If we are having sex, we should be able to talk about it. As a couple's therapist and a Sexual Addiction Therapist, I talk about sex A LOT. A natural consequence of an emotionally connected relationship is often a sexually connected relationship. I've found that many couples aren't having conversations about intimacy or communicating their feelings about sex. There are a whole heard of barriers to sexual arousal and safe connected sex. These barriers may include messages related to our appearance and body image, the media, our family of origin, religion, our history of individual or relational trauma, and the list goes on! Consider the messages you've received about intimacy.
A few questions to reflect on:
How comfortable do I feel talking about sex with others or with my partner? If I'm not comfortable, what makes it so difficult?
How often do my partner and I check in on our sexual relationship?
Do I feel safe to communicate my emotional and sexual needs?
How emotionally safe do I feel in my relationship?
Does it mean something about me as a person if I allow my body to experience arousal? (Anxiety is the antithesis of arousal).
What prevents me from sharing my sexual hopes with my partner?
If these questions feel triggering, it might be an indicator that you need a some support to process through your beliefs and experiences related to intimacy. We know there is a very clear connection between our mind and body. For a safe sexual experience, our mind, body and heart need to be in sync. When we've received messages about sex that promote shame, our body is likely to experience a physiological response connected with those beliefs. Vulnerability, in emotionally safe places, is the the anecdote for shame. Our ability to talk about sex in safe relationships disempowers shame. Even now, as you reflect on some of the messages you've received about sexual intimacy, you might notice a physical response in your body. Some of these responses might be tightness in your chest, a pit in your stomach, racing thoughts, feeling fidgety, or a heaviness in your heart. A physical cue from our body is often an indicator of emotional pain that needs to be processed in a safe space. It might be helpful to write down any questions that you'd like to ask your partner related to intimacy.
Ideas for questions:
When do you feel the most emotionally connected in our relationship?
When do you feel the most sexually connected in our relationship?
What do you like about our sex life?
Is there anything about our intimate life that you'd like to see change?
Do you feel sexually safe in our relationship? Do you know that saying "No" will be respected?
What can I do to create sexual safety within our relationship?
What types of non sexual touch help you feel connected?
Are there times that you consent to sex out of "obligation"?
How comfortable do you feel initiating sexually?
What can I do to create more emotional closeness in our relationship?
If your partner is not safe to explore these questions with, *and even if they are but you'd like some extra guidance* we're here and would love to help!