Many couples that we see in our practices struggle with physical intimacy in their marriages. It's no secret that relationship satisfaction is often correlated with the quality of a couple's physical relationship. The use of sex therapy can be partially helpful getting a couple reconnected.
Once in couple's therapy, the focus often begins with rebuilding the marital friendship and overcoming anger and resentments that are poisonous to the relationship. Once the couple has done some work on their emotional connection, it becomes time to begin reintegrating having a healthy sexual relationship.
The use of Sensate Focus is a sex therapy tool that can be helpful in reconnecting couples using slow and loving touch which eventually moves to more sexual touch including intercourse. A guideline of using Sensate Focus can be found at www.DiscoveryHealth.com
Often when I work to reconnect couples physically I use a few guidelines to help them rediscover how satisfying their sexual relationship can be. I also help them reengineer their sexual script or the way they are being sexual with each other in their relationship (kissing, foreplay, intercourse). Having a sexual script that isn't working can lead to sexual dysfunction, dissatisfaction and low frequency, having a sexual script that works can move a couple's intimate relationship to a new level of connection. Also, remember that sexual scripts need to be updated in relationships over time to keep the physical relationship vibrant.
Use the following guideline to help couples rewrite a sexual script that is satisfying, pleasurable and relaxing.
Guidelines to Reconnect Physically
•1. Kiss for Five Minutes
Kiss slowly, cup your partners face in your hands, and enjoy this step. As a practicing Marriage and Sex Therapist it is surprising how many couples completely skip the kissing part. Kissing helps to us get aroused, connected and warms up our bodies to move into intercourse. People who struggle with erection difficulties or arousal issues should pay particular attention to this step as it helps us to get ready for sex. Kissing also helps reduce our anxiety as it relaxes us as we move into more intimate and sexual touching.
•2. Don't Skip Foreplay and Take Turns Giving and Receiving
Foreplay is the most intimate step of the sexual process. It is the opportunity to feel sought after, desired and pleasured by your partner. Foreplay represents the part of the sexual script where partners are taking turns pleasuring one another. Couples who skip foreplay are doing their relationship a disservice because you miss out on the opportunity to learn what you like sexually and to tell your partner so that you desire to have the type of sex you are having. Oral or manual stimulation represent great options for foreplay. If you don't currently engage in foreplay with your partner, try talking about it outside the bedroom as an idea you would like to explore.
•3. Give Your Partner Feedback
Say "that feels good" or make a gesture to signal you like what they are doing or the way they are touching you. Everyone likes a different type of touch; it is as unique as your fingerprint. Women are often socialized to be quiet during the sexual process but many partners complain that they don't know what type of touch feels good to their partners and want to know if what they are doing is working. Giving your partner pleasure also helps you build sexual self-confidence. Make sure you provide feedback during the process as well as afterwards on what you liked, also try showing your partner if they can't seem to grasp what you are asking for so they can mimic the moves you enjoy.
•4. Look at Each Other While Being Sexual
During the process of being sexual together, open your eyes and look at your partner. An advanced move is to open your eyes and look at your partner when you are having your orgasm. Many couples report feeling closer after sharing such an intimate experience. Looking at each other pushes couples to grow sexually by confronting your sexual self, taking a risk together and taking ownership of being sexual with your partner.
•5. Try Something New
Trying something new sexually is good for you and good for your relationship. Some desire problems stem from sexual boredom and the prescription is sexual risk. You don't have to do something that you find distasteful but when was the last time you tried initiating, experimenting with a new position, different lighting such as candlelight or using a sexual aid (toy) or lubricant. Even trying to bring each other to orgasm during foreplay instead of during intercourse could be a nice change. Doing something different often connects couples by having them share an intimate and exciting experience.
Use these guidelines to write or rewrite your couple's sexual script for maximum satisfaction and connection. As we age and our bodies become less responsive it becomes particularly important for a couple to connect over kissing and foreplay rather than being intercourse focused. Stay pleasure oriented rather than focusing on performance and appreciate being sexual as a tension reducer and a way of reconnecting in your relationship.