John Gottman, famous marriage researcher, identified two types of problems in long-term relationships: solvable problems and perpetual problems. Solvable problems are exactly that: problems a couple can solve when they come up. For example, it can be whose family do we spend Thanksgiving with this year, or how should we spend the tax refund, or how do we help our child do better in school. The couple can work together to decide on a solution. Perpetual problems are those problems that always reappear whenever that particular subject or issue arises. They can be whose family do we spend Thanksgiving with this year, or how should we spend the tax refund, or how do we help our child do better in school. (See what I did there?)
Gottman's research shows that 69% of marital problems are perpetual problems. Let that sink in a minute. What a bummer. For many couples who come to my office this is a tough reality to accept especially when the perpetual problem is sex. Hopelessness is a common reaction.
But it doesn't have to be this way. With patience, perpetual problems can teach us more about ourselves and help us grow...that is, if we're willing to stretch ourselves psychologically, relationally, and sexually.
Here's a blog from The Gottman Institute that's a primer on how to cope with your relationship's perpetual problems.
It's not just women who fake orgasm. Men can, and do, fake it too, trust me. (Can't imagine how? Message me.)
I was reminded of the phenomena of faking orgasm recently and the impact it can have. Mainly, when a person fakes an orgasm they're making the decision to lie to their sexual partner: they are pretending that they are experiencing pleasure when they in fact are not. Why would someone fake an orgasm? Sometimes a person fakes it for the sake of their partner's ego. A previous blog post of mine from June 30, 2017 expanded upon how a man's sense of himself can depend on the sexual response he evokes in his partner and how he wants to be seen as a skilled lover. Sometimes a person fakes it because they are disinterested in sex either just that night or all the time and faking it gets the act to end quickly.
If faking orgasm is part of a relationship, then that relationship is one not based in honesty and integrity and the next time the partners have sex, the faker often feels their partner now expects a similar performance. It's a terrible cycle to find yourself in and also just plain unsexy.
What's the solution? Sexual integrity. What do I mean by this? That your outsides accurately reflect your insides. So if inside you're feeling not into a sexual encounter, instead of faking an orgasm to get it over quickly have your external behavior accurately reflect this feeling of not being into it. You might say "Honey, I know you're really into this but I just am not tonight. Can we rain check this to another time when I'm more motivated?" Or you can say "Sweetie, I wasn't initially in the mood so I thought by doing stuff I'd get in the mood but it's just not happening for me tonight. Can we focus on your sexual pleasure instead?" Or you can say "I need to be honest with you because up until now I haven't. I have low sexual desire; always have. I haven't been able to tell you this because I really liked you in the beginning and I was afraid you'd break up with me over it. I love you and want us to be together. Let's talk about how we can manage our desire differences."
Practicing sexual honesty and integrity can be challenging. It means taking risks, being your real self, being vulnerable, not taking things personally, listening non-defensively, and a host of other skills grownups need to have for a fulfilling sex life.
I am a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and AASECT Certified Sex Therapist located in Sonoma county, California.