Unsurprisingly thatsexualproblems in a relationship they are often the by-product of personal and relational conflicts and anxieties. For many couples, sex has become a substitute for intimacy and a defense against closeness. Most bad sex stems from poor communication, misunderstandings about what the spouse really wants—not unwillingness or inability to give.

In the realm of sex, as in other realms of relationship, you cannot expect your partner to guess what pleases you. You are obliged to discover for yourself what excites you, delights you and what satisfies you – and recognize it. It is not enough to give and receive, you also need to be able to speak or reach out in your own name and receive. Ideally, sexual love will be a flow of this give and take, but it must go both ways to keep the desire alive.

Before sex can be rewarding for both partners, they must first restore the ability to trust and re-establish emotional openness, to establish a sense of camaraderie. So physical closeness has meaning, and the meaning only serves to further enhance the pleasure of the physical experience.

Of course, intercourse is not the only path to physical pleasure. There is a whole range of physical closeness that couples can learn to offer each other. Be together. Hugging. Holding each other. Caressing each other’s faces. Massaging your partner’s body. In fact, enjoying each other is a habit that some couples need to get into. But feeling pleasure in your partner is exactly what he needs you most.

Daily Exercises:


The ability to reveal yourself fully, honestly and directly – is the lifeblood of intimacy. To live together happily, couples need clear and regular communication. The great intuitive family therapist Virginia Satir has developed a technique for partners and families to keep an easy flow about the big and small things that happen in their lives. (and it works for many other types of relationships as well).

Do this daily, perhaps when sitting down to breakfast. At first it will seem artificial. Over time, you will develop your own style. Couples routinely report that being close is invaluable—even if they let a day or two pass when they are busy. It teaches partners to listen non-defensively and to speak as a way of giving information rather than eliciting a reaction. Here are the basics:

Sit close, perhaps knee to knee, facing your partner, holding each other’s hands. This simple touch creates an atmosphere of acceptance for both of you.


Take turns expressing gratitude for something your partner has done – and thanking each other.


In the absence of information, assumptions – often false – arise. (“I’m not looking forward to the monthly planning meeting this morning”) to keep the contact alive and inform your partner about your mood, your experiences – your life. And then listen to your partner.


Take turns asking something you don’t understand and your partner may explain, “Why were you so sad last night?” Or ask a question about yourself: “I don’t know why I got so angry while we were figuring out the expenses.” You may not find answers, but you will be giving your partner some insight into you. Also, your partner may have insights into your experiences.


Without blaming or judging, name a specific behavior that bothers you and instead point out the behavior you’re asking for. “If you’re going to be late for dinner, please call me. That way the kids and I can make our own plans and we won’t be waiting for you.”


Share hopes and dreams it is an integral part of a relationship. Hopes can range from the mundane (“I hope you don’t have to work this weekend”) to the grandiose (“I’d really love to spend a month in Europe with you”). But the more you both bring dreams into immediate awareness, the more likely you will find a way to make them come true.