21 May 19
The Scottish Sun
WHEN TV presenter Ulrika Jonsson revealed she was living in a sexless marriage, it brought the taboo subject out into the open.
In an astonishingly honest interview with The Sun, the Swede admitted the last eight years of her marriage, to third husband Brian Monet, involved just one night of passion.
Ulrika revealed she only had sex once in the eight years she was married to Brian Monet
Ulrika, said: “Just before my 50th birthday, I remember thinking I might have to accept I will never have sex again.” But she is far from unique.
Here married relationship therapists Mike Lousada and Louise Mazanti PhD, authors of book Real Sex, tell KATE JACKSON why intimacy vanishes and how to get it back.
WHEN SEX BECOMES A CHORE
Louise said: “One of the biggest reasons for us going off the boil with sex is because we’re always so stressed. We are living such fast-paced lives and so much needs our attention. After a stressful day at work, the last thing we want to do is make love. Then we pile pressure on ourselves because we think we should be having sex, and that then becomes one more thing on our to-do list.”
What to do: Mike said: “Start making time to relax. Sex is linked to our nervous system. In order to feel sexual, we need to be relaxed. Whatever works for you, whether it’s going to the gym or doing a crossword, take that time every day.”
WHEN CHORES GET IN THE WAY
You need to build a positive connection to one another first
Mike said: “There’s a classic phrase, ‘Sex doesn’t start in the bedroom, it starts with taking out the rubbish’. It’s those little acts of kindness and working as a team which create a connection. If you’re feeling resentment towards each other, all these things we hide from each other in day-to-day life are likely to be activated during sex when our deepest vulnerabilities show up.”
What to do: Louise said: “You need to build a positive connection. We all have conflicts in our relationships, but what you need to do is find the things you appreciate about each other and that can reignite that sexual connection. At the end of each day, lie in bed together without touching, look into each other’s eyes and tell the other person three things you appreciate about them.”
IT’S NOT YOU, IT’S ME
Louise said: “A lot of people come to us with what they believe are physical problems, such as a low libido or erectile problems. In many cases, these are not physical, but are symptoms of emotional issues. If we’re not connected, if we don’t trust each other or we are hurting about the past, the sex shuts down.”
What to do: Mike said: “It’s all about communication. Find a way to talk about your feelings in a healthy and respectful way. It’s important to address these issues, because those are the obstacles that are getting in the way of a sexual relationship.”
STRIVE FOR QUALITY
Communicate about what you like and don’t like in order to get the most out of the experience
Louise said: “The problem for most people is the sex they’re having is low quality. What a lot of people in long-term relationships are doing is just perfunctory, and it’s often determined by the man’s agenda and pace. Women often want other things, like more full-body touch or foreplay. A woman often thinks she has lost her libido, but it’s actually that she just isn’t having the kind of sex she would like.”
What to do: Louise said: “Communicate clearly about what’s going on. It’s amazing just how many people don’t talk about how unhappy they are with their sex lives.”
TAKE PRESSURE OFF
Mike said: “Porn is so easily accessible now, which is great in some respects, but it can put unrealistic pressures on both genders. Men in particular often feel they have to perform just like porn stars.”
Louise said: “With social media, we are comparing our bodies to others all the time. No matter what shape we are, we are always so critical of ourselves because we don’t measure up to someone on Instagram.”
What to do: Louise said: “You have to try not to compare yourself to others. Find a way that makes you feel attractive to yourself, whether it’s getting a new haircut or buying new underwear. It’s not down to our partner to make us feel sexy. We can only be attractive to others if we feel attractive in ourselves.”
BREAK THE ROUTINE
When something is fun then we want to do it again
Mike said: “The less you have sex, the less you’ll want to have it. Couples get into that friend zone where there’s no excitement any more. There’s also the Westermarck effect, in which people who live together for a long time without having sex come to view each other in the same way as siblings. The more you feel your sexual energy, the more you want it.”
What to do: Louise said: “It’s a bad idea to force yourself to just ‘get on with it’ because that then starts a cycle of not wanting to do it the next time, and resenting yourself and your partner.
“Focus your mind on sex, not necessarily having sex as that’s a pressure, but maybe watch or read something erotic, or think about a fantasy. Be creative and have fun because when something is fun then we want to do it again.”
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DON’T STICK TO SAME OLD RECIPE
Louise said: “If the only recipe we have for sex is one we’re not excited about, then find a new one. It might be that you always used to have sex before going to sleep at night, but you’re always tired. It might be that you only have a 30-minute window when the children aren’t around but that’s then always a hurry.”
What to do: Louise said: “Trying out new things makes us feel more alive and engaged and that makes sexual energy flow. Rewrite the script. Imagine you’re having sex with each other for the first time, and tell each other what feels good or when you want to go slower. Try doing it in a different room, at a different time and in a different position.”
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