A recent survey conducted by Author and Psychologist Dr. David Schnarch found that of almost 20,000 people asked, 36% of couples had desire problems almost all of the time and 25% just before sex. I recently caught up with ‘The Oprah Show’ and New York Times featured relationship expert Susan Winter to get her take on the matter.
What in your expert opinion are the most common problems couples face in the bedroom? The bedroom serves as a mirror to the couple’s partnership. Intimacy problems can occur when issues are not being addressed, behavior has been hurtful, communication breaks down and resentments build without resolution. These factors affect our romantic desire,as well as the quality and quantity of sexual expression.
Is it essential that couples are open and honest enough to talk about such things? Honesty is the hallmark of a vibrant and loving relationship. Without honesty, there is no intimacy. Honesty allows for trust and safety, which serves as the foundational glue for a couple’s longevity.
How important is it to address these problems early on? The longer issues go unaddressed, the wider the division between the couple. Long standing resentment is much harder to heal so it’s imperative to keep the slate clean with our partner.
Often people forego physical attraction in a relationship to be with someone with the ‘right’ personality, do you think it’s in any way possible that this could later lead to problems in the bedroom? I’ve known many a person who chose the “appropriate” or “right” partner for his or her lifestyle goals. The partner wasn’t their first choice of sexual mate. In this type of construct physical attraction was of less importance than other qualities. From that basis, it’s unlikely the sexual attraction will grow in time even in a solidly functioning relationship. Chemistry is illusive, but we know it when we experience it. Without enough chemistry to spark desire, eventually it will reflect in problems in the bedroom.
Do you think sex is too easily dismissed by couples who reach a certain age? Sexual desires do change over the course of a long-standing relationship, as do priorities. Often companionship replaces the drive for sex in some aged couples. But the need to connect physically and maintain intimacy keeps a couple bonded, and should be a goal throughout the length of any relationship.
How significant are problems in the bedroom when it comes to people straying in their relationships? Straying sexually is often attributed to a lack of satisfaction in the bedroom. And while that’s certainly a factor in infidelity, I believe the underlying cause is a lack of appreciation. One or both partners no longer feel valued, respected or admired. Infidelity can be the hunt for “another” who does see and relay their worth.
Do you think in today’s society people have sex too freely or is it important that we express this side of ourselves as much as need be? Today’s sexuality is open and freely expressed. It leaves many seeking commitment in a confused state. Sexuality isn’t the promise of partnership. It’s the chip thrown on the table at the beginning of the game. Therefore, it’s imperative to live by our own code and set of standards, no matter how we construct our romantic connections. Each person is free to choose how they engage, and under what conditions. Regardless of what’s ‘en vogue’ we need to know ourselves and be true to our values.
How long do you think a new couple should wait before having sex? Can rushing into things affect the longevity of a relationship? As a woman, I come from the standard of allowing enough time to really feel comfortable with a man before jumping into bed. Sex too early is for his convenience. There’s nothing wrong with waiting to get to know a person. It increases the bond and the desire. When two people like each other and there’s attraction, sex is inevitable. So why rush?
What is the biggest misconception men make about women in the bedroom? Today’s men have been raised on porn as their educational format for human sexuality. They’re under the misconception that women like, want and crave everything they’ve seen in these films. Not everything shown is mutually enjoyable or desirable, regardless of how compelling the actress. Female porn stars repeatedly share this in their interviews. What they do for the camera is very different than what they do with their mate. So instead of doing what you’ve been watching, I’d ask men to learn what the woman wants and needs.
Finally, what advice would you give to couples on the verge of giving up as a result of problems in the bedroom? Counseling is a powerful tool for couples in peril. An objective and credentialed outside source can shed new light on old problems. But there has to be a willingness to “try” for a change of attitude and behavior in order to experience a better romantic outcome.
Catch Susan being interviewed about her controversial Huffington Post article “9 months. 98 men” on ITN News 4pm GMT on July 25th.