Many people understand that sex is not just about the mechanics of intercourse. It's also connected to so many more aspects of who we are as sensual, expressive, sexual beings.
Unfortunately, very few of us have the words or language to talk about these depths and nuances of sex.
We often hear things like:
- "I just don't feel connected to my husband."
- "I know this sounds stupid, but if he would unload the dishwasher…that would feel like foreplay."
- "I'm so tired of being rejected by my wife in the bedroom. I don't even initiate anymore."
- "Every time we try to talk about sex, we end up fighting. I'm tired of feeling so wrong and broken."
These experiences around sex and intimacy are incredibly common for committed partners. And, the common belief is: if you have a good, emotional life with your partner, your sex life will just work itself out.
Our therapy practice looks at sex and intimacy from an integrated model that is not so focused on how much and how often but rather getting deeply into your sexual experience as a whole experience. This integrated model was created by author, therapist, and speaker Gina Ogden, Ph.D., LMFT.
Here are the four aspects that we consider:
Yes, the physical is important! Some of our questions may include particulars, such as:
- Do you experience pain, are you on medications, or do you have a disability?
- How do you like to be stimulated genitally and through 'outercourse' (non-genital stimulation)?
- What kinds of disrupted adrenal functions and increased cortisol levels are occurring due to past trauma, PTSD, lack of sleep, depression, etc.?
- How comfortable are you with your body and sharing your body with another?
- What feelings come up when you think about sex? Excitement, anticipation, love, dread, fear, anger, boredom?
- How do you communicate your feelings to your partner?
- How do you receive your partner's feelings when they share them with you?
- Does your way of communicating emotions with your partner create a secure environment for sexual play and exploration?
- Is it okay to receive pleasure? To give pleasure?
- Are there past wounds, traumas, or emotional scar tissue between you and your partner that feel like they are preventing you from having physical intimacy?
- What are your thoughts and beliefs about sex?
- What do you expect out of sex and your sexual partner?
- What kinds of unspoken contracts have you (and your partner) created that dictate what you believe your sex life should be?
- How has the culture you grew up in given you judgments, thoughts, or beliefs about sex — that maybe you no longer want to keep?
- What are your beliefs about how your sex should look between: a man and a woman, two married people, two committed people who are not married, two women, etc.?
This aspect is not religious but rather pertains to one's personal experience or understanding of the Divine and transcendental.
- What kinds of messages did you receive of pleasure, sex, your physical body from your religion, church, spiritual beliefs as a child?
- In what ways have your religious or spiritual beliefs introduced an aspect of the Divine into your sexual life?
- How do you make sense of chaos in your world or your relationship?
- How do you 'ground yourself' when chaos occurs?
- Have you ever experienced a spiritual union during sex in the past?
- What is the meaning of sex, if any, beyond the physical?
You can see that this very brief introduction encourages exploration of what you bring to your sexuality––both with and without a partner! Before we look at "what's broken," it's valuable to clarify what we are working with. And most people have spent very little time exploring what they bring to their own sex life!
We are excited to partner with our clients to help them realize the kinds of relationships they want to have in their lives.
Come in and have a conversation with Margie Kaems or one of her fellow clinicians to learn how to help you uncover new experiences in your intimate life.
You can give us a ring at (720) 457-3342. We welcome clients from all surrounding areas, including Cherry Creek and Denver.