I was giving a live webinar the other day and I was describing one of the most essential ingredients, I believe, of having a great sex life in marriage. And somebody commented, "So you're basically talking about consent?" And I'm like, "Yes, it's that simple."
Consent is not revoked once you get married.
So today I want to talk to you about the importance of consent in your marriage. And I think when we talk about sexual experiences or dating relationships, consent has (thankfully) been a huge topic of conversation and something that's been really highlighted. And for whatever reason it seems like when we get married, we forget that we still own our own bodies. We're the ones who get to make decisions about it and say what's cool going on with it or what's not cool. There is this false belief that when you get married, you suddenly own each other's bodies. You suddenly owe each other full access to your bodies.
That might work for some. It seems like it works for a lot of men, but I don't want to make a broad general statement about that. For women in particular, safety is the most essential ingredient for desire.
And so when you're talking about wanting to want it more, the first thing you need to have is control over how your body is used, how it's viewed, the comments that are made about it, and how safe you are in the environment.
You need to feel 100% safe with what is happening
Now I'm not talking about actual physical safety. I'm talking about feeling okay and trusting that you can undress in front of your husband without being uncomfortable and watching him ogle over your body, for example. Or have him grab your boobs when you're not feeling into it or him giving you a slap on the butt. So consent is literally...whatever happens to me, It needs to be 100% cool with me.
So that could be asking for permission before you do something, or simply allowing you to initiate. In my marriage, we generally just go with the fact that I initiate most physical touch. And the irony about that is now we have more physical touch in our relationship because I am wanting that. There is a choice there. So rather than me being on the defensive all the time, now I am wanting it. I am on the offensive. I am tackling my husband down to the ground.
Our society has a long way to go when it comes to women and body consent
It's so sensitive for us women. I think if we lived in a really healthy society, then maybe we wouldn't need this so much. But we don't live in a healthy society when it comes to women. Women are lacking consent in so many areas of their life. For example, childbirth and what happens to their bodies.There's so little consultation that happens with women and so few options that are available.
Having to go get pap smears every year or two years. It's cold. It's sterile. They're shoving things up your vagina. It's not the most exciting experience. But women feel like, “oh, I don't want to be rude. I don't want to be too needy. I don't want to seem too sensitive.” If women practiced asking and requesting and there was more consent happening, I think we would have nicer exam rooms. And maybe they can heat up that thing that they shove inside of you. Or maybe not crinkly paper underneath our bum. Maybe some nice cloth sheets under and around us. So there are so many areas where consent is lacking. And I think we just don't even see it because we're swimming around in it.
Consent goes further than just sex
The rates of sexual assault and sexual abuse are astronomical for women. One in three are reported, but how many are unreported? And there's all of this other societal pressures for what happens with our bodies in terms of what it looks like and how we wear our hair and our makeup and our clothing. And even in the work environment, women are used in terms of business dealings and contracts to take guys out to the bar and wear low cut shirts. And even menstrual products...There's such little advance in science in terms of what's available to us.
AND THIS ALL COMES BACK TO CONSENT.
Because it all relates to how our bodies are used and viewed in society. So that's just to say I think we're all aware that we're a little unbalanced right now in the world in terms of the masculine and feminine.
No matter how hard you fight for equality, false beliefs can break into your relationship.
All that to say, we are more sensitive to lack of consent in our relationships. I think the most important thing to know is that no one's to blame here. We're not saying down with the men. My husband and I had been married probably about ten years, and we're both quite smart people when I learned about consent. And we fought (and still fight) for equality of men and women. But we had really let those false beliefs take over in our relationship.
Those false beliefs had me not making clear requests and boundaries which had my husband really thinking that I owed him full access to my body now that we were married. Neither one is to blame. Whoever learns about this first is the one who can take action. So if you're watching this video and you're like, “huh, I never thought about that.” Now you get to take action wherever you are.
I promise I won't leave you hanging and I will show you how to take action. But I really want you to know that your body should never be used for anything. Your body is for you to walk around the world in. It's for you to be of service with your hands and occupation and gifts. It's to feed yourself, and to write, and to run, and to be active in the world. And it's not to be used for anything.
Your body’s purpose is not to make your husband feel...anything
It's not to be used in terms of making your husband feel better about himself. Whether that's the way you touch him, or the way you have an orgasm every time you're together, or the way it makes him feel like more of a man, or important. Maybe it feels used in terms of being a stress relief for your husband.
You also have permission to ask for something and then say, "Stop." Just because you ask for something doesn't mean that you have to carry anything through. So I'm thinking about things in the sexual experience. You might be like, “huh, might be interesting to have my husband suck on my ear lobes.” I would hate that, but some women might like that. And then he's sucking on your earlobe and you're like, "Not super liking that." And so you have permission. This is your body. You get to say, "I'm done with that." And if he feels rejected, or if he feels frustrated, or he makes a comment about how complicated you are, you can just let him take that on himself.
No doesn’t have to be explained away
Another aspect of consent is saying no without any reason. Just no. “Do you want to have sex tonight?” “No, my body doesn't want to have sex tonight.” Now, if this is a chronic issue, as you know, I am the creator of the Wanting it More Program. So obviously I am not saying that you should do this for the rest of your life, but if it's a no in the moment, it's a no in the moment.
Then if later on you're like, "this isn't really working for me either and I want to figure out how I can want it and enjoy it authentically for myself." That's another matter. That's you saying I want to do this. That is your decision moving forward. So really the whole idea of marriage is that you want to have two individuals.
Your choices in marriage can’t be done out of fear or worry of abandonment
Sometimes you feel like you're kind of a mesh and you've become one. It's like two magnets together. They look like they're one and maybe they're acting in unity, but when you pull them apart, they are two separate things. Now what is attracting the magnets? It is magnetism. And what we have for us is love.
So there is an attraction force between the two people. But when you really consider it, you're still two separate individuals with your own likes, needs, dislikes and your individuality and your ownership over your own body. So this needs to be a choice. That attraction. The choice of love that brings two people together. It cannot be out of force. It cannot be out of fear. It cannot be out of worry of abandonment or emotional disconnection.
It has to be out of choice. And that's when a marriage becomes uber healthy. And there's way more intimacy when consent is in place in a relationship. That's the power of boundaries. They actually draw you closer.
Ask for the space to say no in your marriage
So how do you create consent in your marriage? I think the most important thing is to have a conversation with your partner about it and really talk about the fact that you really need the space and the ability to say no. And your partner could say yes or no. I mean they could be like, "Yeah, cool, I'm on it." And you'd be like, "You know what? If you don't want me to stick my finger up your nose, then I won't do that either." And they're like, "Cool, awesome." But they might be like, "I don't know what you're talking about. I really think that we own each other's bodies and we owe each other this." And all of that false belief stuff.
You can do something then. You're part of the pattern. You're a part of the dance that's going on right now. If one person stops it, there's no more pattern and there's no more dance happening. So you just make really clear requests, listen to what your body is telling you, what works for you and what doesn't work for you.
For me, no butt slapping. I’m not super into that. I’m not really into boob grabbing or being oogled at when I get undressed. I’m not really into wet slobbery kisses when I'm doing the dishes. It’s my body and I get to make decisions and I can, then, make clear requests.
Don’t shy away from the issue or joke. Make your request clear.
Some women tell me, “well, yes, I've asked this again and again.” And usually what I find is that women will say it in kind of a joking way or like a little half comment because they feel a bit uncomfortable about being assertive about their own bodies.
Because again, we live in this crazy culture that tells us that our bodies aren't really ours. That they're kind of for advertising and for turning guys on and for all sorts of fun stuff. I really encourage you to say it in a very serious and direct way.
When my husband just kept on slapping my butt, I would turn around and look him in the eye and say, "I don't like that. Please stop." And he would feel uncomfortable and he would make a joke or grunt. Whatever. He's matured since then. There's no more butt slapping. But those reactions are because they're a little bit uncomfortable and they're getting a little defensive. You don't need to take that on. It's your body. That's what consent is all about.
Permission is important
So my husband, when we're in a sexual experience, he does not go for any of the traditionally sexy bits. I've got all sorts of other sexy bits he's fine with. My back, he can touch my back anytime he wants. My hands, he can touch my hands. I love that. But if he wants to touch my vulva or my breasts, that is a permission based area.
And we don't even bother with that anymore. I just do the invitations because when I'm saying no all the time then I'm in the frame of mind of “no, no, no.” And we don't want that.
We need to be in the frame of “yes, yes, yes. I like it. I'm curious. I want more.” That's what you want. So wherever you're at in your relationship, I really encourage you to take one step closer towards implementing consent.
And if your husband needs that, of course he gets that. If he doesn't like to be hugged or kissed or there are certain times of the day when he's busy, when he's on a call, at work. He gets that as well. That's the definition of equality. That everyone gets what they need to feel safe, happy, and comfortable. I hope that helps you and let me know how it goes for you.
I'll talk to you later.