Sexual intimacy plays an important role in our lives. The benefits of a healthy sex life have been linked to stress reduction, improved sleep, immune health, pain reduction, increased self-esteem, and increased closeness to a sexual partner; all-important aspects in living our happiest best lives! Sounds easy enough, have sex and be happy, right? Unfortunately for many, it is not that easy! Myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual intimacy have caused great personal and interpersonal suffering among us for hundreds of years; while stigma, shame, and socialization have created barriers to seeking professional guidance. This detrimental cycle can repeat itself causing conflict in relationships, increased stress, resentment, shame, mental health illness, and poor self-esteem in those who wish for sexual connection with others. Sex therapy can help.
What is Sex Therapy and How Can it Help?
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghNovember 2, 2022 sensate focus, sex therapist, sex therapy, sexual chemistry, sexual wellness, sexuality0 comments
What is Sex Therapy and How Can It Help?
But what is sex therapy and how can it help? Sex therapy provides a compassionate safe space to explore and address medical, psychological, personal, interpersonal, and systemic factors impacting sexual satisfaction. It is a type of talk therapy that helps individuals and/or couples move past physical and psychological challenges and develop fulfilling and pleasurable sexual relationships. Sex therapy addresses your beliefs, experiences, feelings, and concerns using evidence-based techniques in collaboration with the client to help you reach your goals and decrease stress. Some of the sexual concerns addressed in sex therapy include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, paraphilias, desire/interest/arousal concerns, and pelvic pain disorders. Sex and porn addiction are other concerns often addressed by sex therapists. Sexual preferences, kink, and poly communities and those with ‘non-traditional’ relationships can find a safe space to share with sex-positive, compassionate and accepting practitioners.
While disagreements about sex are common and normal phenomena, the following may indicate the need to seek professional help from a sex therapist:
- Escalating and recurring conflicts about sexual frequency or preferences.
- Feelings of not being a priority to your partner.
- Distress, or a decrease in the quality of your life and relationship due to your sexual concerns or dysfunction.
- If you are experiencing a lack of communication, arguments that seem to go in circles, and a loss of connection with your partner.
- Feelings of guilt and shame surrounding sexual preferences or activity.
- Performance anxiety.
Tips to decrease sexual anxiety:
- Make an appointment with your PCP to discuss possible physiological causes. Also, talk to your doctor about any medications you are currently taking and possible side effects that may impact sexual function.
- Be open with your partner. Having an open honest conversation with your partner can help decrease anxiety and increase support and connection.
- Learn to be intimate without sexual intercourse. Give and receive sensual massages, warm baths together, and cuddling without the expectation of intercourse can help reduce anxiety and build connection.
- Progressive muscle relaxation and mindful meditation can help relax the body and mind.
- A sex therapist can help you learn the differences between male and female sexual responses which can help greatly reduce anxiety.
- Most importantly, practice self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up! NO ONE has the sexual prowess being pushed by the media and in porn, and these expectations are unrealistic!
Interested in Sex Therapy?
If you are interested in Sex Therapy, please fill out the form below or call us at 412-322-2129.
Written by: Autumn Walsh (she/her), MSW
Center for Women’s Health. (2021). Center for Women’s Health. OHSU. https://www.ohsu.edu/womens-health/benefits-healthy-sex-life#:~:text=Better%20immune%20system,Decreased%20depression%20and%20anxiety
Hertlein, K. M., Gambescia, N., & Weeks, G. R. (2020). Systemic sex therapy. Routledge.
Holland, K. (2018, June 27). Sex therapy: Couples, techniques, and what does a sex therapist do? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/sex-therapy#how-to-know-if-youneed-it
Stritof, S. (2022). How important is sex in a relationship? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/why-should-you-have-sex-more-often-2300937#:~:text=Sex%20can%20have%20a%20variety,immunity%2C%20and%20better%20cardiac%20health.
No Sexual Chemistry in Your Relationship? Here are some ways that you can talk about it without them taking it personally.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 20, 2019 sexual chemistry, talking to your partner about sex0 comments
What can you do if you and your partner just don’t seem to have good sexual chemistry? Wondering it there are there ways to overcome it? How can you talk to them about it without them taking it personally? If you have ever wondered about the answers to these questions, we have you covered, read on!
Having a great sex life with a partner, assuming you both have already established an interest in each other takes awareness and intention if we are talking about a long term relationship. To enjoy ‘off the charts sexual chemistry’ really means that both you and your partner have compatible needs for sexual frequency, sexual style, that your anatomy is compatible and for many people having some degree of emotional connection also factors in to sexual chemistry. Having a great sex life doesn’t actually start in ‘the bedroom’, at least not when sex is coupled with a long-term relationship. Even if your relationship started with a lot of sexual energy, there is no promising that this will continue in years to come. ‘Habituation’, the tendency for our responses to any stimuli to become dulled or muted with greater frequency of exposure dictates that the same sexual positions and responses which were once wildly arousing will eventually become less arousing.
Good news, There are things that can be done to bring some of the arousal back! If on the other hand the relationship has always lacked sexual passion or chemistry, then think thoroughly by taking an internal assessment of whether the sexual component of the relationship is actually important to you. According to the Kinsey institute, we all have different sexual needs. There are many components to a healthy relationship, sexual intimacy is just one of them. If you are an extremely sexual person and can’t imagine life with less than 5 steamy sex sessions in a week, a relationship with poor sexual chemistry might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy sex but are happy with ones a week or a few times per month, maybe it will be satisfying to maintain a long term relationship with less sexual chemistry as long as you have an intimate conversation with your partner about what is happening between the two of you. Without any sort of mutual understanding about the sexual relationship, it becomes likely that resentment will build over time and start to erode at the other parts the relationship which might otherwise be very nurturing and meaningful.
A great way to start a conversation about the sexual relationship is to; Ask your partner what they think of the sex you have been having! You could be surprised to learn that they too have been struggling with it, or perhaps they have a history or sexual aversion, sexual shame, or a sexual arousal disorder that prevents them from enjoying their full sexual potential. Ask them what turns them on the most and what you can do to make them sexually comfortable. You also might ask if they talked about sex in their family growing up or did they receive a lot of sexually shaming information about how taboo and bad it is to be sexually intimate. You will likely be able to tell if they suffer from sexual shame as the conversation about sex will be palpably difficult for them with stammering, blushing, and bouts of silence. After understanding more about their perceptions of sex and needs for sexual frequency and style of sexual intimacy, share a bit about your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. When we talk about our own needs, we always use constructive language that presents opportunities for understanding and if your partner takes that personally or becomes defensive, there might be something to further explore with a sex therapist or marriage counselor.
An Interview with Stephanie Wijkstrom – Dating Experts Month
Intimacy; The Art of Distance- Musings from a Psychotherapist on Couples Counseling
by Stephanie McCrackenAugust 15, 2014 counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy0 comments
/ˈɪntəməsi/ Show Spelled [in-tuh-muh-see] noun, plural in·ti·ma·cies.
1. The state of being intimate.
2. A close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving relationship with another person or group.
3. A close association with or detailed knowledge or deep understanding of a place, subject.
4. An act or expression serving as a token of familiarity, affection, or the like: to allow the intimacy of using first names.
5. An amorously familiar act.
Those in staunchly well mind and body are often motivated for enjoyment, the want to enjoy good food, good love, and good sex. Most ideally we are able to enjoy closeness with our family and friends, mutual pleasures with ones that we love. Yet it very well may be possible that for all of our satisfied physical urges we may still be missing the ship on nurturing intimacy. You see, while intimacy may be fostered within the context of lovemaking it is most readily sustained within the mundane moments of other parts of the relationship. Intimacy is where all of this “relationship stuff” really melds into a complex interplay, intimacy is the nectar which offers fluidity to our love. The gazing into each other’s eyes, it’s the subtle touch of the arm while walking down the street, it’s the intermingled limbs awaking at dawn, the secrets that you know of each other.
What if I told you that the secret to sustaining intimacy is in how well your relationship tolerates distance? Intimacy may be well known by its opposite which for the intention of this cursory summary, is distance. We and our lover are always in the eternal dance of closeness and distance. We meet at home and spend our lives in different jobs or completing divergent tasks, we may share friends but we have our own as well, we converge and diverge. How close we become as years unfurl around our partner and our self. Yet too, how much can we allow and encourage some space between us before feeling that there is a chasm. Often in psychology we see a range of personality disorders which are challenged by forging emotional closeness and distance in interpersonal relationships. When we allow our partner the safe space to separate autonomously and then reemerge into the sanctity of our love we will often be thanked by abundant closeness.
Imagine this, you go to the grocery store and run into a college friend in the isles, you chat for a while about the pledges of your sorority and are feeling fabulous as you go home to your husband to enjoy a quiet evening together. Your husband is seated brooding when you enter the house, accusations begin to fly about why you are home a half an hour late. “What were you doing? How could you be so thoughtless to not text or call that you would not be on time? Were you with someone else?” Perhaps in years one through three you used to defend and explain but that leads to no solution, over time you shut down and swallow tears, sometimes wondering if you should be doing all of the things that you are accused of, it sure would beat the loneliness of your quiet sulking. Hours later, your husband, feeling guilty for his explosion, eager to close the chasm between you, reaches to touch you and begin making love when you crawl into bed. Now you are brooding and squirm away from his touch, he accuses yet again, “What is wrong with you? Why are you so cold to me?” In his mind he is now certain that you are cheating and you are certain that he is a Neanderthal. The couple exemplified here is suffering greatly the lack of trust and diminished communication among possible other hypothesis. I wonder how different this interaction would look if distance was encouraged between the two? It’s vital to remember that the moment that we step out of the habit of encouraging our partners autonomy and space we become something different and distance will inevitably begin to replace our longed for closeness.
Its most important to keep in mind that a relationship is made up of multiple components and the way that you and your partner are relating is an ever malleable matrix, influenced and influencing a multiplicity of domains from the physical, emotional, psychological, social, spiritual to name a few. With this in mind, hold fast to hope. The maintenance of a marriage or relationship occurs by a specific skillset which for some of us is natural while for others it may take a bit of work, like all aspects of our relational style we can always learn how to do better. If you are a part of a romantic relationship or if you are thinking back to other relationships, you may want to ask yourself, how well do you and your partner relish distance and what does that do to the intimacy between the two of you? A little intimate secret for you is that we can only allow to come close that which is existent within from its own context, from its very unique and nurturing distance.
In love and light,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy 1010 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233 Suite 100
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
“Birds and The Bees Redux; Sex Talk, A Psychotherapists Perspective”
by Stephanie McCrackenAugust 4, 2014 counseling, couples counseling, marriage counseling, psychology, psychotherapy, sexuality0 comments
“Birds and The Bees Redux; Sex therapy, Psycho-therapuetic perspective ”
Seduction, Eroticism, Arousal, Desire, Consent, Sex, Orgasm, Connection. How do you perceive those words? Are they lurid? Dirty? Enchanting? How intimately do you introspect upon your very own sensual conduct or is this a thought so frighteningly formidable that consideration is cast towards the shadows, remaining beneath a dark veil? Perhaps you dear reader, are thinking, why all of the sex talk, this psychotherapist could have picked a more comfortable topic, any other formation of words strung to sentences in the direction of a cogent thought. Hone in on your emotional, physical, and psychological reaction in reading these words right now. If these words bring about discomfort for you, there might be something worth exploring with a sex therapist.
Comfort with sensual talk, the vocabulary that we use to discuss and imagine physical intimacy is embedded in the furthest reaches of our psychological development. As all mental health therapists recognize, our thoughts are closely related to where and how we received our first sexual educations all the way back in childhood. If you are like most people your sexual understanding may have been born from some dim intimation, if you reach back to childhood you will remember that these early messages tend to be more forbidding then uplifting towards a budding understanding of sex. In the school classroom we are doled out some cautionary tales about the dangers of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. “Wear a condom” “No means No.” While all of this in its own perspective is valid and true maybe we are missing a lesson in there. Still yet, in the sermon of the major religious teachings we are chastely instructed to not engage in damning premarital sex and only for procreations purposes. Outside of suggesting chastity and the prevention of disease did anyone ever share the sex positive information about the beauty and grandeur of “it?” The cosmic, interpersonal, relational meaning of the merging of body parts leading to physical connection? While billboards allude to sensually explicit material, within American homes it’s not just the kids who are often missing opportunities to have frank discourse about sex but husbands and wives too shy away from conversations about their own sexual relationship simply because the topic is shrouded in taboo. Without examining all of the manners that sex can be dysfunctional, perhaps the world hears more than enough of that sort of message, for today, shall we enjoy a more pleasurable encounter wondering about the aspirational hope and joy of our sexual selves!
Over and above economies which have been created to bolster our sexual essence such as lingerie and cologne and cultivating our bodies, we can best serve our higher selves by exploring the deeper fleshy meaning of the very act of sex. Standing bare and uncloaked it is indeed the meaning which appears, the essence beyond evolutionary longings to procreate, we are thirsted with the vital human need for connection, for intimate thirst. We manifest our need for connection with increasingly expanded abilities to connect actually, virtually, reshaping the present and future. It’s socially common to even connect on the web to other people’s sexual escapades via red tube and interactive porn. Yet still, there is often something lost within such mediums, the human essence evades digital transmission or perhaps it is a divergent longing to entertain our sensual longings through such means. Yet I digress, and this is not about the many, many, ways that sexual longing can be pathological but the ways in which it is an essential and elevated expression of tangible expressions, the converging communion. Sex is indeed one of the most concrete interplays which brings emotional love to life to meet physical body and spirit, metaphorically and literally indeed. In the quest of a sex positive message may we consider the unique question of how we bring our love to life, how do we foster a sense of connection physically and emotionally, how do we esteem our sexual selves? Have we fallen victim to shaming by a sexually uncomfortable society which wishes to expand its repertoire of sexual innuendo without upholding blissful and loving sexual interaction?
Exactly how much elevation are we able to achieve through our sex as we revere it in the eternal crescendo of our ancient and primordial lusting and life giving urges. We sustain the a connection and deep communion with our past, present, and future selves while merging with the same in our lover, like the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees, just a thing called sex.
In loving intention,
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Ave
Pittsburgh PA 15233
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Avenue Suite 100
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
enjoy other articles from this writer on the sexual topics such as http://revivingmindstherapy.com/long-term-sex-for-long-term-love/
Bisexuality, Examining The Facts; A Weekend of Pride
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 13, 2014 couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychology, sexuality0 comments
“All great novels, all true novels, are bisexual.” Milan Kundera
With the kickoff of Gay Pride weekend, sexual orientation is something that may be on the minds of many here in Pittsburgh. Particularly I would like to examine the nature of bisexuality, as some may call it, “one foot in/one foot out” or as other scholars may tend to think, a more realistic reflection of the nature of sexual attraction? We all can recall the intonations of female pop singers who declare “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” Thank you Katy Perry, but it seems you aren’t the only one! No discussion of sexual behavior can begin without the mention of Mr. Alfred Kinsey, of whom some of the more savvy readers or psychologically studied may already be quite familiar. The 1948-52 benchmark study which examined things such as subject’s sexual behavior and sexual attraction. Findings conclude that 10% of the population is admittedly homosexual with as many as 33-46% exhibiting some bisexual tendencies. Interestingly the outliers are those who note complete homo or heterosexuality, according to Alfred Kinsey’s renowned study, Bisexual thought and feeling is more normative than entirely homo or hetero orientation. (Kinsey, 1948) Given these statistics, for what reason does the bisexual orientation hold a precarious position within the thoughts of both hetero and homosexual lexicons, in fact more recently some are seeking to oust bisexuality as a valid sexual orientation.
In working with psychotherapy clients in my private practice, I have had many clients “come out” as bisexual, I am often one of the only people with whom an individual has shared such news. In addition to exploring this with the client, there may often be an internally stigmatizing effects for what had formerly been “a secret.” Could easily enter into a litany concerning how important it is to promote openness regarding a human’s ability to be whatever it is that we may be, along the colorful spectrum of plausible identities and modes of being. Yet there is sometimes an understandable kernel of shame for some men and women regarding their own exploration of same sex behavior, this may be particularly true for those who now report being heterosexual but have had a homosexual experience within sexual exploration in years past.
It is important to draw a distinction between sexual attraction, sexual behavior or contact, sexual identity. In more recent studies, according to the Kinsey institute “Data collected from a national sample of 13,495 men and women between 2006 and 2008. The study attempted to differentiate between sexual attraction, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as homosexual ranged from 2% to 4% of males, and about 1% to 2% of females. The percentage reporting their sexual identity as bisexual is between 1% and 3% of males, and 2% to 5% of females. About 4%–6% of males ever had same-sex contact. For females, the percentage who have ever had same-sex contact ranges from about 4% in the GSS, to 11%–12% in the 2002 and 2006–2008 NSFG.”
In working with Bisexual clients it is a trend where some individuals report having experienced criticism from hetero or homo sexual long term partners for having participated in same sex relationships in the past. Simultaneously, some men and women report that they have been emotionally injured by jealous accusations wondering if they are able to have plutonic friendships with same sex acquaintances. There seems to be something about bisexuality which encourages some to presume that with the declaration of this sexual orientation one suddenly has become an insatiable sex addict rather than an open and explorative human. Yet, this is in startling contrast to Kinsey’s work which proclaims there are many bisexual men and women in the population. Once again, I wonder at the gap which exists between the reportedly significant number of bisexually oriented number of men and woman in the greater population. Stigmatizing effects may be greater for men than woman as there is a cultural phenomenon which seems to allow for women to be more intimate in their interactions with other women, perhaps remnants from the mother being the earlier caregiver and expected to be physically nurturing. Males may have an idea that their sexuality is less malleable as men one average relate in a contrasting way compared to women, despite the multitude of ways that this may be injurious to both genders.
What does all of this mean, well the take away point is that bisexuality is a valid orientation. Sexual orientation is in fact a malleable proffering yet we must as a culture, a city, be mindful of how much pride is afforded for those who exercise sexual, sensual, and loving freedom of being. How much shame can we turn towards bold and loving glory? In sharing peace, and love for what has been a benchmark year in Pennsylvania with the granting of marriage equality for ALL LOVERS TO UNITE becoming husband and husband and wife and wife! What a glorious opportunity and brightening of the future for all! If you would like to celebrate this weekend journey out and show your support for equal rights and equal love, check out this link which will lead you to the extensive list of Pittsburgh Pride events! http://www.pittsburghpride.org/
In loving equality,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
Error: Contact form not found.
Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., and Martin, C. (1948). Sexual Behavior in the Human Male. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders. Kinsey, A., Pomeroy, W., Martin, C., and Gebhard, P. (1953). Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.
Why Searching for a Soul Mate is Damning to Love and Other Thoughts on Marriage Counseling
by Stephanie McCrackenFebruary 4, 2014 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, personal growth, psychotherapy, Uncategorized0 comments
Why Searching for a Soul Mate is Damning to Love
“Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling, it is a practice.”
― Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving
Soul mates, the stuff of fantasies, dreams come true, love at first sight and also quite likely among the reasons you may find yourself hurling towards disappointment when encountering real life love! A soul mate is a notion born from Christianity, the story is simple; at one time all souls frolicked in their natural and divine state of male female merger, we were celestial and reflecting wholeness. Then our souls were ripped apart and cast down to the earth leaving us with a longing which can only be subsided by the reunion of ourselves with our one “other half”. An interesting fact is that the western world nations practicing Christianity and love marriages suffer from exorbitantly high divorce rates compared to nations which may have practiced arranged marriages where the emphasis becomes working towards harmony.
A soul mate unintentionally dismisses the actual and expansive realities of true love by instead distracting a would-be lover with damaging beliefs such as “love at first sight.” In the soul mate version of love, emptiness and longing are the implications of living without ones eternal mate and the only remedy appears as the divine salve upon having found ones soul mate. When pirouetting from life’s various stages, including romantic encounters one may easily fall susceptible to the guise that wholeness has been reached, sustaining the faulty belief that the soul has become whole in those first throes of ecstatic merger. I assure you that any relationship which is built upon the understanding that perfection will be reached by the merging of two halfs, falsely acting upon the understanding that wholeness is only sustained by consolidating two empty jars; any such union will erode and suffer from disappointment and ensuing bitter resentment among a host of other maladies. Do not despair for this is no argument against love, this is a cautionary semblance meant to yield the reader towards a more mature and viable assembly of the hearts potential melodic chord!
I do not want to execute your love but I do want to help you to develop realistic expectations for romance and loving feelings. Love is not a magical act whereby to opposites attract or two fateful spirits find their missing piece. The act of loving is a skill set, to love is a verb implying that there is some action, exertion of effort, a labor of love indeed. Thus far we have established that love takes work and love requires two whole parts. A loving union offers many challenges but its rewards are tenfold. How does one find the harmonious chord when bringing together two humans with their own unique set of wants, needs, values, manners of loving and being? The answer is carefully, mindfully, and with intention.
Ways to move beyond the notion of soul mate and develop strong and healthy relationships
Approach from wholeness Feeling sad, lonely, inadequate? These are not places from which a healthy relationship can be born, a “soul mate” meant to complete your empty parts is a set up for failure. Equally for all of the white knights and Florence Nightingales, it may somehow speak to your fractured psyche to purchase a fixer upper but saving someone else or teaching them art of living skills will inevitably be dehumanizing and resentment building for both parties. The best we can ever do is to hone our own self-worth, know our ever evolving abilities and work to create some confidence in them so that we can enjoy sharing those attributes with others who can extend the very same!
Love takes work One must be willing to exert effort in the creation of a smooth and solid relationship. This will require you to leave behind the infantile suggestion of perfect mergers manifested by the divine, the stuff of this world requires honing interpersonal skills, speaking and being authentically, embodying compassion, trust, care, believe, compromise, caress, challenge. The list could go on forever indeed but I am sure most of you are already aware of that!
Know thy self, Socrates may have been the first to mention, the unexamined life is not worth living! Get to know yourself and develop a strong loving relationship with you! If you are hiding a ton of shame or uncertainties about the car you drive, your job, your interests and you want to create a relationship with someone able to “show you the way” then I assure you that even if you do meet a potential love match you will be starting the relationship off on shaky ground. Have respect for your unique being and as you become better equipped to share your presence authentically you will be far more likely to create similar relationships, the kind based on mutual likes, passions, values, and respect.
Don’t expect too much but never settle Sometimes settling may mean allowing the relationship or the self to fall into deterioration during the course of long term togetherness. Nurturing love requires one to constantly grow, maintain physical, emotional, spiritual growth. That which remains stagnant and rigid is bound to break but that which eternally renews shall remain strong and vital like the river flowing.
Forget about finding the perfect fairy tale lover, evolve into the best “YOU” Often in relationships men and women tirelessly search for that other who will allow the harmony and happiness to flow into their life. Yet beyond creating love based upon compatible personality, values, and interests that which prohibits the loving union is often to be found within our very own selves. As Rumi so profoundly proffers “Seek not for love but to remove all of the barriers within oneself which prevent it.”
I leave you with this contemplation, what part of you can be removed so that you my friends and readers are best able to share a love?
With a warm heart and lots of love,
Stephanie M McCracken MSPC
Reviving Minds Therapy
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Long Term Sex, for Long Term Love, Tips to add Spark to Sexual Intimacy- Marriage Counseling and Beyond
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 26, 2013 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy, sensate focus, sexuality, Uncategorized0 comments
Long term relationships, life time marriages ; Tips To Add Spark To Sexual Intimacy
Idyllic harmonious encounters of two souls forever become one, ahh…sounds so lovely, and it can be. Yet, reality settles in and our fantasy love becomes peppered with disappointments, disagreements, and challenges of surviving in a world that is at times unjust. For those who are able to make a loving partnership work, the bliss and benefits are at times extraordinarily beautiful, even promising greater wellness and longevity for people who are a part of a healthy committed relationship. There are many tips and methods which can help a couple mesh their various conflict resolution patterns and styles of loving which will create a happy ending after all. Yet, even those couples who are able to remain attached into the deeper phases of loving matrimony are not in the clear as time itself exerts a considerable amount of influence upon our behaviors and even our biology. Time causes us to become “habituated” to our mates, to use a scientific term. The term habituation is an important one, it means that all of those exciting feelings that we once derived from our partner’s presence are replaced with sensations of comfort. Literally that man or woman who was once the source of a quickening heart is now a source of a calm and comforting feeling, their presence is soothing. Like all things, habituation is at times a blessing but can also be a burden. Someone whose mere presence provides calm and comfort sounds divine, however sexually this can potentially be a source of trouble. When it comes to the bedroom biology will require that our pulses quicken and that blood flow heighten, this may be even more important for males whereas females can potentially experience greater arousal as they become more soothed. Are you a couple and have found yourself recently entering a sensual slump or are in a long term pattern of doing it less than is desirable for you? Keep in mind that there really is not a magic number for how many times a week or month is the ideal number of times for love making. Some couples may be content to enjoy sex a few times a month while others enjoy sex several times a week. The key point is that you and your partner know what is best for you individually and collectively. Taking that into account, if you are past the honeymoon phase and noticing a sexual shift, here are some tips for men and women to use, to combat the effects of time.
1) Cast aside routine. You probably have plenty of routine in the rest of your life so keep those outside of the bedroom. In fact, for some couples who are experiencing lower sexual arousal making an effort to make love in a different room of the house is a helpful tip to renew once felt passion. You may even want to consider spending the night in a hotel or taking a long weekend, enjoying you physical bond in a different setting may be just the trick to break the spell of habituation.
2) More on routine, it is easy to get stuck in a sexual rut by performing the same sexual position time after time but this will squelch your sexual passion quickly. Dare to try something new! Yes, it can be frightening to step outside of yourself and into something different but maintaining the same script every time you and your partner jump into the sack may be just as frightening. Fortunately, we live in the technological era and there are countless online and professional resources which will explain a million other contortions to enjoy your physical bond. Study something like tantra to add to your imagination.
3) Resolve emotional conflicts. This is a big one, the longer you remain together, the more time exists to build up unresolved emotional issues. Emotional conflict will wreak havoc on your sexual connection. Often our hurts, our resentments and all of the other things that inevitably happen as lines of communication and understanding become crossed, crop up in other parts of our behavior. Therapists hear many stories being recounted over and again from couple to couple, battles being reenacted in the sexual relationship as a pattern of one or both partners begin withholding sex. The best way to combat this is to resolve those emotional issues, adopt different manners of communication, it takes work but the relationship that can be achieved when you put in the time is well worth the effort.
4) Make time to make love! It is commonplace to be consumed in work, children, and finances that we literally forget how important it is to carve out some time for physical bonding with our partners. With so many other things placing demands on our attention, sometimes we view our partner as being “the person who will always be there tomorrow”, if they are there tomorrow the demands of the night doesn’t always elicit due urgency. I will beckon urgency for you, make time to regularly make love, it is every bit as important as driving the kids to soccer practice and dropping the mortgage in the mail.
5) Take care of your physical health, when we exercise and eat well, we feel our best and when we feel our best, our sexual energy is higher. The human body is a spectacular thing that can endure well into old age but only if we are kind to ourselves by nurturing our mind, body, spirit with quality nutrients and oxygen. If you are struggling with sexual arousal, sexual desire, orgasm, or a sexual pain disorder, you should seek sex therapy or a medical evaluation. By caring for yourself, you have mastered one of the best predictors of having a quality sexual relationship with your mate into octogenarian-hood.
One final note, sudden decreased sexual desire or sexual response can sometimes occur with other symptoms related to certain conditions such as depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, or even emotions such as low self-esteem or as a result of trauma or attachment related issues- this list is by no means exhaustive and is no substitute for medical or psychological help.
In health and bliss,
Stephanie M. Wijkstrom, LPC, NCC
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15233
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233