By now our couple has explored some of the patterns that have contributed to stalling their sexual activity over the years. They have begun to explore touch in conjunction with the dynamics of asking, giving, taking and receiving pleasure. They have gone back in time. And remembered the things they used to do that made them feel sexually attracted to each other. By doing these things, Mark and Arian have also got more used to talking about sex, pleasure and desire.
In their next session they begin to explore the dynamic of power that underlies all sexual activity. And learn a few interesting facts along the way.
All the talking about sex makes Arian and Mark feel more confident about the topic. They have started to feel saver letting each other know what they like and what not. But they keep coming back to the issue that Mark feels powerless if Arian doesn’t want to have sex when he does. Mark is frustrated that he needs to be the one initiating the move all the time. And being at Arian’s mercy whether or not she is open to proceeding.
When he complains to the counsellor in their next session that ‘Arian hasn’t given him sex for many years,’ Arian gets so mad, she nearly walks out. This experience highlights the power dynamics that play into this area of their lives. With some curious and gentle guidance (and some settling down of an agitated Arian), Mark and Arian begin to explore their experiences from that perspective.
The hidden influences behind how we feel about sex and power
They need to consider the cultural, physiological and emotional influences that play into the power dynamics of their sex life. The counsellor invites our couple to consider how physiologically men are stronger. They are also more consistent in their sexual availability than women. The act of penetration is inherently dangerous for a woman’s body. Nature triggers a chain of delicate interactions in her body, to make sex a pleasant experience in spite of this.
Also, the western culture has painted a picture of pursuing and conquering that is driven by the man’s initiative. And this approach ‘normally’ ends in a ‘forever-after’ scenario that simply doesn’t hold true in the face of real life.
On top of that, our culture also still minimises and belittles ‘soft’ feelings such as vulnerability, insecurity or sadness. By and large, men’s emotional worlds have been reduced to the expression of lust and anger. Many men are left denying the softer feelings or judging themselves for feeling them.
Do we need to take turns or do we have our own roles?
This often narrows the repertoire of available initiation behaviour significantly for a couple, and Mark and Arian are no exception. Arian finds the idea of initiating sex awkward to say the least. Yet, Arian would actually let Mark know that she was open to having sex in many small ways. They discovered this during their conversations about how they used to initiate sex and intimacy before having had childreMark was left guessing and feeling vulnerable, once Arian stopped these invitations. A feeling he doesn’t readily embrace.
On the other hand Arian begins to understand how her ‘withholding’ is part of the same thought pattern as Mark’s complaint of her ‘not giving him sex’. She acknowledges that there is a link between not feeling connected enough emotionally to Mark and not wanting sex. That this is her way of letting him know. Reframing the situation in this way helps Arian accept that she, too, has a responsibility to wield this ‘power’ with care.
Finding balance can increase the excitement
Slowly, Mark and Arian untangle the emotional side of things from the sexual side. Arian needs connection and competency from Mark. She doesn’t want to have to look after him when they have sex. Mark needs reassurance that Arian loves him. On the flip-side, Arian needs to learn to let Mark know what makes her feel connected. And what he can do that makes him appear competent to her. This means she needs to know what she wants and express it openly to Mark. This is something Arian is habitually not familiar with. Her past has taught her to not have any wishes, let alone express them. Logically she is more in touch with what she doesn’t like then what she likes. Arian’s focus on what he does wrong has created more insecurity in Mark over time.
Mark, on the other hand, needs to learn to accept love in so many other ways than sex. His task is to recognise gestures of love from Arian in every aspect of their lives. He also needs to learn to express what he loves about making love with Arian. And together they need to start experimenting with alternative sexual interactions that don’t lead to orgasm.
This is especially designed for Mark to move from the equation that love= sex to love=sex and stroking, and massage, and cuddles, and kissing, and hair brushing, and showering together, and hugging, and a lot of other things that have no connection with touch.
The power behind sex
Power plays an important part in sexual interactions. And it is important to be aware of it and be playful, explicit, attentive and respectful with it. Couples, just like Arian and Mark, are mostly not aware of the power dynamics in their sexual relationships. Until it is misused in some form or another. In many cases that is not a conscious choice but rather an adaptation from a different part of life. Refusing or demanding sex is often a last resource to feel in control where power is lost, handed over or taken away due to a myriad of circumstances,
Once the conversation has started, Mark and Arian begin to feel much more comfortable with the topic. They are able to detect how the ‘dance’ with power plays out in their sexual interactions. Trust, surrender, vulnerability and competency all interact with this energy. They create a beautiful cocktail when mixed correctly by both partners with awareness and love.
At the end of this session Arian feels for the first time that they have a very good potential to restore their sexual interactions to something that not only resembles what they had before but might even go into new, deeper and more exciting territory.
Mark and Arian will find out a little more about what they can each do to actively create the fine balance of safety versus excitement that is required to experience erotic sex next week.
If you need help with building a beautiful place of sex and intimacy in your relationship, book a free 45-minute check-in-session with Mattie now.