Whatever has happened to sex?
Usually in the first 18 months of a new relationship we are discovering things in common or intriguing differences in background and values and the chemistry with our new partner. Maybe we still have our illusions that there is a perfect person for us and may be this is the one. Preparing for a date, the build up and the excitement stay in the mind from one date to another. On the day the anticipation mounts and we are often in a heightened state before that first kiss. What is more natural than to make love under these circumstances?
Roll the clock forward and it was the right person, and you have set up home together, maybe married, but... you haven’t been sexual with one another for a while, in fact maybe for a long while. There never seems to be the right time and there are things that have become awkward and you can’t talk about them, you avoid situations where you might be close. You may feel exhausted by work and chores, you or your partner may snore and you might even feel resentful or turned off by some behaviour. It may be none of these reasons but you just don’t feel the way you think you should.
This is much more common than you would think. In fact I would say it is an epidemic, but then as a sexual and relationship counsellor I am more likely to hear about this issue from people. Compare the first paragraph with the inglorious events of an ordinary day. You may both be preoccupied with what has to be done during the day ahead, shouting at the children, rushing to get ready and out of the house. A swift goodbye, if that. Coming home and doing the evening chores just in time for an hour of television and then bed. All that is in your mind is blissful sleep. How much nurturing or anticipation of sex has had a look in?
And it isn’t just busy people with children. Many young couples don’t make love. It occurs with couples in all types of relationship and age groups.
If this bothers you then what is to be done?
For a start there is a brilliant book called “Rekindling Desire. A Step by Step Program to Help Low-sex and No Sex Marriages” by Barry and Emily McCarthy. This covers several issues including:
Part one - “Understanding". Featuring five chapters including ‘Why do Couples Experience a Dead End to Desire?” and “Turnoffs: Poisons for Sexual Desire”.
Part two - “Changing”. Five chapters looking into “Nurturing Anticipation – Bridges to Sexual Desire” and “Making it Special – Creating Erotic Scenarios".
Part three - “Preventing Relapse”, with four chapters including “Keeping it Vital” and “Lusting for Life – The Erotic Marriage”.
The authors recommend that couples read the book together because it gets the discussion going as you find descriptions that put in to words what you’ve been feeling. They also recommend that you find a counsellor to help you to progress. This might not be necessary but if you hit a glitch then it is practical to find someone to help you understand yourselves and to keep you on course.
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About Brenda Clowes
Couples Counselling and Sexual Therapy are my main areas of work (I trained with Relate in Marriage Guidance, adding Sex Therapy and Infertility Counselling qualifications). Making a decision to come together is a big first step but if your partner is uncertain or unwilling to come I will see you alone so that you can speak about things from your side of the picture. Often partners soften w… Read more
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