Why you need premarital counseling

Ok, so you’re going to get married. You’re going to spend lots of money on a wedding, then spend THE REST OF YOUR LIFE with this person. Doesn’t it make sense to invest a little time and money into making sure you start your marriage off on the right foot? The Relationship Center can help. Call us to set-up premarital sessions and make sure you have a strong foundation to build your marriage on.

Problems don’t go away after marriage, THEY GET WORSE!

premarital counseling Before the wedding is the best time to address your concerns. Ignoring concerns and hoping things will get better after the wedding is A BAD IDEA.

Important Topics to Cover Before You “Tie the Knot”

  • Who does what? What are the role expectations?
  • How do we make decisions when we don’t agree on the solutions?
  • What is SEX supposed to be like and what sexual baggage are we bringing into our marriage?
  • How important are KIDS / How soon do we want them?
  • Marriage brings two families together – Are there in-law concerns?
  • COMMUNICATION – COMMUNICATION – COMMUNICATION- It gets tougher after the wedding.
  • MONEY – Who will make it? Who will manage it? How will we spend it?

These are just a few of the important questions a marriage counselor can help you start thinking about in ways that will save your marriage a lot of heart ache down the road.

PreMarital Counseling can help your marriage be a dream come true!

Common Marriage Counseling Questions

marriage counseling questions

What if I’m not sure if I want to save my marriage?

Well, if you’re not sure if you want to save your marriage, that also means you’re not sure you don’t want to save it. Many couples find that the interaction that happens in marriage counseling can help them solidify what they would like to do. So you can use it as a means of determining what you want to do. Considering the emotional, financial, and relational cost of divorce, don’t you think it might be worth exploring, for 90 days, whether or not your marriage could become what you’ve always wanted?

What if my spouse isn’t interested in getting help?

We often get the question “What if my spouse isn’t interested in saving our marriage, or getting help? Is there any hope?” The answer is a definite YES. While you can’t make your spouse want to save or work on a marriage you do have 100% control over 50% of the relationship. Many times we start work with one spouse only to find the reluctant spouse later willing to engage the process after they start seeing a difference in their partner. It doesn’t always happen, but it certainly does happen often. Part of the mechanism at work here is that God is interested in repairing and reconciling relationships. When we get on board with what God wants to do, we find that He is able to accomplish things we never could.   Another component at work is that families and relationships are what we call “systems.” That is, like a mechanical watch, with all it gears and springs, the pieces of a relationship react with each other. Just like turning a gear in a watch a different direction is necessarily going to change the way the watch works, so changing one part of a relationship will necessarily change the way the relationship functions. It’s unavoidable. Now, that doesn’t mean that it will be easy or that your spouse will come around to your way of seeing things. It just means that things will be different and can be better. The more you grow personally and spiritually the more likely it is that you will act more lovingly in all your relationships. This will ensure that the 50% of the relationship under your control is the best it can be. In response, often times we see reluctant spouses become more interested in pursuing some changes of their own.

But I don’t have any feelings for my mate, why should I think my feelings would change?

Not having feelings at this point is normal. It’s common for either spouse to have lost all desire for their mate when a marriage is struggling. In fact, it maybe even worse than that, often it feels as if it’s less than zero and the thought of your mate touching you or you having to touch your mate is repulsive. Even so there is a strong probability those feelings will come back, but not without some changes on both parties parts. Now look, let’s get real. People can and do change. The very fact you have different feelings today than you did on the day you got married is proof that you can change. In fact, if on that day some one had told you that you would change and come to the point that you couldn’t stand to be near your mate, you would have laughed and said it would never happen. So when I tell you that you can change and find a strong desire for your mate again, then you’ll laugh and say it couldn’t happen, but your wrong, it can happen. The challenge however, is that negative change can happen with little or no effort, but positive change takes effort on our part. If you’re not willing to do the work, then you’re right, change won’t happen. But if you’ll get the necessary help then it can.

Why does counseling cost so much?

Well, I guess that’s a matter of opinion. When considering the emotional, financial, and relational cost of divorce, or worse yet a legal marriage with a miserable, dead relationship, many find the cost of marriage counseling incomparably cheaper. You also have to understand that 100% of the counseling fee does not go directly to your counselor. There are overhead expenses like building rent, utilities, insurance and licensure, advertising expenses, and taxes to name a few.   The Relationship Center also offers reduced fee options to persons unable to afford the full cost of their counseling. Anyone is welcome to request a reduced fee based on their income and circumstances simply by asking and filling out a Strong Families Scholarship. Since counseling is unlike manufacturing we cannot make up the difference from reduced fees with “higher volume” because there are a fixed number of hours in a day. The difference has to be made up through charitable donations in order for us to make budget. We do everything we can to make counseling as affordable as possible and provide services to everyone regardless of their ability to pay the full cost of their counseling.

Why bother, it sounds like too much work?

  • Imagine being able to have a marriage where there is mutual respect, mutual caring, mutual honesty, love, and passion. If you could have that type of marriage, why would you settle for an empty, lonely room?
  • Divorce is a nightmare, and while that may seem like the only path out of your dilemma, it’s not true. Research shows that it takes about five years to recover from divorce, but less than two years to move beyond even infidelity in marriage. And it will only take 90 days to get your marriage back on the right track. Why wouldn’t you spend 90 days to see if you could save yourself five years of your life?
  • If you have children, then for their sake at least explore whether you can work it out. The impact of divorce on children is staggering; not only does it complicate their lives, but research indicates it puts them at higher risk for all sorts of life problems, it impacts their future quality of life, and literally takes years off their life expectancy.
  • For your own sake, if you are the type of person who believes in the institution of marriage and never imagined yourself as part of the divorce statistics, then personal integrity would suggest you explore working through your marital problems, even if it’s infidelity.

marriage counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

What is “Christian” marriage counseling?

christian marriage counselingWhat is “Christian” marriage counseling?

So what makes Christian marriage counseling “Christian?” At The Relationship Center we believe Christian counseling means understanding both life’s problems and their solutions from God’s perspective.
We believe humans were created by God’s design, and life is best enjoyed when lived according to His principles.
We also believe that God wants us to enjoy life! That’s why He provided the Bible: So we can know who He is and how to enjoy life to its fullest.
God not only provided instructions on how to enjoy life, but also how to find healing when we’ve been wounded, and forgiveness when we hurt others. He promises to help us through the most difficult times in our life if we will invite Him to do so. He promises to be with us through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Christian counselors at The Relationship Center are dually trained in Biblical studies and counseling practice. They know how to bring together the best psychology has to offer and the truth of God’s Word to help you.

 Christian Integrative Therapy

For some, Christian counseling means: I am a Christian and I am a counselor, therefore, I can do “Christian” counseling. At The Relationship Center we practice Biblically integrated therapy or what might be called Biblical Professional Counseling.

 Biblical Professional Counseling

Biblical Professional Counseling is a framework for conceptualizing and treating human problems from a Biblical perspective informed by evidence based clinical practices. It consists of the skilled integration of Christian theology in the counseling process. It requires that the clinician be versed in the disciplines of Christian theology, Biblical exegesis, and therapeutic homily.

 Biblical | Clinical | Professional

At The Relationship Center we are committed to providing Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Professional Counseling. To us this means counseling that is:

Biblically Christian. Our therapy is consistent with Evangelical Christianity; we consider counseling a part of discipleship and the role of counselor pastoral in nature. We conceptualize the challenges people face and their solution through a Christian theological framework first and foremost. We affirm spiritual and psychological needs/conditions are inseparable and neither should be addressed to the neglect of the other.

Clinically Proven. Our practice of counseling is informed by the evidenced based practices and theories researched in the professional helping fields.

Professional Counseling. Professional refers to the manner in which we conduct counseling. We hold ourselves to the highest level of ethical and professional standards including, at the minimum, the standards of the State of Missouri for persons licensed for the practice of our profession. We are accountable to our state licensing boards, ministerial presbytery, and the community of mental health and ministerial professionals.

 

marriage counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

Tips for successful marriage counseling

marriage therapy springfield missouriGiven the big investment marriage counseling is, it makes sense to make the most of it. Here are some practical thoughts that will help you maximize your marriage counseling experience.

  • Don’t under estimate the damage. Your marriage didn’t get where it’s at in a day, and it’s not going to get back on track overnight. It’s going to take time and work.
  • Don’t over estimate the damage. There is hope even for the most severely damaged relationship. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed when you don’t know how to make things better. Keep your heart and mind open. Let your counselor help you discover the path to healing you’ve been unable to find on your own.
  • Come ready to work. Marriage counseling is hard work. Your counselor does not have a magic wand that will fix your problems nor can he or she solve your problems for you. Your counselor can help you know what to do, but it’s up to you to do it.
  • Take responsibility. Nobody can work on your stuff but you. If you’re not willing to make changes things probably aren’t going to change, no matter how much counseling you receive or how many books you read.
  • Understand the power of one. The truth is you can’t change your spouse. Neither can your counselor. However, you can make changes in yourself that will influence your situation / relationships for the better. Your counselor can help you with that kind of change.
  • Don’t give up. You cannot be defeated if you do not quit. Listen, the saying is true “the night is darkest just before the dawn.” Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better; this is normal. Expect things your counselor says to make you uncomfortable at first. Change isn’t easy, but it’s necessary for us to have the life we want.

Marriage is tough. No successful marriage exists without times of hardship and struggle. Yet, if these problems are left untreated they can lead to divorce or a legal marriage with a dead relationship.

Common Marriage Problems

communication problems dependency issues | financial stress | broken trust | emotional neglect | addictive behavior | emotion or physical abuse | separation | boredom | emotional infidelity | silent treatments | lack of fulfilling sex | midlife crisis | lack of appreciation | stubborn spouses | lack of affection

 

The truth is these problems do have the potential to destroy a relationship. However, they can also serve as a catalyst to get help, which in time can make the relationship healthier, stronger, and more satisfying than you ever could have imagined.

 

marriage counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

How does marriage counseling help?

marriage counseling branson missouriHow does marriage counseling help?

Good marriage counseling begins with a good assessment of the situation. A marriage therapist will listen to a couple’s presenting concerns and ask a great deal of questions to make sure he or she accurately understands the situation. Next the marriage counselor will gather a thorough history for each spouse so the current problems can be understood in the context of the couples whole relationship and individual lives.

 Marriage Therapists set with hundreds of couples for literally thousands of hours (1,000 to 1,500 PER YEAR). They know how to recognize the root issues.

The marriage therapist will formulate some hypothesis as to where the problem lies and how to go about addressing it. Often times this involves educating the couple about healthy relationship dynamics and teaching them relationship skills such as: emotional communication, conflict resolution, and boundary setting.
Sometimes individual work is necessary to resolve issues facing one spouse that effect the relationship.

 A good marriage therapist will coach a couple through using new relationship skills during sessions.

By practicing newly learned health relationship skills in session the marriage counselor helps a couple be successful using the tools. Doing so helps the marriage therapist work his or herself out of job by helping the couple learn how to resolve the difficulties they run into on their own in a way that feels good to them both.

Marriage Counseling can…

  • Provide you with an objective evaluation of your circumstances and relational needs.
  • Explore your past and present experiences that may be contributing to your relational difficulties.
  • Identify destructive relational patterns that keep repeating themselves in your marriage.
  • Form a plan of action to get your relationship moving in a positive direction that may include:
    • Defining what “Love” is, what Marriage is for, and How it Works (or doesn’t work)
    • Creating Emotional Safety in Relationship
    • Learning to Communicate in Productive and Respectful ways
    • Creating and upholding Healthy Personal Boundaries
    • Learning how to Forgive and Reconcile
    • Conflict Resolution Strategies
    • Healing Hurt and Building Trust
    • Establishing Realistic Expectations
    • Uncovering Secrets to Sexual Intimacy
    • Living with Freedom and Responsibility
    • Relating to Extended Family and Raising Children
    • Overcoming the Past and Moving Forward
    • Developing a Vision for your Marriage and Family
    • Communicating your Wants and Needs
    • Valuing your Spouse’s Wants and Needs
    • Being the Best Spouse Possible, in Less than Ideal Circumstances
    • Saving your marriage against all odds

The counselors at The Relationship Center bring to marriage counseling…

  • The collective knowledge of thousands of professionals, with hundreds of thousands of hours spent helping couples, and decades of scientific research on relationships, marriage, sex, mental health, and family systems.
  • The experience of hundreds of hours setting with couples, just like you, and helping them through some of the hardest relationship struggles imaginable.
  • Formal training in the study of the Bible to help couples understand God’s design for marriage and know-how to apply the wisdom of God’s principles to your unique circumstances.

 

marriage counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

Top Love Busters

marriage-counseling-help-springfield-missouriNo relationship has more influence on our adult life than our love relationship with our spouse. Marriage can be a source of intense pleasure or unbearable pain. Our relationship with our spouse can build us up, encourage us, and help us grow, or it can demean, tear down, and foster immaturity. Some of the top love busters are…

Top Love Busters

  • Poor Communication
  • Lack of Respect
  • Absence of Boundaries
  • Unfulfilling Sex Life
  • Infidelity/Affairs
  • Dishonesty/Trust Betrayal
  • Resentment
  • Apathy
  • Unforgiveness
  • Missing Intimacy/Emotional Distancing

When you’ve lost that loving feeling it can be difficult to know what to do. The counselors at The Relationship Center are experienced at helping couples identify the weaknesses in their relationship and helping them build on their strengths. Research indicates more than half of divorced people regret getting divorced and wish they had worked harder to save their marriage. We can help you discover the secrets to a lasting, loving marriage and the skills to enjoy your marriage for a lifetime. Your marriage and your family are worth finding out how marriage counseling can help.
 

marriage counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

Relationship Healthscore Can Help

rhs bannerWhether you’re newly married (0-5 years), mid-married-life (6-20 years) or veterans (21+) marital struggle can overtake marital harmony. Fortunately, most marriage difficulties follow fairly predictable (and treatable) patterns. The Relationship Health Score assessment can help you identify which of the 12 categories your relationship might have difficulties.

The areas of struggle can be divided into 1 or more of 12 categories:

  1. Commitment
  2. Trust
  3. Compassionate Caring
  4. Respect
  5. Spiritual Synergy
  6. Emotional Safety
  7. Finances
  8. Sharing Responsibilities
  9. Quality Time
  10. Effective Communication & Conflict Resolution
  11. Healthy Attractive Appearance
  12. Satisfying Sex

Each of these categories is either a strength or a weakness for your relationship. The Relationship Health Score is a free to you assessment that can help you identify the problem areas in your relationship.

 The Causes of Marital Conflict are also Predictable (and Treatable).

The underlying issues behind our areas of struggle tend to be fairly predictable as well. They include:

  • Communication Difficulties
  • Poor Relationship Education
  • Emotional Reactivity
  • Sexual Difficulties
  • Infidelity
  • Unresolved Individual “baggage”
  • Lack of Emotional Safety
  • Irresponsibility/Lack of Personal Responsibility
  • Immaturity
  • Forgiveness/Reconciliation/Trust Issues
  • Poor Boundaries
  • Selfishness

 

marriage counselingOver 1,400 families in southwest Missouri trust the counselors of The Relationship Center to serve their counseling needs. With more than 14,000 hours of therapy in the last 5 years alone TRC counselors have the experience that can make the difference. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Marriage Counseling at The Relationship Center

Marriage Counseling Can Help

marriage counselingProfessional Marriage Counseling Can Help

Professional marriage counseling is different than listening to your mother or asking your friends what they did. Professional marriage counselors spend A LOT of time working with all sorts of people and every sort of marital difficulty. Their experience with complicated and easy cases gives them a vantage point that no one else has.

Here’s what you can expect from a professional marriage counselor:

  • Confidentiality. Nobody wants their business spread all around town. Professional marriage counselors are held to legal and ethical standards that protect your confidentiality. Non-professionals aren’t held to the same standard.
  • Compassionate empathy. Counselors get into the helping profession because we care about people. It’s not just a job for us, it’s our calling.
  • Professional listening. Professional counselors are trained to listen intently to what is being said and what’s not being said. Our training and experience helps us know what to listen for so we can thoroughly understand you and your situation.
  • Best practices. Professional training equips counselors to use the best evidence based, researched supported methods for helping people. This training combined with thousands of hours of experience enables us to be competent help to you.
  • At The Relationship Center our marriage professionals are Biblically trained to help marriages God’s way.

Your marriage is so important, it just makes sense to entrust it to some one who is equipped to help.

With 8 therapists in Springfield and Branson Missouri locations, The Relationship Center has a marriage professional near you that can be on your team, helping you fight for your marriage.

Testimonial

We had tried everything we knew. It seemed hopeless. We tried professional marriage counseling as a last ditch effort before divorce. We are SO glad we did. Our marriage is actually better now that it ever has been.
Jan and Frank, Nixa Missouri

Marriage Counseling has a VERY high success rate with committed couples.

Research on emotionally-focused couples counseling shows that 3 out of 4 couples (~73%) who engage professional relationship counseling reach a place of satisfaction with their relationship. At The Relationship Center we have NEVER (yes, I’m using the word never and I mean it) had a case where both spouses were committed to the marriage and both spouses engaged counseling and their relationship did not improve.

christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 1,400+ families in southwest Missouri who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of The Relationship Center at our Springfield and Branson offices. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling Appointments

Professional Marriage Counseling

Josh Spurlock Marriage CounselorMarriage can be the best or worst part of our life. When things are good in our relationship there is nothing better. When it’s not good it cast a cloud over everything else.  You want your marriage to make your life

better. You want to be happy. It doesn’t sound like too much to ask, but sometimes it seems so hard to grasp.

So many things can go wrong

The path to a lasting and rewarding marriage seems so narrow and hard to find. With so many marriages failing and couples struggling to like each other it makes one wonder if lasting happiness is possible.

  • We never thought we’d fall out of love when we exchanged our vows on our wedding day. Yet real life has a way of grinding away at our love for each other.
  • It seemed impossible that an affair could come between us and crush our heart.
  • There so much we didn’t know about our self back when we got married, maybe we just weren’t ready to get married.
  • There so much I didn’t know about my spouse, I feel tricked and trapped by a bait and switch scheme.
  • My spouse changed so much. We used to be passionate lovers, now I don’t even think their attracted to me.
  • Selfishness seems to dominate the relationship, it’s all about them and what they want.
  • We can’t even talk without fighting. We don’t know how to communicate.
  • Silent. Cold.
  • Awesome roommates, but not much else. We work well as a team taking care of the kids, but haven’t been lovers in a long time.
  • Everything gets swept under the rug. We don’t talk about anything that matters. We avoid conflict at all cost, and it’s killing us.

I don’t want to keep living like this

You don’t want to get divorced. You also don’t want to keep living like this. The burning question is “Can it get better?”

It’s hard to have hope when you’ve tried everything you know to do and it just keeps getting worse. Maybe we both make promises after it explodes and it gets better for a little while. It doesn’t take long, months-days-hours, before it goes right back the way it was before. Why should I believe that it will ever change?

You are not unique.

People have been flirting, coupling, and getting married for literally thousands of years. There is nothing new under the sun. I promise your problems aren’t unique. Lot’s of couples experience the same difficulties that you do. The reason that fact should encourage you is:

Professional marriage counselors spend THOUSANDS of hours doing marriage counseling every year helping couples just like you.

We know can overcome your struggles and have the marriage you have always wanted.

It IS hopeless.

There’s no reason to believe it will ever get better, IF you keep doing the same things you’ve always done.

Try something new.

getstartedtoday-blue-2
christian marriage therapyLooking for help? Join the 1,400+ families in southwest Missouri who have found the help they need by trusting the counselors of The Relationship Center at our Springfield and Branson offices. We specialize in Biblically Christian and Clinically Proven Counseling provided by Licensed Professionals. Session fees range from $75-$125 and we have payment plans & scholarships to meet every budget. Have more questions? Click Here to Learn More About Counseling Appointments

Wives Sexual Desire | What you need to know.

wives sexual desireWives sexual desire is a subject misunderstood by nearly all men and most women.  In recent years, one of the hottest topics in sexology has been female sexual desire disorders. For the past four decades, women have been pathologized for not being like men. For instance, according to University of British Columbia psychiatrist Rosemary Basson, “sexual difficulties are particularly prevalent among women seeking routine gynecological care.2 In population surveys, some 30%–35% of women aged 18–70 have reported a lack of sexual desire during the previous 1–12 months.3,4”

The traditional assumption for both men and women has been that desire precedes sexual arousal. Therefore, if a woman is no longer experiencing desire, it is assumed that she now has some sort of sexual hang up or disorder. While this may be true for men, research in the past 10 years reveals a different pattern for women.

Men tend to be more like a loaded gun ready to fire. All that’s needed is someone to pull on the trigger. A man’s libido acts as a drive similar to hunger or thirst. For the past hundred years, sex professionals have assumed that a woman’s libido was at least similar, and that if a woman didn’t feel desire something had to be wrong.

Contributing to the problem are the messages delivered through media. Women are sexually portrayed in books, movies, articles, and even in church circles as men in female form. This mistaken belief concerning female arousal and response patterns has left generations of men and women believing something that’s false. Hardly a day goes by that some couple doesn’t come in to my office arguing about the wife’s lack of sexual desire. This leaves women feeling that they are somehow flawed because they don’t share the same sexual interest as their husband.

But what if desire does not precede arousal?

That is exactly what Basson discovered after interviewing hundreds of women. Contrary to the conventional model, for many women desire is not the cause of lovemaking, but rather the result. Basson’s research revealed that women often begin sexual experiences feeling sexually neutral. But as things heat up, so do they – and eventually desire is experienced.

This explains why Viagra doesn’t work for women, and why sex-boosting supplements are only minimally successful. Products that change the physiology of sexual arousal do not affect desire. At best, they can only increase blood flow into the genitals. It’s easy for men to be aware of increased blood flow because erections are hard to miss. From there it’s only a short step in a man’s mind from erection to the assumption that they have desire. Women, on the other hand, are often unaware of gentle blood engorgement, and even when they are aware of it they frequently report no feelings of arousal.

If women don’t experience a sense of desire, as most men know it, then most guys might wonder why a woman would even want to be sexual. According to research, women tend to be sexual for reasons that affirm their relationships, but their reasons are not inherently sexual. These might include wanting to please their lover, a desire to feel close, to prevent strife, to reconnect after a fight, or because they feel a responsibility. Research supports the old adage that men become intimate to have sex and women have sex to become intimate.

From this perspective, the critical question becomes not how do you ignite a woman’s desire for sex, but instead, what kind of interaction arouses women sufficiently to enable them to experience desire? The types of interaction that fuel desires in women are playful, leisurely, sensual (lovemaking based on whole body massage that can include genitals but certainly is not focused on them). In surveys, the primary complaints of women are about interactions with their husbands which are non-sensual, too rushed, too focused on breasts and genitals, and too quickly plunged into intercourse. Rushed lovemaking fails to give women the time most need to respond to become aroused enough to experience desire.

Further complicating the issue is the culture created by Viagra. Men mistakenly believe they are sexually aroused when they have an erection. Therefore taking Viagra and having an erection means they’re good to go. However, erections have nothing to do with psychological arousal. Any erectile medication can give a physical erection, but does it create an excitement to be with your mate and to experience the wonder of who they are? Far too often a man’s genitals on Viagra will be at 100%, but his psychological arousal remains at 10 or 20 percent. Once the erection is in place, he proceeds on to intercourse, skipping the steps which would create psychological arousal for both himself and his wife. This creates a growing sense of dissatisfaction for the woman since she is not experiencing the necessary relational interactions and arousal to make the experience pleasurable for her.

Research shows that many women do experience spontaneous desire and interest when they’re involved in a new relationship or when coming back together after long-term separation from their partner, but it also indicates that most women in long-term relationships rarely think about sex or experience spontaneous sexual desire. Therefore, women seem to operate more out of a point of sexual neutrality–where she is receptive to being sexual, but does not initiate sexual activity. Many women report that the goal of sexual activity is not necessarily orgasm but rather personal satisfaction, which is then experienced as physical satisfaction (orgasm) and/or emotional satisfaction (the feeling of closeness and connection with a partner).

This is important simply for the fact that there is not something necessarily wrong if a woman is not experiencing the same desire and arousal patterns as a man. Men and women are not the same.

Women need to quit being so hard on themselves if they don’t experience the same desire as their husbands. And men need to quit thinking there must be something wrong with their wife if she doesn’t experience sexual desire as he does.

If men or women experience a lack of desire in a marital relationship. Multiple factors need to be explored: The following is a list of factors from Rosemary Basson’s article.

Women’s sexual dysfunction: revised and expanded definitions

Interpersonal and contextual factors

In a recent national probability sample of American women 20–65 years of age, their emotional relationship with the partner during sexual activity and general emotional well-being were the 2 strongest predictors of absence of distress about sex. Women who defined themselves (using standard psychological instruments) to be in good mental health were much less likely than women with lower self-rated mental health to report distress about their sexual relationship (odds ratio 0.41, 95% confidence interval 0.29– 0.59). The healthier women were therefore 59% less likely to report distress about their sexual relationship. Feeling emotionally close to their partner during sexual activity decreased the odds of “slight distress” by 33% relative to “no distress,” and “marked distress” by 43%; in other words, the stronger the emotional intimacy with the partner, the less distress. Other contextual factors reported to reduce arousability included concerns about safety (risks of unwanted pregnancy and STDs, for example, or emotional or physical safety), appropriateness or privacy, or simply that the situation is insufficiently erotic, too hurried, or too late in the day.

Personal psychological factors

Frequently a woman’s arousal is precluded by the nonsexual distractions of daily life, but also sometimes by sexual distractions (e.g., worry about not becoming sufficiently aroused, reaching orgasm, a male partner’s delayed or premature ejaculation or a female partner’s lack of orgasm). Empirical studies have shown a high correlation of desire complaints with measures of low self-image, mood instability and tendency toward worry and anxiety (without meeting the clinical definition of a mood disorder). Differences between a group of 46 consecutive women with a diagnosis of desire disorder without clinical depression and a control group of 100 healthy women were significant for 6 out of 8 scales in the Narcissism Inventory (a standardized self-administered instrument). The scales indicated that the women with desire disorder had self-esteem that was weak or even fragile, emotional instability, anxiety and neuroticism. Sexual arousal and orgasm, especially in a partner’s presence, necessitates a certain degree of vulnerability, which is impossible for some women who cannot tolerate feelings of loss of control generally, and loss of control specifically of their body’s reactions.

Further inhibiting psychological factors include memories of past negative sexual experiences, including those that have been coercive or abusive, and expectations of negative outcomes to the sexual experience (e.g., from dyspareunia or partner sexual dysfunction).

Biological factors

The biological and pathophysiological underpinnings of normal and abnormal female sexual response are only recently receiving attention. Most of the basic science and animal experiments in this area are beyond the scope of this review. Some promising attempts are noted, however, in part because they relate attempts to ameliorate sexual dysfunction by means of off-label use of available drugs and to avoid the negative sexual side-effects of medications such as antidepressants.

Depression is strongly associated with reduced sexual function. Of 79 women with major depression surveyed before treatment with medication, 50% reported decreased sex drive; 50%, more difficulty obtaining vaginal lubrication; and 50%, far less sexual arousal when engaging in sex. Only 50% had been sexually active during the previous month. In addition, sexual dysfunction can constitute an adverse event of antidepressant use, especially among patients who had low levels of sexual enjoyment before the onset of their depression. When patients are specifically asked about sexual side-effects, they are acknowledged by as many as 70%.

Sexual dysfunction is also a common side-effect of treatment with antidepressants. Among women being treated, it has been found to be more common in those who are older, married, without postsecondary education, without full-time work, or taking concomitant medication (any type); those who have a comorbid illness that might affect sexual functioning, or a history of antidepressant- associated sexual dysfunction; those who deem sexual function unimportant; and those whose previous sexual engagements had afforded little pleasure.

Currently under scrutiny is the role of dopamine and other neurotransmitters in influencing sex hormone receptors and how the neurotransmitters are, in turn, influenced by sex hormones. Estrogenized female animals change their sexual behaviour when administered progesterone; studies have shown that the same changes can result from dopamine or the presence of a male animal. Among 75 non-depressed women with a DSM-IV diagnosis of hypoactive sexual desire disorder who received bupropion (a dopaminergic drug; average dose 389 mg/ d) or placebo, improvements in pleasure, arousal and orgasm were statistically significant for those administered the active drug. Interestingly, these changes were unaccompanied by increased desire.

Testosterone itself is being investigated as to its role in sexual function and dysfunction. About half of daily testosterone production in women is from the ovary. Some women with sudden loss of all ovarian production of androgens lose their sexual arousability. Supplementation to high physiological (as opposed to pharmacologically evident) levels of testosterone recently has led to increased arousability and more intense orgasmic experiences, but not to increased sexual thinking, fantasizing or spontaneous desire. Of 75 surgically menopausal women aged 31–56 participating in a randomized clinical trial of testosterone versus placebo, those given testosterone (300 μg transdermally) in addition to estrogen reported increased frequency of sexual activity, sexual pleasure and intensity of orgasm. So, reminiscent of the animal model, supplementation with a dopaminergic drug or testosterone can increase some women’s sexual arousability; but so too, as in the animal model, can environmental change (a new partner).

This may be far more information than you wanted, but I hope it helps you begin to understand the complexity of this issue.

References

Basson R. Female sexual response: the role of drugs in the management of sexual dysfunction. Obstet Gynecol 2001;98:350-353.

Basson, R. Women’s sexual dysfunction: revised and expanded definitions. CMAJ, 2005; 172:1267.

Whipple B, Brash-McGreer K. Management of female sexual dysfunction. In: Sipski ML, Alexander CJ, eds. Sexual Function in People with Disability and Chronic Illness. A Health Professional’s Guide. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers, Inc.; 1997, pp 509-534.

Parts of this article were written by Rick Reynolds, LCSW and appeared first as Recovering from infidelity: Difficulties with Intimacy

Josh Spurlock, MA, LPCJosh Spurlock, MA, LPC is a sex therapist credentialed with the American Board of Christian Sex Therapists. He has trained under experts in sex therapy like Cliff and Joyce Penner, Doug Rosenau, Debra Taylor, and, Michael Systsma. He practices marriage counseling and sex therapy at The Relationship Center in Springfield, Missouri. Josh writes and speaks on topics of sexuality such as a Christian Man’s Guide to Sex.

You can request an appointment with Josh Spurlock here.

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