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Sex Therapy: Why is it so hard to get on the same page?
Sex Therapy: Why can’t we get on the same page about sex?
If you are married or in a relationship, you may have heard of sex therapy. Sex is a common concern for couples. There are many reasons why you might have frustrations when it comes to sex. You might struggle to find opportunities for sex with your partner. Maybe you are too busy. Or maybe you never seem to be in the mood and interested at the same time. (Related article: Do We Need Sex Therapy?).
So, how do you solve relationship issues about sex and desire? Can you just fix your sex drive? Or talk yourself into wanting more sex? The answer is complicated. (Related Article: Building Emotional Intimacy). Today, yo u will learn about the mechanics of how desire and arousal work, and how to apply it in your own relationship.
Excitement and Inhibition
To start, you might want to think about sexual desire like your car. Your car has a gas pedal and a break pedal. Similarly, you have something in your brain called the SIS and SES response. SIS inhibits your desire to have sex. SES increases your desire for sex. (Source). You might know some examples of SES off the top of your head. There are likely specific things that turn you on to sex or get you more excited and motivated about having sex.
Many people focus on only the excitatory part of desire when it comes to figuring out sexual dysfunction in their relationship. It is easy to forget the role of SIS in sexual desire. But, sexual inhibition can be just as much of a challenge as creating desire in your marriage. (Related article: How to Communicate Effectively).
Taking Your Foot off the Break
For instance, let’s say that your desire inhibits when you and your partner try to have sex mid-day. You are worried about your neighbor hearing something, since they work from home. But, your spouse tends to feel more interested in sex mid-day, because that is when he is usually on lunch break, and enjoys that intimate time together before he heads back to finish the work day. Now you have competing motivations that work against each other. You are on the break, and he is on the gas. And the result is, well, you probably didn’t have sex at all. (Related article: Marriage Problems-Sex).
Here’s another good example I’ve heard about this idea. Let’s say that you enjoy having sex in response to feeling stressed. The experience of intimacy helps you decompress and calm down so you can more easily manage your stress. However, when your partner is stressed, they tend to avoid sex at all costs. See the problem? If you have your foot on a break, sure, you can still press down on the gas, but you still won’t have the most effective results. If you only focus on fixing desire without also fixing the things that hold you back from sex, then you will likely only find frustration. (Related article: Three Principles of Emotional Health).
A Dual Focus
So, the most effective way to improve your sex life is to give a little attention to both the things that encourage you to have sex and the things that may hold you back. This can be achieved in many different ways, depending on the specific factors that impact your sexual desire and hesitation. And some approaches may even help both sides. (Related article: Marriage Intimacy- Reconnecting). For example, continually working to improve trust and communication in your relationship is very likely to improve both your desire to be intimate with your partner as well as lower defenses you may put up when it comes to sex.
Sex Therapy: Getting Started
Does this still sound overwhelming? Maybe you have a hard time identifying those triggers for excitement and inhibition in your sex life. Thankfully, that is normal. Noticing and confronting the different components of sex can be hard to spot, especially from your own point of view. That’s where sex therapy, couples therapy, and individual therapy can be great tools for improving your sex life. Your therapist can help you spot the gas and the break when it comes to your sex life, and can give you helpful strategies for confronting those issues, both as a couple and even individually. Ready to get started? Schedule a counseling appointment with us today in Orem, South Jordan, or Spanish Fork.
Written by Lauren Adkins