Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sexual disconnections or "hum-drum" sex

Early this morning with coffee and book in hand, I was sitting on the porch overlooking our garden, watching the birds fly in for a landing on the edge of the birdbath to get a drink... a bath... or both. As I was reading a passage in Nicholas Sparks novel: "The Notebook" I was reminded of an issue that regularly comes up in topic on marriage forums.

The issue is this--- Wives complain of their husbands being too rushed during sex. They claim that it leaves them feeling that their husbands are only in it for their own sexual pleasure. They also wonder if it would even matter to the husbands who they are having sex with. The husbands complain that their wives experience so much difficulty becoming aroused that they wonder if the wives are ever really as into the sex as they are.

In "The Notebook" I read this passage about the two main characters who are madly in love:

"He was on all fours above her, his knees astride her hips. She lifted her head and kissed his chin and neck, breathing hard, licking his shoulders, and tasting the sweat that lingered on his body. She ran her hands through his hair as he held himself above her, his arm muscles hard from the exertion. With a little tempting frown, she pulled him closer, but he resisted. Instead he lowered himself and lightly rubbed his chest against her, and she felt her body respond with anticipation. He did this slowly, over and over, kissing every part of her body, listening as she made soft, whimpering sounds while he moved above her.

He did this until she couldn't take it anymore, and when they finally joined as one, she cried aloud and pressed her fingers hard into his back. She buried her face in his neck and felt him deep inside her, felt his strength and gentleness, felt his muscle and his soul. She moved rhythmically against him, allowing him to take her wherever he wanted, to the place she was meant to be."

After reading the passage, I wondered---

What are those couples on marriage forums doing or not doing that causes such a disconnect in their marriage bed? Why aren't most of their sexual encounters a "celebration" of sorts? What Sparks has his characters doing in this passage is not all that unusual for a sexual session between two IRL people who are in love.

Is poor communication regarding sexual needs and preferred love making styles at that much of a low for so many IRL couples that they are allowing it to take away from the ecstasy, the passion, they could be regularly experiencing? Why do couples struggle so to recognize and communicate sexual needs and desires? In your own marriage, is this an issue? If so, what do you think is the root cause of it? Have you thought about possible solutions to resolve the issue? Have you discussed it with your spouse?

I've said this before-- Emotional intimacy is where GR and I struggle the most... where we have to work the hardest. With these sort of sexual issues, I am at a loss in understanding them but I would like to delve into a discuss about it if others here share my interest and concerns about it.


If any thing is sacred, the human body is sacred.
-Walt Whitman

12 comments:

Who am I said...

As you look back on your years of refusal, what answers would you have had back then to the questions you are asking now?

Gemma said...

Gemma said:
"What Sparks has his characters doing in this passage is not all that unusual for a sexual session between two IRL people who are in love."

wai,

The comment that I quoted here is key in answering my questions. When I was refusing, our concept of "love" or "being in love" was so warped. There really is little comparison to how GR and I felt about each other "then" vs. "now".

Then, we were generally more self-centered. Ironically, we both regularly used the phrase "I love you" with each other but we were not really "in love", if that makes sense. The love and passion had sadly dwindled to little or nothing.

In my article, I mentioned how emotional intimacy is where GR and I have to work the hardest. But we ARE aggressively working on it now where before we weren't. Both of us are regularly willing to go to the nth degree to improve our marriage so the sex naturally comes out passionate.

Perhaps for some couples, sex isn't as optimal as it could be because one or both of them aren't putting their all into the relationship? Laziness? It's hard to be passionate in bed when you're lukewarm outside TMB.... like if a spouse or a couple allow daily frustrations of life to take priority over the marriage.

Yet for others, sex may simply be their struggle area just as the emotional connection is the biggest challenge in my marriage. For these, I would say to acknowledge it and then vow to aggressively tackle it. Don't allow a marital struggle to eat you for lunch.

What are our marriage goals? (I seem to say this often, don't I?) I've lived my marriage the other way, not caring enough to work hard at the issues. Now my goals take priority and GR and I are learning how to quickly recognize an oncoming issue before it develops into a monster.

You have to read the entire story to see this but what was illustrated in this passage of Sparks book was a point in their relationship where if actions could talk, theirs would have said, "I'm through with the pain of holding back. I'm through with people and things in life and even myself keeping us apart." And they finally began loving each other in full abandonment. Not only was the sex scene passionate but their general relationship took a huge turn for the better.

This couple knew they needed to work hard in order to really enjoy a life together. I think of that quote: "We are the captain of our ship." We really do possess what it takes to guide our marriage in the right direction. Will we do it?

If I'm remembering correctly... don't quote me... but I thought I read that the story of "The Notebook" was loosely based on the lives of his wife's grandparents. What a legend they left to their children and grandchildren!

Gemma said...

wai,

>>>Where are you looking for ways to increase the sexual connection? Are you working with your spouse on this or does it seem like you're working against each other? If you are clueless as to the reason why most of your sexual encounters are not a 'celebration', how have you taken your "research" to the next level? Have you tried marriage books? [Have you read Schnarch's "Passionate Marriage", btw?] Have you tried counseling? In other words--- Have you set marriage goals and what are you doing to work towards those goals?

COMMUNICATION SEEMS SO DIFFICULT ABOUT SO MANY ISSUES- NOT JUST SEX.

>>>OK, this is good to recognize that communication, in general, needs work. Set a goal and come up with possible ways to reach the goal. Have you told dw that you fear being rejected by her? She needs to know. If talking to dw produces mixed reactions, why? We get nowhere if we see problems but are too paralyzed to dig deeper and find reasons and possible solutions.

I DO AGREE THAT EMOTIONAL INTIMACY IS A STRUGGLE FOR US, AND MY WIFE SAYS THAT WHEN WE GET THAT RIGHT, THEN THE SEX INTIMACY FOLLOWS FOR HER.

>>>You know, I used to say the same thing to GR... for 25+ years. It just doesn't work that way. In every troubled marriage it seems that one or both spouses would rather stand there and demand what they want. The sad part is that needs aren't fulfilled through demands. If they are, they are only grudgingly fulfilled; there is no love in it. Who wants that? What DOES work is sacrificial giving in love... giving in such a way that even if you receive nothing in return for weeks or months, you feel compelled to keep on giving simply because you know it's the right thing to do.

JUST SUCH A CHALLENGE ACHIEVING EMOTIONAL INTIMACY, BETWEEN TIREDNESS, DIFFERENT COMMUNICATION STYLES, BURIED HURTS THAT CREEP UP, SOMETIMES UNAWARE.

>>>Do you mean tiredness from lack of sleep or something else? If lack of sleep, why is that? Kids up too late? Dw up too late? You up too late? Get everyone in bed early. Then you and dw can take regular time to talk. If you have buried hurts then they weren't resolved and shouldn't have been buried. Dig them back up and resolve them. Communication styles are a hindrance? Go to TMB Bookstore and find a good book on communication or ask on the board for recommendations. Have you researched any of the books that I listed here in the right side bar? They are all books that we've purchased since Dec 2006, when I was awakened. For any books that you hear of, you can read reviews at amazon to get an idea if you think it might help.

WE ARE NOT IN A BAD PLACE EMOTIONALLY OR SEXUALLY...
JUST PICKED UP THE SEX STARVED MARRIAGE BY MICHELLE WEINER DAVIS- LOOKS LIKE IT HAS GOOD INFO ABOUT AND FOR BOTH HIGH DRIVE AND LOW DRIVE SPOUSES.

>>>When you say that things hinder emotional intimacy in your marriage like tiredness, buried hurts, strained communication... there is nothing good about that. Like any other personal issues, first step is to acknowledge that there is something that needs help. So many couples make the mistake of thinking that things aren't so bad as long as they're not heading to refusing, affairs, divorce, etc. Why wait? If things aren't great, do something now. And if this book doesn't fix the emotional issues, then what's the game plan?

wai, next time you post, try using >>> (arrows) in front of your answers or ::: (colons) in front of my questions. It's easier to read than ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS :-).

Who am I said...

Thanks for your comments and questions. I am thinking about all you said.

We have a family pow wow with daughter about college financing now, and then leave tommorrow, for three days for a seminar.

May or may not get answers back to you, soon.

Gemma said...

No problem, wai. I didn't necessarily post questions to try and force you to reply in public. Some of what I asked may be too personal for you so please, feel free to just take it in, ponder and discuss as much as possible with your dw.

Often, I throw questions out there when I write articles and comments simply because- as I write, the questions come to my mind so I rightly or wrongly assume that others may benefit from pondering on them. What my readers do with it is up to them. Always, I enjoy feedback from my writing but don't ever feel that you're expected to share things that are too personal.

Have a safe trip.

Who am I said...

Dear Gemma,

Thanks for spending time with your comments. Thanks for helping me to understand that you weren't necessarily expecting an answer to ever question.

Here are some of the answers in no particular order, just as they come to me.

I have read several of your resources and found alot of help.
Love and Respect
Sheet Music
Intimate Issues
For Men and For Women Only ( my wife and I have discussed some)

In the bookstores I have read good chunks of Passionate Marriage, and She Comes first.

Yes, my wife knows I fear her rejection.

We have had alot of training in various communication tools, sometimes it just takes alot of emotional energy to slow down, really use them, and truly listen to our partner.

I agree with you, that it is work to keep the emotional intimacy going.

We do both keep proactively working at our relationship- we just wish it came easier.

Well that's it for now,until I think of more, plus I want to post this much before something happens to it, like it did last night.

Gemma said...

You and dw take time each day or at the least, each week, to work on communication skills. You will reap many benefits from it in your marriage. If it's hard to remember, put it on your "to do" list.

Anonymous said...

I tried to comment this morning but think I did it wrong, Gemma? Signed, "delighinmyhubby"

Who am I said...

Just thought you would be encouraged to know that we use some communication skills we have learned, on an almost daily basis.

It does make a positive difference.

Thanks

Hope your dr. appt goes or went ok.

Gemma said...

Every little bit does make a difference, wai.

CT-scan went well. I see the doc and get CT results on Thurs Aug 14. Thanks.

delightinmyhubby from TMB said...

"Delightinmyhubby" here, still learning how to work this blog-posting method. Interesting blog on this subject, relatable! You were discussing and questioning if lack of communication brings on the hum-drum sex which the answer is "yes". The good thing though is that it can be turned into fantastic sex if communicated in a way that both spouses feel like it's forward motion in the sexual relationship, not criticism towards each other. That's what I was questioning on TMB - weighing the issue of "sacrificial giving" versus "hubby-if we don't both finish (and both desire to), don't even start". I think those of us feeling deprived post that things are not good and we need help phrasing the words to communicate to our spouses. For that we are grateful for communicators like you, Gemma, and others who are good with words to help us through the next step up the hill and out of the valley. Happy to say, I'm on top of the hill this week, tons of progress in more areas than expected. Thanks and praying for your physical situation this week with the Dr.

Gemma said...

While reading your comment I was reminded of that quote: "Keep your face to the sun and all the shadows will stay behind you."

It's all about making progress in the marriage... things improving, keeping things fresh and yes, that sacrificial giving from one spouse to the other.

Thanks for the prayers. I'm not a good sick person.