Editor's note: This week, as couples nationwide approach this love-centered holiday called Valentine's Day, we're rolling out a new column, "Understanding Intimacy," from Dr. Jane Guyn, which will run monthly in the Source Weekly.
The first edition of her column is below.
Dr. Jane Guyn (she/her) is a well-known relationship coach who received her Ph.D. in Human Sexuality and is trained as a Professional Sex Coach and Core Energy Course. She works to help women and their partners release shame and increase confidence in themselves. Her work is in the area of intimacy and sex, as well as fears and/or abuse issues related to sex, plus a variety of other issues that may arise from any relationship. She's the author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller, "Too Busy to Get Busy" and has been passionately married to her best friend for over 30 years. You can find her at howtofixmysexlife.com
Source Weekly: Can you tell us about yourself?
Dr. Jane Guyn: I was raised on the beach in Ventura, California. and went to the University of California-Los Angeles where I got a degree in nursing. A few years later, I met and married my best friend and the love of my life, Jim, who at that time was an intern at the county hospital where we both worked.
We lived in all sorts of places over the years, including very rural Northern California, Saudi Arabia, Germany and the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Three kids came along in the traditional way and we were delighted to adopt three more, making a family of six grown-up Guyn Kids.
I got into the field of intimacy coaching somewhere along the way. As a busy mother, I lost track of my sexual self in the middle of all the soccer practices and Halloween costumes. Jim and I have always had an intimate and loving relationship, but I had trouble being Mom and Sex Goddess at the same time. We ended up struggling after he had an innocent flirtation with a friend and I completely lost my mind. We worked it all out, but our challenge made me realize how difficult relationships can be.
I decided that I wanted to help women like me who were trying to figure out how to feel confident and sexy, and at the same time be good enough moms. So, I trained to be a Professional Sex Coach and then a Core Energy Coach.
Now, I'm honored to teach and coach other women, men and non-binary humans how to figure themselves out, get their questions answered and create the relationships they've always wanted. In groups and individual programs, we look for elegant solutions to the challenge of staying passionately in love in the middle of our busy lives.
SW: What are your goals for people in your current line of work?
JG: My goal for my clients in either group or individual work is to help them let go of sexual shame, learn to communicate comfortably about intimacy and sex without embarrassment, to identify barriers to intimacy and to resolve them with ease.
To speak authentically.
To know what they want.
To create an intimate life that feels loving, grounded, passionate and alive.
SW: Why is the notion of intimacy so important to you?
JG: Intimacy is at the core of who we are as people—our sense of self, our embodiment, our power and connection, our pleasure and self-expression. It's up to us to create intimacy that is actually intimate—not a chore to be done or a box to be checked.
SW: For your column in the Source you'll be answering questions from locals about their concerns around relationships. How are these questions collected?
JG: I can set up an email specifically for readers of the Source. Until we have a group of questions from local readers, I have questions that have been submitted to me on the reddit deadbedrooms/r subthread. | Feeling Hopeless
Q: Dr. Jane Guyn: I'm a 45-year-old man who desires more sex than my wife does. While occasionally there are success stories, most people, myself included, feel like there's no hope after constant rejection for years. I feel like I'm destined for divorce or a lifetime of suffering, and obviously neither of those seem optimal. Can couples really change their relationship in the bedroom? Is there hope?
From, Feeling Hopeless
Dear Hopeless: I can see how it might feel like there's nothing that can be done when you have uneven desire in your relationship. You might feel like you've tried everything possible to improve things. Maybe you've gone to couples' or individual counseling and read all the books with no change.
Uneven desire is a very common concern. You'd be surprised that many people you know also struggle with this problem. It's normal for you and your wife to have different sexual appetites at different times. The problem comes when you feel resentment and she feels shame. Or, when you have trouble figuring out how to talk about it. When that's happening, your relationship can feel incredibly awkward. You might end up having the same fight over and over. Or, you might just clam up and stop talking about sex. Maybe you've both just kind of shut down. Lots of couples haven't had sex in years because once the connection is broken, neither of you know what to do to get things started again.
Therapy is a great idea, but unfortunately most therapists aren't trained to address your specific sex issues. They want you to be vulnerable. They want you to communicate better. So you learn how to do those things pretty well, but it doesn't move the needle on sex. Maybe they talk with you about a history of sexual assault, and that's important for sure. But, many of the issues that are important in your relationship now—like what turns you both on, and how power struggles are impacting you both, aren't talked about. You've spent hours in therapy on Zoom and still it's cold as ice in your bedroom, even with the new duvet she bought off Amazon for the holidays.
I know that you could be burned out on getting help by now, but I highly recommend you find someone who's comfortable talking about sex. It might be a marriage and family therapist who's well trained in this area, a sex therapist or a sexologist or sex coach. This person should help you outline your concerns. They'll likely talk with you about things like your sexual history and expectations, the best times of the day for your intimacy, sexual skills, distractions, hormones, pain, erections, orgasm, pornography, masturbation, who initiates sex, erotic styles, and many other things. I know that sounds like a lot, but these things all matter when you're trying to change things.
It might be that you're very different people sexually and that's OK. It doesn't mean that you can't figure out something that works for you both. The most important thing to think about is that you CAN improve your sex life with the right support. Your sexual intimacy is complex and highly personal. Simply feeling exhausted after the birth of a baby can seem insurmountable. Job stress or physical problems can be impacting your wife's interest. There are so many things that may have caused you problems.
It can be very challenging to bring up this topic with your wife, I understand that. When you do decide that you're going to have The Talk, listen to her feelings without blaming or shaming her. She may be upset about it, too. Tell her how you feel in the nicest way possible. Ask her to help you find a sex and relationship expert who's a good fit for you both. This won't be solved overnight. It's likely taken years to get to this point. Be patient.
Physical intimacy matters, but what matters most right now is your personal connection and closeness. Bring compassion and caring to your relationship and you'll increase the possibility that things will get better in the bedroom. Get some help. Take a deep breath. You got this.