Working On a Better (Sexual) Relationship

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Couples can have difficulties in one area of their relationship (sex, for example) that affects them in other areas (just talking to each other).  The partner that has a stronger desire for sex can often feel controlled by the partner with lower desire, and the partner with less desire can feel pressured by the partner with more desire.  This can lead to a lot of anger in the person with desire not getting something they feel they need in the relationship.  The anger often spills out in other ways besides just any talk about having sex.

 

David Schnarch is a psychologist that has worked to combine couples therapy and sex therapy.  You might benefit from looking at two of his books, Passionate Marriage and Intimacy and Desire. He calls the partner with stronger desire the HDP (High Desire Partner) and the partner with lower desire the LDP (Low Desire Partner).  As well, he writes that the LDP “controls” sex in the relationship.  If you read him further, he presents how the HDP can bring about change in the couple by self-confronting, holding on to yourself, and by differentiating (getting yourself psychologically healthy).

 

It is crucial you see the emphasis in the above paragraph:  first, that the person with higher desire (HDP) can cause change to happen in the relationship (even though that person often feels like it is impossible to get change) and, second, that the change start by that person confronting him/herself, by holding on to him/herself (rather than not doing so by falling apart, blaming, yelling), and working on his or her own stuff and getting more healthy psychologically (he calls that differentiation; I call it “getting healthy”).

 

The most important issue mentioned here is a very difficult one for most couples to do, that is, to stop blaming their significant other and to confront you, yourself.  What do you need?  Do you say that through blaming or as a statement about you?  So if you are the HDP and want sex, do you talk about your partner (and not yourself), make fun of your partner, tear your partner down?  These activities, for some strange reason, always seem to push the partner away and reduce sexual contact, hence the need for the HDP (the apparently “hornier” partner) needing to do some self-confronting.  It will also be important for the LDP, the one with less obvious desire (which doesn’t necessarily mean that partner does not have desire), self-confront about what they are doing to stop the couple from having sex.


If you are beginning to move towards thinking about what you are doing/thinking/feeling/saying that is getting in the way of sex  in your relationship, you are on a path that leads to a potentially happier sex life.  I could also say the same thing without the word sex in the sentence: If you are beginning to move towards thinking about what you are doing/thinking/feeling/saying that is getting in the way in your relationship, you are on a path that leads to a potentially happier life.

About Robert Kraft Ph.D.

Robert Kraft Ph.D.
Robert G. Kraft, Ph.D., is a career psychologist in Omaha, NE. He earned his doctorate, as well as his bachelors and masters before that, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and has practiced in Nebraska ever since. As well as maintaining his practice, Dr. Kraft is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Creighton University School of Medicine, where he teaches residents about psychotherapy. He served on the Executive Committee of The Center for Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis for five years, consulted with Richard Young Memorial Hospital for over 11 years and worked as a psychologist for over a dozen years before branching out into consulting and starting private practice. Outside of his work as a therapist in Omaha, he built a website about Vintage Martin guitars and developed software that helps mental health professionals with billing.