The topic of sexuality is often raised in the counseling office. It is not unusual to run into one partner who feels deprived and one who feels force-fed. Each is invested in getting the other to change. The power struggles are in full swing with “my way battling my way.” Mutual misery prevails. How can something meant to bring each partner pleasure be the source of so much pain?
Is it possible that fear lurks in each person’s heart?
What could each partner fear? Let me suggest three possible fears.
The fear that if I allow my partner to influence me I am surrendering control.
Our culture has ways of marginalizing both women and men. Women often find themselves affirmed for living for others …their children and their husband and for living in a state of personal deprivation. Perhaps the movie Bad Moms is a reaction to the pressure of the expectations often placed on mothers and wives. I am in no way endorsing that movie.
Men are often valued for being a John Wayne type character. They must sacrifice, be unemotional, have a stiff upper lip and endure to the end.
Whether you are male or female, when there is a denial of aspects of yourself, these denied aspects do have a voice. To a woman who feels powerless, sex can easily become power. Unfortunately we see so many women today trading sex for the male currency of money, power and prestige.
To a man who believes that he must always be strong, sex can provide the only nurturing in his life. Since he doesn’t want to appear needy he demands sex and if that doesn’t provide the desired results he may choose to get his need met in secret. He chooses activities where no one will ever reject him yet they leave him feeing shame, guilt and remorse. Sex is no longer relational. All he has to do is press a button or make a call.
Even though we are inundated by sexual messages, sexual imagery and sexual innuendos we are basically anxious around the topic of sex.
This is a far cry from sex that is mutual, safe, chosen, intimate, connected, vulnerable, imperfect, playful and celebrative. How in the world does one get from disconnected and at times abusive sex, where the emphasis is on the release not the relationship, to healthy sex where the emphasis is on the relationship and the two people creating it?
We have to face our fear of being controlled.
If you only love another as you want to be loved, you are in control. Probably as a result you have a spouse who feels resentful, unheard, empty, alone, frustrated, and used. If you won’t respond to your wife’s initiation you must face your issues around control.
Your partner is not you! He/she is a separate interesting person. Your partner is not your possession. Your partner wants to be loved, appreciated, understood and desired.
If you are male, sex can’t be just about you.
I have cringed when I have heard these statements from well- intentioned men. “Don’t you find me attractive any more?” “You are my wife you owe this to me.” These words have a ring of entitlement to them.
I can’t tell you how many times women complain about their husband grabbing parts of their anatomy that are different from his as an attempt at connection. All that that guarantees guys is that your wife will be turned off and probably feel like a piece of meat.
Sex must always be a choice! Demand kills desire!
The result of such moves over time is guaranteed.
“After 15 years of marriage, they finally achieved sexual compatibility. They both had a headache.”
– Henry Ward Bercher
This is not what I want for you! So what do I suggest?
Follow your wife’s lead in the sexual area.
Perhaps there are other areas in your relationship where you have acquiesced when you resented it. Perhaps you did it to avoid conflict or to end a never- ending conflict. Face the issue that needs to be confronted and resolve it.
Don’t let your fear of always having to do things your wife’s way, your fear of being controlled by a woman overtake the sexual area as well.
The most connected and satisfying sexual relationships occur when the man is willing to be influenced by his wife.
There is yet another fear that needs to be acknowledged.
Fear of asking for what I need.
I have no idea what your past relationships were like or how you were hurt in them but your present relationship will be enriched when you learn to ask for what you need.
There in is the challenge. It takes courage. When we ask our partner to help us create an intimate life together ….
We are open.
We are emotionally vulnerable.
We are dependent on the other.
Rejection is always a possibility.
That is why so much sex is depersonalized sex. We treat each other as an object because then it isn’t so threatening.
We are in control.
We don’t have to depend on anyone.
We don’t have to be emotionally vulnerable.
Rejection doesn’t faze us.
When I ask for what I need I am most vulnerable. What if my partner only cares about his/her needs and are not open to mine?
As if that isn’t a significant fear there is still another fear that lurks in the intimacy area.
Fear of leaving my comfort zone. Fear of losing control.
Healthy sex requires each partner to leave his/her comfort zone in a very different way.
Men have to learn to be influenced and sensitive. Sexual desire is not contagious! Your wife is the best authority on her own body. Listen to her.
A woman wants to know that you love her and not just her body parts.
A woman craves nurturing more than you do. She longs to feel adored, cared for, cherished, sexy and enjoyed by her husband.
Instead of begging and grabbing switch to cuddling, massaging, kissing, playing, talking, affirming, stroking, and connecting emotionally. A spiritual connection can be incredibly inviting to a woman. Instead of going fast, slow down.
A woman listens to her own body
You need to listen to her.
Women have to learn to be assertive and clear about what they enjoy. Women have to learn to initiate in order to help their husband feel desired.
Women tend to fluctuate more. Hormones can be partly responsible for that. What she found sexy three days ago may not interest her in the least today. If his wife is clear about how, when and where she likes to be touched it takes a tremendous pressure off her husband. He can happily follow her suggestions. To do this a woman has to abandon the fantasy that a man should just know how to sweep her off her feet. She has to help him meet her needs and desires.
When a woman initiates it makes her husband feel desired. She doesn’t have to be feeling sexy to initiate. She is just letting her husband know that she is open to that possibility. When she surprises him with a quickie just for fun, he is a happy man. When she is not in the mood and yet helps him to have an orgasm, he feels cared for. When she does something out of her comfort zone he feels anticipation.
When both sexes are willing to stretch out of their comfort zone, there is a sense of risk, of tension and of newness. These are all things that in a loving environment add to the quality of your sexual experience.
Together you learn how to be good lovers.
Good sex has to be good for both of you.
Together you get to determine the quality and quantity of your sexual experience. In order for that to happen your fears must be faced.
Until our next Conscious Lover’s Blog…