Linda: One of the most common complaints circulating around from couples that have been together for a significant amount of time is that their sex life has become stale. Many complain that the fire that used to ignite their passions has dimmed or even gone out entirely. Although sexual satisfaction does diminish for some couples over time, this is not inevitable.
For many couples, the factors that most strongly impact the quality of their sexual experience are their expectations and the degree of trust in the relationship. The three most frequent contributors to a diminished sex life are the belief that it is inevitable, a lessening or loss of trust due to unresolved or unexpressed feelings between the partners, and the tendency to hold the other person responsible for the sexual vitality of the relationship.
When couples express their dissatisfaction that “the spark has gone out of our marriage,” it’s generally because of one or more of the above conditions. The real problem often has to do with defensive mind states that limit authentic relatedness. It’s more a “hardening of the attitudes” than a softening of the anatomy.
A big part of what makes sex so exciting in the early stages of a relationship is the mystery and newness inherent in the process of discovering, and becoming known by another person. There is risk and unpredictability in the process that brings with it a sense of danger and excitement, which makes for a heightened degree of physical and emotional stimulation. After a while, we may begin to think that we already know this other person and therefore don’t need to pay very close attention to them. When we stop being curious about who this person is and start thinking that we already know them inside and out, the motivation to be curious, attentive, and fully engaged becomes weaker, and the level of pleasure that we experience with them diminishes.
Of course, we don’t ever completely know each other, but telling ourselves we do enables us to go on automatic, just like when we drive the same route to work every day. We can get there without having to pay much attention to what we’re doing. We listen to music, talk on the phone, eat lunch, put on eye shadow, and think about other things, but sex isn’t like driving a car-at least hopefully it isn’t. It’s not about getting somewhere; it’s about being somewhere.
For many couples, sex actually improves over time. While the sexual experience may lose some of the fire and intensity of the early days of infatuation, it can become sweeter, richer, and more sensually delightful. As we get to know each other’s minds, bodies, and souls more intimately, we become more able to respond in ways that are not only physically stimulating, but also emotionally and spiritually enriching. As we age and deepen from our life experiences, we may see that we are more than our aging bodies.
We can enjoy the kind of relaxed and effortless connection that naturally arises when two people know each other completely. Anxiety over performance and self-consciousness melt away, and we can bathe in the delight of uninhibited sensory exploration. This kind of play and pleasuring encompasses more than the genitals or even the body; it extends to our whole being. This experience is only available when we have freed ourselves from the grip of limiting expectations.
Deepened trust and intimacy through years of authentic relatedness expand our capacity for joy through shared experience. When both partners support each other’s growth, the sexual connection will never become flat or boring. As our capacity to live life more fully increases, so does our ability to connect to each other, not only sexually, but in every other way as well.
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