I have come to believe that much of what parades as sexual dissatisfaction between couples is actually a manifestation of fear. Most people through no fault of their own have had little education concerning their sexuality or their access to pleasure. Laden as the topic is with shame and silence, most of us literally grope towards pleasure with our eyes closed, surprised that it happened and often unaware about how create it again. There are almost as many unique pairings of pleasure, shame and guilt as there are human relationships. To look at many romantic couplings, which are often full of fiery passion at the outset but completely tepid within a couple of years, one could readily conclude that committed relationships often serve to increase sexual discomfort rather than freeing us to explore and discover our potential for sexual pleasure.
At least this is the reasoning most often cited by people to justify their extramarital affairs. There is truth to this trauma being induced by the persistent urge to express a sexuality that is shamed into silence, just as there is validity to the observation that the partner who refuses sex the most seems to have greater control in the relationship. Having been on both sides of this sexual initiation fence of desire and refusal, I can testify that there really isn’t any sense of control being established. Instead, the predominant fear and avoidance of sexuality and pleasure creates a painful stalemate in many a relationship. Either partner’s sexual discomfort is dispersed equally in the pain and frustration of the relationship.
This common stalemate generally turns both partners’ sexual desires and libido into sour grapes and often spells the end for many relationships. Extramarital affairs offer a temporary solution to the sexual needs left in this wake, because passion is readily available in exploring the forbidden. The costs for this passion are steep though, and many a viable relationship is also lost to this insidious cycle. A recent radio interview I had with author Pamela Madsen, who was caught in this cycle but didn’t want to hurt her marriage with an affair, has offered me another option to consider.
Pamela describes her personal journey of sexual exploration with paid sexological body workers in prose that are funny, brazen and bold in her book Shameless.
I have met and interviewed several sexological body workers over the years and although I have never experienced pleasure at their hands, I have come to appreciate that as taboo as it might seem, the most profound sexual awakenings are experiential. Sexological body workers, Dakas and Dakinis, sexual transcendents, and sensual massage therapists are all names that describe people who are paid to expose their clients to the range, depth and capacity of sexual pleasure available to them.
I remember years ago, the first time I met a sexual surrogate who explained to me why her work was not prostitution, but rather sexual healing. The goal, she explained was to show her clients how to access their own sexual pleasure and the power they could bring from that into their lives. In Shameless’ sometimes graphic descriptions, Madsen shares the very intimate details of this personal journey, which enlivened not just her marital sex life, but healed her from years of failed diets and body image issues.
Recognizing that sexual healing is in fact an individual path is the beginning of a sexual revolution that may just have the capacity to heal the couple as well.
There were moments when I was troubled reading Pam’s story, mostly around the secrets she kept from her husband. The healing journey was too important to her to abandon, even as she realized that it was a healing that could cost her a great deal of the rest of her life. She did come clean with her husband who was able to see the benefits to their marriage even as he was disinclined to follow her path.
Finding a way to give yourself permission to find your own path to pleasure and believing that you deserve it has the power to nourish you deeply. It is perhaps the most fearless act we can bring to our coupled sexuality. For me, the journey was more interior, but brought the same degree of sexual pleasure. When I was finally able to stop repressing the fantasies that came through me during my sexual explorations and gave up the fears of witnessing what is buried in me sexually, the passion quotient jumped in my relationship.
Becoming fearless towards your sexuality will bring you not only great levels of passionate pleasure, but it will more importantly, give you peace.