Talking about sex with your partner can feel embarrassing or difficult.
Unsatisfying or disappointing sex, differences in the desire for sex, difficulties with sex since the early days of your relationship
Changes in your sex life may have happened in response to life events or other relationship dilemmas.
Sex in your relationship may have been gradually slipping away or become less fulfilling over time.
These are all common dilemmas but there is usually much that can be improved with couple counselling.
It is not unusual for people to focus more on sex in the early stages of a relationship. It is also not unusual for one or both partners to feel differently about sex as you develop a more familiar everyday life together. External circumstances such as the birth of a child, demands at work, or an increase in family or financial responsibilities can all impact on sexual energy.
Feeling anxious or not knowing how to communicate to your partner what you do and don't enjoy about sex with them, or what you would like more or less of in your sex life can also have a significant impact on mutually satisfying sex. This may have been always so or developed over time.
There is no ‘right’ number of times you should be having sex as a couple. Mutual satisfaction in your sex life is what is most important. However resentment and frustration, or feelings of not being desirable or able to please your partner can develop when a difference in the desire for and enjoyment of sex happens.
Once a couple stop having sex, or start having sex less frequently it can become difficult to initiate sex, or have conversations about sex.
Differences in the desire for sex can also be due to other unresolved tensions and frustrations in your relationship. It may be difficult to feel sexually intimate towards a partner if you are feeling misunderstood or resentful towards them.
Couple counselling can be helpful to make connections between how tensions in your relationship might be impacting on your sex life, and provide a safe and supportive environment for you both to explore how to better communicate about sex.
Common difficulties such as premature ejaculation, not being able to achieve or maintain an erection, vaginal tightening, and/or pain during sex may be due to a physical cause, but are often due to difficult emotions triggered around sexual activity. These difficulties can make communication about sex difficult and lead to avoiding sexual intimacy.
You may feel embarrassed about speaking to your GP to rule out any physical causes, instead blaming yourself or your partner for your body not working in the way you want it to. It is important to give as much care to your sexual health as you do to all other areas of your body, and your GP should be understanding and able to identify any physical issues that may be affecting your sex life.
However as most physical difficulties during sex are due to emotional reasons speaking to a therapist will give you and your partner the opportunity to work together in focussing on how to create more mutual pleasure and satisfaction in your sex life.
If someone has experienced sexual abuse in their childhood, no matter what the nature of the abuse (inappropriate touching, suggestive language, penetration), it can affect how they feel about sex. It can be very useful for a person experiencing difficulties around sexual intimacy to be able to acknowledge a connection to abusive events in their past.
If you or your partner suspect that difficulties around sexual intimacy may be due to sexual abuse in the past individual counselling for the partner affected by abuse could be helpful alongside couples counselling.
As an experienced couple counsellor I am sensitive and skilled in working with feelings of anxiety, vulnerability and embarrassment that you or your partner may have in speaking about sex and your relationship. I will be able to help you and your partner to assess whether your difficulties may be physical or psychological, or a combination of both, and to enable you both to learn new ways of communicating and developing a mutually satisfying sex life.