“Sex can be boring.”
Perhaps THE most triggering words ever spoken by to me my husband, Ian.
I was reading an article in a men’s health magazine that suggested sex in one’s 40s can get boring after years of marriage.
A 44-year-old woman looked over at my 45-year-old-husband of 15-years, and had laughingly asked: “Was sex ever boring?”
“Sometimes sex can be boring,” was my husband’s response.
I was NOT expecting THAT.
Granted we were both sleep deprived thanks to a 3:00 am alarm to catch an early morning flight from Toronto to Denver and now crammed together with screaming children.
It was not exactly the ideal setting for a sexual heart-to-heart.
I started crying on the plane, and then continued crying in my hotel room after an exchange of harsh words and a round of “You are f*cking kidding me!”
My husband’s words felt brutal, cutting, and totally confounding.
Not only did his comment seem flippant and off-handed, but it was also the first I had heard of this.
We had just had great sex, or so I thought, a day ago.
We had sex often, and our level of desire for each other even 20-years into our relationship felt like a house on fire.
I felt like a Goddess with him – safe, seen and beautiful. Sexual connection with my husband was not something I ever gave a second thought to.
In short, I thought our sex life was sensational.
And it seemed in 4 simple words – Sex can be boring – it had all evaporated.
I felt judged. I felt like a disappointment. I felt panicked and scared.
So, what was scary for me?
If my husband did feel this way then why couldn’t I hear that, and have a conversation?
The answer is because sex was not always like this for me.
With my husband, I felt safe to be vulnerable, alive, seen, and open, and it had taken me years to feel that way.
I had been brutally raped in my early 20s by a boyfriend who ended the relationship with a few fists to the face and torn clothing in an open field.
My sexual relationship with my husband had helped to heal that.
There were nights crying in my husband’s arms, and moments of rage that he just allowed me to express. Then there was this intense desire for a man, this man, in a new and profound way that felt insatiable. I felt alive as a sexual being and as a woman in ways I didn’t know possible
Men and women can help each other heal sexual trauma THROUGH SEX itself, and in fact, my husband and I teach this to couples and individuals as help them create deeper intimacy.
I won’t even get into how triggered my impostor syndrome was in that moment too!
So how do you talk to your partner about sex, especially if there is past trauma?
#metoo and others opened up the much-needed conversation about sexual trauma and go a long way in creating higher levels responsibility, protection and legislation, but I would suggest we also need to know how to have a conversation about sex as individuals and in relationship that doesn’t continue to traumatize men and women.
This experience with Ian showed me also showed me where I still have work to do. I can own that. I can take responsibility for my healing.
Secondly, it also showed me my pattern of fear and blame from my childhood. I went to a place of fearing he was going to reject me, leave me, f*ck another woman, and really that was FAR from what he said.
Lastly, it also made me think deeper about HOW to have these kinds of conversations as a relationship coach and in my own marriage.
So here are 3 Things Never to Do When Talking About Sex:
1. Don’t Assume – I totally ASSUMED that sex was amazingly awesome all the time in my marriage for my husband, and that he was going to say what I wanted to hear! I did not REALLY want to have a conversation at that moment. I assumed I was right. Yikes!
2. Don’t Ignore – Once we both calmed down, my husband shared with me that he did mean sex was boring, but that he had asked for some variations which we had not incorporated. He said it felt like it was getting a little routine.
3. Don’t Be Flippant, Tired, or In Public – Duh, duh and duh! This all could have been avoided if we had both been more centered, had planned to talk about sex and held the space for us both to share what we wanted. Do not attempt to do that when you’re overly tired, in a cramped airplane and annoyed. Do not throw old hurts, wounds and triggers at each other, especially when talking about sex. And most of the time, do not even try to do this alone.
Bonus – Remember, We’re All A Little Scared – Love, intimacy and sex can be a little scary. It calls on us to be vulnerable, to own our shit and to heal it, yet many of us fear that we in fact unlovable.
We fear being rejected, abandoned and cast off so we react and defend. It’s good to just notice that in yourself, and to give your lover some breathing room if they are triggered, but it IS important to let them know you are still here for them.
We all have an opportunity to heal THROUGH love, sex and relationship, but it’s not always smooth.
Sex can be a beautiful, wonderful, raucous and glorious experience and learning how to talk about sex is essential.
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