Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Talking about it.

Yesterday I tweeted a piece written by a woman who has stayed faithful to her husband though he won't sleep with her.

It came to me hard on the heels of a weekend where I was evaluating my choices and reflecting on how we don't -- we really don't -- advocate for ourselves in our bedrooms.

If you spend any amount of time in 'mom groups' or similar forums, eventually the question of sex will arise. It is usually somebody braving embarrassment to ask about post-partum sex, but the answers often go much wider in their range. You have women asking how to deal with demands when their bodies have only just given birth. How to make sex more interesting. How to be interested in sex when you're severely sleep-deprived. How to find interest in your husband once more. How to, in short, meet their partners' needs.

Over the years my groups have had their children grow, and the stresses change. In these different conversations, some of the women got back in the game, some did not. And when I say some did not, I mean there continued to be a mismatch in libido and expectations, not that they kept refusing sex. You see, I find that it's more common for the women to sadly talk of being refused than actually refusing. Women who refuse tend to reach out for strategies or help. Those who are refused really have no recourse. As women we appreciate the importance of consent, and that means accepting the No.

What women don't recognise, are never taught to recognise, is when the No is being used to control and manipulate them. Without being a slave to our bodies, we may yet crave touch. Being refused physical contact (and sex) consistently has an adverse effect on one's emotional and physical health and I think it's important to acknowledge this.

I have no real answers. For the longest time I tried to understand where the No came from, but since it was not my No, and very few men that I know are honest to themselves (or for that matter their wives) about why they do what they do, I really don't know why they say No. I have my theories, but when you're craving touch, theories are pretty cold comfort.

Instead, turning 35 has flipped another switch in me. I don't yet clearly know what I want, but I do know some of the things I want. I'm giving them priority. Sex is one of them, as is touch. So are conversations. The woman I want to be must be able to talk about things that matter. She must be able to speak up in bed and explain what she wants. She must be able to fantasise freely, with no shame for doing so. I am not generally very reserved about sex as a subject but I don't often explain what I want to the one who needs to know. I'm changing that. And I'm going to be kind to myself when experiments fail. And no embarrassment! It is terribly difficult to ask for things that you've been conditioned to not even discuss, or tell stories that you don't usually tell your men, but it can be done. And I am determined to do it. Telling my stories also helps me understand where I myself come from, so it's important to tell them well, truthfully, with an eye to detail. I have no idea where this is going to lead, but I do expect good sex to follow, so it's worth the work.

Sometimes you just need to be militant to get what you want.

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