Save your sex life

Problems in the relationship often show up in the bedroom. To enjoy a happily-ever-after sex life, sort out your issues from time to time

happy couple having funSex is just a mirror of the rest of your relationship. If you have sexual problems in your relationship, and your sexual functions were normal, healthy and exciting in the beginning of your relationship, then your problems most likely have little or nothing to do with sex. They are symptoms of something deeper in the relationship, such as unexpressed anger or disappointment, unresolved conflicts, lack of trust or fear of failure. By discovering the real problem and working together with your partner to heal them, you will see your sexual problems diminish and eventually disappear.

An increasing number of young couples we counsel complain of unsatisfactory sex life. And all these problems are more often than not, a direct reflection of the status of their relationship.

Parent-child v/s adult-adult

When they came to us, Seema and Vivek were married for three years and had still not consummated their 'love marriage'. On their wedding night, Seema complained of pain. Vivek stopped himself, and said he would wait for her patiently till she was comfortable with going ahead. There were several attempts after that, which all ended with her complaining of pain. A gynaecological examination showed her to be completely normal and capable of intercourse.

Vivek felt increasingly frustrated with her 'childish' fussiness and low tolerance for physical discomfort. Yet, he never pressured her. The relationship between them was more like a parent–child relationship, with Seema constantly seeking attention and Vivek indulging her. He missed having a woman in his life. So when he met an attractive woman at work, an affair followed. When Seema got an inkling of it, she suddenly transformed. She now wanted an adult-adult sexual relationship, but Vivek could not see her as anything other than a complaining child and refused to relate with her sexually.

Good sex starts outside the bedroom

Often one of the partners holds back in sexual intimacy as a means of expressing hurt, anger or pride. Refusing sex here is symbolic of unresolved emotional issues in the relationship on which an emotional closure is being sought in the form of this non-verbal communication. This happens commonly in couples who haven't been able to establish a sound base of verbal communication between them, resulting in the accumulation of hurt, anger and pride, and the emotional distancing.

Such couples often need the intervention of a counsellor, who helps them dismantle the invisible wall that has got created with the unresolved issues and establish healthy communication. Through such couple's therapy once emotional intimacy is established, physical intimacy often naturally follows as a non-verbal expression of the closeness they now share.

'I' and 'You' relationships

Couples leading a jet-set lifestyle are often too stressed and exhausted to engage in sexual activity often. For them it is another task to be accomplished, starting with foreplay and adjusting to the sexual needs of the other, to helping the other to climax in the sexual act. Such couples often either prefer to pleasure themselves, or take turns at masturbating each other. This pattern is usually indicative of their work taking precedence over everything else, and they remain two individuals, as 'I' and 'you, with no 'we' at all.

Often, such couples have little or no shared interests, share hardly any 'togetherness time', and their finances are also usually separate. This individualistic existence with no shared space often catches up with them in the form of discontentment and feeling like strangers with each other—a perfect breeding ground for casual affairs.

The control drama

Sometimes sex is used to wield power over the partner, and to have control in the relationship. Jaya was a self-righteous teetotaller who fought for women's rights. Her husband Vijay was a cinematographer, who kept odd hours because of his profession and sometimes drank socially. She did most of the child-rearing with the assistance of a maid and family, though Vijay was a doting father whenever he was around. Still Jaya, made a noise about his lack of 'equal' involvement and 'substance abuse'. She said that he was an 'unhealthy influence' on 'her child'.

After shoving a guilt trip down Vijay's throat and making him feel inferior between the two, she would seduce him into having sex, while she continued her verbal put-downs. Sex was most of the time initiated by Jaya. And if initiated by Vijay, she would 'oblige' only one out of 10 times, leaving him feeling rejected and guilty. This control drama in their sex life was a direct reflection of how she related to him otherwise in their relationship.

Having sex or making love?

People are invariably attracted to relationships in which their partner makes them feel loved, accepted and special. When you do not feel respected or validated in a relationship, then though you might stick around in the relationship because of reasons other than love, but you crave a meaningful and fulfilling relationship. The sex life then leaves much to be desired, as any physical intimacy that takes place feels like 'animal sex' and not 'making love'. Such people might find meaning in a relationship outside marriage, and have a fully-gratifying sex life in it, only because they feel special in that relationship.

It is a popular saying that sex is not between the two legs but between the two ears, indicating the direct link between the mind and body and between your relationship and your sex life. To conclude in the words of David Reuben, author of How to Get the Most out of Sex, "If sex is right, then it means everything is right. If sex is wrong then nothing else can be right".

Love like Shiva and Parvati

The ancient sculptures of the nude bodies of Shiva and Parvati so intimately entwined with each other depict the total vulnerability with which they are relating; with nothing hidden, no mask; totally bare to each other in truth, love and trust, where they have disappeared as separate entities, separate egos. They are no longer separately there as selfish egoistic beings. These sculptures demonstrate the miracle of intimate relating, where the various sexual positions portrayed are not demonstrating sex for recreation [due to the variety of positions], nor for procreation, but it demonstrates the vulnerable, truthful, loving and trusting sharing of intimacy between the two.

The different positions portray the fact that in such a relationship you can be your true self at all times, relaxing in the unconditional love of the relationship, with dissolution of egos. The variety of positions depicts the variety of issues and situations that one may have to encounter in intimate relating. Irrespective of the positions/situations they find themselves in, the one constant is that they are in a deep union—a spiritual partnership. And this is what a healthy relationship is all about.

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Minnu Bhonsle
Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, is a Mumbai-based consulting psychotherapist and counsellor. She conducts training programmes in Personal Counselling [Client-centred Therapy] and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy, and also workshops in Stress Management, Art of Listening, Couple Therapy, and Communication Skills. Minnu has co-authored the book, The Ultimate Sex Education Guide along with Dr Rajan Bhonsle.
Rajan Bhonsle
Rajan Bhonsle, MD, is a consultant in sexual medicine and counsellor. Along with his wife Minnu R Bhonsle, PhD, who is a consulting psychotherapist and counsellor, he runs a unique therapy centre

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