Do you and your partner struggle to agree on how often you should have sex?
Do you struggle with a really low sex drive and rarely want to be intimate with your spouse?
Has your sex life become boring and routine?
Does it feel like your spouse or partner isn't even interested in you sexually anymore?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions you are not alone. You want to have a good sex life, to be intimately connected to your partner or spouse and to like both of your needs are met. Yet, something is standing in the way. One or both of you feels unhappy in your sex life. Maybe it's even leading to feelings of resentment or conflict in other areas of your marriage/relationship.
Although you don't hear people talk about it very often, most intimate relationships experience some point in their relationship where sexual desire is mismatched at some point in the life of their relationship. Professionally, we call this a desire discrepancy. A desire discrepancy just means one of you in the relationship has a lower desire than the other one. In fact, at Sexual Wellness Institute, the most common sexual concerns we see are related to low desire or desire discrepancy.
You've tried to improve your sex life before.
You've tried to fix this on your own or as a couple. Maybe you've tried talking (or arguing) about the issue. Perhaps you've been on dates or talked to your friends about what is "normal" in the bedroom in a long term relationship.
By the time you arrive in our office, we know you have probably tried several things already. We want this to be a different experience for you. Your sex therapist will work with your strengths and your achievements as a couple to help you build on what you’ve already accomplished. We’ll use our expertise and experience to guide you in new, exciting directions. Through sex therapy sessions, you and your spouse or partner will improve the foundation of your relationship that facilitates sexual desire—communication, eroticism, vulnerability and trust, and more! Maybe you’re feeling hopeless, discouraged, frustrated, or angry right now. Know that you are not alone, and we are confident in our ability to help you achieve the satisfying sex life you’re after!
What to expect in Sex Therapy
You've been wondering, "What is 'normal' when it comes to libido" or "How can I increase my libido" for awhile now. By now, you recognize that you and your partner need help. You just aren't sure what to expect or even what to label this.
For starters, you may have heard various terms to describe this issue--so let’s break them down:
Low Desire/"Low Libido"
One or more partners experience a change in their sexual functioning that results in little to no desire to have sexual intimacy. Myriad factors can precipitate this change: life transitions (new baby, new career, grief/loss), increased conflict in the marriage, low level of sexual satisfaction, co-occuring depression or anxiety, sexual shame, sexual trauma, medications, organic factors, and more. We can help you narrow down possible contributors, and suggest changes that will facilitate your intimate relationship goals.
Mismatched Desire/Desire Discrepancy
The terms "mismatched desire" or "desire discrepancy" describe a difference between partners in desire or frequency of sexual activity. Many of the same things that contribute to low desire also contribute to desire discrepancy. The biggest different between the two is that low desire often means little to no desire with distress about this, and desire discrepancy merely means a difference amongst partners in levels of desire. We can absolutely help with both!
Although sometimes used interchangeably, desire and arousal refer to two distinct phenomena. Desire is wanting to engage in sexual activities, while arousal is how your physiology responds to sexual stimulation. There are many myths about the relationship between sexual desire and arousal. During intimacy counseling & sex therapy sessions, our mental health professionals will show you lots of exciting new research to help clear up any misconceptions that might prevent you reaching your intimacy goals!
How can a Sex Therapist Help?
Intimacy in a relationship is like anything else in our lives—it needs constant attention. Similar to parenting, healthy lifestyle, and other top priorities in life, we must continually turn our attention to our goals and assess our progress. This is where a sex therapist can come in. See why we are qualified to help you here. As sex therapists, we are here to help be your touchstone, providing accountability for making relationship intimacy a priority, and acting as your guide to make that happen.
For the Lower Desire Partner
You've thought about your differing desire levels many times. You've wondered what you can do to increase your libido. Or maybe you didn't realize what a problem it was until your partner recently came to you and told you it was hurting them. The good news is that a sex therapist can help you through counseling sessions. We can help you sort out exactly what is preventing you from wanting to engage more with your partner. We will explain many different things that can impact your sex drive. In counseling sessions, we may discuss your emotional connection in the relationship, conflict in your relationship, attitudes/values around sex, your arousal patterns, knowledge about sex, sexual trauma, familiarity with your own body and erotic templates, and more! It's also important to know that just because your partner has a higher desire than you doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you. Maybe you still have desire but your partner just has more than you. We can help you figure out how to come to a middle ground that feels satisfactory to both of you. Or, maybe you identify as someone who has little to no desire. If so, we will extensively explore the topics listed above and help you figure out a specific plan of action.
For the Higher Desire Partner
We know it can be frustrating and difficult to be the one with higher desire in a relationship. There is nothing wrong with you, and there's nothing wrong with your partner. It is easy to get caught up in the feelings of rejection that occur when you are the one trying to keep your sex life going and your partner is not as interested as you. This rejection can build up over time and cause shame, resentment, shutting down, and more. We want to help you and your partner communicate about this so that at the very least you can support each other through a difficult time of not having the sex life you want.
More Information About Arousal & Desire
For now, you might be interested to hear some of the top marriage and sex therapists discuss arousal and desire:
Emily Nagoski, author of Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, describes her research in a TedTalk.
Esther Perel’s TedTalk, entitled “The Secret to Desire in a Long-Term Relationship”
Michele Weiner Davis discusses “The Sex Starved Marriage” in a TedTalk.
Emily Nagoski discusses how to sustain desire in long term relationships in this TedTalk
Seeking Therapy for Low or Mismatched Desire in the Minneapolis Area? Start Here.
Beginning sex therapy in our Plymouth, MN counseling office with skilled therapists is simple and worry-free. Set your doubts and fears aside and let us help address your concerns right away. All you have to do to get started is:
Sexual Wellness Institute, PLLC is a specialized sex & relationship therapy practice in Plymouth, MN. We serve clients all over Minnesota and Wisconsin and are located near Maple Grove, St. Louis Park, Wayzata, & Minnetonka.