Many couples have difficulty with sexual intimacy. Many happy and loving couples go through periods of sexual incompatibility and sexual desire discrepancy. Some couples never really had sexual chemistry despite loving one another. Other couples were inhibited by long distance relationships and didn’t find their sexual flow. The myth that you have a bad relationship if you don’t have a good sexual flow is not true. However if there is distress over sexual desire discrepancy, then this needs to be addressed because there is potential for injury to attachment and trust.
Many couples had good sex lives but then life got in the way. This is often a result of life priorities and the reliance on spontaneous desire to make sex happen. Sex in long term relationships is often not about spontaneous desire, rather desire comes after we have prioritised each other and found comfort and pleasure, then desire comes for pleasure to continue.
Unfortunately, some secretly look outside their relationship for sexual fulfilment and miss the opportunity for sexual growth with intimacy. It is understandable, we don’t have many scripts for erotic and intimate sex in long term relationships. However, we have many temping models for novel, spontaneous sex, driven by lust and chemistry and of course we have pornography which displays high passion, intensity and extremes. These spontaneous desire models seem to imply that sex with a long term partner is less enjoyable, which discourages us to do the work to find out what is possible.
Learning to find your sensuality and eroticism as you age is a true pleasure, but requires going out of your comfort zone and beyond what anyone else has defined for you. It requires finding your own comfort with yourself, permission for your own pleasure, self-compassion and prioritising your health needs. Its about going off script and finding what works for you and your partner.
Everyone goes through different sexual stages in life: what you wanted in your 20s is different than what you want in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s & 80s. We are also not designed to prioritise sexual play when we have young children, sick loved ones, dying parents, demanding work commitments, physical or mental illness. Although sex can be a great distraction and stress release, sexual satisfaction often comes when we are feeling good in ourselves.
Addressing intimacy barriers to ensure good sex in your long term relationship is also an opportunity to heal from early attachment trauma, or past sexual trauma, which may only appear when you are in a safe loving relationship, after limerence has ended, or perhaps after childbirth, or when your child reaches an age similar to when you were traumatised.
May couples do well prioritising time to focus on sexual connection, and address intimacy barriers that lead to sexual avoidance.