The numbers are in.
According to the latest Statistics Canada data, approximately 38 per cent of all marriages end in divorce. In the US, the rate is more like 40-50%.
In a survey of 200 people done by Trustify in 2018,
55% of male respondents cheated on their spouse with five or more people
50% of female respondents admitted to cheating with one person
23% of the men said the leading cause of the affair was due to a lack of sexual satisfaction
28% of the women said the cause of the affair was due to a lack of emotional satisfaction.
What does this tell us?
This data is based on the fact that we are living in a sex-negative society. When issues arise, it can be very difficult to communicate with each other about them.
We are also living in a emotions-phobic society. When emotions arise in relationship, how often do you feel truly heard and respected? And how free do you feel to express all your emotions in the presence of a partner?
Esther Perel’s latest book “The State of Affairs” is a fascinating look at the underpinnings of monogamy and why it rarely works (or only works for half of us). After several hundred pages of case studies, troubles, and reasons for infidelity, she ends with a scant two and a half pages on what longterm couples can do to keep things erotic.
One of the main suggestions, that I love is: OPEN COMMUNICATION. For the longevity and juiciness of a relationship, it absolutely imperative to sit down and start talking about SEX and EMOTIONS.
But this isn’t easy!!
I remember a few years ago when my partner and I started looking honestly at all our issues around sex.
I was going through my Somatica® Sex & Relationship Coach training and simple ideas such as consent and boundaries (oh…and female anatomy) were daily household topics. Then there was the topic of unique sexual desires: what truly attracts us, what gets us the hottest, what sexual fantasies we hold….
It was all super edgy but also just what we needed. We had swept some things under the carpet for too long.
At one point it seemed like everything was on the table and up for debate: monogamy versus non-monogamy, whether or not we sleep in the same bedroom, who was in charge of what roles, when we could do what with whom away from one another.
It was tough! We needed a Somatica® Coach to help pull us through some of it.
One of the biggest things we worked on was learning to see and appreciate each other as true individuals. We learned to bless and celebrate each other’s desires and fantasies while not necessarily liking them or sharing them.
However, probably the biggest achievement we created was a deepening of shared passions. We committed to designated times for each other each week. We started going dancing together, going for walks, meditating together. We even started scheduling sex!
One of our main shared passions is Nature. Reuben and I now go to Nature together every Sunday, without fail. It is a strong commitment we have to ourselves and to our relationship.
Respecting each other’s differences and allowing one another to fully express our truth, honouring what each of us needs as individuals at times can be very hard. But it is counterbalanced by finding shared passions and making time for them.
Esther Perel talks in her book, State of Affairs, about the “Shadow of the Third.” In a healthy relationship, you don’t ignore that there are attractions to other people, that there is always the “shadow of the third,”: the woman who catches your partner’s eye, the cute pharmacist who hands you your prescription over the counter with a deep melodious voice. If you are in a healthy relationship, you accept and even talk about the “shadow of the third.”
When we ignore the shadow of the third, infidelities occur. We go around tip toeing, hiding and alternately acting out, often for the thrill of “being naughty” or the relief of not having to deal with our partner’s response to something we feel we dearly need or want.
But if we meet the “third” head on, we can start to navigate and negotiate differences. We can also enjoy the energies outside the couples bubble.
The “third” can look like many things for a couple. It could look like going out to a club and whispering to each other who there is attractive. It could look like sharing fantasies in bed. It could be allowing your partner to go and play sports or go out dancing with a group of un-shared friends. Or it could simply be having a deep shared passion that is a strong presence for both.
For my partner and I, our most reliable “third” is Nature. To us, Nature is like a third lover that we both adore interacting with and exploring together. We go out every Sunday and give ourselves over to the mystery of Nature. We allow her to touch all our senses, to inspire our minds, to nourish us with all her beauty and blessings. She refreshes us. She takes us outside of our weekly musings and challenges. She gets us outside our regular consciousness and patterned hangups. She takes us into deep communion with her and with one another. And it is so beautiful to share!
Having this weekly ritual is one of the ways that we keep our inspiration and eroticism alive as a couple. Meditating together and practicing tantra is another.
Having shared outside passions really helps when differences arise, when sexual lust speaks up, when spirit needs a particular freedom or recognition. Emotional communication skills and open honesty is the foundation. Shared passions or the “presence of the third” is fuel and inspiration.
What do you love to do with your partner? What is something you both love equally? What shadow do you want to bring into the light?
If you are experiencing challenges or questions around sexual or emotional communication, I see many couples each month who really want to make things work, who want to improve their intimacy lives, who just need support. Just like we did…
Remember, Love is your Nature!
– Zoey Wren
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