When my son was home sick from school the other day, I shared a post from a mother whose fifteen-year old daughter was having sex. This mom was terrified about pregnancy, but most of the replies to her request for help urged her–in great detail–to emphasize the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
There was a single voice that stood out among the other readers. This parent spoke about the emotional “expense” of early sexuality. Her’s was just another cautionary tale in the bunch, but it resonated with me–at a deeper place–so I shared it with my son.
“Of course” he replied, looking up from the lunch I had prepared us. “Coach says that he can walk around the building and point out all the couples who are having sex. They’re the ones fighting.”
This made me laugh–both for my 14 year old’s ease with the topic–and for the profound insight of his health teacher.
I thought back to my own highschool days and wondered if my boyfriend and I were seen in the transparent light of coupling.
And I wondered, How might this insight–about the emotional cost of sexuality–have helped us?
And is it true? Is it sex that complicates relationships?
As I write, I look out my window to the spring evidence of this pondering–to the birds and squirrels chasing each other around my lawn.
Why does something so wonderful create such tension, I wonder? And how do we teach our children about its complexities without reducing it to risk and function? Or without causing them to rebound from our fear into recklessness?
20 years into a marriage and sex still complicates my relationship. But it also elevates it.
Is the question then, how to better orient ourselves toward sexuality? How to let it be a gift rather than something chased after–or denied–or even worse–feared?
Are we even capable of this? And if we are, what does it take?
If my middle-aged husband can’t calibrate his desire for physical pleasure with his joy, how will my teenage son? Are any of us, at any age, able to remain in a gracious place with that which we love–without wanting more?
Just this morning I heard the gossip that actress Sandra Bullock’s husband had an affair. Though I don’t have television or tabloids, I find myself intrigued by this story. Maybe it’s because she just won the Academy Award or because I recently finished reading her sister’s memoir about opening a bakery in my state of Vermont.
Because of who she is, Sandra Bullock must now live out one of relationship’s greatest nightmares–in public. And now I’ve added my own voice to the intruders on her grief.
I do so with compassion–and with appreciation. Because it is the very transparency of trials for larger-than-life figures that enables us to better examine our own.
Why wasn’t Sandra enough? Why wasn’t the promise of marriage enough? Why wasn’t the gift of their sexuality enough?
Last night I dreamed my husband was two men. One, heavy with life’s concerns, in bed with me–and the other, waiting, in a pool of water, light with youth.
I attempted to have sex with the first man, who in the dream became his brother, but it was awkward and unsuccessful so I headed toward the pool toward the fresh man waiting there.
It is in these tender waters of consummation, that I hope to find the gracious fulfillment of my desire.
How about you? How do you remain gracious in love?