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The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011

April 10th, 2011

If you want to get good at something, you’ve got to tinker with it.  Whether it’s mastering a new sport, a new musical instrument or trying to get stronger with a workout routine.  You have to play around with the object of your interest so as to maximize growth.

But that’s not all you need.  Let’s say you want to develop  a better backhand in tennis.  To do this, you need to practice doing backhands.  But you also need some knowledge.  Just picking up a racket and chopping at the ball will likely wind up  being counterproductive.  In the worst case, you may adopt some bad habits and practice them until they’re second nature, dooming your tennis game as a result of all of your hard work.

The same goes with marriage.

Husbands the world over want better relationships with their wives.  By better relationships this means more and better sex.  This is not shallow.  This is serious business.  Dennis Prager is fond of saying that sexual issues in marriage are responsible for a great deal of gratuitous pain.  There has to be something that men could do to improve the situation.

Enter blogger Athol Kay with his new book The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011.

I previously posted about Mr. Kay’s blog on this site.  While his blog is excellent, it’s nice to have his ideas laid out in an organized way and given the deluxe treatment.

At 329 pages, the book covers a lot of ground.  The book is divided into four main sections:

  1. What she really wants.  This section is an exploration of what women want out of a marital relationship using neurobiology and evolutionary psychology as a guide.  This is the part where I tell you to relax because this section is light on the just-so stories and provides a good background to thinking about the contents of the rest of the book.
  2. The Male Action Plan.  The essential thesis of the book is that men can improve their marriages by improving themselves.  This section details how men can make the right improvements in themselves so as to maximize their marital happiness.  It also details some of the techniques used by “pickup artists” to seduce women, and points out that a marriage does not absolve a man of the need to seduce his wife.
  3. The Sexy Moves.  This section deals with various ways a man can make his wife turned on.  It is worthwhile to mention that most of these techniques (the 10 second kiss, playful teasing and, you know, actually talking to your wife) are things that do and ought to occur outside of the bedroom.
  4. When Push Comes To Shove.  This section deals with the bad results that can happen if a marriage goes poorly and several miscellaneous topics.  These topics include choosing a wife, and a section dealing with “Marriage 2.0.”  Marriage 2.0 is, of course, the vestige of marriage that is leftover in the modern world after our politicians and our courts have wrecked the genuine article with their brilliant ideas.  Unlike many men who write about marriage in the current climate, Mr. Kay makes an excellent case for men to get married.  Seeing as how Mr. Kay is no longer religious himself, the case he makes is completely secular.

Mr. Kay makes an excellent point in his book.  He says that only 30% of what a couple tries in the bedroom will “work” for them.  I have a sneaking suspicion that only about 30% of the techniques that male readers try from this book will work for them as well.  This may sound like I’m denigrating the book.  I’m not.  That’s where my tennis analogy from the beginning of the article comes back in.  If you want Mr. Kay’s techniques to work, you have to play with them.  To try them out and tinker with them until you find something that works for your wife and yourself.  The wonderful service that this book does is to ground the reader in the knowledge he will need to make sure he’s practicing good form and not just “chopping away at the ball” and counterproductively reinforcing poor technique as a result.

Counterproductive behavior in a marital context is a real possibility.  For instance, if a husband is not providing adequate leadership in his home, his wife may begin feeling contempt for him.  Trying to remedy this by being increasingly “nice” is likely to be counterproductive, only deepening the contempt.  The solution is more leadership and less “nice.”  The exact opposite goes for those husbands who used to be naturals with women (or those husbands who have taken too seriously the rule of thumb that women fall for jerks).  If a woman does not have enough comfort in her relationship, no matter how exciting the man, the relationship will not end well.  Mr. Kay offers a way for such a husband to balance the exciting “alpha” traits with their comforting “beta” counterparts.

I’ve just told you the pros of this book.  Now let’s get to a few of the cons:

  1. There is no index, making it a bit harder to find topics of especial interest quickly.
  2. The book does not deal with the woman’s hormonal changes during pregnancy, what to expect at this time, and how to maximize marital happiness during the pregnancy.  That being said, he did deal with the issue of pregnancy in one of his blog posts.
  3. The book does not deal with menopause and what a man can expect from the hormonal changes during his wife’s menopause and how to maximize marital happiness during this period.
  4. The book is a little graphic in its descriptions of some sexual topics.  The language, ahem, sometimes varies from what one would expect in polite company.  I’m not sure how much of con this would be to many readers, but those of a more religious bent may not feel comfortable with this.  I personally was fine with his level of exposition in this regard, but I’m hard to offend.  Honestly, the book is not that graphic but if any religious authorities are going to recommend the book to their congregants, a word to the wise.  (I would go ahead and recommend it anyway).

Those four cons are minor quibbles compared to the benefit that I think many men will receive from reading it.  In an email exchange with Mr. Kay, he considered remedying items #2 and #3 in future editions of the book.

In sum, I am not just telling you to buy this book.  I’m telling you to get it as a wedding present for the newlyweds in your life.  I’m telling you to get it as a present for any of the married men in your life (including your husbands, if you are a wife).

The Ruth Institute is all in favor of lifelong married love.  Well, here’s a guide for how to get it done in the modern world.  Now go get it done.

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  1. nerdygirl
    April 10th, 2011 at 21:10 | #1

    “evolutionary psychology as a guide”

    RED FLAG.

    Sorry. But I can’t take anyone seriously who thinks evo-psych seriously.
    That said, I’m sure this is great for couples who prefer traditional gender roles.
    Probably not so for egalitarian/non-traditional couples, but thats okay.

  2. Elizabeth S.
    April 10th, 2011 at 22:38 | #2

    Since this book takes a secular view of this issue, I would be interested to know if Mr. Kay addresses the contraception issue in a marriage and if so, how it’s handled. This is a HUGE problem for the modern marriage and the modern family, and a big reason for the breakdown in marriages. There is no way for a husband to make his wife feel truly treasured and cared for if there is an artificial barrier between them. Never mind that the wife, either consciously or subconsciously will start feeling like a candy machine sooner or later.

  3. Ari
    April 11th, 2011 at 04:38 | #3

    Elizabeth,
    He does. His attitude is basically “Whatever works for the couple.” He makes mention of the pill, condoms and the copper IUD.

    Speaking as one who is about to be a father of four, I mostly agree. I’m not sure that telling couples NEVER to use contraceptives is a good idea from a purely practical standpoint (religious issues aside). Some people can’t handle ten kids. I know I couldn’t, and I’m as pro-natalist as they come.

  4. Sean
    April 11th, 2011 at 15:29 | #4

    “There is no way for a husband to make his wife feel truly treasured and cared for if there is an artificial barrier between them.”

    On the other hand, it’s hard for a women who doesn’t want to get pregnant to completely give in to sexual relations if her mind is worrying about getting pregnant. Contraceptives have helped enormously in creating intimacy and satisfying sex lives for couples: once they can stop worrying about getting pregnant, they can do it early and often!

  5. April 11th, 2011 at 20:00 | #5

    At some level contraception is always going to impair the sex life of the couple in some way. It is an interference in the natural order of things. It’s a case of experimentation and shopping around together to find what works best for you both. With the right solution it is going to be a very minor impairment.

    Though unwanted and excessively large families beyond the ability of the couple to support are an entirely different and potentially larger problem for a couple to deal with.

    So there is a balance here to work for.

  6. Jack Amok
    April 11th, 2011 at 23:41 | #6

    nerdygirl :“evolutionary psychology as a guide”
    RED FLAG.
    Sorry. But I can’t take anyone seriously who thinks evo-psych seriously.That said, I’m sure this is great for couples who prefer traditional gender roles.Probably not so for egalitarian/non-traditional couples, but thats okay.

    Nerdygirl,

    Whether you believe in evo-phsych or not, the truth is that a majority of men and women are happier with, as you call it, “traditional gender roles.” But the majority of men and women in the West over the last couple of generations have been convinced that they ought to prefer “egalitarian/non-traditional” lives, that traditional roles are wrong and bad. Men are taught they’re mysoginistic brutes if they want to be masculine, and women are tought they’re weak or broken or exploited if they want to be femine. So millions and millions of men and women lead stunted, miserable lives trying to live up to someone elses cockamamie ideas of what’s right.

    Athol’s book is the antittode for those people. If your love life is dreary and your marriage is going downhill, and being more egalitarian doesn’t help, those traditional gender roles might be just the ticket. Athol lays out the why and (at least part of) the how for men being men and women being women. The book tells people it’s okay to be traditional, and that’s something millions and millions of people need to hear.

    Maybe it’s not for you. But maybe it is. Don’t dismiss it because it’s not about egalitarian/non-traditional roles until you’ve had a good long chat with yourself about why you don’t want a traditional relationship. If it’s because it’s not right for you, great, you’re making an informed choice. If it’s because you’ve been told that’s wrong and demeaning, maybe you were told wrong. Millions of us have been.

  7. Deb
    April 12th, 2011 at 11:04 | #7

    @Athol Kay

    ” So there is a balance here to work for. ”

    I agree. That balance can be achieved with natural family planning (NFP).

  8. Scott
    April 12th, 2011 at 14:03 | #8

    @nerdygirl
    I agree; evo-pysch is nothing if not a bundle of ‘just-so stories’. That said, the observations about human ‘mating behavior’ found therein can be profitable. Evo-psych simply comes in “‘after the fact’ and makes up a plausible (and untestable) story – based on evolutionary assumptions – about why we humans engage in this or that behavior. All such observations are independent of the validity if evolutionary theory. It just happens the evo-psych is the epicenter of discusssion of human sexual behavior.

  9. April 12th, 2011 at 16:12 | #9

    One of the major reasons for relationship failure is the current state of current social expectations and how those expectations conflict terribly with the biological imperative. One of the biggest social expectations regarding relationships is that all relationships should aspire to being egalitarian (whatever that word means in the context of a long term relationship). When, in fact, the biological imperative is for the man to take the lead in a relationship. Of course many women will get their hackles up at this suggestion. But consider our massive divorce rate, our sharp and destructive gender conflicts, single parenting, and a host of social maladies that dangerously weaken not just our society, but our entire civilization. So, just how well are our current social expectations regarding relationships actually working? Perhaps it’s time to rethink the biological imperative and its very necessary importance in relationships. This is what Athol is doing in his book.

  10. nerdygirl
    April 12th, 2011 at 20:00 | #10

    @Jack Amok
    My problem with evo-psych is it’s pseudo science with controls, experiments, and “conclusions” about as professional as average level high school earth science class. (Like that women like pink cause it’s teh color of berries, which ignores that up until WWII blue was the color associated with women because of the virgin Mary.)
    I pointed out it was probably great for traditional couples, but surely there’s a better defense for traditional gender roles then bad science. Some men make crappy leaders. Some women make great ones. Use your fricken strengths that you the individual has, not the traits your supposed to have.

  11. Ari
    April 12th, 2011 at 20:34 | #11

    NG,
    I just want to note the irony of the “religious fanatic” (me) defending evolutionary psych and the more secular of the two of us (you) attacking it. I’m just savoring that for a moment.

    As far as my own view of evo psych is concerned, there is a lot of BS to be found there. That said, I’m not against evolution, seeing as how I’m a big fan of Rabbi Natan Slifkin (you can google him if you’re curious). I like politically incorrect thought no matter whose politics call those thoughts incorrect, so R’ Slifkin fits the bill on that count.

  12. Jack Amok
    April 12th, 2011 at 23:46 | #12

    nerdygirl :@Jack Amok but surely there’s a better defense for traditional gender roles then bad science. Some men make crappy leaders. Some women make great ones.

    Newton never figured out Relativity or Quantum Mechanics, but his theory is still pretty good at telling you what happens to an apple when it falls off a tree. That monk cross-breeding all the bean plants (or was it peas? I forget) didn’t know what DNA was, but he still got results. Science is full of theories that get the large-scale events mostly right and the details all wrong. But then what do you expect from a world where a solid brick wall is actually mostly empty space, nothing but a bunch of widely separated nuclei surrounded by probability clouds? And of course Quantum Theory is probably all wrong too.

    I did say “whether you believe in evo-psych or not.” The behaviors it recommends work for the majority of people, regardless of whether it’s strong, weak, or pseudo-science.

    Use your fricken strengths that you the individual has, not the traits your supposed to have.

    We agree about this, but perhaps we disagree about just who it is that’s trying to cram your head full of bogus ideas about what traits you’re suppoed to have.

  13. Eileen
    April 13th, 2011 at 12:45 | #13

    Any man who wants his wife to want him SHOULD do NFP. Nothing drives a woman crazy like wanting it when she can’t have it. Instead of sex which takes maybe a half an hour, you’re left with foreplay that lasts until the wee hours of the night. Talk about spice. And once the period of waiting is over, she’s definitely ready for sex. Sex only gets boring for couples who don’t take little breaks here and there. Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder and the libido stronger.

  14. Ari
    April 13th, 2011 at 13:32 | #14

    Nerdygirl,
    Considering your view on mastuline/feminine, let me ask you one question: do you (or do you think any of your fellow women) think the following is an example of the most desirable kind of man?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_uRIMUBnvw

  15. nerdygirl
    April 13th, 2011 at 15:51 | #15

    @Ari
    I stopped listening at the words feminine worship. Men I find desirable tend to identify as feminist or egalitarian, neither of which allow for “worship”. That said, none of the men I’ve dated (or care to) fit into “alpha male” status either.

  16. Ari
    April 13th, 2011 at 17:40 | #16

    Nerdygirl,
    Let’s see here… (Suppressing giggles).

    You don’t like a pure alpha guy. Understood.

    I sent you a video containing several museum-quality exemplars of beta malehood. You didn’t like those either. I think it’s safe to say that you would prefer a blend of the alpha and beta qualities?

    If this is the case, please consider the following sentence from my original post:

    “Mr. Kay offers a way for such a husband to balance the exciting “alpha” traits with their comforting “beta” counterparts.”

    Now, whether he derived that from neuropsychology, evolutionary psychology, or from reading tea leaves, you have to admit he has a point in saying that men need to have both a good alpha and a good beta game.

    That said, every time I find a woman who was prepared to treat me with that level of worship, it’s a real turn-on. But I’m able to stay loyal to my wife because that kind of abject worship is pretty common (and therefore) for me considering my stunning looks, my amiable charm and my becoming modesty.

  17. April 13th, 2011 at 19:40 | #17

    I’ll send you a copy if you like Nerdygirl. Despite clearly writing for a male audience, the majority of my readers are women, so I can’t be too far off base. It’s not hard to find my email address if you’re interested.

  18. nerdygirl
    April 13th, 2011 at 19:54 | #18

    @Ari
    Wait, those guys are “beta”? I would have figured them to be more “gamma” or some such. I always assumed “beta’s” were the “nice guys” that are actually nice and not d-bags in disguise.

    Of course, I never assumed confidence to be a trait only “alphas” exhibit, so my understanding of “beta” (though I assume there’s a fairly large spectrum of beta) could be skewed.

    At the same time, I tend to find game about as useful and practical Cosmo self-help articles. Is there segment of the population it works for, sure. Does that mean it works for the majority, not necessarily. (kinda like people who don’t fit into traditional gender roles)

    I said it was probably good advice for traditional couples, I can acknowledge that tactics, traits that don’t work for me work for other people. I take issue with evo-psych because well, I don’t like soft, subjective “science” being paraded as hard fact. It’s not. And please, if he came to this conclusion with reading tea-leaves you’d make a snarky comment about his methods. You’d agree with his conclusion, but you’d still disagree with how he got there.

    People who require abject worship for relationships should stick to pet dogs.

  19. Ruth
    April 15th, 2011 at 07:44 | #19

    @nerdygirl
    “People who require abject worship for relationships should stick to pet dogs.”
    Your comment got me thinking about people I’ve known who attempt to convince others that they need not worship God, while their goal seems to be diversion of that worship to themselves.
    The first commandment is “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Without the primacy of that commandment, the second, “to love your neighbor as yourself” easily becomes idolatry.

  20. Ari
    April 15th, 2011 at 12:54 | #20

    Come on, Ruth! If you’re going to cite the Bible, do it right. That is not the first commandment. The verse you (mis)quoted comes from Deuteronomy 6. I know that exact verse, as every practicing Jew says that verse twice a day.

    The Ten commandments are listed twice in the Bible (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5).

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but if we’re going to argue against people who are sometimes hostile to our beliefs, it’s kind of more difficult if you make a point about what the Bible says and they can simply say, “No, it doesn’t.”

  21. Ruth
    April 15th, 2011 at 13:17 | #21

    @Ari
    I apologize, Ari, for not making that clear.
    I was writing as a follower of Yeshua, quoted in Mark 12:
    “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

  22. Ari
    April 15th, 2011 at 14:14 | #22

    Seeing as how I’m not a Christian, I won’t argue this with you.

  23. Ruth
    April 15th, 2011 at 15:14 | #23

    @Ari
    Happy Passover to you and your family!

  24. Ari
    April 15th, 2011 at 15:32 | #24

    Ruth,
    Thank you. And may we all be redeemed in this time of our Freedom.

  25. Ruth
    April 15th, 2011 at 17:15 | #25

    @Ari
    Amen.

  26. nerdygirl
    April 18th, 2011 at 18:56 | #26

    @Athol Kay: Married Man Sex Life
    Thanks for the offer, but I’ll have to decline. Mainly because I have so much reading to do (school related and personal) that it stands a good chance of being on those books I just never get around to reading. But again, thanks.

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