The Dearth of Sex...
Yep, I am going there, and I guess if you continue reading, you are too!
One of the main things I have seen in relationships that end in divorce or break up is that there is always a sex issue. Sometimes it is present from the beginning, for some reasons, not completely understood by anyone, to include the two people in the relationship, they fall in love with each other, or make good partners or they get along well, but they just don’t have that fire in the bedroom. And they both tell themselves, that the other feelings they feel are enough. And maybe for some people, they are.
But most people I know are looking for the total package. They want romance, friendship, partnership and a satisfying, if not exciting, sex life.
What I have observed is that when the sex goes wrong, (it matters not whether or not it was wrong from the beginning) the relationship is in trouble. There is something basic that is communicated on the physical level that when it goes, so goes with it something ineffable and vital.
So some of us start out in trouble and stay that way. Each relationship brings with it unique challenges for the people trying to support, love and care for each other. Trauma is a big factor that I believe is grossly overlooked and under appreciated. Either party having major trauma, most especially child sexual abuse, will have trouble housing intimacy and sex in the same relationship.
What I have witnessed over and over again is that people with sexual abuse in their past, tend to be able to do one or the other: they can be intimate, loving partners or they can be sexual. But trying to do both, is next to impossible.
When we meet someone who lights us up, it is easy to lie to them and ourselves and tell ourselves that we have the capacity for all the things when we very clearly don’t. And I will vouch for the amount of work it takes for two people with that kind of trauma to make real progress. It takes tenacity, courage and a lot of willingness to persevere in the face of what seems like obstacle after obstacle. Childhood issues drive the adult, make no mistake about that! I am a firm believer (both from my own life and though the observation of others) that we spend the second half of our lives getting over the first.
This is a much bigger subject which will get more examination in the days to come, but for today, I just want to bring it up as a topic for discussion. If sex is missing or wholly unsatisfying in your relationship, why is that?
What is it that is going on? Why is it going on? And why do you believe that you can live forever with a person who doesn’t want you sexually or is someone that you don’t want sexually?
What I have witnessed is that sex is such a personal and profound act that has been sullied and degraded for, well ever, that we think it can be casual or less meaningful, but sharing that part of yourself, that most tender, delicate and intimate part of yourself while being emotionally open and available is a very tall order indeed. So most of us find ways to avoid having to do one or the other.
Every relationship I have ever had that was passionate up until about eight years ago, lacked a certain level of emotional vulnerability from me. It wasn’t the way I wanted it, but it was the way that I did relationships. Honestly, I didn’t know there was another way and I also was quite unaware of my own deficiencies and hangups in this area. I was literally doing the best I could and I thought (wrongly) that how I was showing up was good enough.
I have had some awfully hard experiences over the last eight years that have caused me to re-evaluate myself and my behaviors, sexually, intimately and emotionally. And I saw some glaring defects. And even though seeing what I saw terrified me, I began to work on them anyway. I sought help and then committed to a course of action that has brought improvement in the quality of my relationships on every level. It has not been easy and has asked things of me that I didn’t know I had to give. It was hard and gut-wrenching at times. But I really, really wanted to be a whole person in my love relationship. Not some fractured, damaged proxy of myself.
What I have learned is that when the sex goes, so does the love, it might take years or weeks or months, but when the sex life is disturbed, curbed, derailed, detained or restricted, the love is similarly strangled. It is sad but true.
I have seen couples on the verge of divorce who claim to still have an active and robust sex life but upon further examination, there is an affair or an untruth that reveals what I have come to believe is truth: sex is the life blood of an intimate committed partnership. It is the exchange of souls, a union in the most intimate and heartfelt manner. And when it takes a sabbatical, there is a reason and if that reason isn’t addressed, most couples land in the DMZ (De-Marital Zone) or as it is more popularly known, divorce.
Sex is a hard topic. It is hard to be honest about what you like and why you like it. Maybe you don’t know yourself and are terrified that your partner is going to judge you or condemn you for what gets you off. My question to this is “why are you with someone who would treat you like that?” I mean no one picks what they like sexually. None of us, we just like what we like and don’t like what we don’t. There is no catalog we are provided that allows us to pick our sexuality and interests. We just have them. They show up one day, already formed likely from things we cannot accept or from abuse or from whence we cannot even fathom. And then shame sets in and we do our best to be “normal” and keep our likes and dislikes to ourselves!
And that right there is where it all goes south. Being a whole, sexual being requires a great deal of courage. To own who you are on that most basic and fundamental with yourself, then share that with someone else who might just tell you to take your perversion and get the hell outta there! And so the cycle of needing things we are afraid to own, first with ourselves, then with anyone else, and so we settle for someone who doesn’t challenge us or excite us and we lie to ourselves saying that there is enough good stuff there and sex is unimportant. Bullshit!
If the sex is missing, so is a key and fundamental component of that relationship. It doesn’t mean you have to have swinging from the chandelier sex, or make love every single day, it means that both people have to care for this tender and delicate aspect of their relationship with love, patience and an open mind. Keep the flame alive and that often requires a level of vulnerability that we just don’t want to give up. But without both people being willing to offer themselves up, literally, then whatever union is made is like a car limping along with a flat tire, it might get you where you want to go but there will be damage and you are not likely to ever reach your destination, mostly especially if that destination is a lifetime commitment.
If the sex is lacking, so is the relationship. You can argue with me about this all you want but we all know on some fundamental level that if we cannot or will not share ourselves in this most intimate way with the person we profess to love most in the world, then there is (whether we like it or can admit it or not) something wrong in paradise and whatever that is will act as a corrosive thread that will eventually cause the relationship to founder and fail.
Sex is fundamental to romantic love. Without it is becomes something else. And maybe that something else is good enough. But for most people it is not. And they spend the rest of their lives living in a union that leaves them always wanting more, which opens the door for cheating and affairs or apathy that you are just not capable of being loved and desired and wanted by the same person who raises children with you, or does the laundry with you, or who shows up for you in so many other ways. Sex is a vital, dynamic component of a good marriage or relationship. And when sex gets sidelined or put out to pasture, the relationship and those involved in that union, suffer. How long they suffer is really the only question left...