Tracey Cox reveals the 8 mistakes couples make when fixing

Tracey Cox reveals the 8 mistakes couples make when fixing – Talktalk News

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It takes about six years of marital misery for most couples to seek therapy.

It takes around four years for most of us to admit to each other that our sex life is dire and needs sorting.

When we finally do try, lots of couples don’t succeed because most people don’t have a clue where to start.

Instead, they make the same classic mistakes by focusing on all the things that really aren’t important.


It takes about six years of marital misery for most couples to seek therapy. It takes around four years for most of us to admit to each other that our sex life is dire and needs sorting.

Focusing on frequency instead of quality

When a couple set out to fix their sex life, often the main aim is to have sex more often.

The way to make this happen isn’t to have sex more, it’s to focus on the quality of sex you’re having.

It’s logical: if you both enjoy sex more, you’ll naturally want to do it more often.

We’re all guilty of thinking that if a couple have sex often, their sex life must be great. But that’s not always the case.

Tracey Cox (pictured) reveals the eight mistakes couples make when tryinfg to fix their sex life

One person’s idea of the ‘perfect’ amount of sex can differ strongly from the other person in the relationship.

If a couple are having lots of sex, one half may think that’s too much sex. Don’t assume high frequency means high satisfaction for both partners.

Another thing that trips people up…

Blaming one person

If you don’t get this right, nothing will work.

Any sex problem is a couple problem, not one person’s problem. Move away from one of you being ‘right’ and the other ‘wrong’ and you’ll get a lot further.

It’s a simple but crucial premise.

Say, you have a desire issue. The person who wants sex more isn’t ‘sexier’ or ‘better’; the person who wants it less isn’t the one with ‘the problem’. One of you feels rejected, the other feels pressured and hassled – it doesn’t feel great on either side.

Stop blaming each other and start working together as a team.

Defining sex as intercourse


 You don’t have to be having sex to give your sex life a refresh. These will also have the desired knock-on effect.

Go out with friends together: Desire feeds on newness and seeing your partner in the company of others makes us see them through fresh eyes. And don’t stick to the same group of friends, mix it up! Say yes to any invitation that exposes you to different people and things.

Flirt with each other: Are you snorting with derision? Listen, I was with you! Whenever I read this piece of advice, I used to think, ‘Oh for God’s sake, flirting seems so forced, so silly when you’ve been together forever’.

Until I studied a really happy couple I know and realised they’ve never stopped flirting. There it was, the extended, adoring eye gaze we all do at the start. Standing really close, giving full attention, lots of touching. Maybe they’re just like that? Or has the flirting kept them in love? Give it a whirl.

Do exciting things: And I don’t mean try out the new Thai down the road. Do shocking things to get your heart thudding. Jolt your brain into falling back into lust – any type of adrenaline-boosting activity drives up the dopamine level in your brain, making you feel lustier and more in love. Do things that slightly freak you out – ride a bike, kick-box, ride a rollercoaster, wear your skyscraper wedges to the office.


Another common mistake: thinking ‘sex’ means intercourse and making it the only type of sex that counts.

Sex will be more erotic, and you’ll feel much more connected if you create time for sexual ‘encounters’ that don’t necessarily include penetration.

Like sex that focuses purely on hand stimulation, oral sex or using a sex toy on each other.

I hopefully don’t need to point out that most women don’t have their orgasms through intercourse anyway. Only 20 per cent of women regularly orgasm through penetration alone. Anything that moves a straight couple away from intercourse being the main event instantly improves sexual satisfaction for her.

Counting orgasms

Just as it’s unhelpful to focus on frequency as a barometer of how good your sex life is, so is getting hung up on how many orgasms you’re each having.

Getting into bed with the goal of it resulting in orgasm for one or each puts the pressure on – and stops you being in the moment.

Ask any sex therapist: removing the goal of orgasm makes for more relaxed, intimate sex sessions.

Instead of worrying about what (or who) should come next, relax and enjoy the process without expectations.

Ignoring relationship issues

In one survey, 44 per cent of men said the main reason they were avoiding sex with their wives was that they were furious with her.

They felt criticised, controlled, undervalued and insignificant in their relationships.

If there’s a lot of unexpressed anger and resentment going on, you’re not exactly going to want to get physically close to your partner.

You cannot solve sex problems without confronting underlying relationship problems: they are inseparable.

Which to solve first?

It’s assumed you should deal with emotional issues first but most therapists don’t, in fact, think that way. If you analyse a couple’s sex life, you get to the relationship stuff. If you analyse the relationship, the sex stuff becomes apparent.

Just tackle something!

If your sex problems seem less daunting than the relationship issues, fixing those first could give you the confidence to tackle bigger concerns.

Setting unrealistic goals

After the first honest chat, couples often feel so liberated, uplifted and relieved, it feels like everything is fixed already – just by talking!

But don’t expect your problems to be solved overnight.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ve just tackled the hardest part – admitting there’s a problem – but there’s usually still a way to go before you see real results in the bedroom.

You need to embrace the dreaded ‘C’ word, if you’re going to get anywhere. 

This is how compromise might look if you’re unhappy with the amount of sex you’re having: The high-desire person decides on the LEAST amount of sex per fortnight they’d be happy with. The low-desire person decides on the MOST often they’d be willing to do it. Then you choose the number in the middle of the two.

Making it fortnightly allows for life interfering with your commitment; make it monthly and you forget what you promised. This is a good starting point.

Compromise makes most things workable.

Waiting to ‘feel like sex’ to put your plans in action

If you’re in a long-term relationship, you could be waiting a while! Women, especially, move from one desire type to another once they’re settled.

‘Spontaneous desire’ – the sort we all think of as desire – happens at the start of relationships and is biologically based. It’s driven by hormones that release for a purpose (to get us to procreate) then fade away.

If you’re a couple who’ve been together ten years, spontaneous desire – feeling a random and uncontrollable desire to rip each other’s clothes off and have sex – happens about once a year.

If you’re lucky.

Most couples realise sex changes with time and is fuelled by more than ‘sparks’ but few truly embrace the ‘responsive desire’ model which functions in most long-term relationships.

Responsive desire means rather than feel like sex and then seek it out, you feel like sex after sexual stimulation has already started.

Desire shows up after arousal.

It’s a perfectly normal way for desire to work and many women are naturally predisposed to responsive desire.

In practical terms, this means that instead of waiting to feel like sex, you need to arouse yourself or each other.

Don’t think ‘Do I feel like sex?’. Instead think ‘Am I open to letting myself be put in the mood for sex?’.

(To make myself clear, I’m not talking about making yourself have sex when you really don’t want it. I’m suggesting that if you’re so-so about the idea, it’s worth starting to have sex and see if desire builds.)

..Or for the perfect moment

You sort of wouldn’t mind if you had sex?

Don’t just think about it do it – and do it as soon as you can!

Studies show the more time that passes between having an idea and following up on it, the more likely you are to lose motivation.

Let things like ‘I’ll just do the dishes first/answer that email’ get in the way and that momentary urge is lost.

Instead, help each other get in the mood.

Tune into when you both most feel like having sex. After a good night out and a few drinks? After a good chat and a movie?

Be honest and say what you need. Keep it light and say, ‘If you pour me a big glass of wine and massage my shoulders, I’ll be a much surer thing’. Or get yourself in the mood: put on sexy underwear, fantasise or read a sexy book. Slip off into the bathroom and use a discreet bullet vibrator before meeting your partner in the bedroom.

Do what made you feel sexy the last time around. This sends a signal to your brain – “she/he’s going to have sex again” – and triggers the right physical responses.

Tracey’s weekly podcast SexTok with Zibby and Tracey starts again in September. Check out the 55 episodes already posted here.

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