By Chandrama Anderson
E-mail Chandrama Anderson
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ... (More)
About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in Silicon Valley for 15 years before becoming a therapist. My background in high-tech is helpful in understanding local couples' dynamics and the pressures of living here. I am a wife, mom, sister, friend, author, and lifelong advocate for causes I believe in (such as marriage equality). My parents are both deceased. My son graduated culinary school and is heading toward a degree in Sociology. I enjoy reading, hiking, water fitness, movies, 49ers and Stanford football, Giants baseball, and riding a tandem bike with my husband. I love the beach and mountains; nature is my place of restoration. In my work with couples, and in this blog, I combine knowledge from many fields to bring you my best ideas, tips, tools and skills, plus book and movie reviews, and musings to help you be your genuine self, find your own voice, and have a happy and healthy relationship. Don't be surprised to hear about brain research and business skills, self-soothing techniques from all walks of life, suggestions and experiments, and anything that lights my passion for couples. (Author and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Calif. Lic # MFC 45204.) (Hide)
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I usually stay away from gender generalization because people are unique; additionally, gender-based comments are not useful to men or women. But in the case of sex, my generalization is that women need to feel emotionally connected in order to want to have sex, and men feel emotionally connected to their partner by having sex.
This seems to be a chicken and egg problem (which came first -- no, no pun intended).
Sex means different things to each of you, and means different things in a given moment. For example, sex may mean love and closeness to one person, while it is a necessary "duty" in a relationship to another person. In a given moment it may mean connection, and at another it may mean stress relief, or fun. The variation of meaning is limitless and unique to who you are; your history and experiences. Just by asking yourself this one question, you may realize the truth of differences in meaning: Is sex different than making love?
You need to deeply understand what sex means to one another and within yourselves. The topic of sex is huge (along with money, power, and death). It's important to get around to these conversations in couples therapy when you're ready. My goal is to create an environment that provides enough safety for you to discuss and understand your sexuality, and to begin making changes that you each desire. [Just to be clear: There is no sex in therapy. Any experiments that you engage in are done away from the office.
Let's shift to practical tips. Rather than trying to decide which way to "solve" the issue of sex and connection, I propose addressing it from multiple facets simultaneously. The following is a non-comprehensive list; add your own thoughts and ideas to use in your relationship:
Have conversations in which the goal is to gain emotional connection and understanding.
Be curious about your partner; strive to know him or her better.
Make time for touching where there is a goal NOT to orgasm. Find out what you each like and what turns you on (and off).
Include talk, laughter, and eye contact during sexual play.
You are complicated creatures; be patient with yourself and each other, make room for levity, and take breaks.
I wish you a passionate, fun, and loving connection.