084: Sexual Intimacy for High and Low Desire Partners 

Podcast Guest: Jessa Zimmerman

084: Sexual Intimacy for High and Low Desire Partners

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In this Episode

In this episode of the "Stronger Marriage Connection" podcast, hosts Dave Schramm and Liz Hale are joined by certified sex therapist Jessa Zimmerman. They delve into common sexual issues faced by couples, focusing on sexual desire discrepancies and strategies for maintaining a strong marital connection. Jessa provides invaluable insights into reactive and proactive desires, the sexual avoidance cycle, and the impacts of pressure and expectations on sexual intimacy.

The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this podcast do not necessarily reflect the views of the Utah Marriage Commission.”

Time Markers

00:00 - Introduction of Jessa Zimmerman, discussing the complexities of sexual desire and stress in relationships. 
02:08 – Jessa's journey to becoming a sex therapist  
03:02 - Universal nature of desire discrepancy in relationships and the importance of managing it constructively. 
04:18 - How couples interpret and react to varying levels of desire, affecting their sexual dynamics. 
07:28 - Significance of understanding and addressing painful sex, debunking myths and discussing treatments. 
09:00 - Aging and its impact on sexual desire, highlighting the shift towards more reactive desire over time. 
10:03 - Tips for high desire partners on how to approach sexual discrepancies without exacerbating issues. 
12:18 - Advice on addressing painful sex and exploring non-painful sexual activities. 
14:55 - Explanation of the sexual avoidance cycle and its effect on relationship dynamics. 
17:22 - Importance of flexible expectations and open communication in sexual relationships. 
21:02 - Stories of couples who have navigated desire discrepancies and found renewed intimacy and connection. 
23:18 - Proactive and reactive desires, advice on fostering intimacy regardless of initial desire levels. 
26:42 – Jessa's resources  
27:05- Jessa shares her belief in honesty as the key to a stronger marriage connection. 
27:54- Jessa's takeaway of the day 
28:28- Liz's takeaway of the day 
28:48- Dave's takeaway of the day 



One cannot fail in sex if they shift their mindset to view it simply as a source of pleasure and connection, without attaching to specific outcomes. By embracing this approach, sexual experiences can become easy and enjoyable, even if they differ from previous expectations or desires. The key lies in accepting and adapting to these differences, which opens limitless possibilities for enjoyment and satisfaction.  


Moods for sexual activity evolve over time, there is a contrast between the constant readiness (proactive mood) in early stages of relationships with the need to actively engage or transition into feeling ready (reactive mood) as time progresses. If couples only engaged in sex when both partners were spontaneously in the mood, they might seldom have sex. Love the concepts of reactive and proactive desire, and engaging physically can lead to a physiological response where the body releases dopamine and serotonin, aligning physical readiness with emotional desire. 


 Sex is like going to a playground, we don't know how long we're going to stay. We're not sure what we're going to enjoy once we get there. But we are going to enjoy it. It's not about the outcome or the goal. 

About Jessa Zimmerman:

Jessa Zimmerman is a licensed couples’ counselor and nationally certified sex therapist. She works in private practice in Seattle, WA. Over the course of her therapy career, she has focused almost exclusively on helping couples with their emotional and sexual intimacy. In her years of clinical experience, Zimmerman has treated hundreds of couples who have struggled to feel sexual desire and fulfillment. Her clients describe having a good relationship in other ways, but their sex life has become difficult to the point that they start to avoid sex. These are people who love each other but are struggling to have a sex life they both enjoy. She specializes in helping these couples who find that sex has become stressful, negative, disappointing, or pressured. She educates, coaches, and supports people as they go through her 4 pillar experiential process that allows them real world practice in changing their relationship and their sex life, guiding them to become easily intimate.  

Zimmerman received her Master’s in Psychology from LIOS college of Saybrook University and Sex Therapist certification from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT). She has done extensive training in couples’ therapy, with a focus on Crucible® Therapy with Dr. David Schnarch. She is the author of Sex Without Stress; A Couple’s Guide to Overcoming Disappointment, Avoidance & Pressure. She is the host of the Better Sex Podcast and has appeared on numerous other podcasts as an expert guest. She is the creator of the Intimacy With Ease Method and founder of The Desire Spa, an online course for women with little to no libido. She is a regularly featured expert in the media, including Refinery29, Marriage.com, Business Insider, and Mind Body Green.  

She lives in Seattle with her partner.  

Jessa Zimmerman Resources: 


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