Keeping Sex Alive
Q. I enjoyed your response to a question on sex in a previous issue. As a person who has just completed a year of marriage, I would like to have some tips on how to keep our sex life juicy and alive.
A. As we see, sexuality goes downhill when hearts close, power struggles emerge and touch stops. Let's take it one at a time.
In loving sexual intercourse, genitals and hearts are very closely interrelated; closure in one area inevitably leads to closure in the other. In order to visualize the connection, a conceptualization borrowed from a Tantric teacher, Charles Muir of Hawaii can be useful. Try considering the penis as positively charged, the vagina as negatively charged, the woman's heart as positively charged and the man's heart as negatively charged. The terms positive and negative have nothing to do with human values. A positive charge has to do with sending out energy and a negative charge with receiving energy.
Imagine the energy flowing from the man's penis towards the woman's vagina. When her vagina is open and receives energy the woman's body becomes more alive. Energy travels to her heart. More energy is available in her heart and she broadcasts energy out from there. The man's heart (if open) takes in energy and his body becomes more alive. The heightened energy travels in his body, activating genitals, and the woman's vagina receives even more energy. And around it goes, energy cycling, both partners becoming more energized, nourished, and alive. None of the four points (two genitals, two hearts) is the origin of energy, but a closure at any one of them can break the circuit.
For example a man whose energy is blocked at his genitals experiences impotence or fast ejaculation. Or a woman's vagina closes down and sex stops there. When this happens it usually attracts a lot of attention, particularly in the person whose genitals have gone numb! It is important to track down the cause for the closure and there is no shortage of materials to consult in this area. In many relationships however, sexual breakdown is more of a gradual process. Over time the energy flow diminishes without partners really understanding why. In these situations it is important to look at what is happening in the hearts, because in a committed relationship, heart closures are just as deadening to sex as genital closures.
What keeps a heart open? For a woman it's usually talk, touch, demonstration of caring, appreciation and movement of feelings. For a man it's often touch, caring, appreciation and being deeply received sexually. When partners stop paying attention to these needs in the other, the outcome is always hazardous to their sex life.
Striving for power is also hazardous to sexual enjoyment. In the world outside their relationship, partners strive for power, exhaust themselves and end up over-stressed. In order to keep sex juicy in marriage, partners simply have to find ways to boundary work time.
It gets more complicated when partners power struggle against each other. This is a real sex killer. One of the classic power struggles around sex occurs when a woman expects a man to approach sex like she does and a man expects a woman to approach sex like he does. Crudely translated, she implicitly says she wants a heart (feeling) connection before a genital connection and he implicitly says he wants a genital connection before a heart connection. And each wants the other to come through first.
Using our energy circuit conceptualization, we can see what a total waste of effort this is. In order to complete and sustain the sexual energy circuit between a man and a woman, both heart connection and genital connection are necessary. Partners have to wake up to their power struggling long enough to check into what is going on inside themselves.
Underneath power struggles between the opposite sex are usually feelings of fear of being over-powered by the other. If both individuals were willing to be vulnerable (and honest) enough to locate and express some of their true feelings, power struggling drops away. The exchange of honest feelings also serves to open the hearts. As the hearts opens, sexuality opens and the whole experience builds on itself -but it needs two individuals who are willing to go inside and reveal their inner selves to each other. Easily said but not so easily done.
In order to keep sex alive, we believe couples need to incorporate a regular regimen of touch, a significant portion of which is nonsexual. When touch is only associated with the intensity of sexual intercourse, the body eventually learns to tense up when touched. Partners who touch and are touched only sparingly end up over-reacting or under-reacting to it. All it takes is a commitment to touch each other 10 minutes a day, every day.
Feelings, power issues and touch are not all that difficult to keep up with if the intent is firmly established by both partners and decisions are made to follow through. Sadly, a lot of people don't seem to be willing to make this kind of effort and wonder why a dry relationship has crept up on them. We applaud your willingness to look ahead and wish you a long and happy sex life.