For many couples, ‘making love’ involves a sense of intimacy and emotional closeness. An intimate sexual relationship involves trust and being vulnerable with each other. Closeness during sex is also linked to other forms of intimacy. It is important to share a whole range of emotions with a partner, otherwise some people begin to feel lonely and isolated regardless of how good their sexual experiences may be. Explore ways to share love and affection without sex. Often, the more a couple is intimate with each other in ways other than sex, the more fulfilling their sex life becomes.

The most common barriers to healthy sexual intimacy are:

  1. Fear of sexual intercourse
  2. Fear of impotency, premature ejaculation, or no ejaculation
  3. Physically based sexual problems
  4. Lack of openness or honesty concerning sexuality
  5. Unwillingness to be creative or explorative sexually
  6. Embarrassment with one another in the sexual arena
  7. Poor body image and discomfort with nudity
  8. Hang ups due to moral, religious, or value beliefs
  9. Lack of appropriate education regarding sexuality
  10. Unwillingness to establish a healing environment

Here are some tips to deal with common barriers:

Diagnose the problem. Examine your lifestyle and make sure that you are making enough time to have sex with your partner. Sexuality is a habit, something that needs to happen on an ongoing basis or else other things will crowd it out.

Analyse how sex became low on the priority list. One of the biggest mistakes that couples make is when they have children, they stop being friends and lovers because they’ve become mums and dads. Being a parent is just one of the roles that you play, and neglecting the role of partner and lover is a huge mistake. It’s possible you may need to spend less time at the office or learn to say no to other commitments.

Make your sex life a major priority. Make a conscious decision to recommit to each other and move sex higher on the priority list. Physical intimacy in a relationship deserves a lot of attention. You can start by making small changes. Put your kids to bed earlier, don’t fall asleep on the couch and go to bed at the same time as your partner.

Ask yourself what you can do to change things. Men are visually stimulated, so find places where you can make small changes in this area. Women are stimulated by verbal and emotional connection and lots of touching and hugging. Discuss with each other the ways in which you can fulfill each other’s needs — make an effort to connect on that deeper level before moving on to intercourse.

Give yourself permission to get what you want. Claim your right and give a voice to your needs. Being sexually satisfied and feeling wanted by your partner is a legitimate and healthy part of a relationship.

Talk to your partner about your concerns. Remember to be sensitive when bringing the subject up and pick an appropriate time – not when you are in the middle of an argument. Your partner may resist the conversation because there may be underlying issues such as stress, depression or medication that are interfering with his or her sex drive, but be supportive. If he or she is reluctant to be open about it, encourage him or her to look within him/herself in order to gain insight into the issues. If all else fails, ask your partner to participate in a session with a counsellor or Relationship Coach so you can start to make changes.

Stop complaining about what you’re not getting and start creating what you want. Most people, especially women tend to take marital problems very personally and seriously, and consequently feel sorry for themselves. Understand that the choices you make, and the attitude you maintains, all have consequences. You are not a victim; you are an adult and can change what needs to be changed.

Turn toward your partner. Come up with a plan for deeper intimacy together that you can both agree on and be excited about, and will put into action.