“Passionate Marriage Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive In Committed Relationships” was written by Dr. David Schnarch. Dr. Schnarch is a renowned sex therapist and psychologist, working as the “Director of the Marriage and Family Health Center in Evergreen, Colorado (Author Tracker). Dr. Schnarch is the man, who founded the concept of sexual and marital therapy for married couples in order to make married life successful, enjoyable and passionate. American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) nominated him as the first recipient of Professional Standards of Excellence Award. He also worked as a chairman of professional education. Dr. Schnarch lives in Colorado and presently working for the editorial board of AAMET’s Journal of Marriage and Family Therapy.
Summary of Author’s Preface
Dr. Schnarch is a sex therapist and has learned many things during his professional career. In this book he shares his experiences with people about how to break emotional hurdles, which restrict people to reach their ecstasy and total satisfaction. He himself said that,
“What I want to do is I want to share with you a non-pathological approach, a healthy approach that says emotionally committed relationships are more sophisticated and more wondrous processes than our models address, or than many therapists, counselors, educators and researchers have had the faith to believe in” (The Marriage and Family Health Center).
This book helped people to make their married life lively again with the help of passionate sex. This book emphasizes on the communication and contact of intimate partners during sex. He tried to educate people how to “keep intimacy alive in marriage”. He said, “normal sexual styles are designed to do two things at the same time: To get one or more people to reach orgasm, and to reduce intimacy to a tolerable level” (The Marriage and Family Health Center).
Review on Passionate Marriage Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive In Committed Relationships
Although there are many significant relationships in people’s lives, social psychology has concentrated on adult relationships between friends, dating partners, lovers and spouses. These intimate relationships often involve three basic components:
- Emotional attachment, feelings of affection and love
- Fulfillment of psychological needs, such as sharing feelings and gaining reassurance (Weiss, 1969)
- Interdependence between the individuals, each of whom has a meaningful and enduring influence on the other
But not all intimate relationships include all three of these components. A summer’s romance, for example, is emotionally intense, but in the fall people resume their independent lives. An empty shell marriage revolves around the spouses coordinated daily activities, but emotional attachment is weak and psychological need go unmet. Whatever the combination of love, need fulfillment, and interdependence, intimate relationships also vary in other characteristics. Some are sexual; some are not. Sexual orientation differs: heterosexual or homosexual. Some partners make a strong commitment to a long-lasting relationship; others merely drop by for a brief stay. Feelings about the relationship run the gamut from joyful to painful, from loving to hateful- with emotional intensity ranging all the way from mild to megawatt.
Never before in human history have sexual choices been as difficult and complex as in the present era. On the one hand, we live in the sex-saturated culture. Each year, on TV alone, United States teenagers see nearly 14,000 sexual encounters (Cole et al., 1993). And rates of sexual activity among these teens are high, with the vast majority having sexual intercourse before the age of nineteen. On the other hand, the potential negative consequences of sex are unmistakable: unwanted pregnancy, various nonfatal sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS, and Sexual aggression.
Perhaps because of the roles they play, men and women tend to have different perceptions of other’s sexual inclinations. Men seem to live in a more sexualized world, perceiving more interest in sexual activities than do women. This worldview is often a general one: men see greater sexual intent in other men as well as in women. Gender differences in sexual perceptions are influenced by the perceiver’s characteristics, being especially likely among those high in sexual anxiety, and those who held more conservative, traditional attitudes towards women. The behavior of the other person also affects sexual perceptions. Compared with women, men perceive women as having a greater desire for sex when her behavior is less explicitly sexual (Kowalski, 1992).
Given these differences in sexual attitudes, roles and perceptions, its not surprising that heterosexual men and women encounter difficulties in communicating about sex with each other. Miscommunication between the sexes about sex can damage a relationship; it can also contribute to the potential for sexual coercion and assault.
When satisfaction with the relationship was taken into account, sexually active relationships endured longer. This is the theme of Dr. Schnarch’s book. He taught people how to make their dead relationship active and passionate again with joyous sex. Dr. Schnarch claimed that with mature sense of self in the age of 40s and 50s, greatest sexual pleasure and genuine intimacy is possible. According to Dr. Schnarch, communication not always solves the emotional and sexual problems between couples. The book tells that marriage is actually a relationship with great pressures and couples sometimes consider taking divorce when there is time to do real work. Communication does not help in this case because communication only describes what one partners needs and lack of intimacy proves that other partner is not willing to provide it.
Passionate love can be defined as love that consists of diffuse physiological arousal and the belief that this arousal is caused by a reaction to the beloved. Often the connection between arousal and love is obvious. In the presence of romantic partner people feel a sudden surge of sexual desire. In an intimate relationship partner’s feelings for each other are closely intertwined with the way they deal with basic issues in the relationship. Relationship issues offer an opportunity to strengthen a relationship. But they also pose the danger of angry, unsolved disagreements.
Rather than viewing sex as the prime mover in determining the quality and endurance of a relationship, it is better to regard it as a part of the larger relational whole. Typically, sexual satisfaction is correlated with overall satisfaction in the relationship for couples. Dr. Schnarch relates passionate marriage with differentiation. He said that men usually prefer their sense of self on marriage while women sacrifice their sense of self to hold their relationship. Differentiation is the process of having a strong and passionate relationship while having a stronger sense of self.
Dr. Schnarch described that the conventional way of doing sex is nothing to do with love and intimacy. According to him, the natural way of sex is actually reproductive sex. Intimate sex is the desire to have sex with particular partner but most often married couple just wants sex for the sake of sex not for the sake of love. People thought that desire of wanting the intimate partner would make them vulnerable. Married people usually having difficulties in intimate love making because it is natural and there is nothing wrong in it. The problems with intimate sex are important because they changes the intimate couple and help them to find new ways of passionate love making as adults. That would be the real passionate sex with all their hearts and minds not just a reproductive process.
The book passionate Marriage taught people that they could have great sexual pleasures in the age of 40, 50 or even 60 years. Dr. Schnarch is of the opinion that mature sex is much more pleasurable than the sex made by adolescents. He said that people usually “confused sexual prime with genital prime”. Mature people are more likely to reach their sexual potential, which helped to cross their emotional hurdle.
Dr. Schnarch presented some unique ideas in this book. It has often been said that communication, negotiation and compromises are the essence of successful marriage but Dr. Schnarch did not believe in this idea. According to him, compromises kill the sexual pleasures, interests and desires. When a person is proud of himself/herself his / her sexual desire and sexual interest in the partner also increases. Thus Dr. Schnarch said that compromise leads towards a bore sex and ultimately a bore relationship and marriage.
Dr. Schnarch said that intimate couple is not often in emotional contact even when they are in physical contact. They made love and reach to orgasms but emotionally they are poles apart from each other. Dr. Schnarch taught people different techniques to make connection with their partner in and out of bed. He said, “The reason our field has been so successful in promoting technique is that, as long as we offer people synchronized technique and they don't get out of step with each other, they think they're actually together. Each person in the couple has sex with his/her own technique, not with each other. And as long as those two sets of techniques roughly mesh, they think they've arrived”. He suggested, “Foreplay reflects and embraces the politics of intimacy and power in emotionally committed relationships. Just helping couples become aware that foreplay is not a matter of technique, that it is a negotiation, allows couples to manage that negotiation much more consciously. And in so doing, they raise to the fore the process of differentiation that is playing out in their relationship” (The Marriage and Family Health Center). He said that statistics have shown that only 15 to 30 percent of people have sex and orgasm with open eyes. People usually close their eyes while having sex or orgasm to fanaticize their partner into someone else. This has affected the relationship of couple and their love.
Revolutionary Ideas of the Book
Passionate Marriage Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive In Committed Relationship is one of the most remarkable books in the field of sex therapy. Dr. Schnarch had presented several revolutionary ideas in this book. Most revolutionary and innovative ideas of the book are:
· Importance of Foreplay: foreplay is not only the technique to sexually arouse the partner but according to Dr. Schnarch it is the connection between the couple, which negotiates what comes next in the sexual process. In his own words, “One of the things I do in therapy is "simply" to raise the question: "Who decides when foreplay is over?" Even if a couple doesn't have intercourse, they usually have a mental defining mark between foreplay and the main event. How do partners know when it's time to shift? When I asks this question, one partner usually replies: "I don't know....I just know." That means he or she is getting the message, but not paying attention to who's saying it and what it's about”
· Sex is language: people touch, caress or kiss their partner in specific ways, which describe their personality and their feeling about their partner. Dr. Schnarch presented the idea that the minute details of stroking, caressing, hugging and kissing would provide the details of a person’s personal history
· Growing processes of marriage are not limited to sex: growing processes are not limited to sex but there are other issues too, like money, parents, kids etc., that can surface these processes
· Sexual boredom is a common stage: sexual boredom is nothing unique or special, it is a common stage in every marriage and emotionally committed relationship (Gordon). Dr. Schnarch said that these problems actually decides that the relationship is working
· Giving up of marriage does not mean divorce: many couples after giving up their marriage live together however they no passion or desire for sex with each other
· Problems in relationship do not caused by lack of intimacy: lack of intimacy does not cause the problems in marriage. These problems arise due to the lack of tolerance between the couple
Passionate Marriage Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive In Committed Relationships is a book with revolutionary ideas of Dr. David Schnarch. Dr. Schnarch describes in this book that Marriage is not the end of sexual pleasures according to him sexual pleasures of couples, rather heightens with the time couple lives and having sex together.
Dr. Schnarch is of the opinion that greatest sexual pleasures can be achieved at the age of 40, 50 or 60 because sexual pleasure depends on the maturity of the couple not the prime of their genitals. It has often been said that people face problems in their relationship and marriage, according to Dr. Schnarch, there is nothing unusual about it. He said,
“My training said that sexual problems are caused by four "I's": Ignorance, Ineptitude, Inhibition and Ineffective Technique. However, now I start by assuming that sexual behavior is purposeful and rich in meaning, no matter how painful those meanings. No matter how apparently dysfunctional a couple’s interaction. No longer do I dismiss their sexual style as faulty or inadequate, to immediately be replaced by my superior technique”
He said that men sacrifices his marriage in order to hold the honor of the self while women try to stabilize her marriage by sacrificing the honor of self but the best way is differentiation when they both honor their personal selves and hold the relationship.
He believed that Compromises, which are often considered as the heart of marriage, leads towards boredom of sex. He described different techniques and therapies in this book to make the life-long relationship more enjoyable and passionate. Thus it can be easily said that it is one of the most revolutionary book in this specific topic, which has presented some revolutionary and innovated ideas.