Sex and physical intimacy is an important part of a relationship. When it is not there, it can greatly impact the bond between a couple.
A major relationship issue that we see is related to sex. When clients start therapy for sexual related issues, we need to determine whether it is related to issues in the relationship, a lack of connection, or if it is physical. Here are some things that we explore when intimacy is gone out of a relationship.
Is it a Lack of Connection?
Sometimes a lack of physical connection stems from a lack of emotional connection. When our emotional connection is high with our partners, physical connection is typically not an issue. When you think back to the beginning of your relationship, it was probably fun and exciting. You anticipated the moments you’d get to talk or see each other. With the newness of the relationship, sexual connection is typically good. The beginning of a relationship creates an adrenaline rush!
As the relationship progresses, you may face obstacles, misunderstandings, and miscommunication. Sometimes you are on the same page and other times you clash. You unintentionally disappoint your partner or let them down, and this can create emotional upset or heartache. As your relationship gets fractured, so can the connection between you. As you drift apart, the motivation and drive for sex and physical intimacy diminishes.
Once emotional connection and injuries are repaired, the sexual connection typically returns. For many of our clients at the Vaughan Relationship Centre, they see sexual intimacy improve when they re-establish a bond and repair relationship injuries.
Women and Sex: It feels like another thing to do!
Many women report feeling overworked in the relationship. They feel they need to keep track of the calendar, the kids’ needs, grocery lists, work responsibilities and from this they feel mentally and physically exhausted. All this stress can create a lower sex drive and lack of motivation. It feels like another thing to do! If you want your partner to feel more motivated sexually, take some of the load off. Offer to take the kids to the hockey game, hire someone to clean the house, or just ask…what do you need me to do? As the load is taken off, you may see a different woman.
Men and Sex: Rather watch the game!
We see more and more men report how unmotivated they are sexually. This is something that is not discussed in society and seems taboo. Many men feeling taxed at the end of the day and as a result have a decreased sex drive. When they do engage in sex, they may face performance issues that may feel shameful. Many men tell us that they feel their partners can be critical of them inside and outside of the bedroom. This creates feelings of helplessness, frustration, and disconnection. Just like women, many men need an emotional connection to engage in sex. So, if you want your partner to feel motivated, communicate, and understand their needs, improve emotional connection, and repair emotional injuries.
“Stage Freight”, Anxiety, and Pain: Managing the Physical
You feel your emotional connection is great, but the physical intimacy is not. Sometimes, sexual disconnect can be related to physical changes in our body. As we age, our hormone levels change and this can impact drive, as well as muscles and tissues in our body. Stress can also impact hormone levels. With the demand of life, work, and family, many people find themselves under chronic levels of stress.
We advise both our female and male clients to speak to their doctor and have their hormone levels checked. Both men and women have testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, but the levels are different. Talk to your physician to ensure your levels are what they need to be for you.
For performance issues, we discuss the mental blocks and how partners can be supportive. We encourage both partners to practice patience. Frustration on either side will only perpetuate the issue. In therapy, we may explore the negative thoughts you may be saying to yourself during sex and finding ways to relax to enjoy sex again.
Many women report pain during sex, especially after childbirth or trauma. For pain, we suggest women see a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can do wonders in this area. You can also speak to your gynecologist for some support too. There are several tips and tricks to work around physical issues.
Once medical tests have been exhausted, we can look at the mental blocks, such as ideas about sex, body image issues, pressure you are putting on the performance. We typically suggest to our clients that intercourse take a back seat for a short period of time and have couples explore different way to connect physically and intimately.
Should sex be planned or spontaneous?
Well, I got some bad news for you…sex is not like the movies, and most of the time, it is very much planned. Do you remember when you first started dating, you would make sure you were cleaned up, made sure you had protection, or took your pill? You thought about when you would see your partner and probably anticipated sex. Well…that is all planned, even if you did not think it wasn’t! As you get more entrenched in your relationship and bogged down with the daily grind, sex then needs to be “put on the list” and planned. You can start with scheduling sex, every Saturday for instance. Once there becomes some routine, you may find yourself having some spontaneous unscheduled sessions!
If you are finding that the lack of connection is creating a lack of sexual connection, connect with our therapists at the Vaughan Relationship Centre. We will provide a safe environment to discuss these delicate and intimate details to improve your relationship.