Learning to Regain Intimacy Through Sex Therapy

made bed in a sexless marriage

Research says the average couple has sex about once a week. But there is no “normal” frequency. The right amount of sex is the amount that is right for the two of you.

However, ‘no sex ever’ can be a problem, especially if one member of the couple wants more. A ‘sexless’ marriage is defined as one in which the couple has a sexual encounter less than once a month. As many as 20% of couples fall into this category.

Some 20% to 30% of men and 30% to 50% of women claim to have little or no sex drive. This condition has a name: hypoactive sexual desire, or HSD.

Why Couples Stop Having Sex

couple embracingThere are many other reasons couples do not have sex:

  • a lapse due to illness that become permanent
  • hurt feelings between partners
  • a partner initiates sex but gets turned down too often so stops initiating
  • partners too busy or neglectful of the relationship
  • inability to communicate
  • not understanding the physical sex act
  • lack of sleep
  • lack of trust
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • pressures such as from children
  • common misunderstandings
  • use of medications that affect the sex drive or ability to perform
  • childbirth
  • an affair
  • alcohol

A sex therapist can help. He or she can tease out why you stopped having sex and what it will take to begin again. They can help each of you release fears or grudges that may be preventing intimacy.

The therapist can also prescribe exercises designed to slowly reintroduce physical contact.

How to Work on the Problem on your Own

1. The first step toward reconnecting is to talk.

If you are the partner wanting more sex, let your partner know this is a very important issue for you. If there is a medical issue, agree to see a doctor. Hold hands during the discussion. Use kind and loving language. Ideally, share your true feelings without anger or resentment.

2. Explain that you’d like to start with cuddling and then a nonsexual massage. Experiment with “sensate focus” — a Masters and Johnson technique in which one partner touches the other’s naked body (not the genitals) each person learning how to touch and be touched again. As you vary the pressure of your touch, you give and get feedback on what feels good. Each person is to notice the sensations. The focus should not be on orgasm or intercourse. Do this as often as needed until both partners feel interested in more.

When moving toward intercourse, you may need to buy a lubricant or a vaginal moisturizer to repair tissues. It may be necessary to get medical advice on erectile dysfunction or medication issues. There are more solutions to physical problems than you can imagine.

3. Make time for your relationship. You will only make progress if both of you take an active role. Participate in the sensate focus exercises. Learn what does and doesn’t feel good and communicate this to your partner.

Start flirting. Plan dates. Be together.

Keep at it. Practice what you’ve learned within a few days of the last encounter. In weeks or months, you will be back to a healthy sexual relationship.