Partner and I are looking to strengthen our relationship after a breach of trust. We also have ongoing issues with not being on the same page with our sex life. We are considering seeing a couples and/or sex therapist. 2 questions- 1) what might we expect from seeing a sex therapist? It was suggested to us by a couples therapist on our first visit but seems intimidating. 2) Book suggestions for a couple of bookish people who are a bit skeptical of anything too fluffy or cheesy-self-helpish?
Sorry to hear you’re going through a rough patch. Cheers to you guys for making the effort!
Like any other kind of therapist, the experience you have with a sex therapist will probably depend on the therapist you find, their expertise or area of focus, and what methodologies they use. Without knowing more about what you’re interested in working on, I may suggest finding a general therapist who also has a background in sexuality so you can see the same person to work through a variety of issues. I have never been in sex therapy myself but my understanding is that is pretty similar to what you may already know of regular counseling, just with a heavy focus on sex and relationship dynamics. However, if your issues largely pertain to sex and sexuality, the recommendation to seek one out may be the right call.
Therapy can be super intimidating. Especially when you’re talking about your wants and needs sexually. One thing you may experience is a weird sense of uncomfortable freedom. What I mean by that is, you’ll probably be saying some things you’ve been thinking and wanting to say, but haven’t known how to say. Your partner may tell you things you had no idea what they were thinking. Moments like this are uncomfortable but they are freeing because they create a sense of openness, transparency, honesty, and forward momentum. Odds are that you’ll experience a few moments like this where you feel naked, emotionally.
Don’t worry about anything too weird, though. Your sex therapist won’t have you strip down and hop up on the table for an interactive demonstration. At best they may assign you and your partner some homework to do in your own time.
As far as book recommendations, here are some books I’ve read and would recommend for a couple struggling with maybe rebuilding their foundation a bit.
- Sexual Intelligence: What We Really Want from Sex–and How to Get It by Marty Klein
- She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman by Ian Kerner
- Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic by Esther Perel
- Wabi Sabi Love: The Ancient Art of Finding Perfect Love in Imperfect Relationships by Arielle Ford
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
- Sex From Scratch: Making Your Own Relationship Rules by Sarah Mirk
- How to Love by Thích Nhất Hạnh
I know a lot of these books are just about love and relationship dynamics. That’s because I feel like sexual intimacy often overlaps and intersects with general emotional intimacy. Gain strength in the ability to talk openly, lovingly, and with humor to your partner. Find spaces in those conversations to be real to yourself and what you want. Be vulnerable with one another. I think that’s where connections are made, and those connections are transferable to the bedroom.
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