Let’s Talk About Sex…and Guilt

I saw a post in a FB group this week that caught my attention.  This is something that comes up often for my coaching clients, so I wanted to address it here.
Here is the post:
“Is there a way to break this dynamic?
I feel like in my marriage intimacy= sex. I hate that if we cuddle, hold hands or kiss it’s immediately a green light for sex. I feel like I need so much more closeness to want sex. Closeness that I never get so I give in and do it anyway because I feel guilty or because I don’t want him to be cranky because he hasn’t gotten any in a while. But all that does is make me feel more like a sex servant and makes me want it less. I shy away from any physical contact because he interprets it as me wanting sex.”
(A past porn addiction and past emotional abuse don’t help the situation.)
If we talk about this he says things like “fine I’ll never ask you for it, you can be in charge” or he sulks. He does apologize for his past behavior and how it has contributed but we can’t seem to get out of this rut.”
Can you relate to her story?
I call it a story because that is what it is.  It is the story she is telling herself about her physical relationship with her spouse.  She believes her story and that she is experiencing the feeling of guilt because of her partner.
But if you have followed me for a while, you know that the way we feel comes from our thinking.  So this woman’s guilt comes from the thoughts she chooses to believe about her role in their marriage.  Now I know that there are some of you screaming at me from your screen, “It’s totally his fault!”
Trust me, I hear you,- stay with me!
Let’s talk about guilt.  What is it exactly?
Here’s how Google defines it.  It might not be a perfect definition, but I think it’s close enough: 
“Guilt is a moral emotion that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards. and bear significant responsibility for that violation.”  (Guilt is closely related to the concept of remorse, regret, as well as shame.)
Is the feeling of guilt appropriate here?  Does she morally wrong or violate  her husband when she doesn’t agree to be intimate with him?
Is this something she should feel shame about, -has she compromised her standards?
Of course the answer is, NO.
But then why do so many people feel guilty about this very same situation in their lives? 
First of all, sex is never an obligation, and should never be offered if we’re not a willing partner.
We do more harm than good when we agree to have sex out of obligation because number one, we resent our partner, number two, we devalue our role in the relationship, and number three, we reinforce co-dependency in our spouse.  
By agreeing to sex out of obligation, we support their flawed thinking that It’s our job to manage their needs and emotions. 
The ONLY person’s emotions we have the ability to control is ourselves! So we have become comfortable with allowing other people to manage themselves, – yes, even our spouse.
Saying no when we don’t want to, helps us build trust with ourselves. Feeling guilty for saying no, depletes it.
I believe guilt is a useful emotion when we commit some type of sin.  It’s like an internal alarm that sounds, reminding us we are off course and need to correct some things.
It’s a signal to change, but it’s not a destination or resting point. And it’s not appropriate to feel guilt just because someone else believes we should fill their needs.
Of course this woman isn’t attracted to her spouse when she believes that’s all he wants from her, or that any affection she gives him means she now must give more.  
As long as she considers herself an object to him, she’ll never be happy and she’ll never get to enjoy her own natural feelings of wanting him.
If I were to coach the gal who wrote this post, I would help her becomeconfident and teach her how to communicate more honestly, with both herself and her partner.
I would help her to create healthy boundaries for herself and learn to choose her emotions on purpose.
I would give her the tools to recognize what she is responsible for, and also help her to discover her own desires by examining her thoughts and beliefs. 
She’d find out how she is cheating herself in more then one way, and learn to tell a new story that makes her love her marriage,- even her sex life!
This is the power of coaching.  Taking an unhealthy dynamic or pattern, and shifting it in a way that moves you from misery to joy.
If you are one who is prone to feeling lots of guilt, I invite you to reach out to me.  You are meant to experience much more happiness in your life than you are currently allowing.
I’m here for you, I’ll show you how.