Sex is Play
Sex used to stress me out a lot. I’d feel guilty for my BDSM streak. Or I’d get all weirded out when my husband would ask me to indulge him in one of his fantasies. I’d think, “Is God okay with this?” “Am I allowed to feel this way?” or “Do we need to see a counselor, because some of this stuff is messed up?!”
There were times when I just couldn’t get past my questions long enough to even enjoy sex.
And then, one day, I found an answer, from a rather unlikely source, when I wasn’t even really looking… and it totally and forever changed my attitude about sex.
I was sitting in a continuing education class one day and the professor was talking about Fred Rogers and his thoughts about play. Play is the most important work of childhood, said Rogers. Kids need to play to work out deep psychological issues that they don’t have the language to discuss, said my professor.
And I knew exactly what my professor and Mr. Rogers were talking about.
I remember when my son was two or three. He had this incredible fascination with guns and explosions. Now, mind you, we are not a family that owns guns. We don’t watch television shows with guns. We don’t play video games with guns. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how my two year old even knew what a gun was. But, he knew! And he turned everything into a gun! A pencil was a gun. The toy dump truck could be a gun. I was shocked and horrified. I thought I ought to punish him for it until an older, wiser mother from our church stepped in and intervened on his behalf.
And I remember another time my preschool age daughter was standing outside with the neighbor kids setting up the game of “house” they were going to play. “I’m the mom and you are the kid,” she said. “And I am going on a date to find a new daddy for you because I got divorced.” My jaw dropped. I told my husband. His jaw dropped too. But she had heard about this thing called divorce from a friend at preschool and she was trying to figure it out. And so she was playing it. And it was safe and it was fine, and it didn’t mean she is going to grow up to not take marriage seriously or to think it was okay to get divorced at the drop of a hat. It just meant she was looking around her and trying to make sense of the world.
And so it occurred to me, that maybe I’m really just like my children. They take the disturbing things they hear about and turn them into play. Maybe I take the disturbing things I hear about and turn them into sexual fantasy.
It made me wonder….if play is the important work of childhood, maybe sex is some of the important work of adulthood? Maybe, just maybe, we are actually supposed to be as free and uninhibited within our marriage beds as children are in their play. Maybe as teens and singles we are supposed to be as free exploring our bodies and our fantasies as we were when we were preschoolers.
I don’t know if it will strike you the same way, but for me, making that connection made me feel so much better about myself. I still don’t really know why I have my BDSM streak. But, somehow, it has become less important for me to make sense of it. Maybe I am working out some deep psychological issue. Maybe I’m not. But either way, it doesn’t seem to matter so much now. Now I am free to just enjoy the fun of it. I’m playing. It isn’t for real. My husband and I both know that and both enjoy it for the play that it is.
And when we are done playing, we put our cuffs and our clips and our dirty language away. We do some important work in that bedroom, and when we emerge, we are better for it. We walk out of the bedroom more connected than we were when we went in, more stress free than we were when we walked in, and more able to deal with the challenges of our adult lives.
It’s the best therapy I know of.
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