Diary of a Reluctant Couples Sex Therapist

Communication: Ego vs. Kindness

As a therapist, I am no stranger to the diversity of human experience or the complexity of human relationships. The matter at hand today is the struggle many couples face when egos, control, and lack of empathy start to dictate their relationships. The COVID Pandemic shined a giant spot lot on issues within many relationships to surface. The shutdown did not allow for an outlet. So being forced to be with your person 24/7 with no end in sight terrified most couples.

The first problem manifests when partners allow their egos to control their interactions. Consider the example of Sarah and Jack, a couple I counseled. Both are highly accomplished in their respective fields; an equally strong ego matched their success. The couple was often engaged in power struggles, their conversations more about competition and one-upmanship than understanding and empathy. Their sex life became a battleground, an arena for asserting dominance rather than a means of expressing love and mutual pleasure.

Our second case involves Mark and Lisa, who value control above all else. Their marriage was filled with strict rules and an overwhelming desire to manage every aspect of their life together. Unfortunately, their sexual relationship also fell under this shadow. Their need for control stifled spontaneity and passion. There was no room for exploration or novelty, as everything had to be perfectly planned and executed, leaving little room for natural human connection.

Lastly, we have Peter and Karen, who had stopped listening to each other. Conversations became monologues; their interactions became a dialogue of people intent on not hearing each other. Not being listened to often triggers unresolved childhood themes, causing a further gap in their daily conversations. Instead of hearing and understanding each other’s needs and desires, they were trapped in a cycle of assuming and defending. The couple’s sex life mirrored this pattern, taking what the other wanted but never asking, never truly hearing, for understanding the other’s needs.

These examples illustrate the havoc that unchecked ego, control, and lack of empathy can wreak on a relationship, particularly within the confines of a couple’s intimate life. So, what can we learn from these stories? Let me offer you four significant takeaways:

Firstly, leave room for vulnerability. In the face of ego, let’s choose humility. Let’s be open about our desires, fears, and insecurities. This brings couples closer, fostering a deeper understanding and a stronger bond.

Secondly, loosen the reins. Relationships are not about control but about shared understanding and mutual growth. The more we try to control, the more we stifle a relationship’s natural, evolving dynamics. This includes our intimacy and sexual relationships, where spontaneity, exploration, and novelty can ignite passion.

Thirdly, be an active listener. Relationships thrive when we choose to understand our partner’s perspective genuinely. This demands active listening, a deep-seated desire to comprehend our partner’s feelings, fears, and desires, including their sexual needs.

Lastly, be kind. Amidst all disagreements, power struggles, or misunderstandings, let’s not forget the power of kindness. This simple yet powerful attribute can dramatically transform the dynamic of a relationship, leading to increased understanding, compassion, and mutual satisfaction.

In conclusion, remember that a fundamental desire for connection is at the heart of any relationship, especially in its most intimate aspects. As we navigate our relationships, may we strive to lessen the grip of ego, control, and unheard dialogue, instead opening ourselves up to vulnerability, spontaneity, active listening, and kindness. Only then will we truly know each other?

Thank you.

Debra Ann Cruz

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