Saturday, 9 March 2013

Dr. David Schnarch "Intimacy and Desire" - Review ( kind of)

Intimacy & Desire
I've just finished reading Dr. David Schnarch "Intimacy and Desire".

It's one of those books designed to cure your sexless marriage. The difference is that Dr Schnarch is an experienced couple therapist with multiple qualifications, committed to evidence based treatments, with a working knowledge of Evolutionary Psychology.

So he's not just "some guy off the Internet" (like me), he's the real deal.

The book doesn't claim to be a magic bullet, either. You have to actually read it to get the full use of his ideas. However, some of what he has to say applies directly to Vanilla Dominatrix land, or Roma as I'm starting to call it.

Schnarch's "Intimacy and Desire" in a nutshell

In any marriage:
  • One partner will have a higher desire than the other.
  • Initially, each partner will base his or her self esteem on the other.
The end result is an inevitable feedback loop that will kill off the initial phase of  romantic sex and result in them being gridlocked. For example, she wants more sex, he wants less intimacy.

Eventually,  with his help or on their own, a functional couple will grow past this, each take responsibility for their own  self esteem, and establish a deeper more satisfying recreational sex life. The book offers several sensible techniques to help  this process.

All this, of course, assumes time energy and privacy. Thank goodness for Femdom!

"Intimacy and Desire" from a Femdom perspective

Though he doesn't really explore BDSM, his concept of "gridlock" is interesting from a Femdom perspective. 

I suspect that power exchange, especially Femdom, would actually get around most of the gridlocks he describes.

"she hates feeling like
some sort of trophy"
For example, Schnarch describes a couple where he needs to be a great lover, but she hates feeling like some sort of trophy. Stick him a chastity belt, or give her control, and there's no triumphant mounting for him, no need for her to suspect that all his efforts are a means to an end.

There's another couple where the man is so inhibited about intimacy that he has become impotent. His wife, however feels rejected. Add a chastity device and the pressure goes. Put her in charge, and he need not feel insecure about his technique either.

All this assumes that one partner introduces the idea, and that the other can be persuaded. I wonder if male chastity on its own could do the trick, especially if it was presented as a tool rather than a fantasy. I guess we'll find out in the next few years...

If you want to rekindle your vanilla sex life, try Dr Schnarch's book. However, if you just want to add  Femdom to your relationship, try my Femdom self-help guides....


  1. Well, I don't know this book by Schnarch, but a couple of years ago, René and I read most of "Passionate Marriage". I know that many people found this book very helpful, we read the Amazon reviews. But, unfortunately, René and I didn't find it helpful at all. You know, "Schnarch" is German for "snore", and that's what that book was: Snory.
    He suggested stuff like leaving the lights on during sex. Wow! What a revelation. We would never have thought of that.
    Anyway, as I said, it didn't help us with our problem which was that René wasn't interested in sex and intimacy with me. We would have sex about once a much after I had made him feel guilty enough by complaining and crying. - And, of course, I usually didn't enjoy the "mercy sex" I got then.

    So, do you think a chastity device for him - or perhaps for me? - would have done the trick? If so, why?

    1. It depends what the precise problem was and what Rene was trying to avoid!

      If he didn't like having to open up and be vulnerable, or if he had any kind of performance anxiety, then a CB for him *might* have been good. If he was intimidated by your all consuming erotic mojo; well then, perhaps a belt for you might have made him feel free to explore - and it would all have been vanilla!

      However, I'm guessing you've used kink to outflank the gridlock whatever it was - I read your blog from time to time, but all I can recall of how you started on this road was it was initially his idea.

      Why does kink rather than vanilla work for you as a couple?

      PS Lovely to get a comment from you!

    2. Had we known what the precise problem was, we might have been able to find a solution ourselves. Actually, we are still not sure what it was, and that's why there is always a little fear within me that it might happen again.

      As for kink, I think we would first have to agree on a definition. In your post you seem to imply that chastity devices are kink (or part of BDSM), wheraes in your comment you say that chastity devices are vanilla.
      For me, chastity devices are definitely kinky. Extremely kinky. Not the kind of kink I like, though.
      On the other hand, I'm not sure if I consider pegging as kinky. If you do, then be assured: pegging was my idea and I am still the one who is more into it.
      D/s was his idea, which is no wonder. And in the beginning, due to lack of experience, D/s may have been mostly Femdom kink (and pegging - my major contribution to it).
      But our problem wasn't solved by these first Femdom attempts. It lasted (with some intermissions) for a another couple of years.

      And our sexual encounters are still mostly vanilla. There is kink, yes, but I don't think that kink made the difference.- The question remains: What did? (Of course this is not for you to answer, I'm just wondering)

    3. Definitions are fuzzy, I think! I think it's *not* kink if (1) you think it's a tool for a particular physical affect, and (2) if it has no other connotations.

      So pegging for anal pleasure = vanilla. Pegging for dominance/humiliation etc =kink.

      By this reckoning, chastity devices are plausibly vanilla if worn to put the genitals out of play. I doubt they are a cure all, though!

      Regarding your relationship - I was just following your prompt and speculating without much information.

      However, if I may be permitted some observations:

      The Intimacy & Desire book suggests that problems are inevitable through a sort of feedback loop, and reside in both partners. Knowing what the problems are doesn't fix them because they work together for form a "gridlock" or a Mexican standoff.

      He says the cure - I summarize - is letting go of the need for validation in the other person and taking responsibility for our own self esteem; in other words, growing up.

      I suspect that it's common for the D&S to follow a similar pattern. It certainly took us years to get it right for both of us, and that also involved a kind of letting go and a mutual trust. My wife let go of trying to please or perform, I let go of my preconceptions about where Femdom would take us.

      Personally, I think the Femdom can often do an end run around the gridlock because it need only navigate the problems rather than resolve them.

      However, this just gives you holding pattern. It's like in a real gridlock, the drivers can get out of their cars and get a coffee or take a walk, but the cars are still stuck.

      Does this have any impact on the actual vanilla gridlock? I'm not sure. It certainly keeps some sort of intimacy alive and gives the couple a shared erotic enterprise; things one might hope would benefit the vanilla sex in the long run. Plus, D&S fosters relationship skills and personal growth that must be helpful.

      So I suspect D&S and Vanilla Sex mostly develop in parallel, affecting each other only indirectly.

      One thing though - you are "lifestyle"- so don't all you encounters exist within a Femdom context?

    4. “I think it's *not* kink if (1) you think it's a tool for a particular physical affect, and (2) if it has no other connotations.”
      I agree that chastity devices are not kink if they are used for “medical” reasons, i.e. to manage a psychological condition.
      But in general, I don’t think I can go along with your definition of kink.
      Masochists like pain. They are sexually stimulated by pain. So, according to your definition, being whipped would not be kink if I was a masochist and turned on by the pain while it would be kink if I was a submissive who was turned on by the power imbalance in the setting.

      I think, vanilla is just the normal, mainstream form of sex. So, in a culture where oral sex was very uncommon, it would be kink.
      Using one’s genitalia for sex is mainstream. Putting the genitalia of one partner completely out of play is kink (if it is not necessary due to a medical condition).

      As for Schnarch. Yes, I know, he is one of the “Love Yourself, and it Doesn't Matter Who You Marry” guys. (I didn’t read this book, but the title was very popular for a while here in Germany.) – He also preaches that in his other book.

      “One thing though - you are "lifestyle"- so don't all you encounters exist within a Femdom context? .”
      Well, this depends on the definition of “context”. We could have a lifestyle Femdom relationship, meaning that in general I am in charge, but this would not prevent us from having kinky sex with switched roles. I would still call that maledom sex. And I still call vanilla sex vanilla sex, even if it takes place in a Femdom relationship (which we do not have, since I am not dominant.)


Tell me what you think!