Statistically, sex is among the top 5 things that couples fight about and is one of the touchiest topics in most relationships. More than almost any other, this is an area where we see communication being most difficult for couples.
A healthy sex life in a committed partnership requires intimacy and vulnerability on a level that most couples are just completely uncomfortable with and people, in general, are a lot more likely to pretend they are satisfied with the situation than to speak up about it to make a change.
Sex as it is experienced in the dating world (and even early on in relationships) is usually the farthest thing from actual intimacy, so when the relationship reaches a point where true intimacy is what is needed, we usually don't know what to do about it or even how to get there.
This is where a couple will often see their sex-life die. And because they don't know how to process this together in healthy ways, they develop an emotional distance and even resentment because of it.
Truly, sexual intimacy is one of the most important ways that we affirm Love and connection in an intimate partnership and when this is missing or challenging, every other aspect of the relationship will likely be affected by it.
If you want a thriving relationship, this is an area that cannot be avoided and you'll have to create some situation in which both partners are satisfied and happy. This post is designed to be a guide for navigating this challenging situation using the tools we've developed through years of coaching individuals and couples.
#1 You have to recognize that your sex life will, as will everything else about the relationship, change over time.
Most relationships follow a natural progression around sex that looks something like this: A lot in the beginning, followed by less and sometimes none at all. Certainly, there are variations to this, but most couples can relate.
This is not a negative thing. In fact, couples who cling to the way it was early on are usually in for a lot of trouble as all relationships will go through many changes and evolutions and you have to learn to adapt to them together. It's important though that these transitions are made consciously and with good communication addressing the needs of both partners so that one or both partners don't feel disregarded.
The challenge here is that when your sex life begins to change, you, your partner, or both begin to think that means that something is wrong. This first change usually takes place somewhere in the 3-6 month period, at which point, you most likely have not become expert communicators with each other.
Asking for what you need in any area of a relationship can be extremely challenging, but asking for what you need in a sexual way, can multiply that challenge by 100 or more. Especially when we consider the amount of shame around sex that is propagated in our society, many people are unwilling to even admit they have sexual needs.
What often happens at this point is that open communication gets shut down and we revert to less healthy ways of attempting to get what we want and need, i.e. passive-aggressiveness, picking fights, making quippy comments, and so on.
Couples who do not develop more healthy ways of getting through this together will either split up or end up living in resignation in an unfulfilling partnership.
Part of a healthy relationship is accepting all aspects and needs of your partner. Their sexual needs are valid and important and if they're not considered, your relationship will suffer.
To allow your sex life to grow and heal, you have to have a mutual recognition that you both have needs in this area and learn to discuss and communicate those needs openly with each other. No matter how uncomfortable this may be, do not avoid or disregard discussing these things together.
One of the services we offer is in creating an environment where you can have these discussions together and we help to mediate them. For more information on that, click here.
#2 A healthy Sex Life requires effort. Be willing to give that to your relationship.
The fact is that in the beginning, sex comes easily and naturally but as time goes on, it requires more effort. Again, this is not a bad thing, but if it is not acknowledged and addressed directly it will lead to a lot of confusion and frustration between both partners.
In this way, sex is not much different than other aspects of a relationship. In the beginning, most things come easy. As time goes on, your relationship will always require a higher level of intention and effort to sustain a healthy environment. This is what makes the difference between couples who succeed and those who don't.
The fact that the success of your sex-life (and the relationship) is requiring a greater level of effort from you both is not a problem, it's an opportunity--an opportunity to demonstrate your Love and commitment to each other and deepen the connection between you as a result of that.
Having these conversations and communicating your needs is important, but it's only part of the equation, and many couples only make it that far. The second and equally important part of the equation is determining what you both will do about it together.
Simply put, it's making a plan and following through with it.
Clients have said to us that they don't like "planning" sex, that it's not sexy. We say that no sex at all is way less sexy than planned sex. It's great for people who can live like teenagers without obligations and commitments to just do it whenever, but there have been times in our lives with heavy work and travel schedules plus an endless list of commitments that would consume all of our time if we allowed them to, and without planning it, it simply didn't happen.
Sure there will be periods of relaxation where you'll have the freedom to just take each other in the moment, but if you only have sex at those times, then there will likely be periods where it rarely or never happens, and that is guaranteed to create an emotional distance between you.
The truth is that we make space and time for things that are important to us--no matter what. If how our sex-life "looks" is more important than having one at all, it will undoubtedly suffer. And if you can't find a way to make a planned evening of intimacy sexy, you really have some work to do around your creativity.
#3 Acknowledge the power dynamic and don't manipulate it.
Some partners have a very equal sex drive, but most are imbalanced in this way, at least for a time. Typically one partner will want sex more often than the other. We stereotypically tend to think that "the man" wants it more, but this is not correct. We have seen it happen equally on both sides.
However unbalanced you may be in this respect you can always grow into balance with each other, but this is not always easy. This will naturally happen when you follow the two suggestions mentioned above and when you don't, it will exacerbate this imbalance.
The partner with the lower sex drive will have more power over the couple's sex-life. The worst thing you can do in a relationship is to manipulate this power. It will destroy your partner's self-esteem and confidence in the relationship.
If you recognize that you are the partner with the lower drive, you have to also recognize the responsibility that comes with that. If you withhold sex or use it as some kind of reward system, it will severely damage the relationship.
If you have the lower drive, then making the extra effort is your job. This doesn't mean you can never say no, of course you can, but the important thing is that you do it in a way that your partner doesn't feel rejected and that while you may so "no" at times, you also often say "yes."
They need to feel like you are a yes to them, even when physically you may not be up for it. If you can help them to understand this, saying no sometimes will not be a problem.
For the lower drive partner, you have to understand that your partner experiences sex differently than you and not take it personally. If you find that they are manipulating the power they have it's important to address that with them, but if you can't accept that they simply don't want it as often as you do, that's something that you need to work on.
Just as the lower drive partner respects the relationship by making the extra effort, the higher drive partner respects the relationship by gently accepting when the other is not up for it. If you both become skilled at this, you will eventually level off somewhere in the middle and your sex-life will experience a natural flow.
What is most important here is maturity--there is no space for drama. That will only make the healing that needs to take place more difficult. Together, you'll create an open space to listen and to be listened to.
Have the courage to share your needs with each other and honestly do your best to meet them. Understand that your partner may not see sex the same way you do and do your best to understand how they see it. Don't expect them to be perfect in this regard (or in any other) and be gentle if one or both of you struggle in navigating the transitional periods.
Make the effort and acknowledge the effort that is being made by the other person. Practice makes perfect, the more you work at this together the more effortless it will become.
If you Love each other and want it to work, you will be willing to do the work necessary to have a fulfilling sex-life together.
And if you'd like to inquire about doing some work with us around this, click here.
As always, thanks for reading. <3
A Conscious approach to dating and relationships…
Like you, the idea of sharing our life with that special someone was particularly exciting to us, and after many years of working with individuals and couples alike, it's clear that we're not the only ones who feel that way.
We've been through enough relationship challenges (our own and others') to know exactly how scary relationships can be, how difficult dating can be, and how let-down you feel when (once again) you get excited about someone and it ends up going nowhere.
Yes, we've had these experiences and more--heartbreak, failure, disappointment, despair.
We know how painful it can be to watch everyone around you fall in Love and wonder if it's ever going to happen for you. Or, how scary it can be to see someone you Love drift away from you and feel like there is nothing you can do to stop it.
The truth is that we had a lot of work to do to be able to have the kind of Love we have today. We did that work, learned exactly what it was all about, and now we help people like YOU do the work to create the Love that you're looking for.
We help you create conscious, loving, and committed lifelong partnerships so you can experience the Love and Fulfillment that you've always dreamed of. We first address your thoughts, beliefs, feelings, fears to make sure you're ready for Love. Then we give you the strategies and skills necessary to have the satisfaction and fulfillment you truly desire in a relationship.
The most fulfilling path is never the easiest but always the most rewarding. If you're ready to work and create the Love you truly desire, click here to begin.