Man, if there’s one thing that can lead to a lot of stress, lack of peace and sometimes the death of a relationship–it’s sexual disconnects. This came up recently when chatting with a girlfriend and I found myself trying too hard to identify with her situation because I know my husband and I HAD the same issues, but I couldn’t–on the spot–think of how we overcame them. I’m fortunate that this is an area where my husband and I don’t have a lot of issues; but it wasn’t always that way.
I have often thought that the frequency with which a couple is having sex is probably a good barometer of their relationship overall. Men don’t usually connect sex with emotions the way women do; but if a woman’s emotions are well tended to, she is likely to be inclined to oblige her man in the bedroom because he has made her feel loved and worthy. But women need to understand that men also have a need to feel wanted, too. Inasmuch as they can disconnect love and sex for the most, they still want to feel like they are desired by the person they love… in every way.
I personally feel like “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” by John Gray should be required reading for people in heterosexual relationships. Men and women are simply different. That being said, understanding the other side of the relationship and being able to live with that difference are two different things.
Ultimately, this comes down to communication… on a topic that most of us are EXTREMELY uncomfortable talking about. Even if you’re notsomuch uncomfortable bringing it up, it can be uncomfortable to think that the person you’re talking TO may either be uncomfortable or sensitive or might even feel insulted or hurt–as if they’re responsible for your lack of enjoyment or satisfaction on this topic. I have to admit that my own way of bringing these things up when there were issues were a matter of snapping when I simply couldn’t take it anymore. They weren’t overwhelming issues–just annoyances that made being intimate more irritating than irresistible.
My husband and I have been married for 11-1/2 years as of this writing. Our sex life was absolutely dead-on synchronized in every way with both of us gleaming 99% of the time for the first 2 years we were together… so I knew the potential was there. But as issues arose in our relationship (in general) and we hit hard times, it reflected in our sex life. Getting back on track was hard because it required communication–the same thing that was necessary for everything else to get back on track. At some point, this got to requiring outside help. But we worked through it.
And if you are in a loving, committed relationship that involves sex but there is a disconnect, you need to consider a few things in the quest to have the issues resolved:
- Being open with your partner is a matter of communication. If you have communication issues, start there. If you have no idea how to bring up the topic or struggle with finding the right words or feel that your partner doesn’t listen to you–these are communication issues.
- Being honest with your partner is a matter of trust. That goes both ways: you have to trust that they are going to care about your happiness, and they’re going to have to trust that you aren’t insulting or blaming them for your unhappiness. It’s a team effort. But if you have trust issues–they will surface here, when discussing the most intimate of acts.Trust also comes into play when trying new things in the bedroom. You need to trust that your partner won’t do something that you don’t enjoy or feel comfortable with; but they need to be able to trust that you care about their enjoyment, too–and are therefore open to hearing their desires, if not trying some of them.
- Being happy in the bedroom is also a matter of compromise… just like every other aspect of your relationship. Again, this goes both ways. It doesn’t mean that you always give in to what the other person wants, it means that you sometimes do what they want and sometimes what you want. If this doesn’t come naturally in your relationship, you will need to do some work on gently advocating for it to work this way by speaking up when it’s “your turn” if need be, but also offering up “their turn”. It may not be fun or convenient, but it’s part of the give and take in a relationship where there is a mutual concern for each other’s happiness.
- Being happy in the bedroom is also a matter of trying new things. I don’t mean to say that you should be swinging from the chandelier (unless you want to be), but the truth is that you truly WON’T know if you like something unless you give it a chance. And that may mean trying it more than once or twice. I like the “3 strikes and you’re out” rule, myself. That gives you both time to work out the initial awkwardness of something new; and if you don’t like it, your partner can feel like you’ve given it a fair shake before giving up. You might find that you still hate whatever it is, but that it gives your partner such great pleasure that you would offer it occasionally in the interest of really making them happy. Or they might find that the experience isn’t what they thought it would be–and be equally disinterested in it. We’ve had occasions where the person that made the request wound up disliking something and the person initially disinterested found something new to love. :)
- Intimacy, and by extension–sex, needs to become a priority for both of you. I spent a number of years “taking one for the team” when I truly didn’t feel interested in sex in any way, shape or form. But I knew it was important that my husband be able to turn to me when he had physical needs. I didn’t feel OBLIGATED, I felt like I wanted to try to make him happy best I could. And at the time, I wasn’t communicating my lack of interest to him.
If you are someone that struggles with inhibitions, or a partner that has desires outside of your comfort zone… you need to talk about those, too. I don’t mean the “letting them know that’s how I feel” talking… I mean the deep-rooted, get-to-the-bottom-of-it “WHY do I feel this way” talking that you may not even have the answers to. It may not change how you feel about any of it, but it may change how your partner approaches these things.
If you are someone with seriously ZERO libido (sex drive or desire), I would look further into that. I’m definitely familiar with this and I find that more women are like this than men. MANY of my female friends are the first to admit that they could go easily a year without sex. But consider why it is you’re not interested in sex. Do you enjoy it? Does it make you feel really good? If yes, why WOULDN’T you be interested in it? If not, how can you change that? And I know that for me, some of the issues in our dry spells involved being too tired and being preoccupied with other issues. But I also found that when I submitted to my husbands advances and truly tried to enjoy myself, many times–it was easier and less exhausting (and more rewarding) than I anticipated it would be… which made me more likely to engage again next time. I also noticed that the more frequently my needs were met in the bedroom, the better I felt overall. I’m sure that some of that was emotional and feeling like my husband took the care and time to be sure I was happy there. I’m sure that some of it was physical, too.
Sex is a form of communication. It is the most intimate form of communication for sure. Like any other aspect of your relationship, you can’t make assumptions about what the other person wants or likes–you need to find out by talking about it. I’m pretty sure that my husband was pretty surprised when we were not a half-mile from home and I agreed to hop into the back seat of our pickup truck to go at it while 6 months pregnant. If you don’t open your mouth, you’ll never really know!
These days, our issues revolve around finding time without our kids–who seriously do NOT sleep. But it’s a priority to both of us, so we’re both working on solutions and finding time and making the most of what small increments of time we do get to ensure each of us is getting what we need. And it works.