A Healthy Sex-Life
Sex is ultimately an expression of the whole person: body, mind, emotions and spirit. When any part is out of balance, as in any system, it affects the rest of the system. A husband might ask me why he and his wife enjoyed such great sex when they first met and now ten years later it’s almost nonexistent. Her childhood sexual abuse didn’t seem to stop her way back then from wanting and enjoying it. Now it has become an obstacle. Contrary to popular psychology, this “obstacle” can actually be a doorway to greater personal healing for her and a deeper bond for the two of them.
Some people need to review their childhood lessons and experience to understand, navigate, and change their sexual views. Religion can play a negative role in one’s sexual openness and comfort. People who have viewed masturbation or self-gratification as bad, sinful or dirty may have more difficulty feeling pleasure. Paradoxically, such a person could have fun playing with roles that include power and control, or weakness and vulnerability. Though these roles may or may not be verbalized, they nonetheless can be exciting, erotic, and fun.
Erotic fantasy often has its roots in early childhood experiences, trauma, or neglect. People who have been abused early in life tend to partner with people who have been neglected. This formula may work well for the initial attraction phase of a relationship but requires some working through to develop a longer lasting and mutually satisfying mature emotional relationship and healthy sex life.
“When marriage is done right, we get to heal our childhood wounds through the marital relationship.”
Relationships are complicated! More often than not, couples come to us thinking that they know everything about each other and that they are quite different from each other… like night and day. They often leave with a new realization that they really are similar in who they are and what they want and how much there is still to learn, not only about their partner but about themselves as well. As we often say to couples, “We marry our level of pathology, and rise or lower to their level of functioning. The trick is to bring each other up, not drag each other down!”
The basic assumption, both in and out of therapeutic culture, is that intimacy must exist before sex can be pleasurable. Obviously, most people want and/or need some level of trust, safety, and intimacy to be in a committed sexual relationship. And yet in reality, goals for intimacy could actually sabotage our exciting love life. Perhaps the opposite can be true too. Perhaps good sex could lead to a deeper emotional connection with our spouse. Either way, the more a person understands the healthy psychosexual developmental stages of a marriage the better chance they have of achieving them.
Yes, scheduling time for sex can be useful in increasing the odds of it actually happening. Many people are so busy with their daily life that they don’t have time or energy to be intimate with their partner. While spontaneous sex can be the hottest sex, scheduling time for sex can be fun. Obviously, some “dates” will get cancelled because of life getting in the way, but many more will happen and that is useful.
Iconic Sex Therapist and television personality Dr Ruth Westheimer talked about how people spend a lot of time planning food for dinner. If they put half as much time and effort into planning their sexual adventures, they would greatly improve their life.
Ideally the newness and excitement will transition in a long-term, mature relationship to a comfort and commitment. Now, because of the trust and confidence in the relationship, limitless and boundless exploration and experimentation can occur. This can be the doorway to a new deeper level of excitement and sexploration. Do you remember:
- The thrill of your first kiss together with your spouse?
- Your first hot love experience together?
In the early stages of a relationship most couples are excited about their partner, attracted to them, and turned on by the excitement of having a new lover. They do not need other stimulus. In addition, most people who have sexual fantasies are uncomfortable sharing them with anyone for fear that they will be seen as a pervert, “and their partner will run for the hills.”
In a long-term committed relationship, couples should feel a sense of security and commitment to each other and their marriage. Therefore, they can take risks to explore each other’s sexual wants, desires, perhaps even their fantasies and kinky thoughts without the fear of shame or inhibition felt earlier in their relationship. Just because you have wild thoughts that excite you, does not mean that you want to (or need to) act on them outside of the marriage. There is a difference between fantasy and reality. Clearly this is one of the reasons why couples over 50 report a more satisfying sexual relationship than couples in their 20’s and 30’s. See our information on Sex and Aging.
Better Than a Year of Therapy
We have often heard from clients, many of whom themselves are therapists, that our 3-day program is worth more than a year of 45-minute weekly therapy sessions. Come experience what many other couples have found to be a more satisfying, comfortable, private, cost effective, and time-efficient way to nourish or heal your relationship.