The Sex-Focused Man

ambition-sexy-couple-09012012This discussion may seem like a moot point since it may be argued that all men are focused on sex. Without making the term “sex-focused” seem like some errant disease, it is important to note that sexual difference between men and women continues to plague relationships.

While this article is not meant to suggest that women are disinterested in sex, research does suggest that we tend to have a far more holistic view of our intimate relationships. As natural nurturers, we want to take care of, protect, and improve our relationships and of course this includes the sex. For us, sex is important but it is an aspect of the relationship; not the sum total by which it is defined.

Our men, on the other hand, often want to improve the frequency and quality of sex, while paying scant attention to other aspects of the relationship. This can be quite a problem when there are relationship issues like a lack of verbal communication or the need to apologise. Men can sometimes attempt, in these instances, to use sex as a substitute for discussion. Because, as women we are wired differently, we often will have none of this. No matter how good our man is in the sack, nothing beats actually saying “I love you” or “I’m sorry”.

Since women and men seem so much at cross-purposes on the issue of sex, how then do we navigate our relationships? How can we each be fulfilled in marriage when we’re coming from entirely different points of reference? Very often we reach a stalemate because we expect our partner to love as we do and experience our relationship as we do. This is not exactly fair since our hormonal wiring is different. Barring incidents where sex is used to manipulate, control or humiliate, as women, we perhaps need to come to terms with our partner’s relationship pulse; namely sex. Men by the same token must accept that their women are interested in a whole lot more than the latest sexual position, technique or the number of times they have sex in a week.

Adapting and demonstrating a willingness to walk the relationship through our partner’s shoes is perhaps the first step towards finding a resolution. This literally means understanding that sex is a male priority while love and relational health is a woman’s. While a husband may choose to relate or demonstrate love through sex, he must ask himself, does my wife feel loved or validated in each instance? Yes, being sexually desired and pleased is a vital part of an intimate relationship and as women we do value this but the tendency to use sex as a substitute for dialogue or as a short cut for deep relationship change can also be counterproductive. By the same token, as women, we must question how loved or appreciated our man can feel if we’re deliberately withholding sex or have adopted a casual attitude towards its place in our relationship.

This relationship challenge is also compounded by the fact that while men do focus on sex as critical, many are uncomfortable talking about its importance to them. Because this is seldom discussed, the result of inadequate sex from a man’s perspective is often bitterness, resentment, sulking and emotional withdrawal. Men are energized by sex in a way that we as women will perhaps never understand. As a result, its absence in the relationship can leave them feeling depleted, unloved, and less than manly. It is important that this critical need is communicated in marriage. While failure to do so exposes the relationship to being undermined, inadequate sex should never be readily used as an excuse for infidelity.

By the same token, inadequate emotional stimulation in a relationship and a disregard for the importance of communication, also contributes to a woman’s pervasive unhappiness. Women are energized by words and demonstrative love and would also appreciate their man’s “sacrifice” in this area. Most women don’t want to be simply viewed as an object for their man’s sexual release; we want to be appreciated as the multi-faceted creatures that we really are. When a woman is emotionally satisfied, the issue of sexual regularity and quality really becomes a non-issue.

Ultimately, men should not allow their focus on sex to cause them to emotionally disengage from their wives nor should women disconnect sexually because their emotional needs are unmet. The solution to the core difference in priority between men and women, rests in both individual’s willingness to meet the needs of the other and by so doing, demonstrate the essence of true love; selflessness.

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.

 

Sex After Infidelity

cheating-husbandAfter a confession or the discovery of sexual impropriety, a decision to stay together is going to be filled with challenges. One of the primary places where the effects of infidelity are likely to be experienced is the bedroom. How does a couple reclaim their sexual groove after one of them has cheated?

The Cheater
Waiting It Out: If you’re the guilty party it may be important to communicate that while you still want to connect sexually, you are willing to wait for as long as your partner needs, to feel emotionally ready to resume intimacy. This communicates genuine remorse and a willingness to be selfless; especially since your act of indiscretion will reek of selfishness.

Talking It Over: Understand that the period of waiting is likely to be punctuated by long questioning sessions which will pry for sexual details; it is likely that the victim of infidelity will be consumed by a need to know incidents and details of time and place. Curiosity may also be extended to the nature of sex acts participated in. This time can be made easier by not erecting further barriers with silence but by answering questions as honestly as possible.

Sensitivity In The Sack: Most likely, your partner will be consumed with thoughts of the other man or woman. It is imperative that you go slowly when the time for lovemaking comes or at least take the lead or cue from your partner who has been hurt. This sensitivity should include lots of verbal affirmations which are intimate and loving. Be sure to let your partner know why you married her, how much he is loved and how much you appreciate her staying in the relationship. Affirm your partner’s beauty or brawn and use loads of eye contact which confirm how truly sorry you are.

Maximising The Moments: Sex with your spouse after confessing an affair is likely to be more about emotional and spiritual re-bonding than about the quality of an orgasm. Use this time, nonetheless, to cement your reconnection by focusing on your spouse’s pleasure. The vulnerability that occurs, because everything is out in the open, can actually increase the intensity of passion.

The Cheated
Admit Your Pain: There is no greater disservice you can do to your marriage then to attempt to trivialize the impact of an affair. It is imperative that you articulate your disappointment and hurt. This may involve screaming, crying, throwing things, journaling, talking to a counselor or even moving out of the bedroom for a while. If you are to experience great sex again without feeling victimized, sharing the depth of your pain with your spouse is critical.

Focus On You: There is a huge temptation after being cheated on to blame yourself—your lack of attractiveness, lack of sexiness and the like. This is particularly true of women. It will take a Herculean effort at this time to reach inside yourself to find the worthwhile, sensual woman who deserves to be loved despite your spouse’s act of indiscretion. For husbands as well, images of your wife making love to another man can be disconcerting to say the least. It is critical, therefore, to disassociate yourself sexually from what your spouse did and to refuse to accept blame. It is also critical to pay attention to your own sexual health by getting tested for any STDs.

Resist The Temptation To Compare: Wondering if you are better in bed than your spouse’s lover is likely to be an obsessive thought but is actually counter-productive. Studies consistently show that many have affairs while still having great or adequate sex at home. The motivation for an affair usually has little to do with the quality of sex and tends more to be linked to life-challenges, transitions, depression, a weak moment or feelings of inadequacy. When these thoughts come, focus on how you can make your love life even better. Dwell on the fact that you and your partner have decided to stay together; this must mean something in terms of how you feel about each other.

For Both of You

Putting Sex in Perspective: After the confession of an affair, resuming sexual intimacy may be the last thing on your minds as a couple. Anger, bitterness, resentment and remorse are likely to be the dominant emotions and not sexual passion or desire. While communication about the affair and even counselling by a professional will be critical at this stage, resuming an exclusive sexuality in your relationship is also important. Sex, however, should not be used to cloak or cover the serious issues which may have contributed to the infidelity in the first place.

Redefine To Reconnect: If you, your marriage and your sex life are to survive this juncture, it is critical that you seek to redefine your marriage. This involves acceptance of the affair as an event of the past which cannot be altered. This process is, of course, a lot easier if the guilty partner cooperates in these efforts by developing new levels of openness and honesty. The result is likely to be improved communication and greater levels of intimacy, which are often precursors to a better sexual relationship.

Denise J Charles is Director & Counsellor/Coach at Better Blends Relationship Institute e mail betterblends@gmail.com

When You Are Not In a Sexual Groove

boredLet’s picture it. You come in from work feeling a bit tensed and tired. You undress and pop into the shower for a long steamy bath. You step out to dress hoping to unwind to a wonderful movie, magazine or book; you know, some good old me time. Then you sense it. You’re being watched by a pair of hungry eyes but really, the last thing on your mind is making love. So you look for that long snugly tee shirt, make sure you put on a pair of unsexy undies, hall out your dog-eared novel and pretend that you didn’t read those heated signals.

Let’s change the scenario. You and your spouse have not connected in a while and you have a bit of an itch which needs to be scratched. So you spend some extra time in the shower that night. You put on some of that new scented stuff you bought recently and pull out a little sexy number you haven’t slept in for a while. The kids are all tucked in and you give your man that sexy come hither look. He doesn’t need a second invitation but promises to be in, as soon as he completes that urgent, need-to-be-delivered-in-the-morning project on his computer. What begins as a bearable half hour wait begins to feel like two hours.  By the time he turns in, your mood is gone and you’re half asleep and angry at the same time.

What each of these scenarios reflects is the reality of mismatched timing and differences in desire; clearly a part of any marriage relationship. What should the response be when our spouse wants to get his groove on but we’re clearly not in the mood? What happens when the tables are turned and our amorous advances aren’t exactly met with immediate enthusiasm? The fact is that in a relationship, our sexual expectations will not always be met. Of course we have a number of response options to choose from when this happens; these responses include sulking, anger, withdrawal or understanding. Getting to a place of understanding may not, however, be always easy since we tend to link our sense of worth, acceptance and attractiveness to our sexual desirability. And the truth is that we don’t usually handle sexual rejection or insensitivity very well. We often take it very personally and if it occurs frequently, we can begin to wonder if our partner is cheating on us or no longer finds us attractive. These notions in our head, real or imagined, can introduce much tension into the relationship.

While unresolved issues, buried anger, hidden affairs, relationship neglect and a failure to communicate will most certainly be felt all the way in the bedroom, quite often, desire differences can be a consequence of other factors. Reaching a place of understanding when these differences occur will be critical to our ability to move our relationship forward. The following reflects some of the common reasons why we may not always connect sexually with our spouse.

1. Contrary to popular opinion, most men are not always sexual ever-ready batteries. Work-stress, financial difficulties and even testosterone levels can all affect a man’s desire for sex. Male depression can often be masked and because men are usually not raised to be emotionally expressive, they bury their feelings and can act out by sexually rejecting their spouse.

2. The female hormonal cycle plays a big part in a woman’s desire for sex. As nature would have it, a woman is horniest when she is most likely to get pregnant; which is usually mid-cycle. Outside of this, her desire for sex will fluctuate but can be positively influenced by her partner’s sensitivity to her emotional needs, the overall quality of their relationship and by how she feels about her sexual self.

3. Our misreading of signals on the sexual radar can also contribute to bedroom misses. Our tiredness or preoccupation with work issues can cause us to miss heated looks. A simple request for a back rub or neck massage, can be veiled expressions of sexual desire which men especially miss because many want direct hits like crotch-grabbing, which most of us women are not inclined to give. A simple request by a woman to talk, can also be a roundabout invitation to pleasure-land, since most of us want to also experience a strong emotional connection. Many men who dread communicating with their women, miss the opportunity to turn talk into great sex.

4. In the general scheme of things where meeting our partner’s sexual needs is concerned, selfishness is perhaps the greatest enemy. Being tuned in only to our own needs and concerns means that we care very little about our partner’s. So focusing on our tiredness, our bad day, our feelings, our sex drive or lack thereof, will cause us to deliberately ignore or see as unimportant, the body language of our partner which is screaming at us “make love to me”.

Ultimately, understanding why our sexual groove with our partner may be out of sync, is the first step in attempting to make it right. Carving out time to relax and reconnect in a non-pressured environment, is a great way to get our sexual groove back. Scheduling dates for sex also ensures that at least in those times, we and our partner are on the same page. Of course I am not suggesting that our sexual desires will always match our partner’s or vice versa. Knowing, however, that we each need to move away from an overt focus on ourselves is the first step in attempting to satisfy each other sexually. While a relationship is about a whole lot more than sex, prioritizing sexual intimacy, signals that both you and your partner understand what makes this relationship exclusive and distinct from all others and indicates your willingness to work at it.

 

 

 

Have You Settled For Sexlessness?

According to sexperts, if your marriage is characterized by sex which occurs ten times a year or less, you are living in a sexless marriage. Some experts argue that if both members of a couple are content with this light-sex or low-sex trend, then there is really no issue. I disagree. An individual may be content or even happy to live without exercise, he/she may be happy with consuming loads of calories without eating healthy; this does not mean that this individual is making the best life-choice. Healthy eating and exercise undeniably improve the quality of life for us all. And if we fail to eat healthy, it will tell on us sooner or later.

In the same way in marriage, sexual expression is an indelible part of what defines the marriage. The idea of “two becoming one”, which is often repeated in marriage ceremonies, makes intuitive sense to most of us because it ratifies the significance of marriage as a sexual union. Marriage is not room-mating; it’s not just about sharing living spaces and bills with our best friend.

If either spouse or both are content with minimal or no sex, they are actually denying themselves a vital marriage “vitamin” which is guaranteed to strengthen and deepen their intimacy. It’s like deciding NOT to be your best self. Yes; how much times we have sex is not etched in tablets anywhere and we don’t have to get caught up in a keeping-up-with-the-Jonses’ routine in the sex department.  However, striving for an ideal of regular sexual connection can only benefit our marriages.

If sexlessness defines your marriage, you don’t have to settle for it with the belief that this is okay and no deal-breaker.  It’s time to stop robbing your marriage of its vitality. Hopefully, these tips may help.

Start the Conversation

Some may say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I say fix it before it becomes broken. This means making the discussion about sex a priority in your regular marriage dialogue. I’m sure that most of us discuss the bills, the need to change our vehicle, our bosses, and our kids. Well we also need to discuss our sex. Are we content with how much sex we’re having? Are we sufficiently connected sexually or is our relationship lacking? Do we relate like brother and sister instead of like lovers? Do we pay so much attention to being parents that we have forgotten what it is like to be sexual partners? When we think about sex with each other do we do an enthusiastic “Oh yes!” or a regretful “Oh no”?

Carve Out Time

Yes we all want great passionate, spontaneous sex but there is nothing wrong with planning a liaison especially when children are around. Carving out time is however not restricted to when we have sex but refers as well to the time we commit to the general relationship. Sex does not occur in a vacuum but reflects an ‘out-flow’ of the entire tone of the relationship. While some may say that sex sets the tone, things like communication, mutual validation or spousal-support are also critical measures of relationship health. Taking time to improve our relationship health all-round, is sure to redound to  the sexual  department.

Be a Sexual Person

For us women, there is a distinctly sexual -feeling we get when we don that sexy lingerie or have a make-over done. Thinking sexual  thoughts about  our spouse as well  as celebrating our own body by  pampering it a bit  is  a  great way to turn our sexy on. Once we’re in a place mentally where the sexual light is flashing green, then it’s a whole lot easier to initiate the act with our spouse. (Listening to that R and B classic “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye, may also help quite a bit).

Re-Invent Your Marriage

If sexlessness has defined your marriage to this point, re-inventing it will be no easy feat. Getting a different outcome means doing things differently. This will mean altering your mind-set and making the sexual expression of your marriage a priority.  Of course if there are unresolved issues in the relationship like un-confessed infidelity, pervasive anger or a serious lack of communication, then these issues will need to be dealt with before the issue of sexlessness can be fully resolved.

Viewing your marriage as an intertwined whole as opposed to a series of unrelated fragments, is critical to addressing the issue of low-sex. Where the issues go deep and may be connected to past abuse, then intervention by a counselor or therapist is advised.

Regular sex is like the “apple a day” of your marriage. You may not need to compete with a national average but keeping that sexual connection going is a sure-fire way to guard against the threat of both sexual and emotional infidelity. On top of this, it serves to distinguish your marriage as a relationship which is distinct and set apart from all others.  Is this not the reason you exchanged the vows in the first place?