How to Talk about SexBy Dr. Margaret Paul
September 24, 2012
Are you stuck in your relationship not being able to talk about sex, or getting into power struggles about sex?
Sean wrote in the following question on one of my free webinars about sexuality:
"My wife and I have been married now for eighteen years and for the most part are still very happy together. A year or so ago a friend introduced us to Inner Bonding and both together and alone we have become familiar with the Six Steps. My question for you this evening is, what suggestions do have to help us communicate our sexual needs and desires without so much defensiveness and judgments? Our wounded selves have a powerful dynamic in these regards so fear, of course, enters in with its control/protect mode. And so the dance continues…"
If I had had an opportunity to work with Sean, here is what I would have said:
"It's important not to skip over the first level of learning that needs to occur, which is about the very good reasons for the fear, defensiveness and judgments. What are you each afraid of? What are you each protecting against? What are the false beliefs in the way of being able to address your sexual issues openly? You can't just stop this protect/control dynamic without understanding the underlying false beliefs and resulting fears."
What are some of the beliefs and resulting fears that might be in the way of openness regarding talking about sexuality? Here are some possibilities that might apply to Sean and his wife - and to you:
Are there areas of your own sexual needs and desires that you judge and feel ashamed of?
Are one or both of you demanding rather than requesting? Does one or both of you feel controlled in the sexual area?
Do you have a fear of engulfment in the sexual area? Does one of you give yourself up outside of your sexual relationship, causing fear of having to give yourself up within the sexual relationship if you open to learning with your partner?
Do you have a fear of being rejected if you are honest about your sexual needs and desires? Are you afraid of being judged by your partner for what you want and how you feel?
- Do your defensiveness and judgments come from the past – from dynamics within your family of origin or from a previous relationship?
The bottom line is – what are you protecting against? This is what Sean and his wife need to explore.
Once they open to learning about their protections and spend some time healing their fears and false beliefs, then the door opens to talking about their sexual relationship with caring and honesty.
Two Levels of Communication
There are always two levels of communication:
- The issue itself
- How you are talking about the issue – your intent to control or to learn
Sean and his wife want to resolve some issues in their sexual relationship, but they can't begin to address the issues if their intent is to protect/control. They first need to open to learning about their intent before they can open to learning about the issue. This is true of all issues. It's actually relatively easy to resolve most issues once both people are open to learning, but it's impossible when one or both are closed, defended, protected and controlling.
Being open to learning about our protective, controlling behavior is a wonderful thing to do with a partner. You will be amazed at the level of intimacy and connection that result when each of you opens to learning about your defensiveness, judgments, anger, blame, withdrawal and resistance. You will experience a huge sense of relief when each of you becomes open and accountable for your own beliefs, fears and resulting protective, controlling behavior. Then, with openness, you can explore issues, including sexual issues.
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Focus on anyone you are angry at. Let yourself voice your anger out loud but not at the person. Now turn it around and let your inner child say the same thing to you, listening with openness and compassion. Whoever you are angry at can become your teacher for becoming aware of how you may be abandoning yourself.
By Dr. Margaret Paul