Monday, July 26, 2010
Summer Reading (on Love, Sex and Intimacy)
This month I've got my head in a few good books on love, marriage, relationships and sex.
Hold me Tight by Sue Johnson and Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel, for starters. Both good reads if you are looking for ways to deepen intimacy and have better sex.
In my office, folks talk a lot about intimacy issues, both in the bedroom and out. There are so many different ways to understand each other and learn how to have good companionship, good sex and good times. And to sustain each other through bad ones.
Depending on who you ask or who you read, some say emotional closeness creates good sex, and some say good sex creates emotional closeness. Some say that its the words we use that really count. Others say its action, or body talk.
Some suggest that relationships get better when men learn how to use the right words with their woman. Others say relationships get better when women know how to (are willing to) use their bodies. Some say that even if orgasm is not the goal, sex is still crucial and life giving to the relationship. And that even if women are "not in the mood," the mood can and often does come around once physical intimacy starts.
There is great debate in current thinking about what causes the extremely high infidelity rate in America. Does little or bad sex lead to a cheating spouse? What about anger or frustration? Are people who go outside the marriage to be understood and forgiven? Or punished and put out?
Some marriages fall apart after infidelity. Others come back better than ever.
These days, some couples are choosing consensual sexual activity outside the marriage. This enrages some and enlightens others.
The debate goes on and on.
And then there are the if onlys.
If only....women understood how much most men need sex.
If only....men understood how much women need emotionally connected conversation.
If only.... men could read women's minds just a bit, and anticipate what women need.
If only ... women could understand that men don't like to be questioned about where they are, what time they will be home, or what took them so long to get milk.
I'm sure there are plenty more, but these are some of the ones that come up in my office a lot.
As therapists, we are trained to help people to talk freely. This goes for couples as well. The debate is still on about what makes a good long term relationship, how to sustain or reawaken desire. And how to stay faithful in a tempting world.
The discussion, in my opinion has to be about wishes too. And fantasies and longings, of course. Most of us have them all our lives. Its good to talk about them, I think. Lest emotional pain take over and color too much of how we feel or what choices we make.
It sometimes takes some sorting through the muck of difficult feelings, but when the debate is in a good place you'd be surprised how much better life can get.