Blame in the bedroom. The sexual connection is an intimate bond and one that many people can feel uncomfortable talking about. We are not taught much about sex with our sexual education often consisting of rudimentary educational information and parental warnings of not to do it too early/too much/until you’re married/at all being all we get!
We are not taught about desire or why people can differ in desire, so no wonder we get confused! We end up learning ‘on the job’ with no way of knowing what is normal or not. Sex can make us feel vulnerable, because we are opening ourselves up so deeply to another and because we feel uncomfortable talking about it, we often work in the bedroom in a non-verbal way. This type of communication can be fine, until you hit a bump.
The most common bump that couples encounter is the difference in desire for sex.
One partner may want it all the time and the other doesn’t. Other common issues can relate to the sexual acts you engage in – perhaps you love oral sex and your partner is unwilling to go there, or you don’t reach orgasm easily and your partner does.
We live in a time where men and women are supposed to be ‘hot for it’ all the time, be ready-to-go at the drop of a hat and orgasm every single time! We’re supposed to be thinking about sex all the time and if we’re not, then there must be something wrong with us. What’s more, we often hold the belief that we should be perfectly matched sexually and this shouldn’t change over time.
The truth is our levels of sexual desire are as individual as we are, and can fluctuate with what else is going on in our lives – if you’re going through a stressful time at work or financially, chances are you’re less likely to feel sexy. Having children is a common time where it’s typical to feel exhausted and like your focus is elsewhere, so sex becomes less important. There are many people who naturally feel a bit half-hearted about sex.
When life in the bedroom contains resentment, anger or frustration and this is not talked about effectively, it can lead to problems both inside and outside the bedroom.
The one who wants sex more can get sulky and angry and continually ask for sex, while the one who doesn’t will withdraw even more. Each begins to look at the other as if they are abnormal in their sexual needs.
She could be thinking “What’s wrong with him, why doesn’t he want sex? Does he think I’m unattractive?” while he’s thinking “I can never satisfy her, nothing I do is ever good enough in or out of the bedroom. I don’t even want to try.” Each one can switch off so that intimate chats and cuddles don’t even happen anymore, because each is stuck in their own world of hurt and blame. Yet criticism and blame are two poisonous ways to guarantee you will drift further and further apart.
So how do you break this cycle and get back on track?
Firstly, try and see things from your partner’s point of view. By getting an understanding of where he or she is coming from, you can start to see the bigger picture and realise that it isn’t just you feeling hard done by or unloved. You are both not getting what you want.
Next, ask yourself what you are doing to contribute to the problem and take responsibility for that. If you are constantly nagging for more sex, acknowledge that this is not the best way to communicate your needs to your partner and will have played a part in pushing them away and making them unhappy.
Once you have genuinely tried to do those two things, you will notice there is less heat and blame going on, which will allow you to open up a constructive dialogue about what each of your needs are. Communication and negotiation are key to you getting the blame out of your relationship and sometimes it helps to have a neutral professional help you navigate the stormy seas, so do not hesitate to get help if you feel you need it.
Discuss the differences in your sexual energy and desire and learn to accept this as perfectly normal – just as some people are morning people and others are night people. Talk about what holds you together and what you need from each other, and how your partner can help fulfil that for you. This will include sex but also intimacy and explain how that looks for you.
For you, intimacy might be when you are pursuing a goal together or talking together about your day, or perhaps you feel most emotionally close when you are having sex. By each explaining how you get your emotional needs fulfilled – either inside or outside the bedroom – you will be gaining more information and understanding about what will make both of you happy in this relationship.
Being more connected – and losing the blame game – will put you in a much more positive and better frame of mind to tackle the practical aspects of getting both your needs met in the land of nooky.
Jacqui Manning – aka The Friendly Psychologist – has been working as a psychologist for over 15 years, helping everyday people with a myriad of problems, most commonly relationship woes, and stress and anxiety problems at work and home.
She has a passion for encouraging everyone to value their emotional health and to break down the stigma of reaching out for help – to think of it as boosting their ‘psychological immune system’, and it is for this reason that Jacqui is regularly in the media to reach a wider audience with simple, effective and easy-to-understand tips – in print, on radio and TV.