Leave the urge unscratched

Boteach reveals the seventh secret to reigniting desire in relationships: unquenchable yearning.

kosher sutra book 88 248 (photo credit: )
kosher sutra book 88 248
(photo credit: )
This excerpt contains graphic sexual language The Kosher Sutra By Shmuley Boteach HarperOne 256 pages; $25.99 Here's the rule: Bad sex involves instant gratification.Good sex involves delayed gratification. And erotic sex involves our seventh secret, unquenchable yearning. To explain: Bad sex is where you pursue instant gratification. Premature ejaculation, which many men struggle to control, is an example. So is quickie sex where both husband and wife are left utterly unsatisfied. Sadly, all too many husbands pursue just that. They're lazy lovers. They're satisfied with a boring orgasm, even though their wives get to feel satisfied once every blue moon, which explains the famous statistic that the rate of husband-to-wife orgasm in sex is about eight to one. Our culture is designed for instant gratification so that no inner urge is left unscratched. Hungry? Pick up the phone and a pizza is delivered lickety-split. Forget that we had dinner just an hour ago and there is nothing wrong with feeling a bit hungry. It's healthy. But not for us. When our belly calls, we run to silence it. Quash the pang. Scratch the itch. Calm the tension, however unhealthy it may be. But nowhere is this truer than with sex. We treat sex as a biological urge that needs to be satiated. We have to get rid of the urge by indulging the craving. Americans seem to have lost all sexual control. In a strange sort of way, they have sex in order not to want to have sex. It's not radically different than dinner. We eat in order to stop eating, to stop feeling hungry, to lose our appetite. Likewise, we use sex to anesthetize our craving. This is sex as an all-natural sleeping pill. It's like having a stiff drink. It relaxes us. There is an apocryphal story that prior to his famous presidential debate with Richard Nixon, JFK had a woman brought to him and had sex. Apparently, so the legend goes, he did so whenever he had important speeches to give. He told his aides that sex relaxed him. But that's why JFK, according to the women who claimed to be his lovers and wrote memoirs of their relationship, was a terrible lover. A few minutes of sex and he was done. Sex and women were used to relieve pressure. Nixon did the same thing with a drink, prompting his secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, to refer to his boss, the president, as "our drunken friend." Everyone has their own way to blow off steam. A player friend of mine related to me that although he was very happy with his new girlfriend, he had still cheated on her numerous times. When I asked him why, he said, matter-of-factly, "To satisfy my urges." Here was a man who was both controlled by his urges and did his best to quiet them. Then there was Harold who told me over dinner with his wife that, "Sex helps me fall asleep. If you don't believe me, just ask my wife." His wife nodded in amused agreement and added, "He sleeps like the dead after sex." I thought to myself of how badly their sex life could use a resurrection. For those, especially women, wishing to discern, therefore, whether the sex they are having is good or bad, intimate or distant, selfish or loving, the questions are these: Do you look into each other's eyes or close them? Do you kiss for a long time during sex, or is kissing mostly absent? Is sexual climax with eyes open or closed? Does sex take the national average, three to seven minutes, or is it prolonged? Do you feel closer when sex is over, or do you simply feel tired and ready for sleep? Good sex involves delayed gratification. You don't just jump straight to intercourse. You engage in passionate kissing, long foreplay and you build up desire. Only then do you consummate that desire by actually making love. But the highest category, eroticism, or what we call great sex, goes beyond delayed gratification and involves unquenchable yearning, longing and lusting after something who's always just in front of you but whom you can never quite reach. It's the husband and wife who have sex for a few nights straight without climax, always building greater desire, always heightening erotic longing. It's the husband and wife who take turns giving each other long and deeply arousing erotic massages, resisting the urge to have sex, holding out the promise of more. Sociologists point out that the definition of maturity is delayed gratification. A child needs everything right now. It's the reason they love candy rather than a healthy salad. The instant sweet taste is enticing to their palate. Only with time will they acquire higher tastes by delaying gratification. Whereas today they love the taste of Coke, years down the line they will come to appreciate a fine wine. Sex is the same. There are boys and men. The boys want an orgasm, right now, and use their wives to obtain it. Their sex life is deplorable and even worse for their wives. The men are prepared to delay gratification and engage in extended foreplay. But then, there are the philosophers, and they have not only delayed gratification but sexual wisdom. The sexual philosopher wants to harness sexuality to understand his or her deeper nature. They are prepared not only to delay lovemaking for an hour, but to delay orgasm for a week or more. They have sex without climax so as to arouse the strongest sexual urge until they are transformed from having sex to living erotically. When I was a boy I used to love watching the Little Rascals. The way they would move around was by using an old buggy that was drawn by a half-burned-out mule. In front of the mule's face hung a carrot held up by a fishing pole. The carrot was always dangling in front of the mule, and the mule would chase it, forever elusively, forever frustrated. Chasing that prize is what kept the half-dead beast going. Eroticism is based on the same principle. It is something that is dangled before the inner beast, our animal energy, but try as you might you can never quite grasp it. And the moment you do, it ceases to be erotic. It 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. Unquenchable desire is the reason why adultery is so erotic. You can never fully have your sexual partner, seeing that they are married to someone else. At any moment they can be taken away from you. When you do have them, you have done so only partially. Their foremost allegiance is still to someone else. The way we bring unquenchable desire into a marriage is first and foremost to have a biblically-mandated period of sexual separation in the marriage, as discussed in previous chapters. Knowing you can't have each other lets you yearn and lust for one another. A husband's desire for his wife slow burns to a fever pitch. But there is more. Husbands and wives should learn to talk openly about what erotic desires they have. Not just fantasy - things they know they'll never do and which they leave in the realm of fantasy - but rather things they wish they could do, but are too shy to execute. Every husband and wife have some wild sex idea they want to do, but, out of modesty or shame or fear, keep it to themselves. But there is no room for that kind of inhibition in marriage. Sexy conversations lead to burning passion and desire. A good time to practice this is when either husband or wife is traveling. Have phone sex with your wife. Let your desire for each other cajole some great and previously undisclosed sexual conversation from one another. Don't masturbate on the phone. That kills the exercise. The idea is to build up, rather than release, your sexual desire so that by the time you are reunited you are ripping each other's clothes off. Melissa was a wife feeling bored with her husband. Their sex life was routine and uninspiring. She saw him in the same light. She told me he was anal retentive, an in-the-box kind of guy who just didn't turn her on. Their rate of sexual frequency was relatively high, about twice a week, double the national average. But it was always in the missionary position and it lasted for about five minutes. I told her that when it came to sex, there is no such thing as an in-the-box kind of man or woman. Every man and woman has an inner sexual fire. It is just a question of who or what brings it out. Yes, I actually believe this, which is why the idea of sexual compatibility is such a farce. Sexual compatibility, as I have often said, is nothing but an excuse used by lazy lovers who won't do the work necessary to bring out their partners' nascent sexual fire. I encouraged Melissa to push her husband, to explore what fire lurked under the ice. Walking through their neighborhood one day, she asked what crazy sexual scenarios he had in mind that they had never done. He blushed. She asked again. He indicated he wasn't comfortable with the conversation, especially outdoors. She demanded an answer. He said he had always wanted to take nude pictures of her and keep them password-protected on his laptop. Now she was the prude. She felt self-conscious. He cajoled her. They took the pictures. But that's not even the point. The real point is this bored woman discovered that underneath her husband had real unquenchable erotic desire. He wanted his wife as his own personal porn star. And there's nothing wrong with that. As long as it's your wife. From The Kosher Sutra by Shmuley Boteach. Copyright 2009 by Shmuley Boteach. Reprinted by permission of HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.