Relationship Toolkit: More on Sex
I know, some of our readers don’t want to read posts on sex. If you are one of those folks, hit “escape” now. But, human sexuality is a part of adult life. And hopefully, it is a positive aspect of our lives. Sex between adults can be a great joy for both partners. But sometimes, there are challenges. One common difficulty is differing ideas of how important it should be in a relationship.
David and Mary, both in their thirties, have been together 10 years. Mary would like to make love 3-4 times a week, and find time to be together when they are not so tired. David would be fine if they made love once or twice a month! As you can imagine, herein lie the seeds for conflict.
Joe and Sandy, also in their early thirties, have two children ages 2 and 4, and they both work full time. In addition, Sandy’s Dad has some health problems that require her help. Guess what? By the time they go to bed, they are both exhausted! Joe tired or not, still wants to fool around. But Sandy is tired, and finds it hard to be up for sex, when all she wants to do is sleep!
Sexual desire and response is so diverse! What people want, need, or expect in a relationship ranges broadly between individuals. This wide range of interest is all normal. But, when partners have different expectations and needs, the frequency of sexual contact can become an unresolved source of tension in a relationship.
There are also differences between men and women. According to research studies, men think about sex much more frequently than women do and want it more often. And their interest in having sex is less mediated by social, psychological or emotional factors.
Libido, or sexual desire, can be impacted by many elements. Physically, testosterone is the hormone that mediates desire, in both men and women. When adults find themselves without much interest, they may visit their Primary Care Provider and check out the level of this hormone. Low levels can certainly be a factor in loss of libido.
Health problems such as chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic conditions can have a major impact on diminishing desire.
Relationship problems between partners can have a huge impact on sexual interest. For many individuals, their interest in sex and the degree of emotional connection they feel for their partner are highly correlated. Lack of sexual desire can be a symptom of major relationship problems.
Furthermore, some individuals grew up in a very repressive atmosphere, which was punitive. Some adults have grown to have guilt and shame over their natural physical and emotional needs. This can interfere with sexual desire and function. Anxiety or worry over weight and shape can also interfere with natural sexual function.
So how can couples handle this difficulty?
Talk with each other openly. I know that this can be hard but open and honest communication goes a long way in committed relationships. You need to let your partner know what you want and need. Don’t let your feelings go “underground.” That is recipe for future misery.
Compromise. Maybe Mary would be happy making love with her husband once or twice a week. David can meet her half way. Sometimes what partners really want is affection. This is so important!
Work on your relationship. When couples first connect, passions are red-hot and these concerns rarely surface. It is later on, when life becomes more complex, there are more responsibilities, and time and energy are in shorter supply. Over time, it is essential that couples actively nurture their relationship.
How have you addressed these problems in your relationship?