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Chapter One: The Foundation Of Good Sex

Are you a self-centered person? The truth is, all of us are. It is human nature to think of ourselves before anyone else. The behavioral sciences suggest this is simply part of our evolutionary makeup. They say that if our primitive ancestors did not have a self-preservation instinct than our species would have died out. Frankly I think that's a bunch of baloney. Human beings are not animals. Yes, we share many characteristics with certain other species but human beings are not just self-centered; hey combine that attitude with many other seemingly contradictory behaviors. For instance, human beings are also often altruistic. Not everybody of course, but I never cease to be amazed at how much money, time and effort people in this country just give away. And it isn't limited to religious folk either. Human beings are certainly self-centered but they are also very generous.

Unfortunately, our culture tends to reinforce self centeredness. Indeed, it is part of the culture of education in this country to emphasize "me." I don't need to cite the studies; we all have read about how poorly American students do in math and science compared to their international counterparts. We also have read that the same students have incredible self esteem and consider themselves very good at math and science.1 We all have read about the spoiled college students who protest over nothing and claim to be put upon by the rest the world when in reality they are privileged, coddled snots.

So, self esteem or self centeredness is natural and it is reinforced by our culture. Let's face it, it's easy to be self centered. We don't even have to think about it. It's just the way we are. Generally speaking, it's unnatural for us to think of others first and it takes place as an exception to the rule. When we do think of someone before self, it requires a mindful act on our part. Now, again, I know there are people out there who are very giving but for the most part, human beings are very self centered.

But what does this have to do with sex? Well, much more than you might think. A good sexual relationship begins with an attitude of self sacrifice. Listen carefully: if you want the best sex of your life the first thing you will do is cultivate an attitude of service. You will learn to think of others more highly than yourself. And you will need to learn to apply that principle to your relationship with your spouse. (By the way, I'm going to assume your sexual partner is your spouse. That might ruffle your feathers if you are a politically correct thinker but I can't help that. I gotta be me!)

Doing what most benefits the other person is difficult for a couple reasons: one, it's contrary to nature and two, it requires wisdom. We have already talked about the fact that self sacrifice is contrary to human nature. I could go into more detail on that but my goal with these guides is not to provide a three-inch thick reference tome. If you want to know more about the problem of self centeredness, I'm sure you will be able to find books that talk about it. Anyway, the real difficulty in doing what most benefits the other person is understanding how to put that into practice.

When I was working as a counselor and case manager for the Department of Correction, one of the things I would tell the men on my caseload is that I could guarantee they would never come back to prison if they would adopt and practice the principle of doing what most benefits the other person. Almost every one of those men rejected the idea because they thought it would make them a "punk." In prison, a punk is someone who is pushed around and used by the other inmates. It's someone who has no respect and is not respected. To be a punk is about the worst thing you could be in prison. But that is not what happens when you do what most benefits the other person. You don't become a doormat. You aren't going to be punked out.

You see, to do what most benefits the other person does not mean you do whatever they want. It means you do what most benefits them. Sometimes - or even often times - that means you tell them something they do not want to hear. It might mean you do something they don't want you to do. Why? Because your goal is to do what is most beneficial for them. That's why this is difficult. It requires a lot of thought. You can't just go out and do whatever the other person wants. You can't think that if you buy lots of gifts or do lots of things or say complementary phrases that you are doing what most benefits the other person. That's why the best place to learn how to do this is in your marriage relationship. The reason this is true is because you (should) know that person better than anyone else in the world. Therefore, you will have a pretty good idea what most benefits them. Now, you're going to have to be careful that you don't convince yourself that it's beneficial for them to wait on you hand and foot or some other goofy thing like that. But I think you get the idea. You know your spouse and you know their personality quirks. For instance, your wife might spend every night reading romance novels while you sit in your favorite chair watching TV. Perhaps doing what most benefits the other person would require you to shut off the television and convince your wife to spend an evening playing Scrabble. That might be most beneficial to your wife because she needs to interact more with her husband. Meanwhile, you might be thinking that letting her do what she wants is most beneficial. Do you see what I mean? It takes thought and energy to do what most benefits the other person.

Maybe you're wondering if all this is really that important for a good sexual relationship. You may be asking that question from the position of weakness. In other words, it might be that you are so used to living separate lives in the same home that it seems normal. It might be that you spend so little time thinking about what you can do to serve your spouse that even the consideration of such behavior feels uncomfortable. I can guarantee that if you begin to think of your spouse first in this way your life will improve. I can guarantee that if you do what most benefits your spouse your sex life will improve.

You need to realize I'm not talking about special events or once in a while kind of behavior. This approach to life needs to be practiced daily. From the moment you get up in the morning to the time that you fall asleep at night (after some fabulous sex of course) you need to be doing what is most beneficial for the other person. I believe you should treat everyone this way but for the purpose of this book we are talking about treating your spouse with self sacrificial love and kindness. Therefore, I am telling you that you should develop a lifestyle of kindly love and service toward your spouse.

Which brings us to the question of love itself. What is love? According to the entertainment industry love is a warm fuzzy feeling. According to the world around us, love is the chemistry two people experience when they first meet. We have been taught that people fall in and out of love on a regular basis. We are constantly reminded that no one should be expected to continue in a "loveless relationship." But the fact of the matter is, love is not first of all a feeling. Love is action. I'm not saying emotion has no place in a marriage relationship - obviously it does. I would be the first to tell you that I am very emotionally attached to my wife. I have strong feelings of affection for her. But my emotional attachment and strong feelings are not the foundation of my loving relationship with her. My wife knows I love her because of the things that I do. We have all heard the axiom "actions speak louder than words." I'm here to tell you the axiom is correct.

Most of our behavior is learned and habitual. We start with natural self centeredness and then over time we learn habits that spring out of our natural character. I've talked to a lot of people who claim that they can't change "who they are" no matter how hard they try. My response is usually something along the lines of telling them that the problem isn't "who they are" it is "what they want." Behavior always begins with desire. If we really want something we will do whatever it takes to get that something. I remember when I was playing sports in high school. I thought I was very talented and athletic (but that's another story). In reality I was able to do as well as I did simply because I really wanted to be a good ballplayer and I pushed myself to the limit in order to cultivate the habits necessary to be a good athlete (along the lines of a big fish in a small pond).

So if you want to change your behavior it starts with desire. You have to want to be different. You must want to think of others before yourself. In the early stages of the process it seems impossible but I can tell you from personal experience it is doable.

What you need to do in order to build a good foundation for sex (remember that's what were talking about here, sex) is decide that you're going to learn behaviors of love. Let me give you an example.

In my many years as a counselor and teacher I have found that one of the biggest problems men deal with is anger. Some men are explosive in their anger while others withdraw but there are a lot of men in this world who have an anger problem. But it isn't "just the way you are." It is a learned behavior. You have developed the habit of reacting with anger to things that threaten your natural self centeredness. Well, you can learn habits of peace to replace those habits of anger. How? As I said, it begins with the desire to change. But after that, it requires a persistent mindfulness. In other words, you have to be thinking about what you're doing all the time. This is really the hardest part of the process. Most people don't think much. They just go through life relying upon their habits. It's kind of like driving a car. When you jump in behind the wheel you don't think about what you're doing - you just do it. You've done it thousands of times and so it's a habitual behavior you don't even need to consider. That's the way it is with most of us in most areas of life. Therefore, you start with desire and you follow up with mindfulness. You must think about what you are doing all the time. The truth is, you can stop angry behavior in its tracks if you want to. And as you begin to do that consistently it will become a new habit. So, when someone does something you don't like (your spouse asks you why your getting home late from work for instance) you need to think about how you want to respond. In the old days you would've blown up and said "it's none of your damn business" but the new you is going to say "there was an accident on the freeway and traffic was held up for fifteen or twenty minutes" or whatever the case may be. Then, as you react peacefully time and time again to negative stimuli, you will form a new habit. And it will be a loving habit. Because remember, what we are talking about here is love (and sex, of course). It is not loving to get angry and respond harshly or call someone names. It is not loving to nag your wife because money is tight and she still wants to buy a new purse. It is not loving to complain about your wife's appearance. It is not loving to suggest a "real woman" would take time to improve her appearance. And on and on. If you want good sex you will learn to be loving. If you want a fabulous sex life you will cultivate actions and habits of love. If we don't do that, nothing is going to change.

Love is more than breaking old habits. True love also includes creating new ones. Nature abhors a vacuum so it is important to replace one behavior with another. As you do this you will find you have discovered how to show love in a 1000 little practical ways. Instead of complaining about the mess in the kitchen, maybe you can do the dishes a couple nights a week (without being asked). Rather than put your own interests first, perhaps you can make sure your wife gets her shower first so there is plenty of hot water (or maybe shower together...). A husband should bring flowers home to his wife unexpectedly on a fairly regular basis. And a wife can buy flowers for her husbands to. Not too long ago I was sitting in my office doing some client charting when a delivery boy walked in bearing a bouquet. My wife had sent me flowers and the card read "to my courageous husband, love your wife." Now that was a loving act. Completely out of the blue and it made my day. It also tremendously impressed my coworkers.

Alright, I think you get the point. Good sex begins with good every day behavior. You need to toss out self centeredness and replace it with doing what most benefit the other person. It really will have an impact on your sex life. And it's not supposed to be a once in a while kind of thing. You need to practice acting in a loving fashion on a daily basis. Certainly you want to be all warm and fuzzy toward your spouse but those gooey feelings need to be flowing out of a lifestyle of love.

So get to it. Start acting like you love your spouse and I promise you, your sex life will improve tremendously.

A Man's Guide To Great Sex Starting Today

Chapter One: The Foundation Of Good Sex
Chapter Two: Physical Health Is Sexual Health
Chapter Three: Mental Health Is Sexual Health
Chapter Four: The Act Of Making Love
Chapter Five: Keeping It Real Fresh And Satisfying
Closing Thoughts

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