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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My wife and I have been married for 17 years. We have always

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My wife and I have been married for 17 years. We have always struggled with sex. We have come to the conclusion that she suffers from undiagnosed anxiety (life in general) and from "good girl syndrome". Her parents weren't particularly religious, but they never discussed or spoke of was an off limits topic. Her Dad mostly, but also her Mom, put her on a pedestal. She was the consummate good girl. She got perfect grades, NEVER got in trouble, she's never been drunk and doesn't allow herself to get out of control. this effects our sex life terribly. She is embarrassed to the point of shutting down when I try to touch her breasts or vagina. She is repulsed by the idea of me giving her oral sex (though she doesn't mind giving it to me). She sees sex organs and private areas as dirty and gross. In our entire 20+ years of relationship, she has only had a few orgasms. She is willing to let me pleasure her with my fingers if we are watching a racy or pornographic movie. She says it's because watching takes the focus off of her...and she says she isn't particularly turned on by the movies. Once she is aroused, she gets into it and enjoys it...though RARELY orgasms. The only orgasms she has had were during sex sessions that involved pornographic movies. My question is this...
What sorts of psychological techniques might be involved in helping her overcome these issues? The standard "advice" fare on the internet and in self-help books has been useless. Most of them focus on developing desire through self-exploration, masturbation, or just "faking it until you make it" types of stuff. Those things haven't worked. Apparently the psychological issues are deeper than that. She isn't able to get past her hangups to get to the helpful techniques in those books.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Seeking expert counseling is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Dear friend,

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Hi. My name is ***** ***** I believe I can help with your situation. Please give me a few moments to look over your question before I respond.

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Your wife seems to fit the category of disorders known as Female Sexual Arousal/Sexual Disorder (302.72 is the DSM diagnostic code).


Elliott, sorry to say you are not the expert I saw when I asked the question. I would like to get an answer from a woman's point of view. Sorry. Is there a way to terminate this without charge?

Elliott, LPCC, NCC :

Sure there is, if you wish. I am giving you a professional point of view rather than an opinion but if you do not wish to continue with me then I shall be happy to opt out in favor of a woman therapist.


Thank you

Hello, I'd like to help you with your question.
From your description, it sounds like your wife struggles because of what she was taught at home as a child. Her parents appeared to have instilled a lot of shame associated with bad behavior. And they may also have associated sex with bad behavior, making that connection so your wife experiences difficult not carrying that belief to her relationship with you.
It makes sense that the standard suggestions you have read on the internet do not help. Your wife's issues go back to her childhood and originate with her beliefs about sexuality. If there is a shame factor whenever she considers sex in any form, then she has basically been "programmed" to believe that sex is bad. Simple techniques are not going to work for her to help her overcome a deep seated belief system.
The best option for your wife is therapy. You are both dealing with a psychological issue rather that just an issue of your wife learning to relax and enjoy sex in the general sense. She needs to be able to talk out her experiences as a child and have a professional help her break down these beliefs and develop new ones. That is not a simple process but it does not have to be difficult with professional help. A therapist can help her, and you, navigate this issue and your wife can develop a new belief system about her own sexuality.
You may also want to help your wife by focusing on her feelings. Talk to her about her past and how her childhood connects to her feelings about having sex. You don't have to make it a long intense conversation, but just showing that you care about her emotionally and that you understand what she is struggling with can help her learn to relax and trust you with what she is feeling. For now, you might also want to stop using porn to arouse her, since it connects the "good girl, bad girl" beliefs with sexuality just by the very nature of porn and the issues involved. So it can reinforce her beliefs, making it harder for her to feel good about sex.
I hope this has helped you,
I hope my answer was helpful to you. If you have any more questions, please let me know.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your response. I guess we both know that therapy is the best solution. Our problem is where we live...there are no qualified sex therapists anywhere near our area. I know that most therapists could handle the issues involved, but we are really looking to focus on the sexual areas involved and would like someone that is more in tune with that. So, I guess I was looking for more information about specific psychological techniques that may help her develop new or modify her existing beliefs. We have had multiple, in depth conversations about this issue. I have enough college background in counseling to know that the maps of belief drawn around these issues when she was growing up are the real culprit. She is open about identifying the causes as well. Identifying them and talking in depth about them hasn't been enough to change them though. It's like she knows the cause and the solution or goal in her mind but can't make it change in her heart. She wants to move beyond identifying to actually changing. If therapy is the only answer, I guess we will have to figure out a way.

My other follow-up is this: is there really true hope in turning this around? It has been a constant battle for the last 17+ years and there are times it seems completely hopeless. What results could she expect to get from therapy? Could these same sorts of issues also play into her difficulty letting go and having fun around me (though she seems to be able to let go and have more fun around her friends)? What she and I want is for our sexual relationship to be normal and satisfying. She is open, but apparently, these are very deep seeded issues.

BTW, we have stopped using porn for arousal. It is difficult, because that is the only thing that has ever had any results for us. Imagine sex with no touching and awkward kissing! It's now almost impossible for me to be aroused and interested. I'm hanging in there though, hoping for an answer.

Thanks again for your response.

It is great that you have a background in counseling. That helps you to understand exactly what your wife is going through and ways to help her to work through this issue.
Your wife may be feeling the pressure of her sexual issues in your marriage and that may be blocking her ability to relax and change her beliefs about sexuality. This is something you can check in with her about to see if that is what she is indeed feeling. But that makes sense as to why she might be able to relax with friends but feel tense in your relationship. She might feel that her attempts to open up sexually have failed and that can affect her self esteem and confidence and possibly even reinforce her feelings of shame.
If she is willing to work on this issue, therapy can be very helpful. It is important to get the best therapist you can find, but if you cannot find a sex therapist in your area, a well trained therapist will still be able to help. Your wife is suffering more from the experience in her childhood than a specific sexual issue so any well trained therapist could help her. It appears that her issues from childhood have manifested themselves through her sexual feelings but that the basis of the issue was what she was taught as a child by her parents and the possible guilt and shame involved. Those issues can definitely be dealt with in therapy with a well trained therapist.
You can expect that your wife's issues will be worked through and resolved, even after 17 years. As long as she wants to work through them, it is very possible and success is likely. But if she is resistant in any way or does not follow through with therapy as she needs to, that could affect the outcome.
If you have not yet considered on line therapy to find a sex therapist, you and your wife might want to give that a try. There are a number of sites available and you can often choose from Skype and chat as options. Recent studies have shown that this type of therapy can often be very effective.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you again. You have been very helpful. One last question. Any thoughts on how to go about choosing an online sex therapist that would be equipped to handle the deeper psychological issues at hand? It sounds like that may be a good way to connect with a quality counselor. We have looked into online therapy but it is hard to sort out the good from the bad. What should we be looking for in terms of credentials, etc?

You're welcome!
You should look for someone who has a Master's degree or above. And someone who has experience. Many sites will allow you time to assess whether or not the therapist is a match by giving you a free assessment or free time with the therapist. There are often ratings with on line therapy that also allow you to know what other people's experiences were with the therapist. If you feel comfortable with the therapist that is often a sign of a good match as well.
TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5809
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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