is a powerful experience to begin to transcend their own “stuff” which may be preventing them from enjoying a satisfying relationship with their mate. In addition, an individual’s own mind-body connection plays an important role in determining what level of friction they can tolerate in their relationship. What I mean by this, is that if someone is very anxious, depressed and/or stressed out, they are not in a position to give the necessary self-care to themselves, never mind care to their mates.
How Can You Make Subtle Shifts in Your Relationship?
It’s simultaneously both difficult and simple to effect change; a key ingredient needs to be that both partners have a willingness to do the work. Small shifts that each partner can make, such as making a cup of tea and bringing it to your loved one, putting a thoughtful card where they can find it, saying “thank you” or “I’m sorry”, or just actively listening to what your partner is saying. Honestly engaging your mate with no other distractions begins to set a tone of prioritization and importance and that you are interested in them at a core level. All of the aforementioned ways are just some examples of levels of intimacy that collectively amass to cherishing one’s mate.
Isn’t Intimacy and Sex the Same Thing?
Intimacy redefined begins to look at all the day to day interactions that we have with each other, and suffice it to say that people who take advantage of such opportunities to do kind gestures for themselves and for their mates, are much more likely to report having intimate moments. Carving out time to cherish your partner oftentimes incudes saying no to people while also shutting off our phones, all in an effort to re-connect.
Pain and Chronic Health Issues
Some clients have sexual pain, erectile or vaginal issues, and/or complications from health issues like diabetes. I take my time and evaluate properly which medical professionals we may need to pull in to my client’s circle of care to ensure that they get the help that they deserve.
For more information on how to increase intimacy and sex, please text me at 203-948-0938 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit my website at www.KelleyHopkinsAlvarez.com
Licensed Professional Counselor
NCC, BCC, MS, MSEd
Address: 100B Danbury Road, Suite #201D (2nd floor)
Ridgefield, CT 06877
(behind Union Savings Bank)