"This is going to be so embarrassing, but. . ."
Your parents do it. Your grandparents still do it. (Or they did, for sure. Hopefully.) It's a vital component of your identity. Books are written about it. Movies are based around it. We're driven by it. Life happens because of it. We're further empowered when we have a healthy relationship with it.
So what is it about sex that makes it so awkward to discuss?
As humans doing this whole human thing, we have a strong drive to get our needs met. And no, I'm not going to dedicate this blog to discussing the differences between needs and wants. Life is meant to be lived fully. It's ok to need your wants sometimes. And sometimes what we want is exactly what we need. So, why do so many of us minimize our sexuality or rationalize our sexual desires as being less important than other facets of marriage?
I've yet to work with any couples or individuals who have showed up for a session and said anything remotely close to, "You know, Jennifer... Our sex life is a such a bummer, and it's got us all the way twisted. We're ready to get that shit figured out."
Instead, all things sex seem to get brought into the light after some digging. It's often times a "thing behind the thing". A couple feels disconnected. Someone feels undesired or overlooked, which gets shared in words like, "I feel like we're roommates." Maybe it comes up when we're exploring their values. Romance, anyone? Other times, my clients and I are exploring a tool called the Relationship Wheel. There are several relationship areas my clients rank their levels of satisfaction, and sexuality is one of those areas. Even then, when their "sexuality satisfaction" is ranked noticeably lower than other areas, it commonly gets brought to the table when any number of the areas are explored- such as intimacy, honesty, and the big one that stands out to me, the one this particular blog is going to focus on . . . communication.
In an age where Tinder is a thing and "send nudes" has its own line of swag, I am fascinated that such a significant number of my millennial clients tend to dance around the proverbial bush (wink) when it comes to intimate sexual discussions. While I carry the super ability to transform awkward conversations into something that feels as natural as discussing your favorite happy hour beverage, I often realize it's not so much me making things weird... It's that my clients don't actually feel comfortable having this super transparent discussion with each other. It's as if, everyone's having sex (some more than others, obviously) but nobody's talking about it. Truly talking about sex. Lover to lover. Partner to partner.
Nope. It seems a lot of us millennials prefer to complicate our lives by simply not communicating. While it may be no walk in the park to uncover the deeper internal blocks that keep us from elevating our relationship with self and others, keeping it real and simply being willing to have an honest, open conversation about anything and everything is a damn good place to start. Also, shameless self-promotion, I have an obsessive passion for both assisting with those deep digs and helping folks understand and master the art of communication, so... hit me up. Ok, moving right along.
What would be different if you and your husband/wife/partner were able to have conversations about your sexuality without hesitation or fear of _____, _____, or _____? What if you could safely, comfortably talk about the things you like and don't like, and the feelings that you have around the different aspects of intimacy- or better yet, the things you're not feeling but would love to feel?
And what if this kind of honest and raw communication didn't threaten your relationship but made it stronger? After all, how we show up for anything, is how we show up for everything.
If you're not 100 percent satisfied with your sex life, in what ways is this affecting your marriage?
"I would be so much more fulfilled in my marriage if my spouse and I weren't having such soul-satisfyingly hot sex." -said no one ever.
Chances are, it's affecting your marriage in several aspects. Whether you're down right put out with your lack of sexual fulfillment or you're flirting with complacency, the things we tolerate create restriction in our lives. That restriction is what I refer to as catabolic energy, and catabolic energy will creep into other areas of your marriage like a thief in the night.
Prime example: You caught your spouse sending flirty texts to another person. You got pretty salty about it, and you distanced yourself emotionally and gave your partner the cold shoulder for a few weeks. Of course, then your sex life became lifeless, a casualty of the catabolic energy you had in these other areas.
It's the classic "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" situation. Perhaps you were emotionally unavailable for whatever reasons and your walls were up, so your sex life took a hit, and then you caught your spouse sending flirty texts to someone else. Maybe since that moment, you even went a little too far with the retail therapy and maxed out a credit card or two, because you convinced yourself that a new wardrobe, hair, and makeup would remind your husband that he's married to a babe. Oh, but now that debt is overshadowing your efforts and causing even more friction between you two. But you know where you're still not getting any friction. . . between your bodies.
Hey, I'm not judging anything as right or wrong here, this is just an example of things being things.
But you see my point. Sex can be made better or worse depending on what's happening in other areas of our lives and vice versa. Yes, I mean that vice versa part. Great sex can make other areas in your relationship greater, and mediocre sex can make your entire marriage less than stellar. If sex (or anything else) is an issue- or even if it's not an issue, but there's a component you would like to explore- what's keeping you and your significant other from at least talking about it so it doesn't build up and morph into other situations? Getting it on the table is the first step in working towards a solution.
Let's explore the possible internal elements of why we might shy away from expressing and communicating our sexuality within marriage. Go ahead and pinch those earlobes and get your woosah on if you're feeling it.
Protection & Victim Energy
What are you really protecting yourself from when you avoid confronting your sexuality and your sexual relationship with your spouse? Would stepping outside of your comfort zone leave you feeling a little too. . . naked? Does intimacy scare you? Do you refrain from initiating sex because you can't handle getting turned down like that one time? Might sharing your sexual feelings and thoughts with your spouse make you feel like you're too much? Not enough? Would you rather not have to hear your spouse's sexual truths because you're afraid it will crush you? Or even deeper than that, does staying silent protect you from having to commit to and actually take responsibility for your happiness? Maybe it's easier to play the victim of your circumstances- because patterns and unconscious blocks happen to the best of us. Ouch, I know. If you and your spouse were to actually talk about your ideal sex life, you might actually have to do work to meet those ideals, and if you're working on that disconnect between where you are and where you ideally want to be, you don't have as much time for throwing pity parties. And less pity parties means less sympathy from your friends and more pressure to step up and be the creator of your own happiness. Damn.
What assumptions are you making about your sex life? Is it the "Oh well, this is as good as it's gonna get" trap? Do you assume that it's normal for married couples to lose their sexual passion? Are you assuming that discussing any sexual dissatisfaction will magnify the lack of overall satisfaction in your marriage and make things worse? Or that your spouse will shut down and take it super personally if you bring up that thing you've been wanting to talk about? Does the fact that your sex life is as hot as an icy Antarctic day have you assuming your husband or wife just doesn't find you attractive? Maybe you're assuming your partner will think you're a filthy animal (RAWR) if you share that fantasy or ask if they're up for being adventurous and trying that thing. You might even assume you're a SEX GOD (oh, so you know you are, huh?) and there's no way you're not already bringing all the heat. Fair enough. But have you asked your partner if it's as good for them as it for you. . . without your ego getting in the way? If you're making assumptions but you're not actually discussing them, what purpose are those assumptions serving? What does that purpose do for your sexual and marital bliss?
What interpretations are you making regarding your sexuality and sex life? Do you interpret that one look to mean "not tonight"? When your spouse comes home from work and tells you they're exhausted, is that soft evidence ('cause it ain't hard...evidence) they would rather slam their head in the refrigerator door than let you touch them? When your spouse tells you to put your hand there or slow down or speed up or try this, do you interpret that a slap in the face? You can never please them. What if your wife never orgasms- is that because you suck at life? Or what if your husband has a habit of climaxing before you- do you interpret that as selfish? What if you talk about it and find out he feels embarrassed, or that he interprets your body language as "bored and ready to get it over"? Maybe he really is just selfish, but what's up with you not talking about it? Communication requires interpretation, but those interpretations are subjective. In what ways might your interpretations be skewed by your past experiences and current expectations? What would a frank conversation do to provide clarity? In what ways might that clarity improve your sexual relationship?
What limiting beliefs do you have around sex? Maybe you don't think that as a woman it's your place to initiate sex. Maybe you're a man and you have the same belief that you're the one who should always make the first move, and that's a lot of pressure. Maybe you think that men have stronger sexual desires and drives than women. So, is yours too high? Too low? How about this.. ladies don't wear that/like that/do that/say that. Gentlemen shouldn't expect their wives to want to do this or that. Sex wanes in frequency and satisfaction the longer you're married. Sexual affairs are inevitable. Think you have to be somebody you're not in order to meet your spouse's expectations, or to keep things interesting? Think all married couples are like you and yours? Playing the part and getting their needs kind-of-sort-of-not-really met? But hey, isn't that's what you signed up for? (It's not, just incase you're not fluent in sarcasm.) Maybe you have a belief that marriage can't be 100% fulfilling, and you should just chalk it up to "it is what it is" and be grateful for everything else. I mean, you can't have it all. #Amirite? (Yes, that's also sarcasm.) In what ways are your limiting beliefs limiting your sexual expression? What could a conversation around these limiting beliefs do to free your sexuality? What might that sexual freedom do to improve your overall marital fulfillment?
Now that I've got your potential internal blocks covered like a jimmy hat. . .
Despite your self-protective mechanisms, assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs, the simple decision to communicate with your husband, communicate with your wife, can be the one change that leads to miraculous transformation. Want to know what kick ass communication can do for your marriage besides give you more orgasms? It will create more intimacy. More honesty. More romance. More trust. More presence. More depth. More love. More fulfillment. And you know what more of these things will give you? Better. Sex. And better sex creates expansive, anabolic energy. That anabolic energy doesn't creep like catabolic energy. It dances its way into every area in your relationship. It's a beautiful full circle, tbh.
Challenge yourself to create and hold a safe space for you and your spouse to discuss sexuality. Agree from the get-go that you're making a joint commitment to truly honor and respect each other, without judgment and without the ego attachment. Practice active listening and responding in place of reacting. Acknowledge and validate one another's feelings. Just because we're born to communicate doesn't mean we're as good as it as we could be. It takes practice. It takes figuring out what works and what doesn't.
Like communication, sex is the very much the same way. We're born to do it, but it takes some effort to master our sexuality. With that effort, we might even discover something more mysterious than the g-spot... the mystical experience of oneness. Sometimes, the simplest way to overcome the greatest human illusion of all- that we are separate from one another- is to merge together in our physical bodies as one. This is what makes sex a sacred gift.
We're meant to want to open that gift and explore all it has to offer. Your sexuality is an intricate part of your health and well-being. When we feel desired, and we nurture that desire, and we feel safe to authentically and confidently express our sexuality- emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually- we're being the humans that we were created to be. And in the process, we're creating a bond in our marriage that will foster our growth as both individuals and a couple. That bond is worth the effort it takes to communicate with your partner. With some practice, the effort you put forth towards communicating will be less than the effort it would take you to avoid that communication. Boom.
If you're ready to explore your sexuality but you're still struggling with the communication part, because you're the kings and queens of awkward, I dare you to check out my free download here, "Questions for Keeping It Real: Sex Edition". Check it out even if you're not awkward. How well do you know yourself? How well do you know your partner? Get ready to get down. The pleasure is all yours.