When Our Sex is Bad

How to tell him he's lousy in bed?

How to tell him he’s lousy in bed?

We all know that deep love and intimacy seal the deal when it comes to longevity and commitment in a relationship. We also know that relationships suffer from a number of negative issues including poor communication, inattention, infidelity, abuse, boredom and this list can go on. What happens, however, when the sex is really bad? Many individuals may not mind complaining about a cheating, abusive or disloyal spouse but how many of us want to complain about bad sex? On a good day, many of us adults who do have sex behave as if we don’t and even for those of us who do, admitting that we’re having problems in this area is akin to acknowledging some type of adult failure; or so we think.

I was made very aware of this sexual disconnect among adults only too recently. While promoting my book “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain” it was amusing to note the embarrassed stares, self-conscious giggles or incredulous glances away from the book’s title by a number of adults passing by. This of course included married couples. It was obvious that in spite of our society’s seeming openness about sex, many adults are still uncomfortable confronting their own sexuality. If some of us remain so deeply embarrassed by sex, how then do we navigate the turbulent waters of a sexual relationship where the sex is bad with a capital B? Do some of us even know what bad sex is? Are we even remotely in touch with our own sexual needs and desires? Are we informed by good sexuality education or are we still operating at the level of sexual myths and conjecture?

If we’re to specifically improve the quality of our sexual relationship and if we’re to enhance the overall quality of our relationship with our spouse, then honest communication about the state of our sex is imperative. One of the complexities of relationships is that although we can have a very loving partner who meets our needs in several ways, that individual can still be pretty lousy in the sack. When It comes down to it, however, when we’re in love and our heart is in the right place, great sex is not something we want to experience with someone else; we want to experience it with the one we have committed to. How then can we move our sex from bad to good?

1. Clarify what we want: knowing what we’re looking for in our sexual relationship is the first step on the journey towards ridding ourselves of bad sex. This means being in-tuned with our own bodies, including our sexual needs and preferences. If we’re holding residual shame and embarrassment about how our body looks, if we’ve never looked at our genitals and remain clueless about our own pleasure centres, then chances are, we’re in no position to articulate our desires. Being in-tuned sexually therefore involves acknowledging and accepting our sexuality. This can strengthen our sexual confidence and reduce the sense of trepidation which can keep us silent in the face of dissatisfaction.

2. Communicate clearly but sensitively: Acknowledging our own needs can embolden us to share what is necessary with our partner. Communication in this area should not be designed to humiliate, thereby fostering a sense of inadequacy. We want our guy to know that satisfying us is within his reach and that together, we can learn to enrich our sexual experience for the benefit of us both. If for example, the male partner is plagued with premature ejaculation, working together to overcome this challenge can enhance the quality of sex for both individuals. Communication should also seek to affirm the positive aspects of the relationship first, before zeroing in on the inadequacies. We should never seek to convey a sense of hopelessness.

3. Release Inhibitions: Sometimes our sex is bad because we’re too uptight; we haven’t learnt the fine art of surrendering to the moment. Our inhibitions and skewed expectations can keep us locked into a zone of performance-anxiety which makes our intimate time with our partner both stilted and burdensome. Understanding that our sexual success is not one-sided but demands our own participation and cooperation can be a significant step in the right direction. This can release the burden of responsibility we as women can sometimes place on our spouse to “give” us an orgasm and encourages us to “own” our sexual pleasure. A more participatory approach can add some much needed zest to our love life, opening it up to exciting experimentation, which in turn has the potential to improve its overall quality.

 

Is Your Sex Abusive?

signs_of_an_abusive_relationship-290x160Very often when we think of sexual abuse, we imagine a young girl or boy being taken advantage of by an adult. Most of us get fairly riled up by the idea of an adult, who should know better, seeking sexual gratification through a child or adolescent. What many of us fail to recognize, however, and I’m going to mash toes here, is how abusive many of our sexual relationships are even within the context of marriage. Yes; commitment may be great, but it does not automatically “sanctify” every “type” of sex which may occur in such a relationship. And by “type” I’m not talking here about peripheral things like positions or oral sex. Many of us would be hesitant to admit that we have been victims, or even the perpetrators of abusive sex because very often we don’t recognize abuse even when it’s staring us straight in the face. So what exactly am I talking about?

Any sex that seeks to control, is negatively conditional, dehumanizes or ignores the choice of the other individual is abusive sex. Relationship sexual abuse is not exclusive to the unmarried, under-aged nor is it confined to rape. It occurs in all contexts. But we live in a peculiar society which teaches women, almost exclusively, that keeping their man, means submitting to his sexual advances every time, in spite of the status of the relationship. Of course women are free to do what they choose with their bodies. Nonetheless, within the context of any sexual relationship, even marriage, women must also be cognizant of when the sexual behaviour of their partner begins to cross certain lines.

Sex becomes abusive when a woman must perform sexually to receive money for groceries, bills, to ensure her children are looked after or for her general upkeep. Abusive sex is also indicated when sex is used to override every other relational concern. For instance, if a partner is repeatedly unfaithful, has contracted a sexually transmitted infection, is physically violent or even verbally abusive but refuses to change, seek help or to discuss these concerns and seeks only to maintain sex in the relationship, then such sex is abusive.

In the context of marriage, while Biblical teaching may advance “ownership” of each other’s bodies, it also speaks of the concept of mutual submission. Inherent in this teaching is the value of dialogue and compromise as higher order skills in any marriage relationship. This means that partners are free, whether male or female, to express how they truly feel on an issue and the implication of mutual submission is that such expressions should be met with an attitude of tolerance and negotiation. It does not suggest rail-roading over each other’s feelings to get what he/she wants even when that thing is perceived as the right to sex.

When women or men are objectified sexually, so that they are only acknowledged or valued for their sexual performance, then such individuals are also experiencing some level of sexual abuse. This type of sexual relationship in fact dehumanizes individuals, is extremely genital-focused and reduces the partner to nothing more than an object for sexual gratification. The individual is not valued for his/her core personality, preference or needs.

The problem with sexually abusive behaviour in a relational context is that many individuals have grown to accept such behaviour as the norm. In fact, many of the behaviours mentioned here would not even be perceived as abuse, especially in a marital context or for those in long-term relationships. Abuse, however, is any behaviour which seeks to treat another in a harmful or offensive way. While sex may be important for intimacy, it is not the only aspect of a relationship which requires attention. Honesty, integrity and mutual respect are of an even higher value because they have the power to define the entire relationship.

When spouses look out for the greater good of each other and of the relationship, then this can only enhance the quality of their sexual relationship. If an individual, however, feels powerless, threatened, victimized or dehumanized in the name of sex, then this may be a very dangerous relationship requiring rapid intervention or a quick exit. Ultimately, we must be empowered to make those choices which support our emotional and sexual safety and health.

 

When Your Partner Holds a Bedroom Grudge

What happens to your sex life when your partner holds a bedroom grudge? Well, chances are you may not be getting the type of sex you desire or think you deserve. And what’s a ftr-stk60811cor.jpgbedroom grudge anyway? As its name suggests, a BG is played out when one partner either plays hard to get in the sack, fails to cooperate with new sexual requests or with experimentation, is emotionally absent during sex or point blank refuses to have sex with his/her partner.

In the context of our intimate relationships, grudges are perhaps pretty common. They represent expressed unforgiveness as a result of unresolved anger or failure to communicate on some critical issue. BG’s are of course no different. They can originate outside the bedroom, where some insensitivity shown is passed over to the sexual relationship or they can originate right in the sack, where a consistent failure to meet specific sexual needs coupled with poor communication on the issue, leads to this response. When we find our sex lives crippled by a BG what should our response be?

Well of course if there is little to no satisfactory sex happening, both you and your spouse are likely to be highly strung. Be that as it may, biting the bullet to confront the issue at stake, is your only recourse and hope for bringing healing.  Since meeting anger with anger is never a good idea, try defusing the situation by meeting your partner away from the volatile point of contact, (the bedroom or home). A neutral location like a coffee house, restaurant or park may be a good place to start the dialogue. Expose your vulnerability by honestly communicating your hurt and pain at the situation and communicate your willingness to see things changed. Use your eyes to communicate and assure your partner of how much you miss him/her. Use disarming “I statements” to own your own pain without projecting blame on your partner and further alienating him/her. Having penetrated this critical stage begin to ask some pointed questions and encourage your partner’s honesty, even if the answers are painful.

For example, you may ask:

1. What have I done to offend you?

2. What can I do to make our love-life better?

3. In what way am I a bad lover?

4. Can you forgive me for angering/ hurting/ offending you?

5. How can we improve our communication?

6. How can I better meet your sexual needs?

Of course these are suggested themes to your questions and should be tailored to suit your individual situation. The point is to create a context for loving confrontation and clear dialogue. When the BG is a direct consequence of the quality of the bedroom action, then mere words without active follow through will not do the trick. So what should you do in this instance?

Demonstrate a willingness to expand your sexual repertoire where necessary, hone your lovemaking skills, buy a good book about sexual technique, consult a detailed manual or watch an educational video which may help, and remember that practice makes perfect. Let your partner see that you are actively trying to improve. If it’s a medical issue like erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse or premature ejaculation, see your doctor. If your challenges are psychological; a counselor or terapist might help. If your partner really loves you, then perfecting your love dance should not be a harsh chore which you do alone. Rather, it should be a liveable, laughable experience in which you both share and learn.

 

 

Are There Really Different Types of Sex?

“Not all sex is alike…There’s intimate sex, anonymous sex, gentle and sensitive sex, rough and aggressive sex, sex that expresses love, sex that’s purely physical, sex that is emotionally connecting, sex that is isolating, raw sex, spiritual sex, naughty sex, sterile sex, boring sex, passionate sex, spontaneous sex, planned sex, playful/experimental sex, routinized/scripted sex, selfish sex, selfless sex, self-conscious sex, freeing-abandoning sex…” Dr. Richard Nicastro

I read the above as the opening paragraph of an article entitled “Passionate Sex Creating a Sexual Playground Together” by Dr. Richard Nicastro, a psychologist and marriage counsellor. While I think I understand what the good doc was trying to say, I do wonder about the accuracy of his initial thesis. Is it that there are different “types” of sex floating around out there in the relationship stratosphere for us to grab hold of, or is it that we encounter sex differently at various times based on our needs, experiences and understanding of sex?

Our natural relationship journey will see us encountering sex differently.

He went on to describe a multi-layered sexual-self which interacted with sex in different ways at different times.  With this I wholeheartedly agreed. A couple could then experience a dilemma if the factors which drove their sexual relationship in early marriage changed after a number of years. For example, in the early years of hot, heavy passion, a couple may take certain sexual risks and try to “push the envelope” to add dynamism to the sex life. As the years roll out however, the sexual-spark may become dimmed and as a result how sex is enjoyed, may change. But is it that this reflects two separate “types” of sex or is the couple merely responding differently to their natural relationship journey? And is sex solely determined by our individual experiences and preferences or is there such a thing as a preferred sexual ideal that we should all strive towards?

If we carefully examine how we look at the other aspects of our lives, we will admit that in most areas, we respect the concept of an ideal scenario. We generally believe that the principles of a healthy body include good diet and exercise. Even though we may not always practise it, we believe that sound financial management includes the ability to save, invest and also to be disciplined and frugal in spending. The level of dedication and hard work that we apply to our studies, to a large degree determine the success we experience in our careers and so on. We understand fully in most other areas of our lives; that fulfilment is contingent upon how much we are willing to commit to the principles of the ideal.

Although a few of us will succeed in life while apparently “breaking all the rules”, this does not deny the existence of various success ideals. For example, for the entrepreneur who never had a formal education, but has a natural knack for making money, the principles of good financial planning must still hold sway if he is to be a successful businessman. An accomplished leader is capable of balancing the servant-hood of leadership with his/her ability to direct; this is the preferred scenario of good leadership.

If we accept this understanding of a “success ideal” in other areas of our lives, why are we perhaps unwilling to apply this concept to sex? Is it because where sex is concerned there is often an underlying thread of selfishness which urges us to place our own needs first, do as we please and to hell with the consequences? Are we afraid that the idea of an ideal may perhaps curtail some of our sexual freedom?

While I do agree that sex is experienced differently based on what we know and understand about it, I still believe that our human sexuality should be affected by what I term the basic, intrinsic, created values of sex. And sex is too important an activity not to require some forethought.

Sex is too important an activity not to deserve some forethought.

Like anything else in life, sex is not valueless and simply confined to our individual realities. It does not exist in a vacuum but is connected in a larger than life way, to our collective humanity; after all through it the human race survives. This is why our sexual decisions affect those closest to us; it’s never just about “doing what makes us happy!” If it were, then rape and abuse as “sexual experiences” would be acceptable.  These sexual values or principles, of which I speak, include selflessness, serious commitment, honesty, vulnerability and openness to giving and receiving pleasure without shame. Of course this list is not exhaustive. While we may have relatively good sex without following these said values, I do believe that our connection with them has the potential to give us the best sex ever. So whether sex is perceived to be naughty or nice, spontaneous or planned, sensitive or aggressive, then these values should still hold sway; especially in a committed relationship like marriage.

Instead then of separating the act of sex from the individual by giving sex a label or type, it may perhaps be important to reframe how we perceive it. In other words, there is sex, but then there are different types of people at different levels of emotional maturity, with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, needs and expectations who will then experience sex in all the ways that Dr. Nicastro suggested.

Does this mean that some of us may not prefer to have sex in a way that is distinctive or individual to us at any given point in time? Of course we will have our individual sexual tastes and preferences and these are certainly not set in stone. Be that as it may, it is important to recognise that on the road to great sex, we should perhaps strive towards discovering the “sexual ideals” which are more likely to grant us a fulfilling sexual relationship.