Have you ever had this conversation? It’s not really about the sex…is it?
Bill and Sarah were at it again.
Over the last 15 years it seemed this conversation had no end. But that didn’t stop Bill from trying.
Bill: “We can’t just keep going on like this!”
Sarah: “Like what?”
Bill: “Once again you’re not in the mood for sex and I get rejected. I want to talk about it and you don’t. We never reach any resolution to this. And your indifference is pissing me off.”
Sarah: “I’m not indifferent. It’s just not the only thing I think about like it is for you.”
Bill: “It’s NOT all I think about, but it’s important to me to have an intimate connection with my wife.”
Sarah: “Oh, whenever you want to have sex you call it an “intimate connection” so I appear to be the cold-hearted witch. This is why I don’t want to talk about it. You make me feel horrible when we talk about it.”
Bill: “All I’m saying is that a healthy sex life is normal and we’re NOT normal and I don’t know how much longer I can deal with it. I can’t see me doing this for another 15 years.”
Sarah: “There’s a lot of other stuff in our marriage that isn’t normal either, you know.”
Bill: “Like what?”
Sarah: “Like the way you treat me, talk to me and criticize me. Is sex so important to you that you would leave me and our kids?!”
Bill: “No, yes, I mean I don’t know… argh…what kind of question is that? Who said anything about leaving?”
This is the same conversation Bill and Sarah have about every 6 months. It’s always the same. Bill tries his same logical approach to solving the sex problem and Sarah ends the conversation by challenging his dedication to his family.
It sounds like they aren’t even close to being on the same page in this discussion.
Actually, they are always on exactly the same page. Both are suffering from the same thing and it’s killing them and their marriage.
More than anything else, Bill and Sarah want to feel valued, respected, appreciated and truly loved. They both want to feel a sense of certainty in their marriage.
They just don’t know they are on the same page because their individual needs for feeling those things look very different. And because they appear so starkly different to each other their only option is to place blame and sulk away in resentment – for another 6 months.
Why it’s Not About the Sex
Bill and Sarah’s relationship had a very steamy beginning 15 years ago.
With a strong physical attraction and desire for each other, their first year together was full of the kind of sexual intimacy that kept their cups running over. They didn’t spend much time developing deeper emotional, intellectual or spiritual connections. In fact, those were uncomfortable, scary places to be avoided at all costs. They preferred to keep things light and fun.
Sex was the familiar, easy road to feeling valued, respected, appreciated and loved.
Until it wasn’t any longer.
Not long into their marriage they both started to feel empty and disconnected. Sarah wanted to feel the spark of attraction, aliveness and trust she felt in the beginning. Bill wanted to feel her unconditional desire, admiration and respect he thought would never fade.
As the intensity of their early attraction waned so did their ability to be light and fun with each other. Feeling happy and in love was supposed to be easy and it was getting harder. They both started to question if they ever really loved each other.
They judged the depth of their love by their individual feelings of “happiness”. They took no responsibility for creating love because they knew little about HOW to love. And the little they did know was way too risky – way too scary.
So without any other tools to dig deeper, they just stood their ground not knowing how to give what the other needed.
Sarah wanted to be treated better.
Bill wanted more sex.
In 6 months, they’ll have another conversation. The same conversation.
Are You Avoiding the Deep End?
The “deep end” is all about deciding to learn how to love one another.
It’s about Bill and Sarah trading in their “How happy am I?” measuring sticks for one that measures how well they are creating love. They have to want to learn how to love more than they want the other to make them happy. They must consciously decide to change their measuring stick!
Because a person who is stuck in the “How happy am I?” mode of measurement is blinded by their self-interests. They are giving up responsibility for their own happiness. And when they give up that responsibility, they also give up their power to think, say and do anything that will create feelings of love in their partner.
This is the challenge for Bill and Sarah.
They both need to switch their focus from feeling happy and in love to creating happiness and creating love.
Bill will need to go into the scary place of discovering what emotional intimacy and safety means for Sarah. He will have to WANT to become a man and husband who learns how Sarah’s needs for attraction and trust are met. Then he will need to turn his knowledge into action.
Sarah will need to face her fear of being more vulnerable and comfortable in creating sexual polarity. She will have to WANT to become a woman and wife who learns how Bill’s needs for admiration and desire are filled in many ways beyond sex. Then she will need to step into her fear and take action.
Bill and Sarah’s unproductive, semi-annual conversations need to be replaced by something much deeper. They need to discover the joy and confidence in becoming partners who want to create love with each other. Then they will find where happiness, trust, respect and good sex really come from.
I wrote an e-book for men who are tired of walking on eggshells and want the confidence to create something new in their relationship. Get your free copy of the Hard-to-Swallow Secret About Saving Your Marriage by clicking HERE.