The Sex or the Love: Which Did you Lose First?
Steve Horsman doesn’t think this is about sex or love. It’s about the moment you stopped speaking your truth.
If you have been in a relationship that started going sour, you may have blamed the lack of loving feelings or you may have blamed the lack of good sex. Some people think the loving words and behavior die first, then following close behind is the sex. Other people think the sex dried up; therefore, the loving feelings did too.
The truth? Neither the lack of love nor the lack of sex is to blame.
It’s the lack of trust that stops first. And it’s possible you have never quite had that. Can you keep a secret? You’re not alone.
What do you mean? We trust each other!
Sure you do. You trust each other to come home every night. You trust each other to take good care of the kids. You trust each other that you are happily married. If not, someone would say something, right?
We fool ourselves constantly about the depth of our trust and respect for each other. It’s much easier to declare it than actually try to lean into it. We’re not sure we can count on it.
We believe our own bull crap about the strength of our relationship to avoid confronting the scary possibility we may be wrong. We profess our love for each other and make time for periodic, mediocre sex and we conclude that everything must be hunky-dory.
But, it’s not. Is it? Why don’t you confront it? Because you don’t trust one another enough to say so. If you are waiting for a time in your relationship to trust your partner enough, to tell the truth, you must realize they are probably playing the same game. The only way to break out of the deadlock that will doom your relationship is to start talking now.
The only chance you have to create a higher level of trust is to demonstrate your trustworthiness.
This is accomplished when you are willing to take the risk of trusting someone with your vulnerability first. Someone must go first. I love what Brené Brown has to say about this. She’s a rock star when it comes to vulnerability:
Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.
Death Bed Courage
If I’ve learned anything after a 28-year marriage and getting a secret glimpse into ones just like yours, it’s this: We nearly never say the words that are living in the deepest, scariest, vulnerable, most loving part of our souls. These words paint the picture of our most powerfully passionate, absolutely authentic feelings and desires. And we don’t share them. We don’t trust each other enough to say them out loud.
We don’t know the outcome. We not only doubt our partner’s reaction to the words — we’re afraid of our own.
Sometimes, we don’t even believe we have the “right” to reveal the most honest part of our desires. Who are we to blurt out how we feel and what we want anyway? Who should care?
It’s so sad.
We watch the loving behaviors we used to enjoy fade away along with the facade of our obligatory sexual routine. We stand witness to a crumbling relationship while we are biting our own tongues bloody to keep from saying what most needs to be said — our truth.
For some of us, we will choose to finally speak our truth on the death bed of the relationship only to find it’s way too late. I’ve seen men and women attempt a “Vulnerability Hail Mary” one week before their divorce decree is issued. It always falls on deaf ears.
And sadly, some of us make it to our real death bed and still choose to choke down the words we have always wanted to say.
I remember waiting until my dad reached the “death rattle” breathing stage before I uttered a pathetic, “I love you, dad”. I’m told he heard me. I hope so.
What’s your truth?
The most valuable result I can achieve with my clients is to help them speak their truth. It is the secret sauce in creating, transforming, or ending an intimate, romantic relationship. Sometimes this means digging deep to voice what you most believe about yourself, your values, and the future you want to live.
Other times, this means excavating the words from your heart to help you tell your partner something so vulnerable, so secret, so dirty, and/or so loving that you may collapse after saying it. This means unleashing the courage and dignity to take a stand against destructive and unhealthy behaviors that will no longer be tolerated.
The truth has the power to create the relationship you’ve always dreamed of.
The truth has the power to inspire your partner to speak theirs and open their soul to you.
It also has the power to allow you to lovingly release someone from your life who has proven they don’t belong with you anymore.
What Are You Waiting For? Death Bed Courage?
I want you to understand how I feel for you if you haven’t spoken your truth yet. I still taste the blood from my mangled tongue I bit for over 30 years.
I continue to find myself resisting the lump in my throat and the tears pushing from behind my eyes when I feel something deeply. But vulnerability no longer scares me. It’s the most powerful life skill I’ve ever known.
It’s a battle that is not won overnight, though. It’s a life-long process of taking one step at a time. The satisfaction and peace of a mind come from knowing that you’ve gotten in the right boat and you’re headed to the island of your choice.
If you’re scared, confused, sad, and a little angry, it’s time to speak your truth today -fears and all. Don’t wait for a death bed opportunity. Don’t focus on the outcome. Outcome dependency makes us feel like a failure until we get what we want.
Choose to make it your journey. As long as you’ve pushed off from shore, you’re a success.
Failure only comes if you quit paddling.
This story was previously published on The Good Men Project.