There’s a lot of information out about The Wheel of Consent out there. Brilliant, clear explanations about the quadrants, the purpose and the basis of it. Imho It’s a subtle, radical work of genius and thankfully spreading through the conscious sexuality teaching world. Betty Martin is the sex educators sex educator of choice. I’m honoured and thrilled to be supporting her in Manchester in May. Ahead of this I want to share how the WOC, and playing the 3 min game for the last 5 years has steadily and surely contributed to turning my life around
Let's say - for the sake of argument - you’re a good communicator and a "good enough" wife. You’ve articulated your hopes, desires and frustrations on countless occasions, yet nothing is changing. Your relationship is "good enough" but you’re missing the erotic charge you used to have? You'll have tried a few things: trips to lingerie shops, date nights, mini breaks, gifts. Even counselling. You’re close yet not close enough. You love each other but you need a breakthrough to rekindle the spark, connect in bed and rediscover your desire for each other. And to find your own erotic and playful nature again.
Remember the first time you walked in to yoga class? The uncertainty, the strange smell, the uncomfortableness of the postures, other people looking like they knew what they were doing and effortlessly moving from one posture to another. Then trying to keep up with what the teacher was doing and then maybe the class included your first Om or meditation? And the busy mind telling you, you weren’t doing it right and a bit of embarrassment or shyness.
And yet there was something that made you go back.
How many times have you felt that you wanted to give but been disappointed that the other doesn't want what you suggest? How many times have you really received what you truly wanted? Do you know what you want to experience? Do you? Can you really ask?
It seems there’s so much confusion about Giving and Receiving. Examples include; I really want to Give, can I go down on you? Would you like a hug? Here’s a gift for you (so you can join me in my hobby or dress up in something I like).
I’ve talked to many many men who feel they want to Give but their partner has closed down; illness, children, menopause and work are the main reasons offered.
I then talk to so many women who’ve switched off because it’s the same old thing time after time and they're bored or feeling the pressure to perform. And also, they don’t know what there is to want, or how to express it.
This misunderstanding about Giving is both subtle and sad, and leads to a heartbreaking ebbing away of enthusiasm and passion on both sides.
This is for Woman Hour on 6.8.18 where I was featured with dating advice for a 67 years young woman wanting to go into the dating world again.
"At my age? I'm happy on my own? Never again. I'd rather have a cup of tea"
What if the above, that are so commonly said, simply aren't true? What if in later life and on your terms, you could create the best and most supportive relationship of your life and explore intimacy again. This time with a renewed sense of self and and an ease you didn't feel first time around?
It might be easier to start with what we’re not. We’re not sex therapists, escorts, tantric masseurs or counsellors and we don’t offer those services as part of Sexological Bodywork. The difference between a ‘CSB’ and any of those is is worth explaining and its about the lack of ‘doing to you’ or ‘fixing you’. We believe you’re not broken, you’re having a natural life experience which can shift with the right support.
Sexual intimacy can be the glue that holds relationships together, it’s so precious to love and be loved in life. And to mean something to someone. Yet in a couple it can be easy to let intimacy slide.
And there are various valid reasons for it; kids, jobs, menopause, are the ones I hear the most often from men wondering why his wife has “closed down”
From women the story is different…the kids and jobs reasons remain, yet also thrown into the mix is not knowing what we want, resentments, unskilled touch, a lack of sexual confidence to initiate, the pressure to perform, an aversion to living up to fantasy. And finally boredom with the same old routine thing. So really, why bother turning up?
Correspondingly a little part of everyone’s soul shrinks with each turning away. The most important things are the hardest to talk about and once the gap in the bed widens, talking about sex becomes tricky if not impossible. Everyone finds this hard, even new lovers. Intimacy is at the heart of the matter and a longing for something we might have a sense of yet rarely experienced.
In Nick Roeg’s film ‘Insignificance’, there’s a great scene where Albert Einstein and Marilyn Munro are in bed together. It’s striking, because we don’t expect people like Einstein - geniuses who live in their head - to be any good at sex. They’re just good at thinking.
But here’s the thing: in sex, if nothing else, you’re Einstein. Most of us are. Except, instead of thinking new things, we’re all thinking the same things, over and over:
“Am I doing it right? Will he or she like me? That’s not working. Is it? I feel fat. If I do this will she let me do that? Am I allowed? What shall I do next? I feel rejected. I'm confused about what to do. I'm going to come too soon/not at all. An I taking too long? Do I smell nice? Does s/he really like this? I don't like that but I don't know how to say without upsetting him. Am I too soft/hard? Have I gone too far?
So what can we do to break the anxiety of performance? What is this mysterious thing of ‘being good in bed?’
‘I adore you.’
‘I choose you.’
‘Thank you for being in my life.’
How many times have you heard that? Or said that?
Devotion is a rather beautiful and slightly old-fashioned word isn’t it? In a world where sex is commoditised and judged on performance, the quiet art of devotion doesn’t get much of a look in.
Yet my instinct is we’re missing something. Imagine if someone turned up in your life who you couldn’t have expected and, without you having to do too much, simply loves you. And you them. It’s such a gift.
I’m not talking about all the spiritual stuff of worshipping the goddess here; I’m talking about simple admiration, respect, friendliness and seeing the wonder of another human being who you hold in the highest regard. Who you speak to with love and whose happiness you care about.
As women, we don’t know what we want because we don’t know what’s possible.
Not only that, but we’re scared that if we did know what is possible, we wouldn’t be heard, our desires would be dismissed, or we would be shamed.
We’re scared and in the dark about our sweetness and our wildness, scared of ourselves and our edges, and scared to be vulnerable in case we turn out to be weak or boring. We are scared to be too passionate in case we’re 'too much', so we close down and give up, feel misunderstood, sad and disconnected.
From my experience in working with men and with couples, I can say with certainty that men want us to know what is possible. What's more, they are delighted when we ask for what we want.