How we experience sex in our relationships is so critical to enjoyment and fulfillment in life. Special guest Jessa Zimmerman, Licensed Therapist and Sex Counselor, podcast host and media personality, is making her mark on the world by helping couples enhance their emotional and sexual intimacy. She specializes in educating and coaching using her nine-phase experiential process, that allows them real-world results in changing their relationship and sex life. Based in Seattle, Jessica offers both in office and online counseling and coaching sessions.
Today, she talks with Lisa about relationship patterns that overlap with sex, her own expert definition of a healthy sex life, her upcoming book Sex Without Stress, balancing communion with autonomy, and her Better Sex podcast which covers a diverse array of topics from different perspectives in an open and non-judgmental way.
[2:04] Jessica’s parents created a relationship that was positive and open regarding sex, which in turn served to show her what was possible. She took her own personal relationship challenges and made it a catalyst to propel her to graduate school for her Master’s Degree as a therapist with a focus on couples work.
[4:36] Sex can be a big leverage point for change and you can get to many aspects of relationship dynamics through working with sex and sex-related issues. It’s a new unexamined subject that is personal and primal and a fresh subject many have not yet discussed in everyday life. Most people that Jessica sees come to her for at least one sex-related issue but many topics can be touched upon when that specific door has been opened.
[7:07] Jessica’s Quiz on a healthy sex life is designed to give individuals and couples an idea of the state of their intimate relationship over several criteria.
[10:42] There are many reasons why an individual may start to associate sex with something negative or stressful, and then lead them to avoid it altogether. Desire discrepancy may occur, and one partner may feel like they are not getting what they need or not getting it often enough.
[11:45] The nine phases of the experiential process: prioritized intimacy, communicating about sex, accessing your desire, enjoying the journey, learning to be present, being okay with “no”, being selfish, giving, taking, and exploring eroticism.
[15:12] Our mind is our biggest sex organ, and yet many people still may not know what they find erotic. Jessica calls porn “a potent stimulus,” and after training our brain to become aroused at a certain level, many find it more and more challenging to become aroused when faced with the original level of stimulus.
[23:21] Jessica helps couples figure out a happy medium on erotica and their sexual needs in the relationship and if there is room to move within their boundaries or if the issues between them and their partners are a dealbreaker.
[27:05] Jessica discusses Dr. David Schnarch’s work on self-validated intimacy. When we are growing up, we get all the information on who we are from a reflection of the world around us. It is necessary as we grow to establish a sense of identity of our own, regardless of the response from others.
[29:05] When we have clarity on our own sense of self and we get a clear look at the relationship we are in, we are less apt to try to conform or bend back too far for the sake of staying attached.
[30:30] Every human’s challenge is to know who they are, and then authentically be that in their relationship.
[32:36] One of Jessica’s most talked about podcast episodes is Better Sex Podcast Episodes is #3, with Parke Burgess. One of the key takeaways was that shame alerts us and serves the purpose of protecting us from potentially being cut out of our social group.
[37:55 Jessica went back to school for therapy training when she was 45 with three kids. She is an inspiration to keep learning, growing and achieving.
“I wanted to figure out, what it is that makes relationships so successful?” — JZ
“Our next level lives grow out of our personal challenges.” — LBL
“Your challenges are your challenges, whether it’s showing up in the bedroom, or showing up in the kitchen.” — JZ
“Good sex really requires selfishness. You have to flow between giving and taking.” — LBL
“We may like validation from others, but we can have a strong sense of who we are and speak our truth while balancing our competing needs to be in communion and autonomous.” — JZ
“The essential challenge is our life’s journey towards differentiation.” — JZ
Mentioned in This Episode:
- Jessica Zimmerman
- How Healthy is Your Sex Life? Quiz
- Sex Without Stress: A couple’s guide to overcoming disappointment, avoidance & pressure,
by Jessica Zimmerman
- Better Sex Podcast
- Dr. David Schnarch
- Better Sex Podcast — Episode 3
Super U Resources: