• More Sex: Acceptance Vs Control

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    More Sex: Acceptance Vs Control

    Recently, a couple came to my clinic.

    Let’s call them Frank and Jane (not their real names, obvi…).

    They were a heterosexual couple with two kids. Frank wanted more sex, and Jane was OK with how things were.

    They disclosed that they had sex a couple of times a week.

    I told them that for a couple with kids, they’re ahead of most people in terms of frequency.

    Frank said, “I’m not OK with that. I would like more.”

    Hearing this… as their couple’s therapist, there are several places to go.

    One way is to acknowledge this as a strength – Frank is pushing for more connection, and connection is good, but I didn’t lead with that.

    I started by sharing a quote from a “semi-famous” sex therapist by the name of Barry McCarthy. He said:

    “A couple’s sexual satisfaction plummets after the birth of their first baby. Then reignites after the youngest goes to college…”

    Frank promptly said, “Well, I don’t want that…”

    This prompted me to explore deeper with Frank.

    I asked him, “What does having sex less than you’d like to mean to you?”

    He shared that when rejected or Jane doesn’t initiate, he feels unworthy and unwanted – he doesn’t have value and is unlovable.

    Having sex assured him that he was OK, and the relationship was OK – even if they weren’t sharing emotionally.

    Jane shared that to be more open to sex with Frank, she needed to have that emotional intimacy.

    What emotional intimacy meant to her was both sharing feelings, highs and lows of the day, treating each other as equals, sharing anxieties and vulnerability – sharing what’s real and honest.

    Jane also shared that she needed to feel less drained and overwhelmed to feel more sexual.

    She told Frank he could help with that by taking some things off her plate, such as helping more with the kids, taking them to appointments, and making dinner.

    Jane needs to get specific in what she needs to help Frank help her.

    One way that Jane can help with Frank’s response to being rejected when she says “No” to sex, is to remind Frank that she loves him and it’s about her, not him.

    This may seem like a little extra work for her, but knowing how rejection affects Frank, that could be a nice gesture.

    It could also help if she acknowledged that his desire for more sex was to feel more connected, and connection is a good thing.

    When Jane does say “No,” to sex. I told Frank that’s a good thing – she’s taking care of herself, and she wishes to be happy. If she went along with sex while not feeling it, that’s a lose-lose for both, and resentment would slowly build.

    Some of my work with Frank is to help him esteem himself and recognize that he does have worth despite the frequency of sex.

    Because, fundamentally, he can’t control Jane’s response and willingness for sex.

    But what can Frank control for more sex?

    • He can initiate more emotional intimacy with Jane.
    • He can help with things around the house and with the kids to free up more bandwidth for her.
    • Esteem himself and let go of the outcome – there are no guarantees it will work how he wants it to, and that’s OK.

    This leads to acceptance.

    I got this question from my mentor, Terry Real, which can help with acceptance.

    “Can I grieve the fact that I’m not getting as much sex as I’d like, while accepting all the good things that I am getting in the relationship?”

    If the answer is no, that’s a deal breaker, and you may need to have a different conversation.

    If the answer is yes:

    I will grieve the fact that I’m not getting as much sex as I’d like while accepting all that I am getting.

    He does that while he works on what he can on his side for more sex.

    That’s a sign of maturity.

    Sex and intimacy coach Nicole Colleen who I interviewed in the Healthy Relationship Secrets for Parents podcast has an equation for more sex.

    It is P – P = P.

    That is P (patience) – P (pressure) = P (pleasure).

    If Frank nags, begs, or pouts for more sex, Jane is not going to feel sexually drawn to him.

    He needs to use attraction and not control.

    I want to share an acronym from Al-anon: D.E.T.A.C.H.

    That stands for: Don’t Even Think About Changing Him or Her.

    Now, with that in place, let’s discuss how you two can have more sex if that’s what you two want…


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