Breaking Up Sexual Gridlock
“You are the corned beef to me and I am the cabbage to you…”
A Communication Issue?
Most married people can relate either to Pepe Le Pew’s or to “LeKitty Cat’s” sexual dilemmas. Many women (and some men) find themselves running from sex like LeKitty Cat, never feeling at peace about it. Many men (and some women) find themselves always running after sex like Pepe, never making love as Pepe describes but always chasing.
As a matter of fact, the idea for this blog post came from a husband I work with who thankfully can have a good chuckle at himself when he recognizes his inner Pepe.
My hope is that you can have a good chuckle at yourself (be you a Pepe or LeKitty Cat) and perhaps find a way to change things for the better in your married le sex life.
Most – scratch that – every couple I see starts out in the therapy office saying that they have a communication issue with their spouse whether the issue is sex (Pepe/LeKitty Cat style) or money or parenting. They believe that if they had better communication skills – or if their partners had better skills J – they would understand them and give them more of what they are looking for.
My question for you is this: Do Pepe and LeKitty Cat really have a communication issue?
A Power Struggle
Pepe is not unaware of what LeKitty Cat is communicating by her constant running away. Anymore than LeKitty Cat is unclear about what Pepe is communicating by the chasing and grabbing. The communication is more obvious than the wilting tulips in Pepe’s wake! Is it not more descriptive to say that Pepe has taken up residence in chase mode and LeKitty Cat has taken up residence in hide mode – rather than a communication problem?
Gridlock is not a communication issue.
Our communication in marriage is just fine. We just don’t like le message our partners’ are sending and we don’t know how to stand still in the face of it. Pepe can’t stop his chasing and LeKitty Cat can’t stop her running. It’s not a communication issue but a growth one.
For our inner Pepes, le stud skunk, even though sex has become…well…less than le passionate, we not only settle for it, but we find ourselves chasing after the little bit we can get like this pittance is more than just the trifle that it is. We have given up ourselves and what we really want in exchange.
What our inner Pepe really wants is to make love – to le connect – but how can we ever do this if we’re always le grabbing? How can we feel good about ourselves or our le sexuality if we keep giving in?
We fear that if we stand still, calm ourselves, hold out for more authenticity (thereby becoming more authentic) le Kitty Cat will never really come to us. It’s a rock and a hard place. Either stand still and fight our “biological needs” and go without. OR keep doing what we’re doing and take what we can get, settle for (let’s face it) the mediocre sex we’re having.
What most Pepes find is that when they calm down and become more self-controlled and authentic their Kitty Cats come a purring and they can begin to make love like they never have before. (Don’t want to over simplify here. This takes a lot of work and time.)
Le Kitty Cat
For our inner LeKitty Cat sex has become a burden, a chore, and seems to always require bathing in le tomatoe juice to remove the stink. We may start to think that something may be wrong with us or that perhaps we’re just not le sexual at all. The fact that we can’t stand the smell of skunk or that we’d rather not be grabbed and pulled emotionally seems irrelevant to our inner peace. Especially in the face of the cultural pressure we face in our monthly subscription to our so-called women’s magazines. But to date, we have not found a way to say no without feeling like we have to runaway afterward.
We refuse to stand still in the face of our anxiety about saying no. We either go against our authenticity by having sex with Pepe just to get him to calm down or to leave us alone for a little bit OR we stop having sex and connection with Pepe altogether. Often blaming him for our unwillingness to stand still and say no – present, engaged, honest. LeKitty Cat’s rock and a hard place is to say no and run or to say no and stay engaged. I call this work “owning your ‘no’” – saying ‘no’ from a place of principle rather than fear.
What LeKitty Cats find is that when they learn how to not have sex on their own terms, peacefully and respectfully, they discover their inner sex kitten and over time making love becomes a profound opportunity for expression and creativity.
Is This Normal?
This tug of war is so normal that it can be seen as a standard developmental milestone in the human life cycle. It is the very process that challenges us to develop more authenticity – saying no without running and not just taking what we can get in life. It’s not about standing up for yourself in
marriage. It’s learning how to stand still for yourself in marriage. It’s about calming the world, one marriage at a time.
Miriam Bellamy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been in practice for 13 years. She is passionate about helping couples grow and about changing the landscape of how we approach marriage and conflict. You can find out more about her and her services at www.helpingcouplesgrow.com where you will also find her blog about growing after an affair.