the good with the bad

Submitted by sadie on
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The program set out in this book may look easy, but it is not. For couples in an established relationship, it is particularly difficult, maybe even impossible. And if you are hoping to conceive a child, forget it.

My husband and I have been together for 8 years, married for 2. We are both spiritual seekers, involved in Buddhist practice. Our relationship has been good for the most part, but we have still fallen prey to negative patterns of behaviour which (according to this book) may have originated from sexual patterns and hormonal cycles, but now are simply habits. For the last 6 years, we have also been trying (unsuccessfully) to have a child, and sex was becoming a duty rather than a joy, with the resulting hormonal imbalances exacerbated by the monthly disappointments. This book provided many things: a method for shifting our negative behaviour patterns, a practice for developing more loving energy, and a way to make love with no intention of conceiving.

However: my husband was unable to read the book. By nature, he is distrustful of authority in general and zealotry in particular. He found the heavy-handed but barely supported assertion that all of society's ills are caused by orgasm to be impossible to swallow. He understood the concepts, and found them intriguing (in spite of still hoping to conceive a child "someday"), and he really enjoyed the Exchanges--he even managed to quit smoking!--but every time he sat down to read the book, he gave up in disgust after a few pages, because he couldn't hack the language. I myself was able to ignore it enough to get through the book, but I tend to agree with him. According to the book, this failure to read the book may be grounds for divorce (just one example of the heavy-handedness), but we decided to ignore that assertion and keep trying. After four months in the first phase (ie. 4 months without intercourse and only 2 ejaculations!), and an impending month of career-dictated separation, we decided to make love. And lo and behold: we had learned to be truly present and giving with each other, to relax, to move slowly and mindfully, to connect our hearts with our genitals, to let go of the outcome, and to communicate during sex! Wow! And no genital orgasm! For the first time ever, I felt like I could go on all night, and I didn't feel sore or even tired the next morning. It was wonderful.

So where does that leave us in the long-term? Taking the book's advice, we have set a love-making schedule, interspersed with lots of loving contact and nightly Exchanges. We can't afford to adopt a child, so the conception issue will likely arise again at some point, but when it does, we have a much stronger basis for dealing with it, and very clear methods for enduring the orgasm hangover (if necessary). Although we weren't able to complete the Exchanges as written (at this point, at least), we have managed to internalize the lessons we did learn, and have a more loving and stronger relationship as a result. Meanwhile, it's inspired us to look into other approaches to sacred love-making. We feel this marks the beginning of a new and wonderful phase in our relationship. Thank you!

the good with the bad

Thanks for writing, Sadie. I'm glad your generosity of spirit helped you overlook my personality to find the substantive concepts that were helpful to you. I'm sorry you don't have the child you want. Have you read "Karezza: Ethics of Marriage?" In it Alice Bunker Stockham talks about "spiritual progeny" in the form of great inventions and works of art. Maybe you're waiting to give birth on another level.

Just to clarify, I think defensive separation is at the root of all the world's problems. The way we make love is contributing mightily to that because dopamine highs (and lows) cause subconscious mood swings and perception shifts. There may be people who are immune from this problem (and certainly everyone in the "honeymoon phase" of a relationship believes they are), but judging from the alienation between the sexes on this planet...and the sexual misbehavior of many spiritual leaders, I suspect that most of us are not. This makes sense, since alienation between the sexes serves evolution's goal of increasing genetic variety.

I'm sorry the tone of the book offended you. I'm glad you spoke up about it, as I like people with strong opinions. Sometimes I think it's hard to share an idea to which people have resistance without them objecting to its style. Or maybe all the people with better communication skills are too wise to undertake such a mission!

I hope you will also share whatever benefits you gain from other approaches to sacred sex.

Finally, if I take out all identifying information, could I have your permission to reprint some of your letter in my monthly newsletter?

All the best,