I have found working with couples that when I hear “intimacy issues,” most of the time that means sex. Disconnection in the bedroom is very common in long-term relationships. One person wants sex more, the other wants it less. When you do have sex, it might feel robotic or mechanical. And it can feel isolating. Because sex is so private and personal, we do not talk about it. And since no one is talking about it, you might feel very isolated in your struggles. So here are some thoughts on getting over the hump together
Physically Take Care of Yourself
This is one of the slightly more obvious points. But it does not go well when you try to have sex even though you are not feeling sexy. Here is a great study that tells you a little more about how your body image lines up with sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction. Sex feels more natural when you feel good about yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, you do not have to look like you stepped out of a superhero movie to have a good sex life. I am saying that you want to be in an overall positive place with how you view yourself. Increasing your activity/exercise level even slightly can make a big difference. Keeping healthy sleep habits can also be helpful too. Sex does take physical energy that you might not have if you are running on empty.
There are Different Kinds of Desire
No one trains us on how to communicate our longing for our partner. So sometimes sexual desire just does not get communicated about. You might be the one who always initiates sex. You might be struggling with feeling rejected. Why does it always feel like I want them more than they want me?
There is a difference between spontaneous and responsive sexual desire. Spontaneous desire is the kind that typically leads to someone initiating sex. Responsive desire refers to when you feel aroused by a sexual advance made by your partner. Neither is more valid or better than the other, they are just different.
If you find yourself more on the spontaneous side of things, it is important to remember that just because your partner did not initiate sex, that does not mean that they do not feel desire for you.
Talk During Sex
I think it is obvious at this point that I am a big proponent about talking more openly about sex. I am also a big proponent of talking during sex. Talk to each other about what feels good. Tell your partner when they do something you like. Communicate about what you want and what turns you on.
You might struggle with talking during sex. You might feel self-conscious, or to out of touch with your own body to talk about what you are feeling. If this is the case, here is something you can try with your partner. Take turns giving each other a massage. Stay away from erogenous zones, and just focus on giving a nice massage. Then, the person receiving the massage needs to talk all while getting a massage. Talk about what feels good, more pressure, less pressure, etc. Get comfortable just focusing on your own physical experience, and talking to your partner about what feels good.
If you are struggling with your sexual connection with your partner, give The Marriage & Family Clinic a call.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado.