Relationship Advice Tips from Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

psychotherapy for sex problems in marriage

cluster of flowers that bloom for a short while and die, like off and on sex!

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Do you wonder why there are times when you and your partner enjoy sex on a frequent basis only to find that that phase suddenly dies out leaving you cold and making sex a chore?

It’s possible that your desire and motivation for sex with your partner is contingent on very specific factors that all have to coalesce in order for both of you to enjoy it and want to make it last. When those factors are not in alignment the wish for physical intimacy may ebb and flow according to hidden pressures that get in the way, and disrupt the pure flow of desire and pleasure of love making.

Giselle and Robin rarely had sex spontaneously and out of desire. When they did it was because they felt they had to make the effort to prove there was still something there between them, and sometimes just to relieve sexual frustration. Giselle didn’t feel wanted and Robin felt like he had to perform is duty so that there were no arguments or suspicions that he was having an affair.

At times Robin felt ‘sick’ at having to get himself and Giselle aroused. He wanted it to be over as soon as possible while Giselle felt uncertain about his motives, and had half an ear out for dripping faucets, and how lucky her brother was to have such good luck with his job, house and family, compared to the struggles she was experiencing.

psychotherapy for marriage problems west los angeles

orange spikes of color in a maze of green, like desire for sex freed from obligation

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


Location seemed to be the switch that switched the sex drive off and on

When Giselle and Robin went away for a few days during holiday times they had sex every day sometimes more than once a day! It was as if they were a different couple, eager for physical intimacy and thoroughly enjoying it. They were like courting sweethearts all over again. Their relationship got a boost and they went back home to full of hope.

Back home guillotined their sex life. It was as if they had left their intimacy behind in the hotel they stayed at while away for their short break. Giselle was irritable and goaded Robin about his laziness around the house. She became anxious about what was expected of her as a wife and homemaker in the eyes of family and in-laws. Her lens was focused on comparing herself and what she did to make life good to what Robin failed to do.

psychotherapy for intimacy problems west los angeles

touching blooms give each other depth and support

photograph copyright Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.


Robots at home but lovers elsewhere directed Robin and Giselle’s physical intimacy.

At home Robin and Giselle were fighting for ascendancy and getting their partner to perform according to their expectations. Demands were overt, covert and exploded at the tiniest hair trigger. At home Giselle and Robin were like coiled springs bouncing back and away from one another, unable to support any pressure. They were robots playing out roles and grading one another on criteria that was impossible to meet let alone maintain.

Away from home the couple were free of their mechanical roles with unrealistic expectations. On break from the routines of married life with all the obligations of family and home maintenance Giselle and Robin had room to be lovers and not get pulled into the competitive, rigid, unrelenting demanding spring locks that burst and broke into conflict on a daily basis. Leaving the environment and structure of married life allowed them to be supple, flexible and soft, with each of them springing towards and with each other, not away from one another in challenging postures.

The green light for physical intimacy was on for short periods, but the red stop light was stronger, lasted longer and had a much greater impact on the sex life for Giselle and Robin.

So you might ask, why can’t they keep their softness and intimacy going when they are in their routine lives, which after all is the majority of the time?

Do they have to take holidays away from home every time they want to enjoy sex and feel connected to one another?

What gets in the way of the couple having an enjoyable and reliable sex life no matter where they are?

It isn’t the geographical location in the real world, but the place the couple go to in their heads.

When Giselle and Robin are at home they don’t see and feel one another as loving partners that provide affection, gentleness and intimacy in a comforting way. Both get caught up in viewing their partner as providers of a certain type of care – doing jobs, fulfilling family obligations, taking up slack, paying bills, ensuring a place in the social community etc. That’s when the coiled spring is tight and ready to burst.

The only time they don’t put these pressures on their partner and ruin the relationship is when they are physically in another place.


one bloom on an orchid stem with more to come, just like good intimacy

one orchid bloom with others coming up on the stem, like healthy intimacy!

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

How do they keep the intimate place in their heads at all times no matter what they have to do or where they are?

1. When ever thoughts of comparisons and obligations raise their heads, each partner needs to see the image of the coiled spring and check in with themselves. “Do I really need this job done  now, or do I actually want a hug and mutual tuning in to make me feel cared for?”

2. Focus on togetherness, not competitive jobs. “How can we take care of this up coming obligation together, so that we keep our closeness and intimacy as the primary focus?”

It will work like a charm if the intimacy comes first no matter what roles need to be fulfilled or what jobs need doing.

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educational purposes only. There is no liability on the part of Dr. Raymond for any reactions you may have while reading the article or implementing any of the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Raymond.