Whether you’re fresh into your relationship or a decade into committed love with your partner, sexual wellness is an important conversation to have. While most of us have grown up in very sex-positive households where the “birds and the bees” talk seemed to involve a more welcoming tone, others have grown to fear the act itself.
“Your conceptualization on sex is contingent upon whoever taught you about sex,” said Susan Westgate, the National Director of Behavioral Health with AbsoluteCare. “The mental blocks also come from the need to unlearn and make the meaning of sex important for yourself.”
She and other providers throughout the Atlanta practice have realized the need to include sexual wellbeing in their personal talks with each patient. It provides a starting point for those dealing with struggles in their sex lives behind closed doors.
“I think it’s really interesting that when you look at treating the whole person, we often don’t investigate sexual health and wellbeing and provide affirming spaces to do that,” she said.
AbsoluteCare recently hired a team member who’s an expert in the concept of sexual therapy and sex-positive therapy, a key part of focusing on the crossroads of mental and sexual health. Westgate says for those just starting the journey of married life together, the anxiety of the big day can allow for unrealistic expectations of what life should be down the road. It’s ok to say no to your partner, she said.
“People take no as disinterest. It doesn’t always feel safe to say no,” Westgate said. “If there’s no capacity to build trust, and to be able to provide feedback, that’s why it’s so important to think about the principles that you foster in your relationship to facilitate that trust.”
She says it’s key to communicate your needs with your partner; tell them activities that you enjoy and things you might not enjoy. These open lines of communication allow two partners to understand the sexual needs of one another. It allows each partner to be aware and ok with the dynamics of their sexual relationship. But Westgate says always focus on your own sexual health before someone else’s.
“They don’t stay in touch with their physical bodies. It’s easy to become disassociated with yourself. We often don’t think about what it is when you don’t have your sexual well being tended to,” she said. AbsoluteCare in Atlanta has a team of providers to help patients do just that, so they can become one with their sexual needs and the needs of their partner.