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Forget About Normal Sex

Here is the #1 most important sex rule of all.

A cartoon shows two birds perched on a branch in tree. One says to the other, “To tell the truth, I don’t think I fly as much as I should.”

Poor bird. Flying is a normal process. But this bird has the notion he’s not up to snuff. Surely he's not living up to someones standard.

Maybe he’s bought the latest best-selling book called “Birds Who Fly 24/7” ” and his heart sank when he read how inadequate he was. Perhaps the message in the bird-improvement book was couched in terms of what “research shows”, “brain science proves”, “nature intends” or “God wants.” How can an ordinary little bird question such awesome authority? Something must be wrong with him.

Clients I see in therapy are very much like that bird. They think something is wrong with them—or with their relationship—because they are not having sex as much as they think they should. If they’re not worried about the frequency factor, they may worry about their performance, their “equipment,” their lack of desire or desirability, or the fact that most nights they’d rather get a foot massage from their partner than “do it.”

Of course, sex isn’t anywhere as natural, normal, or easy for our species as flying is for birds. Countless forces from childhood onward can block authentic desire and load sexuality with anxiety, fear, shame, and confusion.

The truth is that our erotic life is as unique as our fingerprints. It is something that every individual has to keep figuring out for herself and himself as we move along the life cycle.

Humans are anxious and vulnerable about sharing their bodies, and it’s an especially difficult challenge in marriage. For all the safety and security coupling up can bring, it’s not easy to have “good sex” (whatever that means) with the person you live with year in and year out.

The countless books and products on the market that promise to restore passion to your sex life can leave you feeling worse that ever when they don’t work. And the pursuer-distancer dance, when it takes place in the bedroom, can lead to an impasse so painful that both the pursuer (who tries to initiate sex) and the distancer (who isn’t interested) dread getting into bed at night.

In Marriage Rules you'll find rules to help you to fire the sex-cops that have set up precincts in your head and, most importantly, to change the pursuer-distancer dance that couples get stuck in. (One person wants sex, the other doesn't) But when it comes to expert advice about your own body and how you want to share it with your partner, the most important rule is this:

If any advice from experts leaves you with a “down” feeling, ignore it. Always remember that you are the ultimate expert on your own self.