Often marital problems revolve around sexual immaturity. Last week, I went through a training on The Sexual Experience and Behavior Inventory (SEABI) with Dr. Lisa Terrell at the Sensovi Institute here in Charlotte. Part of the problem with immature marriages is that no one talks about sex.
Here’s a typical scenario (not a real one, of course):
Husband comes to therapy because wife just found out he has had an account on Ashley Madison for over 2 years. Wife is furious and sends husband to me so I can “fix” him. Husband is already defensive and treats the therapy like he treats his wife: with defensiveness. Husband slowly starts to understand that part of therapy if exploring the purpose of his behavior, Slowly husband begin to realize what has created and maintained his behavior all along: his sexual template, his erotic catalyst.
Wife also goes to her own therapy. Therapist instructs her she needs to leave this marriage because husband is basically sick and she needs to walk away. Another failed marriage, another statistic.
Sometimes divorce is what needs to happen. And sometimes partners stay together long enough to talk to about the difficult topics revolving sex, intimacy and what turns them on.
I see a lot of men (and women) who go to great lengths to build and maintain a secret life around their sexual preferences. They like anonymous sex or fantasy sex or they like to watch or seduction is what they are after. Despite being in a committed relationship, they seek out secret, fantastical encounters.
If you like fantasy then you will love building a whole new secret persona/life. I’m not in the business of deciding whether that’s right or wrong. But I would say that this is probably an indication of sexual/relationship immaturity more than it is an addiction problem.
Do you struggle with intimacy?
You want a marriage but don’t know what it takes to be truly emotionally and mentally intimate. How did what turns you on has become such a secret? How far back does the secret go? What were the high school years like? What happened when you went to college or entered adulthood?
You go to great lengths to hide your sexual preferences from the person you have decided to spend the rest of your life with. Can not tell what turns your wife on? EVERYONE gets turned on by something. As Gina Ogden puts it, there is no such thing as low desire, there is only low desire for the kind of sex you have been having.
Let’s talk about it.
What turns you on? What turns you off? Talk to your partner about it. Yes, they may judge you. But that’s a communication, respect and partnership problem. It reveals how mature each individual is and whether you are willing to grow.
Marital growth can not exist without sexual growth. Before you try to get your wife to attempt different positions or put on a sexy outfit, you have to find the courage to talk. Ask the tough questions without judgement and start negotiating the rules and boundaries of your relationship all over again. Or for the very first time.