Make it stand out
Sex Without Stress: A couple"s guide to overcoming disappointment, avoidance, and pressure by Jessa Zimmerman, LMHC, CST has written a guide for couples to tease apart the sexual avoidance cycle (disappointment, avoidance, and pressure) to deepen their understanding of why sex can be so stressful!
Jessa talks about "rules of the court" that apply to our sexual relationships but can also be used as guides for functioning in our relationships. A few of my favorites I"ve referred back to time and time again
1. You are responsible for yourself! Play your side of the court and allow your partner to play theirs. Sure, you are going to be kind and sensitive (hopefully) to your partner, but it is not your job to take care of, make decisions for, or figure out what your partner is thinking! If you take on your own, you"ll build a culture of trust in your relationship where you know your partner is speaking up and caring for themselves.
2. You are responsible for your own pleasure. I can"t tell you how many times I"ve heard a client say, "they gave me an orgasm", or "I want to give them an orgasm." If only orgasms were to be given out like candy at a parade! While your partner can absolutely help you out with having an orgasm, no one owns or is responsible for one nor are you responsible for giving orgasms to your partner. It can be a lot of pressure to know what your partner wants and to execute it perfectly.
3. Ask for what you want but tolerate not getting it. Jessa guides us to speak up about our desires, to use the words, "I want" or "I would like" and to include a direct request. I appreciate how she validates how difficult this can be for folx, especially if they"ve learned their needs don"t matter. Just because you ask, doesn"t mean you are going to get it. Even if you don"t get it, it is crucial to have the courage to keep asking, and to allow yourself to be seen. If what you"ve asked for isn"t available or interesting to your partner, coming up with another plan is.
There are several other rules of the court to explore in this accessible book, as well as a guided action plan to put into place with your partner. Stay tuned for more tips on how to work toward sex without stress.