This blog is for anyone who is interested in psychology and well being. It will tackle questions about how therapy works and what are the differences between various approaches to therapy. I will be looking at key factors that help families and couples stay happy and connected with each other and will also look at some of the major stresses of life, offering thoughts on the pitfalls to be avoided.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Low Sexual Desire in Relationships: Where Has the Passion Gone?

Sex is everywhere. In marketing, it sells everything from cars to chocolate. It brings audiences to the big screen and drives people’s fantasies.
In happy couples, sex is a good way of expressing love, acceptance, caring and desire for the other person. It can forge feelings of connection and partnership. It can be pleasurable and fun.
In unhappy couples it provokes feelings of rejection, mistrust, anxiety, loneliness, shame and disappointment.
If you are asking yourself where all the passion in your relationship has gone, then this article may help you to talk about it with your loved one and to start exploring possible causes and solutions.
1. Break away from cultural myths:
There is a cultural myth that real men do not experience low sexual desire. This myth is being put to the test, as growing numbers of men in the US express concern over their falling sex drive.
By contrast, women are the ones who are often accused of having low libidos. This has often led to clichéd accounts of women withholding sex in order to frustrate their male partners.
Popular myths can cause real problems when it comes to addressing concerns about sex. It places unrealistic expectations on both members of the couple. It can lead to disappointment or resentment, fuelling a negative cycle of blame and shame and spiraling down to even less desire and satisfaction.
In an attempt to sort fact out from fiction, I am often asked to comment on what is normal. The truth is that when it comes to desire, normality encompasses a broad range of experiences.
The most important thing is to forget about what you’ve been told. Find out whether or not you and your partner, are satisfied with your current sex life. This is the best place to start in defining the problem and looking for a solution.
2. Look at biological factors
Here are some factors, which can influence your body’s ability to feel desire. To assess them, it might help to consider when lack of libido started becoming an issue. It is always best to consult your doctor in case there are medical problems that need to be treated.
  • Fatigue
  • Increased alcohol intake
  • Poor health
  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Certain medications such as antidepressants,
  • Depression
  • Certain medical conditions such as endocrine disturbances
3. Get to know the sexual life of your couple
Talking about sex can be daunting. When there are so many cultural taboos around sexuality, many individuals fear that they will be rejected or ridiculed when they share their private thoughts.
However getting to know the sexual life of your couple is about getting to know how sex is experienced by both of you. There are many things to think about that could be relevant to your relationship. The following ideas, if sensitively explored, could be used to guide conversation.
  • Have either of you had prior sexual experiences that have influenced how you or your partner, feel about sex today?
  • Have either of you lost a child, had an abortion or miscarriage?
  • Have there ever been problems with fertility?
  • Have either of you ever worried about your body image?
  • Has sex ever been painful?
  • Have either of you ever experienced physical or sexual abuse?
  • How do your ideas and beliefs about sex compare to one another?
  • Are you able to know or talk about what turns you or your partner on?

4. Check the emotional pulse in your relationship
This point is often overlooked but is extremely important. In fact the bedroom is often the arena where difficulties in the emotional life of a long-term relationship get expressed.
This is because intimacy requires complete trust. To be naked with your partner; to be honest about your sexual desires and needs; to fully express your sexuality; requires honesty about your emotions and acceptance of and sensitivity to your partner’s feelings.
So now is the time to sort out everything that has been piling up in the kitchen sink. That includes looking at any unexpressed anger, resentment or disappointment in your couple.
5. Accept your differences.
The more open you are to hearing what your partner has to say, the more openness there will be in your couple. This is about accepting difference and that includes the differences that you both experience in desire.
There is often change in desire as couples mature. This can result from age-related factors which are experienced differently and at different times by men and women.
It can also result from the changes in body chemistry that are experienced as couples move from the passion of first encounters to a more stable and enduring sexual relationship. In fact, it is often at this stage that couples first notice a difference between themselves in terms of sexual appetite.
6. Focus on the solution
If your idea of sexual satisfaction is vastly different to your partner’s, then it may be helpful to start looking for some common ground. By focusing on what you want rather then what you don’t want, you move away from negative patterns of blame and shame and towards a level of intimacy built on sensitivity and respect.

And Finally
If you and your partner need support in exploring some of these issues then contact a qualified marital and family therapist We are there to help.

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