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Six Sexual Health Principles to Discuss With Your Partner

I often hear stories from men and women who discover their partner has sexual secrets. Sometimes those secrets involve pornography, sometimes they involve infidelity, sometimes they involve fantasy or sexual preferences. The individuals who share these stories with me often feel betrayed because the expectations they had about the sexual agreements within their relationship were not kept. The first problem to address is that most of the time, these sexual agreements were unspoken.

I want to encourage couples to make these unspoken agreements spoken. All couples should talk about their expectations for their sexual relationship. In order to facilitate this discussion, here are six principles that constitute healthy sexuality. Spend some time with your partner and discuss each one, what it means to each of you as individuals and how it relates to you as a couple. (One word of caution, avoid having this discussion during or after sex. Those times are likely to bring with them heightened vulnerability, which if the discussion is difficult in any area, can lead to increased defensiveness and conflict. The discussion will go much more smoothly if you schedule it for another time.)

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The following 6 principles of sexual health were developed by Doug Braun-Harvey. Learn more about his these principles in his books Treating Out of Control Sexual Behavior: Rethinking Sex Addiction & Sexual Health in Drug and Alcohol Treatment

1. Consent

Consent in this context means that someone has given permission for something involving their body to occur. Are there sexual behaviors in your relationship that you’d like your partner to ask specific consent for each time? Are there sexual behaviors that you don’t feel your partner needs to ask first? Talk about these, and create clear guidelines to shape how consent looks in your relationship. Remember that feelings about specific sexual behaviors can change, and it’s okay to change your sexual agreements in the future.

2. Non-Exploitative

Non-exploitative means that one partner does not take advantage or manipulate the other into sexual behaviors. This includes using power dynamics to coerce the other person. Are there behaviors that one partner participates in hesitantly? Use this opportunity to talk about what those behaviors mean to each partner. If there are exploitative behaviors in your relationship, this is an area where reaching out for help with a therapist may be necessary to resolve them and set healthy boundaries.

3. Protection from STIs, HIV, and Unplanned Pregnancy

If either person has had previous sexual partners, have they been checked for sexually transmitted infections or HIV? What is the plan surrounding birth control?

4. Honesty

Are both partners able to be fully honest about their sexual history, and is there room in the relationship to honestly discuss fantasy and sexual preferences?

5. Shared Values

Creating sexual agreements are crucial for couples, and the largest part of the discussion will likely revolve around values. What behaviors fall within your value systems as individuals and as a couple? If there are value differences, can you create workable compromises? If there are value conflicts within a relationship, a professional can help explore resolutions that feel workable to both partners.

6. Mutual Pleasure

Sadly, many individuals grow up with the idea that sex is something men like and women tolerate. When this is the background, women can feel used and resentful about sex, even when they’re otherwise happy in their relationship. Breaking out of this mindset is going to be difficult if the couple has not found mutually pleasurable sexual activities. If one partner wants a specific type of sex exclusively, and the other partner doesn’t enjoy that activity, neither partner will be able to truly experience the kind of sexual relationship that is fulfilling and strengthens the relationship.

If after reviewing these six principles, you find some areas that you and your partner need help with, schedule an appointment with Alice today.  801-944-4555.

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Mormon Women, Assertiveness, and Sex: Dr. Julie Hanks on Mormon Sex Info Podcast Interview

Mormon Women, Assertiveness, and Sex: Dr. Julie Hanks on Mormon Sex Info Podcast Interview

I recently chatted with Natasha Helfer Parker, LMFT about how the ability to develop good assertiveness skills can help with sexual satisfaction. We discussed cultural gender messages, both within Mormonism and without, that get in the way of such things as differentiation, communication skills, self-care and self-awareness. I share the 5 skills from my book The Assertiveness Guide for Women that can help shift these patterns around. We also discuss managing libido differences, increasing female arousal and pleasure, sexual education for our teens, how to get past “chastity” language and more.

Listen to the podcast interview here ($1.29)

 

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Sex-Positive Parenting Resource List

Sex-Positive Parenting Resource ListMany parents feel anxious when it comes to discussing sexuality with their children. You are not alone. Even the most confident parents may squirm just a bit when a child asks a direct question regarding sexuality that they are not prepared to discuss. Here are some resources to help you and your child navigate the important process of discussing sexual issues. Thank you to my colleague Holly Willard, LCSW for book recommendations.

Books

School-Aged Children

What Every Kid Should Know About Sexual Abuse: A Coloring & Activities Book

What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys

The Right Touch: A Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse (Jody Bergsma Collection)

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It’s Best to Start Early, but It’s Never Too Late- A Step by Step Guide for Every Age

Puberty for boys

The Boys Body Book: Everything You Need To Know for Group Up You (Boys World Books)

Puberty for girls

The Care and Keeping of You (American Girl)

The Girl’s Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing Up You (Girlsworld)

For Teens

Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships

The Sex EDcylopedia: A Comprehensive Guide to Healthy Sexuality, For the Modern, Male Teen

Websites

Helping parents and children talk (Advocates for Youth)

Parents’ Sex Ed Center

Sexual Intimacy is Sacred and Beautiful (Family resource published by LDS Church)

Discussion/Interview with The Mormon Therapist on masturbation

Watch the full-interview here

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