Exploring the Fine Art of Romance

  10/08/2014 at 17:15 pm

 

Exploring the Fine Art of Romance

 

My wife says if I’d stop pressuring her about sex she might be interested. When we talk she admits we don’t even touch anymore but nothing ever changes. If I stop pushing for attention I’m afraid we’ll drift so far apart our marriage will end. Can we ever be close again?

Your fear is valid. When partners no longer engage sexually there is reason to be concerned, but when touch dissipates completely the relationship is in significant danger.

Touch soothes and comforts. It deepens emotional connection and most important, it creates a foundation of safety where intimacy can flourish. Securely connected partners are able to immerse themselves freely in the pleasure of sexual play and surrender to their sensations. Loving touch paves the way to true eroticism.

When partners are disengaged however, touch often falls by the wayside. Sexual needs are either suppressed or become goal directed, driven by anxiety and fear, reflecting the relationship’s lack of security. Our life partner is the one we turn to for safety and shelter. When that connection is lost the relationship’s security is threatened and fear prevails.

In fear, partners become desperate for balance. Typically one partner becomes clingy, critical and demanding of attention while the other becomes increasingly defensive and withdrawn to avoid further emotional injury. This struggle of demand and withdrawal between partners quickly takes the shape of a repetitive defeating dialogue that spirals infinitely, accruing resentment and despair at every turn. This dialogue can focus on any number of topics. The most common topic is sex, which in truth is simply a disguised attempt to communicate one’s longing for closeness and concomitant fear of vulnerability.

For change to occur and connection to be restored partners must first recognize that their relationship has become emotionally starved and they’ve each lost their primary source of emotional sustenance and security. Both are victims of the recurring negative spiral and neither partner is the enemy. The enemy is in fact the defeating dialogue.

Kick criticism to the curb. Choose to be gentle. Share your fears and needs honestly with each other. Use touch often to communicate caring. With continued openness your relationship can become your treasured shelter. Intimacy will be both safe and exciting, creating the space for eroticism and endless sexual adventures.

Questions? Email leslie@esindependent.com. Leslie Meeker, M.A., L.P.C., is a psychotherapist who has specialized in relational and sex therapy, sexual compulsivity and sexual trauma for the past 15 years, after receiving extensive training in human sexuality at the Masters and Johnson Institute in St. Louis, Mo.

By Leslie Meeker, M.A., L.P.C.