My last several blogs have dealt with how to begin a conversation with your partner about sexual difficulties in your relationship. If you and your partner have come to an agreement about improving things together, you can now move into the conversations that form what I call the “discovery” part of the process. If you are still working to improve your relationship on your own, you’ll have to explore the topics by yourself. If you and your partner are not in agreement, it will be even more important to push forward and act unilaterally to change your relationship and the dynamics around sex. The goal of this and coming blogs is to help you get clear about your own, individual contribution to the cycle of avoidance, so you will be prepared to change your part. The first place to look for information about your role is in your personal history, in what’s colloquially called “your baggage.”
Who Packed Your Bags?
This is where you start to figure out what you are bringing to the dynamic with your partner. Every situation in your relationship is co-created by you and your partner, and your problematic sex life is no exception. One reason you may not have dealt honestly with your sex life until now stems from your own patterns of dealing with difficult things. Your specific contribution to the cycle, the way you participate in this cycle, is not a coincidence. You have your challenges for a reason (and they likely show up in more than just your sex life).
When beginning to explore where your patterns were developed, you can start with what’s called your family of origin—your childhood. While it’s not “all about your mother,” as Freud might have said, it’s worth looking back over your childhood and getting real about how things were and how your personality developed in that context, with all the important people in your life at that time.
In coming blog posts, I’m going to ask you to think about and answer a whole host of questions that shed light on your patterns and where they originate. Be sure to check back for updates, and it may be helpful to use a journal to record your responses. Hopefully you will gain some clarity about how you were trained to behave and react to things. Go through these with your partner and share your reflections with each other (or answer them yourself if you’re doing this on your own). Take as much time as you need, and let the conversations go where they may. My questions are starting points and prompts, but I want you to really dive in and understand your background and that of your partner. For now, begin by reflecting on your family history and how it might be reflected in your life today.