Dominique learned something valuable about sex therapy as we processed her separation. She and her spouse had been married for over 35 years. They met as late teenagers, grew up together and raised 2 children. One of their frequent conflicts involved sexual desire differences.
Dominique told me that whenever her spouse reached for her physically, “it always turned into sex”, even when she didn’t want it to. She would go along with it because she felt guilty or thought that it was her “wifely duty”.
Eventually, Dominique did not want any touch at all and stopped engaging with him. As a result, they lived in a sexless marriage. She said, “I tried to bring this up to our therapist at the time but it seemed to just get brushed under the rug”.
I told her that, as a sex therapist, I hear her story in so many other couples. I wanted her to know that she is not alone in this experience.
I added, “This is why it’s so important that couples understand the difference between physical and sexual intimacy. Eventually, the ‘lower desire’ person will turn away from ALL touch, not just sexual, which can signal deep trouble for them”.
Dominique started to sob. She said, “I wish I knew you when we were going through this. I think you could have helped us”. We sat together in her pain as she processed her regret. It was an emotional session for her and for me.
I’m sharing this with you because it’s so important that you work with the right therapist, especially when it comes to sex therapy. Many therapists may specialize in relationships but not have the expertise to navigate complex sexual problems.
As a side note, women’s low sexual desire is considered one of the most complicated sexual issues to treat. She and her spouse both contributed to their problems in the bedroom. Dominique simply bared the symptoms at that time.
When seeking sex therapy, you need to choose someone with the right education and experience, preferably an AASECT certified sex therapist.
The most important predictor of therapy success is “right fit”. That means that you need to feel that you talk honestly with your therapist and have confidence that your therapist can actually help you.
If you raise an issue and your therapist brushes it under the rug, as Dominique’s therapist did, then it’s time to find someone better qualified. You want your therapist to acknowledge your concerns and help you resolve them.
There are many factors that contributed to Dominique’s separation, not just desire differences. But, sex was a big part of their struggles. Had she been working with a sex therapist, she might not be living a in new apartment, dealing with attorneys and court systems.
Let Dominique’s story inspire you to work with a good, qualified, experienced therapist so that you are not sitting in someone’s office, years later, processing your own separation and divorce.