If we don’t have intimacy, is that really a sex problem?



If we don’t have intimacy, is that really a sex problem?

Has the sex in your relationship diminished to an almost non-existent state? Or is the sex you expect to have with partner going to be disappointing and unsatisfying? Have you tried to talk about the lack of sex only to feel more hopeless and disconnected? Are you the one doing the turning down all the time and just don’t feel like you can honestly and openly speak to partner about why that is? Or maybe you are the person doing all the asking and the constant rejection has affected your confidence and desire to ask.

Many times, lack of sex and then lack of intimacy and closeness in a relationship can feel like a chicken and the egg story. It is often difficult to tell which came first, the lack of intimacy that caused the lack of sex, or the lack of sex that lead to the overall lack of intimacy.

Such challenges about the interplay between intimacy and sex are challenge for most couples. If you are like most couples, you probably sweep it under the proverbial carpet and just hope it will fix itself. If you are like many of the clients that I have helped in the past, you have problem gone through this similar pattern:

The asker pattern:

If you are the asker or the one taking an active role in trying to initiate sex, you will have first started with yourself. You will have tried to exercise, change your appearance or clothing. You will ask your partner more and offer creative ways to have sex. You will do research and buy books that you suggest for each of you to read. You may even see a doctor. When all that fails, you will decide that you are not the problem. You will like turn to your rejecting partner out of frustration and tell them they need to get it fixed or seek help. You will be warning them it can’t continue. You will go down a path of deep hurt and rejection and often confusion and shame, not understanding what is going on.

The rejector pattern:

If you are the one being asked all the time and turning down, you may keep hoping that this will go away. You probably don’t feel like talking about it and are probably busy with work or preoccupied. You may or may not still love your partner and this affects your desire. You are probably blocking issues and concerns that you, yourself don’t completely understanding about your desire for sex. Or it may be that you have tried, unsuccessfully to talk to your partner in the past, but that resulted in bad fights that you want to avoid.

Eventually one or both people will come to my office after several years of suffering.

If any part of this seems familiar, here are some things to consider:

All sexual matters are a couple issue. Sex is part of the marriage contract. It is something couples do together. It is not a service one provides the other. Therefore, seeking help together is critical.  If one person has an erection issue, that is a couple issue not the man’s problem. If the woman has difficulty having intercourse, that is a couple issue, not her issue. The biggest mistake couples make is seeing sex as either “my problem or your problem”.  Sex is a couple issue and as such, regardless of what is wrong, it is couple issue. The best approach is to come in together.

Another consideration is that sex is not about the “doing” but rather about how we want to feel. To -many couples go down the “doing” path. This usually leads to a non-productive outcome. In therapy we explore how people want to feel and more importantly how the conceptualize sex. Many people have incorrect or just simple wrong ideas about sex.

Lastly, many people are missing intimacy, fun and closeness in their overall relationship. They have broken down in communication and perhaps life goals. After children, many couples suffer to find their footing as a couple post-children. Problems outside the bedroom greatly impact sex. But this is not a sex problem. Sex does not bring intimacy, fun, closeness but rather is an expression of those things. If you are lacking intimacy this is not necessarily a sex problem, but rather lack of sex is a consequence.

Therapy helps couples to explore news ways to think about sex to address issues of intimacy and couple issues.  Therapy is not about finding new ways to do it but rather help couples develop the thinking, feeling and communication ability to have the sex life that is realistic for them.

If you would like to learn more, contact All in the Family Counselling Centre Pte Ltd. to arrange for an initial consultation. Preferred communication is via WhatsApp at +6590307239 or email at tammy @ allinthefamilycounselling DOT COM

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