First a little background music for this post: Mama Just wants to Barrelhouse All Night Long
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Recently a young woman friend in her twenties sent me a short phone text regarding her reunion with a boyfriend. "Hot sex!" was all it said. This was over the recent holidays, and, with all the extra time, rest and relaxation I had with my husband, I could have texted back, "Same here!" But I didn't because, up until now, I saved those type of confidences for girlfriends my own age.
It's one thing to have wild times when you're young, fit, and bubbling with hormones, but when you're thirty years older and married for nearly a quarter of a century, erotic sex doesn't come easy. This holiday season, however, I had bragging rights. I write this blog in hopes that some of you may take heart: sex can develop, recover, and grow deeper over time.
Our sex life didn't start out so fabulously. We were inexperienced, fumbling and fairly repressed. We'd come from families that didn't exemplify intimacy; affection was demonstrated by flying objects and ice-cold silences. Our religious backgrounds forbade us to drink, dance, or do it standing up.
With limited maturity, we promptly relegated sex to mean: bedroom-zone only, once a week, get cleaned up, pull the sheets down, rub, rub, rub, and done. We did it whether we wanted to or not, like eating vegetables. I was bored. He still has too much tact to admit feeling similarly.
There have been times he didn't want it, times I felt too fat for it and times we both wanted it but couldn't find a minute to breathe much less make love.
We've loved each other. We've hated each other. I've smothered him and he's ignored me. He's refers to me as "the alien". There is much about my husband that I don't even try to understand now. My cloying attempts to get close ironically undermined our eroticism. It took me years to learn what my eloquent colleague and sexpert, Esther Perel, says in her book Mating in Captivity, "Fire need air."
Everyone struggles with sex. In fact, I think that's why I became a sex therapist, because I've struggled (see my homesite blog post for June 19th). But sex fascinates me. I am never bored at work.
I talk with couples who think they've married the wrong person because sex has never been more than mechanical. Others were smokin' hot when they got together and now one or the other can't remember how good it feels and never wants it. One partner is often angry because their agreement feels a bit like bait and switch. Sometimes, a spouse just feels nothing and yearns for a spark of libido.
After two decades of working with couples, I think I've learned that sex is glue in a relationship. It is evidence of and the way to a deep connection in a marriage. In upcoming posts, I'd like to explore some of the reasons sex diminishes in a long term attachment and how to keep it strong. I'll ask you to think about ways you mute your own eroticism or suffocate your partner's very autonomy - the thing that made her/him attractive in the first place. We'll talk about the sexual problems that people have and see what works to fix them. It's a joy and honor to begin this conversation with you.
Link for more help from Laurie Watson with SexTherapy in Raleigh, Cary, Greensboro and Chapel Hill, NC. Laurie’s book Wanting Sex Again is available on Amazon!
© 2010 by Laurie J. Watson, LMFT, LPC