When Picture Perfect Isn't Picture Perfect


It's an interesting experience, this being the partner with lower desire in a long-term relationship. In my case, the way this played out over two decades is that I fell into a routine of only having sex with my husband when he initiated. And to be completely honest, I rejected his advances a material portion of the time.

Maybe you know the scene. I'm standing there having just finished helping my son with his homework, cooking dinner, and my husband walks in. (Now, to paint an accurate portrayal of our #LeanInTogether household, the situation is reversed in the morning, with my husband cooking breakfast. But you get the idea.)

So what does my loving husband do when he arrives home for dinner? Perhaps he comes in and kisses me, or perhaps he comes up from behind and gives me a squeeze. Picture perfect just like the photo above, right?

Sadly though, a year ago, my immediate reaction was to recoil away from these overtures. Racing through my brain were thoughts like "Oh my gosh... I work all day, meet the needs of our child, cook dinner, and NOW HE WANTS SEX?!"

I know this sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth. It's how I felt. And of course, those feelings led to more feelings like shame and anger. And something I didn't realize until later because I was so in my own head, was that my partner felt rejected. I mean, talk about an emasculating way to start an evening -- having your advances rejected by the person you love.

Maybe you're reading this and my side of the story is resonating with your own experiences, or maybe you are the higher desire partner and are as baffled as my husband was about how sex was a "have to" and not a "want to." The reality is, because there are two people in a relationship, someone is usually going to have higher desire than the other.

Though these patterns had been ingrained in our interactions for a long time, when we started seeing a relationship coach, something started to change in the way that I perceived my emotions. For the first time, I started to think of myself as experiencing these feelings, but not being defined by them. It's a very subtle shift, but by no longer defining myself this way, I was suddenly able to see with a sense of acceptance and compassion both my own feelings, as well how my partner was feeling too.

Having compassion for myself and my partner was surprisingly liberating. Soon, on top of re-evaluating the way I felt emotionally about my sexuality, I also started to reconsider what I thought about my sexuality cognitively, and how I experienced it physically. But those are stories for another day.

"Wait, that's it?" Transformation takes time, so I'm intentionally sharing in bite-sized doses that reflect my experience over the last year. I'd love to hear your questions, let's continue the conversation in the comments section below. Or visit my blog at www.downtothere.com

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