by Paula Susan~In my practice of marriage and relationship counseling, a high proportion of my clients are those reeling from the effects of one unsatisfied partner having an affair or being “addicted” to pornography. The results of such a breech of trust are often traumatic and require deep healing.
Therapy can bring the couple closer, as they learn what it takes to express their pain and deepest truths to each other. Such skills allow people to speak from their hearts in an atmosphere of safety and respect. When this happens, the barrier of self-protection and anger dissipate and the love grows into something even deeper than what it once was.
However, the far-reaching effects of the betrayal can sometimes destroy their relationship and their family. Wouldn’t you agree that this is a high price to pay for not knowing how to reach your partner with words that will make sense and create understanding and compassion?
So let’s talk about talking about sex. Let’s talk about what you should be thinking about if you want a rich, fulfilling life with your partner and what the literature says keeps us healthy – psychologically, physically and emotionally. (Here’s a great article from ABC News that that’s titled 7 Hidden Benefits of Sex to get started.)
This is what happens when couples do not talk to each other about their sexual relationship or lack thereof. They risk sacrificing an aspect of their relationship that helps maintain a deep connection.
Let’s assume that my thesis is correct – an exciting sex life supports and nourishes a relationship. Then why is it that many couples stop seducing each other? They stop caring about looking attractive to their partners – sweatsuits are donned, the TV and computers are on, and then they drift to the bedroom, often separately, and into sleep.
What ever happened to the art of seduction? When was the last time you touched each others’ erogenous zones? Are you even aware of those that are your partners? Have you ever read a book on how to keep turning each other on, how to free yourselves to enjoy raw passion? Do you know your own body and what gives you pleasure? How about information such as the fact that women take longer to be aroused and often twenty minutes to orgasm? And, that most women require direct stimulation to the clitoris for the big O?
In the “old days,” women thought sex was up to the man to figure out. Well, thank goodness that for men – and women as well – Women’s Lib came along and behold – orgasm is your own responsibility. It is up to you to teach your partner about your body’s responses. However, Women’s Lib didn’t free many of us to feel comfortable enough to ask for what we want. (It was great in theory.)
Over the years, I’ve listened to many of my clients say that
men don’t ask; they fumble. If they do ask, many women do not have the courage to say, “A little lower, a little softer, a bit to the right.” (and I’m not talking politics.)
And guys, do you know how to encourage getting what you want? Are you aware of how to touch and be touched for maximum stimulation and pleasure? Have you and your partner talked about fantasies, sex toys, or shared pornography, to keep sex juicy? Have you defined what is meant by foreplay for each of you?
So, if you don’t know how to talk about sex with your partner, find yourself a therapist who can facilitate that. I attempt to use humor to break the tension, when I am working with a couple on these issues.
If one partner is obviously unhappy, I suggest that if the other is too tired for intercourse, they still have their hand or their mouth. If they have arthritis in their hand, they have their mouth. If they have lock-jaw, they can lie next to their partner, with caressing touches, while the partner pleasures him or herself.
This keeps the couple together in the intimate space of mutual caring. Both people should be mindfully present, aware of sensations, and giving this time as a gift to each other and themselves.
I’m reminded of an interview I heard with a woman who had been married and divorced. Sex in that marriage was boring and an obligation. After her divorce, she was happily promiscuous. She felt freed. Then she remarried one of these partners and now has a boring sexual life of obligation. What happened that it became so? What happened? They stopped talking about how to keep it exciting and fulfilling.
Sexual freedom between two committed, loving people can be fun, funny, erotic, spiritual, deeply loving, and super exciting. A good therapist who is comfortable coaching, can help you reignite a sexual attraction that helps maintain a healthy relationship. (I’ve read somewhere that it is good for your skin, too.)
If you need to get rid of old negative messages in your head that say it’s not okay to be sexy, EMDR (Learn More) can remove those anxieties and free you to enjoy your own sexuality, while at the same time be a great sexual partner. EMDR alleviates residuals from old traumas, insecurities, shame… And, an Imago Dialogue, created specifically to address sexuality, is an opening into that very intimate arena. The result can be a lifelong love affair with your partner.
So, the message is “Do it often, enjoy it fully, and remember to keep the conversation alive. It’s a way to keep the commitment alive, too.”
“Mmmmm – that feels so good!”