I think it’s interesting that after we as a culture decided to put sex out on the table and talk it to death, so very many people are frustrated and practically in despair. In a way it’s like the problems people have with laundry. We gave up our wringer washers for washing machines, and we still feel overwhelmed by laundry – perhaps more so than ever. When it comes to laundry, we have bought into the idea that it’s so much easier than ever to do laundry, there is practically nothing to it. So why do people live with piles of laundry all over their house, and become anxious trying to keep up with it? Perhaps because the process of doing laundry has “gone dark”. We no longer set aside a day for laundry. We don’t hang things out to dry. We don’t have a day to iron, fold and put away. We put clothes in the washer and if we remember, move them to the dryer before they get stinky, and there they sit until we fish them out. We don’t understand how the process works, despite all of our wonderful technology. Don’t get me wrong…I’m a big fan of my washer and dryer! I don’t want to hang sheets on the line, (even though they do smell wonderful!) But because technology has allowed us to do more than we could, now the target has shifted. Our expectations have grown along with our clothing piles. For many people, it really is no easier than it used to be when people used lye soap and scrub boards! It feels like a gargantuan never-ending task.
Back to sex. We somehow decided in the 70’s that sex was our human right. In our eagerness to shed light on this basic human activity, we threw out a lot of wisdom and decided we knew better. Our language has changed from “making love” to “having sex” or even the vulgar “getting some” – both a consumer approach. It’s sort of like eating a steak. It’s supposed to “satisfy” us and we are supposed to “get our needs met.” When it comes to sex, our goal is to be satisfied, and to get as much as possible before we die. Jewish rabbis used to instruct men to satisfy their wives once a week. They might still do that – I don’t know. Women were told to defer to the needs of their husbands. There was some thought to not being completely selfish, but to being sensitive and giving to the other person. People used to understand that after a woman had a child, she might not be interested in sex for a while due to her hormones and lack of sleep. Now, everyone is expected to have sex, sex, sex, into their 90’s! So, as a culture we have decided that anything goes, except not having sex for any reason including illness, etc. This is not freedom, any more than deciding that now that it’s easy to do laundry, everyone in the family gets to have 65 T-shirts and we have to keep up with enormous amounts of clothing!
The sex drive is the strongest drive human beings have. It will not be ignored. However, we still have to think of our partners, and show them love and kindness. We have all decided that if we’re not in the mood, we don’t have to have sex. That’s true, but wouldn’t it be kind to be available to your partner’s needs? We have forgotten there is sacrifice attached to sex. Sacrifice in a chess game means I give up something to gain a better position. Instead, we think it is our duty to fight, fight, fight for what we want, and to make sure we get it at all costs. How is that going to work in a relationship? Having sex opens the door to having children. Raising a child is very sacrificial! And why should we do all this difficult, sacrificial stuff? Because it causes us to grow as people. It helps us think of others, as well as ourselves. And it keeps us from living a barbaric life in which we simply consume away, thinking only of our own needs and wishes. Maybe sex is frustrating because it is teaching us to look at ourselves and our loved ones differently. It is infantile to think of everyone in your life as someone who is there simply to “meet your needs.” Relationships are reciprocal. There is give and take. If you are feeling frustrated, because you aren’t getting what you want and/or need, turn your focus for a while and think about what you can give. It may help you to see yourself in a new light, and to realize you have the power to love someone else, even when it hurts.