Sex and Romance

Marriage and sex

Is Your Relationship Losing Passion?

Are you not having sex or having sex but not making love? The problem sometimes has more to do with how you interact in everyday life than what physical positions you choose. Foreplay occurs way before you get to the bedroom. It is about how you interact throughout your lives. I (Aaron Engel) have completed training from the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute. Do any of the following impact your relationship?

  • We stopped being intimate
  • There is sex, but it feels robotic
  • There is not enough love in love-making
  • Sex and intimacy seem forced
  • We don’t feel the connection we once felt when being intimate
  • There are strong differences in desire
  • Your partner has a sex addiction

If any of the above impacts your relationship, therapy related to sex may be what you need. Finding a therapist to discuss sex and intimacy concerns in Columbus, Ohio is an important step.

Many couples therapy approaches teach that if you want to fix sex, you can fix the relationship. There is some truth to this, and sometimes the relationship is fixed through better sex. We have training from the Integrative Sex Therapy Institute that values treating sex in the relationship as much as treating other aspects of the relationship, rather than seeing couples therapy and sex therapy as two different entities.

It is Normal to Lose Passion in a Relationship

When most people start a relationship, they are focused on pleasing and impressing their partner. The human brain is wired to dismiss faults in a partner for the first couple of years after a relationship begins. There may be fewer responsibilities (kids, finances, living together, etc.). It is easy to have passion when a connection is new and fresh. As a relationship goes on, people tend to take their partner for granted. As people spend more time living together, their time can seem less remarkable than when it was mostly about dates. Work responsibilities can increase, leaving a couple too tired for sex at night. Finding a babysitter for a date night or having the time and energy to make it happen can become a chore. Losing passion is especially prevalent if there has been an affair and processing that occurrence may need to happen first.

What Certified Sex Therapy Informed Professionals Study

The content below is modified from pesi.com certification topics (pesi, 2023).

  • Review of sex therapy practice
  • A history of sexual desire
  • Models and definitions of sexual issues
  • Assessing sexual issues: In-session clinical demonstration
  • Diagnostic considerations: The role of gender, age, health, medication and more
  • The Appreciation Dialogue: In-session clinical demonstration
  • A new model of the female sexual response cycle
  • Sensate Focus and Erotic Recovery: In-session clinical demonstration
  • Sexual issues and the intersection of culture, race and gender

Treating Low Sex and No Sex Disorders

  • Low Sex, No Sex and Intermittently Sexual Marriages
  • Interventions/dialogues
  • Appreciations, stretches, repair
  • Soothing, dealing with triggers
  • Pleasure dystonic states
  • Pleasure disorders
  • Moving from a trauma model to a pleasure model
  • Shifting from performance to pleasure: In-session clinical demonstration
  • Why is sex going down in marriages?
  • Demonstrating the Sharing Pleasure exercise: In-session clinical demonstration

Counseling Couples

  • There is no “normal” in relationships
  • The stages of couples’ counseling
  • Individual counseling for sexual issues
  • Sexual identity, gender identity and the Minority Stress Model
  • The basics of a sex and couples therapy session
  • Mastering basic sexuality counseling skills
  • Decoding fantasies to understand needs in the relationship
  • The new era of relationship life cycles and what research says about sex, orgasm and fantasy
  • Approaches to couples therapy: Imago Therapy

The New Monogamy

  • Redefining monogamy and gender roles
  • What is nonmonogamy?
  • Developing the Relationship Agreement and recovering from betrayal
  • Erotic Recovery: In-session clinical demonstration
  • The continuum of monogamy and a model of sexual wellness

Integrative Therapy

  • Navigating differences in gender, sexuality and eroticism
  • Cultural considerations: Intersectionality, multiculturalism and ethnicity
  • Exploring the gender roles of women: Oppression, biases and social movements
  • Integrative treatment for body image, eating disorders and sexual dysfunction
  • Exactly what to do in a sex and couples therapy session
  • Dialogue Skills: In-session clinical demonstration
  • Societal shifts in nonmonogamy and polyamory
  • The three things you need to create a new monogamy that will work for you
  • Kink and BDSM: How to manage your own biases

Alternative Interventions

  • A new perspective on journaling
  • Mindfulness, Sensate Focus and the path to erotic recovery
  • A brief note on yoga and sex
  • How Art Therapy can enhance sex and couples work
  • Alternative interventions for the therapist

Solutions

We have training from the Integrated Sex and Couples Certification training program, Gottman Method’s GotSex kit, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and many other approaches. The trainings help you rekindle your passion and help you gain greater understanding. While there may eventually be a need to learn about new positions or ways to spice things up, that is typically not the reason for the lack of intimacy.

The GottSex kit is a collection of tools, homework assignments, and short sex videos (all PG or PG-13) to help you learn how to connect better. We can help with sexual dysfunction or if purity culture has hurt you. It is essential to understand that sex can improve as couples get older and help it improve through increased knowledge of one another, as well as improved connection. It is vital to know how to express what you need and say no without causing your partner to feel personally rejected. You do not need to talk about things that make you uncomfortable, but if sex is a concern in your relationship, it is crucial to learn to feel comfortable talking about it.

There is Hope

Regarding some of the problems listed above, proven methods work for many couples.

  • We stopped being intimate

This requires looking at the root cause and discussing why the problem occurs, so specific interventions can fix it.

  • There is sex, but it feels robotic

There may be a need for more foreplay. This includes how you interact during the day. How you share housework. Whether you give affirming statements and how you know and address each of your partner’s love languages.

  • There is not enough love in love-making

This is similar to the response above. Having a connection is vital for lovemaking. However, there are some occasions where having less passionate sex is still positive for the relationship.

  • Sex and intimacy seem forced

Looking at your life goals, values, and priorities can help ensure you have the energy for passionate sex.

  • We don’t feel the connection we once felt when being intimate

The GottSex toolkit and other approaches can help you rekindle that passion and potentially increase it over time.

  • One or both of us have sexual dysfunction

Sexual dysfunction can be treated and it is often a result of initial unrealistic expectations

Common Questions and Concerns about Couples, Marriage, and Sex

What is sex therapy?

It depends on how sex therapy is defined. There are sex therapists who focus almost exclusively on sex in marriage or with couples or multiple partners. We can pay attention to sexual difficulties, partner factors, individual vulnerability factors, cultural or religious aspects, medical concerns (to a degree), intersectionality, and gender roles, among others. Sex is a vital part of most long-term relationships, so for us, it’s not therapy in and of itself but part of couples therapy or relationship therapy. Many of our conversations about sex involve foreplay as an all-week experience that happens way before the bedroom, your friendship, and your emotional intimacy first. Handouts and homework are given to allow you to spice things up to your comfort level if you desire. We may refer to an AASECT-certified sex therapist for some concerns where we don’t have enough training yet (e.g. BDSM, KINK).

What if I am not comfortable talking about sex with a therapist?

You don’t have to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable. The hope is that you will see sex as part of a committed relationship as a standard and essential part of the relationship and not feel any shame.

Can a healthy sex life emerge if there has been an affair?

Yes, it is possible. However, the focus typically needs to start with rebuilding trust.

We are waiting to have sex until marriage but are worried that we won’t be any good without previous experience.

This decision is fully supported. The first time is often awkward, and the pressure of a wedding night can add more stress. You will figure it out or learn ways to have a rewarding sex life.

What happens during a couple’s sex-infromed therapy session?

That depends on where you are and what you need. It may start with planning how you can have a romantic date. The conversation may involve talking about an affair. We could talk about your specific needs or briefly discuss possible medical causes for sexual issues. It could include treating sex addiction or referring you to a sex addiction specialist. It could involve giving you handouts or discussing new things to try to spice things up. You may be given exercises with specific sex therapy techniques to try in the privacy of your own home.

I was raised that sex was dirty and private, and I am concerned about discussing it with anyone, let alone someone I don’t know well.

Hopefully, this will change over time. Sex is a strong and basic biological need. There is no need to discuss intimate details in therapy, and conversations usually don’t go beyond PG-13. Over time and at your comfort level, you are free to share more.

Where can I find sex-informed therapy near me or sexual counseling near me?

Cardinal Point Counseling is located in Dublin, Ohio, near Columbus, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Worthington, and Westerville. If you are looking to focus on learning specific sexual techniques, we can help to some degree. If the focus is on sexual performance and not the root causes, we may be able to refer you to someone else or address your concerns. Much of what is pathologized about sex (e.g., erectile dysfunction) may not be a problem that needs drug treatment if the root causes are addressed.

Can you help with sexual dysfunction?

Our attitude aligns with the Gottman’s in that our society overly pathologizes sexual dysfunction. The media and other sources often portray that sex should be magical every time, with each partner having mind-blowing and simultaneous orgasms. This is not reality. If say, a man has an occasional premature ejaculation, but the couple can connect, is that failure? There may be referrals necessary for medication or discussion around some techniques to help, but occasional “sexual dysfunction” is normal

How does therapy work?

If sex and romance is something you want to work on, ways to improve can be discussed throughout counseling. We do not consider sex therapy to be a unique entity to be treated outside of the whole relationship. Nothing is discussed that is outside your comfort level. However, studies show that couples who can openly discuss their sex lives (even if in private and not in counseling) have better relationships and better sex lives.

Where can I find counseling about sex and romance near me?

Cardinal Point Counseling may be able to help you with a lot of your concerns. If your concerns are above our expertise or you want to focus purely on increasing sexual pleasure, we can refer you to someone with that focus or help ourselves to a degree.

Can you help with sex problems in marriage or relationships?

Yes, the problems are often deeper than sexual compatibility. There are likely other issues with your relationship or how you communicate about sex, leading to other problems. Sometimes, there is no intimacy in a relationship from the husband, and sometimes, there is no intimacy from the wife. The same applies to unmarried couples, gay couples or polyamorous groups.

Do we have to discuss sex problems in Columbus, Ohio, marriage counseling?

No. What you talk about is up to you. You may prefer sex handouts that you can discuss privately at home.

Can you help if we have a sexless marriage or sexless relationship?

Yes, the GottSex toolkit from the Gottman Institute, paired with sexual therapy, can help you have a more passionate and romantic relationship. A sexless marriage can affect a woman. It sexless marriage can affect a man. Sexless marriage scan affect homosexual couples. We can also help if there is a lack of sex in a relationship.

Can we learn things like how to pleasure a woman or a man?

Yes. Although each man and woman are different. You can learn techniques like how to initiate and refuse sex and how to discuss what you like and don’t like, and Gottman worksheets and handouts can help you learn how to give a more pleasurable experience. You can learn about what gives your partner female arousal or male arousal.

What if my partner has lost interest in me sexually? What if we have no sex in marriage?

This involves getting to the root cause of the loss of interest. There are almost an infinite number of factors. It could be a decreased libido, a loss of connection, or stress from outside the relationship. Knowing your situation and applying an appropriate intervention(s) could be helpful.

We are embarrassed to discuss our sex life in person. Can we see a therapist online?

Yes, online counseling is available in Columbus, Ohio, or anywhere in Ohio.

For additional Columbus, Ohio, couples counseling questions, please visit the main frequently asked questions page.

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