See Alice

Posted on August 22, 2013

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[1]Since the invention of the DVR, the only place I actually see TV commercials is when I am on the elliptical in the gym.  (At home I just fast forward through them.)  Consequently, there are commercials I have seen dozens of times and never heard the audio.  It is sometimes interesting to note what moves me just from the visuals.  It doesn’t really do the advertisers that much good as sometimes I can’t remember what was advertised even if I thought the visuals were great.  There was one that used to run for some app from Yahoo or Google or something that showed this couple in cartoon flashes of their relationship ending with them getting in a fight and his heart laying on the ground.  It ends with the cartoon woman returning to pick up his hear and place it back in his chest and then transitions to a live shot of her sending him an email with a picture of her holding a paper lace heart and saying, “I miss you.”  It was a beautiful metaphor for people in close relationship.  Sometimes the longing of our hearts is to have our partner come pick our heart up off the pavement.

I don’t think most people enjoy watching commercials for erectile dysfunction medication.  But if you take away the audio, Cialis really makes a beautiful commercial.  There is something wonderful about seeing the looks passing between late middle-aged couples communicating a deep love, intimacy, and continuing sexual desire.  Maybe I read too much into it.  They are after all just actors.  But it is a great thing to have a partner with whom you share a deep and secure intimate connection.  Often with distressed couples, there is both a lack of emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy.  These two things often go hand in hand.  The emotional wounds in the relationship have destroyed the sexual intimacy.  Sometimes one partner will say, “It is because I have put on weight” [2] that my partner does not want to have sex.  My working assumption is that the continuation of our sex lives throughout marriage is less about maintaining our shapes and more about maintaining closeness and connection.  While it is certainly good to develop healthy habits that take care of our bodies[3] and there is nothing wrong with wanting to look your best for your partner, a marriage relationship cannot be dependent upon maintaining our physiques or a particular body mass.  A lack of sex in the relationship, erectile difficulties for the man or a lack of lubricating and dilating for the woman may have a medical component.  Often it is reflective of a felt lack of emotional safety and connection in the relationship.  Similarly, not finding one’s partner attractive or desirable is as commonly a statement on the relationship as it is on one’s partner’s appearance.  A partner who hurt you deeply in the fight you just had does not look as attractive as a partner who has been supportive and nurturing to you.  Other sources of sexual difficulties in marriage that are not biological (medical) issues, per se, are 1) negative messages a partner received about sex while growing up, 2) one or both partners having experienced past sexual trauma, 3) competing attachments (e.g. emotional or sexual affairs outside of the relationship), 4) other sexual acting out (e.g. pornography and masturbation), 5) guilt or shame over past sexual acting out, and 6) either partner simply feeling pressure to perform sexually (i.e. performance anxiety).  Each of these is a subject that warrants further discussion (but I will save those discussions for another post).  The bottom line is that you both will not look the same after 30 or 40 years of marriage, but you can still have a very satisfying emotional and sexual intimacy.  If you have lost that and want it back, you can have it again if you are both willing to work toward restoring intimacy.

Back to the commercial… There is just one thing I don’t get: what’s the deal with the outdoor separate bathtubs?


[1] The title makes more sense if you say it aloud.

[2] Or worse, the partner says “It is because you have put on weight” that we don’t have sex.

[3] Exercise does great things for brain chemistry.

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