The other day I was being interviewed for an upcoming podcast and was asked the number one issue I see in my practice. I said it was couples complaining of having bad sex – not enough … quantity, pleasure, variety, intimacy … you name it.
I made the point that our culture raises heterosexuals in particular to be really bad lovers through three primary failures.
One, by not mandating comprehensive sex education in our country, we leave most people incredibly naive about their own bodies and that of the other gender!! Incredibly naive! Two, our mass media and pornography “teach” men and women bad information about how women “get off” which make men and women even worse lovers. People fail to realize that this is a man’s fantasy … a far cry from reality!! When he and she take this fantasy into the bedroom it makes them both really bad at intimacy and kills desire almost immediately. He doesn’t know the first thing about her fantasies and pleasure zones … and far too often, neither does she! Three, religion and culture have for hundreds (if not thousands) of years separated the body and sex from relationships and the heart, which is neither realistic or satisfying. Sex under these conditions is a performance … and a superficially acted one at that. Bodies, or a body, goes off in queue, and we think that’s as good as it gets. But is it?
The best sex for both men and women happens in the context of deep love, open-hearted vulnerability, courage, communication and a lot of good know-how-practice.
When all of the professional psychology and social work fields failed to add sex therapy to their clinical training, it was like taking the hard drive out of a broken computer and expecting to fix it without ever putting it back. Seeing marriage and sex in such a compartmentalized way has caused us to discuss sex more as an activity rather than a relationship that delights in a banquet of activities. It is like talking about two people who do not eat, or a table of food with no people to dine upon the feast.
Food with no diners, spoils. People with no food, go hungry.
People in relationship, who are hungry, together decide based on their particular appetite, what they would like to feast upon, prepare their feast and share that feast together. This creation and sharing of the table feast is the spiritual union of sexuality and spirituality that is integrated intentional spiritual intimacy. This is the pleasure and connection that is at the heart of “good sex”. Good sex is not a particular behavior … “That was just foreplay, we didn’t have intercourse!”; “When was the last time we had sex?; “It’s been two weeks, you know you really want it!” Nor is it, “But, was she a virgin?” or “Did they have sex before marriage?” It is, “How was our whole dining experience? Were we intentional to share the feast we decided to share? Was there connection and pleasure for both of us?!” Good sex is also not the same cereal every day for the rest of your life. Good sex is a conversation about a banquet of delights that two people who know and care about each other together, decide based on their desire at that time – what will connect them and bring them pleasure. And that may NOT be exactly the same menu it was the time before.
When we took spirituality out of sexuality, we took the heart out of the body and the relationship.
Or to say it another way, we have spent thousands of years denying the part of us that enjoys sex and sexual things is also a healthy part of our spirituality – that same part of us that longs to know God. And even more devastating is that we haven’t completely embraced our spirituality (that part of us that longs to be beloved of a loving God) as a healthy part of our sexuality (that part of us that enjoys sexual pleasure and sees it as a gift from a loving God). We are to our core sexual beings. Our sexuality affects everything we do, and everything affects our sexuality. The same is true of our spirituality – that which is most deeply meaningful to us. We can deny both. But denying them does not mean that they are not both at work in the underground recesses of our life.
We deeply seek to be seen, known, loved and accepted. These are as much sexual as they are spiritual quests.