Overcoming Common Sexual Problems
How To Stay Faithful & Be Monogamous With Your Long-term Lover
There are a number of common problems experienced by many couples. These common problems can be overcome, and indeed with a bit of effort needn't be any kind of barrier to intimacy and faithfulness. Even so they can get in the way of good sex. We deal with them here, so that in the next section of the website we can go talk about how to have exciting, stimulating, care-free and, above all, orgasmic sex in a long term relationship.
1 Unequal desire
Many people see unequal levels of sexual desire in a monogamous relationship as a major problem. How, you may wonder, can you stay faithful when there is such a disparity in sex drive, except perhaps by shutting off your own sexual vitality.
However, almost every couple have mismatched desire, with either the man or the woman wanting sex more often their partner.
Yet when you think about it, delayed ejaculation ought not to be a problem since delays in ejaculating can destroy pleasure! Why should there be any problem engaging in sex?
The answer probably lies in the fact that sex seems like too much trouble for the person who has the lower sex drive.
And yet, when couples start to make love, even with a lack of interest in the initial stages, what they almost invariably find is that the very act of engaging in sex with their long term partner is sufficient for them to become sexually aroused, engage fully in lovemaking, and enjoy it regardless of who initially wanted to have sex.
So rather than look for long-winded solutions to this problem, the answer may be very simple indeed: simply make a deal with your partner.
What does that deal look like? Anything that satisfies both partners! For example, if it is the man who has a higher need for sex within the relationship, his partner might agree to a more intercourse if he agrees to pleasure her with extended foreplay before penetration. Alternatively, she might agree to have sex more often if the couple take a romantic weekend away once a month.
The point is this: everything is up for grabs, and for a couple who can communicate effectively and state their wishes clearly, there need be no problem in coming to an arrangement which allows both partners to get what they want with dignity and respect for the other.
2 Undoing bonding patterns
What is a bonding pattern? It's essentially the way that a couple relate to each other. In terms of the well-known and popular theory of transactional analysis (TA), a bonding pattern might be seen in exchanges ("transactions") between the two members of a couple which look more like the exchanges between a parent and child.
In TA terms this would be regarded as a parent-child transaction. Of course, there are plenty of occasions when it's appropriate for a couple to relate to each other in ways that are reminiscent of a mother or father relating to a child: we all need comfort and reassurance occasionally. Problems start when two people become locked into a fixed and inappropriate way of relating.
For one thing, parents do not have sex with their children, so the more like a parent your partner behaves, the less you will want to have sex with them. Even on a practical level, who would wish to have sex with somebody who was bossing them around like a parent treating a wayward child?
Any man will get tired of being a naive woman's "daddy", cheering her up and reassuring her, in the face of her anxiety and self-doubt.
And any man who walks through the door at the end of a hard day at work to be greeted by a barrage of instructions that would be more appropriate between a mother and child will rapidly get turned off. These things are not appropriate in any sexual relationship, let alone a long term one.
Any woman who is treated like a child by an overbearing and arrogant partner isn't going to feel much attraction to him sexually. And so on.
You can probably identify within your own relationship the transactions between you and your partner (this simply means the things you say and the way you act) that can lead to the crossed parent-child transactions, the inappropriate responses, and inevitably the unhelpful emotional reactions.
But whatever you call these inappropriate transactions between two members of the couple, whether you call them bonding patterns or parent-child transactions, they get in the way of a real relationship as adult equals, and they destroy your sex life. In order to consistently treat each other both physically and psychologically as adults, there needs to be a process of undoing these unhelpful bonding patterns.
We shall see how this can be done in the next section.
3 Undoing parental transference
Bonding patterns are all about parental transference. This isn't psychobabble, it is simply common sense. Of course no adult likes to be treated like a child, and whenever this happens within a relationship trouble starts.
But it's all too easy for us to fall back into the roles of mother and father to our partners, prompted very often by their behaviour which reminds us of those incredibly powerful and long-lasting roles that we learnt during our family upbringing.
So how, then, do we get ourselves out of the place where we see our wife as our mother and our husband as our father? (By the way, these bonding patterns apply to unmarried couples and couples living together just as much as they do to married couples.)
Well, first of all, you do not have to completely abandon these roles, for there are places within a relationship where they are entirely appropriate - when you are comforting or advising your partner, or when they feel vulnerable or ill, for example.
Nonetheless, mature or and adult men and women must learn to make the transition from parental roles to adult roles, and they must do this with a sense of their own power and emotional maturity.
When a couple are interacting in a way that both of them feel might be more appropriate to the interaction between child and parent, it's possible for one or both of them to intervene using their adult mature personality.
What this might mean in practice depends on the circumstances. If, for example, a man arrives home after a hard day at work and wants to be comforted by his partner, then, yes of course she can do this -- but she may choose to do it for a limited time using her adult discretion to decide when it would be appropriate to shift the emotional states by saying something like "and now you can hear about my day."
A great place to start undoing parental transference is with simple physical affection -- the sensuous feeling of skin to skin. It's a constant amazement to me how simple bodily contact, that is to say, naked bodily contact, can get us beyond the emotional blocks and neuroses that affect our interactions in everyday life.
Since naked skin to skin contact is a powerful sexual signal, it can be a powerful way of releasing the inhibitions that afflict our intimate sexual relationships. It's also very easy to make the transition between nonsexual touch and sexual touch.
All you have to do is to make the touch into a sexual or potentially sexual stimulus: so, for example, that might mean taking your partner into the bedroom and embracing and comforting them, but also taking pleasure in the intimate physical exchange yourself.
As your embrace moves from the nonsexual to the sexual parts of the body, you will both gradually slip into a place of sensuality which reflects the adult-adult relationship between you.
(Although, this might include playing together like children, since nothing can be more refreshing than a game of "doctors and nurses" between two adults who've let go - for the moment at least - of their adult inhibitions.)
The point I'm getting at here is that by starting with nonsexual touch and transitioning into sexual touch, you can unscramble the roles of mother/father and lover/lover.
A good way to increase the distance between parent-child transactions and a lover-lover relationship is to consciously start in a position that could be adopted between parent and child: for example, a woman can start by cradling her partner's head on her breasts and gradually turn this into a lover/lover relationship.
As the lovers allow themselves to become fully aware of the potentially sexual nature of the embrace, they can follow wherever it may take them.
We discussed earlier the phenomenon of turning yourself off: so it's important that as you do this you do not turn yourself off or revert to a parent-child transaction.
Instead allow yourself to be turned on, to move from the embrace of parent and child to the sexual embrace of two lovers. If you are a woman doing this to your partner, you might like to slip your hand gently under his shirt and start caressing his chess.
From there, it's only a short step downwards to undoing his trousers and caressing his stomach. And from there it's an even shorter step down to caressing his penis. Do you begin to see how this sort of exercise can take you from a parental place to an adult lover's place? You're not denying any aspect of your relationship with each other, whether this is parent-child or adult-adult.
We are so programmed to slip easily into a critical, judgemental place, and it is this, perhaps, which turns people off each other faster than anything.
I would suggest one of the major causes of erectile dysfunction is hostility to a partner: you can read more about this here. Rather, you're delineating the boundary between the parental aspect of your relationship and the adult sexual aspect of your relationship.
It is helpful at times to identify anything within your relationship that might be adding to the parent-child dynamic. There's a certain charm for some women in the boyish irresponsibility that they see in their partner; however, that boyish charm can quickly become irritating if he's incapable of finding his socks or doing his own washing.
Needless to say of course, men who fall into this category will often have good reason to criticise their female partners for acting like a housewife and mommy, telling them where to put their shoes or how to clean up or how to do jobs.
It's amazing how women can emasculate men, and equally startling how men can infantilise women without even really trying.
This can be particularly true of the people who are married: marriage itself, as we discussed earlier, can infantilise people by putting them back in the relationships they occupied in their own families as children.
If you feel that your relationship is claustrophobic, and that the only time when you have the freedom to behave as an adult is when you get out of the house, then you definitely need to look at issues of parental transference between the two of you. monogamy will not be sustained when the two individuals are in a co-dependent relationship.
4 Fear of pregnancy and beliefs about sex being for "making babies"
You might think we are all grown adults and we all know that sex leads to pregnancy. So why would fear of pregnancy be an issue that inhibits sex between two consenting adults?
But you only have to look at the statistics for women who get pregnant and have abortions every year to realise that there is something mysterious going on.
Contraception isn't that difficult, and yet there are all those unwanted pregnancies! Can they be explained just by the rapacious power of sexual desire overcoming us in the heat of the moment? Maybe... but is it also possible that we consciously or unconsciously avoid contraception for some reason?
Yes there is! Contraception can remind us that the purpose of sex is reproduction -- and whatever issues that holds for us can be massively inhibiting on our desire to enjoy sex just for pleasure.
Somewhere at the back of all our minds is the belief that sex is about reproduction or family life, or that sex for the sake of pleasure alone is somehow shameful or even sinful.
We've been so subject to the propaganda of the church for so long, as well as cultural and social beliefs about sex and its negative aspects, that it can be hard to dispel the deep-seated myths and beliefs which inhibit us from enjoying sex for pleasure alone.