Overcoming sexual incompatibility in your midlife relationship?
Often midlife partners have been together for many years and as we change throughout the lifecycle sexual incompatibility in a relationship can arise. This incompatibility might refer to a situation where partners have differing sexual desires, needs, or preferences that create challenges or dissatisfaction within their intimate lives. It can be a complex issue that may arise due to a variety of factors related to changes in physical health, hormone levels, emotional well-being, or individual sexual development.
Here are 5 key points to consider if you’re thinking of going to a couples therapist or discussing this further with your partner. The clearer you are about your needs the more productive a conversation will be.
- Physical changes: In midlife, individuals may experience physical changes that can impact their sexual desires and functioning. For example, men may face challenges such as erectile difficulties or a decrease in testosterone levels, while women may undergo hormonal changes during menopause that can affect libido and vaginal dryness. These physical changes can create a discrepancy between partners and lead to sexual incompatibility. Weight and body image can also impact your desire for intimate contact with your partner. Try to become aware of any physical changes which may be impacting your sexual desire and if you are communicating this to your partner. Perhaps together this is something the two of you are able to address.
- Different sexual needs and desires: People have unique sexual preferences and needs, which can sometimes differ between partners. One partner may have a higher or lower libido, preferences for specific sexual activities or different fantasies. When these differences are not effectively communicated and addressed, they can lead to feelings of frustration, resentment, or disconnection.
- Emotional factors: Emotional well-being plays a significant role in sexual intimacy. Midlife can bring about various emotional changes, including increased stress, work demands, family responsibilities, or dealing with ageing parents. Emotional issues such as unresolved conflicts, communication difficulties, or decreased emotional connection can contribute to sexual incompatibility.
- Communication challenges: In my experience as a therapist, it is clear and caring communication which can keep couples together. Effective communication is crucial in addressing sexual incompatibility. Openly discussing desires, concerns, and boundaries can help both partners understand each other’s needs and find ways to bridge the gap. However, discomfort or embarrassment around discussing sexual topics may hinder these conversations, leading to unaddressed issues.
- Relationship dynamics: The overall health of the relationship can impact sexual compatibility. If the relationship is lacking in other areas, such as emotional connection, trust, or communication, it can further exacerbate issues related to sexual compatibility. Addressing and improving the overall relationship dynamics can positively impact sexual satisfaction.
If sexual incompatibility becomes a persistent issue, seeking the guidance of a qualified therapist or sex therapist can be beneficial. A therapist can help facilitate open and non-judgemental conversations about sexual concerns, explore possible solutions, and provide guidance on techniques or strategies to enhance sexual intimacy.
It’s important to approach sexual incompatibility with empathy, patience, and a willingness to work together as a couple. Remember that sexual desires and preferences can evolve throughout life, and open communication, mutual understanding, and a shared commitment to finding solutions are crucial in addressing and resolving sexual incompatibility in a midlife relationship.