The Legend of The Lost Libido

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Everyone knows that over time relationships shift: sometimes for the better; sometimes for the worse. This will depend on how you tend to it. Relationships are like gardens. They need nurturing, weeding and care if we want them to grow, blossom and maintain their beauty. The time you give to your garden is no different than the time and care you give to your relationship. Communication in our relationships is as paramount as water to a garden. It is essential for survival.
In the beginning of all relationships, everyone puts their best foot forward. When we enter the first stage, commonly known as “the falling in love” stage, all our boundaries collapse; we can’t wait to see each other and our sexual appetite is perennially aroused. But then comes the next phase, when the newness wears off, and we get comfortable. This is when our authentic self emerges. However, our survival self makes a grand entrance when we have a conflict.
This concludes the honeymoon stage.
Usually, the first things that begins to evaporate are the barrage of multiple daily phone calls, the “I love you’s” along with our sexual desire. What follows is usually a shift in the show of affection; those tender moments that we cherished from the beginning, when his arm was around your shoulder, hands were held and good night kisses were a ritual, now begin to fade. It is replaced with discovering the deficits in our partner that were not visible in the first stage. Finding fault with each other is the first level of pollution to enter the relational space in which the couple lives; faults that were not evident in the first stage. Even if they were, we were not willing to see or acknowledge them. It’s a strange phenomenon, but once we get between the sheets, we project what we want to see on each other; not necessarily what is there. These projections are often the cause of disappointment, disillusion and bitterness. What is worse is that most people avoid communicating their feelings, fearful that being honest may upset the homeostasis of the relationship. The unconscious or conscious fear is that if I express my anger or hurt him/her, my partner might end the relationship. This is not true. The truth is, that avoidance it worse. Avoidance brews “the collecting of stamps”, and one day, the energy that gets lodged, breaks loose, and bites you in the ass. We tend to act out what we don’t communicate. Acting out is taking a feeling and translating it into a behavior. Our feelings are energy: e- motions, energy in motion. Stuffing them only makes them stronger until our container can no longer contain them. So what happens is they come out the side, worse than if we spoke our truth from the get go. Our insecurities rule our behavior and cause us to make poor choices.
One of the first things to lose its luster is our sexuality. When we are hurt or angry, we simply lose our sexual interest. Effective communication is crucial. It will always make things better. However, most folks don’t know how to communicate effectively. They never had healthy models of behavior to learn from. Bottom line: If your relationship is healthy, then the sex will be great! One of the most important aspects of a healthy relationship is effective communication and “the visit” across the bridge to our partner’s neighborhood.
Here is a simple and effective communication model that will help convert fighting into a healthy disagreement. It is called THE CHANGE MODEL. If used correctly, it will avoid triggering your partner into a knee jerk response that so often accelerates into a fight that takes off into every direction except your original intent. It’s simple; self responsible, using “I” messages that avoids the pain and discomfort that usually comes from disagreements.
Here is what it looks like:
When I hear/see (disturbing words or behaviors we notice from our partner)_______Our perceptions
I feel angry, hurt, disappointed, sad, etc______________________________________Our feelings
What I imagined, thought, fantasized etc, __________________________________Our interpretation
What I need___________________________________________________________Our needs
Can we agree?_________________________________________________________contract
When we use words like “you, never, always” (example: “You made me angry. You never consider my feelings; You are always late”), that becomes an invitation for a fight. When we use “I” messages, (self responsible statements), it engages our partner into listening without becoming defensive. This allows us to be heard and understood. Our partners will not get defensive if we own our perceptions, feelings, interpretations and needs. Conflict resolution is the result.
Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher said that human beings are wired for connection. If we disconnect, we go into crisis. It’s only in a relationship that we can know who we really are. Neuro-biology notes that we need another brain to resonate with our own. The brain is the only organ in our body that does not regulate itself from within. In needs another brain to do so. In his own words, he says, “Our relationships live in the space between us which is sacred.” He also says, “The meaning is to be found neither in one of the two partners nor in both together, but in their dialogue itself, in this `between´ which they live together.”
Next: five stories that illustrate this thesis