Relational Eroticism

One of the most profound talks I have ever seen took place when JJ Abrams spoke at the TED Conference. If you are not yet familiar with TED, you really should be. It is a conference held each year on topics which relate to Technology, Entertainment and Design. Experts from all around the world are invited to speak about their field of study in 18 minutes or less. God himself would only be allotted 18 minutes to speak at TED. And while it costs about $6,000 to buy a ticket to the conference – if you can get one at all – you can watch the talks online for free.

Back in March 2007, JJ Abrams spoke on mystery. When he was a young boy, his grandfather was the instrumental person in his life that encouraged both his love of mysteries and as well as his exploration into how things work. One of his grandfather’s gifts to him was a box of magic tricks advertised to have $50 worth of magic for only $15. Abrams has carried that box around with him for years, never opening it, as a reminder of his grandfather and the wonder of what the box might actually hold. As long as he keeps it closed, there is mystery. Abrams contends that “Mystery is the catalyst for imagination” and “there are times when mystery is more important than knowledge.”

If you want to watch his TED talk in its entire 18 minutes, click here – JJ Abrams – Magic Box .

The reason, he continues, that mystery trumps knowledge is that we crave “mystery boxes” in our stories. They are the lifeblood of entertainment.   Take Star Wars for example:

You got the droids; they meet the mysterious woman. Who’s that? We don’t know. Mystery box! Then you meet Luke Skywalker. He gets the droids, you see the holographic image. You learn, Oh, it’s a message. She wants to, you know, find Obi Wan Kenobi. He’s her only hope. But who’s Obi Wan Kenobi? Mystery box!  So he goes to Old Ben Kenobi and it turns out he is Obi Wan Kenobi and he knew Luke’s father.  But who is Luke’s father?  Mystery box!

It is these mystery boxes which draw us into the story. They stimulate our imagination. They are the great unknown. They bond us to the characters. They are the twists and turns which we do not expect but utterly delight us. That is our attitude…at least when they are happening on screen.

But what happens when we encounter mystery boxes in our own lives? Typically, we get very annoyed. They are inconvenient. They deter us from easy and fun things in our lives. They don’t fit into our neat and tidy version of a picture-perfect life.

However, if we were to translate our lives into a movie script, they would look like this:

  • My 13 month old daughter was just diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness. We don’t know what is coming next. Mystery box.
  • There is a world-wide economic downturn. How are we going to make it financially? Mystery box.
  • My husband has just been put on anti-depressants which are killing his libido. How do we manage that? Mystery box.

In our personal lives, we want to – in fact we demand to – rip open the mystery box to see what is inside. The very circumstances that would make our life’s story a block-buster hit on screen are what we want to immediately eradicate. We want all the answers right here, right now. But the irony of the mystery box is that once you rip it open, all the possibilities are gone. Suddenly the anticipation of $50 worth of magic is replaced by the fact that you actually only got a bunch of cheap tricks.

And yet, if you are going to experience eroticism in your relationship, you are going to have to endure a bit of mystery.

How on earth do eroticism and mystery have anything to do with each other?

They have everything to do with each other. Think about it – when did you have the most passion and eroticism with your lover? I would put money on the earlier days of your relationship. Those were the days when we would kiss for hours; we would talk until 4 in the morning; we could not wait to get a phone call during the day from each other. To quote the band, The Police, it was the period in our relationship when “Every little thing she does is magic.”

Ironically, those were also the days when we knew very little about each other. Our hunger to become more knowledgeable of each other drove our passions. The very mystery of this new person sparked eroticism. But as we began to understand each other, as we began to grow deeper in love, and as we melded our worlds together, the eroticism faded.

In his book The Kosher Sutra, Shmuley Boteach describes it as such: “[Eroticism] is much like a secret that you long to hear. As soon as its contents are revealed, it has ceased to be a secret and in the process it has ceased to be interesting or erotic.”

If I had to wager a guess right now, I would bet that you have a lot of knowledge about your spouse but not a lot of mystery. I would further guess that you miss the passion that you once had in your relationship. Those two circumstances are intrinsically entwined.

So how do we nurture a relationship of intimacy over decades with our spouse and still experience mystery?

This is the topic I am going to be discussing over my next few blogs. Together, we will explore how the Age of Enlightenment and the accompanying deification of reason threatens to destroy the passion in our relationships. We will look at the annoyances of dealing with ambiguity and the importance of seeing our lovers through fresh eyes. We will brainstorm about ways to increase the erotic in our marriages. And somewhere, in the midst of all of this, I hope that we will begin once again feel the flames of passion. Perhaps we will even want to rip the clothes off of our lovers once again. Stay tuned.

Hint #27

Does your bedroom need a little fix me up when it comes to transforming it into a “shag den”?  Take a quick look around…if you have pictures of your kids, best friends, or parents, think about relocating them to the family room.  Do you have candles and matches easily accessible?  Do you have sexy music at your finger tips?  It doesn’t take much, but the small things will go a long way to boosting your libido.

Essential Elements of Sex Course

Beginning next Wednesday, I will be doing a teaching series on The Essential Elements of Sex: Reigniting Passion, Love and Intimacy at the Women’s Breakaway program in Langley, BC. During this 8 week course, I will be answering questions such as:

  • What are the myths that we believe about sex?
  • How can we juggle our busy lives without neglecting this crucial aspect of our relationships?
  • How can we communicate effectively with our spouses about this sensitive subject?
  • How do we navigate differences in desire levels?
  • How can we overcome the insecurities that we experience?
  • How can we have more fun together?

If you would like to join me, the Woman’s Breakaway Program is being held at North Langley Community Church:

Location: 21015 96th Avenue  Langley, BC V1M 2Z3

Time: 9:15am – 11:15am

Runs: Every Wednesday from September 23rd – November 25th

Cost: $25 for the course  ($10 for child care for the entire course)

For more information, call the Women’s Breakaway program at 604-888-0442.

Hint #17

Hormone levels and energy levels fluctuate through out the day and can affect your libido.  Conduct your own bedroom experience and compare the “oomph” of your orgasm between an early morning romp and a late night rendezvous.  Rearrange your sex timetable for a while and see what works best for you!

OH me so horny

As I mentioned in one of my blog posts, Guess Who’s Coming to Town, I was recently able to spend some time with one of my heroes, Michelle Weiner-Davis. Her work in the field of marriages on the brink of divorce – and specifically when the cause of that brink is their lack-luster or non-existent sex life – has been lauded everywhere from Oprah to The Today Show to CNN.

In her books, The Sex-Starved Marriage and The Sex-Starved Wife, Mrs. Davis moves past the gender stereotypes of [husband=horny] and [wife=disinterested] to a gender-neutral depiction of the High Desire Spouse and Low Desire Spouse. In some marriages, spouses get slotted into one role and stay there. In others, however, the roles can change back and forth due to stress, illness, exhaustion, children, hormonal fluctuations and a host of other life circumstances.

low libido

Regardless of who is the “horny” person in the marriage, one thing is always constant – the person who gets to set the frequency in the sexual relationship is the Low Desire Spouse. Whoever says “no” wins. If both parties are communicating about this issue and accepting of this arrangement, then it is usually smooth sailing. However, problems develop when:

  • There is a large gap between what the High Desire Spouse wants and what the Low Desire Spouse wants
  • This gap grows because the Low Desire Spouse begins to avoid all physical touch out of fear it will lead to sex
  • The High Desire Spouse begins to push harder for sex in response to the Low Desire Spouse’s pulling away
  • Communication about the subject becomes acrimonious or non-existent
  • One or both parties begin to feel misunderstood or unloved by the other party

Sadly, if this cycle of misunderstanding, lack of communication and lack of physical connection is allowed to perpetuate in the relationship, then the marriage becomes at risk for infidelity and/or divorce.

So how can you become proactive to make sure your relationship is not at risk? As with most aspects of marriage, it takes open communication and willingness to compromise without being judgmental of your spouse. Remember, one role is not better than the other – it is simply a product of putting two different individuals in a relationship together. And if there are issues in the marriage that are a result of your differences, it is not a “his” or “her” problem, it’s a problem for “y’all” (yes, those are my Southern roots coming out). So stop blaming each other and get to work. Need some suggestions?

Here are a few exercises to be proactive in your marriage:

  • Take a moment to look at your relationship through your lover’s eyes. Ask yourself:
  • High Desire Spouses: How does it make him/her feel when I initiate sex? What am I noticing about him/her before I initiate? What makes my spouse feel loved and respected and how can I do those things for him/her?
  • Low Desire Spouses: How does it make him/her feel when I say “no”? How does he/she interpret my refusal to give a hug or a kiss? What would I be communicating to him/her if I said “yes” even if I am not totally in the mood?
  • What you focus on will grow. What were the circumstances around the last time you had great sex (or even sex at all)? Who initiated? Was there something special that happened? How were you feeling emotionally before you had sex? Did you feel empowered? Or less tired? Or deeply connected to your spouse? Did something different go through your mind beforehand? Once you have a clear picture of what is was that made that last encounter great, reduplicate it!
  • Rediscover the warmth of physical touch. Initiate touch during times when it is not possible to have sex so that neither party feels any pressure. Walk down the street holding hands, give a hug or kiss while the kids are in the room, sit close to each other on the coach while company is over, have a cuddle while the TV is on, etc.
  • Try something new. Do you know the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a new outcome. If what you have been trying isn’t working, then try something different and see what kind of response you get. Change the time or location of your sexual encounters, learn a new sexual technique, make the choice to say “yes” no matter when the next request comes, etc.
  • Read the Michele Weiner-Davis’ books. These books are a good read for anyone who is interested in this subject, but essential reading for couples who are struggling with the pain of sex-starved marriages. Her approach is practical to understand and implement. Here’s a link to her on

I do want to take a moment to reiterate that the labels of “high-desire” and “low-desire” are not permanently affixed.  In both men and women, and in relationships in general, libido ebbs and flows.  The spouse that is high desire today may be the low desire spouse next month.  Sometimes relationships can reach an equilibrium where your desires match. Whatever the case you find yourself in TODAY, know that any number of factors can cause that to be different tomorrow.  The important thing to remember is that communicating to each other your wants/needs/desires regarding sex is what keeps your relationship strong in this area.

If you haven’t yet, please do go vote in the poll on “Who Has the Higher Sex Drive in Your Relationship“.  And remember that when you vote, you are not slapping yourself with a permanet label – just noting where your relationship is at the moment!

Missing the woman I fell in love with

By Josh Lerman on

Tue April 7, 2009

( — My wife and I share a home and a bed. We kiss goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening with such ritualistic regularity that if one of them somehow gets missed, I worry it means bad luck.

We have a marriage in which we tell each other things, without large, dramatic fights, a marriage that in our affection and respect for each other seems awfully good in comparison to those of most of our friends.

But somehow in the past ten years or so since our first daughter was born, in the mad swirl of breastfeeding and colic, of Pull-Ups and wipes, dinners and playdates, car repairs and sweeping, versions of each other that we used to take for granted — versions of our relationship — have gone missing.

Christina and I met around 20 years ago. The friend of a friend of one of my college roommates, she appeared to me first at a party a few weeks after graduation. I thought she was gorgeous, and remember standing in the kitchen talking to her, trying to make her laugh.

She left the party early, and I later heard she’d gone off to Europe. There was a boyfriend.

But through the coincidences of social life in a big city, I ended up living with a high school friend of hers, while she returned to New York to work in the same office as another friend of mine from college. We became part of each other’s circle of friends.

Over the next year or two, as we spent time with each other on a semi-regular basis, our banter became more flirtatious, and I finally asked what she was doing Friday night. She answered “Something with you,” and we’ve been together ever since.

What I remember most about our first years together was our laughter. We giggled in bed at night and over the course of long weekend mornings, lying on our backs, legs draped across each other’s legs. Shameless hilarity in restaurants, malls, on the sidewalk — a private world of absurdity and delight, in love with the ridiculousness of the world and each other.

We moved in together, married, and bought an apartment. Jobs gotten and lost, money pressures, depression, a relative’s drinking problem, fertility issues — the stuff of adult life — all pounded at us but ultimately pushed us closer. At last we became parents together, sharing the shocking face-smack of responsibility and obligation that comes with the precarious-seeming beauty of infancy.

Of course we were still silly together — it’s who we were — but there was less time, less energy. Christina’s body, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and even after, it seemed, was owned by our daughter Olivia. The baby was lavished with affection, but maybe not husband and wife so much.

The baby was tickled and sung to and spoken nonsense to and made to laugh, but maybe not the husband and wife so much.

A new job, more fertility trials, the dehumanizing infinity of adoption paperwork capped by waiting, waiting, and finally our baby, a second daughter, Lucy. Our life continued, almost on autopilot.

The children grow and their needs change. They must be fed, the mortgage paid, the sidewalk shoveled, bedtimes enforced. The obligations — to the preschool, the PTA, my job, Christina’s work, Olivia’s preposterously plentiful homework — are a constant, staticky background to our lives.

My wife and I support each other, can count on the other, and on random weekends away can recapture flashes of that old lightheartedness.

And there are new shared pleasures: looking at each other in baffled rapture at the half-wit brilliance of 4-year-old Lucy explaining “how they make grass”; beaming with outsize pride at 9-year-old Olivia’s dance-recital seriousness and grace; witnessing a spontaneous, unexpected gesture of affection from an older sister to a younger. And the attempted mom-dad hugs in the kitchen dissolving into four-headed laughing kiss-fests.

But it’s too little, too fleeting. We spend so much of our lives passing each other on the way somewhere. Me on the way to see whether the sudden, eerie silence from the girls’ room is Lucy scaling her dresser like a climbing wall (it is). Christina on the way to the basement to put the laundry in the dryer because no, I have to admit, it wouldn’t occur to me to do it on my own.

Our bedtimes drift apart — Christina’s closer to the girls’, mine later toward a precious hour or two of private, need-free quiet time listening to music, reading, or watching bad TV.

What’s gone is the pure selfishness that brought us together. Something that belonged only to us, that was unique to us and part of us, has gotten lost.

But isn’t this what happens in life — that what I remember was a time, not a thing, and we can no more recapture those versions of ourselves than we can travel to ancient Rome? That a normal part of becoming an adult, of raising a family together, is leaving behind treasured swaths of the love affair that got us here — the mindless lust, the inside jokes, the laughter? Perhaps. But even so, selfish though it may be, I miss my wife.

So we must build on what we had — what we still have. We’re different people now, in different lives. We’ve changed, and so our love must change. The problem isn’t really that something is lost. It’s that we’ve been looking in the wrong direction, sitting there waiting for something to materialize instead of getting up and making it ourselves.

We’ll have to try a little harder to see past the day-to-day. If I do, I’ll find my wife — she’s in the basement taking stuff out of the dryer.

And if she can postpone bedtime for just a few minutes (please!), she’ll find me down in the living room watching bad TV. I can’t tell you how easy it would be to get me to turn that damn thing off.

By Josh Lerman

Copyright 2009 The Parenting Group. All rights reserved.  Read the original article here.

And read Eryn-Faye’s response to this article in her blog, then share your thoughts too!

Rediscovering Passion

There is not one particular thing that I can point at and say that’s the one, that’s the one that turned my sex life around.

It is such a complicated journey from the first years of marriage and the lust and laughter that surrounds it, to child birth and motherhood, to the loss of your libido then your self esteem and finally your self worth.

I have tried many things to recapture, recreate, reactivate and rejuvenate my sex life in my marriage and all of them had failed miserably before I met Eryn-Faye. She has helped me open my heart and my head to new possibilities.

Eryn Faye’s guidance and ability to listen and relate makes you feel that you are not alone. There is no lonelier place for a women then her side of the bed when the lights go out and she knows her husband is once again disappointed with her lack of wanting.

Think passion for this man, feel passion even if it is forced at first, and get excited, that’s where a Passion Coach came in for me. Get excited, motivated and act and if you follow through, your sex life will be renewed.

I can still see my husband face when I walked in the door after one meeting with Eryn-Faye. It was like we were 25 again!

~ Post-Menopausal Woman