Relationship problems can arise from sexual difficulties, but sexual problems may also be an indication of deeper problems in the relationship. Sexual difficulties can emerge at any time, but especially in times of stress and change. Sex essentially is fun and can be one of the great rewards of being together.
While one partner may use the frequency of sex to gauge how he or she is loved and valued, the other may have intimacy as the benchmark. When a couple have 'gone off' sex, it can reveal their deeper attitude to trust, love and control. Is the problem about unsatisfactory sex or does the sexual problem indicate a deeper issue that needs to be explored? Emotional trust is the foundation stone of physical intimacy.
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Signs of a relationship sex issue
- Sex is no longer on the agenda.
- Sex is difficult or painful for one partner.
- Sex causes disappointment.
- One partner has gone off sex.
- Sex is the subject of rows and sulks.
Families pass on unspoken messages about sex which can cause unnecessary distress in couples. Often individuals need to explore their own sexuality away from such pressures.
What feels good and what feels disappointing? Attitudes inherited from childhood or out of ignorance can cause unnecessary misery. Cultural pressure may require a detached and analytical re-examination to allow a couple to make their own rules.
Sometimes traumatic sexual experiences from childhood or past relationships can emerge in a present relationship. With trust these can be explored and resolved.
Causes of sex issues
- physical – due to alcohol, drugs or illness
- aging or loss of self-esteem
- anxieties and Stress
- loss of status or change in circumstances
- betrayal of trust.
When is the right time to seek help for sex issues?
Sexual counselling can be enlightening, as family myths and cultural taboos are explored and debunked. If sex has been exciting at one time, but no longer seems so, why has the change occurred? Has it always been disappointing? In a good relationship, with trained help, there should be the opportunity to find answers.
How can counselling help sex issues?
Relationship counselling can help explore the physical communication and the understanding of what sex means to two particular people. Sex may be mechanical and a way to maintain a safe distance for one person. In such cases, the partner may mourn the lack of intimacy and trust which would allow them to feel safe and enjoy sex.
Withdrawal of sex can happen when a person has no alternative way to express their anger and disappointment – so the forbidden feelings are acted out in the bedroom. Control and power are often issues in difficult sexual relationships as one partner may be unconsciously exerting the control and power they feel they lack outside the bedroom.
If the problem is around a dysfunction, a couple can be referred for psychosexual therapy with a suitably qualified person.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Currently there are no official rules or regulations stipulating what level of training a counsellor dealing with sexual issues needs. There are however several accredited courses, qualifications and workshops available to counsellors to improve their knowledge of a particular area, so for peace of mind you may wish to check to see if they have had further training in psychosexual issues.
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Content written/edited by Denise Pickup BACP (Accred) in 2008. All content displayed on Counselling Directory is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional.
Whilst we endeavor to ensure all information is accurate, Counselling Directory make no representations or warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information included within the website. Any dependence you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
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