barely three weeks

Submitted by 39plus on
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Marnia and friends,
It is not even three weeks since I found your site, and it has brought a complete renewal to my marriage of 39 years. I am so grateful.
I came across the site as I was doing a search for the relationship between oxytocin and dopamine, which I was researching for other, more general reasons. When one of your linked science articles came up and I read it, I was very interested, but as one link led to another, I began to ask: what sort of site is this? (I don’t do sex sites.) Is it some kind of super-soft porn, gateway to the big leagues? No, here is one story after another about men who have given up porn – because they lost their appetite for it. And in favor of faithful relationships. Wow! And with kids who like having parents in love. That’s refreshing!
So I kept going, — and learning about the dopamine drop after orgasm made so much sense. I had just been complaining to a friend – that I found sex so demanding, and that even if I made way for my husband to climax two nights in a row, his attitude was not: ‘wow, you’re so cute,’ but ‘how about tonight?’ No end; never enough! I can’t do this.
It’s not that he’s a bad guy; but it was just so impossible. And it made me cautious during the day to keep my distance if I felt him coming on, because I can’t be there again tonight. So… never mind all those dynamics... you know what I am talking about: dopamine drop; that’s the story. Dopamine talking, dopamine begging, scratching, pleading. Dopamine never even grateful!
So that night, when he said what would you like, and I usually don’t have an answer because I would like to go to sleep, I said, ‘just stroke from my hip to my knee on my left side.’ He began willingly, maybe a little surprised, and asked me, how long? ‘Oh, an hour and a half,’ I answered. He about collapsed with surprise and amusement.
So that was the beginning of a long night of touching and healing. He did climax in the end, but I had probably five or six hours of touch, on and off during the night, and I knew I didn’t have to climax, so I didn’t even try, and I explained why. Of course he didn’t take it seriously – what’s one website compared to a lifetime of knowing what’s supposed to happen?
But that was the beginning. It was a few days before he was ready to try giving up his own climax, and a little longer before he did his own reading, but the healing went forward anyway, because I knew what I was doing and what would help us to go forward. Keep touching, keep stroking wherever intuition suggests, and if he starts to heat up, just lay my hand on his penis and be still and hush softly. I would never ever have thought that would be a good move!
Eventually, he was willing to give it a few days and then had a more obvious dopamine drop, (as in: thought I was an idiot over some small thing) but I was ready and had no hurt feelings at all. It actually amused me. So this is how it works! Really!
Nevertheless, all day, every day, our relationship was changing, because when he touched me, I was happy and melting instead of resistant. So it changed the whole relationship, not only bedtime.
I got your book, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow, and then…
Okay, I need to make a distinct post about this.

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monitum

So, Marnia, I read most of your book, (I’ll finish it later) and it was interesting, though the website was perhaps better. But then I came to the 1952 monitum (warning) from the Vatican, apparently negative on karezza. Full stop.
Wha –at? I’m a good Catholic. I don’t just mean I believe in monogamy and have five children, but I love my faith and experience it as power and wisdom and support. There is no way that this renewal of my marriage is other than a positive good, and though I'm not actually a professional theologian, I’m enough of one to ask: What’s up?
So I went to find the monitum, and found a few remarks about it that were beneath stupid and other things that were informative and helped me to figure things out. If it’s okay with you, I want to share my thoughts in case it might be helpful for others.

Karezza is not a word that just one person can define. Like other words, it has a history, and that history is linked with other words and phrases and life decisions. So here are some relevant bits:
Coitus interruptus generally means coitus that is interrupted before orgasm, most commonly in the west as an attempt at birth control, after which that the man walks off and masturbates to relieve himself. In the east it’s more commonly sought as a way for the man’s to conserve some kind of psychic power: he comes to the point and stops himself and is very self-contained and powerful and nothing is said about what the woman may be feeling. The Catholic position on this is that the marital embrace, as a loving participation in the creator’s way of sharing with us the creation of new persons, should not be interrupted. It should not be interrupted because it is love; it should not be interrupted for birth control; it should not be interrupted to serve a man’s psychic conceit. And masturbation is always self-centered and separated from the creator’s loving intention of sexuality. I’m not asking you to accept these principles, just to notice them. Karezza as encouraged on this site is not about interruption, not about birth control, not indifferent to a women’s tenderness, and not even remotely pro-masturbation.
Coitus reservatus is penetration with self control and no ejaculation; it’s for birth control, and not necessarily effective at that. The woman’s orgasm is not under discussion.
Amplexus reservatus refers to a form in which there is penetration, sometimes prolonged, but no orgasm on either part. That would be a part of karezza as this site uses the term; only there is much more to it here. Basically: tenderness and mutuality, before, during, and after penetration.
In the (once) well-known Oneida community, (John Humphrey Noyes’ community) karezza was pursued (and the word karezza used) but was understood as a form in which the man gave up his own orgasm but encouraged the woman he was with (that night) to have as many as possible. This community practiced “complex marriage,” in which anyone could be in bed with anyone, but having children was not supposed to happen without permission of a council. All children, permissioned or not, were raised in a common nursery, having no special relationship with their birth parents, or should I say, their conception parents.
I could say more, but the Oneida community had a whole complex of relationships which would be opposed to the Catholic concept of marriage, and if that is the concept of karezza that the Vatican was responding to, the monitum would be inevitable but, again, would not necessarily apply to the concept of karezza on this site. Normally, as presented here, there is no interruption at all, just a rising and falling off with a consistent undercurrent of tenderness, and a constant, very personal, mutuality and exchange.
There is a paper on the web called “Expressing Marital Love During the Fertile Phase,” by John Harvey. Apparently it was part of the national (Catholic) bishop’s conference discussion of Natural Family Planning (NFP), 1981. The specifically relevant page is 211, where he discusses the monitum and basically concludes that the practice (of amplexus reservatus, I don’t think karezza is mentioned by name) cannot itself be sinful, other than that it normally leads to frustration or masturbation. On page 212, he writes: “Such touching can be a licit expression of affection between spouses… Very probably, the vast majority of spouses would not think it possible without its leading to interrupted intercourse or masturbation, but a few are capable of such an act… Married persons who seriously declare they are capable of this kind of incomplete intercourse are to be believed…”
And you would say: many are capable. If only someone would say so and teach them! Anyway, that would be an entirely positive theological opinion. It’s restrained, but that’s the nature of the discussion. Hard to believe it’s possible, but if so, then so.

Anyway, I don’t think that the monitum is about the specific practice encouraged on this site.
So we arrive, in peace, at day four of the no-O experiment.
I have a third post, and then I’ll quit for a while.

Who's the Cupid dude?

After the monitum research, I sat back and asked myself what else I needed to consider. I realized that all through your book and website, whenever one of these “wisdom of the ages” pieces came up, I more or less shrugged it off as being irrelevant. I mean, interesting that other people had noticed reasons to avoid orgasm, but that’s all, because something avoided is never the point and their reasons were irritating to me, sometimes for being self-centered, and sometimes for making a religion of sex. I have a religion; sex is part of life, and has a sacramental character in marriage, but that’s all. It’s a lot; it’s not a religion.
On the other hand, I more or less went along with your approach that our evolutionary mating programs were causing a problem and we could offset their effect with the bonding programs that we had for other reasons. I am used to looking at evolutionary reasons for stuff, so this reasoning was not bothering me.
Well, but it was bothering me, a bit. It’s not a very nice picture, me standing in the breach alone (or maybe with you and a few friends) against the wilds of evolutionary imperative. It’s not fatherly, not as if we had a creator. Who’s this Cupid dude? Evolution is not a person — or a poison!
(Of course I realize that you have a catchy title for an important insight; that’s a gift. Only… I needed something more integrative.)
And meantime, because of other stuff I was thinking about, I was growing in amazement at the human body and brain, this all-parts-interactive composition of organs, tissues, even cells, in constant comprehensive mutual intercommunication, electrically, chemically... That communication includes our thoughts, our philosophy, our prayer; our brains, as well as our toes, hearts, livers, the irises of our eyes, and myriad else... So is it appropriate to think of the parts having programs set against each other? I mean, the interaction is so comprehensive. It makes sense to take it to the level of an intelligence that we can share, that speaks to us.
And note, btw, that if the dopamine didn’t drop, the male would. I mean, one can only do so much, and mice with unlimited dopamine at the push of a lever did exactly drop. That’s not an evolutionary advantage!
What if the evolutionary aspect is the weaving together, in us, of a myriad individually prepared fibers which were always intended to cooperate?
And then: nothing reaches perfection of any kind until it first exists; procreation is about sharing the gift of existence, and that’s why, even in man, it’s got a strong program and is called (by Catholics) the first goal in marriage.
But no marriage reaches perfection unless the husband and wife are building a relationship and a home, educating each other, becoming a cultural center. That’s the second goal of marriage: their opportunity for mutual care and concern at every depth.
The third purpose of marriage is, as Karol Wojtylja puts it in Love and Responsibility, “a legitimate orientation for desire.” It is meant to be a path of joy that keeps sex personal.
All three goals are under the umbrella of the personalist norm: that persons are of absolute value, called to love, this vocation being the center and circumference of every other purpose.
So back to the diary, after a week of no-O, we had a karezza time closing with the big O, but the O was not the main feature; it could not be, ever again. In a way, this was a marker of how far we have traveled down a new path with better vistas than the old. It was funny, really.
I am so grateful; I can’t believe what has happened. I am sorry if I have been too philosophical; it’s just who I am, in bed and out, every day.
And I’m old enough to know that other people also want these questions answered.
It’s actually been another week, but I’ll update about that later. This is enough for now!

Don't worry

Don't worry, the whole philosophical phase will go away. A few years from now, you'll think back on how it used to be like, you'll slap yourself in the face and think "goddamnit I was so dumb" and then you'll carry on with your life. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Just with a little spark in your eye. Make sure nobody notices. Keep it a secret. That's probably the only way to get anyone interested.

Thanks for sharing your inner

Thanks for sharing your inner workings, 39-. It is great to hear the recount of a thoughtful person.

Welcome aboard, and best wishes on your journey to you and your husband. I look forward to reading of week two and more!

personal communion

Thanks for your welcome.
I'm just at a month, and it has been a complete honeymoon. I was so not expecting this. I was looking up informaiton about dopamine and oxytocin, in connection with something else I was working through, and this site came up. It is like the last piece in a puzzle. It's the part where eye contact and personal communion takes their proper place in sexual exchange.

I read "And I am Afraid of My Dreams" -- different topic, but the author was one of Pope John Paul's advisors on marriage, and you see what a very great soul she is when you see this memoir of her time in Ravensbruck. I am re-reading his book and finding new treasures. But I've got too many things going right now... I can't explain. But I am happy.