When sex leaves the relationship

Joey Garcia

For five years my girlfriend and I only had sex when I initiated it. Now we only have passive intimacy (hugging and kissing). I’m 35 and she is 55. We’re good together except for the sex. My allegiance to her is strong. How important is sex?

Very, if it is an intimate, committed relationship. “Having sex is admittedly not the whole reality of sex, but it is perhaps God’s greatest gift to the planet and it offers humans the opportunity for genuine intimacy available this side of eternity,” writes Ronald Rolheiser in Holy Longing, the Search for a Christian Spirituality. Rolheiser distinguishes between sexuality, which he describes as “an all-encompassing energy inside of us,” and genitality, defined as “having sex.” He writes: “We are healthily sexual when we have love, community, communion, family, friendship, affection, creativity, joy, delight, humor and self-transcendence in our lives. … One can have a lot of sex and still lack real love, community, family, friendship and creativity, just as one may be celibate and have these in abundance. … Thus, while genitality should never be denigrated and seen as something that is not spiritual or important, it should not be asked, all by itself, to be responsible for community, friendship, family and delight within our lives.”

So, celebrate the sexuality (affection, friendship etc.) you have. Then, explore why the sex act is MIA in your relationship. Talk to your partner. A libido decline can be physical, such as menopause. It may be emotional. Counseling might free her courage to initiate. You might also enjoy Lou Paget’s book How to Be a Great Lover. It was written for women, but the chapter on kissing may shift your fluency in lip language from passive to passionate.

My boyfriend told me that one of his buddies called my boyfriend’s little girl a bitch, right to her face. This child has since laid on my kitchen floor and thrust her pelvis up and down suggestively. I asked her where she learned this and she named someone I know. I am concerned about the exploitation of children. Please tell me how to handle this situation.

“It’s easy to guess that somebody has been inappropriate with her,” says Susan Orr, a registered art therapist who counsels children. She recommends Red Flag, Green Flag, a coloring book that helps children talk about sexual experiences and helps adults talk to children about possible sexual experiences they’ve had. It is available from the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center by calling (701) 293-7273. The book explains that there are two kinds of touch: one that feels good and affectionate, and the kind that feels confusing. It notes that anyone might touch a child in ways that are “red flag” touches and encourages children to talk to someone they trust.

Arm yourself with information, but don’t delay talking to her. Let her know that you are someone she can talk to if a situation feels scary or confusing. Support her in trusting her feelings. Susan suggests saying: “Most of the time adults protect children, so children can trust adults. Sometimes when adults get confused they do things to hurt children. It’s not OK when grown-ups do grown-up things with children. If you need a safe place to talk, I would be glad to help you.”

I want to thank you for your willingness to see what is happening and to take action. Don’t be afraid to contact authorities or a therapist for more support.

Meditation of the week
“Maybe none of us knows anything because we’re all hiding from each other,” says the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. What part of your healing do you sacrifice because you’re afraid to reveal your authentic self, wounds and all, to another?

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