It’s been a long time since Isabelle is having sex with Leo because she enjoys it. These days, he is more likely to fulfill her wifely duty. Men need to be serviced or they will go find food elsewhere, is a message she heard often growing up in her family. Dad cheated on mom, daughter saw mom miserable and helpless while she waited for her husband to come home. Then, when he finally returned, she’d proceed to put him down endlessly. Isabelle decided she would not suffer such a fate.
In her 20’s she used to like sex, she felt free, and relaxed about it. Now, 8 years into her marriage with Leo, she is obsessed with having to please him daily or fear the consequences: he may leave, he may cheat.
Ironically she is feeling very similar to her mother, (and generations of women before her) resentful of the sexual pressure, turned off, but unable to say no.
Not surprisingly, Isabelle no longer has any orgasm. She is so passive, that sex has become painful, and is a matter of “enduring” what Leo does to her, not what he can give her.
Leo on his side is firmly entrenched in his own chronic anxiety: will we make love today? Will she be too tired? I Does she realize it has been more than three weeks? If I initiate now, will I be rejected again? His hands are tight. How much longer can I live like this?
On the surface it looks like Isabelle has had to suffer and accept. It is easy to assume that because Leo gets to relieve himself, he is fine with the situation, that he has nothing to complain about., let’s be careful and not trap men and women in rigid silos, and block the possibility of change in our relationship or in the society we live in.
Re-connect with your own sexual self.
Sex is not a duty or a chore. Isabelle needs to reconnect with her sexuality. She should do so apart from Leo. They are trapped in a negative cycle, and she needs to disentangle alone and reclaim her desires away from him.
Many women need to claim their sexual ownership, by themselves, with their girlfriends, their dance partners, a favorite activity like cooking, reading, listening to music, walking in nature, at the movies. Only when a woman experiences her independence as a woman, can she initiate sex willingly and not just out of fear and obligation.
Isabelle went away on a week-end with her girlfriends and they talked candidly about sex, they remembered their boyfriends from University, they watched educational sex movies together, they laughed, and she became more relaxed and curious. When she came back, she was also more at ease with Leo. This was the first time in years when she acted as an independent, sexually confident woman. That night she offered him a genital massage. She was in charge, and they loved it.
I give couples like Leo and Isabelle a Sexual inventory: Take a moment to write your own answers to the following questions. They will help you develop and define a sexual self awareness, self acceptance., and communication.
Who am I sexually? What does sex mean to me? What are some experiences that have shaped me sexually? What do I like In sex? How do I like to be made love to? What are some barriers I would like to cross? What would I like to express sexually to my partner? How honest am I sexually? What do I need to feel sexually comfortable, and how can be more playful?. What lights my fire?
What are your passions? What stirs your passion, gives you pleasure, makes you feel alive? I am talking about experiences, activities, relationships, that are invigorating, energizing. Not just sexual passions. Isabelle swims and plays Clarinet. She is always in a good mood when she hits the water, or gives herself permission to relax and not feel pressured to perform, clean, organize etc. But more than anything, Isabelle is a woman of the mind. She loves a good feisty conversation and she fancies depth. A man who is deeply interested in her mind, her ideas, or her view of the world, that is a real turn on. It means that he is interested in the totally of her, mind, body, heart. That makes her feel desirable. When Isabelle goes to book readings, talks, concerts and Leo shows real interest in her, she feels alive, seen by him, valued, and all these are feeders for desire. As she says: “I have him enter my mind first, Makes me feel that he is interested not just in my breast or my ass, but me the person. And then as a woman, I want to reciprocate, as a free woman,