Want to have an experience of extreme intimacy and vulnerability? Spend half an hour communing with your sweetheart with all digital devices out of sight and out of reach. Try it and let me know what happens.
“Birds and Bees”
When my daughter starts asking I realize
I don’t know which, if any, birds
have penises. I can’t picture how swans
do it. I’m even confused about bees:
that fat queen and her neurotic workers,
her children grown in cells. I’m worried
by turtles and snakes: their parts hidden
in places I have never seen. How do they
undress? Long ago, awash in college
boyfriends, I knew a little about sex.
I understood the dances and calls,
the pretty plumage. Now, I am as ignorant
as a child. We have gone to the library
to find books though I know sex
is too wild for words. The desire to be
kissed is the desire to live forever
in the mouth of pleasure. My God
I can never tell my daughter the truth.
It is a secret the way spring is a secret,
buried in February’s fields. It is a secret
the way babies are a secret: hidden
by skin or egg, their bodies made of darkness.
For a relationship to stay alive, love alone is not enough. Without imagination, love stales into sentiment, duty, boredom. Relationships fail not because we have stopped loving but because we first stopped imagining.
— James Hillman
In a recent issue of Psychotherapy Networker, author and sex therapist Tammy Nelson wrote a case study on “Women Who Cheat.” The article focuses on the kind of theoretically monogamous heterosexual couple for whom any sexual encounter with a third-party constitutes a potentially lethal breach to the marriage contract. I know from my experience and from my practice that many couples find ways to accommodate and negotiate for non-monogamous commitments. Still, I recognize that every couple is entitled to its own culture and ground rules, and the framework that Nelson offers to help this particular couple cope with sexual infidelity seems sensible enough that I wanted to share it with you. I especially appreciate her advocating the redefinition of monogamy from “blanket prohibition on outside sex to a search for deeper intimacy inside the marriage.”
“In my view,” Nelson writes, “infidelity recovery has three phases: crisis, insight, and vision. The crisis stage occurs right after disclosure or discovery, when couples are in acute distress and their lives are in chaos. At this point, the focus of therapy isn’t on whether or not they should stay together or if there’s a future for them, but on establishing safety, addressing painful feelings, and normalizing trauma symptoms.
“In phase two, the insight phase, we talk about what vulnerabilities might have led to the extramarital affair. Becoming observers of the affair, we begin to tell the story of what happened. Repeating endless details of the sexual indiscretion doesn’t help, but taking a deeper look at what the unfaithful partner longed for and couldn’t find in the marriage—and so looked for outside of it—as well as finding empathy for the other, who was in the dark, can elicit a shift in how both partners see the affair and what it meant in their relationship.
“Phase three is the vision phase, which includes seeking a deeper understanding of the meaning of the affair and moves forward the experience and resulting lessons into a new concept of marriage and, perhaps, a new future. In this phase, partners can decide to move on separately or stay together. This is where the erotic connection will be renewed (or created) and desire can be revived. In this phase, the meaning of monogamy changes from a moralistic, blanket prohibition on outside sex to a search for deeper intimacy inside the marriage. A vision of the relationship going forward includes negotiating a new commitment.”
You can check out the whole article here. Let me know what you think about this topic.
In ancient India hunters developed a proven method for catching monkeys. The monkeys were quick by nature and clever enough to dismantle all kinds of traps set for them. The trap that they couldn’t dismantle involved a simple trick that trapped them in their own nature. A big coconut would be found and hollowed out. Then a hole would be made in it, just large enough to allow a monkey’s paw to pass through. The coconut would then be pinned to the ground and some tempting, fragrant fruit would be placed inside the hollowed shell.
Inevitably, a monkey would approach the shell full of desire for the fragrant food it could smell and almost taste. As soon as the paw of the monkey had slipped through the hole and grasped the food inside the trap, the poor fellow would become caught because the fist holding the food was too large to pass back through the hole in the shell.
In order to become free of the trap all the monkey had to do was let go of the prize that it coveted so much. More often than not, the hand that held the desired fruit would not let it go. Thus, the monkey was trapped by what it desired and held onto no matter how near freedom might be. Release from the entrapment was right at hand and just within their grasp. However, most would stay trapped and imprisoned, caught by a narrow desire, but also by a fierce and blind unwillingness to simply let go of what they held to be necessary or important.
People can be just that way. Many take hold of something and refuse to let go, even when they become stuck in one place, even if they can’t taste the sweetness they first reached for in life. Some hold onto another person and refuse to let go, even when each part of the relationship becomes a trap. Others take up an idea, a political belief or a religious notion that was supposed to set them free. After a time, they become trapped inside narrowing ideas or rigid rules. Next thing you know, they are caught in a trap made of their beliefs.
Change is hard because we hold onto what keeps us from changing; because freedom feels like losing something that we are used to clinging to; because real change means that we would no longer desire what others insist upon and no longer restrict ourselves to the game at hand. Fate may be what we wish to deny when claiming that we are free; but it is also what we unconsciously cling to in order to avoid letting go of who we think we are.
— Michael Meade, Fate and Destiny: The Two Agreements of the Soul
God gave us desire. Letting go of desire is not the way to peace or godliness. Rather desire is God’s way of making sure we join the parade rather than watching from the curb.
It’s okay to want a bigger TV but no one ever made a movie about a man who finally bought a Volvo. So embrace your desire but ask yourself whether your desire saves lives or whether it all goes with you to the grave.
The problem with your desires may be lack of meaning. Love is a common, but not the only, factor that adds meaning to otherwise boring desires.
— Don Miller