A Powerful Aphrodisiac for Her

6 min read

Matched and Mismatched Sexual Desire

In my work with couples, sexual discordancy is a high-ranking troublemaker. However, when the love light gleams in the eyes of one partner and then on other occasions with equal brightness in the other partner, alternating at a roughly equivalent rate, the otherwise common and potentially festering problem of sexual disharmony is not as acute, or it’s nonexistent. Here, sexual bargaining and compromising usually come easier since both partners share similar or matching libidinal motives and interests.

Conversely, where one partner appears to be comparatively more interested in sex than the other, the discrepancy can be a frustrating, even painful, thorn in the side of a healthy relationship. Worse, perhaps, is when one partner comes to bear the full weight of the sexual initiative in an exclusive, pattern-like way and must cope with the accompanying dismal prospect of a no or a non-answer; tension-filled resentment can, and often does, accumulate, triggering couple conflict.

Naturally, as it pertains to sexual functioning and everything else within the intimate context, each couple relationship has both its “stock features” and its “customized” unique features; stock features link us all together in the commonplace enterprise of intimate relating, while unique features distinguish it from all other relationships, just as snowflakes have both common and individual characteristics. Both are important.

Flickering or, Worse, Extinguished

Several studies have found it is often the female partner—or the partner who assumes the conventional female role—who suffers a very common, kneecapping form of sexual dysfunction expressed as a loss of desire and arousal. These disorders often have their taproots in early learned parental, religious, and societal injunctions that impose rigid sanctions or sexual prohibitions upon her.

These taboos can take a tight, unrelenting grip on her feminine psyche. For example, “Be sure to play hard to get,” Good girls aren’t easy,” “Why would he buy the cow when the milk is free?” etc. This latter archaic injunction is perhaps the most preposterous because it goes beyond merely imposing an embargo on her sexuality or rationing it out to equate her worth entirely with her sexual value.

These restrictions or, as is the case for some, the virtual ban on her sexuality can be a deep, desire-eroding force that suppresses and conflicts the expression of her sexuality, thus compromising its fuller, healthier expression. And there can be other taller mountains for her to climb.

Too Many Hats

When she takes her place in the world of work, as many females and female-identifying persons do, her new job duties, layered atop her prior commitments and responsibilities, create a rising floodwater of obligations that can engulf her. Now, since tackling her job and being unrelieved of her former duties, she finds herself trying to juggle an outsized, growing number of tasks. Often, she must force herself into the taxing role of multitasker who tries to wear as many hats as she can, particularly if she is partnered in a relationship where there are children, either her own or someone else’s.

Here, she’s often the chief caregiver and wears the “child-rearer or nurturer” hat—a full-time, 24/7, always on-duty provider of far-reaching, unfaltering care with little or no concern for her own needs. Central to her role as nurturer, she is called upon to wear the “Captain Kitchen” hat, where she’s often solely in charge of the grocery shopping and the ever-reliable preparer of endless meals. Given that the home has been traditionally considered her “province,” she also finds herself wearing the “Domestic Engineer” hat as most in-home responsibility, from laundry to vacuuming and everything in between, falls heavily onto her obligatory lap.

Topping it all off (pun intended), she is expected to wear the “Ready-for-Sex” hat—that is, she must give of herself sexually regardless of her desire or readiness. After all, the bulk of her feminine calling is to care for others—it’s her Mother Earth mandate. So, how many hats can she wear at a time? Must she become a superwoman? Can this be expected to work, especially over the long haul? And can it continue without serious repercussions?

A Common Relationship Faux Pas

Respected psychologist Rudolf Dreikurs observed that a common mistake we make in our relationships is to over-respect others, thereby under-respecting ourselves, or vice versa, to over-respect ourselves, thereby under-respecting others. Now, at the risk of blurting out a stereotype, she is most likely to make the mistake of under-respecting herself as she enacts her feminine social conditioning to, at all times, be other-sensitive and caring. Paradoxically, this social edict can cause her to suffer relationship-destroying resentment and conflict, especially in her closest relationships, where her self-sacrifice can reach stratospheric heights.

The Antidote in Mathematical Form

In a dry, algebraic-like, but hopefully helpful manner, acts of partner care ought to roughly equal acts of self-care with the lofty aspiration of achieving or approximating a one-to-one ratio. Ideally, this can be done with her ongoing efforts to keep the “self and partner respect scale” evenly balanced, with an emphasis on keeping herself fully represented in the relational equation. When I propose these suggestions or “behavioral prescriptions” in couples therapy, my female clients are sometimes surprised, even taken aback. To many of them, it seems unnaturally self-centric.

Yet, adopting this approach can prevent the accrual of resentments that spawn a “growing-out-of-love” with her partner, sexually and otherwise. As evidence, not infrequently, she can be heard saying, “I care for him, but I’m not in love with him.” Such remarks reflect how resentment can insidiously escalate when the self and partner respect scale is uneven, especially when it’s chronically imbalanced. Of course, this is particularly applicable to her sexuality.

Her New Watchword

Her new watchword ought to become: The quality and sustainability of the care I give my partner is clinched by the quality and consistency of the care I provide myself. In effect, she learns to nurse the side-by-side co-existence of the ofttimes opposing forces of self and partner respect—simultaneously. By what may be a slow, arduous acquisition of these self-care skills, she can create and preserve a greater, unconflicted measure of affection for those she’s closest to, but especially her intimate partner.

By these means, her concerted efforts at self-respect and care may be her most powerful aphrodisiac.

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