All sex therapists assign homework to help couples practice behaviors discussed in therapy designed to build intimacy.
The first assignment usually involves communication. Being open and honest can be a big hurdle, but a good therapist will help you feel safe sharing sexual wants and needs with your partner.
You might be asked to explore when you feel sexy and when you don’t, or what your partner does that you like or don’t like in bed.
The purpose of sex therapy is to strengthen the emotional bond, leading to a more natural physical connection. The second meeting may include questions like these:
1. What have I done to make you feel loved and appreciated this week?
2. How else could I express how much I value you?
3. How can we make physical intimacy a priority?
Another common type of exercise is Sensate Focus, especially useful if there are anxiety, performance, desire or arousal concerns.
A Sensate Focus exercise builds intimacy without touching the genitals or engaging in oral/anal sex or intercourse. The assignment might look like this:
“Find two evenings over the next week where you can spend an hour or more together. One of you will arrange the first date; the other the second. Whoever is arranging the date will set up the bedroom with clean sheets, nice lighting and pleasant music.
“Before the date, you’ll each take a shower to relax. Then, the person setting up the date will help their partner get comfortable on the bed. They’ll spend half an hour exploring and enjoying the feeling of touching their partner’s body—without touching their genitals.
“After a half hour, switch. The goal is not to give your partner a massage. Instead, it’s to find enjoyment in touching and being touched, without expectation.
It’s important to talk throughout the date. Tell your partner what you like and don’t; what feels good, what doesn’t.”
Over the course of weeks, Sensate Focus can progress to touching the genitals, and eventually to intercourse. But these steps are taken only when both parties are ready.
The Key? Willingness and a Positive Attitude
There are many other methods used to help couples, depending on their concerns. For example, for vaginismus therapy in Charlotte, NC, I often recommend vaginal dilators.
A key, no matter what the homework, is for both people to go into the exercise willingly, with the expectation of success over the long-term.