Seattle Relationship and Sex Therapist

Category: Blog

Scheduling Sex

Very few clients I see love the idea of having to schedule sex to ensure it has a place in their relationship. It certainly isn’t a glamorous idea…Not at face value. Regardless, many couples and partnerships struggle to find time or energy (whether physical or emotional) to engage in sex play by the end of a long work day. Most people (especially in Seattle) are busy these days. Work, errands, parenting responsibilities, friends, work, family, volunteer opportunities, finding time for fun, and work all can unintentionally take priority over physical intimacy. Everything else becomes a priority. Did I mention work?…

While it can be challenging, there is no reason to follow any social rule about how sex “should be” in a relationship. Few individuals, couples, and partnerships want to admit they feel too exhausted for any sex play. Scheduling a time for sex can provide an open forum for diverse sexual play. Additionally, it can provide a time during the week for novel sexual exploration, giving each partner a turn to bringing something new to the sexual buffet. Many people struggle with the notion of losing sexual spontaneity, and having another calendar item to schedule during the week.

Contrary to common concerns, having a predictable time where sexual play is guaranteed can keep sex on the mind when it might not otherwise be. Often, one planned time and space can help inspire additional spontaneous sex throughout the week. Additionally, creating an opportunity to rid the relationship of anxiety, stress, disappointment, or the feeling of failure around not having regular sex can create space for building further safety around initiating sex (especially if initiation has been infrequent or challenging).

Are you and your partner(s) struggling with low frequency? If you are trying to get on the same page or find common sexual ground, sex therapy can help!

Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to collaborate and create new opportunities to ensure sex stays a priority.

Experiencing Different Levels of Sexual Desire?

What happens when you find yourself in a position with your partner(s) where he/she/they don’t have the same sexual intensity or drive as you? What do you do when you desire more frequent sex, or kinky sex, but your partner(s) doesn’t or is indifferent?Desire discrepancy.  Sex Therapy. If you’ve felt alone and isolated, you aren’t as abnormal and unique as you might think. Desire discrepancy is a common process between couples and partners when one party doesn’t possess the same drive as you. While physiological changes across the life span can impact anyone’s desire for sex (e.g., menopause, low testosterone…etc.), many life transitions can too…like becoming a parent (and being exhausted…all…of…the…time), or learning that what is or would be fulfilling sexually now is different than when you started dating or were first married.

I consistently see couples and partnerships where one partner has either a much higher drive for sex in general, or has the desire for a type of sex (often kinky sex) that the other(s) just aren’t into, or have never considered. Remember…variety is the spice of life, and despite differences in what is pleasurable between partners, it doesn’t mean that your relationship will or has to end. Regardless, it can be terrifying to hear that your partner(s) is unsatisfied with the frequency of sex or really wishes that you would be more domineering or sexually adventurous. Being in this position isn’t uncommon, and when you think about the scope of time you’ve been with your partner (especially if it’s been years), things can become stale, uninspiring, or no longer preferable.

If you have found yourself in this position, there are plenty of directions therapy can assist with. I have seen many couples who have renegotiated the nature of their sexual relationship, often to a better, more pleasurable, and more fulfilling position than it ever was at the beginning of the relationship. It is never too late to save, fix, or rediscover your sexual relationship, scripts, and chemistry with your partner!

Are You Struggling to Get on the Same Page as Your Partner Sexually?

Are you and your partner(s) struggling with a desire discrepancy? Are you trying to get on the same page or find common sexual ground? Sex therapy can help! Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to communicate your hopes, needs, desires, and what is pleasurable in ways your partner understands and welcomes.

Speaking A Similar Language

Regardless of the relationship or sex problems many clients bring to therapy, what keeps them from making progress is an inability to speak the same language. Most couples enter my office with one partner metaphorically speaking Latin, while the other is arguing back in German. Funny thing is, most people are saying the same thing, but do not understand one another. Achieving what you want in your relationship or sex life often cannot be achieved without speaking a common language. Whether you are fighting/miscommunicating about sex and preferences, disappointment, trust, intimacy, finances, or even how to load the dishwasher correctly, the following suggestions hold true.

Conflict is good and healthy when done “right.” Many problems I treat started small and went nearly unnoticed. One partner typically has a preference or a need he/she wants fulfilled by the other. This partner assumes that the way the couple shares its needs is clear and understood, rarely following up with the other partner(s) to ensure this is the case. Do you remember in the original Die Hard movie where Bruce Willis’ character makes the comment to Alan Rickman’s about how “assumption is the mother of all f*#k up’s?” Here is the secret; it is true in any relationship, especially with your romantic or sex partner.

When you find yourself going around in circles in conversations with your partner(s), expecting a different outcome each time (stuck in the same pattern of interaction), something needs to intervene. Often, resentment can build, and we find ourselves becoming contemptuous or critical toward the other. Those sentiments are often met defensively.

3 Ways to Speak a Similar Language

So, when you both want to speak French, but one is speaking English and the other Spanish, what can you do to stop running around in circles and move toward progress? Here are a couple of suggestions.

  1. Try using a “soft start-up”

    • When you are having a difficult time having important discussions with your partner (especially about sex, or anything that usually produces an argument), try beginning conversations with a “softened start-up” or “I-statement”. Instead of blaming your partner for your own primary emotive response, begin conversations about topics needing resolution by naming what is going on for you in the situation, not what your partner is doing to you (NO blaming). For example, when you want to begin a conversation and open dialog about a desire discrepancy (where one partner wants more or different sexual activity than the other), instead of blaming your partner for not meeting your needs, you could say: “I feel disheartened when I am unable to connect physically with the person I love most in life. I need to find that shared pleasure, admiration, and closeness to feel fully alive.” See how that is fundamentally different than blaming the other party? You are taking responsibility for your primary emotions and showing your partner that when a situation (not them) occurs, something you do not prefer happens. Then, you are able to ask for help and explain to your partner(s) what you need.
    • Essentially, this is the formula: “I feel _____ (primary emotion) _____ when _____ (situation, No blaming!) _____ happens. I need _________________ to feel whole/alive/safe/better/etc.
    • This process allows each partner respectfully to begin discussing difficult topics without being immediately triggered, building up resentment for the other.
  2. Take a “time out”

    • Walking away and taking a break from a heated discussion is not always a bad thing. When you feel your heart rate accelerating there is a good change you are flooded/triggered, and are losing your ability to make thoughtful/intelligent decisions, as your body starves your prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that controls executive functioning…i.e., the smart part) of oxygen, shutting it down. After this happens, it is all fight or flight. Best to negotiate ahead of difficult discussions with your partner about taking time outs to cool down when things get too heated. Get on the same page before trying this, otherwise, it will seem like you or your partner is running away.
    • One caveat, be sure to return to the discussion within 24 hours so it is not forgotten. Otherwise, we build resentment.
  3. Practice Mindfulness

    • Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction is a form of mindfulness that is clinically aimed at lowering anxiety through attentive breathing exercises, body scans, guided meditations, as well as other practices.
    • The point here is to work toward lowering anxiety and remaining present in any situation without “checking out.”
    • Start with the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, also known as Mindful Breath. You can find many great examples of the 4-7-8 breathing exercise online. It only takes a minute or two to practice.

Are You Speaking a Similar Language?

Are you and your partner(s) speaking a similar language? Call Dr. Ethan Schwab today at (425) 295-2189 for a FREE initial consultation. Learn to communicate your needs and desires in ways your partner understands and welcomes.

About Ethan

When you’re young (see: high school), everyone wants to know what your aspirations for the future are. Many of my friends had typical responses: “Doctor, lawyer, engineer…etc.” Many of them brought those career goals to fruition. Comically, when school counselors used to ask me similar questions, I always responded with a singular answer: “sex therapist!” Like many future therapists, I always was the person friends relied on for support (later in my career, like many future sex therapists, I was always the therapist that helped individuals actualize uniqueness and desires to have pleasure in life, as well as cherished the most taboo aspects of my clientele). Though when I was young, no one seemed to believe I would ever follow through with my aspirations, given the taboo nature of this field. Needless to say… they were wrong.

I began college with the hope and aspirations of any young person, attending University of Victoria in British Columbia. I studied psychology in hopes that it would somehow prepare me for future clinical practice. Along with half of my fellow undergraduate students, we all thought our current position in life was far more relevant than it was. Needless to say, far more training and schooling would be required to ever achieve my career goal. Despite minor setbacks here and there (which I would have to remind myself that every experiences from time to time), I finished school and moved on to graduate training in marriage and family therapy at Seattle Pacific University. From this point, my ideology was challenged as I finally learned the fundamental elements of successful marriage counseling.

Nearing the end of graduate school, I couldn’t help but feel the need for further education, as a master’s program is by no means comprehensive in its’ scope. Subsequently, since I’m a little stubborn, I took on doctoral studies in marriage and family therapy at Florida State University. Not only did I further my clinical training at the doctoral level, but I taught, studied, researched, and presented on many aspects of human sexuality.

Regardless, I still felt under prepared to practice as a sex therapist. As I had been in clinical practice for some time, I felt that specialized training around sex therapy (as very few clinicians possess this training, yet say they offer sex therapy) would benefit further practice. I completed my formal clinical education by attending a post-graduate program in sex therapy at the University of Michigan.

Given these experiences, I have a wide breath of clinical training in both relationship therapy as well as sex therapy. As a trained sex therapist, I am able to comprehensively treat common psychogenic sexual dysfunctions, and as a marriage and family therapist, I’m able to integrate, manage, and work with all aspects of the relationship that are impacted by any and all current discomforts.

Feel free to learn more about my background and experiences.

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