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Over the last few weeks, we’ve walked you through the seven pillars of connection that form the foundation of every romantic relationship. They are central to our work here at Core Values Counseling, so we want to make sure you’re looking at each area in your own relationship with your partner.


We all have an inherent need to connect with our partner in seven distinct areas:

  1. Emotional Connection
  2. Relational Connection
  3. Spiritual Connection
  4. Physical Connection 
  5. Sexual Connection
  6. Financial Connection
  7. Recreational Connection

Today, we’re discussing the fifth pillar: Sexual Connection.


In my experience, the area of sexual connection is interesting in that couples usually fall very clearly into one of two camps: either they say sexual connection is not a problem for them, or they say the exact opposite — that sexual connection is something they really struggle with. 


As a therapist, I’m blown away these days by how many men find it difficult to find desire. My hunch is that a lot of that lack of desire has to do with the impacts of technology use and with being less active. Some of them lack the natural testosterone that grows and increases with activity. 


Men are also sensitive to being shut down and having their spouse refuse their bids for sexual connection. In fact, six refusals will shut down a man’s bids for desire at all.


The Gottmans encourage us to have rituals of connection, as well as rituals for initiating and refusing sex. How will that happen in your relationship? Who will do it? Will you share the initiation? How can you refuse sex without crushing one another? It’s important to find a way to do this gently and with great care.


A lot of women feel pressured to have sex. But no one should feel pressured to have sex. Ever. You can both build up your confidence in your ability to ask for and refuse sex by becoming more comfortable with vulnerability in your relationship, overall. Communicate. Turn toward one another. Engage with bids for connection. Listen.

Are you and your partner able to share a daily stress-reducing conversation? Can you talk about the real, vulnerable things that have happened, that have hurt you, that you’re scared of or worried about in your work or friendships or family? Are you able to share that and feel heard, held, and honored by your partner? Because that’s the ground from which your sexual life will begin to grow and flourish. Tend it well.


One other critically important thing to understand about sexual connection is the issue of sexual desire discrepancy. I’ve found that a lot of people — and a lot of couples — don’t fully understand this. So I highly recommend reading Emily Nagoski’s Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life. This deeply-researched, eye-opening book deals a lot with women’s sexuality. But the exercises in the book can help both you and your partner learn about one another sexually — and discover the things that are brakes and accelerators for your desire. Nagoski also talks about other topics that will help enhance and increase your understanding of one another’s sexual worlds. Dive into that book. I can’t recommend it enough.


And if you’d like to dig into the topic of sexual connection even further, here are a few more resources we recommend:


Whatever you do to change things up and bring a new spark to your sex life, don’t wait. Today is a great time to start!