Sex and Intimacy Therapy for Couples
COUPLES SEX AND INTIMACY ISSUES
Falling out of love? In a sexless marriage? Our experienced couples counselors help work through intimacy issues and find connection.
Falling Out of Love or Experiencing Intimacy Issues in a Relationship?
Falling out of love, feeling disconnected or any other intimacy issue can make you feel unloved in many ways. Perhaps you find yourself feeling more like a roommate with your partner than a lover. Maybe lack of sex, affection or attention is making you wonder “Does he even love me?” You are not alone. If we had to guess, we would say that intimacy issues are the true cause of most unhappy relationships.
Talking about sexual problems can be difficult enough, but coming to a solution alone isn’t that much easier. Often couples find themselves emotionally distraught as they face power struggles, intense conflict and deep emotional distance. All of this is supressed or avoided because of the many taboos we have around sex and intimacy. For many, the shame and stigma surrounding intimate issues can prevent any action.
Is it possible to get the spark back in your relationship? Yes, you can get back to what you had before, but you can’t return to something that was never there. If one partner for example is a clinical narcissist that never loved you or the relationship, there won’t be anything we can do. Whether this is the case or not we will discuss in our initial session. We won’t pursue therapy if we don’t see it as being helpful to you as a couple.
Note: Relationship issues are similar across all relationship types. When we use terms like “couple” we don’t intend to exclude any groups from our advice. Non-monogomous or polyamorous couples can benefit as much from our relationship counseling as any other normative couple. In fact many of the common obstacles that such relationship arrangements bring can be best navigated with the help of a relationship advisor.
We offer Couples Counseling for:
Our Clinicians also help with:
- Preparing for Partnership & Premarital Counseling
- Life Transitions (beginning, ending or changing your relationship status)
- Marriage Counseling
- Relationship Discernment Counseling
Contact us to schedule an appointment or ask a question:
Common Intimacy Issues
- Aging and sexuality, menopause, etc.
- Absent, delayed or early ejaculation
- Coping with past sexual trauma or childhood abuse
- Differences in or low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- LGBTG issues – sexual shame, etc.
- Maintaining interest and variety in your sexual relationship
- Painful intercourse
- Sexless marriages
- Sexual inhibitions
How Important is Sex in a Relationship?
While sex is a small part of intimacy, it does have significant importance within romantic relationships. Not only does it reduce stress and increase pleasure, but it is an important part of emotional bonding. Sexual issues can have an outsized impact on relationship satisfaction. In fact, unhappy partners ascribe 50 to 70 percent of their distress to sexual problems.  This is because often sex is the first thing to be impacted by broader relationship issues.
In fact, you can think of sex as a “red flag” indicator for broader relationship issues that should be helped with couples work. This is because sex is a part of the cycle between emotional connection and physical intimacy. We have found that as couples avoid intimacy, emotional bonds are degraded and in turn less intimacy as initiated. It’s important to seek help in breaking this cycle before permanent relationship damage occurs.
One way that we can break that cycle is by exploring our other avenues of intimacy. General physical affection, for example, primes us for sexual attention. This is why our couples counselors work with couples on incorporating more touch into a relationship: hugs, kisses, caresses. Some couples need to be told not to touch at all in order to realize how important it is for them.
How to Fall Back in Love
Our approach to reinvigorating the spark is to jumpstart the relationship and then build skills to rethink your relationship as one where you are “always dating.” As you start dating your partner again, you also have to look at underlying beliefs and issues you both have, and not necessarily the specific issue that brought you into therapy.
We understand that often couples “fall out of love” because they get too comfortable with their partner. We often start thinking that we know everything about our partner, because over time we generally know how they act and what they say. The trick is in understanding that your partner is always changing and growing, that thinking of them as someone new and exciting is challenging, but in the long term satisfying.
We’ve noticed that almost every couple that is losing connection finds themselves daydreaming about the start of the relationship when everything was new. We call this “the first 90 days”, after which we stop asking questions and learning about our partner and see them as unchanging. With time it’s our goal to get you back to a similar mindset now.
Some partners that work with us find during therapy that they feel disconnected with themselves and are stagnating or adrift in their own lives. We encourage reconnection with yourself first and foremost, then once you bring your best self to the relationship, it gives your partner something new to latch on to.
One way we do this is by teaching couples to create space for themselves and their differences. In some ways, what makes use different from our partner keeps us interested more than what we have in common.
Avoid the Pursuer-Distancer Cycle
Successful relationships take a balance of connection and separateness. One of the most common patterns that we see with couples at LifeStance is the pursuer-distancer cycle. If unchecked it can contribute significantly to relationship breakdown as the cycle escalates. This situation is helpful to mention because it is perfect for our style of couples therapy.
Are you out of balance with connection and being separate?
Many couples find themselves stuck too far on one side of the spectrum. Either they never connect, or they are together too much and there is no “mystery” in the relationship. You can see this best when you watch a couple at a party. If both partners immediately separate themselves and never connect over the course of the night, they likely don’t have an interest in getting updates from the other and may be too distant. If both partners come to the party and are inseparable, talking with the exact same people and hearing the exact same things, they can’t really enjoy the party as individuals.
So what does pursuing – distancing look like in a relationship overall?
Well, if one partner is anxious about the relationship (why some call this cycle anxious-avoidant) they tend to pressure the other partner to do certain things to prove their commitment. This can overwhelm the other partner who feels that everything is fine and lead them to withdraw to avoid such confrontations. The more this partner withdraws, the more the other pursues. This cycle can continue indefinitely if not noticed.
Distancers tend to avoid conflict and see being pursued as a difficult situation.
The reason that this happens tells us a lot about relationships. People that tend to distance themselves in these situations tend to be more closed off than their partner, or more independent and inward looking.
Pursuers on the other hand want attention and affection from their partner.
They tend to be more verbal and expressive with their feelings and can get frustrated when their partner is not the same. Pursuers crave connection and secure assurances from their partner.
One of the steps to break this cycle is to realise it is there.
The next is to develop ways to balance how one pursues and distances. This may mean finding ways to meet one’s emotional needs not exclusively from a partner, or make room for emotional connection when situations require it, and more distance in other cases. Every couple is different and every solution varies. Our therapists can help you find your unique path forward.
Break-free and begin your journey to
There is a future life where trauma does not control your day. Imagine yourself feeling calm, confident and ready to handle new situations with ease. The tools to living the life you have always envisioned are here, at your fingertips.
LifeStance Health can help.
Reach out directly to our Client Care Coordinator for questions, matching, and scheduling:
Our services are also available online through Zoom. Telehealth/Online counseling gives you the opportunity to explore your challenges in life without complicating your daily schedule.
First Session Within 72 Hours of Calling
We book you an appointment within 24 hours of contacting us (usually less) and make sure your first appointment is soon after.
Call our office to schedule your appointment, or for any changes regarding scheduling.
Schedule by phone:
LifeStance Washington Locations
Kirkland (opens April 2022)
Tacoma Meadow Park
12900 NE 180th St, Suite 160
Bothell, WA 98011
21727 76th Ave West, Suite C
Edmonds, WA 98026
5201 Olympic Drive, Suite 210
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
22500 SE 64th Place
Building G, Suite 230
Issaquah, WA 98027
KIRKLAND (opens April 2022)
4030 Lake Washington Blvd NE
Kirkland, WA 98033
350 S 38th Ct
Renton, WA 98055
3707 Providence Point Drive SE,
Issaquah, WA 98029
Plaza 600 Building
600 Stewart St, Suite 1228
Seattle WA 98101
221 N Wall St.
Spokane WA 99201
2420 S. Union Ave, Suite 100
Tacoma, WA 98405
5909 Orchard Street West
Tacoma, WA 98467
17311 135th Avenue NE
Woodinville, WA 98072