Our initial reaction to a difference in opinion is usually disappointment. We hoped that we would agree. We were anticipating enjoyment and connection around a topic that now threatens to create separation and discord. If sex is the topic, then we might also feel rejected, judged, embarrassed, ashamed... or we might have bundled all of these vulnerable feelings into a package of anger.
When it comes to sexual disagreements, the numerous solutions at our disposal are rarely considered because our culture’s moral overlay asserts considerable control over this personal part of life. Many are the client who complain to me of the strictures of monogamy but lack the will or the courage to break free of compulsory monotony.
Please skip the hate mail. I actually enjoy monogamy. I think it is great if you actively and consciously choose it. But most poor souls are sucked into the lifestyle, assured it will create bliss no matter what their individual preferences and needs. Throughout your lifespan, your sexual needs and interests will likely change or at least fluctuate, and change creates even more opportunities for disagreement.
How can our partner adapt? If we are open to a few unorthodox solutions, sexual satisfaction in a long-term relationship is not only possible but can be a great deal of fun. There are several strategies you can employ.
Most members of a couple attempt to engender interest in their sexual turn-ons by broaching the topic in as alluring a manner as possible. Phrases such as “It would be so hot,” “You can do whatever you want to me,” “You would look so good in this,” “Come on, it will be fun” are common. Unfortunately the all too common response is resistance if not outright revulsion because of the obviously manipulative intent.
If we wish to foster connection with our partner(s), we must maintain an active and genuine interest in their happiness and well-being while asserting our needs and desires. Yes, this is a delicate balance fraught with pitfalls and potential problems. But the possible pay-offs are worth the effort.
For instance, you might give your partner(s) sexual fulfillment serious consideration and make a list of pertinent questions to ask them about their interests and preferences. Are they harboring any unmet needs or secret fantasies? Is sex with you still creating the passion it used to, or is boredom and frustration taking its place? Is there something your partner(s) would like to try or have you try? For that matter, is sex still a priority?
I recently overheard a woman say “I would rather fight with my husband than have sex with him.” Does your partner feel anything remotely similar to this? Find out. Investigate. And don’t react negatively. Just gather the facts to discover where you and your partner(s) are today. Remember, no matter how dismal the current state of affairs, things can always change for the better, but nothing will improve if you don’t know there is a problem.
Ok, let’s say you and you partner(s) have come clean; stating your satisfactions, your disappointments and your desires. What next? Ideally, if you both feel drawn to the same solution(s), you simply try that new sexual position or sex toy, or schedule an appointment with a relationship coach or counselor. But what if the two (or more) of you cannot agree on how to rectify the situation? What if he wants to have a three-way and she wants to be the subject of a gangbang? What if one of you feels drawn to BDSM and the other wants to pursue Tantra? What if neither of you can see your way to a compromise?
Choosing to open your relationship to other partners will afford you the luxury of relating to each other in ways that are more familiar and require the least change. This may seem counter-intuitive, but an open relationship allows you to keep your current relationship as it is, because you create the desired changes with someone new. You are both free to pursue your fantasies with alternate partners while retaining all the benefits and comforts of the primary relationship.
Or you might agree to create a compromise. Compromise incurs a loss for both parties but rewards both participants with a win as well. You don’t get everything you want; you get some of what you want. The same is true for your partner(s). For instance, if the compromise involves BDSM and Tantra, you might agree to experiment with Dark Tantra because it incorporates elements of each.
All of these are acceptable forms of problem solving with your partner(s) and you may choose to go for the ultimate in intimacy. If so, you will actively seek out your partner’s different perceptions and feelings with an eye toward how those different perspectives can enlarge and improve your world — even and especially your sex life.
If you learn to welcome a difference of opinion as the opportunity it can be, you will discover the “Gifts of Disagreeing.” Instead of sighing into your disappointment when you hear the word “No,” let yourself breath into it with curiosity and a sense of adventure. Partnership can inform and transform us! Staying open to what we can learn from our partner helps us grow. Who knows, maybe your disagreements will lead to even more alluring opportunities than those you envisioned.
Next month: The Wisdom of the Womb and Sexual Connection