Over the past year I am learning and being shown more and more that it is such a crucial part of our relationship.
My past has heavily influenced my attitudes about sex - and, I'm sure, my sexuality. I don't mean in a deep, "requires years of psychoanalysis to uncover" way. I'm sure that is there also - but I am blissful being ignorant of the details of whatever may lie below what I consciously understand. I know there were some strange, very abnormal things that happened around me and some absolutely wrong things that happened to me through my childhood. The things that happened to me, I have faced and come to terms with, and left in the past. The things that happened around me I think I am only starting to recognize and work out.
Growing up, the general social attitude about sex was conservative but not especially repressive. Within this context, my parents lived their sex life out in the open, and not in a "the human body is beautiful, our sexuality is a natural expression of our love" way. They aired their laundry, played their mind games, laid their traps and guilt trips, made their threats, and fought for control out loud and in front of everyone. Most often, everyone was the children and the conversations, arguments, and acts were way, way too specific. Their circumstances were governed by the fact of my dad's disability, which added layers of dysfunction to their dynamic, many of which I recognize, but am not (as is clear here) reconciled with. But - I'm not so willing to go digging any deeper through their abuse and passivity either.
So through my teens, through dating, and through the majority of my marriage, my normal, physiological, hormonal, etc... desires for the physical acts of sex were always at war with my very dim view of sex as a loving bond between two people. Only recently am I learning that it really can be.
There is a common wisdom that says that women need the relationship primarily and sex is a nice add on, and that men need the sex and the relationship can flow from there. [By conventional wisdom, I mean typical grocery store, check out counter, magazine racks.] I'm thinking that it's much deeper than either of those, and that in this, we (my husband and I) are becoming more aligned in our view of the role of sex. Ironically, we are becoming closer in our view of it even as we grow further apart from each other in our roles and the specific ways we engage in and experience it.
I'm not sure what terms people would use, but taking sex to levels that include more control, bondage, pain, objectification, whatever it is that moves it beyond making love - requires more effort for both parties and has more risk. It can require planning, precious alone time (our kids are around WAY TOO MUCH), maybe equipment, certainly a whole different level of mental involvement. The risks are greater also - the risk of being walked in on by a child is far less acceptable than "normal" mom and dad sex (not that we want that to happen either). There is also every chance that things will not go as envisioned, that a response will be different than expected, that there will be distress felt by one person or the other.
So what is the drive to try? Because I do feel the drive. I am frustrated by lack of time and opportunity, but have no thoughts of wanting to give up the effort. I get antsy and out of sorts (to put it mildly) if it has been too long. But with a nod to Sir J, why is this so important, so foundational?
I have a few ideas. I am working on it. With any luck we will keep investigating for many years - then I'll get back to you.