Monday, 30 January 2012 19:22

Sustaining Intimacy: What Women and Men Need to Know On the Challenging Areas of Intimacy

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The present essay is about intimacy and our body in a very transparent sexual language. It posits that we can only improve our relationships by grappling with them by women and men alike. Readers are to take note that care is observed in the writing to provide the needed intimate information in line with the caption above. Nevertheless, the essay posits that in order to improve our intimate relationships to bond, enjoy loving and being loved, get married and stay more married, we have got to work on some hidden but sensitive areas people avoid talking about and sharing their triggering experiences. It dares to ask, for how long will such ‘no-talk-areas’ in an intimate situation continue to be ignored? Can prayers and imaginations solve the issues involved if we do not talk about them? For sure, to talk about intimacy let alone write and publish materials around the subject is a challenge. But something must be done when it becomes obvious to take a hold on the subject of this far-reaching interest to touch minds and recreate fantasies and pragmatics of intimacy in a real context of love related experiences and encounters. Whether a reader will view this discourse as a sexist presentation or otherwise is up to the reader to consider what is important in the message; moreso in the domain of sexual and related marriage counseling capacity. An earlier version, which has now been significantly revised, of this essay was sent to Amoize Magazine, which benignly published it in its recent edition.        

Be it as it may, intimacy is real, not just a theory per se. It matters in living one’s life out. And it needs to be constantly worked on. I will like to discuss through a reply to a post in a blog what it is that is out there that makes a male to withdraw rather than stay-put that some ladies who are not doing them need to handle. Amara had posed the theme: Reasons you are not married, which I will re-set as reasons why intimacy is troubling yet it begs for understanding and action for improvement. We need not pretend or ignore them as if they do not matter, but indeed, they matter and can with all its potential romantic force wreck, rather than enhance relationships. 

"Reasons you are not married" written by Amara was an article I read in Linda Ikeji’s blog. Given the increasingly huge responses I have been receiving since posting a comment on December 6, 2011 to the thread in my facebook, it warrants the exclusive passion out there to insert it in Amozie Magazine as I said before.I think by so doing ladies and guys will better understand some of the unsaid areas that men fear to treasure and hope that we can cooperatively do something to improve on them. I will present it as it appeared in my reply to Amara in the said Linda Ikeji’s blog. I will not rephrase nor attach Amara’s original article as that is not my first interest. If you want to read the original article which had trail-blazed readers in itself, go to Reasons you are not married I am certain you will grab some useful tips and energize or re-empower your relationships. Hear we go. 

Hello Amara,

Though I just read this article for the first time now. I enjoyed every bit of the wording as something straight from the heart of a woman. It is not a gossip but indeed how women discuss the issues of not getting married you just raised. You raised your points really well. You pontificated the odds which turned heads around.

Your fellow women might not find many of the issues you noted given their secret ways and pretences easy to take. But the truth is you hit the poles and touched the cues and hidden corners of women as you are one of them well.

One important thing you did not mention, though men will likely say things about that more than women, is the issue of personal hygiene on the side of women. Some women stink, some cannot make good love to men while some take loving for granted as if it is entirely the duty of men to shower love on them endlessly. Love making to men should not be hoarded. It is an asset to be used everyday. But do it well and nicely to set yourself apart and desirable. For some women, they think that what men should drive them around with is bringing love to them and not vice versa.

Another critical issue is nagging and jealousy. The attitude to query a man why did you look at that girl, visit her, talk to her, answer her phone call, text and all that makes men crazy and irritated. The most frustrating question any man wants to answer from a lady of her interest is being bombarded with "Who is that yeye girl/chap you are talking to or something like that". Give your man a break and the pleasure to introduce those he is talking with to you. Do not nag it, force it. Once he has built a trust, preference and fancy for you, he will discuss anything. I mean everything feelingly and heartily.

Encourage him to open up to you and discuss anything, and be prepared to confine in him and talk about anything. You see, by so doing jealousy will diminish and trust building and having fun together will result and press forward. Anger and suspicion will relax. The gain is that you will begin to find one another talking freely and enjoying the company of each other more closely, ever more. Each will be looking forward to receiving one another and sharing the stories and funs of the day - old and new.

Discuss making love and what each likes and encourage teaching one another how to get the best pleasure and how to sustain it. Avoid making or poking fun on one another, especially when it can degenerate into bias and unappreciated attitude or a display of embarrassment or put down. If you want to uproot and belong to a man, just be nice, not once but everyday, everywhere and be visibly skinned to tolerate and tailored to be supportive; show unending understanding. Provide empathy without restrictions and limitations. Never discuss troubles or problems or your angry things when a man is not prepared to listen, when he just returned home or with his friends or just tired.

The biggest and boldest weapon and armory to cushion a man is using nice voice, being calm and not accusing. Simple courtesy of asking him how his day, or work, or trip, or meeting went is surely good to go. Watch his mood and his tone of reply, be emphatic - to know how much to ask and when to stop. You can make your point no matter what the problem is with diligence and by asking for a solution and help. Situate him to be the man who can get things done, including protecting and promoting his wife and family, not the other way round. Appreciate what he is able to do once at a time. Pamper him and in turn you will surely reap the dividend. He is yours to run.

Another is avoiding speaking him down, or washing his dirty mannerism in the open, again, no matter what. Encourage him to speak good of his lady, his wife for even if he happens to lay another woman outside, should he not endure or hold off the situation, get him to know that what he has at home should make him proud and ongoing. Open love bank and make desirable love deposits - those encouraging lovely remarks, nice things and compliments that promote the heart, body and all else.

Encourage him rather than snapping him around to care for you, focus on you and have delight in you. Be proud of him and encourage him to be proud of you. Tell him he is your love hero! If you are a snappy lady, you will be the "number one" to be eliminated from the list when a last choice to marry is to be made. Pay attention! No man would like to be embarrassed while going out with you, including snapping and fighting him around in cold manners. Love is an investment shared, not dominated or harassed around.

It is important to suggest that if a woman is indeed seeking to be married, the woman has to carefully and aggressively work on the opportunities and skills to make it happen. No body would like to go and settle with misfortune and tongue puncher or lasher in the name of marriage.

Body shape, personal hygiene, conversations, snappy mannerisms, lying, expensive demands, jealousy, hate, pretences and critical gossips against others, condemnations, and how one manages one's anger or receives angry moments from the would be seeker husband or wife are important issues we should know about and constantly improve on.

Men, in particular, are worried about a woman who emits ammoniac body scent. Worst still if it is oozing out from the private part or leg furrow, namely vagina. It is very repulsive. Many men cannot stand it. Some see it as punishment instead of pleasure. It is a matter of hygiene and no woman should take it for granted that it is how I am or it is the way I am. The "how" and the "way" argument are killers to men, as several men I chanced to interview stated. They are also critical to the fact that men are pushed away instead of being drawn to deep close to oneself. They do not offer anyone, woman, any strong opportunity to rope a husband and bond him up in a relationship. Work on them seriously and show the improvement. Avoid thinking that it does not matter and that after all no matter how men are made to be angry, they will come back to beg and bed. A man will bed for a temporary interest and it is sure this is not what a smart deserving lady will like to build on.

Simple washing out with soap and water, as several Nigerian, Ghanaian, Cameroonian, Sudanese and Senegalese group of ladies interviewed for this put it will keep the vagina fresh and clean before you serve it to a man. Find time to do so and nicely too. It is not something to be kept as a secret from your man. Discussing it makes it easier than not. Never serve a smelling vagina, as the various women groups aired, to a man, even if you are married and living with your husband. Serving unclean ass (another phraseology a team of men from the same countries preferred to discuss the issue with) generates withdrawal and eventually picking up quarrels for small things one would have ignored. What they are saying is this, ladies, need to pay attention more now than before.

Furthermore, it is suggested that ladies should no longer rely on the question of "yes" if he loves me and knows well that it is "how" I am, and then he won't mind. False. Men absolutely do mind. Sometimes they try to internalize it, they sigh, they sneeze, and they wipe or spit. I testify, men do mind. One hard way to tell a woman that there is an odour to deal with is to pretentiously convert the experience, in a way, to sound like the lady is not being offended or torn down with smelly vagina stuff. Men do pet, as many women sometimes put it by saying that they can be humble and even pass on a joking smile. At that point, some men do tell their women that they like the scent of the vagina particular to the woman/women. False. Do not be deceived. It is just a cover-up to look or appear being nice and tolerating. The day you fall out or quarrel with the guy he will blast you with the hygiene stuff. Men increasingly tend to bury it or internalize it. But there is room for improvement in this biological ass thing and health field.

Who likes a bottom odour in this world? To say I like the scent of your ass and you believe it to be true is a mere cover-up to avoid creating a situation a lady might become sensitive to or even withdraw from playing with you. It is also a way of avoiding to let the lady term it as insulting and belittling expected. It is like building a psychological hedge to permit at that moment some tolerance and for a pleasant romance. As it is commonly known, some women try to feel how they smell by inserting their hands and passing it across their nose; these days leaking or sucking or blowing action (blow perfo, blow jab) as some call it has become a common experience. Some would use the hand of their lover to achieve the same run of the test to ascertain the freshness of the vagina. The argument is that men should also partake in ensuring that both are fresh, clean, and indeed, open to enjoy each other. Cleanliness in terms of reducing or wiping away body scent or odour around the private parts is not entirely only the privilege of women, but for men also.

Another less talked about critical but influential area is struggling to get romanced, including rushing "in" and "out". Why rush? And why struggle? Once it is certain you are out on an expected to make-love-date or in a regular relationship, the tendency for some ladies to show some toughness by struggling and struggling is uncalled for. Many get it wrong by struggling. Why did you go there in the first place. Why convert the moment into a bizarre struggle or contest? For sure some say struggling is a culturally feminine trait. That allowing a man to struggle is to show and get him connected, get him beg, get him do something, get him commit, get him announce his passion and cuteness, get him asking and yielding. Struggling is claimed by some ladies as a typical way to show that they are not cheap or seem to show that they are an easy take-down or prey on to a guy. In deed, ladies say they do not want to be seen as loose and a first touch to go. Ladies also say they do not want to be taken just for an easy bed ride to be dumped or less desired afterwards. False. But men should understand this too. Yet men's first preference is likely to hang on with someone who can address their love needs nicely and with all at ease. As such, discussing all of these is important.

By struggling men think that the lady in question is a non-starter. Secondly, it portrays to men that the lady might be hiding something, or un-inviting. Thirdly, it also depicts a delay that weakens the energy of men to do better. After a long struggle, what happens is when love-entry eventually takes place it is a weak and a fast go experience of performance. It can be annoying and disappointing to ladies to have such petrol actions. By petrol action, I mean fast start and inject to go. Ladies would actually like a diesel type performance - a slow starting, going and steady operation. The consequence is the energy given out during a struggle had been used up and therefore mismanaged by the lady. This is an area that needs to be worked on. Find a level of good warm up play, what is called a foreplay that is good for both rather than struggling that dispenses the energy most needed by ladies than men for a good companionship and romance to getting there.Finally, while dating, be sure you are at your best at all times. Be real and show that you are a potential and ready to contribute to the goal of having a successful livelihood with a partner. To Amara, thank you for writing this piece straight from your heart. I consider it an excellent write up, I need to say. You should be a church marriage counselor for young ladies in your church and perhaps, adopt a facebook lecturing and counseling to influence others to reap the benefits of your message. Why not! In Igbo, to marry out a girl is a blessing, and to not marry at all is a huge loss. Women can live all the sexy lives of their choices but the bottom-line is when you turn 40 years old or more, and there is no partner to show for the sex life; it is like a wasted sex life. How is that? It suggests that life is lived but life is not fulfilled. So, take a chance!

On the question of ‘Love’, what is it? Can we explain the four letter word? Just for an attempt, love is a four letter word that has been written and put in use by humans and non-humans more than any other word to create and centralize relationships. Love is an intimate relationship shared with someone else. Nothing like love exists without the other. Love must move from one to another to qualify as love felt, embraced, shared and lived. “L” is thus for life and love, “O” for other, “V” for vagina (man & woman) and “E” for enemy (things to watch out for that might disturb love; and that is why the letter “E” is at the end of the word). How about that? Crazy eh! Anyway: people define and explain love differently. Love makes life. It makes one's day or not. With love we explore human relationship boundaries.

God to human relationship, we are told, is an outcome of love. To care for someone with deep emotion and material support is to show and share love. But love is pregnant – it can change with changing circumstances. As it is powerfully found and expressed in emotional and material degrees of possession by one over the other, it is certain that love is a force, emotional power-drag thing. Love is never equal and is not a fixed reality. It is moving force. It can be slippery and elusive. We stay in love because it feels good to do so. Yet lovers fight or even kill one another; therefore, it can be so embarrassing and puzzling in its force dynamics. Yet it is love – a sacrifice. A play of likeness sieved out of dislikeness. All I know is this: experiences of love define love and tell us what love is. Hers or his may be different from yours or mine. Only two in love can tell the - what is, and the - that is, of the force love. Sadness and joy of love is therefore the quantum theory and chemistry of creativity of human and spiritual components of love. Matilda and Amara, for counsel, take love as a means of shaping and living a life. Love takes us home to the one in love – to Ngozi, Joe and Oba and so it should demandingly be. Love is not a given reality without effort; it is a true state of contributing and sharing together by those involved in love affairs. Remember, we love through the choices we make and hate through the eliminations we make. All that is love is governed by higher beings like God's love. When it is said God is love, we mean God is the source for He is broader and wiser in making love to be the love we can live and endure.

Dr. Barbara De Angelis graciously calls love the “emotional deposits” we make in another, our lover. Such deposits can increase or decrease. Whichever side that controls the enduring balance of support, trust, tolerance friendship, communication rites, and indeed, the almighty power of sexual satisfaction and stability defines what will transpire in the relationship reality of love and hate. But there will be no fabulous love without spirituality, money, career and good kitchen. What each contributes, you or me – acknowledged or denied to make love happen is what love means.

Above all else, in marriage and seeking relationships of short term or long term nature, we need to work on love to be meaningful. It is not a free taking and non-caring demands of life in society. It is shaped and sustained by obligations and reciprocities. To capture intimacy and take pride in it, the hidden areas of the love-pudding must be tasted, practiced, discussed, shared, adjusted and judged in the eating. Do not say I told, you have read it to critically change your relationships for the better. Only those who can contribute to the house (material support and career), table (kitchen), bed (teaching and learning), friends and family (community), church (spirituality and goodfaith) will but reap the dramatic symbolic reality of the challenging areas of intimacy. You cannot buy it from the mall or anywhere else, but you can construct and shape it to fit. Let fruitful Ngozi (blessing) of love and intimacy reign for the needy chaps as well as for building the world to be a better place. Think this submission will be helpful.       

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Patrick Iroegbu Ph.D

Patrick Iroegbu is a Social and Cultural (Medical) Anthropologist and lectures Anthropology in Canada. He is the author of Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty: Gender and Bridewealth Power in a Changing African Society: The Igbo of Nigeria (2007). He equally co-ordinates the Kpim Book Series Project of Father-Prof. Pantaleon Foundation based at Owerri, Nigeria. Research interests include gender and development, migration, race and ethnic relation issues, as well as Igbo Medicine, Social Mental Health and Cultural Studies.