Every week I get calls from couples who report struggling with low sexual desire issues. What's interesting is that often when I meet with them we discover that underneath this complaint are very real, painful, and often chronic relational problems such as neglect of the relationship, infidelity, emotional abuse, addictions. As noted in The New Joy of Sex, "Most people are delighted to be in bed with the right person who is" tender. For most, if there is a general air of anger, resentment, distress, or worry, there isn't a switch to tenderness mode we can flip when we enter the bedroom. Yet, its that tenderness and emotional warmth that invites physical closeness, inspires pleasing behaviors, and distinguishes friends from foes.
How do you drop the anger and get back to tender?
1.) Don't point the finger. Couples who are in distress point the finger at the other person, they almost seem to only be able to see the other person's faults. The first step to changing is to own your anger and over-reactivity and acknowledge it out loud to the other person. Then, you can make efforts to avoid crossing problematic lines such as character assassinations and negative interpretations. Hostility begets hostility and some research even indicates HOW you start a discussion is HOW it will end up!
2.) The second step is being a container for the OTHER person's anger. Hear them out and tell them what's reasonable about their frustrations (so often we want to defend). I am not suggesting you allow another person to yell at you, or berate you. However we must learn to tolerate and genuinely express regard for what is bothering the significant person in our lives.
3.) Another step is to begin to re-incorporate showing physical tenderness - hugs and kisses (especially upon greeting and parting) go a long way. Most couples stop touching when they are hopeless about the hurt and distress they feel in the relationship. Get to bed early - before you're tired and engage in physical touch that's "worked" to bring closeness in the past - electric massagers, etc. People's fears often drive them to avoid demonstrating warmth - they worry if they behave lovingly the other person will not respect them or change problematic behavior. But the reverse is actually true - people are more likely to change if they feel embraced. I am not suggesting you be a doormat - we all need to have boundaries and limits - but rather that relationships cannot be resurrected or redefined without somebody starting the ball rolling with respect to dropping the verbal arsenal and interacting in a way that says "I give you the benefit of the doubt."
For more information on this topic or for help with other issues, you can contact Ms. Spicer-Rakipi by visiting her website at www.rivertowncounseling.com
Referenced: The New Joy of Sex: A Gourmet Guide to Lovemaking for the Nineties by Alex Comfort, M.D., D.Sc.