Sex matters

An on-going physical relationship is pivotal to the healthy, loving functioning of any committed long-term coupling. Sexual contact is the part of the couple relationship that makes it differ from a friendship - it is integral to making this relationship more connected and profound than any other.

Many couples seeking therapy need help with sexual issues.  These are often around the theme of:   man wants more sex and woman wants more warmth, affection and consideration so that she feels like having more sex.

With honest and open communication in the relationship it could be possible to sometimes have loving, connected sex and sometimes have raw, primal sex.  Just as we have different moods and our appetites vary according to our moods - one day muesli, another day full-english breakfast - so too can our sexual moods vary in need.

There are two people involved in the sex act and therefore two varying moods to consider.  Indeed one partner may feel turned-on while the other has no desire at all.  What seems to often happen in this scenario is that the partner who is not in the mood for sex will refuse their libidinous partner in a careless manner which can make him\her feel rejected and unloved.  This type of rejection can be scarring and injurious to the connection in the couple and sets up on-going problems not only in the bedroom arena but also polluting other areas of the relationship. This is where couples could find counselling a good way of unlocking these old patterns of behaviour to find a more fulfilling way of being together.

If one partner has a sexual need, and the other partner is not up for it at that time, would it be so bad for him\her to lovingly assist with satiating that need.  This could mean brief intercourse; manual or toy stimulation; or encouraging masturbation in order to fulfil the sexual craving. When communication is open and unembarrassed, these things are possible.

From my observations, and if sales figures of female sex toys are to be believed, I would say there is not much difference between the sexual drives of men and women. The difference lies more in the craving for affection, consideration and connection versus the contentment in intercourse and orgasm as an activity.

How does this gap get bridged in a long-term loving relationship?

One key may be for the man to learn to take pleasure from giving pleasure - quite separately from his own direct physical stimulation and pleasure.  By giving his woman pleasure she feels his consideration and love for her and then experiences a warmth and connection to him and in their love-making.  In short, she is more likely to want to have sex with her partner - creating a win win for all concerned.

Sex is important so make it matter.

Life is for Living

Many times we hear stories of people who spend their lives working towards retirement only be be struck down by ill-health or death either just before or just after they retire.

A new book out by Bronnie Ware called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, sets out the five biggest deathbed regrets she heard about from palliative care patients. In brief these are regrets about: not being true to oneself; working too hard; not expressing feelings; not staying in touch with friends; and not allowing oneself to be happier.

How can we get the balance right - to work enough to meet outgoings; to love enough to have close relationships; to have fun enough to feel life is fun; to exercise enough to feel fit and well; to do nothing enough to feel some space in our lives?

How can we get the balance of what we need to do - the fundamentals of earning a living, looking after our children, shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing, caring for elderly relatives - and what we want to do. Where is the space in our lives to do the things that would gladden our hearts or give us a sense of joy?

It is possible to fulfil dreams as we go through our lives rather than waiting until we retire; until the children leave home; until an elderly relative has died. These are the excuses I hear over and over from clients who are not getting on and doing the things they want to do.

It is realistic perhaps to leave the big dreams for later because of our responsibilities. Yet sometimes we use these responsibilities as an excuse for not getting on and doing the things that would make life so worth living.

Instead of waiting for retirement, life can be fully lived. Each day can count as a special day by finding small things that make the day feel worthwhile or meaningful. Living your dreams now on a smaller scale can give you fulfillment in the present rather than saving it all up for retirement.  The bit we know for certain in life is that one day we will die.  The bit we do not know is when we will die. 

A Tibetan proverb sums this up wisely and succinctly.

Don't be the pigeon who 'spends all night fussing about making his bed, and dawn comes up before he has even had time to go to sleep'.

How about living your dreams while you have the health and energy to enjoy them?

Life is for living - and life is now.

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Most of us would admit to showing respect to the dustman who removes our rubbish and the postman who delivers our letters. This is common decency - a level of respect shown to strangers. 

I wonder how many of us show that basic level of respect at home to our loved ones?  It repeatedly saddens me to hear stories of how couples who love one another and who have chosen to be together frequently show each other less respect than they do to strangers.

It is worth considering how you deliver everyday communications at home to your partner and family.  Notice if you show a lack of respect in the tone of your voice; the words you choose to use; the way you say those words - is it possible that you are barking orders loudly with insulting language showing no consideration or respect for the recipient's feelings?

It would seem that the everyday mundanity of relationships can quickly deteriorate into disrespectful communication.  This often leads to one or both partners feeling small, hurt and indeed angry. At its extreme this can amount to verbal abuse which can grind the other partner down until they feel very low about themselves. 

This cycle of rudeness can be broken .  Firstly with the realisation of disrespectful communication; then by the application of effort to consciously stop this automatic behaviour; followed by the use of respectful considered communication - what your loved ones deserve.

Familiarity breeds contempt - and children    Mark Twain 1835-1910 American Author