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.
7 The mid life crisis
There's been a lot of discussion recently about the midlife crisis and the andropause and whether it's a genuine experience for men between the ages of 40 and 50. Unfortunately much of the medical profession doesn't think it's real.
They tend to regard any new idea with great scepticism until it is scientifically proven; in this case they rejected the idea because it doesn't fit in with their preconceived notions of how men's physiology changes as they go through life.
I can tell you that the male midlife crisis is a real event for many men and causes a great deal of suffering, anxiety and self-doubt for a great many men.
Unfortunately it's also a cause of much suffering and anxiety for their partners and families, as they witness the changes in their partner, husband, lover or father.
It can test long term faithfulness to the limits, and is often something which breaks the commitment to monogamy.
One of the reasons that the medical profession do not accept there is a male midlife crisis is that they do not really recognise the effect of the drop in testosterone levels in men around midlife is.
As a matter of fact, for a significant number of men there is a very abrupt and sharp drop in testosterone anywhere between the late 30s and the mid 50s that leads to a very noticeable set of symptoms reminiscent of the female menopause.
These include lack of sex drive and loss of erections, a loss of direction in life, aching muscles, irritability, a lack of energy, a sense of hopelessness or depression, and even loss of muscle tissue.
Men in this situation need treating with testosterone replacement therapy. In fact, I would argue that any man around midlife needs treating with testosterone therapy if he shows a significant drop in testosterone. There's a more complete discussion of this issue here.
In any event, there's no doubt that a significant number of men around mid life lose interest in sex and experience a lack of sex drive because of the hormonal changes which they are going through.
If you think this may apply to you, it's important that you seek out advice from a competent doctor, one who knows what he's doing around male hormonal issues.
Before you seek any advice, I would recommend that you read both of these books: The Testosterone Revolution by Malcolm Carruthers, and The Testosterone Syndrome: The Critical Factor for Energy, Health and Sexuality: Reversing the Male Menopause by Eugene Shippen.
8 Problems with your body
You need to be comfortable with nudity of your own and your partner's body to enjoy really good sex. When you feel shame about your body, there's little or no possibility of enjoying totally uninhibited and passionate sex. If you make love with the lights off because you're frightened what your partner might think of your body, you're probably not going to enjoy sex very much.
But to really fall in love with someone - and to stay in love with them - you have to be comfortable in all aspects of your being with them - naked or not! The fact is, love knows no bounds, so trust your partner and respect their trust in you.
And while a little low mood lighting can be very helpful in making you feel comfortable while you make love, if either of you is turning the lights down low because you want to avoid looking at your own body or your partner's body, or even just certain parts of them, then you have a problem that needs to be addressed.
Remarkably, even couples with an active sex life sometimes avoid confronting those parts of the body of which they are ashamed by never getting totally naked with each other.
This means they can't be enjoying the uninhibited and exuberant sex that everyone deserves.
There are many ways of becoming more familiar and comfortable with your own and your partner's body within a stable relationship that do not involve explicit sexual activity: any reasonably intimate act -- the washing each other's hair, massaging each other's legs or back, applying skin cream or sun lotion -- all of these, and many more, can help you to establish a greater level of comfort, both in terms of looking at, and in terms of touching, your partner's body.
It's a fact that we all have flabby bits, we all have bits we wish were different, whether this is as public as a fat belly, or as personal as your opinion of the size of your penis.
Nonetheless, with age and decreasing exercise, we do tend to develop signs and symptoms of aging, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. These things need to be treated, as they can shorten your life.
When you think about it, it's only the cultural pressure to have a perfect body which comes from images in magazines, billboards, advertising, and perhaps most insidious of all, porn, that makes us believe our bodies are inadequate.
We didn't grow up thinking our bodies were inadequate; someone or something taught us to believe that.
If you doubt this, consider that if you'd lived all your life with your partner yet never been exposed to these images, you wouldn't have any qualms about your body - you'd just accept it the way it is.
To get back to the point I was making, being nude together in a situation that is not explicitly sexual can be very helpful in teaching you to accept how your body looks and how your partner's body looks.
Maybe going to a nudist camp so that you can see how other people have got over their inhibitions about their flabby bodies would be helpful. I don't think that the American attitude to nudity has helped anybody in the USA be comfortable with their own body image.
Nude bathing is common all over Europe, whether that means topless or completely nude. Yet in America I have seen signs that don't just say "No Nude Bathing", they say "Absolutely No Nude Bathing"!
Why is the human body the object of such shame?) Simply by looking at, touching, and enjoying the sight and feel of your partner's body you can begin to enhance your sexual life because the pleasure of naked intimacy leads to sexual contact.
The other certainty is that the more you touch your partner, clothed or not, the more likely you are to feel good about each other's bodies, the more likely you are to feel good about your relationship, and the more likely you are to have sex: it's a small step from "regular" touching to sexual touching. But it's a big step from no touching to sexual touching.
So at this point I'd like to suggest that you regress to childhood, and you play a game of doctors and nurses. Uh-ho, I can almost hear your negative reaction already! But why not? Any activity between consenting adults that doesn't cause harm or offence to either partner is a worthwhile way to pass your time.
All you have to do is just go to bed and establish a degree of intimacy by touching, stroking, caressing, and kissing each other, and then move slowly into a more sexual game -- a game of looking, with curiosity and innocence, at both the sexual and nonsexual parts of your own and your partner's body.
Now, I should point out that there may be problems you need to deal with - for example, there may be problems with yeast infections which make sexual intercourse problematic, or other issues which cause some kind of practical difficulty.
Just simply touch each other's genitals, breasts and faces, and lovingly explore them, with the innocence of a child discovering for the first time what it is that makes the body so exciting!
You can learn a lot about your attitude to your body with this exercise. If, for instance, you discover that you believe the penis and vulva are dirty and you don't want to touch them because they're dirty, then overcome this by washing each other while sharing a bath or shower and then returning to the game. Nothing between two consenting adults in a committed relationship should be taboo or embarrassing....
....And you may even find you get carried away with silliness and excitement when you start exploring each other's bodies in this way! So much the better!
There's no harm in establishing intimacy through sexual play. In fact the more intimacy you establish through sexual play, the better, because the more in bonds your relationship!
And while we're on the subject of the body and what it looks like, let's briefly turn our attention to the subject of what it tastes like, or more specifically what the genitals and their secretions taste like.
Actually that's too formal, so let's put the real words in place and get down and dirty -- spend some time tasting each other's vulva, cock, semen and vaginal juices. Does that suggestion shock you? If so, you need to get over some inhibition about your body or your partner's body, for wherever there's shame, there's inhibition.
And when there's a spirit of playful exploration and abandonment, there's the potential for truly rewarding sexual pleasure. And while you may not like the taste of the vagina or your partner's semen, at least give yourself the chance to try them (and perhaps enjoy them) before you reject these things as disgusting or dirty.
As Shakespeare said, nothing is but "thinking makes it so". If you still feel inhibited about trying this, then do it when you're sexually aroused - you may find it more acceptable.
The problem of sexual aversion for men - that is to say, aversion to the vagina or the female body - is a very specific one. If you feel that you have such an issue then you can read a lot more about vaginal aversion and sexual aversion here.
9 Loss of erection
We've already covered the question of loss of erection during contraceptive manoeuvres in the dark (that means putting on a condom!). But there are other occasions where erections fail, unexpectedly, or not-so-unexpectedly.
Many men experience the transition between the heady days of their youth where erections spring to life apparently of their own accord (often without any physical stimulation), and the days of middle age where spontaneous erections become a rarity (and a helping hand or mouth is almost always necessary to get an erection) as rather traumatic.
And yet this change can be a very good thing: at the same time the rapid ejaculation of youth gives way to an ability to make love for much longer, thereby potentially offering one's partner greater satisfaction.
It also allows a man in a long-term sexual relationship the chance to explore his softness, the more sensuous, gentle side of himself. The key thing to understand is that erections will always be around when true intimacy leads to sexual desire.
Another aspect of middle age is that your erection probably waxes and wanes during sexual activity. Instead of standing upright and proud for as long as you are making love, you may find that your erection disappears on occasions when you wouldn't expect it to - such as when you are giving your partner oral sex.
The natural reality of sex is that erections come and go throughout the flow of sexual activity. In mid life you can't expect to keep an unflagging erection for as long as you're making love. It just doesn't work that way.
For many men, simply learning this fact can be reassuring enough to alleviate their fears about losing their erection in the middle of sex. And it's almost always regained with physical stimulation by yourself or your partner.
But what about those men who really do have a problem with erectile dysfunction? If the cause of the problem lies in low testosterone then the solution is to seek help from a doctor qualified to offer hormonal therapy to men.
There's some information about this in section 7 above. Other men who have normal testosterone levels but begin to experience erectile dysfunction may need to relearn a way of being sexual that does not depend on the things that sustained their sexual drive in their younger days -- by which I chiefly mean the fantasy which many men use to keep their sexual drive going.
A lot of youngish men rely on fantasy to maintain their sexual drive even while they make love with their partner.
But the problem for a man whose sexual drive comes from his head, in other words from his fantasies, is that in midlife a fantasy is often not enough to sustain an erection. Men need to switch to a greater ability to become aroused through body stimulation.
The work of organisations such as Body Electric has all been about showing men and women how they can achieve much greater sensitivity to sexual stimuli through sensuous awareness and touch rather than fantasy and "being in your head."
Often the first step to re-establishing reliable erections is to become more body centred, and you can do this with the touching exercises described in the program for great sex on this website.
And, having said all that, it may be that at the end of the day you need to take Viagra to give yourself a good erection with which you can confidently make love. I am a great supporter of Viagra because it has revolutionised the sex lives of many couples where the man was previously in difficulties, feeling shame and low sexual self-esteem because he was not able to become erect.
Let's be pragmatic about this: Viagra works for a lot of men, and Viagra plus testosterone works for a great many more.
10 Outgrowing your spouse
A lot of couples think that when they stop communicating and experience mutual antagonism that their relationship is coming to an end, yet the truth is rarely so simple.
It's very often merely anger and resentment that get in the way of a couple communicating and make them feel like their relationship is drawing to a close.
Monogamous relationships can last a long time, or at least they can do if the partners express their feelings clearly and non-judgementally so that resentment does not build up.
Of course, it takes great courage to do this, and it's not always easy, even in the framework of long term monogamy, to express your deepest emotions to your partner - if you're a sensitive soul, just one act of "betrayal" (and by that I don't mean sexual betrayal, I mean any event where you confided in your partner and were rebuffed, humiliated or treated disrespectfully) can shatter your faith and ability to confide in them.....good sex implies male control in bed.
So I acknowledge that the expression "it's merely anger and resentment" grossly understates the impact that these emotions can have on a couple's intimacy and love.
Even so, it's my belief that if you start off strong, you can go on strong: very rarely does love die just because a couple grows apart. I think that's true even in midlife.
And if it is true, it can only be because a couple has spent years denying their own needs and they are now at a point where it seems impossible to get what they need in the relationship they have with each other. In short, I think splitting up should always be a last resort.
It's certainly not something to undertake without receiving counselling, or at least making serious and honest efforts to establish communication and real intimacy.
No matter how hurt you may feel, it's only when you have a deep certainty in your gut instinct that you're in the wrong relationship, or you're following the wrong path, or that you really, really have something much more important to do in life than be in this relationship, that you should really consider splitting up.
If you want an interesting insight into how lack of communication affects relationships, look at this piece of work, written for organisations, and substitute the word "relationship" for "organisation" every time it occurs. Fascinating.
11 Expecting too much of yourself
The culture we live in has given us many false expectations of what constitutes a normal relationship or a normal sex life. The reality is that whatever satisfies you is your norm.
Unfortunately few couples are unaffected by the pressures that filter down through the media, advertisements, radio, online, and broadcast television.
We may be in sexual competition with an ideal in our heads, or the couple who live next door and have sex every night (very noisily), or with the couple we read about in the newspaper, or even what we imagine other people are doing.
The end result, though, is that if - for example - we aren't having sex three times a week we feel inadequate because we aren't living up to the average for our age group. And it's all nonsense!
High expectations of sexual performance can also be unhelpful. Normal sex for you is what satisfies you. What satisfies you within the context of your relationship, what satisfies you within the context of the commitments you have made to your partner.
That's easy to say, but perhaps not quite so easy to put into practice if - for example - you're a middle-aged parent of teenagers who are just becoming sexual, because their sexual activity may remind you of your own past and promote some degree of envy, jealousy or competitiveness in your mind.
Yes, we all look back on the days of our youth having fun with our burgeoning sexuality as a desirable time. But implicit in that assumption is another one -- that we cannot have as good a time now, or that somehow our capacity to enjoy ourselves sexually has diminished. And that simply cannot be true.
You have the same sexual equipment, but a lot more knowledge and experience, than you did in your teens. You also have more freedom to express yourself sexually, and hopefully you have less inhibitions about what you like and don't like.
Why, then, would a couple become jealous of their teenagers' sexual activity? Or jealous of something they see in a newspaper? Or the couple down the road?
The answer is always the same: it's because they expect too much of themselves, or they expect the wrong things. Self-acceptance, one of the most graceful of all human attributes, extends to the arena of sexual relationships just as it does to any other part of life.
To be self-accepting is a great gift at any age, and indeed at any stage of a relationship.
Within the sexual context, it can be the source of great sexual pleasure and fantastic orgasms, and may even lead to the transcendent experience of spiritual sex with your partner when you have established real intimacy through self-acceptance and other-acceptance.
To sum up: what I suggest is that you abandon the expectations of other people and start to satisfy yourself. There is no need to have a benchmark to judge whether or not your sexual activity is normal, or average, for your age group.
You are who you are, and sex is what it is, and it can be your greatest joy - especially in a monogamous, faithful relationship - if you allow it to be.
12 Lack of communication
13 Sexual disgust and sexual aversion
14 Sexual shame
15 Overcoming sexual trauma
16 Lack of romance
17 Anger and resentment
18 Turning yourself off
19 The midlife crisis