The Legend of The Lost Libido
Everyone knows that over time relationships shift: sometimes for the better; sometimes for the worse. This is a natural phenomenon with every couple. In the beginning of all relationships, everyone puts their best foot forward. When we enter the first stage, commonly known as “the falling in love” stage, all our boundaries collapse; we can’t wait to see each other and our sexual appetite is perennially aroused. But then comes the next phase, when the newness wears off, and the authentic person emerges. This concludes the honeymoon stage.
Usually, the first things that begin to evaporate are the barrage of multiple daily phone calls, the “I love you’s” along with our sexual desire. What follows is usually a shift in the show of affection; those tender moments that we cherished from the beginning, when his arm was around her shoulder, hands were held and good night kisses were a ritual, now begin to fade. It is replaced with discovering the deficits in our partner that were not visible in the first stage. Finding fault with each other is the first level of pollution to enter the relational space in which the couple lives; faults that were not evident in the first stage. Even if they were, we were not willing to see or acknowledge them. It’s a strange phenomenon, but once we get between the sheets, we project what we want to see on each other; not necessarily what is there. These projections are often the cause of disappointment, disillusion and bitterness. What is worse is that most people avoid communicating their feelings, fearful that being honest may upset the homeostasis of the relationship. The unconscious or conscious fear is that if I express my anger or hurt him/her, my partner might end the relationship. This is not true. The truth is, that avoidance it worse. Avoidance brews “the collecting of stamps”, and one day, the energy that gets lodged, breaks loose, and bites you in the ass. We tend to act out what we don’t communicate. Acting out is taking a feeling and translating it into a behavior. Our feelings are energy: e- motions, energy in motion. Stuffing them only makes them stronger until our container can no longer house them. So what happens is they come out the side, worse than if we spoke our truth from the get go. Our insecurities rule our behavior and cause us to make poor choices.
One of the first things to lose its luster is our sexuality. When we are hurt or angry, we simply lose our sexual interest. Effective communication is crucial. It will always make things better. However, most folks don’t know how to communicate effectively. That’s because we grew up in homes where healthy communication was never modeled. Think about how your parents settled their conflicts and differences. Our fathers usually chose one of two options, depending upon their disposition. They entered their cave and shut down, or they carried a club. Our mothers either cried or shopped. Things didn’t change much from the good old days of Fred and Wilma. We only know what we know; therefore, we tend to do what comes naturally. Doing what comes naturally is not usually healthy. There is a right and a wrong way to fight. Fighting fair takes some learning. Tools and skills to communicate with a desired outcome, needs to be taught, like driving a car, learning how to play golf, tennis, the piano, etc.
This is when couple’s/marriage counseling is vital in order to help the couple find resources to work through their issues and clean up the polluted relational space that if not corrected, can destroy the marriage/relationship. And if the couple has children, this polluted relational space is their playground. So imagine the impact this has on them.
The truth is that sexual dysfunction is a result of not having a safe place to express how we feel. When our feelings are repressed, our sexuality is impaired. Most people don’t need a sex therapist. They need to learn how to communicate with each other.
Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher said that human beings are wired for connection. If we disconnect, we go into crisis. It’s only in a relationship that we can know who we really are. In his own words, he says, “Our relationships live in the space in between which is sacred. The meaning is to be found neither in one of the two partners, nor in both together, but only in the “between” which they live in together. “