With the increase in awareness around emotional issues and the benefits of therapy treatment, the stigma associated with seeking therapy has declined over time. In urban areas, especially in New York City, it’s not uncommon to be at a social gathering and hear a peer share a revelation she had in her therapy session, or for a friend to tell you she can’t hang out tonight because she has a therapy appointment. When someone is grieving over a loss or a breakup, suggestions of going to therapy will be offered left and right, and if a couple is having sexual issues, they will often look to therapy to help them improve their physical yearning for each other.
For some couples, feeling emotionally close is a prerequisite for being sexual, and emotional issues need to be resolved in order for them to have a positive sexual experience. However, for other couples, tackling the sexual issues first can be an entry way into improving the overall emotional health of the relationship, especially if the sexual issues are contributing to the distance to begin with.
I’ve had many patients who have reported feeling like their marriage felt more like a roommate situation. At best they were getting along like friends, but they fought often and had minimal sensual or even physical contact. We addressed the low desire and worked on getting them back into a sensual place, on a slow, gradual basis. Eventually, not only were they feeling more connected sexually, but the conflicts decreased in frequency and intensity. Sure, there were still emotional issues that needed to be worked out, but if they had waited for all the emotional issues to be completely worked through before working on the sexual piece, who knows how long it could have been?
Every couple has its own unique dynamic that experiences various shifts over time. Regardless of what may appear on the outside, every couple has to work through differences to be a stronger and more connected unit. Whether there are sexual or emotional issues to grapple with, there is indeed effective treatment in helping couples build new bridges to connect with each other.
We know it because we’ve seen it with our own eyes.