I’m OK, You’re OK
The process of resolving sexual conflicts in couples must take place within a context of mutual understanding and openness towards the other person’s experience. Unfortunately, many couples who come in for counselling are in a power struggle: each person is trying to prove that they are right, wanting the other to adhere to their way of seeing things. They can even find themselves in a “polarized” dynamic: each in opposing corners becoming more and more extreme in their position, defending their sexual way of being as the way to be while denigrating the other’s.
“You want more sex. You’re a sex addict!” “You never want to have sex. You’re frigid!”
“You like to watch porn. You’re a pervert!” “ And you’re a prude!”
Sometimes, the “abnormal” person within the couple has already been designated. In today’s society where performance and quantity (vs. quality) dominate, it is often the person wants less sex and whose sex preferences are more conventional that is labelled as the “patient” in sex therapy.
“He wants sex 3 times a week while I only want it once. Help me want it more.”
In these cases, I must first and foremost help both spouses stop attacking the other’s sexuality (which is often an attempt to reassure oneself as being “sexually normal”) and recognize the other as being legitimate in their sexual distinctness. Once both spouses adopt this attitude, the climate becomes favourable to negotiating sexual differences.