A healthy sexual relationship is an integral part of a fulfilling partnership, which is reason enough to make good sex a worthy pursuit. The trouble is, while sex often provides great pleasure, it can just as often provoke stress. Are you satisfying your partner? Are your sexual encounters frequent enough? Do they last long enough? There are all sorts of questions you can ask. But really only one is relevant:
Are the needs of both partners being met?
There is no other way to know this than to talk about it. Often people are shy about discussing sex, sometimes because they are not used to verbalizing about it and aren\’t comfortable with something new. Or they don\’t have an adequate vocabulary to express their feelings. It helps to start simply, with familiar feelings. Do you both look forward to sex? Do you feel pleasure during sex? Afterward, do you feel satisfied? Is it generally an enjoyable experience? If you and your partner answer positively, then your sexual relationship is working for you.
But what if there\’s resentment, guilt, anger or even dread?
Negative feelings are often caused by a disparity in sexual desire. One partner has a greater sexual drive than another. When the disparity is minimal, couples can usually find an amicable compromise. But when the disparity is great, the partner with less desire often feels put upon to have sex when he or she doesn\’t want to, which can lead to guilt or resentment. If the partner with more desire is insistent, the partner with less desire may give in, but perhaps with a bit of anger.
On the other hand, the partner with more desire may begin to feel deprived and even unloved. This creates a need for a confirmation of love, and that partner may become even more insistent about having sex. That kind of pressure produces the opposite of the desired result because the partner with less desire may push back even more in his or her defense, and at some point, can lose interest entirely.
This kind of impasse often requires help from a professional. The solution may involve taking baby steps to get back to a point where no one is pressured but both partners\’ needs are adequately met. That can be a slow process during which it is helpful to talk to each other about how you feel. When both partners understand the other\’s point of view, and want to please each other, they can come to a satisfactory compromise.
What if one partner wants to try something that the other doesn\’t?
There is a wide range of sexual behavior, and certainly if it is dangerous, harmful or repulsive, no one should be made to participate. But it is useful to have an open mind about trying new things. After all, good sex involves pleasing your partner, and if trying something new would please him or her, why not? If it doesn\’t work out, or you find you really dislike it, then you don\’t have to try it again. Or, if this issue becomes a source of serious conflict, then counseling may be in order.
How can couples optimize their sexual relationship?
The irony of a great sexual experience is that it begins when you take your mind off yourself and focus on your partner. You can talk with your partner to determine what s/he likes, or instead of verbalizing, you can encourage him or her to guide your hand while making love. When both partners think of the other first, then chances are both will find sexual satisfaction. Being thoughtful and considerate of your partner is a wonderful aphrodisiac.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.Â If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.Â You can reach her here:Â http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.