Many girls seem to grow up taking on the belief that marriage and children is what they must aspire to. Perhaps a ‘successful career’ could be added into the mix as well, but ultimately, when I talk to young girls, they tell me they want to get married and they want children too. Guys may have this on their agenda as well of course, as an expectation for their future, but it doesn’t seem to hook them as much as it does for girls. It has been this way for many centuries, which shows the hold that this belief has had on society.
Young men on the other hand, and maybe not so young men, tell me they want sex. Their focus is on sex: when they can have sex, wanting more sex, sex with different women, or even different sex. I’m not sure why men tell me these things, but nevertheless, I have received the message loud and clear that sex is very important to men and has been important for as long as ‘men have been men.’
What I’m going to say here next I am sure will come as no surprise, and I am not breaking any gender secrets at all. The topic is not something we talk about to any great degree, except for the initial complaining, but we all know about it nevertheless.
I would need more fingers and toes than what I have to count the times that men have complained to me about their relationship with their partner, lover or wife, in that they don’t get enough sex or their sex life is dead.
I would need more fingers and toes than what I have to count the times that women roll their eyes and sigh when sex comes up in conversation, like it’s some chore or duty that must be done. I remember distinctly being advised in my early thirties by an elderly woman that “sex is something you have to do as a woman” and that it was best to “close my eyes and get on with it.” Whether I talk to a woman in her thirties or a woman in her eighties, it appears always to be the same.
Of course, sex for some women is a major focus just like it can be for men, and men can truly desire marriage and children too, but it hasn’t been a common theme in conversations in my life personally.
So on the surface we can say that as human beings we aspire to sex, marriage and children for a fulfilled life, but is it truly what we aspire to deep, deep down? Is that what life is all about? What happens when we actually get those things – does that inner yearning cease or is there something else on the other side of the pasture that looks more alluring? Is it an affair, another relationship, a distraction of some other kind… or just more complaining about sex and our relationship?
Many of our marriages are now ending in divorce from a dissatisfaction, for one reason or another. We do not need any further proof that something is not harmonious about the way we are in relationships as they currently stand. Those that do stay together do not necessarily have a loving quality present, as many talk about being ‘ships passing in the night’ or having to just put up with the other. Living together and not getting married appears at first glance to be a convenient fix for the problem, but maybe this is just a different flavour of the same.
It is not to say that there is anything wrong with sex, marriage or children, for there is not. Perhaps what I am alluding to here more specifically is that sex, marriage and children may not be what will provide us with true contentment. Sex, marriage and children come loaded with rules of right and wrong and should and should nots, instead of being guided by what feels true, responsible and what feels like Love.
As each decade of young boys and girls come through, they are indoctrinated with the same belief that sex, marriage and children make up your lot in life.
How disappointing it must be then for those young boys and girls to perhaps one day come to realise that they have been sold something that is far less than what they could have aspired to? What if there was MORE to come from life and relationships than sex, marriage and children, or that maybe these things could be approached in a way that brings far more satisfaction and joy than currently is the case: what is missing?
What does a woman feel when she is approached by a man whose sole focus is on the possibility of sex? It doesn’t mean to say that men don’t choose women they actually like in order to have sex, but a keen laser target for sex perhaps dismisses who the woman truly is at heart. Does a woman feel unimportant, unseen and insignificant with only a focus on her private body parts? Does she just give in and have sex so she can attain her own desire for a relationship, marriage and children? To what end will a man go to get sex? Who will he change himself to be in order to ‘get lucky,’ and what will he say or not say to win favour?
Such a start to any relationship is destined for rocky times because it lacks a foundation of integrity, responsibility, honesty and Love. Without any doubt, a woman will feel it all, although she may not want to register those feelings because it will challenge her perception of how she really wants her relationship to be.
What does a man feel when he is faced with a woman’s focussed desire to be in a relationship, to be married and have children? How does he feel when he discovers that perhaps she changed herself to accommodate what she determined he wanted her to be to achieve her goal? And to what will each resign themselves to endure in order to have this relationship? When she asks him to live more of his potential, his true essence, does he resist or does he truly embrace the opportunity to change and grow? Does he feel pressured to be a provider, and does he resist dropping into intimacy to keep distance in the relationship? Does he feel unseen, uncared for, unimportant, a means to an end – or is he valued just as he is?
If girls are set up to marry and have children, then what do they go through when they don’t end up marrying or if they don’t end up conceiving a child? If they haven’t met someone and they are getting older, do they close their eyes and choose someone that is near enough and try to make it work?
What happens to the confidence and self-worth of girls who don’t end up in a deeply loving marriage or if the marriage ends? What happens to women when they don’t meet up to what society pitches as the ultimate? Are they destined to live their lives in shame or as less?
How disappointing it must be for young men to realise that although sex in their relationship is good or even great, why does that little unsettled feeling keep niggling away, like there is something missing? Could the need be for more sex? But why such a focus on sex? Maybe sex allows a moment where a man can drop his protective guard and enjoy what is there before the guard returns as he steps out to live in the world again. Do men just turn to casual sex with different partners so as not to feel the dullness that can creep into relationships, or does moving on prevent them from getting too close, too intimate and feeling a sense of care for another? And what happens to the guy who had one or two partners before marriage; are they destined to sit forever in discontent that they have missed out, assuming the ‘more’ they seek comes from being with numerous partners?
If a man or woman lives in a hard and protected way, then what quality will they offer their partner at the end of the day and is this conducive to love making or just sex? How does a man and woman really feel after an act of sex, as opposed to love making? Perhaps that missing element is the cue for a new partner or a lover on the side but even then, after a few years in any new relationship, often we discover that the search for great sex must continue for that sense of satisfaction.
What feels clear is that we bring to our relationships so much that is not Love and we expect it to work out fine.
Love making is quite often used interchangeably with sex but the two are quite distinct when it comes to energetic quality – love making as its name suggests, requires Love to be present. Love is not always present when two people come together in this physical way and so the best that is on offer is relief of the sexual tension. We can have sex to feel like we are satisfying the need to be intimate with someone, without having to be intimate at all, because we can hide in the physical activity and keep our inner wisdom, insecurities, vulnerabilities and feelings to ourselves.
Have we ever stopped to wonder whether this may be a reason why some women, after years of sex, show a lack of interest – because she knows deep inside there is a lack of Love and true level of intimacy missing from her relationship? Could it be that women, for so long accepting sex instead of lovemaking from their partners, have given up aspiring for more, and even forgotten that this physical act is something that is a natural human expression and that it can indeed be pleasurable?
There are many strong beliefs within society, mostly espoused by mainstream religions, that women must not enjoy sex or making love, with the extreme act of genital mutilation in some countries to ensure this is so. With such beliefs imposed upon women, then perhaps it is no wonder that women roll their eyes at the notion of sex or are labelled that they have a low libido or that there is something wrong with them should they show any disinterest. How could this not play out in relationships in some way?
There is a sacredness within that women hide from the world. It is not sexual, but it is very sexy. If sacredness then is a natural expression and is absolutely gorgeous, then why then do we hold it back? Is it for safety, so women aren’t targeted or seen to be different? Is it a bit of playing less to fit in with the world where so many experience a sense of oppression?
What would happen if young girls had female role models who expressed their sacredness unashamedly and naturally so, and were taught that they were not born to be the over-burdened, partner pleasers or maîtres in relationships? What if women lived in a way that showed girls how natural it is to honour and Love themselves deeply, and with this comes an inner strength and steadiness? If this was the natural expression for a woman, then she would bring this quality to her relationship and to all of life, despite whether she chose to marry and/or have children. Without such beliefs about marriage and children running the show, a woman would be free to feel whether having a child or being married was even something that was needed for her in this lifetime.
What sort of relationships do you feel our young girls would choose if they had such self-love? Do you feel they would settle for someone that treated them less than how they had learned to treat themselves?
What if young boys too had role models where other men were expressing their natural tenderness and sensitivity and were strong in self-love? Would they choose and encourage women to express their true essence because its quality is so divine? What if young men were taught that sex is ordinary compared to what is truly on offer in a true and deeply loving relationship which, of course, would lead to lovemaking as a natural expression? Is a lack of desire to be physically intimate not the root problem at all, but the end result of a lack of true Love in relationships?
If a woman is expressing from her sacredness, does this in turn ask her partner or husband to drop into their natural tenderness to be able to meet her in the same equally loving quality? If so, this requires a willingness for both parties to go there and explore what is on offer; the potential to evolve as individuals but also together. So how does one approach such a topic when it comes to the light that for years they have been going through the motions of having sex without the quality of Love?
There are women who are unable to accept a lack of love in relationships and so don’t choose to persevere with relationships that do not provide the opportunity or loving foundation for them to evolve and be all they are. When they are backed up against the wall by the strength of the belief to be married and have children, sometimes these women can feel like a failure or are judged cruelly that there is something wrong with them. But perhaps it is natural to not be able to tolerate such lack of love. What if it is OK to not succumb to feeling entrapped, or to be kept small, or treated as inconsequential, or even worse, like a slave?
What if choosing the path of Love-For-Themselves is perfect, instead of something the world aspires women to embrace that is far less than what they know to be true.
For many women, just the thought of enduring a loveless relationship makes every cell in their body recoil. Perhaps these women are not the failures as they once saw themselves to be, but simply strong and determined, and with a true and unwavering awareness of their worth and what makes a relationship true.
Although it may appear that we have very few role models of relationships where a man steps back to truly honour the sacredness of a woman, allowing space for her to expand into her true essence, I have had the pleasure to observe just a few over the past years. So much is communicated by observing the way these couples move and are together; not necessarily the words spoken but the sensitivity and energy in their interactions. There isn’t the neediness, abrasiveness and dismissiveness that is there in some other relationships because of a willingness to strip away all that is not Love and to make Love their way.
Questioning the false beliefs that we have been fed is quite possibly a great place to start to find the relationship that we all know is possible but perhaps have never lived.
Maybe our dissatisfaction is not with our partner or spouse after all, but with ourselves, because we each know who we are and what our true potential is but we choose instead to bury all of that as we try to follow the rules to make life here on Earth work in the way we are told it is to be. We do know exactly how we are changing ourselves to accommodate the other person, and any bitterness we may feel towards our partners is really just a reaction to our own choices that lead us to give up on ourselves.
Life is so much more than capping it at marriage, children and sex. These can be part of how we express this ‘more,’ but it isn’t the all. For when we look inside we can often see there are holes in the pictures created by our mind, there are so many questions needing deep consideration, there is so much more to us than what we allow ourselves to show to the world.
By Maree Savins, GradCert HROD, AssocDegLaw (Paralegal); Dip Arts (IDD), Australia
Developing Intimacy with Myself & Making Love
‘To Make Love or Have Sex?’ – One Man’s Experience
What if self-care was the foundation of sex education?
Sex versus making love – an older woman’s perspective