Many people-more women than men, believe that to have sexual intimacy there must be emotional intimacy. This is not always the case. Some people actually use sexual intimacy to improve the marriage.
Ester Perel defines “intimacy” as “into me see.” So if we start with this idea, how do we get there?
The war between the genders has been based on the idea that we women want to feel connected and we typically do this with conversation. We say to our men, “why won’t you talk to me? Tell me about your day.” And our men resist. We women feel closer when we hear about the imperfections of our men. They, on the other hand, feel more whole when they are indépendant and safest when covering the vulnerabilities that we want to know about in order to feel close.
The relationship is carried in the conversation. It has to take place. This is best done between people who don’t criticize each other.
One way to create a safe environment is to do things together and talk about them. Invite your partner to do things that THEY enjoy. Talk optimistically on outings rather than about problems. Engage in activities that are interesting and engaging to relate and listen to. Study your partner to learn about them emotionally. Then suggest things to engage them. Naturally, this must be reciprocated.
If you are female, there is always the possibility that you are married to someone who is so fearful of women that he doesn’t unlock no matter what you try. Some men have been traumatized by emotional mothers who were mean, overdramatic, or needy. Sons raised in this environment may be damaged. Sometimes a good therapist can help.
What of sexual intimacy? One partner has a higher drive than the other.
The Gottmans, well known researchers in the field of marriage and family therapy, have found that the greatest aphrodisiac for most women is men helping with the housework. My female clients agree. Evening sex starts in the Morningstar the day before.
Another popular resolution is that the person with highest drive has sex in the manner preferred by the person with the lower drive and the person with the lower drive has sex as often as the person with the higher drive.
The research has shown that rejection activates the same centers of the brain activated by pain. Therefore, it is useful to talk to your partner about what happens inside you if rejection is happening. Often they don’t know.
Shame, depression, guilt, and anger can all inhibit sexual drive and performance those same emotions can block conversation.
Think about your early relationship. Has anything changed? Infidelity and other secrets as well can block intimacy in a relationship. In the end, if you can’t find the key, you may have to go in search of a good marriage and family therapist—on who has been married for a l o n g time and who has a life you would like to copy. They are hard to find Do your research and ask lots of questions of anyone you call. Download and read, A Buyer’s Guide to Psychotherapy by Dr. Frank Pittman. I send all who call me there to read about good couples therapy— what is is and what it isn’t. The relationship should be the patient, the therapist should be married and been so for a long time, and the therapist should be optimistic, having successfully survived life’s ups and downs themselves.
I worked with Frank for 28 years before his death. Who you see is paramount and determines what happens to you. Research your choice carefully.