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This is one of the articles in self-improvement Lesson 4 -
optimize your relationships.
The article focuses on resolving sexual problems between committed
articles focus on reducing sexual stress between ex mates,
and stepkids, and stepsiblings.
The article offers...
- "Sex 101"
A "status check"
on your sexual beliefs and situation
a veteran family-systems therapist, but am
not an expert on sexual
satisfaction. From 77years on Earth, 40+ years' study of communication
skills and human
behavior, and 30 years'
learnings about personal
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma"), I feel qualified to offer the ideas in this article.
assume you're reading this because you and a partner have a "sex problem." If
so, take a moment to define what you need specifically, and say it
out loud. Then keep this need in mind as you read...
Basic Premises - Sex 101
This brief YouTube video proposes requisites for a
mutually-satisfying relationship. The video mentions eight lessons in this
self-improvement Web site - I've reduced that to seven.
“Marital sex” is too complex
for this short article to offer a meaningful roadmap to total bliss. The
article offers basic perspectives that can help you identify
probable primary problems, and options for resolving them together.
Your “sex problem" may be a
symptom of other unmet
and focusing on them together raises your odds of getting your mutual
sensual and sexual (and other) needs satisfied well enough.
Your sexual satisfaction is based
on your basic attitudes and beliefs about gender, sensuality, sexuality, and morality. See how many of these ideas you
agree with individually and as a couple:
Sexual tension, desire, or
need is a mix of physical + psychological + and
spiritual discomforts. They’re
caused by involuntary neuro-chemical cycles, which are shaped
by environmental factors, attitudes, and beliefs that you’ve grown since
early childhood. - e.g. “Masturbating is unhealthy, sinful, and disgusting!"
Your need to periodically release sexual tensions is
instinctive. It is no more shameful than digesting, burping, or urinating. The related urge
to procreate is primal and beyond moral judgment.
The way you fill your sexual
and procreation needs can be judged between nurturing (mutually satisfying and healthy) to
based on many things. There are three or more
judges to please:
biological, and environmental
conditions can inhibit natural female and
male sexual needs and responses. Odds of improving your sexual satisfaction
rise with looking honestly at all three domains.
sexual-gratification has a different "profile" (arousal,
buildup, orgasm/s, post-release) than average male
satisfaction. In "non-casual" sex, females'
enjoyment often increases when their partner's
genuine focus is on love (intimacy, tenderness, patience, sensuality,
romance, communion, empathy, passion...), vs. mindless mechanical lust,
conquest, intercourse, and orgasm. .
Some males need to feel powerful,
potent, and dominant, which manifests as sexual aggression. Some
females have a complementary need to be dominated, or vice versa. Research suggests that
female brains need...
more foreplay than males to reach full climax;
sexual release somewhat less often, and...
can experience more sequential orgasms
than average male brains and bodies.
More "Sex 101" premises...
The dividing line between sensuality and sexuality can be hard to define.
Sensuality is a combination of sensory experiences (touch, smell,
taste, sound, sights) that may promote sexual arousal and (possibly)
intercourse. Sexuality overlaps
sensuality and includes mental and genital stimulation and perhaps orgasm ." How does this compare with
who suffered sexual trauma (like
childhood seem more likely to have significant sexual (and other) problems than those who didn't. Typically, the greater the
trauma, the more likely the
will have developed
false selves and protective memory
distortions or blocks about it
Adult symptoms of early sexual trauma are clear, and
effective healing therapies are available. In my clinical experience,
most average men and women suffered significant traumas in their early years. A common one is being
guilt-tripped for feeling and
sensuality, sexuality, and
normal curiosity about those.
Our ancestral Christian and Victorian
attitudes cast natural sexual desires and behaviors as
shameful ("dirty"). To satisfy consumer demand, our profit-minded media engine
ceaselessly barrages us with unrealistic and exaggerated focus on...
attractiveness (“Six days to more flattering abs, whiter teeth, and an alluring tan!”), and sexual desirability;
superficial sexual adventure, titillation, and gratification.
Decades of exposure to
this can hinder some mates from having realistic marital sexual expectations
and experiences. Reality check: who do you compare your sexual attitudes and
behaviors to? Do you have sexual hero/ines?
More "Sex 101" premises...
Psychologically-wounded partners enduring ceaselessinner pain can be
to self-medicating via
sexual fantasies (e.g. pornography), arousal, and orgasm (masturbation). Like other addictions,
these cravings are obsessive (thoughts) and/or compulsions (actions).
beyond logic or willful control because of the underlying primal need to
mute relentless shame, guilt, and emotional/spiritual emptiness.
A related addiction is to “sex and love.” I believe
addiction is a clear symptom of major childhood
and significant psychological
Individual subselves in each partner have their own values, needs and priorities about sensuality
and sexuality. These may be based on inaccurate information, experiential
learnings, and ancestral inhibitions or prohibitions. (e.g. “A proper
wife must want to submit to her husband’s sexual needs, and not assert her
these are too conflictual, a partner can experience hormonal imbalance (“low
sexual drive”) and/or enough distraction to block their natural sexual
responses. That can manifest in many ways, like vaginismis (prolonged
contraction or spasm) and impotence.
Sexual preference appears to be largely developmental and hormonal, rarely learned or
chosen. As such, there is nothing inherently immoral or shameful about
consensual bisexuality or homosexuality. If you’re
curious, skeptical, outraged, or disagree, I recommend that you read “Brain
Sex,” by Anne Moir and David Jessel.
consistently ranks fifth or lower in thoughtful surveys of marital-satisfaction
factors. Respect, honesty, companionship, empathy, and emotional/spiritual
intimacy usually rank higher, at least with typical
women. What are
36 years' study, I believe U.S. divorce is
epidemic partly because
commit to the wrong
people, at the wrong
time, for the wrong
reasons. One wrong reason is “to socially and morally legitimize and satisfy my sexual desire
“sexual problems” are symptoms of major psychological
wounds and unawareness + ineffective communications + toxic attitudes + ignorance of sexual and relationship realities. Once
identified, each of these can be reduced. From this view, there is no such thing as
a "sexual" problem,
other than organic dysfunction like hormonal imbalances. Even those may be affected by psychological deficits.
You mates can improve
your sensual and sexual satisfaction any time you commit to...
helping each other identify
and reduce any significant
psychological wounds (Lesson 1);
attitudes and behaviors (be “more
Lasting improvement is most likely when you each feel "This is
project," vs. "This is
your problem: you must change and learn how to
satisfy me (insulting
implication: "my needs and dignity outrank yours").
Status check: See
where you stand with what you just read: T = true, F = false,
and ? = "I'm not sure," or "It depends on ____"
I agree witheach of the premises above; or if not, I’m clear on what I
do believe. (T
and values are my own, not someone else’s - like a religion’s, my ancestors',
my mate’s, or the media’s. (T F ?)
know all I
need to know about (a) healthy human sexual functioning and behavior and (b) my personal
sensual and sexual needs. (T F ?)
can clearly (a)
name the major differences between male and female sexual needs and
responses, and (b) describe how those differences affect my and my mate’s
recent sexual satisfactions or frustrations. (T F ?)
My needs for sensuality and sexuality (a) have been satisfied well enough recently,
(b) in ways that
enhance (vs. stress) our relationship and our self and mutual respect. (T F ?)
any “sex problem” my mate and I are experiencing is a symptom of deeper
personal and relationship problems. (T F ?)
I can separate my and
my mate’s needs for psychological and spiritual
intimacy from our
respective needs for physical (sensual/sexual) pleasure. (T F ?)
I consistently rank my partner’s
worth and psychological, spiritual,
and physical needs as
equal in importance to mine. (T F ?)
My partner would answer
each of these items as “True” now. (T F ?)
discuss these items with my partner now, and I (b) feel totally safe doing so.
If you learned anything
important here, what is it? If you didn’t learn anything, what does that
Women and men’s sexual
anxieties and frustrations sound the same in any family situation:
"Too seldom (or too often)!"
"Too fast (or slow)!"
"Not enough romance!"
"Too little time!"
“I feel used!”
"I don't feel desired (or desirable)!"
"I (you) have little sexual desire"
"Too little (or too much) foreplay!"
"You compare me to ______ "
"I have an (old) infection that..."
“The kids will hear us…”
"You've, uh, lost your sexy body..."
"You fall asleep right away, and I..."
"You don't know what I like!"
"You won't do what I like!"
“I don’t do things like that.”
"Too many interruptions"
"I'm (or you're) too tired, too often!"
"You only do that because I ask,
instead of wanting to..."
"I just want to cuddle, and you want
"I’m scared that we'll conceive,
"It's your duty as a spouse to..."
"(Some authority) says..."
"I'm ashamed and guilty that I can't please you"
"I'm afraid that I can't please you..."
"You have a big (sexual)
"You won't tell me what
"I have to initiate sex
all the time."
Add to these a collage of
"mechanical" problems with erection and penetration; lubrication; hygiene; premature,
mismatching, or interrupted orgasms (or none); timing conflicts ("I
like it best in the morning, but Burt's a night man");...
Any bells ringing here?
These are surface problems which can combine to cause major personal
and mutual hurts, resentments, frustrations, and doubts. These can be
amplified by many other family and life stressors.
I propose that every one of these common surface problems is caused by a mix
Six Primary Sexual Problems
One or both of you...
are unaware of being psychologically
and controlled by well-intentioned false selves; and/or...
can't communicate effectively about sexual (and other) issues; and/or...
have distorted information and/or unrealistic expectations about
sexuality; and/or you...
are denyinga chemical and/or relationship
inhibits sexual responses; and/or you...
are denying or minimizing a treatable medical condition,
and/or one or
both of you...
made up to three unwise courtship-commitment choices which can't be
Perspective on These
Most non-organic surface sexual
may be symptoms of inherited psychological wounds +
unawareness. Common symptoms
of this are...
Enjoyable sex requires being fully in the
physical/emotional moment. Alternatives are being "in your head," numb, and/or
distracted. Significant physical discomfort (fatigue, hunger, pain,...) and/or
subselves' excessive distrusts and fear of emotional
can make spontaneously being "in the moment" impossible until in real (vs. pseudo)
wound-reduction. For more perspective
and wound-reduction options, study Lesson 1
in this Web site.
also probable that…
two can’t communicate
effectively with yourself (clear
thinking) and/or with your
mate about your sensual and sexual needs, limits, pleasures, fantasies, anxieties, and conflicts.
avoiding sex or “sex talk,”
bickering, arguing, debating,
blaming, or fighting "about sex," vs. win-win problem-solving;
controlling and/or manipulating your
partner, and denying or justifying that;
criticizing, blaming, and name-calling
yourself or your partner;
and/or withdrawing emotionally or physically,
punishing (“You’re sleeping on the
couch tonight”); and/or...
(a) anger and resentment at,
(b) fear of, and/or (c) disrespect (scorn) of, your mate's
sexual attitudes, priorities, and/or behaviors.
This problem is a
mix of unawareness +
fuzzy thinking + ignorance of effective
(Lesson 2) and
relationship basics (Lesson 4). Review these
online lessons for options.
And one or both of you
3) have distorted information and unrealistic expectationsabout healthy sexual beliefs,
practices, and norms (We must climax at the same time, every time!”)
The challenge here is learning what you need to know, and "unlearning" toxic
ideas. And/or either of you...
may be denying a chemical
inhibits sexual responses,If
so, the primary problems are (again) significant psychological wounding + ineffective thinking and problem-solving
+ unawareness of
these and/or what to do about them.
For more perspective and options, see this article after you finish here.
And perhaps one or both of you...
has a treatable
medical condition, and you’re (a) denying that and/or what it means, or
you're avoiding appropriate treatment. Both of these usually indicate
significant psychological wounding (#1 above).
And/or one or both of you
made unwise courtship
choices- committing to the wrong
people, for the wrong
reasons, at the wrong
time. This can cause
a range of interactive secondary problems, sexual and otherwise.
The bad news: these
six primary problems can combine with other
surface relationship stressors to feel
overwhelming. The good news:
once you’re aware of your mix of problems (your unfilled needs), you mates can help each other
resolve them a few at a time, over time. By reading this
article, you’ve already begun!
1) Start by reframing the problem. Instead of saying "We have
a problem with sex," try "We have several personal and relationship
problems we need to resolve together."
your attitude: if you each feel "This is
then green light. Implication: "To solve our
problems, both of us must
want to change some important things." Blaming yourself or
your partner for "the sex problem" makes successful resolution less likely. Reluctance to adopt shared responsibility suggests well-meaning
false selves are running your and/or your mate's life.
3) Adopt a
long-range view, and work
Lesson 1 together:assess for psychological wounds, and help each other
reduce any you find. Over time, this keystone work will
improve your lives and relationships in many ways.
Option 5) Check the
priority that each of you assigns to your relationship. If it's lower than
second place, discuss why - and what that means about consistently satisfying your
partnership needs together..
6) Evaluate your emotional and spiritual
intimacies with yourselves (trust among your
subselves) and with each other. With stable self and mutual trust,
sensual and sexual satisfactions are much more likely. Do you agree? Part of
this evaluation is looking honestly at your joint
motivation to make undistracted time to share
common interests with each other.
7) Expand your
sexual knowledge and vocabulary. Read one or more of the many sexual
self-help books available now out loud to each
other. Help each other
gender-differences in your
desires, attitudes, and priorities. More knowledge will make your expectations
more realistic, expand your options, and grow your sexual vocabulary. There
are many helpful sources of information on the Web - e.g.
As you progress on the options above,
study and discuss
Lesson 4 together.
Use the resources there to learn how to
analyze and resolve any
significant relationship problems. This can improve your mutual trust,
respect, friendship, and intimacy
9) If these options don't help enough,
hire a qualified sex therapist to help with specific problems.
Ideally, such a
have experience with the options above or at least be willing to facilitate
your using them. Most mental health agencies, hospital outpatient
programs, and veteran therapists can recommend qualified local clinicians and programs.
Note: if a prospective consultant doesn't advocate working with you
your partner, look elsewhere. If your partner balks at joint sexual
counseling, see if this applies.
Pause and reflect. How do you feel about discussing these options with your
partner and trying them together?
Lesson-4 article is one of a subseries on improving primary
relationships. It focuses on improving mate's sensual and sexual
satisfaction. This article’s key
premise is that common marital "sexual
problems" are symptoms of up to six deeper problems. If partners (a)
ignore or minimize the surface problems, or (b) focus on them without
reducing the underlying causes, they risk decreasing marital satisfaction and
nurturance over time.
key options are committing to
psychological wounds and
reduce them), and
Lesson 2 (build effective communication skills). These two underlie resolution
of all relationship problems.
Pause and recall why you read this article. Did you get what you needed? if
so, what do you need to do next? If not, what
do you need? Who's
answering these questions - your wise
true Self, or