communication in relationships

Couple bridal bed Louvre Myr268

Image via Wikipedia

And by “in bed” I mean “sex” and by “what happens” I am referring to the infamous “orgasm gap”.

You know, that gray area that exists between how often a man thinks his woman cums and often how she actually does.

Yeah, that.

Apparently, because life in the United States isn’t sufficiently bleak and terrifying enough yet, someone had the time and the cash to conduct an extensive survey of the sexual landscape of Americans. What emerged was that the time-worn notion that women fake it more than men realize still holds up quite well since the days of Harry and Sally.

The reason behind this is lack of communication. Couples simply can’t discuss sex as easily as they can engage in it.

Reasons vary, naturally, but one researcher suspects that it starts back in kindergarten when the genders typically segregate themselves during play and this natural preference for same gender friendships is reinforced by formal sexual education that takes place in all girl or all boy settings.

I don’t argue with the first premise. We do clan up as small children. The second theory though doesn’t hold a lot of water for me as a former educator because sex ed was taught through Home Ec or Family Consumer Sciences and classes were co-ed as far back as when I started teaching in 1987. That’s a lot of generations of kids who learned about vaginas, wet dreams, venereal disease and where babies come from in each other’s presence to make me scoff a bit.

However, I won’t dispute at all the idea that couples don’t talk. But I think that most couples don’t talk about anything of importance – sex, money, life’s goals, grievances – so the problem is more than just “he pokes; she fakes”.

I’m a bit perplexed by the faking aspect. I don’t recall it coming up in formal sex discussions in school (though with my teachers being nuns about the only thing that was discussed were “monthlies” and why good girls used pads instead of tampons).  But I can’t remember ever having a girl-fest gab where faking was on the topic agenda either. Though, truthfully, I haven’t had a frank sex discussion among female friends since my college days. We partner up, have babies and somehow fall into euphemisms. The last really in-depth convo was with my BFF as we shared notes on dealing with men of substantial size.

But returning to the art of “faking it”. Okay, Meg Ryan did it, but she’s a real actress and doesn’t just play one between the sheets. Is the average woman capable of such a feat?

Granted, men reach a point of total … um … focus?… at some point and the building could easily collapse about them and they wouldn’t be aware, but even the thickest (skulled that is) fellow has to realize when he’s being given the signal to “hurry up already because I am no longer feeling it”.

I have never faked it. Seriously. Never. If it’s just not going to happen, I say so. There’s no shame or fault. Sometimes, it just doesn’t happen. For me, it tends to coincide with certain times of the month. Hormone levels rise and fall depending on where women are at in their cycles. Exhaustion. Illness. Stress. All factors. For men too. What’s the big deal with being honest?

My favorite quote from the article on the survey, however, has to be this one:

For example, Reinisch explained, the reasons men might ask for oral sex aren’t just about the physical feeling.

“The penis has incredible meaning, way beyond that it feels good, in terms of the sense of self, goodness, lovability and being loved,” she said. But women can’t be blamed for not fully appreciating this. “If you talk to men as I have in my career, they don’t think about how much it means, they just know they like it a lot and protect it with their lives. But when it is honored by their partner it makes them feel better about their whole selves…It’s quite amazing. I don’t think women understand the power of honoring that little part.”

(Note to women: calling it “little” probably isn’t a good way to honor it.)

I am sure many women will feel differently about oral worship after reading this, don’t you think?

Joking aside though, it makes sense.  Men are very invested in their organs and if a woman’s sense of worth stems from the physical (weight, perceived attractiveness, etc) then wouldn’t men’s? Because it’s not like they worry about weight or perceived attractiveness – unless it has something to do with their hair.

Actually, I think that everything that makes women insecure pales in comparison to the worry and fears men have about their penises.

But everything leads back to the all important “communication”, does it not?

It’s not about sex ed classes being single-sex or co-ed. What we don’t teach our children to do is to speak up, ask questions, listen to answers without hysteria or judgement and participate in real give/take in terms of relationships.

Is it poor modeling? Lack of instruction? Or both.

Instruction on an age appropriate level is the current running theme for us with Dee now that her oldest sister has moved in with her beau.

We visited Edie and Silver recently for a tour of the happy new home. While Silver took Rob on the man’s tour – which means they talk renovation rather than storage, lighting, space and color schemes – Edie, Dee and I eventually found the kitchen and snacks. As we munched and chatted, Dee turned to her sister and asked,

“So where does Silver sleep?”

Blushing, giggling and stammering ensued while I munched raw veggies in interest.

Dee had already sprung this question on Rob and I, and I knew she knew perfectly well where her sister’s beau slept. Rascally thing has been angling for more information regarding the goings on between men and women for a while now and thought she saw an opportunity to pry withheld facts from Edie.

Knowing that Edie didn’t know how to proceed, I reminded Dee that we had already discussed this and that Silver slept with Edie, just like Mommy and Daddy slept together.

Which isn’t at all what she wanted to know but she’s just eight and has only an inkling of what it is she is seeking.

Edie looked grateful and the conversation moved on, but the topic is merely delayed until the whole pg/baby thing pops up. And though Rob prefers not to think about it, that’s not as far away as it used to be.

Cluelessness is learned, a bit, but it’s probably a form of shielding – from embarrassment or shining light on festering issues. It’s a way to control. There’s control in ignorance so long as you aren’t the one without the needed information.

Here’s what’s at issue with “faking it” as far as I am concerned: transparency. Hiding anything in relationships just cannot lead to good things.


Image by Gerard Stolk presque 64 via Flickr

One of the more major things that has to be done in regards to moving to be with my boyfriend is selling the house where I live with my daughter. I actually find that a scarier prospect than quitting my job. I am not sure why.

The house represents nothing but the time that my husband was ill. It was my prison in many respects and yet the idea of getting it ready to sell threatens to swamp me emotionally. I think some of it is I will need help to get it ready and I hate asking for helping and letting people help me. Why? Probably my early life experiences have conditioned me to expect people to let me down. My past encounters with “help” have nearly always been that people are willing to help with what they perceive your needs to be rather than what those needs really are or what you would actually like them to do for you.

My initial feelings about this selling business is to just sell it as it is. Whatever I get, I get as long as I don’t sell it at a loss. I just don’t care that much and I really don’t have money to put into it. A fear I have about selling is that it will take time (though I think this is just a fear; something tells me it will sell before the summer ends) and then without a job, how will I pay the mortgage on it while waiting for someone to buy it. Which leads me to other money issues, how do I finish paying off my debts without a job?

I don’t want my boyfriend to do things like this for me.

Even though we have talked (very indirectly) about marriage, it makes me feel imcompetent. And maybe that is what it comes down to really. I am feeling as though I did a very poor job taking care of things this last year or so. I have some debt issues.

The house has updating and minor repair issues that have been neglected. If I were staying here and teaching next fall, I had planned to get all this stuff taken care of but the year’s end. The whole point of getting the master’s degree was to turn the financial situation, imposed on me by Will’s illness and death, around and I knew this woud take about a year.

Going to Canada cuts that time in half, leaves me jobless and with bills still to pay plus a house payment.


Yes and I know what I have said about details. They work themselves out.

Not calming the inner control freak who really hates for people to know when she is scrambling to come up with solutions to problems simply because she doesn’t want to admit that she is in a bit over her head. I know that the sensible thing to do is to tell R that I might need more time.

I don’t want to do that. Not because I am worried about his reaction. I honestly think he would tell me it isn’t a problem and we’ll do what we need to if I have to work the first semester before coming up.

I just know that taking those extra months will not make the transition easier. It might solve the money issues but for my daughter the better thing would be to go and not come back. It would be better for R and I as well. Trying to go back to the LDR thing will not be easy for either of us. So, of course the thing to do is talk with R about all of this. Why is that so hard?

Probably the money thing for a start. I don’t want him to know about the credit card debt. Half of it was emergencies – car and surgery but the rest was stuff that could have waited and wouldn’t have been an issue but for the emergencies that caught me off guard.

Why do I think knowing this might change his feelings for me? It won’t. It’s that conditinal love thing I learned growing up and really didn’t have enough time with my husband to fully shake.


So important and so hard.