For the first of this series, CLICK HERE.
Question 1: But what if we have a newborn or young children in the home, or demanding and conflicting job schedules?
A: Give yourself and your spouse grace. Also give an abundance of thank yous. Your life will not always look like this and there needs be forgiveness and grace extended often. With young children in the home or other conflicts that keep you apart, it can be incredibly challenging to add yet another thing to your plate. Intimacy can end up being just one more thing that someone else needs when you have been tugged on, asked for, and demanded upon all day. For women to be fully present, we need to reset and get grounded to gain the energy to reemerge and switch gears. Take time to recharge with self-care: alone time, friend time, massage time, pedicure time, bath time, etc. Taking one evening a week to connect and embrace your authentic self (not in your role as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, etc.) will be beneficial to the whole family.
Question 2: Is it so awful that I need to plan for sex? To mentally prepare so I can be present?
A: Not.At.All. I call it “structured spontaneity.” Women are multitaskers. We get a lot done all at once. We can answer an email while eating a sandwich while feeding a baby while listening to music. I read somewhere that women need more sleep because we use more of our brains than men due to our high efficiency with multi-tasking. I think this could be a blessing and a curse. Ha! With being multi-taskers, our brains can have a hard time being fully present for the task at hand, and it takes more discipline to be focused. This is where “structured spontaneity” comes in.
When women pursue their partners or spouses for physical intimacy, they need to be fully present and all in. And this can only happen if they have checked things off their list for the day or maybe gotten a babysitter to handle the baby duties so they can enjoy a nice night out and end the evening with physical intimacy. This scenario works far better than being turned to in the bed at 9:30pm and asked if you want to make love. That, my friends, is a recipe for disaster….for some, not all. To shut down their brains, women need a heads-up way earlier than 9:30pm. In being disciplined and purposeful to schedule physical intimacy, it shows a desire, a commitment, a loyalty, and an honoring of the marriage and partnership.
Question 3: How do I know when to seek out the guidance and support of a sex therapist?
A: A sex therapist is trained to work with sexual trauma, sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, out of control sexual behaviors, sexual orientation, intimacy disorders, unconsummated partnerships and marriages, arousal and orgasmic challenges, erectile difficulties, etc. These are specific topics that are best embraced and treated by a trained clinician. If one was experiencing any of these symptoms, he or she could benefit from contacting a sex therapist who is equipped to tackle any one of them.
What is great about this modality of therapy (i.e., sex therapy) is that it can be combined with other therapies to compliment the other. I can treat Genito-pelvic pain while the couple is seeing a marriage and family therapist, licensed professional counselor, or psychologist working on conflict resolution styles, etc. I can walk alongside a grieving spouse after infidelity has occurred while the couple is seeing another therapist to learn how to manage the addiction.
What I have the honor of addressing what might not be as known to others is the psycho-somatic effects of sexual difficulties (i.e., how our brains and body react when things go awry physically), working closely with pelvic floor physical therapists to help alleviate pelvic pain for women during intercourse, working with urologists and gynecologists to explore hormonal imbalances that create desire discrepancies within relationships, exploring, processing, and healing from the effects of infertility on the couple, and ultimately creating space to grieve with my patients over the difficulty of something that was “supposed to be easy.” It can be a difficult, lonely, and desperate place. I hope to give an experience of feeling seen, known, and loved, of being empathic, genuine, authentic, and respectful of the sacred ground I am allowed to tread with my patients. It truly is a gift.
About the Author, Katherine Blackney
She is a psychologist, licensed professional counselor, and clinical sex therapist. She is a wife of 11 years to an amazing husband who is her biggest cheerleader. She is also a mother to 5 incredible kids, ages 4-10yrs old. They love playing games, going on walks, traveling, and creating lasting memories. You can reach her at:
Katherine Blackney Professional Counseling, PLLC.