I think about sex, a lot.
Mostly, I think of a lot of reasons why it ain't gonna happen tonight.
I can already feel it. I am bloated, my head hurts, I am feeling fat and I can't allow myself to enjoy any happiness until all of my chores are done, right?!
Then I feel guilty because I love my partner and love being intimate with him. I tell myself that if I was childless and wealthy to the point of not having to work I would have plenty of time and few distractions for having one kick ass sex life. However, I work full-time, am a parent, and am pulled in hundreds of directions a day. Too often I have to remind me that I am doing a crappy job of taking care of myself.
So what keeps us from connecting more often?
I think about being too tired for sex, and that I would really rather being sleeping. I think I have too much to do to slow down and have sex. I don't have time in my day for such things, when my to do list is a mile long and my laundry pile is as tall as I am, and I need to create a grocery list for the week. I get so mad a myself when I sink into my tub to relax or sit to meditate and my crazy monkey mind takes advantage of the inactivity to go into overdrive.
Sometimes I have to stop my mind from wandering to my mental to do list during a massage and I am always grateful when I can snap out of it and focus just on the touch. It is too easy to go on autopilot and miss the pleasure of just being touched.
My head does actually hurt too damn often. I should probably see my doctor about more nose spray and allergy meds to make this low level irritation stop.
My belly actually hurts and feels bloated and gassy. The thought of bumping bellies does not sound appealing. I should probably see my doctor about this too, or make those hard choices about my diet and the things that make my belly bloated and gassy.
I think about being too soft and fat. I think about my muffin top over my panties, which seem to be getting very tiny on my ever expanding ass. I think about how "things" are going to look from different angles.
I think about the kids walking in at any moment, and listen for them.
I can find tons of reasons to not have sex, but then I remember, I like sex. It feels very good. Equally important is that I need the connection with my partner.
I now know that sex is very important in a relationship. Making the time to physically connect is equally as important as making the time to verbally connect. I was reading an article by Judith Orloff where she states that too often "sex is often viewed more as a performance feat than a holy exchange."
It really needs to become a holy exchange between partners. Sex is the tending to and caring for each other that bonds us together. We have lost touch with what sex is supposed to create in our lives. Sex is what keeps couples together. Physical touch keeps couples connected. Mutual healthy sex means there are no barriers being put up between partners. Sex is meant to be a mutual escape and release.
Your partner not having sex with you is a big sign that there is a loss of connection in your relationship.
Everyone has days and nights when they are not in the mood. While it sucks to be the person asking for the sex and being told no, it is normal for couples to get out of sync from time to time. We all handle stress in different ways. Some people want sex to relieve the stress and to feel connected to someone. Some people don't want to be touched and want to be alone when they are stressed.
Some of us go back and forth between wanting sex and wanting to be alone.
However, Judith states that, "if these excuses become habitual and our erotic lives are suffering, it’s essential to examine our resistance to sex."
"We have to want to be sexy and keep passion alive in a relationship. When we’re tired, angry or if communication breaks down with a partner, passion is the first to go. Denial and apathy are the enemies of passion."
She list the Six Common Killers of Passion from her book The Ecstasy of Surrender:
I believe that on any given night you really can be too tired or not feel well, but I like her caution to examine how often excuses are given. I know that all six of these were part of the demise of my sex life with my ex husband. Tired, overwhelmed, finances, no connection, rushing, anger, loss of interest and time worked against us. I remember the courage it took to work my nerve up to allow it to happen. I cannot imagine how much anger he had built up after asking so many nights only to be told no.
Reality check, I don't like my ex, but this is me owning up to how crushing our sex life was to our marriage. I didn't understand how huge the gap was growing between us. I didn't understand how much pent up anger we were both accruing. I didn't know that each day the anger and resentment was allowed to go unvoiced and unheard that another brick was being mortared into the wall that would end our relationship.
We grew so far apart that negotiating the possibility of sex always seemed like a huge battle. If he wanted it and I didn't, he grew bitter. If I wanted it after not having it with him in months, he was mean and made me pay for hurting him.
I was not aware of how much your sex life says about the state of your marriage.
Without getting into how often a couple should have sex, a couple that is able to, should be having sex on a regular basis if they want their relationship to last and grow. This needs to be a discussion between the two of you. It is very easy to think that your partners needs are being met, when in fact they aren't.
I don't think most of us want to reject our partner. I don't think we keep track of when we last had sex and think, damn my partner must think I don't want them anymore. But your partner probably does think you don't want them, or that they aren't a good lover, or that you don't find them attractive. Don't let them hurt in silence, ask them. Grab a blanket and coffee and meet outside on the porch or deck one morning to connect and talk.
These are not conversations for the bedroom or the end of the day.
Ask your partner if they are happy with your sex life. Ask them if they want more or less or different. Use this time to make a non-sexual connection with your partner.
If you haven't had sex in a while, know that building this connection is really important and will take time. It is too awkward to start having sex after not having it for a while, like really awkward.
If your relationship has lost sex, there are lots of good web sites and counselors to help you be able to trust and touch again. For couples that have not touched in a while, it takes some non-sexual touch over a course of time to build back up to a place where a sexual touch can be initiated and welcomed again.
I know people don't like the idea of scheduling sex, but if you don't make it important in your life, it will not happen. Waiting for the perfect conditions to exist will not happen. Relationships die long before life presents you with perfect circumstances. Relationships die very fast. You are no more busy than anyone else. You are given the same number of hours a day as everyone else on this planet. If you work out, you schedule your gym trips and what area you will be working on. So if Monday & Thursday is back and bi day, make Wednesday & Saturday Anahata (heart) & Sacral (sex) Chakra workout day on the calendar!
Sex and exercise are the two items we drop first, because they are self care items and we seem wired to take care of everyone and everything at the expense of our own well being. Tv, internet, social media, email and household chores all get prioritized higher than physically connecting with our partner. That is very sad. So if you don't want to schedule it, don't want to talk about it, don't want to change, well then you don't like the idea of being responsible for your own happiness and you don't care enough about your partner's happiness. So don't schedule time together or sex, dumb-ass. Just keep sitting in your lonely recliner watching life pass you by!
When I find myself getting lost doing too much for the world and not enough for me, I have to remind myself that I want a happy & sexual relationship. I will do whatever it takes to create the time and mood to connect physically with my partner. I can't always make it magical and special, but I always find the time needed to connect physically. Sometimes it has to be quick and quiet and under the covers, but I have to make sex work around real life.
Being divorced and sharing custody of my children means I have child free nights. Child free nights allows me to use that time to connect with my partner in a non rushed way. We try and make up for the hurried moments during the weeks when we have children home by blocking out time for dinners, conversations, and getting into bed early on the nights when we are alone. Priorities and scheduling make sure we use our child free time wisely otherwise it is too easy to piss away an evening in front of the tv or on the internet.
I really believe that if in your marriage you could figure out how to have regular child free time, that many of us would take better care of our marriages. It is too easy to get lost in those parenting days and think that you will find the time and energy to connect after the kids get older. Then the kids get older and quickly leave the house and you have allowed so much time to pass that it is like peering across the Grand Canyon looking for your partner. With technology, it is too easy to find a new partner, rather than start the long ass journey to rekindle with your existing partner.
Waiting for your kids to grow up before you reignite that sexual fire will create a very lonely, disconnected mess that is too big for most of us to want to tackle after years or a decade of neglect and anger. You cannot afford to wait. So many marriages end when our kids are still in the house because we think we can wait, but then we find other people to connect with. 18 years is a long ass time to wait to feel alive and wanted and valued again. It is too easy to meet and connect with other lonely people. It is way too easy for that seemingly innocent connection to turn in to divorce.
If your kids are small, hire a babysitter if for nothing else than to escape together. Get a baby monitor and close the damn door. Those are hard years, but if you value your marriage, make sex happen. Create a baby sitting round robin with friends so you can drop your kids off at a friends for three hours and run back home and have time to ease into grown-up time.
If you kids are teens, you really can't use them as an excuse any more. If you can leave them at home while you run to buy groceries, you can leave them at home while you and your partner escape for an evening every month or two. Take advantage of teens love of staying in their rooms and scheduled bedtimes.
What really sucks is when you allow this connection to be lost between partners and you don't have any children to blame it on. Having children & focusing solely on them is an easy seemingly acceptable excuse for the demise of your relationship. Not having those sweet little distractions and allowing your relationship to erode will get you the big eye roll from your parent friends.
I can't say it enough, make the time, schedule the time, make the connection before your relationship is so damaged that it cannot be repaired. Make your relationship a priority before your partner looks elsewhere for the attention and connection all humans need.
Exhaustion: If you are too tired most nights, get up a little earlier on a day off and have sex in the morning. I love this idea, but sometimes my bladder is too full. Potty breaks may be needed, but don't let exhaustion be your go to excuse. I personally am not a fan of being woken up, but I have yet to meet a man who isn't thrilled about being woken up for sex.
Anyhow, the idea is figure it out. Stop being exhausted. This is important.
Not communicating your needs: This is a tough one. If you are in a relationship and cannot express your needs and desires, examine why you are in the relationship. If it just shyness and awkwardness in discussing sex in general, plan a long car trip or hike where you can be side by side, but not looking directly at each other. I learned that from Arielle Ford during her Art of Love Relationship series. If you just can't say the words, write them and share them with your partner.
Too many partners are punished for not being able to read their partners mind. We have to accept that this is not fair and will never get you what you want. Focus on the goal of happy connected sex, not punishment.
Losing interest: This is a heart breaker. Too much distance has been allowed to exist for too long. Too many words not shared or too many hurtful, hateful words have been shared. No one loses interest in connection and touch, they only lose interest in connection and touch with you. They will find interest in someone else if you allow it to happen. Can you rebuild a relationship after an affair? Some people can, but we all know that most of us don't. Take the steps now to affair proof your marriage. There are lots of good books and websites that offer tips for affair proofing your relationship. Start the conversation now!
Rushing: I am a parent and I know that rushing is all we have for long periods of time while we are parents, but it is our responsibility to create time to not rush. As I grow older, I need more time to get my head out of the game and relaxing. My mind has become quite the task master and will grab hold of any down time to fill it with creating a to do list or for simmering over stress, worry and anxiety. I need a little slow dancing, bath time, a glass of wine, or a walk to disconnect my brain from "go" to relax. Remember when making out could fill an entire evening? If not, you need to spend an entire evening making out with your partner. Some of us respond very well to the art of not rushing!
Lack of creativity or boredom: This needs to be a conversation.
If you and your day is boring and lacking in creativity, why would you think that somehow your sex is going to be fabulous and creative?
Go slow and easy into this one so feelings don't get hurt. Get books that include sexual and non-sexual connection. Get creative outside of the bedroom. Having sex at the end of the day is about so much more than the physical act. Having sex at the end of the day is because of the hundreds of little things said and done starting before you get to work in the morning. Emails, texts, hugs, kisses, notes, compliments, shared meals, conversations, and eye contact create the special elixir that makes falling into bed together magic.
Even if falling into bed only leads to curling up together, the connection has been made.
Repressed anger and hostilities: We all know this feeling. The only way to make it go away is to talk to your partner. Reread the above paragraph on communicating your needs. There is no other way. You either do it now or during your costly divorce.
If things have progressed to this point, find a counselor, immediately. Have someone help you reconnect. Be specific in what outcome you want when talking to a professional. "We" want a safe way to express all of the old baggage and anger. We want tools to help us learn to talk to one another and not hold our disappointment and anger in. We aren't interested in determining who is the shittier partner. We love each other and want to fix what we have allowed to wither. If either partner starts feeling picked on, you need to regroup and possibly find another counselor. Visit several before choosing. Get books, schedule weekly time to connect and talk with your partner. Listen without responding with rebuttal. Remember you want to fix your relationship, not win a war. You can't be right and them be wrong and create a loving connection.
We all need physical touch. We all need connection. Your partner is no exception, neither are you.
Your goal is to be naked and enjoying ecstasy with your partner!
Link to the article:
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/10/6-common-killers-of-passion/ Judith Orloff on Oct 15, 2014 Elephant Journal
"I realized that I had suffered through many indignities rather than ask for what I needed or wanted, out of fear that if the person got upset, I could get hurt. it was a pattern I learned as a child. It was an ingredient in my pathology. It was, I believe, the reason I stayed for nine years in that physically abusive marriage."
"In medicine, pathology is the study of the causes of disease. In human life, pathology is the disease; the stuff going on beneath the surface, handed down or passed on to you, the family stuff that you can see and feel even though no one ever talks about it." page 24
While my marriage was not physically abusive, it was emotionally abusive and I stayed for 16 years because I didn't recognize that I was continuing to allow myself to be hurt. My pathology was that I was not good enough and thereby didn't deserve happiness or ease.
"...but the mental conditioning about the person I was created a lasting impression. The principle of cause and effect meant if it was happening to me, I somehow caused it. When people treated me badly, somehow I deserved it." page 65-66
I have spent most of my life feeling I deserved to be treated as less. That I wasn't smart enough. I felt I was flawed. I was told I was difficult. That I was too emotional. That I could'n't make a decision. That I made things harder than they needed to be. I grew to believe that every bad thing that happened in my life was my fault. My fault either through my choices or my inaction. This was the expressed opinion of my second husband who was the smartest and most well read man I ever knew. He was another person confirming my worst fear, that I was not good enough.
"Neglect. Physical, emotional, and psychological neglect cripples more children than any hip-hop line notes ever written. It is a form of passive abuse when a person responsible for a child's care and upbringing fails to safeguard the child's emotional and physical well-being." page 66
When you make it to adulthood alive, you tell yourself that you won't end up like your parents. I remember my dad actually telling me when I turned 25 that he never really believed I would live that long.
You won't do to your children, what was done to you. I was 28 years old before I allowed myself to accept that I did want children. The lie I had been telling myself was out of fear that I would end up hurting and neglecting my own children. For most of my teens and twenties, I told myself that the only way to not continue the cycle was not to have children. The cycle ends with me.
It came as quite a surprise when I told my husband of 5 years that while I had told him at 22 that I adamantly did not want children, I had changed my mind. This became a bit of a problem as he was 10 years older than me and already had a child from a previous marriage. He did not want to be that old dad who was like 75 at his kids high school graduation, so he gave me a deal and a deadline; I could have as many children as I could before he turned 40. Two years to have as many children as I could. I had to stop nursing our first child shortly before his first birthday to allow my body to cycle once so I could get pregnant as quickly as possible. I delivered our second child, 58 days before he turned 40!
Then began my love affair with my children.
After giving birth to my second child, I gave my notice at work and became a stay at home mom, then home school mom, who was very devoted to loving and paying attention to my children. I enjoyed my days playing with them, reading to them, listening to their stories of what they were playing or what they were building. I couldn't stop watching them. They were the coolest, neatest little people ever. I didn't know it then, but I also spent my nights protecting them with my very presence. I was and am afraid of things that happen at night. (In some later post, I will address my nocturnal wanderings to verify my children are alone and safe and in their beds peacefully sleeping.) Nothing bad would happen to them if I was there. With every fiber of my body, I wanted them to know they mattered and were plenty good enough.
While this act of looking back and sorting through memories and feelings is hard work and puts me on a roller coaster emotionally, it feels so good to have some of the pieces falling into place in my mind. Each piece that fits into it's place is a little bit more of the fog lifted. Even when the images and feelings are not pretty or happy, just having another puzzle piece fit, it helps me see where I came from.
"I was a neglected child. There was a persistent and consistent ignoring of my need for nurturing, encouragement, education and protection." page 67
I am a child of neglect. I did not feel wanted. I grew up feeling unloved and unloveable. I didn't feel seen, valued or worthy.
My parents were a disaster when they were sober and completely dysfunctional when they were drunk. I remember a few snapshots in my head when my dad was laughing or smiling, but not a lot of them. I remember him singing.
I don't remember my mom being happy except for when she came to my school dressed up as a clown or witch or when she cooked. I also remember her smiling when she watched her shows; Fantasy Island and Hart to Hart. I remember sitting next to her or on her bed while she did her hair and make up in the morning watching tv with her. She had a whole dresser of girl stuff; make up, mirrors, tweezers, hot rollers and hairspray & perfume. She had an awful (and comforting) way of humming and singing the little bits of songs she remembers over and over again while she got made up.
For the most part, however I felt like I was a "problem that needed to be fixed" a "burden to be endured" and a "responsibility to be ignored." page 67
I remember hating my parents. I remember feeling such guilt wishing they would die. I held a fantasy that if they did die, then I would be adopted by a loving family who wanted a daughter. I remember praying they would stop drinking. I remember praying they would love me. I remember feeling very guilty for wanting more than the shitty hand I had been dealt.
"I can also say that I was almost 30 years old before I realized that I was insane, and 50 years old when I actually became sane. I spent 20 years discovering patterns and solving the puzzles that I inherited. Today, I understand that each of my family members contributed to my soul's purpose. It didn't feel good back then, nor did I know it until much later, but who I am is a function of who they were in my life. I realize that my story, my history, was a divine set up to usher me into who I would become." page 67
I have felt slightly insane for the past 15 years trying to deal with all of the emotions and pain being a mother has brought into my life. My children have brought forth all of my fears and worries and memories. Some of my fear and worry has been replaced with calm as I accept that as I learn better, I do better. But I have put a great deal of pressure on myself to do better than my parents did. When you wait until you are in your late 20's and make a conscious decision to bring a child into the world, you can't fuck up. I have felt so much pressure to always do the right thing by my children. To guide them, to urge them, to protect them and to accept them as they are and in their own time.
A big part of the pressure is that I didn't have a good example to turn to.
"I remember confiding my pain and devastation to a friend the first time I broke up with the man who would become my third husband. She tried her best to help me pull myself together. In the midst of our conversation she asked me, "What would your mother say to you? What did she tell you about how to make it through a broken heart." "I realized that not one of the women in my life had ever talked to me about anything I would face as a woman. I had learned about my menstrual cycle from a friend the day it started. No one ever talked to me about boyfriends or for the matter , how to be a friend. I got no instruction at all about my body, my mind or my heart." page 53
I didn't have heart to heart talks with my mom or dad. They didn't prepare me for life at all. Instead, most of what I have learned or read about parenting and relationships was recommended on Oprah or Dr. Phil's show (until 4 years ago when I stopped being able to afford cable tv.). I am grateful that I had a dvr and could wait until my little darlings went down for a nap or to sleep each night and I could steal time to learn to be better.
Now I am blessed to have created a family of women to help guide me through some of life's milestones. I am part of a family of women who share the hard earned wisdom of surviving. I am getting the instruction now on how to be a woman and a grown up. It is interesting when my "not normal" runs into this circle of women. It is fabulous to have a reality check that I am good enough and deserving. It has reinforced in my mind and heart that as parents we must always say the words. Our children may not choose to hear them, believe or accept them, but we must say the words to them. You are a blessing to me. You are strong, capable, smart, caring, worthy, loveable, needed, and a good friend.
I am finding comfort in fitting my broken bits & pieces together and then being able to sit back and realize how brilliantly "textbook" my pathology is. The anger I carried around at my mother's distance and anger and drinking is gone. Replaced with such an overwhelming sense of peace as I come to understand her role in my life. Because of the work she has allowed me to force us to do over the years, I have been able to understand where she came from and why she didn't have more to give me than she did.
The desperate feeling of wanting my father's love & attention is disappearing. I spent so much of my life focused on my anger with my mother, that I didn't see how badly my relationships with men were shaped by my drunk and emotionally & physically absent father. I was a daddy's girl.
I remember hearing from my maternal Grandmother, that my mom was too.