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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
As long as the level of use fails to reach addiction. Use of erotic material is not keeping my wife in touch with sexuality, it has replaced it. There is nothing for the sexually explicit materials to complement. Women are not all immune to the problems with porn that men fall into.
In my opinion "addiction" is a problematic term for when a relationship is interrupted by sexually explicit materials and solo masturbation. Yes there are problems, but the driving issue is likely deep seated in emotions like shame and guilt. Many people hide things from a spouse to "protect" the relationship and in doing so it actually serves to harm the relationship by creating distance and emotional boundaries. Some people just can't get over that. Some people allow shame and guilt to build and continue to grow the associated emotional barriers to protect the relationship. As a result of the other person not having any control or access to this behavior or emotional activities involving sexually explicit content, it tends to look and feel like the other person has an addiction. Emotional shame and guilt may be overlooked as the source of the problems.

Since Esther Perel cites the fact that eroticism thrives on a elements of risk and adventure, it is easy to see how risking exposure to one's shame and guilt actually serves to make something extremely erotic. Porn thrives on this. Take away the shame and guilt and it very well could become boring. Also northing can kill eroticism more than turning over your porn collection to someone that is upset with it and wants it to be taken away. Nothing can be more erotic than getting forbidden porn back and enjoying it again in the form of contraband.
 

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Discussion Starter · #42 ·
Back to my reading of "Sexy Mamas" which is recommended by Esther Perel...

Perel highlights that there needs to be a sense of risk and adventure in order for eroticism to thrive. Meanwhile couples that are parents need safety and routine which tends to throw cold water on marital intimacy.

So one challenge that faces parents sharing the home with other family members is privacy. The bedroom can be invaded at any time by someone having trouble sleeping. Some families share a one-room studio apartment with no privacy. This challenge can actually be embraced in a way that encourages intimacy between spouses to actually become very erotic. Some couples report that this challenge is one thing that actually has put the spark back into their romance. The more challenging privacy is for a married couple, the more potential spark that can be created.

Why is this? Well not having any privacy serves to create distance and a risky form of sexual adventure. This might involve parents having sex in the car or going out on the balcony. It also involves premeditated ways of keeping other family members distracted or away from the home in a way that builds sexual anticipation between spouses for when that happens. The book strongly advocates for opportunistic quickies as a way to spice things up for a marriage.

My wife has sometimes lamented that I struggle with quickies and insist on holding out for a lengthy planned session of lovemaking. According to the tips in this book I need to buy a shower massager and expand my repertoire of places in the house used for lovemaking.

Badsanta
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
So,....there is a twist on this. I think the book may be suggesting that the women use sexual explicit content alone (hence the masturbation reference), therefore it takes SOME aspects of body shame away. I know for my wife, she can feel jealous of how women in movies look, but it is more because she would be jealous that I may find them appealing. If she were watching alone, it still may spark feelings for her that she "does not compare", but less so than if we were watching together.
This can be a challenging topic. I think as an HD spouse that one should not advocate that the LD use more sexually explicit materials to awaken themselves. It is more about removing sexual disgust and shame. Perhaps the best way to go about this is through example. An HD could be vulnerable and perhaps open themselves up to being humiliated and criticized by an LD with regards to certain viewpoints on sexuality. Then the HD can hopefully demonstrate confidently that there is nothing to be ashamed about.
 

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So,....there is a twist on this. I think the book may be suggesting that the women use sexual explicit content alone (hence the masturbation reference), therefore it takes SOME aspects of body shame away. I know for my wife, she can feel jealous of how women in movies look, but it is more because she would be jealous that I may find them appealing. If she were watching alone, it still may spark feelings for her that she "does not compare", but less so than if we were watching together.
Have her watch "Girls." Lena Dunham likes to show her body. It's hard to be jealous of it.

But she did write in that she had an on again, off again affair with hotty Adam Driver.
 

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Have her watch "Girls." Lena Dunham likes to show her body. It's hard to be jealous of it.

But she did write in that she had an on again, off again affair with hotty Adam Driver.
We did watch Girls...and I would agree that my wife was probably not very jealous of Lena's constantly nude body....lol

In general, jealousy is not a major factor in our relationship. There have been some occasions that my wife mentions something, but not an issue that is frequent or major.
 

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Discussion Starter · #46 ·
So I am now about 50% through the "Sexy Mamas" book suggested by Esther Perel. Here is one unique find....

Esther says that eroticism needs risk. Meanwhile Cathy Winks and Anne Semans go to great length to talk about how we realize certain fears once we become parents. Spouses actively do whatever it takes to start protecting the marriage which includes being overprotective and not talking about problems in the relationship. Eventually this results in loss of libido as problems are ignored and issues begin to harbor negative feelings toward one another.

"Sexy Mamas" talks about these problems and emotions as being very normal but most struggle to overcome the fear of communicating about them:
  • feeling to tired for sex
  • loss of libido
  • loss of attraction
  • feeling unloved
  • feeling unloving toward a spouse
  • lamenting the loss of romance
  • feeling unattractive
  • feeling inadequate as a lover
  • low self esteem
  • so on and so on...

Winks and Semans point out that yes these are scary topics to talk about openly and directly with a spouse, but that ONLY by doing so will you be able to work on them as a couple. It is also pointed out that if one can overcome their inhibitions to talk about these things that they will discover that the problems are not as bad as they thought.

For example a wife with no libido may feel extraordinary anxiety and guilt because she thinks her husband wants sex every night. Upon having an open discussion about that she may find that while he makes repeated advances that he does not have to have sex that often. He may very well be happy taking care of his own sexual arousal alone as long as he knows his wife will NOT be jealous or upset by that. Upon talking about these things odds are a couple will discover that the situation is much more manageable than they both feared. Meanwhile the wife likely has a hormone cycle that changes her receptiveness throughout the month that the husband needs to be more aware and attuned towards. Then everything starts getting better as a couple works on this.

Back to Perel. Eroticism needs risk. The conversation above involves confronting one's fears and having an honest conversation about problems in the marriage.

FREAKING BOOM!!!! Talk about some hot sex that can occur as a result! My wife and I usually have the most intense moments after opening up and having some difficult discussions. The result is often we discover how much we love and care about each other by risking what was thought would be a difficult conversation.

In my opinion "Sexy Mamas" lays much of this groundwork by talking about how common problems are and the surrounding emotional dynamics. This will help a couple to be much more articulate and informed when discussing a problem. Mostly to understand that things need to be discussed and not ignored. Otherwise you think you are protecting the marriage by avoiding confrontation, but in reality you are harming it and destroying the things that intimacy and eroticism need in order to thrive.

...still enjoying reading...

Regards,
Badsanta
 

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Although this is a different dynamic, I have noticed that anger and frustration can lead to very intense sex. We have all heard about make up sex, and I have found that is really applicable. I wonder if similar to the impact risk has, strong emotion seems to also have a link to sexual appetite.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Although this is a different dynamic, I have noticed that anger and frustration can lead to very intense sex. We have all heard about make up sex, and I have found that is really applicable. I wonder if similar to the impact risk has, strong emotion seems to also have a link to sexual appetite.
Make up sex is indeed an interesting phenomenon. However the topic of anger in marriage is something that I have not studied, nor do I feel confident discussing in the context of improving a relationship. Unfortunately once you have anger, you also have a good chance of someone receiving physical abuse.

So I do NOT want to advocate for married couples to get confrontational in a way that creates anger. Confrontation should be something that comes from a place of feeling calm and self confident about yourself while having a patient willingness to actively listen to the other person when discussing problems.

My main point is that I do not understand the dynamics of anger well enough to give constructive advice on the topic.

Regards,
Badsanta
 

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Make up sex is indeed an interesting phenomenon. However the topic of anger in marriage is something that I have not studied, nor do I feel confident discussing in the context of improving a relationship. Unfortunately once you have anger, you also have a good chance of someone receiving physical abuse.

So I do NOT want to advocate for married couples to get confrontational in a way that creates anger. Confrontation should be something that comes from a place of feeling calm and self confident about yourself while having a patient willingness to actively listen to the other person when discussing problems.

My main point is that I do not understand the dynamics of anger well enough to give constructive advice on the topic.

Regards,
Badsanta
just to be clear...I am in NO WAY suggesting anger is good or promoting it for the sake of sex. My only point was that very strong emotion seems to trigger sexual interest. I have seen the anger example more prevalent than from other emotions. For me, it is really the idea of understanding how much about our emotions really drives our outward approach to sex.
 

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Discussion Starter · #50 ·
My only point was that very strong emotion seems to trigger sexual interest.
There was indeed something about that in the book I am reading. I'll have to go back and find it. It was a chapter about what is often described here as a dynamic of NRE (new relationship energy). These authors discovered a study that couples with NRE benefit from an amphetamine-like brain chemical called PEA (sometimes referred to as "limerance"). It is thought the presence of strong emotions can trigger this chemical.

At a glance the chemical PEA is naturally found in chocolate. So that seems to add up and seem pretty legit.

Badsanta
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
So as I have continued reading "Sexy Mamas" by Winks and Semans there seems to be a common theme regarding libido. That would be the topic of using erotic materials to cultivate ones desires and fantasies:

SEXY MAMAS
  • Strongly encourages masturbation as a way to stay connected with one's sexual self
  • Explicit materials are suggested as a way to help better explore and stimulate the sexual mind
MATING IN CAPTIVITY
  • Suggests that an affair is definitely not the end of a marriage
  • Advocates the idea/fantasy of a 3rd person can reignite eroticism
COME AS YOU ARE
  • Discusses a concept called "do not yuck my yum" which is about learning to confidently embrace what one finds arousing as something that helps define your own sexual identity.
  • It is very problematic to allow someone else to shame you based on comparing your sexuality to that of a sexual role model in society. (people are often shamed for any sexuality that conflicts with that of marital heterosexual monogamy)
If you put ALL that together, you see a common stereotype of men being shamed for self exploring while enjoying sexually explicit materials, and wives complaining that husbands have too much sexual desire. Many of us may also remember a controversial pharmaceutical trial towards producing the female equivalent of viagra. The trial demonstrated a the drug had a 30% success rate for improving the female libido. Upon trying to get the drug approved it was revealed that the placebo also improved desire in 30% of women. It was later discovered that the trial asked women to view erotic materials in conjunction with taking the placebo or the trial drug. The news had a field day showing politicians grill the pharmaceutical company about this study. Today these news articles are impossible to research as I am sure money has been spent to restore the public faith in researching new prescription drugs online.

(Light bulb going off in Badsanta's head)

hmmmmm.... Do pharmaceutical companies pay for propaganda that wives read that portrays mainstream pornography as harmful and problematic towards relationships? Resulting in shame that creates a self fulling prophecy?

Badsanta
 

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Interesting topic.

Unfortunately once you have anger, you also have a good chance of someone receiving physical abuse.
Maybe you are using the word "anger" in a different way to me. But I don't think the above should be true, not remotely. Anger does not have to lead to abuse or violence. An emotion of anger is often a person's involuntary response to a situation. How they behave is their choice. Ideally, they do not have to pretend they are not angry. That causes problems. In couples or families where anger is "forbidden", people have to pretend not to be angry, and that inauthenticity leads to disconnection. People need to be able to say that something angers them, without behaving abusively (shouting, interrupting, the silent treatment etc etc)

So I do NOT want to advocate for married couples to get confrontational in a way that creates anger. Confrontation should be something that comes from a place of feeling calm and self confident about yourself while having a patient willingness to actively listen to the other person when discussing problems.
Yes, I agree

just to be clear...I am in NO WAY suggesting anger is good or promoting it for the sake of sex. My only point was that very strong emotion seems to trigger sexual interest.
Often because it is a sign that the other person still cares, at least. It's less likely to get angry about a situation you have no investment in.

There are many reasons that a relationship becomes non-sexual. Often, as Nagoski says, it's not so much because there's insufficient pressure on the gas pedal, it's more because there's pressure on the brakes. (One common reason for the foot on the brakes is some kind of physical pain (for either partner) on penetration.)

Another that sometimes happens is that the partners become too merged with each other. I think this is part of what Perel's talking about. There needs to be some sense of seeing your partner as if they were a stranger. This needs to be playful. The loss of any sense of play between a couple is a big problem. Couples who "never argue", "agree about everything", and so on ... Well, can you imagine how that couple might play tennis against each other, for example? Not wanting to win, hitting the ball gently back and forth so that nobody ever loses a point? Is it enjoyable? Or is it just frustrating and boring? Now translate that into sex...
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
Maybe you are using the word "anger" in a different way to me. But I don't think the above should be true, not remotely. Anger does not have to lead to abuse or violence. An emotion of anger is often a person's involuntary response to a situation. How they behave is their choice. Ideally, they do not have to pretend they are not angry.
I agree that anger is a very relevant emotion in relationships, but it is one that I have not studied. It is indeed interesting the idea of acknowledging one's anger openly and then choosing to act on that feeling in a constructive and positive way. I however fear that for those reading here that very few people have that ability and that once you reach a point of feeling anger that most people likely into a fight or flight response. Hopefully with most people just choosing to walk away or leave from the argument and hopefully cool down once that happens.

Transitioning into a similar topic is the feeling of "hate" towards a spouse. Schnarch describes this as something that all couples encounter and do not know how to deal with feeling hate towards someone we love. He thinks that not only that it is perfectly OK to occasionally feel hate towards your spouse but that it represents a supreme opportunity for extreme eroticism to occur in the bedroom. He calls this the idea of the sadistic spouse that chooses to make sex emotionally painful/challenging in an enjoyable and healthy way of dealing with one's feelings of hate towards a spouse. OK your favorite part of sex is an orgasm, so I am purposely going to mess that up for you and enjoy your frustration. The person on the receiving end of that may very well experience mind blowing erotic sex as a result of that dynamic and sexual frustration if done just right. This is where a loving couples can work things out with some BDSM spice in the bedroom. Sometimes couples do this passive aggressively without even being aware. They end up having great sex and then feeling confused as to why it was so good. They struggle to acknowledge that hate is a very valid feeling and that it not only can but that should be used in the bedroom in the form of dominatrix/BDSM style of play.

So hate / anger.... I think Schnarch would hope that couples learn to embrace the hate and do so in a way that allows some serious sparks to fly in the bedroom. It is a rather complex topic that likely leaves many couples confused when they enjoy it unexpectedly and unknowingly.

In a marriage passive aggressive behavior and avoiding confrontation is how most couples digest feeling hate. That is not healthy. It is a rather complex topic for sure.
 

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Discussion Starter · #54 ·
I just finished reading "Sexy Mamas" by Winks and Semans and found one valuable nugget of advice tucked away into one paragraph. This is the idea of breaking up routine and using a rather valuable tool of doing so...

Most often sexual intimacy becomes very structured between spouses. Particularly with what we each do to designate a beginning, middle, and end to sex each time it occurs. The beginning is foreplay, the middle is PIV, and then everything ends with orgasm. Winks and Semans suggest breaking up this structure and removing PIV and or orgasm from this structure temporarily as a way to encourage erotic discovery and exploration as a couple.

An example can be restricting PIV for a period of time so that it does not occur. A couple might later find themselves dry humping in the back seat of the car as if teenagers again. A couple may revisit some of the outercourse experiences they shared early in the relationship. It can serve to help rekindle desire and passion.

Perel says desire needs distance, so this is an idea where breaking up the structure of sex helps not only create distance for desiring certain things, but it also allows a couple to become closer during the process. A wife that feels sex is a chore may very well relish in the idea that no PIV will occur for a week or two and that as a couple there can be more focus on snuggling and foreplay. Each will hopefully build a strong desire for PIV to occur again and will enjoy anticipating for it to return. Which anticipation and enjoying it is perhaps one of the biggest ingredients of desire.

In my post above about couples struggling with feelings of hate, restricting PIV as a form of dominatrix-style punishment can also serve to create a dynamic of erotic frustration. A husband agreeing to that and limiting intimacy to outercourse only may not get what he wants and a wife may enjoy seeing him struggle with that and learning how learning to become more patient may very well be very enjoyable for both.

A common problem that parens face is that intimacy not only becomes too structured, it also tends to get to the point too fast. One person may need more foreplay and the other person may be rushing things. So breaking up the idea of what each couple defines as the beginning, middle, and end is probably a very powerful tool that can help rekindle desire and create sparks by challenging each other to discover new things about one another in the bedroom.

Regards,
Badsanta
 

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Discussion Starter · #55 ·
OK, back to "Mating in Captivity" after having finished "Sexy Mamas." So after reading these two books in tandem it offers a broader look at fidelity versus infidelity.

For a moment we should consider the idea of a sexual fantasy and infidelity as same things in order to explore the subject usefully in the context of married spouses raising a family. As a society often value knowing someone's fantasy, but often infidelities are often shunned. However most fantasies involve a form of unrealistic infidelity and as a result we reject that as well in an effort to protect our marriages. We often feel shame for having thoughts for someone other than our spouse. Spouses would likely be infuriated to become aware that his/her partner fantasizes about someone else. The resulting shame then robs married couples of their desire and makes their relationship vulnerable to divorce or an affair.

Perel goes in detail to analyze objectionable affairs and fantasies as something that can help us learn more about ourselves and understand why it is our desire works in such an ambiguous way. She models a young couple in which the husband has a large collection of hidden gang bang porn and the wife is emotionally hurt discovering that is what he really gets off on. Once Perel unpacks the emotional dynamics of why someone would enjoy gang bang porn to the wife, the tables quickly turn and the wife can truly see the emotional struggles of her husband for the first time. He on the other hand was uncomfortable being seen in such emotional detail. Perel goes on to describe that porn provides men with an desired puzzle piece that is often missing in long term relationships. Often it is the idea that those watching have no emotional responsibilities toward a pornstar's ability to demonstrate an insatiable sexual appetite.

Awkwardly this is the same idea that is presented by many other authors of sexual self-help book from different perspectives. It is the idea that the most powerful forms of sexual arousal and desire come from within and is then shared with a partner. This takes a great deal of self confidence and understanding of one's sexual self in order to accomplish it. Too often it is too scary to do this in front of a partner due to the fear that doing so could damage the relationship or cause further shame/judgement.

Back to Perel. She gets into this idea that one has to decide to tell or not to tell a spouse about one's inner most fantasies. She actually advocates for emotional boundaries and privacy when it comes to the topic of fantasy. This in turn can perhaps create some of the distance that desire needs in order to thrive. She does however advocate that no one should feel ashamed of their fantasies or true sexual self. It is through understanding and knowing yourself that you can better understand how to be a better lover with a spouse. You know what makes things work and you can invite those things into your imagination while being close with a spouse while avoiding the shame of doing so. Knowing that a spouse will enjoy you sharing his/her arousal in a way that sparks eroticism back in the marriage is often what is needed. Perel says some couples can decide to be open and share everything about themselves fantasy wise and that this often serves to make relationships stronger if an when both are mature enough not to judge each other for what they find erotic. In those cases, couples seem to really thrive.

Something for fun is to wrap you mind around one of the only forms of infidelity that is both accepted and praised by society. Imagine being married to a movie star. Then imagine your spouse winning an Oscar award for the most romantic movie of the year that required him/her to get very close emotionally and physically with someone else in order to film the scenes. We have all seen the interviews with that spouse on the nightly entertainment news. The thing to notice is that no one is shamed for what happened or being supportive of it. Often the movie star will reflect on the dynamics of what it is like to be on set versus being at home with family. Perhaps now you find yourself thinking that being married to a movie star might not be as an exciting fantasy anymore once you wrap your mind around that reality. Suddenly the exclusivity of your actual spouse seems much more valuable. So why would it take imagining actually being married to a movie star to make you feel closer to your spouse? Esther Perel advocates that exploring those things fully in our emotions is what it takes to appreciate an love what we have.

Regards,
Badsanta
 

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Discussion Starter · #56 ·
OK, I just finished "Mating in Captivity" and allowed myself to digest it. Not a whole lot of revelations compared to all the other books out there. Here are the highlights:
  • Desire needs distance and adventure. As couples get closer it causes desire to become problematic in favor of comfort, security, and routine.
  • Eroticism is often counterintuitive. Many struggle with too much shame or fear regarding the things that are arousing. Once you let go of the shame better understand yourself, it is often found that turn ons can be explored in the context of a healthy relationship.
  • Nonmonogamy or thoughts of it do not necessarily have to mark the end of a loyal sexual relationship. It can actually be a huge benefit towards restoring eroticism and desire for a long term relationship.

It is easy to see why Esther Perel has both strong supporters and critics. Here are some of my personal thoughts:
  • I find Schnarch's idea that certain people have different inherit modes of lovemaking to fall in line with Esther Perels idea of embracing the idea of a third. For example those that enjoy role play are open to not only imaginary partner replacement but also imaginary self replacement as a way to broaden horizons and adventure into new sexual discoveries within the context of monogamy. Ether however fails to understand/acknowledge that "partner-based" individuals are incompatible with role play as they want be known and share themselves completely present with a partner without anyone pretending.
  • Distance (personal space) combined with differentiation are very healthy things in a relationship and perhaps take a while to cultivate and respect after a couple has overindulged themselves together. Ether's book helps point that out to those needing some room to help create more desire.
  • Shame and guilt are two things I find that have no place in a marriage. Those emotions awkwardly seem useful in the context of how religion primarily motivates people. Perhaps people falsely believe that feeling shame is what protects us from the temptation of sin. In reality shame is what prevents us from enjoying the gift of life that god gave us. Never should it be a sin to admit who you are to your spouse and allow yourself to be loved and accepted for all your imperfections (no matter how shameful).
  • The fact that eroticism is counterintuitive is something I don't buy completely. I think "shame" perverts and distorts one's sexuality and it is only by completely letting go of one's shame that eroticism and desire becomes understood, loved, accepted and healthy in the context of a loving relationship.

At the end of the day most books suggest self confidence and communication is what helps make a relationship better. But the ability for someone to say that the are ashamed for being overweight and for a partner to make them feel loved for just the way they are is something too difficult for many couples. Confronting the fear of a spouse no longer loving you is something most couples incorrectly/silently judge by the changing quality of sex over time. Most fail to understand that the nature of sexual intimacy needs to mature in order to progress. Wanting to be wanted and needing to be needed are examples of youthful forms of desire. Selfish cultivation of a mutually shared wanting to want is the stuff that takes decades to refine. It is like working with exquisite sexual nitroglycerin which will awkwardly fail if it comes into contact with any shame or low self confidence whatsoever.

Regards,
Badsanta
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 ·
Back to me doing homework for @Cletus by reading this book for any helpful tips...

While it was not in Esther Perel's book, I think you may benefit from one of the tips in "Sexy Mamas" that was recommended reading by Perel. That is the idea of taking whatever your routine is in the bedroom and perhaps removing one part of it. This would help reemphasize other parts of the routine that may be lacking effort and/or encourage new exploration.

So from what I understand @Cletus your wife suits you up in a proverbial straightjacket and commences to have the exact same routine every time. Perhaps you could forgo PIV and insist you have to behave like a couple that is just dating and limit to working with just your hands. You could even add to that a refusal to remove your pants and challenge her to see if she can figure out how to get the job done (lap dance anyone?).

If she complains at you trying to do something different. Just claim that you are doing the same things, but creating variation by limiting something. So you can say you are not doing anything different, just more of the same with a different emphasis on certain parts of the existing routine. She can't tell you no to something you have always done, but she can struggle to not get something she has easily enjoyed too much. Hopefully that struggle will push her outside of her comfort zone to try at least a little something new.

Cheers,
Badsanta
 

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So from what I understand @Cletus your wife suits you up in a proverbial straightjacket and commences to have the exact same routine every time. Perhaps you could forgo PIV and insist you have to behave like a couple that is just dating and limit to working with just your hands.
Sorry, "no hands" is part of the straight jacket. Don't make me pull out the red pen on your assignment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #60 ·
Sorry, "no hands" is part of the straight jacket. Don't make me pull out the red pen on your assignment.
Not so fast with your red pen there Barney Fife!

Your wife's limitation with hands is on where YOU want to put your hands. You can still use your hands to give her a back rub, legs, and feet. The idea is that you make her to want you to use your hands in other places but you don't.

There is actually a lot that I have read that even wives with a healthy attitude for sex get frustrated with husbands that go straight to touching her breasts and genitals. Most often husbands will do that before she get aroused and it ends up being an annoying turn off. It is much better to use your hands everywhere but the erogenous zones (even for those wives open to being touched everywhere) and make her WANT to be touched.

Also as someone's arousal/desire increases, it also coincides with reduced inhibitions. So who knows, your wife may force your hands into places they have never been.

Regards,
Badsanta
 
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