Men enjoy sex. (Yes, of course, that’s a generalization.) They appreciate sex as a release, a satisfying outlet for their masculine energy. They rarely question whether or not it’s good for them. (At least, not since they learned they wouldn’t go blind…) They may suspect that women have different feelings about it but they’re not really sure what that means or what to do about it. They think that if they have sex with their partner, any emotional distancing will be resolved or dissolved and they’ll both feel intimate again.
Of course, men don’t actually use words like “emotionally distant” but they do recognize when they feel intimate with their spouse, their partner. It’s not always or only about sex. They might be aware of a special shared intimacy while gazing together at their sleeping child, or a beautiful sunset. However, men are mostly aware of feeling intimate during actual physical intimacy.
I (Richard) am probably typical of most men – we define intimacy as the act of being intimate. I (Diana) consider this a circular definition.
Women like to feel intimate before having sex. They appreciate sex as a loving expression of intimate commitment, a manifestation of their heart’s longing for closeness.
Yes, another generalization. There are many men with low sexual interest and lots of women who enjoy recreational sex without needing to feel intimate. For the rest of us though, the above generalizations seems to be pretty accurate.
So, unfortunately, couples often find themselves on opposite sides of a gender divide. Which should come first, the emotional experience of intimacy or the intimately physical activity itself? Or, more directly put, the heart or the genitals? There we go again – using non-male language. Guys rarely talk in terms of their “heart.” They’re much more likely to think that their emotions are stored in – and expressed through – their genitals. (“See how much I love you?!”)
Women, on the other hand, are more inclined to express emotions verbally. They often feel compelled to engage a male partner in emotionally-laden dialog. This is a challenge for most guys. Recent research shows that due to brain wiring, men may be less able than women to feel and speak at the same time.
Luckily, there is hope for this “Mars” and “Venus” dilemma. An ancient spiritual path from India, called Tantra, has come to the rescue of relationships caught in the confusion of stereotypical masculine/feminine viewpoints. Couples can learn to merge the intention and the action, the feeling and the behavior of intimacy. They can learn to share their love in a way that touches the true essence behind his physical desire and her emotional longing.
Tantra was not originally designed as a marital enhancement program. It was meant to lead its practitioners to enlightenment. Yet these teachings, as well as similar teachings from other cultures, present the concept that our life force is fueled by sexual energy. You may be familiar with chakras – energy centers represented in the body at key positions along the spinal column. Well, the first chakra is found right at the base of the pelvic floor. Touching that very first chakra clearly falls within the boundaries defined by intimate activity.
Sexual energy is said to rise up (no pun) from the lower to the higher chakras. Midway up the body is found the heart chakra, in the center of the chest area. Vibrating with the frequency of universal and unconditional love, an open heart chakra also clears the way for the more personal love that a couple shares.
The old adage, the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, was almost right. A little lower is probably more accurate. When a man is invited to explore his heart via a sexual experience, the connected pathway opens and expands to the mutual delight of both partners! The resulting embrace, the merging of soul to soul, is a delight that resonates way beyond both the physical and the emotional. It can literally take a couple into true spiritual union.
Tantra expects its practitioners to recognize the sacred in all of life. When intimate partners regard one another as truly sacred, the whole tone and purpose of lovemaking changes.
Tantric lovemaking validates the male logic that sexual connection is a doorway to intimate bonding. At the same time, through intentional, eyes-open focus, it endorses the female knowing that a deep level of heart-felt intimacy and presence is what puts the love into lovemaking.
Diana Daffner, with her husband Richard, leads вЂњIntimacy RetreatsвЂќ for couples and provides coaching in sexual intimacy as a spiritual path. The Daffners are the authors ofВ Tantric Sex for Busy Couples: How to Deepen Your Passion in Just Ten Minutes a Day. They originated the Tantra Tai Chiв„ў program, a partnered movement practice to enhance intimacy in body, heart and soul. For a schedule of workshops, visit www.IntimacyRetreats.com or call 1-877-282-4244 (tollfree).