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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It fascinates me to watch this play out in the conversations here.

Case 1. A husband wants to do something with his ejaculate, as a recently closed thread discussed. Lots of people say "whatever works for you and your spouse", but the consensus also includes an allowance for the wife to opt out. She should have the right to decide that this is too disgusting or degrading to participate.

Case 2. A husband wants to touch his wife's breasts during foreplay, but she doesn't allow it. Lots of people way "whatever works for your and your spouse", but the consensus also includes statements to the effect that "this is a perfectly normal act and a decent spouse would work to include this in a healthy sex life".

Is the only difference between these two cases social norms? I very purposely chose two options that do not include pain, or third parties, or non-monogamous unsafe practices, or risk of injury, and there are certainly other examples.

So it seems we use some other yardstick above and beyond "only those things to which both partners agree are reasonable". Is that yardstick nothing more than social convention? Is oral sex more expected and acceptable now only because the majority does it? Do we really just rationalize what we personally find acceptable as normal, then construct elaborate arguments to justify our position?

It seems to me we do, more than we might want to admit.
 
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Just as in most other things, we look at situations through the lens of our own experiences and expectations. Some of which are more commonly held than others.

I have no particular desire to give my wife a facial, but fully expect some boob-grabbing and oral sex. I expect I'm in the majority on both counts, thus the concensus on both situations you describe. Concensus counts for something, but probably not a whole lot in the end, particularly in individual cases.
 

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I'll just comment on the examples you gave. For example number one, I agree, just whatever feels comfortable for both of you. Example number two however, I think that when it comes to marriage, getting married implies that sex will be available to both spouses. I don't understand how the implication that sex is available can be made if it doesn't also imply free reign to touch your spouse (in a non-painful way as you said) during the act of sex.
 

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Yes, I believe social norms play a big role in our perspectives.

Some societies believe in having multiple wives, whereas that is a big No Way in others. In societies where breasts are not considered sexual objects but are for baby food, breast play isn't considered, like most wouldn't consider ankles and elbows to be sex objects in our society (I said most!). There was a time when a glimpse of ankle was oh, so risque!

Social norms change over time, and what was once unacceptable becomes more the norm and then it becomes expected, leading to "a decent spouse would try this for a healthy sex life."
 

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"Do we really just rationalize what we personally find acceptable as normal, then construct elaborate arguments to justify our position?"

Yep. We all have built-in bologna generators. We are famously good at creating stories to justify ourselves.

Good book: The Blank Slate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia discusses some of those ideas.

Pinker is a relentless, and persuasive case-maker, with meticulously referenced, cited, & supported ideas. Highly recommended. He is also a linguist and his work is simply entertaining to consume, which is a bonus. This has nothing to do specifically with the exact sex justification you are questioning, but the concept of justifying our own actions is discussed in great depth.

(for the lazy: :) http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_chalks_it_up_to_the_blank_slate.html )
 

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If my wife one day told me, I want a facial, or lets try anal and here's the lube, etc. I would gladly do that with her.

Only thing that's out of the question, is having a 3 - some. Marriage to me is special between husband and wife, otherwise, why get married in the first place? Be single, date, have 3 - some, party, then get that out of your system and meet the right man or woman and get married.

I like to kiss and nibble my wife's breasts, massage and do her feet, and any position that she can do comfortably.

If she wanted to dress up for role play, sweet. Watch adult movies and use toys, great. Anything between us that adds fun to the sex life.:D
 

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It fascinates me to watch this play out in the conversations here.

Case 1. A husband wants to do something with his ejaculate, as a recently closed thread discussed. Lots of people say "whatever works for you and your spouse", but the consensus also includes an allowance for the wife to opt out. She should have the right to decide that this is too disgusting or degrading to participate.

Case 2. A husband wants to touch his wife's breasts during foreplay, but she doesn't allow it. Lots of people way "whatever works for your and your spouse", but the consensus also includes statements to the effect that "this is a perfectly normal act and a decent spouse would work to include this in a healthy sex life".

Is the only difference between these two cases social norms? I very purposely chose two options that do not include pain, or third parties, or non-monogamous unsafe practices, or risk of injury, and there are certainly other examples.

So it seems we use some other yardstick above and beyond "only those things to which both partners agree are reasonable". Is that yardstick nothing more than social convention? Is oral sex more expected and acceptable now only because the majority does it? Do we really just rationalize what we personally find acceptable as normal, then construct elaborate arguments to justify our position?

It seems to me we do, more than we might want to admit.

Yes, I think the only difference in the two cases is the yardstick we apply. But that yard stick can be very different depending on who is holding it. Where do fetishes come from, how do we define kink, who the hell thought of doing THAT?

When you look at the sex practices of say Bonobo monkeys, you realize the free play produces creative ways to get and give pleasure. Bu we humans have the Internet along with free play. One persons wacky idea gets publicized and now it's considered normal by most standards. So those standards evolve as information sharing evolves.

Like the bonobo monkey, safe sane and consentual and anything goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
When you look at the sex practices of say Bonobo monkeys, you realize the free play produces creative ways to get and give pleasure. Bu we humans have the Internet along with free play. One persons wacky idea gets publicized and now it's considered normal by most standards. So those standards evolve as information sharing evolves.

Like the bonobo monkey, safe sane and consentual and anything goes.
Right, but not only do we ourselves begin to accept new standards, we also start applying them to others. Those who don't hew to the new norm get labeled as broken.

Let's take case #2. When I mention that this is my situation, I get asked if there is a history of sexual abuse, because many are completely incredulous that a women in 21st century western culture would feel that way without scarring from past transgressions. Some even claim that a partner in such a situation is undergoing a mild form of sexual abuse. The norm becomes not only normal, but deviation from it becomes pathologized.
 

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Do we really just rationalize what we personally find acceptable as normal, then construct elaborate arguments to justify our position?

It seems to me we do, more than we might want to admit.
Mr. Cletus,

I think you are correct here.

Now, some examples from my own personal experiences..

The reason I don't give my wife the "Facial" is because I cannot ejaculate that much. We did try, she encouraged me to try. But I cannot ejaculate in the volume required to make it a "Facial". At most I could make some dribbles, but no facial.

Since it is physically impossible, that is why we don't do "Facial" anymore. No need to justify it, it just won't work for me. I am not young anymore.

It's just like anal. We did try, she encouraged me to try. But we were unable to make it work because mine just won't get in, too difficult, and repeated failed attempts makes me become less hard.

So, since it is physically impossible, that is why we don't do anal anymore.

I don't have to justify my position at all, it's just the fact.

And this goes both ways, for the husband and the wife. Once my wife wanted to experiment in "Reversing the Role", by sucking on my nipples and tickling my perineum. She said "maybe it will help you to get erection faster". I felt a bit weird, because usually it's the woman who gets nipple-sucked, and perineum-tickling is so similar to vulva-fingering.. this whole role-reversing thing was a bit weird to me. But I played along, because I respect her and wanted to explore her creativity. And she asked in a respectful way, so I see no reason not to play along.

Turned out that those acts gave me very pleasant feeling. Didn't really make my erection comes faster, but surely made me more relaxed (usually it is me who does foreplay first).

And so, since it is physically possible, sometimes she's doing it when we feels like it.

Now, back to your question..

I see people are making justifications to defend their position. It's all fine to me. Everybody wants to be respected. Everybody wants to avoid being forced to do what they don't want to do. "No anal!" "No oral!" "No facial!" "No nipples sucking!" "No perineum tickling!" etc, they all are psychological barriers that are being set up by individual, to ensure that they are being respected by their partner/spouse.

The real challenge are to tear down some of the barriers not because of the feeling of being forced, but because we think the barriers are just that, barriers which preventing us to enjoy full intimacy with our partner/spouse.

Not to say that the barriers should all be removed, though. Some things should better be left alone.

If a marriage is to work, then the feelings of (1) mutual respect (2) mutual love and (3) mutual sexual attraction has to be present. All three. Missing one is a recipe for unhappy marriage.

If 1,2,3 are present and are being constantly reinforced by daily display of love, affection, respect and responsibility, then some sexual barriers (not all) might be neutralized and put to rest.
 

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The norm becomes not only normal, but deviation from it becomes pathologized.
Of course. This is not specific to sex. This is true for the entire society, this is true in your own body.

Society always tried to eliminate those that are different (race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs). Many suffered because of that.

Your own body rejects everything that is different. Your body will fight against the new heart that was transplanted.

Being conservative or sticking to the norm is something that works in nature it seems. Change comes gradually.
 

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For me what is acceptable has to pass this test.

1. does it hurt or offend anyone that knows what is being done or will know what took place? If so then its not acceptable.
2. Are all the ones involved excepting of the sexual behavior?
3. If it involves more than one person then each is in agreement that you both want to explore it.
 

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Sexuality is such a complex topic that any yardstick applied to anything is only as consistent as how that person from that culture feels in that moment. That person in a different culture or at a different time in his or her life might give a completely different answer.

Sexuality is a knotted part of the human psyche in which an extraordinary amount of variables are in play at once: Upbringing, exposure to different viewpoints, insecurities, fears, secret desires, just to name a few. Given that, it is unsurprising that so many people, esp on a fairly conservative forum like TAM, tend to project their worldviews on others. Our sexuality is so embedded in our subconscious that when we're confronted by radically different viewpoints, cognitive dissonance sets in and many of us resolve that dissonance by labeling the outside viewpoint "prudish" or "outlandish", depending on our own starting point.

Arguing from our own predetermined viewpoints isn't exclusive to sexuality. As humans, we employ confirmation bias on so many different areas of our lives that we often don't even know we're doing it.

What I tend to doubt in these discussions is that our current point in history is any more depraved than any past point. Oral sex, anal sex, and yes, even facials, are not recent inventions and have been happening for hundres of years, if not far longer.

The argument often thrown about is that porn has made these things more "expected". And I completely agree with that. What I question is whether or not it's such a bad thing. I'm not arguing the merits of porn. I certainly don't want to open that can of worms. But is it so bad that the proliferation of pornography exposed people to, say, oral sex? We would say no, that's probably not too bad. But if we apply that same question to facials, suddenly as a culture we clam up and think about how offensive the act is. But will future generations say that, or will they look back at us and think we were sexually inhibited prudes?
 

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My take is simply that sexual compatibility is even more complex than romantic compatibility-

And when both are expected to co-exist in the same relationship? Certainly explains why we have a 71% divorce rate in the USA!

Davelli really nailed it on so many levels- it is all about how we project our values onto others. The problem with sex is that we have to adhere to both parties' values at the same time. It's mindbending sometimes.
 

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My take is simply that sexual compatibility is even more complex than romantic compatibility-

And when both are expected to co-exist in the same relationship? Certainly explains why we have a 71% divorce rate in the USA!

Davelli really nailed it on so many levels- it is all about how we project our values onto others. The problem with sex is that we have to adhere to both parties' values at the same time. It's mindbending sometimes.
71% where did you get that number?
 

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Right, but not only do we ourselves begin to accept new standards, we also start applying them to others. Those who don't hew to the new norm get labeled as broken.

Let's take case #2. When I mention that this is my situation, I get asked if there is a history of sexual abuse, because many are completely incredulous that a women in 21st century western culture would feel that way without scarring from past transgressions. Some even claim that a partner in such a situation is undergoing a mild form of sexual abuse. The norm becomes not only normal, but deviation from it becomes pathologized.
I don't know Cletus. Putting sex practices into historical context will suggest that there really isn't a whole lot new under the sun. Ancient Romans soldiers sometimes got paid in brothel coins upon which were stamped the sex act they were entitled to. From what I know, which admittedly isn't very much, they pretty much covered all the bases.

The role of the breast in sex play is important because it not only brings comfort and pleasure it gives comfort and pleasure. It's like imagining sex victorian style. So, I'm sorry to admit that I agree with all those people who don't think it's normal for a woman to gain no pleasure and in fact hate having her breasts touched during sex play.
 
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I think what is acceptable depends totally on the people involved and the sum of their life experiences. What was acceptable to me even a year ago is very different than what is acceptable now. My experiences in that time with someone in whom I trust completely, have changed my views on a lot of things. I think it's all subjective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So, we've established that sexual norms are fluid and that there is no measuring stick to use in deciding expectations other than basic guidelines around monogamy and inflicting unwanted pain.

This leaves me puzzled. Just about every time I bring up a discussion about the practices my conservative spouse finds acceptable, I get a flood of responses to the effect "I can't imagine how anyone could be that way. It's unnatural. It's abusive. Nobody should feel that way about sex".

Perhaps it isn't you folks responding directly here, but it sure seems that a bunch of (the collective) you do think that there is a certain base level of sexual behavior that is expected. For instance, Dan Savage has a paraphrase for this belief - "Oral comes standard". It's not a separate upgrade. Anyone not willing to give and receive oral sex is not fulfilling the modern contract of sexuality. They're not GGG - they are being a bad lover.
 
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So, we've established that sexual norms are fluid and that there is no measuring stick to use in deciding expectations other than basic guidelines around monogamy and inflicting unwanted pain.

This leaves me puzzled. Just about every time I bring up a discussion about the practices my conservative spouse finds acceptable, I get a flood of responses to the effect "I can't imagine how anyone could be that way. It's unnatural. It's abusive. Nobody should feel that way about sex".

Perhaps it isn't you folks responding directly here, but it sure seems that a bunch of (the collective) you do think that there is a certain base level of sexual behavior that is expected. For instance, Dan Savage has a paraphrase for this belief - "Oral comes standard". It's not a separate upgrade. Anyone not willing to give and receive oral sex is not fulfilling the modern contract of sexuality. They're not GGG - they are being a bad lover.
Anything you read on TAM has to be taken with a huuuuuuuge grain of salt. There are a lot of blowhards on this forum and a whole lot of people with agendas and axes to grind. These are the primary ones that can't comment on something without being incredibly judgmental and pushing their worldviews on everyone else.

The trick on TAM is to figure out who those people are and just skip past their posts. I could name my top 5 right now.

There's also a handy little block feature, too.

ETA: And not every comment that everyone makes to something you say is really relevant to your marriage. No one but you knows your full situation.
 

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by flipping a coin....heads or tails.....LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I'll just comment on the examples you gave. For example number one, I agree, just whatever feels comfortable for both of you. Example number two however, I think that when it comes to marriage, getting married implies that sex will be available to both spouses. I don't understand how the implication that sex is available can be made if it doesn't also imply free reign to touch your spouse (in a non-painful way as you said) during the act of sex.
Two children later I'm here to tell you that it sure can.

But your incredulity makes an excellent case in point. At the most fundamental level, sex involves PIV. Everything else is optional, isn't it?
 
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