There is a good chance that you will find sections of The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011 offensive. As a therapist, I’m here to bring lots of new points that one may not like at first but that are important for change. This book falls right into that wheelhouse. The basic premise of how heterosexual couples typically interact can easily sound politically incorrect in our current social context. However, the science, long term data, and reality pretty much solidify the notion that men and women (that are attracted to one another) often create standardized gender roles.
Hence, similar stories can be heard from couples in my office on a daily basis. Many men in long term relationships come in stating that they feel taken advantage of, treated poorly, and do not have the sex life they desire. All the while, these men dote on their spouses, provide a steady income, parent their children, and are all around good individuals. Or the opposite happens, that a man gets so frustrated with feeling mistreated that he totally disconnects and becomes a full on jerk to his spouse. Either way, I sit across from them with a heavy heart thinking time and time again about how they confuse turning a woman on sexually with being a good provider.
Here is a bit of generalized truth — most heterosexual women are wired to want a male partner that is great at caring for her (potentially her children as well) AND is dominant enough to sexually excite her. The concepts are NOT mutually exclusive. In fact, Athol Kay’s book explores the nature of how to balance the alpha male parts that often make a woman sexually excited along with the beta qualities that are crucial for a prosperous long term relationship. One doesn’t have to be a cruel person to make his partner want to have sex, just like one doesn’t have to be treated poorly to have a loving romance.
Now before you start assuming I’m advocating men being violent and women being doormats, how about considering that my profession is to create a context where individuals can locate a pathway towards success This all brings us back around to Athol Kay. He wasn’t some guy who naturally was some arrogant bad-boy and his wife was not an ignorant pushover. They were (and are) two regular people with a relationship, mutual respect, careers, children, and life goals. They love each other and seek a long term monogamous relationship. Completely standard for the understanding of heterosexual romance. If you wanted more details, you can read about his ongoing love affair, struggles, and triumphs at his blog at http://www.marriedmansexlife.com
The Married Man Sex Life Primer is a realistic look at how a man within current societal norms (read: a nice-guy-personality) comes to terms with the fact that acting in more “high value” way makes his wife happy and sexually excited. The book works through the basic science of heterosexual male/female chemistry, interactions, and expectations that traditionally generate a long term sexual relationship. At no point does Athol ever pretend that this whole process of becoming more alpha male is easy for him. Consider for a moment your own preconceived notions about what it means to be a male nurse in our society and add that to the author’s background. Kay’s natural approach to things is from a care-taking mode and he had no intention of being mean to his wife, even if he was going to have a better sex life. In fact, he was often shocked and confused by his wife’s reactions to his more dominant presentation. However, the book takes you along his journey towards integrating the science, emotion, and results of his balance between high value alpha actions and beta value response for a beautiful shift in romance with his wife.
There are many striking ideas within the book but one of the main themes appears to be that for a heterosexual man to create an erotic context for his wife it requires him to become her lover, with all the under and overtones of what that term means. Just as often as the sad husband sits across from me, his lonely wife tells stories about how she just wants him to pay attention to her. And truthfully, beyond hormones this is a huge factor in how affairs get started. The female just wants to be heard, flirted with, and treated in a way that desires her presence. Women obviously play their part in relationship troubles by becoming unaffectionate and overly demanding. Still, like in all things change can only happen within not at another person. Kay puts it like this: “My approach is that husbands need to find out how to become sexier to their wives and that will trigger her sexual interest. So rather than trying to ask her to change, you need to change for the better. The obvious solution is to step in and act like her lover would.” Sage advice, indeed.
This work is not ground breaking new information (as most of it is evolutionary psychologically based), yet Kay’s ability to cast an honest view on these dynamics is refreshing and important. If you agree or disagree with his premise on male/female roles within marriage is really besides the point, because he himself advocates not just one approach but whatever it personally takes to make yourself and you relationship better… and I think this is something we can all agree upon. The Married Man Sex Life Primer can be used as a way to jump-start your intimate relationship again. However, it feels more like a way to generate change within men that have lost their personal focus. And no matter what gender or sexual relationship you choose to explore, it will always feel sexy to be around a person who is confident within themselves and has a vision for their life ahead.
The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011 by Athol Kay
In my next set of posts on evolutionary psychology I’ll be addressing terms like gender and sex roles, high value and dominance. I’ll discuss at how these ideas can manifest themselves in ways that promote positive growth rather than blindly accepting societal defaults and assumptions.