Sex Therapy’s Missing Ingredient

Now that media titan Oprah Winfrey has her own network (OWN), her brand of journalistic socio-cultural anthropology can continue in a variety of guises. One such manifestation is a new series on her network called In The Bedroom featuring sex educator, therapist and columnist Dr. Laura Berman. Dr. Berman brings her many years of clinical and research experience to weekly episodes designed to explore the most intimate aspects of couples’ lives. She examines problems lovers and spouses face with regard to intimacy, particularly sexual intimacy. She employs talk therapy as a means of generating better communication among partners and often makes recommendations on how to rekindle the fading passion. And while Dr. Berman is clearly an insightful and highly intelligent practitioner, there is one tool in the arsenal of understanding romantic relationships and that she fails to employ; and that is chemistry.

On a recent episode, Dr. Berman sat down with married couple Becky and Steve in an effort to help their deteriorating sex life. It seems that Becky does not find sexual satisfaction with Steve and that Steve is increasingly frustrated and alienated by Becky. Dr. Berman sought to analyze the origins of their lack of sexual harmony but she never stopped to consider that they just might not be well-suited romantic partners. This couple is raising a family together and, despite the lack of fulfilling romance, there appears to be affection, respect and even love. But that is not a recipe for chemistry. Chemistry is born of sustained passion, and cannot just be ignited with scheduled intimacy assignments or choosing sexy outfits for your partner to wear. There are profound and deeply important ties that bind couples together and these include being emotionally compatible, having complementary styles and sharing similar values. Long term relationships start with an intense surge of passion without which longevity is unlikely.  Chemistry is a powerful glue and it is doubtful that it can be ignited on a therapist’s couch.

I know this from experience. I had two children with my first husband. I loved, admired and appreciated him. And, despite the fact that he was a very handsome man, I wasn’t really attracted to him. I did not know that until I actually met someone with whom I did have real chemistry. And as I’ve alluded to in previous blogs, true passion is not something you can fake, it is a force that takes you by storm and demands unqualified attention. Certainly, it is not the only thing or even the most important thing in a relationship, but it is an absolutely necessary element and one that is seldom generated in the absence of similar facial features. The face is the spark that ignites the fire; and while it does take more than passion to keep the fire going, chemistry is that sustaining ingredient.

Upbove: Queen Elizabeth & Prince Philip

Below: Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra Lee Furness, Bruce Jenner and Kris Kardashian, Kelsey Grammar and Kayte Walsh


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