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Sexual Intercourse: Psychological Foundations

Assuming that initial intercourse has been completed and that you are having regular coitus with your partner, there are several attitudes which are important as a foundation for maximum fulfillment. We shall now review some of the main attitudinal prerequisites for having regular intercourse in a manner that is mutually satisfying.

          Absence of coital fetiches. The first and foremost philosophy that it is advisable for you to adopt if you are intent on having fine sex relations is the belief that there is nothing sacred about intercourse itself and that it is only one of the main ways by which couples may enjoy themselves and come to climax. As soon as you conceive copulation as the only or even indubitably best mode of achieving satisfaction, you make of it (as we shall later explain in more detail) a fetish or a sex deviation.

          Husbands and wives, it must be acknowledged, do not owe each other intercourse, even though some of our marriage laws state or imply that they do. What they do owe each other, if anything, as part of the marital partnership, is some performance in sex satisfaction, usually leading to orgasm . That is, assuming that one mate desires to achieve climax and that his or her demands are not unreasonable, the other mate should then go out of his or her way to satisfy these desires. Otherwise, monogamy does not make much sense and becomes an onerous restriction on the unsatisfied mate's sex urges.

          Satisfying one's mate, however, does not necessarily mean fulfilling oneself at the same time; nor does it mean pleasing the mate through coitus. Thus, a wife may legitimately ask her husband to gratify her sexually when she is aroused; but it is silly, and often pernicious, for her to demand that he also receive simultaneous gratification. If he is not in an aroused mood, he can still bring her but hardly himself to climax.

          Similarly: a husband may legitimately ask his wife to help him achieve orgasm but not necessarily in intercourse. If, for the moment, she is indifferent or averse to coitus, it will usually become too directly involving an act to request of her.

          By the same token, if she has serious objections, temporarily or permanently, to oral-genital relations, then this becomes too directly involving an act to demand. But, out of several possible ways in which the husband may (if he is not deviated or abnormal) achieve a climax, it is hardly unreasonable for him to expect his wife to help him achieve it in one of these ways such as, for example, by massaging his penis with her hands, which (unless she; is abnormally inhibited) will be a relatively un involving method for her to employ when she herself is not aroused.

          Otherwise, if the wife does not satisfy her husband in some manner (and, of course, vice versa) continuous frustration will result, usually leading to poor marital relations and ultimately to extramarital affairs it cause to inadequacy.

          If and when intercourse is seen not as a fetish or a necessity but as one of the possible satisfying sex acts, even low sexed or inhibited partners often become aroused quite spontaneously in the course of extra genitally satisfying their mates. Under these circumstances, coitus is likely to become more frequent.

          Under other circumstances, where only coitus is conceived of as the "proper" or "good" means of sex relations, lack of desire on the part of one of the mates will lead to frustration, anger, and anxiety in most instances; sex will become more and more laden with negative emotion; both the desiring and the desire less partner will tend to avoid irritation provoking sex relations or even sex talks; and in a fairly short period of time active copulation may easily diminish to near zero proportions.

          Differentiating sex competence from worthiness. A second psychological rule concerning intercourse is that it should never be taken as proof of masculinity or femininity and that sexual competence should never be confused with an individual's essential worth or value. The fully masculine man is not necessarily the one who can last indefinitely at intercourse, or who easily gets an erection, or who is gymnastically adept at many coital positions.

          On the contrary, many of the most masculine men are rather poor at intercourse, for the simple reason that they are so easily aroused that they quickly ejaculate and never learn to be too coitally adept. Also: many other men, who are masculine in the best possible sense of the word that is, are strong individuals, with self-confidence and a powerful belief in themselves just happen to be physically deficient and to be inept at intercourse.

          Moreover: a man who is not, for one reason or another, the best coital partner may still be one of the best sex partners. For intercourse, as we just pointed out in the previous section of this chapter, is only one way to satisfy the average female; and frequently, one of the lesser ways.

          The main sources of sexual sensitivity in the female are not usually deep within the vagina, but in the clitoris, the inner lips and the vestibule of the vagina, all of which are well supplied with nerve endings, while the vaginal canal itself usually is not.

          A man may therefore be an excellent lover without necessarily being an excellent copula or, since it is easy for him to stimulate a woman's most sensitive parts with his fingers, lips, tongue, or other parts of his anatomy, if his penis is not adequate for the job. Indeed, as I often tell my marriage counseling and psychotherapy clients, a man who had no penis whatever could be an excellent lover, just as a woman who had no vagina could be a perfectly satisfactory sex partner for the average man if he and she did not have overcoming inadequate. And a woman with a perfectly normal vagina can be relatively inept at or disinterested in copulation and still be an excellent lover since, like the man, she has hands, lips, and other organs which are in many ways capable of giving exquisite pleasure.

          Once again assuming that a male or female is distinctly below par in terms of enjoying and giving enjoyment through penile-vaginal coitus, this has nothing whatever to do with this individual's worth as a person. Many of us are inadequate at playing basketball, bridge, or the stock market; but that inadequacy hardly makes us a black guard, a fool, or a lout. We may still be quite adequate in many other respects; and even if we are not, we may still be perfectly kind, nice, and lovable.

          If, therefore, your marital partner is not a good coital bedmate and you happen to enjoy copulation immensely, that is certainly too bad, and you are hardly in the best of luck. But this does not prove that your mate is worth less, is doing you in, or is a thoroughly poor spouse. You may still, if you stop viewing his or her coital limitations as criminal, be able to have a remarkably good relationship, including even a good sex relationship, with this mate.

          Deifying the coital act, or making it appear that your partner is weak, incompetent, or worthless because he or she is not a most enthusiastic and adept practitioner of this particular mode of human apparatus, will tend to sabotage rather than encourage coitus. For once a male or female begins to worry about how good he or she is in intercourse, his or her abilities to perform almost immediately tend to become impaired. This is not necessarily because of profound unconscious psychological reasons such as unconscious hatred of the mate but more often because of what I have called simple psychological distraction (A. Ellis, 1957a, '1959a, 1960).

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