How to Find the Humor in Sex

Most of us take sex pretty seriously. When things go wrong, when we feel like our partners aren’t paying attention to us, when we’re dealing with a sexual dysfunction; things can seem downright heavy. After all, if we mishandle these difficult moments we create more stress and thereby add additional pressure to the situation. Insert, “wah-wah” — what a sex killer.

I’m not saying that everything should be a running joke but I have found in my practice a little levity can make a serious sex issue more surmountable. Yes, first acknowledging there is a problem is helpful when you want a problem addressed. But beyond that, I have found that the less pressure exerted on the relationship, the better outcome most individuals and couples have. In therapy this needs to be set up with a permission giving exercise by the therapist that lets the couple know that it’s ok to have a little fun while we are trying to address the issue. I’m always sure to let them know that the humor isn’t meant to be flippant but actually a helpful component of sex therapy.How to Find the Humor in SexFor instance, two clients of mine (names have been changed), Candace and Tom showed up in my office dealing with his erectile dysfunction issue. He could get an erection but he couldn’t maintain it upon insertion into Candace’s vagina. The situation seemed dire when they entered the door. Lots of crying and arguing ensued. Once we got a sense of what dynamic was going on we were able to begin to start to turn the tables. Tom could begin to see this behavior as a little malfunction of his equipment — similar to how he use to laugh about orgasming too quickly when he was a younger man. He didn’t beat himself up over that and he could begin to see that he didn’t have to over this issue either. Candace on the other hand was promised lots of other sex play so that the focus wouldn’t have to be all about penetrative sex. She could also regress a bit into adolescence when make out sex was exciting and ripe with anticipation. She could chuckle when things went wrong because there were still so many other sexual options to be had and of course it removed the pressure from Tom feeling like he disappointed his wife constantly.  It freed them up to both laugh and have fun while treating the dysfunction as almost a secondary issue.

So when the going gets rough in sex as it does sometimes in life, it’s best to acknowledge the issue and then find lightness in it. It will make problems seem more like challenges and allow you and your partner to relax into one another again as a team.

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 is the resident sexologist at Adam & Eve and also runs a private practice and media consulting business. She has a Doctorate from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Her professional affiliations include AASECT, SSSS, and the American Board of Sexologists. She also has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and completed a postgraduate degree in Marriage, Family and Addictions Recovery Therapy.

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