When couples find themselves locked in Sex Wars, non-sexual issues may be the culprit. In fact, sexual struggles are often symbolic expressions of fear of intimacy, dependency, abandonment, or loss of control.

Take as an example Jack and Yvonne.

Jack loved his wife, Yvonne, but there was only one problem. He wanted nearly constant sex, and his wife was on the verge of developing a callus on her you-know-what!

Yvonne finally put her foot down.

In response, Jack stopped asking her for sex and began having multiple affairs.

As time went on, she feared that Jack wasn’t attracted to her anymore. She couldn’t understand why he stopped approaching her for sex altogether.

So, she tried to do the approaching, attempted to introduce sexual variety, and even had a total makeover, all to no avail.

Yvonne was in a state of despair. 

The couple came to me on the brink of divorce.

When Jack and I spoke alone, it was clear that his need for constant and varied sex was being fueled by a deeper source.

It was time for some bedroom detective work.

So I used my Reading Between the Sheets technique to uncover what Jack’s sexual insatiability really meant.

To do this, I asked him:

  • How did he feel when he didn’t have as much sex as he liked?
  • How did he feel when he fulfilled his desires with strange women? Did this satisfy him?
  • What was he missing in the marriage, if anything?
  • What was he missing within himself?
  • What hole was he trying to fill (no pun intended) by having sex with numerous women?


By delving into Jack’s background, I discovered that his father was a womanizer who had abandoned Jack and the family when Jack was very young.

Jack never dealt with his sense of loss. By following in his father’s philandering footsteps, Jack unconsciously lived with his father at his side. As we discovered, Jack’s acts of infidelity were driven by the unconscious wish to fill his inner emotional void. The problem was that by cheating on his wife, he was jeopardizing the love that was waiting for him at home. When Jack understood this, a miracle occurred. He was able to give up his extracurricular affairs and lived, literally, happily ever after from that day forward.

The point here is that sexual conflicts are not always about what they seem.

Let me give you another example that is the exact reverse of Jack and Yvonne's case.

Steve was a man who had lost all his sexual desire for his wife. On the surface, it was easy to assume theirs was a sexual problem. Maybe his wife, Joanne, had let herself go; maybe sex had become routine; or maybe he had too much stress at work. I resisted the temptation to assume that this was the case. Once again, I used my Reading Between the Sheets technique to delve beneath the surface by asking:

  • How long had the problem been going on?
  • What had changed in the couple’s life and relationship?
  • Was sex ever good between them? If so, when did it deteriorate?

I learned that their sex life had been fine until the birth of their first child. But Steve’s deflated drive wasn’t caused by the usual culprits (unresolved anger, stress, illness, exhaustion, or the fact that his wife had become less attractive). So we needed to explore further how the birth of his child was related to his “limp loins” syndrome. Steve then recalled a childhood memory in which his mother was standing in front of him in a daffodil-colored dress. He remembered feeling a rush of sexual sensations and then felt struck by a bolt of guilt. Now, we had the key to the puzzle. When Joanne became “Mother,” his unconscious guilt over being attracted to his own mother caused him to turn off sexually to his wife. When Steve was able to recognize the deeper issue that was operating, when he realized that it was no sin to have felt attracted to his own mother, he was then able to allow himself to once again feel attraction for his wife.

When it comes to applying my Reading Between the Sheets technique to your own conflicts, it’s impossible for me to give you a list of rote questions. Your questions will always change according to the issues you’re addressing. But once you understand that your goal is to delve beneath the surface, to get at the emotional core that underlies your sexual struggle, the right questions will come naturally to you.

Reading Between the Sheets is like peeling the layers of an onion. On the first layer, you may well discover that sexual battles often reflect deeper relationship issues that have nothing to do with sex. When we peel off the next layer, we discover that heated sexual conflicts are often fueled by Old Scars from childhood.

In my new Hay House book, Kiss Your Fights Good-bye: Dr. Love’s 10 Simple Steps to Cooling Conflict and Rekindling Your Relationship, I show you how to identify the Old Scars that are fueling your fights. Next, I give you specific suggestions on how to heal each Old Scar.

Because the highest and most divine purpose of our intimate relationships is to help each other to heal our mutual Old Scars, you will be richly rewarded for offering the gift of healing to each other. As you will soon discover, as the Old Scars heal, sexual fights magically disappear...allowing the love that brought you together to shine brighter than ever.

About the Author

Jamie Turndorf Ph.D.

Dr. Jamie Turndorf Ph.D., is a relationship therapist, emotional communication expert, author and advice columnist.

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