4. Lack of Skills in Intimate Relationships. Marriage or Intimacy Require that a Couple Be Two Things: Best Friends and that they Have a Romantic Bond.
INEPT MEN: I think that romance is a skill. Tragically, I see some cultures, North America among them, lack male role models and mentors who show guys the ropes in the relationship arts of being a gentleman, a romantic, and a man who respects women and can court a lady. The female side to this deprivation of romance is just one feminine paradox. Once he has bonded with her as a best friend, he is ready to offer her a home and become her lover.
INEPT WOMEN: And, so sadly, often, a woman doesn’t or can’t develop her flirtatiousness because of certain cultural attitudes, harsh beliefs or hurtful experiences. She learns either to repress her sexiness or to risk being labeled ‘easy’ or worse.
A spouse often ‘strays’ because the woman has been disrespected by her man’s ignorance about how to treat a lady in public, at home and in their bedroom. Usually a woman’s libido naturally shuts down if she isn’t feeling bonded, safe, understood, cared for and validated.
JUST BUDDIES: Her husband may know what he wants but may not know how valuable it is to be a romantic and, therefore, doesn’t know how to tend to her femininity and her sexual response to create the bond between lovers. The wife may be disconnected from her body and her sexuality for various reasons such as childhood harm, low self-esteem, cultural judgements, etc. And they may still be more comfortable with their friends as individuals rather than focusing on developing a new lifestyle as a couple with mutual fun with other couples vs too much of him riding his motorcycle or her in her book club.
The Executive and The Wife:
Courtney had given up hope that Chris would ever listen to her. He was an energetic attorney who thought he was being a generous husband when he built a lake house so she and the kids could come with him and his friends during fishing season. Until they were in my office and until his outrage at her affair was sobered by my insistence, he had not yet heard nor placed any meaningful value on her complaints.
Courtney wanted what most women need in their intimate relationship: time for affection, validation, personal attention and friendship. The trips to the lake house didn’t provide that, rather she was exhausted by packing up the SUV for their whole family, doing the increased work at the lake of additional family housekeeping and cooking during what was supposed to be vacation. But her gentle complaints fell on deaf ears.
One of the other dads in their country club had noticed that, like him, she was always alone with the kids at the tennis court. He was a professional man in the world of communication and arts. His attention and conversation made her feel like a great mom and, also, a smart and beautiful lady. She enjoyed the easy friendship which ended up turning into an emotional affair and then quiet romantic hours when her husband was working long days and was too busy to notice.
At last, when her husband, Chris, agreed to learn to spend time paying attention to her, to listen to her concerns, to talk with her, to touch her in the ways that made her feel loved rather than in trying to get what he wanted, it was easy for Courtney cut off the affair. She genuinely wanted her husband and was grateful that, at last, the man she really loved wanted all of her and wanted to learn to make her feel adored in her marriage. It took Chris months to get over his feelings of being betrayed even though he understood that his wife’s affair was due to his lack of romantic skills. Their marriage counseling was complete as they built a new intimate bond through friendship and romance.
It’s a Matter of Growing Up
INTIMACY LOST: Romance before its time gives only the illusion of intimacy. I believe that our generation has unintentionally skipped parts of the six natural steps of full psychological development. When we are unable to continue the family bond of learning and adventure through adolescence, our teens find bonds with each other and plunge into intimacy before they are prepared.
USE TECHNOLOGY ARTFULLY: Our parents and grandparents were not equipped to keep us on track to adulthood in the current environment. They couldn’t have been ready. One example: our great inventors and visionaries couldn’t foresee that a purely technical manual for our televisions, telephones, video games and computers couldn’t inform us of how to use our technology with wisdom and artfulness to maintain our children’s growth and a healthy family lifestyle.
Those of us who devote our professional lives to knowing people well are starting to have access to the research data which points out the value in choosing how to bring the media into our homes and hands for wholesomeness.
DATE NIGHT: For more help with knowledge, I recommend focusing on date night. And, go beyond the basic choices. Dinner out, movies and drinks will always be there. Consider the favorites either of you have or which the two of you share. Your dates don’t even have to be a night…just together. Searching online for date ideas could be a date in itself.
And, my series of teaching videos on You Tube:
FOUR WEEKS ON ROMANTIC LOVE
1. The Invisible Ways We Lose Our Romance and How to Get it Back
2. Arousing the Romantic Bond – Novelty
3. Chemistry – Arousal is More than Sex
4. Sexual Intimacy in a Marriage – The Universal Panacea.