The Song of Solomon transports us to a place of sexuality, love and desire.
To a time where love and longing, the beauty of veiled eyes and temples, dark flowing hair, scarlet lips, breasts like twin fawns of a gazelle overpower our senses. The lover is seen as lying between the breasts of his beloved. The lover is depicted as an apple tree among the trees of the forest. He is depicted as a gazelle or a young stag, leaping across the mountains and bounding over the hills.
His left arm is under my head and his right arm embraces me. Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you. Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires….”
Song of Solomon Chapter 8.
There are times of great love and passion, when the Shulamite lass is looking with great excitement and expectation for her lover – but he has gone. Twice she couldn’t find him and the second time she was beaten and bruised and left naked. Then things progress and become less chaotic. “I have become in his eyes like one bringing contentment…” There are messages for those becoming sexually mature: “We have a young sister, and her breasts are not yet grown. What shall we do for our sister for the day she is spoken for?”
In the end, the Shulamite lass and her lover go away together – far from the others… “Come away, my lover, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the spice-laden mountains…”
Romantic love is not always pleasurable, and it is not always predictable. It is certainly not boring. King Solomon himself appears, escorted by sixty warriors, all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night.
Maybe we should start at the beginning.
There are so many pictures in this piece of writing. What I like about it is that love and longing are placed against a backdrop of what we see, what we smell, what we touch, what we taste, what we hear. This then affects what we think and what we feel. There is a strong emphasis on keeping oneself for one’s lover. There is a strong emphasis on expectation and fulfillment. There is a strong emphasis on desire.
David Schnarch in “Constructing the Sexual Crucible” states:
We never stop communicating, (even) when we stop listening to what the other person has to say … I’m talking about foreplay as a system of negotiation for the level of intimacy and meaning and eroticism of what will follow. It’s about slowing things down, not speeding things up. It’s not about ignorance, ineptitude, inhibition and ineffective technique.”
We need to validate our own personal preferences – they are OK – our preferences are OK.
Sex is a language. But often couples don’t know how to read that language and they need a little help along the way. Sex revolves around meaningfulness. All too often we don’t realize that this is what human sexuality is all about.
Why Do Things Go Wrong?
A lot of our problems arise from a fear of intimacy on all levels, or a morbid fascination with size, stamina, sleaze and variety.
Couples can sometimes focus too much on what gets in the way of intimacy – such as children, when the children came from that very act of intimacy. Ditto what the mother-in-law thinks, watching porn, finances, mental fatigue, feeling weak or ill, disability, grief, sexual abuse in the past. So many things can rob us of pleasure and intimacy.
Remember the sixty warriors, all of them wearing the sword, all experienced in battle, each with his sword at his side, prepared for the terrors of the night? Sometimes you have to kick arse, challenge, get a bit territorial, hedge up the borders of your home life, fight for what you believe in, get pro-active. If you used to be passionate and intimate, what went wrong?
Sometimes it is about patience and waiting for the grief to pass. It can be very wearing. But patience is also important. Likewise learning that not all touching is bad when the touch comes from someone who loves you and has your best interests at heart.
I speak to heterosexual and same sex couples alike here.
Against this backdrop line up the usual culprits: vaginismus, vulvar pain, vaginal atrophy, anatomical issues following childbirth, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, developmental changes, hormonal changes, and fear of all of the above happening. Include here the expression of intimacy affected due to abuse issues in the relationship. Include here those who use sex as a weapon, a bargaining chip, or treating a person as a commodity or an object without regard to their personality or dignity. The male gaze and the female gaze. In these cases, each partner will be affected.
I would recommend a medical assessment as well as psychological support and counselling for all who suffer from freedom of sexual expression. Understanding of what causes us to become aroused, how to plan for intimacy, what is the trajectory of arousal, and how to bring ourselves to orgasm is basic information when we look at sexuality and desire.
Fear is the great robber of intimacy and sexual pleasure. The opposite of fear in not lack of fear, it is love. The pure unadulterated physical expression of love.
Author: Susan Ward, B Arts, B Soc Wk, AMHSW.
Susan Ward has a wealth of experience in helping people with issues like trauma, grief and loss, eating disorders, interpersonal violence, social anxiety, stress, depression, and difficult relationships, as well as providing clinical supervision services to those in the human services sector.
To make an appointment with Susan Ward try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
References & Good Reading:
- The Song of Solomon in The Old Testament
- Constructing the Sexual Crucible by David Schnarch (Norton, New York, 1991)
- “Couples Therapy has killed our Sex Life” in Body and Soul / The Sunday Mail p16, 15 March 2020.
- Why We Love and Lust by Dr. Theresa L Crenshaw (Harper Collins, London, 1997)