“Sexuality is one of the ways that we become enlightened, actually, because it leads us to self-knowledge.
Alice Walker – author
“…an addiction which has destroyed my successful marriage…”
Abu was a short, distinguished looking man 70 years old. He had a full head of long, straight, white hair held in a ponytail fashion at the back, by an elastic. He had been married to Ashanti for 40 years. They had two daughters and three grandchildren.
Abu contacted me to discuss what he termed ‘a private matter’ which was upsetting him greatly. When he arrived, he quickly outlined his background and family structure. When I asked him what was on his mind which was bothering him so much he said, “I have had a successful marriage to my beloved Ashanti for many years…40 in fact…and now, I think I have destroyed it!”
“What happened?” I asked him.
“I have developed an addiction which has destroyed our relationship, and embarrassed me, to no end!” he replied.
“Have you discussed this with her, Abu?”
“Abu, what is your addiction?”
“I’m a sex addict!” he replied, clearly embarrassed by speaking these words out loud.
“Do you know someone who isn’t?” I asked him smiling.
“Ken, I realize we are all born with a sex drive, but I have distorted it in a bad way!” he said sadly.
“Tell me how you have done this Abu.”
“I spend hours on the Internet searching for erotic images for masturbation purposes.” he said, his uncomfortableness rising again on his face.
“That suggests you are not having enough intimacy with Ashanti…how is your relationship with her been going lately?”
“Ken, we are very close, and have always been so. But with her medical problems over the past five years, both her hysterectomy and her diabetes, she seems less affectionate and not really interested in being intimate.”
“Have you discussed this with her, Abu?”
“Not really…and when she found out I was using erotica or pornography on the internet for sexual satisfaction, she said she felt betrayed…she was ‘heart broken!’”
“…sex was never talked about in my family…”
“Abu, let’s ensure we have a common understanding of human sexuality. Your situation suggests there are some important things you, and, I’ve found many other people, don’t realize, about human sexuality. Let me outline them very briefly for you.”
“Ken, sex was never talked about in my family…it was like it didn’t even exist! So I’m interested in your points. Go ahead!”
“First point, humans are hardwired to reproduce. This is the biological origins of our sex drive energy…we are sex machines. Otherwise, our species would not have survived.”
“So our sex drive is normal…good to hear!” he said smiling.
I continued, “Second point, human sexuality runs along a continuum, not an either or of heterosexuality or homosexuality. Research indicates sexual preferences are based on a combination of genetics, culture and environment. So for example, if you confine either gender for long periods they will engage in homosexual behaviour, which occurs in prisons around the globe.
“So, there are several factors which determine a person’s sexual preferences!” he paraphrased.
“There is not enough celebration of companionship. Relationships aren’t just about eroticism and sexuality.” – Francesca Annis, actress
“… sexual energy can also be used for other important things…”
“Yes, Abu,…third, it’s the forms of our sexual energy which evolve as we progress through life. So, the forms continually change based on our values, our age, our family dynamic, our health, and other factors. Our sexual energy usually starts with physical sex, but later our sexual energy can take many other forms including: rearing our children, our work, our hobbies, our grandchildren, our health, and so on. We see this frequently when people compare a piece of music, a special song, a glass of wine, an aromatic dish of food, an insightful poem or a beautiful scene to an organism”
“Ken, you’re saying our sexual energy can also be used for other important things in our life and this changes as we move through life!”
“Exactly,…fourth point, research show babies masturbate in the womb, so sex is always with our own body first. And, this practice continues throughout life. Some research suggest it is the most satisfying form for many people. But, we may choose to do it with others. Even if we do, solo sex will continue to be part of the way we release some of our sexual energy. So, solo sex is normal and healthy for us..”
“So, solo sex is to be expected, in everyone, in some form, throughout their life!”
“Right on again,…fifth and final point, in committed relationships, while there is more availability of sex with a partner, it doesn’t mean there is no need for masturbation. And, if because of conflict, age, health, or some other reason, sex is less likely with a partner, this can increase the need of a person to engage in solo sex.”
“…the human heart is unbreakable…its’ most important trait is flexibility…”
“Are you suggesting that because I’m not feeling as intimate with Ashanti, I’m using the internet as a replacement to release my sexual energy?” he asked.
“What do you think, Abu?”
“Well, it makes sense…but what can I do if she is no longer interested in being intimate with me?” he said, clearly discouraged.
“Abu, you mentioned earlier you have not really discussed any of this with Ashanti, yet. Given your longstanding relationship, I wonder what she knows about human sexuality and what she expects from you in relation to intimacy. You mentioned she was ‘heart broken’…the human heart is actually unbreakable and one of its’ most important trait is flexibility…perhaps what was broken was an old illusion about something very important to her.” I said.
“Well, I know we have never discussed these points you just raised to me about sexuality…I would love to hear her reaction to them, and, what it might mean for our relationship.”
“Abu, that sounds like a great idea! You have that discussion with Ashanti and then we can determine a next step when you return next week!”
“OK, I’ll do that!” he replied, smiling again.
“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone you love.” ― Woody Allen, entertainer
“They were able to identify the new forms of sexuality…”
Abu returned the following week much more at ease with himself. He told me, he and Ashanti, had several long talks about their relationship. They realized, since her surgery, they had both moved away from each other, both emotionally and physically. Ashanti told him, after her surgery, she felt what she called, ‘less female,’ and less attractive. She assumed he also perceived her the same way.
Abu told her he thought her distancing herself from him was because she blamed him for her surgery…by getting her pregnant too many times. So, each had retreated to their own corner of the their house, to cope with their distorted perceptions of themselves, each other and, their sexuality.
These conversations, between Ashanti and Abu, continued over the next several week to the point where Ashanti wanted to come in to discuss what their relationship could look like in the future. Ashanti was a striking woman, tall in contrast to Abu’s shorter stature, and with a soft, gentle voice. At the same time, she was strong and clear about what she expected from Abu.
They soon identified the new forms of sexuality in their marriage. These included their attention to their children and grandchildren; cuddling on the couch watching movies on Netflix; snuggling in bed at night; holding hands walking through the mall; making special coffees for each other; checking on each other’s health; and several others.
When they got back to the topic of Abu’s solo sex, Ashanti said she was quite comfortable with his need for it and, would even help him, if desired. Then she added, solo sex had always been part of her life…what had bothered her was he didn’t come to her. Abu added, as he got closer to her again over the last few weeks, his need for solo sex had shifted to more of a focus on intimacy with her and, their new forms of successful sexuality in their relationship.
“The forms of our sexuality evolve throughout our life, just like the rest of our body! It starts with a baby playing with their toes and ends with holding the hand of a loved one” – King Ayles, author
Until Next time…
So, check out your relationship and make a list of the different ways each of you expend your sexual energy besides the most obvious ones. And notice and appreciate how part of the success of your relationship is because each of you have found special ways which reflect your purpose and your values. Then you can thank your partner for being the perfect one for you.
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