Over the past two weeks, we’ve had some great discussions about sexual desire differences and how this is part of every marriage.
Let’s wrap up this discussion by expanding the Four Points of Balance proposed by Dr. David Schnarch (and once again, these are trademarked by him and can be found in his work).
- A solid flexible self is different than a reflected sense of self as it means you’re able to maintain your psychological shape while in close proximity to important people who pressure you to conform or accommodate them. You don’t have to keep your distance (emotionally or physically) in order to stay clear about who you are.
The more solid you are, the more important you can let your spouse be to you, and the more you can let yourself be truly known. You can seek advice and let yourself be influenced by others; you can change your mind when warranted; and you can be flexible without losing your identity.
- Having a quiet mind and calm heart allows you to regulate your own emotions, feelings, and anxieties. The inability to soothe and comfort yourself means your desires and life’s frustrations will pull you apart.
Self-soothing is the ability to calm yourself down, soothe your own hurt feelings, and keep your fears and anxieties under control. This point of balance is what separates us from the other species on the planet and plays a critical role in mature adult love.
- Making grounded responses to the people and events around you means you don’t overreact to your spouse’s anxieties. This concept is especially important when it comes to interacting with those you love.
Due to the nature of marriage, you’ve experienced the idea that other people have minds of their own, replete with perceptions, beliefs, and desires. When it comes to the people you love, being able to make grounded responses will help you remain close and connected, even when you don’t see eye to eye.
- The ability to meaningfully endure means you endure discomfort for the sake of growth. All species seek pleasure and avoid pain, but humans are adaptive in that they can forego immediate gratification and endure hardship. This is what makes us able to pursue long-term goals and stick to the values we hold dear.
The ability to endure the pain and heartache of relationships is what makes marriage, family, parenting and caring for others possible. It’s not easy, but it’s easier to tolerate when your pain and heartache is meaningful, or when it serves some purpose you value, or when something good may come out of it.
Each of these aspects are involved in maintaining, caring for, and developing your self – and are vital when it comes to handling gridlock. They help you keep (and/or develop) your emotional balance when things get rough.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you able to stay clear about who you are in the face of opposition? Or do you fall apart?
- Can you calm yourself when you’re upset or hurt, or do you need someone else to comfort you?
- When you hit relational difficulties, do you overreact and run away from (or cling to) your spouse?
- Do you accomplish those difficult things that need to be done to meet your goals or do you give up, bail out, or goof off?
If you want to experience the kind of marriage (or sex) you want – it’s your responsibility.
And on the flip side – it’s highly possible that you are killing the sexual passion and desire in your marriage by the way you live your life.
Remember, you are responsible for you, and all you can do is present something worth wanting.
Source: Schnarch, D. (2009) Intimacy and desire. Beaufort Books: New York
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