Adult attachment places emphasis on “each persons attachment style, and the creation of security” (Attachment Theory and Research, Obegi and Berant). Additionally, “sexual relations are often embedded in attachment and/or caregiving relationships.” The very good news is that “attachment style can change as a result of experiences in relationships.” (Attachment In Adulthood, Mikulincer and Shaver)
**How then do we keep our love and sex alive and healthy?** We do that by learning the language of love. Love is a state that we naturally are in when we are safe, close and trust each other. We have to learn where each of us goes off track together. I remember the time when my husband and I both really understood that we are in this together: it is not him, or me, or just me and just him, but it’s us. I got he is my family, we are a family, his challenges are my challenges and mine are his. We both began to feel as though the other really was on our side with those challenges. We were no longer alone in anything. With that security growing intimacy is a natural outcome. Love and secure bonding promote passion.
“Passion can come fast and easy early in a relationship. Where every word, glance, touch vibrates with lust. It is nature’s way of drawing us together. Beyond that first rush of desire what is the place of sex in a relationship? Besides pulling us together, can sex also keep us together, to build a lasting relationship?” Yes, Yes, and Yes, “In fact, good sex sex is a potent bonding experience. The passion of infatuation is just the hors d’oeuvre. Loving sex in a long-term relationship is the entree.” (Hold Me Tight, Sue Johnson) The cultural myth is that sex gets old and only new partners will revive our passion and peak experiences. It’s a misconception that sex is an end in and of itself, with orgasm as the goal. Often the focus in this myth is to emphasize the mechanics of sex, positions, techniques, and new tricks that can heighten our physical sense. There is a difference between sex and immediate physical satisfaction.
In fact, secure bonding and fully satisfying sexuality go together. Emotional connection creates great sex, and great sex creates deeper emotional connection. Sue Johnson, the primary mover and shaker in this new application of couples and family therapy, has emphasized three main emotional states that create lasting connection and better sex. Understanding these and how we are or are not available to each other will support our growing attachment or bonding to each other. We think of the acronym A.R.E. to make it easier to remember. When partners are ACCESSIBLE emotionally, RESPONSIVE emotionally, and ENGAGED emotionally themselves, sex becomes intimate play, a safe adventure. Secure partners feel free and confident to surrender to sensation in each other’s arms, explore and fill their sexual needs and share their deepest joys longings, and vulnerabilities.
A.R.E. conversations are the language of love. They shore up the safe haven that is your relationship and future-proof your ability to keep your love alive and growing.