Vive la Différence

Published by Andrew Aaron on Monday, 19th June 2017 - 8:09PM in Relationship Articles

["Sex", "relationship", "differences", "genders", "love", "intimacy", "marriage counseling"]

Men and women are different in obvious ways. Emotionally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually, men and women are different in less obvious ways; ways which are much more difficult to quantify. In love relationships these differences are the sources of great fascination, eroticism, joy and pleasure, but also of conflict and misery. There is no place where the differences are more noticeable than during a sexual encounter. One of the great problems is that the differences between men and women often produce such friction and acrimony that neither partner ends up feeling like having a sexual encounter.

There are many couples out there that don't have sex. Such couples fall into all categories: older, more mature adults who have decades of bitterness, middle-aged empty-nesters, and the stressed couples who are raising children. More surprising is that this problem also infects even the young couples, the newlyweds, and couples who are just engaged. Ask many newlywed couples about their honeymoons and, if honest, you will hear about many honeymoons in which the “do not disturb” sign was not used even once. The differences among us, if negotiated well, results in our growth, strength, and well-being, but if coped with poorly, creates tension, conflict and anger. The challenge of differences is so difficult, that it tends to be a minority of couples that negotiate it well.

Nature has played a trick on us. Among the differences between the genders, most women need to feel emotionally connected, loved and valued before they're likely to express themselves sexually. Yet most men wish to form a deep connection through sexual activity, so as to feel loved and valued. It is not surprising that these differences are in opposition. So without goodwill, partners are unlikely to resolve this difference and the living room couch will is likely to get used frequently.

The solution is in the building of goodwill. Love, the commitment for the other’s well-being, growth, nourishment, is to be offered with sincerity, and must be given without the expectation of return; otherwise it loses its magic. Sex without love, while it can still feel good, is a bit like tinny music which has no powerful bass. So long as partners give freely and demonstrate a commitment to the other’s well-being, the gridlock caused by nature's trick will be melted away. Andrew Aaron, LICSW 508-997-6091 x106 

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