Paraphrasing the words of Robert Fulghum from his best-selling book published in 1990, it is indeed ironic to consider that the basic elements of a satisfying sexual relationship are rooted in our earliest lessons. Though Fulghum describes one essential skill learned in kindergarten as “Share Everything,” I will paraphrase it again as “Taking Turns.”
Over the years it takes for an intimate relationship to develop and mature, time takes its toll on trust and vulnerability, as partners sometimes keep score on the bottom line of needs met or disappointments noted… ultimately settled at the arbiter of the bedroom. Not surprisingly, couples who seek the help of a therapist often express frustration that the sexual relationship has not proven strong enough to carry the weight of emotional debt that they have heaped-onto it.
Back in kindergarten, we were encouraged to settle inequities that occurred in the sandbox with a simple axiom: Take Turns. This deceptively simple principle remains a powerful tool for partners seeking to navigate the challenges of re-discovering intimacy… returning to the creativity of sex as an invitation to relinquish and take control on the ultimate playground.
When couples engage in sex therapy, they are asked to leave their baggage at the door and contemplate the idea of Taking Turns giving and receiving, touching and being touched, fulfilling and being fulfilled. They are encouraged to walk out of the dark casino of emotional debt, into the radiant expanse of Sharing Everything.
Beyond the hypothetical, this powerful concept can lead lovers to assume responsibility for restoring their intimacy, one passionate act at a time, taking turns initiating the restorative moments they both need. One partner reads romantic poetry in the bathtub… the other arranges an interlude at a public place… then there is a tender massage by candlelight… and an impromptu session baking cookies wearing only aprons… then a spontaneous getaway at a nearby hotel…
Sexual intimacy requires that we shed our defenses, allowing an exchange of physical, emotional and spiritual energy that takes us back to an earlier time of life, when the delight of playfulness was more accessible and spontaneous.
–Tab Ballis, LCSW, LCAS, CCS
Tab is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, and Certified Clinical Supervisor. To schedule an appointment with our therapists at Carolina Sexual Wellness Center, call 919-297-8322.