Home Again

Three weeks post-op and able to write/talk/etc. for a couple of hours at a time. I appreciate those who’ve opted to schedule free consultations and the ones who chose the assessment as well.

That said, a couple in their late 40s had come to see me with a variation on a common problem. She sat weeping while he muttered, “I’m not going to continue to have sex with a drunk!”

To which she replied, “But I’ve never had sex sober and don’t think I can!”

Alcohol and sex are two common arenas for passive aggressive acting out. That’s where assertiveness training comes in and people learn to address issues directly rather than passively via surrogate activities. Or at least one partner learns the other isn’t going to change and acquire what information they need to make informed decisions of their own.

But back to the couple. The solution was easy to state: he’d tried sex her way, with her drunk, and had come to the reasonable conclusion that he wanted to enjoy sex with someone who was actually there too.

Having tried things her way, I pointed out, she at least needed to attempt to try sex his way: sober.

She agreed it was a reasonable, if frightening, prospect and further agreed to give it a try if he would be patient. He agreed to explore this avenue, new to both of them, as slowly as she wished assuming identifiable progress was being made.

We moved on to other topics and I decided not to bring the topic up unless and until they did.

That took about a month when they arrived for their appointment, both smiling (to my relief).

“Guess what?” she said.

“Based on the smiles. You like sex sober,” I said.

“No,” she said, “I love sex sober!!!”

With that elephant out of the way, other issues faded to manageable dimensions since nothing was tainted by the pervasive sexual tension.

Would that all couples’ sexual issues could be as easily solved.

For many people their sexual relationship changes dramatically right after the wedding – with one or the other announcing that sex is no longer on the agenda – and it’s as apt to be the husband as the wife who issues this proclamation. “He” doesn’t have sex with married women (or it comes up later when “he” doesn’t have sex with mothers) or “she” doesn’t have to have sex now that she has him locked up (until she wants to have a baby or he’s on his way out the door).

The idea that’s sex is supposed to be a mutually pleasurable and bonding experience doesn’t seem to have occurred, or been told, to a lot of people.
For others it’s a matter of what’s “normal.”

Frequency? Twice a day or twice a year? Position” Missionary or cowgirl? Oral? Him, her, both? And I could continue the list for several paragraphs and not run out of topics of potential difference.

In all of these cases I start by suggesting that it’s all “normal.” And add that there are more differences between men, and between women, than there are between men and women. Almost every preference has its counterpart in the “other” gender including gay and Lesbian couples. But most people remain infected with societal stereotypes than by actual knowledge (Example: women are more competitive than men but its covert where men’s is overt. “Sisterhood” is largely a lie and while the true “glass ceiling” has been ruptured if not shattered, women continue to held back more by other women than by men.)

But if you don’t get to fight about who is “normal,” what do you do? You resolve the issue whether that means various reciprocal compromises or separation and the seeking of more compatible partners (not a new idea, even the Puritans granted divorces to women whose husbands failed to satisfy them sexually).

Others of course stay married and discretely add lovers. Or not so discretely. Sex, like alcohol, is an excellent way to precipitate a divorce rather than simply saying, as the husband in the first instance did, “I’m done.”

Consultations aren’t always about drinking, just as drinking is rarely only about drinking.

But enough meandering.

Here I am, house-bound for another 10 weeks waiting for someone to talk to. Is that going to be you?