Sex ad­vice

Sunday Star-Times - Sunday Magazine - - PERSPECTIVES -

I’ve been mar­ried to a man I love for four years and have com­pletely lost in­ter­est in sex. I have no urges; in fact I have come to de­test the very idea of sex. I used to like it. I’ve never been raped or sex­u­ally abused.

My hus­band ar­ranged for us to see a coun­sel­lor about a year ago and she said we should sched­ule sex in once a week. Like I’d be stand­ing at the bench peel­ing spuds think­ing, “Woo hoo, tonight’s the night” and some­how that was go­ing to make all the dif­fer­ence? Un­sur­pris­ingly, that didn’t work so we stopped go­ing to her.

I read your col­umn and I’m won­der­ing would a sex ther­a­pist do any­thing dif­fer­ently? I feel so bad. Is there hope for find­ing a lost li­bido? Yes, ab­so­lutely you can res­ur­rect your sex­ual en­ergy and plea­sure. The first thing a sex ther­a­pist would do is make a thor­ough assess­ment that would in­clude get­ting to know you two and the re­la­tion­ship you have built so far, how sex was at first, how it has changed over the years, what you’ve each made of that and how each of you has re­acted.

Sex takes place, or not, in the con­text of a re­la­tion­ship so we look at the whole dance of in­ti­macy – re­spect, con­sid­er­a­tion, en­gage­ment, lov­ing acts, play­ful­ness, ex­cite­ment, fair divi­sion of labour and time for rest ver­sus the omis­sion of any of these things and re­sent­ment.

We’d also be look­ing with you at your phys­i­cal and men­tal health be­cause stress, low iron, de­pres­sion, guilt and many other fac­tors, along with any drugs you’re tak­ing, can hit li­bido hard. Fi­nally, we’d be as­sess­ing each of your ex­pe­ri­ences at pro­gress­ing through the de­vel­op­men­tal mile­stones of sex­u­al­ity. That would al­low us to for­mu­late a plan for mov­ing for­ward in ways de­sir­able to you both.

In sup­port of sched­ul­ing, even though it may feel weird, if you keep wait­ing for spon­ta­neous arousal you’re just go­ing to get more of the same dis­in­ter­est and dis­like. Once you two, with help, have been able to es­tab­lish some kind of sen­sual/sex­ual play you can look for­ward to, mak­ing space for it maybe three times a week (once is not enough!) and learn­ing to use your brain to savour the an­tic­i­pa­tion will be part of ef­fec­tively re­build­ing your sex­ual alive­ness and plea­sure.

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