“To everything – turn, turn, turn – there is a season – turn, turn, turn – and a time for every purpose under Heaven.” (song written by Pete Seeger, 1960s)
Pete Seeger wrote this song during the rapidly changing times during the 60s, the words echoing a familiar Old Testament Scripture passage.
Both the Scripture and the song lyrics are very pertinent, as there are distinct times when circumstances dictate a certain policy or practice, while at a different juncture in a day or in a life, circumstances may call for very different course of action. Thus the key to happy and healthy living is to be alert to the “time,” or to the emotional context of what is occurring at a particular moment in one’s life. This is a skill, which when keenly developed, greatly enhances ones’s satisfaction with his or her personal and family life. Nowhere is this more true than in the area of a couple’s sex life.
Two loving sexual partners must be aware of the supreme importance of each moment in their love-making sessions, purposefully putting aside their awareness of other pressing matters at that time to be fully present in that moment. It is not that they are actually unaware of other momentous occurrences surrounding that moment in time, but that they realize that the cosmic connection they are making in that moment has over-riding significance. The physiologic make-up of the human body aids in this awareness, as the abundance of certain neurotransmitters (dopamine in particular) in the brain at the time of sexual orgasm spikes dramatically. Then following orgasm, although dopamine levels drop back sharply, another neurotransmitter called oxytocin rises to higher levels. This chemical messenger, when it travels the nerve pathways in the brain, produces the urge for skin-to-skin cuddling, closeness, and bonding. Oxytocin levels after orgasm tend to be higher for women than for men, hence the common female complaint that when she wants to cuddle and talk for a few minutes after sex, all her man wants to do is go to sleep! However, both sexes do experience an elevation in oxytocin levels to some extent after orgasm.
Herein lies an example, then, of the salience of a moment in time to be seized for a particular purpose – since the man and woman are experiencing elevated oxytocin levels in their brains, the emotional context of that few minutes following intercourse is already primed for eye-to-eye contact and communication about their shared sexual experiences and preferences. A profoundly heart-felt “Thank you” should be the first sentiment uttered by each partner, accompanied by a caress or pleasurable touch. Then some positive “I-statements” about what sexual practices makes each one happy can easily be exchanged between them so that they can be remembered and applied the next time. The chemistry of the body after sex provides a natural environment for closeness and communication, and lovers are wise to seize this few moments to take advantage of it.
This is an especially important skill to practice when a couple still has young children at home, because while of necessity they give their children huge chunks of time and attention, it is still extremely important to the ongoing health of their own relationship not only to maintain a good sexual relationship but to keep the lines of communication open. After all, before they know it their children will be out of their house attending college or establishing their own jobs and families.
By the time a couple all of a sudden finds themselves entering this unfamiliar “empty-nest” world with so much more time available in a day, chances are they are entering middle age. They have the advantage of more time to devote to their emotional and physical relationship, but they are also entering a different stage or season of their life when hormonal or health issues may be begin to manifest themselves. But not to worry, in today’s world there is an abundance of information available about healthy lifestyle, diet, exercise, and even bio-identical hormone therapy that can help keep men and women younger and healthier for much longer, and keep the effects of aging at bay. So, this time or “season” needs to be internally recognized as a context for self-care, for slowing the pace of life somewhat in order to accommodate both one’s partner and one’s self individually. It is not a time to despair over lost youth or lower libido or menopausal symptoms. It is a time for celebrating in each individual life and in the life of the couple what they still possess and share, and even what can be re-claimed by renewal of healthy life choices such as diet and sound medical advice.
We are not “stuck” in one particular time or season if we remain flexible to what is occurring in our lives and alert to the physical and emotional climate of each moment, each hour, and each day, enabling us to make healthy and happy choices at that point in time.