If you were to ask the average Kenyan at this time how they’re really feeling, I guess they would say they are overwhelmed. The dictionary meaning of overwhelmed is “bury or drown beneath a huge mass of something, especially water.”
Ironically, Kenya is just getting our first rains, late in the year, and yet here we are overwhelmed with all the other ‘water’ — for example the inflation rate, low incomes, rising cost of living, depressing news of rapes and murders of children and adults.
Is it any wonder that it is affecting your ability to find joy in bed? It is difficult to do anything with joy when you feel helpless against something else.
The reality is there may not be much you can do to influence the impact of what happens outside your home but there is plenty that you can do to influence the impact of what happens inside your home. How do you do that? Let’s discuss.
Prioritise: The truth is, when people feel overwhelmed the first thing to forget is pleasure. Ironically, the one sure way to cope with overwhelming situations is to stay connected to what feels pleasurable; sex is one of those things. As a couple, you can go against your natural inclination to cower and instead, make the deliberate choice to enjoy what you can – specifically, your sex life. Now, more than ever, push back against that feeling of being completely overwhelmed by the enormity of what you cannot control by choosing your joy and prioritising sexual pleasure.
Manage stress: When you’re overwhelmed, it goes to reason that your stress levels will likely increase. One way to get through this season is to manage your stress. That may mean addressing the cause of the problem e.g. if the state of your home is adding to the sense of feeling overwhelmed or your sink full of dishes is contributing to your current state, address that.
If you keep bringing work home with you and it’s annoying your partner, definitely address that by leaving work at work, or minimising or deciding which hours you can dedicate to work while at home. Other stressors may be harder to handle, because you may not necessarily be able to address them directly e.g. the cost of inflation is not necessarily something that you can impact directly but you can look for ways to manage it. It may mean buying home items in bulk or cooking and eating at home more often than going out. Whatever the case, challenge yourself on how you can manage your stress directly or indirectly, so that you can also manage the impact of that stress on you, in and out of bed.
Create safe spaces: In a relationship, during long seasons of great overwhelm, it can begin to feel as if everything that’s wrong ‘out there’ is following you home and taking over your life. This will look different from couple to couple but a few ways to fence off your relationship from outside forces can include limiting screen time especially in the bedroom (unless it directly serves your union), knowing when to turn off the news if it’s stressing you out, agreeing to suspend certain conversations if they are contributing to the stress in your bedroom. The possibilities are endless; you just need to plan and agree on safe spaces so that you can actually find pleasure in your union – in and out of the bedroom.
Let peace reign supreme: While we’re talking about safe spaces, let’s talk about one of the major sex killers; conflict. It makes sense that you would find yourself more irritable, more anxious and more overcome with worry, which makes it that much more difficult to connect sexually. During this season of overwhelm, prioritize peace and let it reign supreme. I don’t mean don’t fight; I mean, go out of your way to discuss issues as the actual issues instead of personalizing the issues in the less useful ‘me vs you’ approach.
Bring sexy back: Let’s be honest; sometimes in a relationship, the sexual effort goes down the window while responsibilities of being a partner and/or parent take over. This tends to be truer when people are feeling more overwhelmed as usual. Why not go out of your way to bring sexy back? Yes, it will feel counterintuitive. Yes, you may wonder ‘what’s the point?’ or ‘why bother?’ bringing sexy back when I can’t make the rent or I’m struggling with paying school fees. It matters because pleasure requires us to slow down and actually pay attention instead of going-going-going non-stop.
I hope these few suggestions act as a catalyst through which you can revisit your sex life with the vim and vigour that it deserves. I hope in the midst of what can feel like a million little paper cuts, you will reach for your pleasure and that of your partner. Now, more than before, it is of great value for you to be able to grab whatever wholeness and goodness that you can, if only to remind yourself that you are worthy of every good thing, in and out of bed. I wish you a happy and renewed sex life, no matter the season