Anucyia Victor asks a marriage therapist how to inject some va va voom into a faltering sex life
You’ve been together for over a year now. The spikes of lust have been replaced by warm, fuzzy feelings and there are more cuddles than coitus. For most of us sex is the lubricant to a happy relationship. So how do you keep the ardour from cooling? We spoke to Charis Wong, US-licensed marriage and family therapist associate to find out.
Can the lack of intercourse in a relationship contribute to its breakdown?
If sex is already part of a committed relationship, then the lack of sexual intercourse is usually an indication, rather than a contributing factor, that the marriage is not doing well. Sexual problems are often (but not always) an indication or an exacerbation of conflicts or emotional distance in a marriage. Most couples, including men these days, find that it is difficult to enjoy sexual intimacy in a committed relationship when emotional intimacy is lacking. Healthy sexuality and emotional attachment between a married couple are so often integrated, which is why the line between couple and sex therapies is getting finer and finer.
What can you do to revive sexual interest in a relationship if it gets too stale?
This is usually an indication that one partner perceives the relationship itself as being stale. Work on your relationship and the sexual interest will usually follow. If the relationship is healthy, there may be other factors that contribute to the lack of sexual interest such as work stress, fatigue, and hormonal or physical problems. This would be a good time to consult your physician or gynaecologist for a medical check up and/or explore possible factors leading to the lack of sexual interest with a therapist who is trained to work with such issues.
Is there a secret to a healthy sex life? Other than communication, what else can couples do to sustain a healthy sex life?
Work on building emotional intimacy with one another. Understand that sexual interest and desire in your partner does not just depend on foreplay, but on whether your partner feels emotionally connected to you. The manner in which your partner experiences your love and affection often differs from yours. A husband who doesn’t engage in meaningful conversation with his wife after a long day shouldn’t be surprised that his wife isn’t interested in being sexually intimate with him at the end of the day. Courtship and flirting should not be restricted to pre-marital days; it is a daily affair that should continue long after you are married, and even when family life becomes busy with children.
Can there be such a thing as too much sex?
How often sex takes place in a committed relationship depends on each couple. If, however, your relationship is mostly physical but you know little of your partner outside the bedroom, then you should ask yourself whether this is a real, committed relationship, or are you just good sex buddies. But yes, there can be too much sex and this is a real, serious problem. If you find yourself fantasising about sex throughout the day to the point of distraction from your other daily activities, masturbating or engaging in sexual activities several times each day, spending many hours engaging in pornography, online sex chats or visiting prostitution outlets, then this may be an indication of sex addiction. Sex addiction, if untreated, is likely to ruin your chances of enjoying a satisfying and meaningful committed relationship.
Is it a sign of weakness to invest in items such as sexual aids?
What one needs to consider are the reasons behind the use of sexual aids and the type of sexual aids you are referring to. The danger of sexual aids is that it can cause an over dependence in order to enjoy sexual activity or to get an orgasm. So ask yourself whether you really need such sexual aids when the human body itself is probably the best sexual aid you can get.
What role does the internet play in people’s sex lives?
The internet provides easier access to pornography, cyber sex and contact with people with similar sexual fantasies. This makes it a significant contributing factor to the increase in sexual addiction. However, there are some educational websites on the internet that are a good source of sex education, especially in a country like Malaysia where sex education is next to nil.
Kin & Kids Marriage, Family and Child Therapy Center, E-8-6, Megan Avenue 1, 189 Jalan Tun Razak, KL (03 2333 8968/www.kinandkids.com).