Every relationship and marriage has it's ups and downs. Sometimes the downs can last longer than most relationships can tolerate. However, given tools and resources, couples can learn how to negotiate differences and navigate through the stormy times, often without breaking up. One of the most common problems relationships encounter is sexual dysfunction and loss of intimacy. Sexual dysfunction in women is usually a symptom of another underlying issue that may be conscious or unconscious.
There are several reasons why sexual dysfunction occurs with women. It can be due to intra-personal reasons, whereby the issues lie within the woman and not the relationship, or it can be due to inter-personal reasons, whereby the issues are due to the unresolved conflicts within the relationships. More often than not, these issues do not arise until the couple has either taken the vows, or the relationship has progressed to long term.
In the beginning, the "honeymoon" stage, everybody’s singing tenor and enjoying the best part. Susan Campbell once wrote that each stage of a relationship mimics each stage of human psychic development. In the first stage, when we are infants, we look to our mothers for all our needs. This stage is called co-dependency. It's the stage of falling in love when we are adults. All the boundaries collapse and we feel nothing but the magic and splendor of the newness with each other. We meet each other's needs not unlike how a baby and mother meet the needs of each other. The baby looks into the eyes of the mother, the mother looks down into the eyes of the baby and the feeling is, they are one; not unlike the feelings experienced in the first stage of a relationship. We have often heard the couple refer to each other as their soul mate. This is the title expressed when we are in this first stage of the relationship.
In the second stage of life, called counter-dependecy, the child begins to move away from mom and explores the world. This is the beginning of what psychologists call individuation. It is part of our normal growth and development. In relationships, we begin to adjust to the same changes. The boundaries begin to pop back up, and each partner moves away from each other a bit, noticing the differences rather than the sameness that was seen in the first stage. This is when most marriages and relationships fall apart. This is when the soul mate" title is often dropped and exchanged to dog or prick. It's tough to hang in there and go for a resolution because things begin to happen unconsciously that we are not always in touch with. This is when some of our unresolved childhood issues surface and interface with the issues that are occurring in our relationships. It is the time when each of our pasts, collide with the present and most of us don't have the conscious awareness, tools, skills, and resources to work it out.
Most people are not even aware of how their personal history contaminates their relationships. We grow up in homes with poor role modeling and use that as our frame of reference of how a relationship should be. We bring in our own set of baggage and unresolved conflicts with our parents and unconsciously want to work it out in our adult relationships. We repeat patterns from the only modeling we know. Doing what comes naturally is not necessarily healthy. Without the insight and understanding of all this, we tend to fight it out, often times unfairly, using blaming, shaming and judgment on each other. Most of this behavior we learned in our own homes. This inevitably causes a rift in the relationship resulting in sexual disinterest and/or dysfunction. This is when most couples or individuals in the relationship come into treatment, and it's too late to repair. However, this is not always the case, and I have found that with discharging the pain, beliefs and hurts from the past, everyone has a chance to make a new start. This of course depends on the willingness of both parties to move forward.
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