I had someone reach out to me and tell me about their sexual experiences and how they are struggling. One thing stood out to me, because I can relate.
“I’ve never had a good example of what a healthy sexual relationship looks like. I don’t know what it feels like…”
I too, never had an example of a healthy sexual relationship.
My parents were teenagers when they got together. I was the result of an unplanned pregnancy that my dad hoped would help my mom love him more if they kept the baby. My mom turned 17 ONE MONTH before I was born.
Now, I am sure plenty of people have been able to have kids in their teens and turn it into a good experience. But my parents were not such an example.
They were never married because my mom never wanted to make that commitment.
My parents fought non-stop. Their relationship was hot and cold. There were times they were very affectionate, but other times they hated each other, or so it seemed.
My sister believes she has heard my dad rape my mom. My opinion is that rape is a strong word. I think my mom was often just a reluctant participant, but did ultimately give her consent.
Their relationship was co-dependent at best.
Other couples I was close to also didn’t have the best of relationships. My aunt and uncle definitely had an abusive relationship that I witnessed on many occasions. That same uncle sexually abused me and my sisters. My grandparents were married over 50 years but they were cold to each other and slept in separate rooms or beds as long as I knew them.
Basically, I also did not have any good role models.
Beyond examples of loving marriages, sex is often not something we see modeled anyway. (And when you do, you wish you hadn’t seen it!)
All this to say: you don’t need an example of a healthy sexual relationship to be able to create one of your own.
In a way, NOT having an example opens you up to all the possibilities and lets you design the sex life you want.
What if there is no right or wrong, only what you want and don’t want? Only what feels good and what doesn’t?
It may take you a while to get there. If you come from a dysfunctional family like I do, it takes work to unravel the messages and beliefs you were handed about sex, marriage, relationship, men, love, etc.
You may even find yourself fighting against a good relationship because it conflicts with your self-image. I know I tried to get my husband to leave many times because I felt like he was too good for me. I was comparing myself to so many broken women that I couldn’t see the me he saw. I leaned on his belief in me for so many years until I could believe it myself.
And deciding what kind of relationship you do want may take some trial and error. It’s not all going to be rainbows and daisies. There will be hard days.
The first step is recognizing what you already believe and think about your relationship. I recommend journaling them all out. There is something about writing that is cathartic and gives you distance from your thoughts. If writing is not your style, though, try using the voice memo app on your phone.
The second step is testing each of those beliefs. Are they true? Do they get you the result you want? When you think them, how do they make you FEEL?
The third step is dreaming about what might be possible. If you find yourself having a hard time even going there, ask yourself what are you protecting yourself from? If you are capable of a healthy, sexual relationship, but your brain is not offering that option to you– then why? What are you afraid of?
For many of us it is this: if I try for a healthy relationship and fail, then there is something wrong with me. We just fail ahead of time by not giving ourselves the chance to go there.
Sometimes highlighting what you really don’t like about your relationship will tell you what you do want. So what bugs you the most about your husband? What is the opposite of that?
For me, I hate that my husband can be condescending. He owns it and tries to be careful not to come across that way. But when he is condescending I just feel so stupid. I want to feel like my opinion is valued and valid.
See? Do that for everything you dislike in your relationship and you will have a good starting point for the relationship you want.
Of course, you can do this on your own. I will continue to provide value here on the blog to help you. But it will take a lot more trial and error and time. But if you want results faster, I invite you to sign up for a free consultation call with me. I can show you where your blind spots are. I can guide you to what you really want and why. Time is the most valuable asset you have; why waste another day feeling like you can’t see the way out?