Giving Up on Sex

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loving handsJohn Kinnear

Disclaimer: I am not a professional. This is not advice. This is me talking about my experiences, what works and what doesn't for me, my family, in our situation. What works for us may not work for you -- because we are different, which is cool. If you want to tell me why I am wrong, or right, or kind of wrong or right, or what works for you, I welcome your feedback.

Disclaimer the Second: You may want to ask your children who can read to leave the room. If it wasn't clear from the title, this post mentions the existence of sex. Or the nonexistence. Or the sporadic existence.

Disclaimer the Third: Mom. Just stop. Really. Let's not make this awkward. I know that you know that I have had sex at least twice in my life. Let's just leave it there. You can continue reading this if you really want to, just please tell me you stopped at the third disclaimer.

OK. With all of that out of the way, let's just get right to it. My wife, Stevie, and I gave up on sex and it is the greatest thing we've ever done for our marriage. Period. Exclamation point. Here's what happened.

When we were young and kid-less, sex came easy. We could bump into each other on the way to the bathroom and WHOA look at that. Sex. Bam. Hello sex. Where did you come from? Then we got married and had a kid. Then we had another kid.

I remember a while ago someone explained to me why Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense program didn't work. If you don't know what I'm talking about, in 1983 Ronald Reagan announced that we were going to develop the technology to shoot ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) out of the air. There were political and financial reasons it didn't work out, but the main reason why it was a complete failure boiled down to this: Trying to a hit tiny object traveling at hundreds of miles an hour with another tiny object traveling in the opposite direction at hundreds of miles an hour is really really f*cking hard to do.

I tell you this, not because I am stalling, but because I firmly believe that there has never been a more apt metaphor for navigating the perilous waters of post-kids sex than Ronald Reagan's failed "Star Wars" missile defense system. After kids, our sex drives, that before had been uncomplicated in their simplicity, had morphed into tiny missiles, lovingly aimed at one another yet doomed by mathematical uncertainty, atmospheric anomalies and unforeseen circumstances to narrowly miss each other over and over, travel off into the distance, and explode by themselves in the lonely sky.

I got frustrated. I took it personally. My wife got frustrated. She took it personally. There is so much pressure surrounding physical intimacy. We are told that if we don't have enough sex, our relationships will fail. If we don't have enough sex, our partners will find it elsewhere. If we don't have enough sex, something is wrong with us. We took that "knowledge" to bed with us every night, along with our fatigue, along with our personal insecurities, along with any small inconsequential resentment that comes along with the stress of being married and having kids. Then, with the lights off, we'd lie there silently weighing on one hand how tired we were, and on the other what the consequences to our relationship would be if we continued to go without sex. Eventually one of us would say this:

"We should probably have sex."

It had turned into a chore. And then, when the chore didn't get done, it turned into a fight. The worst part of this was, the fighting and the anxiety about not having sex certainly didn't lead to more sex. Quite the opposite. We still loved each other. We still were attracted to each other. We just couldn't find a way to get our missiles to hit each other in midair while traveling hundreds of miles an hour. I blame Ronald Reagan.

And then one night I said it. "Let's give up on sex. Seriously. Let's just give up on it." Stevie immediately and understandably took offense. Probably because I said it the way someone might say "I give up on you," before throwing their hands up in the air and walking away. But, despite my frustration, that isn't how I meant it.

"So you just want to give up on sex? Like forever?"

"That's not what I mean!"

"Then what do you mean?"

"I don't know what I mean. I mean, I know, but I don't. You know?"

"No."

This is how our most productive fights start, with the two of us acknowledging that we have no clue what we are talking about, but agreeing to talk about it anyway.

I won't write out the complete dialogue of our conversation about our sex life, but here is where we ended up after about an hour of passionately trying to explain things we had no idea how to explain.

We felt pressured to have sex. That pressure was making it difficult, not only to have sex, but to communicate in other areas of our life. We needed to change something. We decided to give up on sex.

Not give up on having sex. That is silly. We would give up on sex being the answer. We would give up on sex being the glue that holds our marriage together. Eww. I should have picked a different metaphor. I digress.

We decided that for us, the most important part of "physical intimacy" is NOT the word "physical." We both agreed to focus on the "intimate" part, and not the "physical" part. There are plenty of ways to be intimate with someone before the physical part even takes place. We put our phones away. We made sure to make time for each other. We had conversations. We flirted. There was no pressure. Sex was not on the schedule. We were on the schedule. And then, something amazing happened.

Every once in a while, the kids were in bed before 10, the house was relatively clean, our flirting had hit the right degree and our love and kindness to each other had followed us to bed. One thing led to another. It worked. Our missiles collided. Reagan would be proud!

Giving up on the idea of "keeping our average up for the sake of our relationship" is the greatest thing we ever did. Now, the times that my wife and I are "together" are because we have been intimate in all sorts of non-physical ways all day, or all week, or all month. And yeah, on rare, busy occasions we might go a week or even a month without sex, but we never go 24 hours without being "intimate." And for us, for now, that is more than enough.

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Comments

Agree completely

Great post!

My wife and I have done the same thing. Actually, it is more truthful to say that I have done the same thing.

My wife always said that she enjoyed sex but it was not a high priority for her. That confused and frustrated me because sex was a high priority for me. I had fallen into the trap of measuring how well I was doing as a man and husband by how willing my wife was to be sexual with me. If sex was not happening then as far as I was concerned, something was wrong and it needed to be fixed. I would talk to her about it, and she would say "Its not you honey. I am just not feeling very sexual right now." I was not buying it and therefore there were fights.

Eventually I figured out that my wife's sex drive was NOT driven entirely by me and whether or not she was happy with me as a husband. It was influenced by a great many things. I like your analogy of the Star wars project, but the one I use is the butterfly effect. The weather in the US is influenced by things happening all over the world. Lots of small influences add up to large effects on the weather. My wife's sex drive is similar. The fact that she is not interested in having sex with me at 9PM may have little or nothing to do with me. Maybe she did not sleep as well as she would have liked the night before. Perhaps she had an unpleasant experience earlier in the day that put her in a bad mood. Maybe one of the kids is not feeling 100% and she is worried about that.

About two years ago I decided to accept two things that were important:
1) I decided to accept that my wife never says no to sex just to be mean or to withhold something from me. If she is saying no it is because she honestly does not feel up for it. It does not say anything about her feelings for me as a husband. It is only about her desire to have sex right now.
2) I decided to accept that whether or not sex happens at any given time is not an issue unless I decide to make it an issue. She gives her honest answer and I can either choose to accept that answer or I can choose to fight about it. The choice is mine. The choice that I made (and stuck to) is that I will no longer pressure her to have sex when she does not want to. I will accept whatever answer she gives with no hard feelings and no need for her to explain.

We have been living that way for two years now and in the beginning it meant that sex was not happening. She was not up for it and I was not pressuring her so nothing happened ... on the sexual front.

On other levels of our relationship lots of stuff was happening. The negativity and distance that had grown up between us began to dissolve. We started spending more time talking to each other and simply spending time together. Non sexual forms of affection ramped up steadily. The comfort level of the relationship went way up because we were no longer having these periodic fights about sex.

Then, as a natural consequence of the fact that we were much happier and more comfortable with each other, sex started to come back. More to the point, the sex that we are having now is much more relaxed and enjoyable than it used to be because we are more relaxed with each other. It does not happen very often, but it is great fun every time and the frequency is gradually increasing.

So, we rejuvenated our relationship with each other, and our sex life, but consciously putting sex on the backburner for a while and then allowing it come back when the time felt right. Marriage councilors and self-help books seem to be preaching that couples need to just make it happen until it feels comfortable again. The exact opposite approach worked for you and for me. I did not do anything at all to try and make it happen (sex that is) but it came back anyway. It came back because the relationship healed and became a relationship within which sex felt right again.

To sum up, I was trying to use sex to heal my marriage. It turns out that sex was actually causing the problems. Taking sex off the menu for a while and focusing on other things allowed the relationship to heal and then sex cam back in a natural way.

It's great to read these two stories

I had a relative whose husband insisted that if she didn't have sex with him, he'd have to go elsewhere, whether that was porn or a live person. She didn't want that to happen, so she responded by forcing herself to be available for him, and even said once that "if he ever traveled, I'd have to go with him to make sure he didn't find his satisfaction somewhere else."

I don't know if sideline porn or your own fantasies and private masturbation were part of your equation during the time you stopped sex with your spouses (and you don't have to tell me), but just the fact that you were able -- at least with your spouses, not let sex control you in the way it once did, and to return to a closer relationship without the sex, is very impressive to me.

I didn't know in my younger days that when I didn't feel like sex, it could be so hurtful to the man in my life. I get it now, and that makes the fact that you overcame that even more profound.

Answers

No matter what, porn needs to go away. No healthy outcome results from porn.

Some couples use porn to get themselves aroused. I would say that if you need extra stimulation to get aroused then perhaps you are having sex too often, or perhaps you have emotional issues in your relationship that need to be dealt with. I am not a doctor, but I think that penile "dysfunction" is usually not caused by anything to do with the penis. It is caused by mental and emotional issues. You don't need extra stimulation to deal with that. You need to address the real issues.

Masturbation is OK for men to address physical discomfort. However, as a man learns to relax and not carry so much tension in his body and mind the need to ejaculate reduces greatly. If you are not building up so much tension then there is less need to release tension.

By the way, I NEVER ask my wife to compromise on a "no" answer to sex by providing oral sex or a hand job instead. She either wants to be sexual or I leave her alone. It is not her job to deal with any physical pressure on my part.

what a great perspective

I've been away from here for awhile, since there are no prospects yet. I just listened to part of a "Shakti" online conference, but was at work so good just listen to a few parts of the conference with John Gray. I'm going to buy the set of audios when it is done, because what little I heard was very interesting. I heard him say that acetominephen reduces oxytocin. He has been researching the physical health parts of sex for many years now - the hormones, herbal discoveries, and more. His daughter also works with him - she's quite something.

Anyway, I was giving up on men due to not seeing much change in the males I'm around, and since I'm interested in karezza and have never met a man willing to give up his ejaculations, then listening to this conference today got my attention, and now reading this thread here has sparked some hope. Thanks for being so open and honest, Louie, and to all the great guys in this community.

The biggest hurdle for men in

The biggest hurdle for men in developing a healthy relationship with sex is learning how to get around their own social programming and the effect that it has on their ego. From a very young age men are conditioned to believe that successful men get laid a lot, and therefore if you are not getting laid then something is wrong with you. You are not being successful. This creates a lot of pressure for men to try and get sex so that they can feel that they are being successful.

Having sex is not a true physical need. It is true that many men get physically uncomfortable if they go too long without ejaculating. However, it is also true that every man has the option to deal with that himself. He doesn't NEED a woman to help him with it.

The real reason that most men classify sex as a true need is for emotional reasons. They are dependent on sex to help prop up their ego (help them to feel successful as a man). The more they rely on sex in this way the more insistent they will be that sex is a true need for them.

The men who have successfully broken this cycle are the ones who have recognized the emotional dependence they have on sex, and have made the conscious choice to change that.

It is not really that men need to "say no to sex". Sex is still perfectly healthy and fun when the circumstances are right. If you approach the woman in your life about sex and you get an unambiguous and enthusiastic yes then you are good to go. Have fun! It is what you do when you do NOT get that enthusiastic yes that needs to change.

If she says no or seems unenthusiastic about the whole thing then you just drop it. No pressure. No demand for an explanation. No guilt trip. No fight. You just accept that now is not a good time and let it go. My personal take on this whole subject is that my wife has 100% sovereignty over her own body. It is 100% up to her what she does with it. I will not try and pressure her to have sex against her will, nor will I demand that she explain why she does not want to have sex at a particular time. The "why" does not matter. All that matters is that she does not want to have sex right now. Case closed.

The reason that I can take that kind of stance and be perfectly comfortable with it is that I have successfully disentangled the whole mess of social conditioning that caused me to be so tense and needy on the subject of sex. I no longer feel that I am failing as a man because my wife has not been in the mood for sex over the past X days or weeks. It probably has nothing at all to do with me.

Any time that I discuss this approach with men on any forum I always get someone point out to me that my approach guarantees that I will get less sex. They always claim that my wife will eventually figure out that she does not need to do anything if she doesn't want to and therefore she will probably not do anything (ie. she will always say no to sex knowing that there are no consequences). I will admit that the frequency of sex went way down when I first adopted this approach. Pressure was the only thing that was making sex happen and the pressure stopped so the sex stopped ... for a while. However, the relationship also began to heal and eventually the sex came back without any pressure.

The honest truth is that woman can, and do enjoy sex every bit as much as men do ... when the conditions are right. They enjoy sex when they are with a man that they trust, and who they feel loves and respects them very much. The problem with most relationships is that sooner or later there comes a time when the woman does not want to have sex for reasons that are probably very legitimate. Maybe she has a headache. Maybe she is too tired. The reason does not really matter. What matters is that she does not feel like having sex and she says no. Then she gets comes up against that mountain of conflicted social conditioning about sex that has been drilled into most men. She gets told that it is NOT OK for her to say no to sex. That is when she starts to doubt whether it is really her that he loves so much or if it is just sex that he loves so much.

Thus starts a downward spiral. The man is concerned because he has these ideas about sex and what it means for him as a man if his woman is saying no to sex with him. He doesn't like where that is going so he ramps up the pressure for sex. Meanwhile, his wife is becoming more and more convinced that he does not really love her like she thought he did. He only cares about getting his rocks off. This causes her desire to be sexual with him to drop.

The majority of men in this situation think that the solution is easy. She just needs to make herself available for sex once or twice a week so that the ego beast can be fed and will not act up on him. How hard can that be? Women will tell you that is not easy at all. They cannot MAKE themselves want to have sex, and the longer this situation goes on the less they want to do it. They start to really resent this idea that they are supposed to just spread their legs and try to enjoy it. Nobody wins in that situation. She is not happy because she feels that she is being used, and is not being loved the way that she wants to be loved. He is not happy because he has to fight to get sex and even when he does get it the whole thing feels fake. He wants her to be an enthusiastic partner, but given the circumstances, it is difficult or impossible for her to do that.

I chose to break that impasse in my marriage by stopping all pressure for sex. Rather than desperately trying to feed the ego beast I chose to face it head on and slay it. I admitted that I had an emotional addiction to sex and I took ownership of that. My addiction was not my wife's problem to solve. It was my problem to solve.

When I stopped all pressure for sex my wife was concerned that perhaps I had given up on her. It took some time but I eventually convinced her that I still loved her as much as I ever had. I was just not going to pressure her for sex any more. She could say no and there would be no consequences. I was not going to abandon her. Since then our relationship has gotten better and better. It is a very healthy relationship now.
And, when she does give that enthusiastic yes to love making, it is really good sex. It is the best sex that we have ever had. It is 10X better than when we were first infatuated with each other. There is nothing fake or forced about it.

My wife knows that she is truly loved and respected as a woman. It is not based on what services she can provide. It is not contingent on anything in particular. It just is. That makes her very happy.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am being very successful as a husband because I can see how happy she is. She is thinner, healthier and brighter than she has been in years. I have decided that being truly loved is the best way for women to stay young and fit.

As for my own happiness, I deal with that independently. I don't need my wife to do anything in particular in order for me to be happy. I choose to be happy. Which, incidentally, makes me much more attractive to her Wink

Initiation

Just out of interest, Louie, how does sex occur in your life these days? When you say you "stopped all pressure for sex", do you still ask for it as often as you used to, but without getting upset if your wife says 'no'; or do you only ask for it when you sense the answer will be 'yes'; or do you wait for your wife to ask you, instead?

If I feel like it might be a

If I feel like it might be a good time I ask her if she is interested. I accept whatever answer she gives. If the answer is no I will be disappointed (I am human after all) but I do not allow myself to get upset.

Positive answers tend to happen on days that she is being very affectionate and in a very good mood with me. If she has been withdrawn it is highly unlikely that she will go from that to wanting sex just because I asked. If I am pretty certain that the answer will be no I don't bother to ask.

Thanks

[quote=Louie] If the answer is no I will be disappointed (I am human after all) but I do not allow myself to get upset..[/quote]

I applaud your life skills. Knowing when to ask is one thing; but not getting upset by a refusal is something else.

There is no valid reason for

There is no valid reason for me to be upset. Any justification I could provide for why I was upset would just be a flimsy cover for the fact that I was having a tantrum. Life is not doing what I want it to do so I am upset. That is a tantrum. I have tantrums sometimes but I try to keep them very short and very private (in my own head). As soon as possible I drop the whole thing and move on with life.

I second everyone's

I second everyone's commendations: it's cool and inspiring to hear the mature outlook you've come to.

This is also increasing my empathy. It must be tough for you guys. Simply to ask is to risk getting turned down, and what you've said helped me to appreciate how personally men take it.

If I can put in a word from the feminine point of view, I feel like it's doubly hard for you all because in my experience, to be "asked" on a verbal, cognitive level... is just confusing because I feel like the verbal, cognitive part of me is (among other things) the secretary whose job it is to keep everyone out of the big boss's office - the big boss being the sexual, primal feminine essence.

So even though I might be in a giving, amicable mood and would like to say yes, any approaches through the verbal, cognitive level put me in an awkward position because it's the secretary's JOB to rebuff.

And of course, if the secretary actually sees you get mad or pouty, she'll work twice as hard to keep you out. On the other hand, if you can't be perturbed, but just chuckle to yourself and keep reading magazines in the waiting room, the primal feminine essence might get curious and come out to play.

Yes, verbal means of

Yes, verbal means of initiating sex are not ideal. Most women want to be seduced rather than just having a guy show up cold and say "wanna have sex?"

I think that most women need some time to warm up to the idea of sex before launching into it. I like to use an analogy from chemistry that is the "activation energy" of a chemical reaction. You can put two materials together and they will not react at all if the temperature is too low. Add some heat and eventually you hit a magic point where they react explosively. They needed the right activation energy before anything can happen.

Most men know that this is true. They know that women need to be seduce to some degree. However, they also know (probably from experience) that even when you try to seduce it can be very hit and miss. A woman's activation energy can change from one day to the next. One day you can smile at her and she jumps you. Another day you could seduce your butt off an get nowhere because her activation energy on that particular day is too high. After a while many men will stop trying to seduce and just ask "do you want to have sex? because its easier.

Of course, there is also the question of what does it mean, exactly, to seduce? Does it mean that you have to take her out for dinner, buy flowers, and say sweet things all evening before she can get in the mood for sex? No, usually not. In fact, a woman will see such things as an obvious attempt to seduce her. They want you to be much more subtle than that. In fact, from my experience, the best way to seduce a woman is just be a loving partner and a confident man all the time.

I never know exactly what I did that caught my wife's attention and caused her to decide that she wanted to make love with me. One day it could be the fact that I made muffins for the family for breakfast. One day it could be the way I was being a good dad and playing with the kids. Another day it could be the way I looked while doing some manual labor in the yard. I did something that she found attractive and after that she started giving signals that she was interested. Maybe she was stealing kisses all day. Maybe she changed into more form fitting clothes. She may not be thinking (on a conscious level) that she wants sex, but she is signaling interest anyway. If I pick up on those cues and decide to consciously seduce her later, the odds are good that something will happen.

On the other hand, if I just pick a random time to ask her about sex the odds are 99% that she will say no.

I try my best to be a good husband, a good dad and a confidently masculine man at all times. I do this regardless of how my wife is reacting to me. Sometimes she responds to that mode of operation by signaling that she in interested in getting some special attention from me. I cannot predict when that will happen or what exactly will trigger it. However, when it does happen I respond by giving her the special attention that she wants. After that, we just see where it goes.

Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I think that she is signaling interest but she really isn't. That's OK. It just gives me another opportunity to be a high quality man by not making a big deal out of it.

Thank you, Islander and Undying

Islander said "I didn't know in my younger days that when I didn't feel like sex, it could be so hurtful to the man in my life. I get it now, and that makes the fact that you overcame that even more profound."

Undying said "This is also increasing my empathy. It must be tough for you guys. Simply to ask is to risk getting turned down, and what you've said helped me to appreciate how personally men take it."

I'm greatly touched by your expressions that you "get it."

I'm also curious if those expressions were partly inspired by watching the video mentioned at http://www.reuniting.info/blogs/curiousfellow/sex-starved-marriage-tedxc...

You will score lots of points with present or future men in your life if you can let them know that you get it. When my wife declines my requests for sex, I feel much less disappointed if she makes a date for another time (and then follows through). If she acts like my request is totally unimportant, I feel resentful and sorry for myself and get thoughts like "If you really don't like sex, why did you get married with me?"

I like Undying's quote: "And of course, if the secretary actually sees you get mad or pouty, she'll work twice as hard to keep you out. On the other hand, if you can't be perturbed, but just chuckle to yourself and keep reading magazines in the waiting room, the primal feminine essence might get curious and come out to play."

I'm not as far along the path to sainthood Pardon as Louie and some of the other guys, but for the last year or so, I've been practicing the "no pressure, no consequences for declining to have sex" approach to asking for sex. While I'm still not getting as much as I really would like, the practice at least doesn't make things worse. I feel like it's working well enough that I'm continuing with it.

In the beginning it took

In the beginning it took mental effort to tell myself that it was not a big deal and just let it go when my wife declined to have sex with me. For a long time it had been VERY important to me and it was not easy to change that perception. However, as time went by and I continued to tell myself that it was not a big deal, it actually became my reality. It no longer hurts when my wife says no. It is disappointing, but not hurtful.

The truth is that sex (or money or whatever else you could name) is only as important as you believe it is. You assign the level of importance that it has in your life, and you can change it's level of importance. Most men, because of the social-conditioning they went through in adolescence, attribute a very high importance to sex. Most women attribute a much higher importance to the general idea of being loved. They enjoy sex, but it is not as important to them (or their self-identity) as it is for men.

Of course, there are couples out there where it is the woman who is trying to make sex happen and wondering why her husband is not interested. She is wondering what this says about her as a woman if every other man seems to be crazed about sex and hers is not interested, at least not with her. I can only imagine how hurtful that can be.

However, as the post right below this one points out, it only affects your self-image if you allow it to. There is no universal law that states that you must feel bad about yourself if your partner does not want to have sex with you. That always has been, and always will be an individual choice. You only feel bad when you choose to feel bad. Circumstances do not cause your feelings. The way you choose to react to circumstances causes your feelings.

I am happy that some women are reading this stuff and feeling some empathy for their men. It is always good when people understand each other better. I hope that some men reading it will also feel empathy for their wives and have a better understanding of why it is not easy for their wives to be told that sex is something that they have to do whether they want to or not.

Personally, I will not tell my wife that she must say yes to sex because it hurts me when she doesn't. That is my problem, not hers. Likewise, I will not allow my wife to tell me that I must say yes to all of her ideas for improving our shared-life. If she feels rejected because I did not like one of her ideas for decorating the house, that is her problem, not mine. I can empathize, but that does not mean that I am obligated to do what she wants. At the end of the day I need to be true to myself and if I really don't like an idea of hers I need to say so (gently of course). At the end of the day she needs to be true to herself and if she really doesn't want to have sex, then she needs to say so (gently of course).

I am sorry if this sounds

I am sorry if this sounds like I am being critical, but I think it is a mistake to expect your wife to schedule another time when she will commit to be available. In fact, I have the same concern with any kind of scheduled sex.

It comes down to the way that women become sexually aroused. The female sexual response is much more complicated than the male sexual response. The factors that go into determining whether or not a woman feels up for having sex at a particular time are too complicated to predict. A woman cannot predict whether or not she will feel up for having sex tomorrow, or the same time next week. The rational part of her brain thinks it is reasonable enough to say that sex can happen tomorrow, or every Wednesday night. However, the logical part of her brain is not the part that decides if she is going to be up for sex at that time or not.

What happens if she committed to be available tomorrow, but tomorrow comes and she is not feeling up for it? Are you going to insist that she do it anyway? Are you going to say OK, but give me another time? What if that time doesn't work either? Then you will claim that she is just dicking you around. The truth is that commitments don't really mean that she will want to have sex at those times. It just means that at the time she was asked to commit she could not think of any reason why it shouldn't work.

I think it is much better to handle sex on an opportunity basis. If an opportunity comes up you try to take advantage of it, If she declines then you accept that it did not work out. No rain check and no pouting.

To use the waiting room analogy ...

You wander into the office and ask the secretary if you can get in. If the answer is no, you say "OK, put me on your call list. If I don't hear from you I'll try another time." Then you leave and find something else to do. You do NOT sit down with a magazine and wait to see if things change. You have better things to do then sit in the waiting room hoping for an opening. If an opening comes up, she will let you know. If you do not hear from her, you will stop in again another day. Its not urgent. It is just something that you thought might be fun.

It is my view

that partners should at least be able to manage a brief snuggle, even if they don't feel up to sex. And that if they can't, they should be able to manage to reschedule the snuggle.

This doesn't necessarily contradict what you are saying. I'm merely adding that the nourishment of affectionate touch shouldn't be in the same category as sexual performance (which indeed requires some enthusiasm).

Have you and your wife tried karezza now that you're reunited, or are you just sticking with conventional?

quite right

Your "activation energy" analogy was better than mine, and you're certainly right there's no sense hanging about in the waiting room.

Everyone's situation is different. I admire how you're handling yours by cultivating an attitude of responsibility for your own feelings and happiness, and for ensuring there's no pressure on her.

I guess in my very different situation, I'm working on the same thing - generous, self-responsible attitudes that take away pressure. And I'm experiencing, like you, that a zero-pressure environment opens a space for beautiful sexual experiences and deepening love.

I think you're right that pressure is the fox in the vineyards - ruining the sweetness. (Though I always wondered about that - why would a fox be so bad for a vineyard? Wouldn't it just catch mice?? Maybe tearing up vines in the process? Or do foxes actually eat grapes, as in Aesop?)

Anyway, there are a lot of different forms of pressure. I know it's no good if my man feels pressure to try karezza. It kills it if I feel pressure from him or myself to look and act a certain way to get him highly arousd. There are also pressures I tend to put on myself. Previously, it seemed like a societal pressure to have lots of orgasms, because that's supposed to equal fulfillment. Or pressures that lead me away from "being true to myself at the end of the day," an idea I'm glad you mentioned.

I do think karezza can take pressure off of everyone in a number of ways. Obviously men don't have to feel performance anxiety with karezza. But I also think it's easier as a woman to say yes to a quiet connection, even if one's not up for a bone jarring session. Women also say no to protect against the post-orgasm fallout. We know you men fall off the edge of the earth afterward, as far as the relationship is concerned, and that leaves us all alone, and it's unpleasant. It's pleasant to have a man around who is full of manly energy, and we know how sex depletes you. Probably most women aren't conscious of all that, but it's for real.

Foxes

grey foxesYes, they eat grapes and avocados and nuts and a lot of other stuff you wouldn't expect. And the foxes we have here in Oregon can even climb trees.

Great post, BTW. Smile

Great post, thank you. I

Great post, thank you. I almost always want the quiet connection, rarely say no to that, and there are so many reasons not related to rejecting my man that I intuitively am not drawn to the bone jarring sessions. In fact, it's more because I love and want to be more deeply connected to my man that something in me rejects being out-of-mind fertilized by him. Something intuitively says, "You might have fun during the fertilization session, but it's the beginning of the end of your closeness with him."

I can only speak for my own

I can only speak for my own comments, but they were influenced by my relationship with my late husband with whom I practiced karezza. We both knew (by then) it can potentially hurt a man when a woman refuses sex, just like it can potentially hurt a woman when her man shows interest in having sex with something 20 years younger than she is. Ultimately, we knew it was within ourselves to not let those things define our worth or sense of being wanted in the universe. We both took responsibility for our own inner self worth, and that seemed to fuel our wonderful relationship. No pressure to base one's worth on whether she says no or not, no pressure to only feel sexual if I can't live up to someone in her 20s, no pressure for him to need 20 year olds for his self worth, just plain no pressure all around. Which was a great foundation for lots of sex, including at my insistence, having days where we woke up to it -- started the day with it. And of course, ended the eventing with it.

That also included no pressure if one was feeling ill or needing to travel so sex was put off, no worrying that if they don't fulfill the other's self-worth for them, the other will stray.

I think that is the way that

I think that is the way that sexual relationships were meant to be. Kudos to you and your husband for getting to that place. It is a rare thing indeed when two people can manage to get around their own personal insecurities and just enjoy sex in a way that is completely relaxed and free of ego agendas.

The value of aloneness

Yes, I agree, dropping the idea of the primacy of sex is a good thing. I also think that dropping the idea of the primacy of relationship (not dropping relating, however) is also a good thing. It’s a barrier to Love and Intimacy too.

I recently had the experience of meeting a woman who shared my interest in Karezza. I was, understandably, quite excited about this. I haven’t been in a reasonably long term relationship since 1992 and haven’t had sex with anyone but myself since 2002. So the prospect of a loving, healing, intimate connection with a woman was a huge high for me.

Unfortunately our ideas about what Karezza is were profoundly different. She was looking for a man who is comfortable with sex (I’m not), was willing to engage in highly sexually stimulating physically intimate activities (I’m not, at least until I’ve had a chance to heal with the support of the non-sexual aspects of Marnia’s Exchanges), and who would not let his anger build to the point of exploding (well, the only way I could do THAT was to not pretend that I’m capable of the first two criteria in the first place). My point isn’t to get into whose version of Karezza is more accurate but to illustrate the dangers of getting hooked on the idea of relationship.

As we were sorting out the confusion, I was reminding myself fairly frequently of two quotes about Love that have inspired me for a while now: “Love yourself and watch, today, tomorrow, always….” (attributed by Osho to Buddha’s Dhammapada) and “Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers you have built against it with yourself” (Rumi and ACIM). I was also reminding myself of “Think healing, instead of sex” (from Peace Between the Sheets) fairly regularly too.

If I had not been able to keep these thoughts in mind, I would have left that encounter feeling profoundly inadequate and deeply flawed. As it was, I offered all I had, uncovered some previously unrecognized fears, came to a deeper level of peace within myself, and now continue to do what I can to “Love myself and watch” as usual. Valuing relationship over my interest in finding ways to allow my capacity to Love myself and others to mature, strengthen and flourish would have had me leaving this encounter feeling quite hurt.

I’m not sure I’ll ever have an intimate relationship with a woman in my future of this life (my need for the non-sexual aspects of intimacy are very strong and apparently not attractive to the women I meet), but I won’t stop my pursuit of uncovering the barriers to Love within myself, partner or not. I’m sad that this connection didn’t go the way I hoped it would (pursuing the non-sexual aspects of the Exchanges at very least), but glad that I took care of myself throughout the process while offering what I could to her. Clinging to the idea of the primacy of relationship wouldn’t have allowed that. Aloneness has its beauty and its value.

Have you tried

"asexual" forums? You might easily find a willing partner there. Just because someone's on that forum doesn't mean they don't want physical touch. Nor is "asexuality" a life sentence. Smile

Thanks Marnia!

I haven't explored these yet. It didn't even occur to me. The non-sexual aspects of your Exchanges are so clear. Do you have any recommendations for a particularly good "asexual" forum?

Sincerely,

Arnold

Yep, They are!

Hi Marnia,

I checked out the Asexuality Visibility and Information Network (AVEN see: http://www.asexuality.org/home/) and they have a forum there (see: http://www.asexuality.org/en/). In talking with a couple of members there, I discovered that "Abstaining Heterosexual" fits their definition of "Grey" and my need to connect with people who share my interest in non-sexual touch (and open communication) while pursuing full health.

They mentioned two "dating" sites that might interest me:

1. The "Cuddle Buddy Network" (see: http://www.cuddlecomfort.com/): to find cuddle buddies no strings attached!

2. Acebook (see: http://www.ace-book.net/) : this is more a dating site focused on asexuals but is open to "Grey's".

So once the weather cools down a bit, I'll put more energy into finding partners who share my interest in non-sexual healing touch this way.

Thanks for the lead.

Cheers,

Arnold.