Author and Couples Therapist Ester Perel, said that for most couples, “Sex is easier to do, than to talk about.” Those of us raised in the Midwest can probably relate to what Ester Perel’s is saying. Sexual intimacy is not something many of us feel comfortable discussing with one another. Yet honesty and healthy communication between sexual partners is essential to building and maintaining a vibrant, life giving relationship.
As family therapists, we have come across many couples who struggle with sexual intimacy and only get help when it rises to the level of a crisis. The average time it takes before couples seek professional help regarding sexual intimacy issues is approximately 7 years. Unfortunately, by the time the couple finally seeks therapy help in this area, one or both of the couple has already experienced feelings of hurt, discouragement and even despair.
The reality of life is that we are all constantly undergoing change. Everything from the birth, raising and launching of our children, to aging, illness, financial stress and the thousand other events that can happen to us in the course of lifetimes. These life transitions and the stress they can cause often take a toll on our most intimate relationships. Healthy, open and honest communication regarding how our sexual lives are being impacted is essential to building resilience to the inevitable changes life presents to us.
How couples tackle the issues surrounding sexual difficulties sometimes require the help of trained therapists. Dealing with issues of building a shared language regarding sex, learning good communication skills, dissolving past sexual traumas, overcoming shame, low self-esteem, complex family problems, addictions or mental health concerns can all be addressed with the help of a trained family therapist.
Talking about sex It isn’t easy. It requires we confront our fears and the natural inclinations to keep our sexual problems to ourselves. If you’re not already talking, it might be time to start. If you need help or get stuck along the way, we are here to help. Everything you want in your relationship with your loved one is just on the other side of your fear of talking about it.
by Callie Albaugh, LAMFT and Chris Klippen, MA, JD
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