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Monogamy has many pitfalls when it comes to sex. One such pitfall is in relation to monogamous couples that are dealing with a partner who has a sexual dysfunction. The very nature of monogamy is a problem because we must depend on one person to satisfy all our sexual needs, and, often, that means the rest of one’s life. Here lies the problem. What if that person cannot provide sexually for his/her partner? What does the functioning partner have to do? break-up? cheat? or suffer? I have a better option, help your partner in their treatment and heal together.

It takes two

Sexual dysfunction in monogamous couples may only affect one person but it impacts both partners emotionally and equally. I realize one person usually has the body part that is not working. Yes that is true, but what is also true is that the sex is not working as a result, and that is both of your problems.

Since you only have sex with each other you both rely on each other to provide a basic human need. It is widely accepted that sexually active people have lower risks of mental illness, physical illness, and live longer-healthier lives, than sexually inactive people. In monogamous couples each partner depends on that one person for all their partnered sexual needs. Sexual issues become intertwined between both partners, which in turn causes emotional effects on both partners. Both partners have negative emotions ranging from shame, guilt, anger, frustration, anxiety, and helplessness.

For the partner without the sexual dysfunction the negative feelings often get stuck on the sidelines while their partner seeks treatment. Often it’s seen as their problem to fix since it is their body. Yes, that is true, but that does not mean the functioning partner needs to suffer on the sidelines while the partner seeks treatment. Here are five ways you can get involved in your partners treatment.

1. Watch your reaction

Recovery from sexual dysfunction is not a quick process; especially when the medication is not working. Setbacks are a normal part of treatment and will happen often. How one reacts to those setbacks can be helpful or emotionally destructive to your partner. If we react negatively, in any way, it will devastate your partner emotionally and cause the problem to get worse. However, if we react in a way that is loving, comforting, soothing, and reassuring it will take that setback and turn it into a positive situation next time. Your partner will feel less pressure, safer, and will have a reduction of anxiety that they might feel the fear of persecution by their partner if their sex does not go well.

2. Come to a therapy session

Be active in your partners treatment because when you heal together you heal quicker. Sexual issues of any kind in monogamy are both of your issues and if one sits back while their partner does all the work, it will not only make one feel helpless and disconnected with their partner, your partner will feels alone and isolated from you. These feelings could hinder that progress.

3. Remove the pressure by removing the goal

Removing the pressure to preform by making sex about pleasure and the experience with your partner, rather about the orgasm, will reduce the overwhelming pressure to perform. Pressure to perform is overwhelming after years of frustrations. That immense pressure causes muscle tension which cuts off blood flow, and without blood flow the vagina does not open and moisten and the penis stays flaccid. No amount of medication will change this if it’s cognitive in nature; since the medication does not change the way your partner thinks.

4. Empathy

Being empathic may be easy under most conditions, but when sex is involved, for many, empathy goes to the wayside because of the emotional toll it takes on both partners. Sexual issues often cause partners to turn on each other. An adversarial relationship is often a hindrance to sexual desire and recovery. To remain empathetic, remind yourself that whatever you are feeling, he/she must be feeling worse.

5. Patience

Remember that recovery takes time and you love this person. Things will get better in time. If we push we place pressure, and like I mentioned in point 3, pressure is a bad thing.

Using these interventions you can get off the sidelines and help your relationship regain its sexuality. We do not need to feel helpless in fixing these problems. We can feel empowered by getting involved in correcting a problem as a couple, instead of watching the frustrating process of recovery from the sidelines.


Have more questions about sexual dysfunction and how to overcome it as a couple? Contact us today. 

David Fishman


  • Matt Lemp says:

    Very important for both partners to follow these steps. It can be very frustrating.

  • Matt Lemp says:

    It can be frustrating for both partners but if we don’t follow these steps it will compound and additional frustration will set in.

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