2 months ago, my partner, Ryan and I took on a project to transform our unused, unfinished storage space into a place for friends and somatic sex education workshops.
There were late nights of gathering materials - flooring, paint, ceiling decor. Trips to borrow tools from friends. We finally set a date to begin the work. I was ready to go! I expertly organized the troops - my kids - who was doing what, what needed to go where and feeding everyone, besides. And often, even after we said we were done for the day, we kept going.
Two weekends of this and I could feel the disconnection between Ryan and I creeping in.
It’s spring. For many of us, it’s a time for house projects, family gatherings, vacations, outdoor hobbies, sports, end of school year events and hours spent in the garden. We are flung from the quiet of winter into the flurry of warm weather activity. It might be fun, provide us a sense of accomplishment or even feel super stressful. Regardless, it’s busy. And life feels full.
4 Magic Words
So how do we find balance between building our relationships and “building the empire” as I call it? How do we stay intimately connected to our partners when so much of our creative/sexual energy is going towards a pressing to-do list?
It’s a simple (but not easy) practice that starts out with these 4 magical words:
“What do you need?”
This question can create a beautiful reconnection for couples by giving space to name their needs, asking and negotiating what they want, and then to receive the gift. It’s vulnerable territory for sure but I’ve seen these words work again and again for all the somatic sex education couples I’ve worked with and myself.
Yes, even and especially me. Ryan and I get sucked into projects almost daily. We work extremely well together. The creative juices flow and flow and flow… We love making beautiful spaces and aren’t afraid of getting dirty to do it. Friday date nights sometimes look like mulch and stone runs lol. Yep, we are worker bees and relish getting that sh*t done.
And. This definitely will take it’s toll if we let it go too far. So someone has to break the pattern. What do you need?
“To sit on the couch with you and take a break.”
“To take a bath.”
For me, hearing “What do you need?” is the flag that signals it’s time to put down the to-do list and pay attention to myself and my relationship with Ryan.
You might say, “Well Amanda, that seems so foreign to my way of relating with my partner and myself that I don’t even know where to start.”
That’s okay. I’ll be following up on this email to break it down a bit. (Maybe with a video?!)
But the first step is naming the need. If you don’t know what you need that’s okay too. Many people don’t know what they desire. We live and love in an autopilot culture where it is one thing after another and disconnection from self and others abounds. And, we tend to think about what everyone else needs first.
If I offered sex therapy, we might talk about why you don’t know what you need. But because I’m not a sex therapist, but rather a Somatic Sex Educator, we approach things a little differently, we learn how to listen to what the body says it needs. We focus on discovering the what not the why.