There are common pitfalls that contribute to a diminishment of interest in sex in many long-term relationships. Such diminishment is neither natural nor inevitable. We are challenged to identify ways of responding to and neutralizing problematic situations that can, if unchecked, lead to sexual difficulties. One of the most prominent instances where longing for connection shows up in a vivid way is the sexual experience, because it's the place where we're most vulnerable. When we want to connect and we're missing each other, when we are heart to heart and body-to-body, literally naked, and to not be able to find our way with each other, it is terribly painful.
Mary and Jordan are a couple I worked with fell into a pattern of avoiding sex because Jordan had come on too strong, too directly, without setting a context for the love-making to unfold. He wanted to have sex first to help him to open his heart. Mary was determined to have a heart–felt connection first to set the stage for what she considered “real love-making.” They were in a power struggle, dug into their positions. They had difficulties in their early years setting the stage for intimacy that would lead to a sexual connection. Jordan was intent on seducing Mary, but did not appreciate that the type of seduction he was practicing had more to do with conquest and the attainment of a goal. Mary had something quite different in mind when she was thinking of the experience of intimacy, and often refused, his sexual requests, which left him pouting in disappointment.
In Mary’s mind, the intimacy always happens spontaneously, is never planned, and never involves coercion or manipulation. Feeling like she was being softened up for some loving was one big turn-off. She didn’t like to be manipulated, nor did she enjoy his getting angry with her for not coming across with the goods “after all I’ve given you.”
Jordan: “I think I’m a pretty good husband. I make a decent living. I don’t drink much or gamble. I love my wife and I’m faithful. I’m a simple guy. I work hard and when I come home, I just want a little lovin’ I don’t think that’s so much to ask for.”
The material gifts, with which Jordan had been so generous, did not move her to feel loved, just obligated. She still experienced being ignored. She finally got honest with him by saying: “When I go off and talk to my women friends, when we don't have the men present, we women always speak about trying to find our way in the sexual connection to our guys. Some of my women friends speak of how frustrating if is when their men are mentally some place else. It’s not just me; my friends too lament how much they long to meet up with their guys emotionally. Most of my women friends agree that we want the intimate talking, to extend the experience so that there's something romantic as a heart-to-heart hook up before, during, and after the explicit sexual connection. Many of our men are conking off to sleep after sex, so we want to find our way to each other before they go to sleep. And, you know what, sometimes there are tears about how painful it is to not be to connect to the men we love. It’s so frustrating, but the sexual area is emotionally tender. I guess men and women are so easily shamed by one another. If sexual intimacy is what you are really after, then the way to bring more or it into our lives is to be open, and have non-judging, and loving communication with me all the time, not simply when you are “looking for a little something.”
Jordan was motivated to learn, and began to listen to Mary in a whole new way. He began to show up and pay attention to what she was saying. This kind of caring can't be faked. If you are giving to your partner in order to manipulate them into accommodating any of your own desires, they will, in all likelihood, sense this on some level and your gift will be tainted. If you are moved to give of yourself out of a desire to connect with your partner or to make them happier as an expression of your caring, then your gifts will be wholesome, and under such circumstances, both the of you will benefit.
True giving never has strings or expectations attached to it and it nourishes both the giver and the receiver. Any giving that is contaminated by attachments is impure and therefore incapable of leaving either party fulfilled. Like junk food, it temporarily satisfies the desire and takes away the appetite, but it doesn’t nourish. Giving does. Stay tuned for The Art of Subtle Seduction Part 2 to appreciate how Jordan and Mary got past their impasse to have a lot more enjoyable sexual play.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.
Praise for Happily Ever After:
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate