Without a doubt, one of the most common complaints in couples’ therapist offices is discrepant levels of sexual desire between couples. This is where one partner has a higher level of interest in sex than the other, which can cause a great deal of distress for some couples. There are some basic components to understand in order to deal with this problem more effectively.
Plenty of factors contribute to the drive to get sexual with your partner. Once you identify the factors that are playing a role in your sex life, it will be much easier to get back on track in terms of satisfaction and pleasure.
Most often, couples experience a natural decrease in sexual desire when they get into more comfortable territory with one another, usually after the first year of courtship. This decline is normal and should not be taken as cause for concern, provided that both partners remain satisfied. However, when one partner is left to wonder why the sex is dwindling, this can lead to dissatisfaction in the couple’s sex life and overall relationship.
At times, your sex life may also take the backseat as you and your partner deal with other factors in life. Being able to handle those factors well will have a positive impact on your sex life and your romantic relationship.
Problem with the relationship
One of the most common “shutdown” factors to sexual desire, and the factor most commonly cited by the readers in last month’s Quick Poll (cited by 67% of you), was relationship issues. Sexual satisfaction is heavily intertwined with relationship satisfaction, and separating the two is nearly impossible.
Research shows that relationship satisfaction is the most important predictor of sexual satisfaction, more important even than the nature of the sexual acts performed. So if there are relationship issues that one partner feels need to be addressed, sexual satisfaction will naturally suffer until the relationship issues are worked through. For those 67% of you that felt this was a primary concern in your declining sexual desire, have no fear, as there are ways to address this.
As with many things sex-related, communication is essential. Your partner may not realise there are problems in your relationship if you don’t communicate those problems. The simple act of bringing it up is oftentimes enough to spark a level of closeness and intimacy that may have been previously absent.
Further, research also indicates that balance and stability in a relationship is highly related to sexual satisfaction. Communicating and respecting one another’s feelings provide stability and place you on equal ground, which leads to a happier relationship and a more fulfilling sex life for the both of you!
Time is of the essence
The high-paced culture we live in can also be a “shutdown” factor contributing to a decline in sexual desire. In today’s society, men and women are working more hours, taking on more responsibility at home, and still expected to maintain sexually satisfying relationships. Around 17% of you cited that you have less desire for sexual encounters with your partner due to a lack of time for sex.
Individuals who don’t have successful sex lives certainly aren’t leading busier lives than those with successful sex lives. The difference is that those who remain satisfied make time for sex – they place it on their “to do” list. Sex can be compared to exercise, such that if you want to stay fit, you make time. Same goes for sex. If you want to have a satisfying sex life, you make time for it. Many couples who struggle with finding time to be intimate will schedule time for “date night” in their busy week. Whether the time together facilitates bonding or sexual pleasure, setting up the potential for intimacy is crucial.
When children are involved
Although scheduling in “couple time” may sound like a simple solution, it becomes more complicated when kids are involved. Just shy of 10% of you mentioned that kids were a barrier to having success in the bedroom with your partner. And kids certainly complicate the scheduling issue: kids are unpredictable and can’t always be scheduled. Also, kids alter priorities and research shows that one of the first areas that new parents abandon is their sex life.
When kids are added into the family picture, it is important for you as the couple to recognize that you are the core of the family. As mentioned earlier, sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction are highly intertwined. If the sexual aspect of your relationship is not satisfying for you or your partner, the relationship will suffer. If you are dissatisfied with your relationship, it will impact the family unit. Maintaining the relationship and retaining sexual satisfaction with your partner will play a large role in the success of the family unit, and this can be very important for flourishing child development.
So although you may find it hard to schedule “couple time” with your mate because of things you do for the kids, shift your thinking and consider the alone time you invest with your partner is one of the things you do for the kids. The sooner you master this way of thinking, the better able you will be as a couple to maintain your relationship and enhance your sexual satisfaction.
Sexual problems are highly prevalent in both men and women, many of whom never seek treatment. A little less than 10% of those surveyed in the Quick Poll attributed their decreased sex drive to sexual problems.
When women or men experience sexual problems, their first reaction is often to shy away from further sexual encounters; particularly with the partner they are having problems with. Although this may be a comforting short-term coping mechanism, it will only feed into a problematic cycle of response to sexual function that will be increasingly difficult to resolve.
For example, if a woman is suffering from anorgasmia (an inability to orgasm), and she feels pressured to perform every time she has sex with her partner, she is less likely to want to engage in those sexual encounters. This ends up turning an orgasm problem into a desire and arousal problem, too, and so the problematic cycle begins.
The best way to deal with sexual problems is to remove the expectations that surround sex. Many of these expectations are constructed by society to make us believe that sex is a marathon that always ends in an explosive orgasm for both partners. Once these expectations surrounding sex are removed, then you can put more emphasis on pleasure. And if the lines of communication are open and both partners are relaxed and comfortable, pleasure is sure to follow.
Sexual desire is the product of the mind’s capacity to integrate your drives, wishes, and motives. Once your mind is open to integrating these factors for both you and your partner and you find a way to incorporate these factors, sexual interest will come.
Also important to remember is that the person with the lower level of desire in the relationship is only lower relative to that particular partner at that particular time. They may have greater desire relative to another partner, and it is important for both partners to work toward each other’s comfort level rather than expecting one partner to do all the work in increasing (or decreasing) their desire for sex.
Overall, keeping the lines of communication open, ensuring that sex remains a priority, and recognizing your partner’s needs as well as your own will lead you well on your way to sexual and relationship satisfaction.
This post was originally on MedBroadcast.