As couples evolve together, they create systems for various aspects of their relationship such as who manages the money, who takes the children to school, and who takes out the garbage. Some couples create shared systems, or systems may evolve in which one person has total responsibility for one specific area.
In a sexual relationship it is not uncommon for one partner to initiate sex more frequently than the other, for one partner to end up being totally responsible for the sexual relationship. This may lead to discussion with the other partner such as "you never initiate sex." The response to this may be "you never give me time to." This also leads to the fact that the sole initiator is receiving 100% of the rejections to be sexual no matter how few times this may actually be.
Systems as they evolve with couples happen slowly and over time. The system around sex is rarely discussed and hence usually does not change. Some of the different sex systems that can be created are listed below.
Solo System - Only one person initiates sex, takes all the risk and receives the refusals. This system can lead to only one person's sexual needs being held as being important.
Scheduled System - The couple decides the frequency of sex they want, whether it be once or several times a week, and a particular partner initiates sex on certain nights.
Shared System - Both partners are equally responsible for the sexual initiating. The couple decides how to break this up by days, weeks or months.
Rotating System - In this system, both partners are responsible to initiate. The couple chooses a frequency of sexual encounters in a week or month and then rotate who is responsible to initiate. For example: James and Robin choose to have sex twice a week. They decide to rotate who initiates on a 3 day schedule. When it is James's turn to initiate, he has three days to manage a convenient time for both of them. When he has initiated, the next day begins Robin's turn to initiate. Neither partner has to wait till the last day to initiate. Couples like this system because they feel they have more opportunities to be spontaneous within the system.
In the above mentioned systems, it is not uncommon during the development stage for one or both partners to be aggressive or passive/aggressive in an attempt to resist the change. Some people don't like giving up total control of their sex lives and some don't want any sexual responsibility. If this occurs, you may need some professional guidance to come to an agreed upon system or create agreed upon consequences for the system you both select.
Written by: Douglas Weiss, Ph.D.
Executive Director of Heart to Heart Counseling Centers in Fort Worth, Texas
Material found in 101 FREEDOM EXERCISES