SEX AND INTIMACY

True physical intimacy is an active component in a magical relationship. It is not something to be taken for granted, but rather something to nurture, like a delicate flower. When a couple allows themselves to become vulnerable with each other and uses the opportunity of being sexually expressive to let go of the cares of the day and communicate their love for one another, sex leaves the realm of being a mere physical act and becomes a sacred expression.

If you want to create closeness and true intimacy in your sexual expression with your partner, take a look at the components that are built into you genetically and culturally. Both of these, if left unexamined, can act as impediments to true well-being.

Little children have no concept of right and wrong, good and bad. They are immersed in the family culture with its religious and social mores and taboos. By the time you are an adult, chances are that you have conflicting ideas about sexuality. Because there are such pressures not to have sex before you are ready or before you are in a socially, morally acceptable union with a partner, individuals often absorb the idea that sex is bad, dirty, or evil. It is hard to switch from the idea that sex is wrong to allowing yourself to fully enjoy and appreciate this most intimate form of self-expression between two loving individuals.


Many times your early social conditioning is a silent partner that accompanies you to the bedroom.

Many people are born into families that have been structured and instructed in the areas of sex and intimacy primarily by religious organizations. Most of us grew up in families where if sex was mentioned at all, there was a sense that it was not the same as discussing the food on the dinner table or talking about your day. If sex was mentioned, there was some taboo attached to it, whether stated or insinuated. As we move into our teenage years, hormones override inhibitions. As we enter puberty, those hormones instinctively guide us toward reproduction and the survival of the species. These forces are very strong and can carry us beyond our socialized inhibitions. For many couples we have coached, it was easier to be sexually expressive early in a relationship. When they are younger and their relationship is new, the excitement is enough to override
the social and cultural conditioning against sex. Later, however, as hormones slow down and a backlog of unexpressed communications build up, people discover that they have to generate being physically intimate. In other words, they can’t always count on the fact that they will have sex on a regular basis; they may fi nd they need to set aside time for romance.

Early in a relationship, even bad breath can be sexy. But when the fi res of passion die down through insensitivity to each other, stresses at work, and the incredible demands of parenting, then physical intimacy becomes yet another demand made upon the couple.

Many people don’t realize that sex and intimacy become less pleasurable when there are even small, withheld communications.

Frequently these withheld communications build into resentments, with sex becoming part of the battleground. The withholding of sex becomes a weapon to use against a partner as revenge for transgressions, whether real or imagined. If you are withholding sex from your partner as a form of
letting him or her know that you are angry about something, this is one of those times that fully demonstrates you are more interested in being right than in being alive. This form of fighting denies you pleasure, warmth, a feeling of closeness, love, touching, and physical intimacy. But you get to be right that your partner did it wrong, and now you are punishing him or her—and also yourself—which leads to feeling less alive.
Before the two of us got together, we each had other partners. We came to our initial date with a history of things that worked in relationships and things that were problematic for us. Very early on in our dating we talked about what was important to us regarding sexual intimacy. This in itself was a breakthrough, because in the past, neither of us had had such a frank conversation with any partner at any time during a relationship, much less in the very beginning.

THREE GOLDEN WORDS: I AM SORRY

Over the years, the two of us have become more intimate.
Intimacy is a natural by-product when we communicate with one another, and as we became more trusting, we also dropped our shields. As we opened our hearts, any unaware or insensitive behaviors hurt more acutely. It was important to realize that something that might have been a small transgression at one time took on added weight as we became more vulnerable. Since this is the case, another important tool has been learning to use the three golden words: “I am sorry.”

Saying you are sorry, and meaning it, is a miraculous healing tool. We once coached a lady who said she would “rather crawl over ground glass” than tell her husband she was sorry for anything. As soon as she realized that the only thing she had to give up was being right about her point of view, saying she was sorry wiped away years of resentment. The most challenging time to apologize is when you don’t feel you have done anything wrong. At these times, it is important to rely on your listening skills. When you are truly
listening, you are listening with the intention of hearing what the other person has to say from his or her point of view. If you can see your partner’s perspective, it is easier to let yourself apologize.

FORGIVENESS
The person who gets hurt most when you don’t forgive, when you hold a grudge, is you, because you have to hold on to it. And if you have hateful thoughts, then they run you—they don’t help you at all.
If you have a relationship with somebody, without forgiving them for what they did or didn’t do, you can’t
have true intimacy. If you have a list of his or her transgressions, every time you try to be intimate, that list comes between you. So you may have sex, for instance, but it won’t be truly nurturing if you’re holding on to things that your partner did wrong in the past. Please don’t misunderstand us. We are not saying that you should turn a blind eye to things that your partner may be doing that do not work for you. Part of what has allowed each of us to keep moving to deeper levels of intimacy has been the willingness to be straightforward with ourselves and with each other about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. However, there will be times in any relationship when each of you will do insensitive things.

PRUDISHNESS AND SEXUAL SUPPRESSION
Many people have ideas or fantasies about being sexually free and expressive, but when faced with the reality of the sexual act, oftentimes old conditioning and programming takes over.

When you are raised to believe—or know—that sex is bad, dirty, immoral, or sinful, then those beliefs unexamined will severely erode the possibility of having a fulfi lling sexual relationship with your partner.
We knew a man who used to go drinking with his buddies, and the conversation would frequently turn to sex and their girlfriends and wives. During these get-togethers, he and his friends would fantasize about what they would like in a woman.

“Oh, I would really love it if my lady were more aggressive. You know, be a tiger in bed,” he’d say.
One night, his wife loosened up and became the tiger he had always wanted, but the strangest thing happened. In the midst of their lovemaking, he got scared and started to worry.

He had thoughts like, I wonder where she learned how to do this? I wonder if she was some kind of professional before I married her? What have I gotten myself into?

Immediately, he found himself getting tight and withdrawn, and their lovemaking for that night was over. His judgments of her were so apparent and suppressive that his wife never again allowed herself to be so self-expressive and free. Another client of ours reported that she once had a partner who was extremely disturbed when she made sounds of any kind during intercourse. He was unwilling to look at the possibility
that he was prudish, and she felt so diminished by his judgments that she quickly ended the relationship.
Again, if you want to have a magical relationship, you must be kind to yourself and your partner. You must also have the courage to decipher those socially conditioned responses to sex and intimacy so that your prejudices do not dominate your most intimate times together and sour what would otherwise be wholesome.


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