problems in a relationship help you grow and mature and have better
sex? The good news is YES problems in a relationship will help you to
grow, be better at relationships – and even have better sex!
The bad news is that going through tough times in relationships is
difficult and can be very painful.
It can be very scary and disheartening to be going through difficult
times with your partner but consider this – it’s
inevitable. Yes, even the most stable, loving couples find themselves
in crisis. They may hide it well or fight by way of ignoring each other
for weeks but it is unavoidable in committed relationships, especially
marriage – where the stakes can be higher. Dr. David
Schnarch, psychologist and sex therapist, says that crises in a
committed relationship are the midpoint of a
relationship, meaning crises are coming, they are inevitable and a normal
part of a relationship’s development. Too often,
these major problems lead to divorce or separation. This is unfortunate
because with the right help, the ability to look at oneself and the
willingness to tolerate pain for growth, couples can work through these
crises and ultimately have more fulfilling relationships (and sex!).
How can relationship problems and crises improve sex? Crises put us in
a position to look deeply at who we are, face the parts of ourselves
that need changing, and even stand up to our partners. Although scary
(because there’s no guarantee you’ll get through
it), this process can be empowering, energizing, and can bring a deeper
connection with your partner. When we know who we are, take
responsibility for our limitations, and make positive changes we feel
great about ourselves – not to mention how appealing (and
sexy) this can be to our partners. The hope is that couples can know
that there is nothing wrong with them or the relationship –
and that there is hope in knowing that what they are going through is a
normal and necessary part of their relationship
and, if they can tolerate pain for growth, they could come out the
other end stronger and more satisfied.
If you find you and your partner faced with major conflicts, Dr.
Schnarch suggests you start the process of growth by doing 4 things
(see suggested reading by David Schnarch, Ph.D., below):
1) Stay clear about who you are when facing a tough conflict with your
partner – hold onto your values and be honest with yourself
(especially about your shortcomings)
2) Calm yourself down, soothe your anxiety
3) Don’t react to your partner’s reactivity or
anxiety (so when they get anxious or fly off the handle, stay calm)
4) Tolerate the uncomfortable pain for growth of self and the
By doing these four things regularly, regardless of whether your
partner does them, you will move toward growth, maturity, improvement
in your relationship and even better sex. But hang in there, it may
take time and help from an experienced therapist.
Also, it is important to seek help from a licensed therapy
professional. She or he can help you navigate your way through the
potentially rough waters ahead. If you prefer to talk to a priest,
pastor, rabbi, or spiritual counselor it can be very helpful, too.
Religious leaders often times have a lot of experience dealing with
relationship problems, and will know local licensed therapists who can
help. Some highly recommended reading would be Passionate
Marriage, Resurrecting Sex, and Intimacy
and Desire, all by David Schnarch, Ph.D., or Seven
Principles for Making Marriage Work, by John Gottman, Ph.D.
Jennifer S. Sandoval, Psy. D., is a Licensed
Clinical Psychologist in Del Mar specializing in couple therapy, sexual
difficulties, child and family therapy and adult therapy.
more information about Jennifer Sandoval, San Diego Psychologist
specializing in Sex Therapy, go to: