What do most couples really want from sex?
It isn’t endless orgasms, or sex around the clock. Regardless of gender or orientation, most people want the same old things: connection, pleasure, excitement, mystery, and validation. When the prospect of getting these is slim, satisfaction declines, and desire falls. This is not a “dysfunction;” and improving genital “function” is not the answer.
Reasons couples don’t enjoy sex include:
- Performance pressure
- Normality anxiety
- Narratives of failure
- Inadequate initiation or transition routines
- Unresolved non-sexual relationship conflict
- The sex is physically uncomfortable or painful
- Chronic conflict about sexual routines
Therefore, the key to helping couples often lies in clinical issues like addressing power struggles and control issues; the existential challenges of adulthood; and the need for a new vocabulary. Helping people increase their desire for sex that they don’t enjoy doesn’t make much sense—even though that’s often what couples ask us for.
We will discuss how to move couples from perfunctory, infrequent sex to a more vibrant and intriguing experience. We’ll also look at what therapists need internally to help couples discuss sex—which may even include dealing with some of the therapist’s own sexual beliefs or feelings.