Lets talk about sex (men first)..
Our experience of working with couples at the Marriage people is that the four big topics which lead to the most conflict in relationships are money, kids, parents and in-laws and, yes, you guessed it, Sex! We are not immune to these issues ourselves and we are happy to share our own experiences of where we struggle and what we are learning. If this help others, then we are delighted.
We have decided to write a series of blogs and videos about sex. We’ve called it: 'Let’s talk about Sex'. Why? Because, frankly, couples NEVER do. The exception tends to be when we want to complain along the lines of "You never want to..." or "We don't have a sex life to speak of anymore". Griping aside, we don't communicate much at all about sex and that approach simply will never ever work. We're going to turn it on its head an encourage couples to talk about it and you could even use this blog as a stimulus to do so.
Men and sex
Katy and Rupert had a brief Sex Review, with their clothes on, and without the intention of having sex afterwards. They left all sexual emotion out of it and just communicated like they would about any other topic. "Urgh what.... talk about killing the moment or killing romance!" I hear you say. Yeah maybe, but great sex DOES NOT come from romantic moment upon romantic moment, it comes from ALL of the loving work that is done in the relationship OUTSIDE of the bedroom, where men or women don't get distracted by body parts. We will cover the topic “how to have more sex” in another blog, but right now back to our meeting.
Rupert: "Give me no holds barred feedback on what isn't working for you in sex and what would you like to change?"
Katy, looked a little bit uncomfortable and Rupert's immediate thought was she was thinking "Oh my gosh there is no way he can hear ALL of that", but he chose to postpone that judgment and be in the moment with Katyy whilst she figured out what she wanted to say. Sex isn't an 'easy' topic to talk about and her facial expression indicated her feeling uncomfortable about HER not about Rupert – and that's the first point to remember here DON'T take anything your partner says personally, they are speaking about them so don’t make it about you.
Katy: "Well sometimes I feel that you are trying to recreate porn, repeating what you have seen or trying to recreate what you think sex should be like, being very MAN about it, I would actually like you to submit more and be more tender, let me take some control".
Rupert was like – “OK, not a huge surprise, but to be more tender.........he thought he was 'tender'. But Katy was referring to submission, giving up the MAN taking his wife sex scene that he has seen a billion times that was not leading to a fulfilling sex life for Katy. Go figure, and to be honest he had no idea that was driving the way he was approaching sex. Rupert wisely chose to be grateful for the information.
Guys are terrible at talking to each other about sex, the conversation is brief and they usually are boasting. They assume they know everything there is to know about bringing a women to orgasm, or ‘making love’ because after all, they think that’s all there is to it. They have done their noble duty that day and their wives will never look at another man because of it......right?!?! Essentially, they just want to know that their penis works, is satisfying enough for their partners and they can perform when necessary. Men talking about vulnerability in sex is literally never going to happen and that’s what I want to address here.
Why do men find that so hard?
Pride - Women really understand the degree of pride that men carry around the bedroom and they have to be very careful with it because it’s so fragile. Men (and women) can easily become offended. If you want to cut a man down to size then ridicule his penis or his bedroom performance, he will be a driveling puddle of goop in seconds. There are ways you can dissolve this by loving him, giving him kind gentle feedback often, the more loved he feels the less pride he will feel he needs to hold on to.
Power - We live in a world where most of us have never had access to the kind of love we needed as children and that’s left some deep wounds. When wounded we feel vulnerable (not in a good way) and grabbing a hold of some power over someone or something makes us feel better, sex gives a huge opportunity for that. It’s just like pain relief when we have a headache, we'll do anything to get a hold of it. However, it comes at a big cost - not being able to care about our partners whilst we are on a power trip is one of them.
Their own pleasure - Sheesh so after spending most of the week totally in their heads and thinking through every conceivable problem they can have, men can feel incredibly lonely which they never talk about. Their need to relieve that loneliness by reaching for pleasure in the form of sex is an escape route for them, when they feel pleasure they can again, temporarily, feel good about themselves, they can overlook their shortcomings and screw ups, for a minute at least they can feel – enough. Which is how men really want to feel, all the time.
Men, what can we do better?
Porn - give it up, it is not conducive to building a true picture of how sex or happiness really looks, it can keep you stuck it a totally self-created world and only push you further away from the kind of healthy happy experiences that are critical for you and your partner. N.B. Wives and girlfriends if he is using porn, he is merely using a form of pain relief, it can be treated and doesn't mean you aren't enough for him, but it will need to be addressed if he is.
Communicate with your partner OUTSIDE of the bedroom – if you truly want to feel less alone then TALK to your partner. Rubbing up behind her whilst she is doing the dishes, simply will not work. Build a relationship with her. That’s what you really want, even it’s tempting to believe it’s all about sex, it isn’t. Be willing to take things slow if that’s what she wants. You’ve a lifetime to keep learning about each other. Ask her what she likes, and later, when the time is right let her show you. Love her outside of the bedroom and you will have more experiences in the bedroom.
Be open to feedback – it can be hard to hear that we aren’t perfect in any aspect of our lives. Our sexual performance is probably the most difficult to hear feedback about. Why? Because we attach so much of our worth to it. When you trust that you are a worthwhile human being regardless of your performance in or outside of the bedroom it will be MUCH easier for you to hear the kind of feedback that will enable you to better love your partner. You’ll both be happier for it and feel closer together.