And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

September 26, 2003

Perhaps Not

Filed under: growth,her words — mark @ 11:57 am

I just read an article on One of my very favorite sites on the internet. They have such interesting stuff. This one was about sex. The author is a psychotherapist who works in New York. She was talking about a seminar she attended in New York. She is from Europe originally. There was a couple talking about their sex life. She reported that the couple who were being discussed had been married for about 10 years and had 2 children. The husband was not feeling excited by his wife, and the wife reported that she did not feel like having sex with him. The author of the article was talking about how Americans are goal oriented and too involved in having “open” and “honest” communication. She said that in talking with other non-American therapists at the conference they all decided that we are too inhibited. We need more mystery in our sex lives and that this will make eveything alright. We women need to understand that it is important to be more sexual with our men. That because we have been repressed in our upbringing, we are not sexual enough. Further that men have more of a need for sex, they need to be able to have their needs met, and that it is our job to see to that. What a bunch of hooey!!!

As a psychotherapist myself I have heard all of this as being the right way to counsel people. For that matter as a women I have heard this from men as a way to take care of them.

Let me begin with a simple statement. Sex is good. Sex can be a wonderful part of life. Sex is normal and appropriate. Sex carries on the species and this is important. I gave all of these disclaimers so that I could say some other things and not leave any impression that I am anti-sex or anything close to that. But I will say that we have been far too wrapped up in sex (and by this I mean intercourse) as being the most important thing there is. Because we think that intercourse is the only expression of sexuality it becomes the most important thing.

From my prespective a more important thing is intimacy and sensuality. I have been married for 6 years and what I am learning is that there is no right way to do anything. If we can let things happen naturally it will work. Now this does not mean just mean drifting along and not paying attention to the relationship, it means being very connected and doing work of being human. I think the hardest part of being in a relationship is building the intimacy. There are many components of this. Each person, or couple, has to decide what this looks like. We bring with us so much from our childhood and from the societal norms. We tend to want the other person to be what we want so that we can be alright. This does not work. No one can be what we want them to be. In my case I am in this relationship with someone who can give me a safe place to grow. If I become bored or unhappy whose issue is that? It is mine. I am the only one who can decide what is going on with me. My partner is not responsible for what I feel or do not feel. We have discovered that our relationship does not look like what we saw portrayed on television or the movies. The point of being together is to help each other grow and learn and discover who we are.

Perhaps when people began to come together as couples they did so in order to have families so as to help the species continue. But today we are not truly in need of more people so this reason is not quite as pressing. Marriage is about many things. Having children is perhaps one for many, but not all. Today marriage is more about two people coming together and creating an atmosphere wherein each can find what they need so as to discover who they are.

I think that when we discovered the need for formal marriage it was about children. It was very important to have them, they were important for many reasons. Helping on the farm or the family business, carrying on the family name, etc. We also died about the time they grew up. So marriage was about children. Today we live much longer. The children are grown and gone long before we die and so marriage is not just about children. There is no right way to be married. I am not trying to say people should do anything in particular to have a good marriage. I think marriage is an opportunity to discover who we are. This can be accomplished in many different ways. One example of this is that the traditional roles may fit you, or perhaps they do not. Perhaps some men are better at childcare or cooking. Perhaps some women are better wage earners. I think marriage can be a wonderful situation when everyone gets to find out what is important to them. When we struggle to fit into the traditional, when it is not truly you, perhaps it actually restricts us. The point I am trying to make here is that marriage is not about sex or children or doing what is expected. It is about finding out who you actually are. Letting this happen is not easy. We are rather goal-oriented and perhaps that puts unrealistic expectations on the marriage and our partner. What is the goal? The only one who can truly say is you. Your marriage is your own. Whether you are the “perfect couple” as defined by society, and we have all seen how well this works by looking at the divorce rate, or your marriage is between the person who will help you grow is up to you. It would be helpful to look at marriage as something vibrant and alive as opposed to some amorphous “thing” that is driven by arcane and outdated ideas. In so doing this would be an opportunity to be with the person who helps us grow and discover the truth of ourselves as opposed to the one that “looks” like our mate.

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