Financial stress is a problem that is infiltrating almost every part of our lives right now. From work satisfaction to general health to our choices in the kitchen, Aussies are carrying a lot of stress right now because of the weight of the cost of living. And, unsurprisingly, that stress bleeds out into our relationships – as well as into our sex lives.
AfterPay recently conducted some research and found that more than two in five (41%) of Aussies reported that their sex lives have been impacted by the rising pressures of the cost of living, which is hardly surprising. Who wants to jump into bed when you’re drowning in bills?
Off the back of this, psycho-sexologist Chantelle Otten has offered some tips on how to maintain a fulfilling sex life (whatever that looks like for you) even when financial stress is getting to you. Here’s what she shared.
How to boost your sex life when money is stressing you out
The below list is quoted from Otten.
- Embrace creativity and adventure: “Instead of focusing on what you can’t afford, channel your energy into exploiting what you already have with just a shift in perspective.”
- Surprises and novelty: “Breaking routines can add excitement and passion to your relationship. The element of surprise stirs up dopamine in the brain, which is linked to pleasure and reward.”
- Open communication: “A frank conversation about desires, fantasies, what makes you feel loved and cherished, and even sharing your financial stresses can do wonders. You may make new discoveries in your relationship.”
- Embrace pleasure and reinforce positivity: “Openly express your enjoyment as the transparency enhances your own experience and amplifies your partner’s arousal, don’t forget to recognise and validate their efforts to encourage your partner.”
- Foster intimacy and pleasure through romantic gestures and sensual touch: “Engender a romantic and sensual atmosphere that focuses on shared pleasure rather than a specific goal. These can be as simple as preparing a meal together.”
If you take a good look at this list, a lot of the tips are not really sexual in nature. Because at the root of sexual satisfaction with a partner lies intimacy, connection and communication. With that considered, we thought we’d also get some advice from a psychologist about caring for relationships more broadly (which is relevant to your sex life, obviously) when financial stress is getting to you.
Carly Dober, psychologist and Headspace App’s mental health expert, explained that “Financial stress can put enormous amounts of pressure on individuals and couples. Couples can think and feel that they are ‘failures’ or they aren’t doing enough/[aren’t] as good as their friends and other couples that they know.”
This pressure can have a serious impact on “happiness and well-being”, she continued.
Dober highlighted that it’s no surprise that “financial anxieties impact people’s partners at least some of the time, causing financial disagreements. So it is a good idea to become comfortable with being uncomfortable chatting about money.”
If you want to work on this, and hopefully improve on your relationship health and sex life as a result, here are five tips on managing conversations about money from Dober.
- Schedule a time that you both will be relaxed and can take as little or as much time as you need.
- Be aware that you and your partner might have very different values and attitudes about money, and there is room for curiosity.
- Be assertive. If you are saving for particular items (house or rent) and do not want to live outside your means, communicate this openly and calmly. Remember, assertiveness is not aggression.
- Pace yourself. You may have three topics you wish to discuss, and they don’t all have to be discussed in one evening or morning.
- Grow and learn together. There might be things you can learn from one another, and learn from other people with financial health.
“There are also many online programs that can support this if you’re just beginning,” Dober added.
“Programs like the Headspace app have specific content such as Preparing for Difficult Conversations content and also Managing Financial Stress and How to Talk About Money to get you started.”
Combining the tips from both Otten and Dober should give you a good baseline for taking care of your romantic relationships during financially challenging times, and hopefully, by following them, you’ll find your intimacy levels and sex life will respond accordingly.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.