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Intimacy and Sexual Problems in Marriage Counselling

Intimacy and sexual problems can significantly impact a marriage, leading to frustration, disappointment, and even resentment. However, with the right approach, these issues can be addressed and overcome in the context of marriage counselling. This article will discuss the causes of intimacy and sexual problems in marriage, the various approaches to addressing these issues in counselling, and the challenges that may arise.

Causes of Intimacy and Sexual Problems in Marriage

Intimacy and sexual problems in marriage can stem from various factors, including physical, psychological, relationship, and cultural factors. Physical factors such as illness, injury, or medication’s side effects can reduce sexual desire and physical ability. Psychological factors like stress, anxiety, and past trauma can also affect a person’s ability to connect emotionally and physically with their partner. Relationship factors like poor communication, lack of trust, and conflicts can also contribute to a lack of intimacy and sexual problems in marriage. Cultural and societal factors, such as societal norms and expectations around sexuality, can also shape a couple’s sexual experiences and behaviours.

Why Sexual Problems Occur in Marriage

Here are some common reasons why sexual problems can occur in marriage:

  • Physical factors: Health issues, medications, or hormonal changes can impact sexual function and desire.
  • Psychological factors: Stress, anxiety, depression, past trauma or abuse, and negative body image can all harm sexual function and desire.
  • Relationship factors: Poor communication, conflicts, and lack of emotional intimacy can contribute to sexual problems in a marriage.
  • Societal and cultural factors: Societal norms and expectations around sexuality and cultural attitudes and beliefs about sexual behaviours and desires can influence sexual experiences in a marriage.
  • Changes in life circumstances: Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and other life transitions can impact sexual desire and function.
  • Differences in sexual desires and preferences: Couples may have different sexual desires and preferences, leading to conflicts and dissatisfaction in their sexual relationship.
  • Sexual dysfunctions: Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, or low libido can impact sexual experiences and satisfaction.

Intimacy and Sexual Problems

It’s important to note that sexual problems in marriage can result from a complex interplay of physical, psychological, relationship, and cultural factors. Addressing these issues may require a comprehensive approach considering each partner’s unique experiences and perspectives.

Approaches in Dealing with Intimacy and Sexual Problems in Marriage Counselling

Marriage counsellors use a variety of approaches to help couples overcome intimacy and sexual problems in their relationships. One of the first steps is to try and understand and address the root causes of these issues. This may involve exploring each partner’s past experiences and current psychological and physical factors affecting their sexual relationship.

Improving communication and emotional intimacy is another crucial aspect of addressing intimacy and sexual problems in marriage counselling. Couples may be taught communication skills and techniques to help them express their needs and desires in a non-threatening way. Improving emotional intimacy can involve exploring each partner’s emotional needs and working to create a more profound sense of connection and understanding between them.

Redefining and setting realistic expectations for sexual intimacy is another important aspect of dealing with these issues in marriage counselling. This may involve helping couples understand what a healthy sexual relationship looks like and addressing any unrealistic or harmful expectations that may impact their sexual experiences.

Incorporating sensate focus techniques and other exercises can also help overcome intimacy and sexual problems in marriage. Sensate focus involves focusing on physical sensations and touch, and it can help couples become more aware of and comfortable with their bodies and improve their physical connection.

Finally, addressing any sexual dysfunctions or physical limitations impacting the couple’s sexual experiences is also essential to marriage counselling. This may involve referral to medical professionals or specialists and working with the couple to find solutions that are safe and effective for them.

Challenges in Dealing with Intimacy and Sexual Problems in Marriage Counselling

While marriage counselling can effectively overcome intimacy and sexual problems, several challenges may arise. One of the biggest challenges is resistance from one or both partners. Some couples may resist addressing these sensitive topics in counselling or feel embarrassed or ashamed to discuss their sexual experiences.

Another challenge is dealing with shame and embarrassment around sexual issues. This can be particularly difficult for couples who have experienced trauma or abuse or who have internalized negative messages about sexuality from society or their own families.

Navigating cultural and societal taboos around sexuality can also be challenging in marriage counselling. This may involve addressing harmful cultural beliefs and stereotypes and helping couples understand the importance of consent and communication in a healthy sexual relationship.

Finally, maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of sensitive topics is also a challenge in marriage counselling. This is especially important for couples dealing with intimate and sexual issues, as these are often deeply personal and private experiences.

The impact of unaddressed Intimacy and Sexual Problems

Sexual problems can lead to frustration, disappointment, and even resentment in a relationship. The absence or decline of physical intimacy can lead to feelings of inadequacy and insecurity, causing stress and tension in the relationship. Moreover, when these problems are not addressed, it can lead to deep-set feelings of embarrassment, harming one’s self-esteem and confidence. When sexual problems are left unresolved, it can lead to further complications in the relationship, including decreased intimacy and emotional connection and a decline in overall relationship satisfaction. It is important to remember that these problems are not uncommon, and seeking help through Therapy or counselling can be a valuable step in overcoming these difficulties and improving the relationship’s overall health.

Intimacy and Sexual Problems and how Therapy can help

Psychosexual Therapy can Help.

Psychosexual individual and couples therapy can effectively address and overcome sexual problems in a relationship. A trained psychosexual therapist can provide a safe and non-judgmental environment for couples to discuss their concerns and explore the underlying causes of their sexual difficulties. Therapy can help couples improve communication skills, leading to deeper emotional intimacy and understanding.

By exploring each partner’s experiences and perspectives, Therapy can help couples redefine and set realistic expectations for their sexual relationship and address any negative beliefs or attitudes that may impact their sexual experiences. With the guidance and support of a therapist, couples can come together to find solutions and techniques that work best for them, leading to a more fulfilling and satisfying sexual relationship. In this way, Therapy can help couples overcome feelings of frustration, disappointment, and resentment and foster a deeper level of intimacy and connection.


In conclusion, intimacy and sexual problems in marriage can significantly impact a relationship. Still, with the right approach, these issues can be addressed and overcome in the context of marriage counselling. By understanding and addressing the root causes, improving communication and emotional intimacy, redefining and setting realistic expectations, incorporating exercises and techniques, and addressing any sexual dysfunctions or physical limitations, couples can work towards a more fulfilling and satisfying sexual relationship.

However, it is also essential to recognize the challenges that may arise during the process, including resistance from one or both partners, shame and embarrassment, cultural and societal taboos, and privacy and confidentiality concerns. Couples can achieve a deeper intimacy and connection by being open, honest, and committed to working through these challenges.

Cristina Vrech

Co-founder and director of Leone Centre, 20+ years of experience in supporting people, and offering valuable knowledge through Couples Counselling and Individual Counselling. Before becoming a therapist, I worked in the financial sector.

View more posts by Cristina Vrech

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If you do feel like you need some help and support, our Marriage Counselling professionals are available 7 days a week. Call us on 020 3930 1007. We can also provide fast track therapy.

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