Happy February! Very often in this column, I address sex issues directly and yet I also keep pointing out that good sex is more than just the sex; it’s the context around that sex. In other words, a tired confused, overwhelmed ‘you’ does not make for a very good sex partner or life partner. February, being the month of love, is a good time to focus on how to improve your relationship so that you can get more of what you want and need. It’s actually not just about ‘more’ but ‘better’.
I like the word ‘better’ because it’s directional, meaning that it provides both of you with the opportunity to acknowledge what’s good, what’s great and what could be improved. On the other hand, ‘more’ can feel like an endless bucket that never fills up. More money, more sex, more love, more more more…but it never really lends itself to a point of satiation or satisfaction because it is too subjective; there is no way to know when ‘more’ is enough.
For many adults, it seems as if once people move past their academic requirements – where structures exist and expectations are clear – some seem to get lost in the ambiguity that is life. We wake up, go to work, go home, maybe see some friends and family along the way, rinse and repeat until one day we look in the mirror and do not recognise who we are, or the lives that we have created. Since it is really never too late to awaken to our lives, let us begin today.
As you move through this column today, this week, this month and this year, I would like to invite you to ask yourself a few questions along this ‘better’ concept, for example:
In what ways could your life be better?
First of all, take note of your immediate answer. It might be that you immediately thought, “I need more money” or “more love would make my life better” or “I need a better career”. Whatever the case, this is one of those questions that is really critical because it causes you to pause, reflect and identify the good, the bad and the ugly about who you are. Instead of saying that you need more money – which could absolutely be true – consider going farther by asking what it is about that money that would allow you feel like life is getting better.
Break it down
If, for example, you’re always short of Sh10,000 at the end of the month, now would be the time to identify that so that you can explore the question of how you can increase your current income by the same amount. Could it be that you need to move to a more affordable area or you need to take in a roommate or turn part of your home into an income-generating area e.g. office, teaching space or rental for travelers or business people?
If you would love to travel but you never feel as if you have the money, then now would be the time to identify this so you can pursue multiple possibilities, for instance choosing closer locations, shorter durations of travel, more affordable modes of transport, traveling during the low season, saving a portion of your income for travel, group travel or even paying in installments.
If you have a sick family member, then knowing that this is the cause of your current stress is critical because it opens you up to more options of finding support. You could, for example, hire a nurse, ask friends and family for help in financial or logistical ways, visit the welfare office of the hospital for help on reduction of fees or even call and text in-between visits if that will increase your peace of mind; these options may be exactly what you need so that you can better manage their care while maintaining some sense of balance in your own life.
Consider various options
Keeping this thinking pattern in mind, let’s talk about sex. Asking yourself “what would make my sex life better?” is really an invitation to consider multiple ways of accessing your sexual pleasure, instead of thinking about what’s not going well as a static problem with a static solution.
For example, if you said “I wish I was having sex more frequently.” I would encourage you to take that farther and ask, “what frequency would work for you? Two times per week? Every day? Once a week?” Whatever it is, name it. Furthermore, what is getting in the way? You may discover that because there isn’t enough foreplay between you and your partner, they are less invested in the frequency of sex so by increasing the foreplay, you would be increasing the frequency thus getting your need met.
Clarify your desires
Perhaps by communicating your needs, your partner would understand what you need, ask for what they need and you could have more of what you need. The truth is, there is no right or wrong answer, so much as there is ‘your’ answer, meaning that you need to do the work of clarifying your hopes, wishes and desires, and then resist the temptation to look at your needs as having only one solution and be open to multiple ways of meeting your needs.
In the same breath, I hope that you have noticed that I have put this responsibility on you? This is because you are really the one who is fully responsible for improving your life. Pointing to your partner to meet your needs without owning those needs is an exercise in futility that will forever trap you – and them – in a cycle of dissatisfaction. If you do feel that they could really do better for you, be open – you can even show this article and use it a launchpad for the sort of life, marriage or relationship that you both want to have.
The point that I am making is that life is not linear and even though your problems might seem linear, their solutions are usually not; your one problem likely has a multiplicity of possible solutions. This year is about improving what needs improving while appreciating what needs appreciating instead of a more holistic life experience.
This article is dedicated to improving your sex life by improving your life, in and out of the bedroom. I wish you a ‘better’ week.
Maggie Gitu is a Marriage, Family and Sex Therapist. She can be reached at [email protected] and via her Facebook page: Maggie Gitu
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke