16 Sex Problems Marriage Counsellors Hear About All the Time

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Sex is painful

“Sometimes there are legitimate medical reasons that a woman might not feel comfortable having sex,” says Gary Brown, PhD, LMFT, marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. He says one physical condition is vaginismus, when the vaginal muscle involuntarily spasms. When this occurs, intercourse can be painful for a woman.

“Her partner should understand that she can’t control over when this occurs; it may happen infrequently or chronically,” he says. “Treatments are available once a diagnosis has been made.” In heterosexual relationships, the penis can also create pain during vaginal intercourse. Couples often go slow at first, and use lubricants. “No matter why sexual problems exist for any couple, it’s vital that they find ways to establish enough trust between them so that they can talk about what is and isn’t working in the bedroom,” he says. “Being in couples counselling may help bridge whatever gaps exist between them so that they can both enjoy a passionate and fulfilling love life together.”

(Related: 5 Myths About Your Lady Parts–Debunked)

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Feelings of fatigue

Constant fatigue can bring your sex life to a halt. “The old, ‘Not tonight; I have a headache’ has turned into ‘Not tonight; I’m exhausted,’” says Gilda Carle, PhD, relationship expert, and author of 8 Steps to a Sizzling Marriage. Consider rearranging what’s important in your life so you have enough energy for intimacy. “Long after you leave your career or your neighbourhood, it’s your partner who will be your steady anchor of support—unless you push him away in favour of everything else,” says Carle. “You must decide how important to you your partner really is.”

(Related: Why Does My Husband Only Touch Me When He Wants Sex?)

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One person is emotionally ready. The other wants to be physically ready.

“One person, usually the woman, wants to feel close emotionally to her partner before she’s interested in being sexual,” says Michele Weiner-Davis, MSW, and author of The Sex-Starved Marriage. “She wants to spend time together, talking and nurturing the ‘friendship’ aspect of the relationship.” The other person, usually the man, wants to feel close to his partner physically. “Being connected physically includes sexual, sensual, and affectionate touch and other flirtatious behaviours,” she says. What happens then is a vicious cycle. “If a man initiates sex to connect and the woman rejects the advances because she feels distant emotionally, he becomes hurt. His wife pulls away, becoming more physically averse.” That’s when they need to meet halfway. One person needs to make their partner feel appreciated, and other needs to be more physically affectionate. “Healthy relationships are built on mutual caretaking,” she says.

(Related: This Common Thing Happens When a Couple Stops Having Sex)

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