Yesterday I published a post called Your Sexless Marriage May Be Perfectly Healthy, in which I asked Dr. Julie Elledge – a psychotherapist for individuals and couples who deals with many issues of sexual health – about what’s considered “normal” and “abnormal” when it comes to having sex (or not having sex, as the case may be) in a marriage or long-term relationship. Today, our our resident sexpert schools us on exactly what to do (hint: face your fantasies!) if you think you might be in a sexless marriage, and are less than thrilled by that prospect:
How do we turn a sexless marriage we’re not happy with into a sex-filled marriage that inspires contentment? Is that even possible?
Sexuality is a natural urge along with hunger and thirst, but when you suppress your sexuality you can lose track of what turned you on in the first place. One way to get back in touch with your sexual desire and find your way back to becoming sexual with your partner is to get in touch with your most private fantasies. We define fantasies as anything you want to be doing sexually that you’re not currently doing.
In a sexless relationship, each member of the couple are usually taking care of themselves through masturbation. Pay attention to your fantasies as you masturbate, especially as you near orgasm. Be honest with yourself. Most people have been socialized into a belief about what’s acceptable and what’s not. Evaluate what it would mean to you to reveal a fantasy to your partner. Will your partner reject you emotionally? Will your partner feel threatened by your sexual request? To take that next step, I have some tools and resources below to help you face your fears and grow your relationship.
1) There are self-help options including books and videos. Videos for Lovers is a unique self-help video series to help you and your partner deepen both your intimacy and your eroticism. The explicit nature of the videos is designed to help you learn techniques and arouse your sexual desire with explicit images. The interviews with the real couples can help you and your partner integrate your sexual relationship with your emotional connection. The 15 couples in the videos represent a range of normal sexual and emotional experiences that many couples face in commitment. Lovers Exploration Guide, Developing an Intimate-Erotic Connection is a book that can help you connect more fully with your partner.
2) Sometimes couples learn better with a guide. Couples’ intimate coaching can be a good solution. My co-author and I teach mental health professionals our theory: How Couples Develop and Intimate-Erotic Connection through Academic Alley. Academic Alley Coaches can work with couples to improve their functioning inside and outside the bedroom. Coaches typically work with clients on the phone, through Skype, and in the office. Academic Alley Coaches can be found at Videos for Lovers.
3) Couples who are concerned that there’s injury to their relationship and need help to heal and grow the relationship should seek professional couples’ counseling.
4) Occasionally, sexual desire disorders can be caused by medical conditions or emotional issues that can benefit from pharmacological interventions. A medical doctor or psychiatrist can offer the best advice in this case.
5) A sexless marriage can be a precursor to divorce. Obviously, divorce is usually a very painful process for everyone involved, so I recommend counseling prior to dissolution of a marriage.
6) A Hall Pass can be a risky venture in any relationship. There are many unforeseen emotional (and physical) consequences of such a venture.
Dr. Julie Elledge has a Ph.D. in education, masters in clinical psychology and a bachelor of arts in psychology with a minor in communication arts. She is a psychotherapist and coaches couples and individuals to optimize their performance at work and in their personal lives. Using a variety of storytelling methods Julie helps clients to develop powerful self-stories that overcome past traumas and crisis to lead a happy fulfilling life.
Julie and her colleague Tom Hicks have penned the book Lovers Exploration Guide, Developing Your Intimate-Erotic Connection that works in combination with Videos for Lovers to lead the reader through a journey of self-discovery and an exploration of what their relationship is and could be emotionally and sexually.
Founded in the latest research and theory, Julie and Tom have also developed a theory, How Couples Develop an Intimate-Erotic Connection and a treatment model, Restoring Intimacy and Eroticism for mental health professionals. Professional training for mental health professionals is available through Academic Alley.