• 30 days without sex could make a difference to your relationship (E+)Source: E+
“There’s the old saying 'You want what you can't have', and we do see this a lot with couples who willingly choose to abstain from sex for whatever reason.”
Jo Hartley

23 Nov 2016 - 11:31 AM  UPDATED 23 Nov 2016 - 11:31 AM

For most couples the idea of committing to a period of abstinence is not one they embrace.  After all, we know that sex is one of the best ways of feeling connected to our partners and that orgasms are a great form of stress relief.

But what about when our sex lives have become a bit yawnsville? Or when the only action between the sheets is sleeping?

In his book, Sex Detox, Ian Kerner, Ph.D advocates a period of abstinence for 30 days to improve relationships.

He believes that partaking in a sex detox actually helps boost sex lives in the longer term, and enables couples to shift their focus onto other forms of connection.  

But is it a case of some couples in some situations?

Couples expert and life coach, Vicki Lanini, agrees that in some situations abstinence can be a positive.

“There’s the old saying 'You want what you can't have', and we do see this a lot with couples who willingly choose to abstain from sex for whatever reason,” she says.

Lanini explains that a lot of people who claim to LOVE sex, don't really love sex at all, but rather love the feeling of connection.

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“This connection could just as easily be fulfilled with a random embrace or cheeky pat on the bum, and so abstinence can be a good way to understand what makes your partner happy outside the bedroom.”

Lanini says that communication is extremely important during a period of abstinence, as is checking in that you’re both happy and feeling fulfilled in other ways.

“In the worst case scenario, they may possibly develop a wandering eye if they’re not being satisfied.”

“If just one person in the relationship wants to abstain, this can lead to a series of issues whereby the other partner may feel worthless or self conscious,” she says.

“In the worst case scenario, they may possibly develop a wandering eye if they’re not being satisfied.”

"Specific intentions, guidelines and support are needed"

Isiah McKimmie is a relationship therapist and sexologist. She personally doesn’t feel that abstinence in a marriage is a positive, but, like Lanini, notes that there are exceptions.

“Essentially, temporary abstinence is something that we use in therapy at times when we’re working on sexual problems or looking to reduce pressure and work on rebuilding the foundations of intimacy and sex,” she says.

“In these cases it’s extremely helpful, but it’s important to know that these clients are doing so with the support of a therapist and engaging in other activities to develop self awareness and intimacy.”

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Without these specific intentions, guidelines and support McKimmie says that some couples may find it difficult to reignite sexual intimacy after a period of no sex. 

So what is the best way to avoid this happening if people want to partake in a period of abstinence?

“If you want to abstain, I suggest this is framed in a way that lets your partner know what you’re actually hoping for, whether it be to improve your relationship or sex life,” recommends McKimmie.

“Be clear about your intentions and hopes, and be sure to keep communication lines open.”

In order to fuel the success of this period, McKimmie suggests that couples engage in open, intimate discussions with each other, go on dates or try new activities together. 

She also reiterates the importance of engaging in some form of physical intimacy such as loving touches, massage, kissing and hugging.

Lanini echoes this advice, but also notes that if the couple have been maintaining a regular sexual life prior, it’s important to explore the basis behind the abstinence decision.

“Ensure that you explain what you’re no longer feeling comfortable with in the relationship so that you have good reason to suggest how this could be a positive thing,” she says.

“Also consider a time frame to tell the partner so they can understand quickly this is not a forever plan.”

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