WAR AND SEX: How to Win

Someone raised the question this morning in a discussion group about the parallels between war and sex. They were talking about power, but I see another connection, one I got to experience with one of my couple clients yesterday.

Both war and sex are about extreme vulnerability. Sex can feel like life and death, because being seen and loved in our bodies matters to our very core. It matters so much that we avoid, we numb, we pretend, rather than facing how much our partner’s approval, acceptance, and loving touch means to the survival of our soul.

It’s why tension and conflict with our beloved cut so deep: because we experience it as a physical wound. Emotions are embodied experiences. The pain of hostility, from the one we look to for love, is a body blow.

How do we “win,” then, in one of those wars within our relationship?

By laying down our weapons. By taking that first impossible step across the rickety bridge to where our beloved stands, huddled in pain. By putting ourselves into what feels like physical danger. By exposing our soft underbelly. By caring more about compassion, repair, reconnection, than we do about protecting our own hard-fought position. By sacrificing our emotional life’s blood – our pride, our righteousness, our own pain – for the sake of the one we love. For the sake of the relationship that we hold sacred.

Yesterday I had the exquisite joy of spending an entire session celebrating the wins, gratitude, and reconnections of a couple who have been married over 20 years. They have spent the last 10 of those years locked in a cycle of misunderstanding, hurt, distance, and yet, deep longing for love. Pain. Pain. More pain. Physical. Emotional. In their souls.

They told me about all the ways, in these last few weeks of working with me, that they have found their way to gratitude. To being able – in the heat of battle, in the moment of intense emotion – being able to see their beloved in their need, in their pain, and saying, “What do you need from me, in this moment? How can we do this together?”

Oh my Lovelies and Studlies – when we can do THIS? When we can find truce, peace, reconciliation in places in our hearts that have been war-torn for years? When we can accept ourselves and that beautiful, maddening, impossible, precious being we love as a mirror for our own soft, aching need? THAT is deep and powerful magic. That shifts the fabric of the world.

Make love. In the midst of war: make humble, vulnerable, courageous, tender love.

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