Sex Therapy Interventions: Handling Sexual Pressure

Jordan-Rullo
University of Utah

Key Points

  1. Removing sex from a relationship temporarily can help to alleviate pressure and provide room for addressing other relationship issues.
  2. Small, non-sexual actions can significantly enhance the connection between couples.
  3. While sex is off-limits in a relationship, alternative methods such as self-stimulation can address individual sexual desires.
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Brake #1: Pressure for Sex

The primary challenge, or brake number one, identified by Kelly was pressure for sex. In addressing this issue, it is necessary to make sex explicitly off-limits for some time. While Kelly and James might argue that they have avoided sex, the lack of explicit boundaries has created constant pressure and ambiguity around their sexual relationship.

To alleviate this pressure, they must reach a mutual understanding to abstain from sex. This is not a permanent solution but a temporary intervention designed to mitigate sexual pressure. It’s crucial to clarify this point as the couple might misconstrue the suggestion as a permanent cessation of their sexual relationship, which isn’t the intent.

James may initially express confusion over this, as therapy aims to improve their sex life, not suppress it. However, questioning whether their current approach is yielding success may open the pathway for him to consider trying this new approach. This ‘no-sex’ agreement sets the stage for the subsequent interventions, addressing the second and third challenges that hit the brake pedal.

Navigating Emotional Disconnection

After sex has been removed from the equation, it’s vital to note that James identifies sex as his primary connection method. The ‘no-sex’ agreement might feel like a significant loss to him, necessitating new methods for emotional connection.

Identifying New Ways to Connect

To facilitate this process, the couple can be assigned an exercise to brainstorm ten different non-sexual ways to connect and start implementing them. The book The Love Prescription by John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman can serve as a useful guide in this process.

Research has shown that it is often the small connections, rather than grand gestures, that bring couples together. Thus, implementing small, daily activities such as a six-second kiss when parting or having brief stress-reducing conversations where each partner can vent can significantly enhance their connection.

The Six-Second Kiss

The premise behind this activity is to create a mindful moment of connection each day. Upon departing for the day, the couple engages in a kiss that lasts six seconds—long enough to be significant and intimate but short enough to fit into a busy schedule. The six-second kiss pauses the daily rush, allowing the couple to share a moment of intimacy and connection, strengthening their bond.

Stress-Reducing Conversations

Another small but impactful method of connection is having regular stress-reducing conversations. These are brief dialogues, lasting no longer than 10-15 minutes, during which each partner can freely express their stresses and frustrations while the other listens empathetically. It’s important to note that the aim here isn’t to solve problems or provide advice but to listen and empathize.

Addressing James’s Sexual Desire

While the ‘no-sex’ agreement is in place, it’s crucial for James to explore alternative ways to address his sexual desire. A conversation about self-stimulation (a less emotionally charged term for masturbation) can be initiated. After obtaining the couple’s views on self-stimulation, James could use this method to address his sexual desire while sex remains off-limits in the relationship.

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Sex Therapy Interventions: Handling Sexual Pressure