NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Relationships: Have You and Your Partner Stopped Having Sex?

As a New York City psychotherapist who sees both individuals and couples, one of the biggest complaints I hear from people who are in long term relationships is that the passion has gone out of their relationships (see my article:  Relationships: Overcoming Sexual Incompatibility).

Relationships: Have You and Your Spouse Stopped Having Sex?

Of course, we know that relationships change and that, for instance, a 20 year marriage usually doesn't have the same kind of sexual excitement as when the couple first met. The familiarity of seeing each other every day, dealing with life's ups and downs and settling into daily routines takes away from the early romantic idealization and excitement.

After many years, couples need to find new ways to keep their sexual lives interesting. But this isn't what I'm referring to in this blog post. What I'm talking about is the marriage or long term relationship where sex is completely gone. There is no sexual intimacy and the couple are living like roommates or brother and sister.

Why Does Sexual Passion Disappear in Long Term Relationships?
Why does sexual passion disappear in so many long term relationships and marriages? Well, as you can imagine, there are probably nearly as many "reasons" as there are relationships.

Often, when couples come to see me about this problem, one person in the relationship is very unhappy about this and the other is okay with it. To begin with, this in itself is a problem because, for the person who is okay with a sexless relationship (and might even be relieved not to be having sex any more), there's often little motivation to change. The one possible motivation is that he or she doesn't want a breakup.

Common Reasons Why Couples Stop Having Sex 
Some of the more common reasons why couples stop having sex include: unresolved anger and resentment by one or both people, power struggles in the relationship, problems with children, financial struggles, unresolved childhood sexual abuse, infidelity, sexual incompatibility, medical problems, anger about in-laws, and so on.

If the lack of sexual intimacy has gone on for a long time, one or both people might start to question whether there is still a viable relationship and if they should stay together. Of course, there are many things that create a bond between two people in a committed relationship. It's not all about sex. But the lack of any sex is often an indicator that something might have gone awry in the relationship.

Ruling Out Medical Problems
If you and your spouse are in a sexless relationship and this is bothering one or both of you, you owe it to yourselves to seek help. Ruling out any medical causes, such as erectile dysfunction (ED)for men or pain during sexual intercourse for women is usually a good place to start. Very often, medical problems can be related to emotional problems, so it's not an either-or situation.

Getting Help from a Licensed Mental Health Professional
But once medical problems have been ruled out, seeking the help of an objective licensed mental health professional, who works with couples, is the next step.

An objective professional with expertise in working with couples will have no particular agenda in terms of a couple staying together or breaking up. I mention this because people often think that couples counselors always try to keep couples together.

Have You and Your Spouse Stopped Having Sex?  Get Help

But most couples counselors work to help the couple come up with the best possible solution for the couple, whether this is staying together or working out an amicable separation. The point is not to continue to drift on in a state where one or both people in the relationship are unhappy but do nothing about it.

About Me
I'm a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individuals and couples.

I've helped many people to resolve problems, including lack of sexual intimacy, in their relationships, so they can have more fulfilling relationships.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.