My Great Experiment

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About 2 years ago I decided to launch an experiment to turn my marriage around. Karezza is the latest step in this process. This is the opening post of my blog so it will be long because I want to establish the background of what I am doing. If you do not have the patience to read this, go to the next post. It explains what I am actually doing.

Prior to starting this experiment my marriage was in the doldrums. Our sex life had tappered down to almost nothing. It was not uncommon for 2 or 3 months to go by without any sexual contact whatsoever. My wife and I talked about it, and she always agreed in principal that sex was good for a marriage and we should do it more often. However, when I approached her for sex there always seemed to be a reason why "right now" was not a good time. On one hand I knew that she had some health issues, and that being a mom to small kids was draining. On the other hand, it seemed like she was not making much effort. The spark was totally gone from our marriage, and she did not seem to mind.

During one discussion she looked at me in all seriousness and said "Look, I know that sex is important to you, but it is not important to me. I can live without it quite happily." She could not have hurt me more if she had stuck a dagger in me. In that moment, I felt like I had made a huge mistake in marrying this woman. I began to think that I could no longer be happy in this marriage.

I am sure that some readers will look at this and say "typical male! Way too much emphasis on sex! Dosen't get off enough so he wants to leave her." In hind sight I know that I had placed way too much emphasis on sex, and that was a big part of our problem. I had an aura of neediness around the whole subject of sex that really turned my wife off. Sometimes I would tip-toe around her, trying to keep her happy in hopes of getting laid. Other times I would lose patience and blow up at her about how selfish and uncaring she was. It was a very unpleasant pattern for both of us. The "nice guy" side of me was so obviously trying to manipulate her that it turned her off. The aggressive side of me was equally unattractive.

The situation started to turn around after I read a book called "No More Mr. Nice Guy". I felt like I was reading my own autobiography when I read that book. It described me to a tee. Up to that point I believed that I was a prize catch and my wife simply did not apprecaite what she had. This mentality had been drilled into me by men on the various sex life web forums that I frequented. They all told me that my wife did not deserve me and I should find a woman who was actually willing to work to keep her marriage happy. That kind of advice was comfortting to me, but not so good in terms of addressing the issues. The book showed me clearly how my way of doing relationships undermined the results that I wanted.

Around the same time that I read the book, I was also getting into Zen and Yoga practices. This originally started as a way to seek some relief from the constant tension that I felt. I was stressed about my marriage. I was stressed about my work. I was a bundle of nerves. This is apparently common for people who have a Nice Guy/Girl complex. They have such low self esteem that they constant worry about being rejected or failing at something. In any case, the Zen/Yoga practices were a big help.

I thought about the message of the book for a while, and then I decided to try a grand experiment. I decided to combine what I had learned from the No More Mr.Nice Guy book, and the Zen readings I had done with some advice from a third source called "The Passionate Marriage". In the Passionate Marriage the author said that when one member of a relationship changes, the dynamics of the relationship will change. This puts pressure on the other member of the relationship to decide what they will do in response. They will either seek to restore a new balance, try to drag the relationship back to the old status quo, or they will leave.

I knew from experience that it is difficult to directly pressure my wife into changing. Robert Glover (the author of No More Mr. Nice Guy) would say that my wife has boundary setting down pat. If you try to push her outside of her comfort zone she will dig in her heels and resist with everything she has got. Thus, if I wanted to turn this whole situation around I would have to use indirect pressure. I decided to just start changing myself and see what happens.

The first thing that I did was to establish a daily practice of meditation. This was not your traditional bhuddist meditation with a crossed leg pose and an object to focus on. I just relaxed in a chair with some good music and thought about the day. I did this every day before bed. I reviewed what went well and expressed gratitude for that stuff. I reviewed things that did not go well and forgave myself and others for that stuff. Then I set conscious intentions for where I wanted to go in life. I cannot over-emphasize how beneficial this practice has been. It is a form of active self management. It keeps me in a positive mind set makes it almost impossible to slip into a victim menatlity for very long.

The second thing that I did was to stop all overt pressure for my wife to change. I stopped having heavy conversations with her. I stopped trying to pressure her into doing things that she did not want to do. This was especially true of sex. If I approached her, and she did not appear to be interested then it was full stop. I decided that I only wanted to have sex with her if she also wanted to have sex with me. Duty sex was 100% unacceptable. I also stopped asking her for hand jobs or any other kind of sexual relief. Which is a nice seque for my next subject.

The third thing that I did was to start ramping up my masculine energy. I will admit that I got this one wrong at first. I threw myself into exercise to build a hard body and started seeking out ways to demonstrate the traits of strong masculine men (as stated in various books). I felt like a big fake. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble on this. I know now that masculinity is not a bunch of traits. It is a quality of energy that a man radiates. Eventually I found some books on semen retention and realized that I had been actively masturbating away my masculinity for years and years. Every day, like clock work, I dumped exactly the thing that I needed in order to be a strong and attractive masculine man ... sexual energy.

So now I arrive at the present time. Thanks to my meditation practice I am very emotionnally stable. I can ride out the roller coaster of life without too much in the way of stress. Many people have noted how calm and easy to be around I have become.

My marriage in particular has become an oasis of serenity. My wife is still a walking/talking electrical storm, but it no longer bothers me in the least. I can come home at the end of day and find her whipped into a fury about various things. Within an hour she has vented all of that energy and is snuggled into me feeling very safe and secure. I am the lightning rod that she uses to unload all of that emotional energy. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy that role now. I can do that because my practices (meditation and semen retention) allow me to feel calm and empowered. I do not take any of my wife's emotional stuff personally. It is just energy that needs to move.

In summary, life is pretty darn good right now. It flows. It has a magical quality to it. I have peace of mind, and I have energy. What more could a man want? TO answer my own question, I want one more thing. I want to have a deep sexual connection with my wife.

This is different from what I wanted before. Previously, I wanted to have lots of sex with her because I had this idea that a successful marriage involved lots of sex. The thing that I was seeking there was ego gratification. After every successful seduction I got to feel good about myself for a while (spin myself a positive story) until the next time she said no. This time it is not about ego. My ego has gotten itself well sorted out. It no longer needs other people to behave in certain ways in order for it to spin positive stories. It knows that it can spin a positive story any time, under any circumstances.

This time the desire is about energy. My wife and I have a pretty good energy exchange going now, but I feel that we are both holding ourselves back at some level. We talk a lot. We snuggle a lot. We hug and kiss a lot. However, we do not have sex very often and I think that this prevents us from accessing an even deeper level of marital happiness. What would our marriage be like if we were all the way open? What if absolutely nothing was being held back. What if we were giving all of ourselves to each other? What would that be like?

Answering that questions is what this experiment is all about. Read on to find out what my plan is.

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Comments

We can all learn from each other

Thank you for sharing about your personal relationship with your wife. I can certainly understand your desire for sexual intimacy. At the same time, I admire you for seeking and acquiring a sense of being as a whole person despite what you do not currently receive. It's also gratifying to read how you and your spouse have a close bond and a good energy exchange. It makes me wonder what is holding her back from desiring a regular, close, intimate sexual relationship with her husband. I'd be curious to hear a woman's perspective.

Best to you. Looking forward to reading more.

Insecurity

I think that my wife is insecure about sex, It makes her feel very exposed and vulnerable. I discuss this somewhat in my second blog post.

The solution for me is to make this relationship a very safe and comfortable place for her to be. Although she has not said so, I know that what she really wants is to to feel that I can see her for what she really is and love her exactly as she is without trying to change her. That is is what everybody wants from an intimate partner. She has been burned by rejection in the past and has become guarded as a result.

Can I get her to let down all the guards and come totally into the open? That is my goal. We will see if it work or not.

Louie

Thanks for sharing your story. When you do have sex with your wife, infrequent as it is, do you practice abstaining from orgasm?

Not yet

I have not tried sex without ejaculation yet with my wife, but I have not had many opportunities to practice either.

When I adopted the zero pressure approach to sex the frequency (predictably) dropped to near zero for quite a while. For several years we were stuck in a rut where I manipulated her for sex and she resisted. It became habitual for her to say no and then wait for whatever argument I was going to come up with.

Now the manipulation is gone (and has been gone for quite some time) but she has not yet let go of her resistance entirely. Those old habitual mind stories still creep up when I approach her on a sexual level. She instinctively starts preparing herself to resist. However, she is relaxing. Things can progress much farther now before resistance starts to creep in. In that sense, our progress has been tremendous and more than enough encouragement for me to continue.

The old, negative patterns are unwinding and new patterns are taking their place. Its all good.

I understand about the

I understand about the infrequent opportunities. With that said, I have a  suggestion for you. Make a commitment not to orgasm the next time you do make love with her. You could say nothing about it, but you could say something like, " I've gathered some information about being a more conscious male lover and I want to engage with you in a different way. I will refrain from orgasming this time and simply be with you in the moment, we'll end whenever your done" Something short and brief, just so she knows what your physically doing.

You not orgasming and holding that space will say worlds to her. Believe me, she will notice. She may not know what to make of you but it will touch her in some way, a way she may not even be aware of. It appears that the thawing process will probably take some time. You could also consider some of Marnia's bonding behaviors as well.

I think you are smart to make changes for yourself rather than attempt to change her. Let this be one more change for you. If you need to, you can practice some solo cultivation. This is not masturbation which ends in ejaculation, but rather feeling and flowing with the rise in sexual energy without going over the edge into an orgasm. Kind of like Karezza for one. This may help you be more prepared for when you engage with your wife. Hopefully that wont be too many months in the future.

Already onboard

I am totally onboard with the idea of not orgasming the next time we have sex. I will not try too hard to give her an orgasm either. I will just let it be gentle love making and we will see what happens. I have a feeling that she will like it that way. No pressure to perform (have an orgasm) for her.

I think it is important that when I decide to stop, I tell her that I am making the conscious decision to stop without having an orgasm. I don't want her to think that I got bored, or she did not turn me on enough. She knows that I have decided to ejaculate less frequently so I am pretty sure that she will understand on some level.

I am 100% convinced that once she has had an opportunity to try it, my wife will decide that non-goal oriented sex is the best thing ever. All the bonding with none of the pressure to perform. She will really like that.

woman's perspective

In regard to UM Rev's question re: a woman withholding sexually and emotionally from a caring husband. I did that to my ex-husband the first year after the birth of our son. Unlike Louie's wife, I had no issues with rejection in the past. I was angry at my ex, angry at myself that I had agreed to marry a man who wanted children when I did not, and angry that I had to stay at home while he got to work. After a year, we both got tenure-track jobs at two different universities in our area, and then I was angry that his uni, department and chair was run by sane, competent people who supported his teaching and research, while I was (and still am) at a school with a problematic administration and enrollment issues. My husband tried and he was patient, but lonely, and by the time we stopped pretending everything was fine and started counseling, it was too late. Mentally, I was out the door, and any attempt to get me to stay and practice loving behaviors with him was like interacting with a zombie. An angry, withdrawn zombie who wanted to leave ASAP.

The crazy thing? I agreed to having a child because I loved the guy and thought that was the price I would have to pay to have such a wonderful man in my life. Now, I'm pretty much indifferent to him, and love the son we have together.

So that's a woman's perspective, and I would venture to say that Louie's wife may not only be dealing with past rejection experiences but also some anger and distrust about past manipulation.

Just want to throw in another perspective

Conventional sex itself has habituation tendecies built right into it. They become more noticeable after the honeymoon neurochemistry wears off, and having a child causes neuroendocrine shifts that can have equally powerful effects on mood and partner perception.

I'm not sure it's "issues" or "anger" that are the key. I think it's just good ol' biology. This is what Cupid's Poisoned Arrow  is about, by the way. Only by smoothing out the underlying mood swings can true progress be made. From this perspective, you're on the right track.

Neurochemistry is definitely a big factor

Our sex life tanked after we had kids. At first we both assumed that this was entirely due to fatigue and the fact that she breast fed. However, her lack of interst continued long after breast feeding was done. During our many discussions about our sex life my wife often said that she was confused by her own lack of interest in sex. She loved me like crazy, but just could not get herself motivated to be sexual with me.

I think there was a lethal combination of two things here. First her neurochemistry shifted so that sex with me was no longer triggering her reward circuitry. This lead to her saying no more often without even knowing exactly why she was disinterested. The drop off in sex caused the second problem. I became needy and manipulative about sex and this actively turned her off. Rather than being something that she looked forward to (source of dopamine) it became something that was loaded with negative associations with very little perceived reward.

So, the physical lack of interest led to an emotional aversion. Now I am overcoming that aversion with bonding behaviors.

One word

One word: Schedule. I know this is going to sound simplistic, but bear with me. We were not too far off from you two's situation. I relate to almost everything you describe. For us intention, negotiation and getting an 'intellectual' grip on CPA was the way through.

It took i dont know about 6 weeks, lol, to actually negotiate a schedule, and i am certainly not saying that it was easy, you can read the drama that was involved, but once you have that commitment to doing something that as you say you know is good for you, even if you dont feel like it. When the magic of karezza is allowed to do its work, things really begin to look up.

Schedule

All past attempts at scheduling sex in our marriage have failed miserably. We would very quickly have a day where the schedule says we should have sex but my wife is not up for it on that day. Maybe it was testing behavior on her part. Suffice it to say that it does not work for us.

Call me an idealist, but I would prefer to let it happen naturally. If she is not up for it, then I would rather not do it.

Having said that, I feel very strongly that as soon as we start doing it (karezza style intercourse) she will love it and her motivation to do it will go way up. I was surprised by how quickly she bought into the cuddle therapy experiment. It was not scheduled. We never agreed to do it with any particular frequency. Yet, it has happened 9 out of the last 10 days and she has commented on how great it is. I am optimistic that intercourse will have the same effect when it comes back on line.

That is (of course) so long as we can stay off of the dopamine/prolactin roller coaster.

how interesting, Louie

My wife has often said in recent years, "I have no sex drive."

I was not willing to go through life with lousy sex. I felt something wasn't right and didn't like the *direction* things were going. She was willing to have sex with me 2 or 3 times a week, but as perimenopause set in, and menopause, she became less interested for sure.

And I too started this experiment to turn things around.

In the case of my wife, I think it's kind of like she has low dopamine. She is very bonded to me, and I to her, but she doesn't have a lot of "wants" in general. I wonder if some people seem to have low "wants" and if this is a good thing -- it's also lack of being too attached to outcomes that aren't here yet. In one way, it's Enlightenment.

But what goes along with that is she is very preoccupied and stresses out even about little things sometimes.

We do Karezza about 3 or 4 times a week now. She seems to like it. It's "like cuddling" she says. She insists she doesn't feel much. But I can sense a lot of energy moving and things happening. And of course it's so much more than cuddling -- but for her, she doesn't get aroused very often these days and likes the sex for the closeness and so forth.

As usual, she doesn't want this to improve. What I mean is, she doesn't seem to care whether she feels anything or not. She is content with things as they are. I've brought this up a lot but she pushes back. So I don't bring it up anymore. I can't relate to that at all, but who am I to tell her how she should feel? 

I am content also at least most of the time. She is a great teacher -- through her, I am learning to focus on my own wellbeing and that is to her benefit actually. Because when I focus on her, I'm in "her business" and she doesn't like that. When I focus on my own feeling and sensation, all is well and she seems happy with that. Weird, isn't it?

I never asked her about Karezza. I just said, "I'm not going to have an orgasm this time," and her eyes widened, and she said, "really?" and couldn't believe it. Still can't believe it to this day and it's been 9 months. 

We do a ton of daily bonding, and I'm happier in my marriage than I ever remember. I don't feel needy or clingy anymore, and I don't feel any real lack in any way. We have had some rocks on the path, even a month ago, but it's settled down.

 

Right on Em

Emerson, I think you and I are married to sisters, LOL! You are a big help to me, thanks!

Louie, I have read your posts and my heart aches for you, I think all of us (guys) have at one time or another been where you are, I know I have. Life with a woman isn't always easy, but then neither is life with a man, according to my wife. I am no marriage counselor and so I wont even go there but I do know a marriage takes a lot of work and time spent together and understanding and, and, and,..........well the list could go on forever.

I do have a suggestion for you and your wife. When we first got involved with Karezza we had a great sex life, you can read my post "Husband in orgasmic marriage discovers Karezza", but then we discovered Karezza and wow! No two of us are the same and how you make the transition is going to be up to you and your mate but the one thing that helped us the most was watching Marnias videos together "the Hidden Factor" It wasn't easy for me to get my wife to watch them but when we did it was like a lightbulb coming on. Notice I said we watched them "together". Have you and your watched them yet?

What needs to happen in your marriage may not happen overnight but those vids will be a place to start and it will get you both on the same page which is also a good place to be. So, don't give up, we've all been there and the good thing is it can and will get better. I would love to hear your wifes response to the vids.