Monday, May 04, 2009

It's TOO Easy to Destroy Your Relationship and Marriage When You Don't Talk With Your Partner

A reader letter demonstrates how a simple problem with a simple solution can be blown out of proportion to a damaging level if there is no communication to address the problem.

I hesitated to include this reader letter, because it’s going to make this newsletter a few paragraphs longer than normal, but aside from the fact that there’s some really good questions and answers involved, there’s also an EXTREMELY important lesson, for both men and women, to be learned from it. Bear with me for a few extra paragraphs and I’m sure you’ll find it worth the read.

By the way, note that the reader’s question is completely off-topic, and I’m not complaining about that and don’t want you to, either, because it leads to something very useful for everyone that is absolutely on-topic. Luckily, it was easy to develop some logical, practical and appropriate advice to give her and there were several women on the support team, including another counselor, who confirmed that it was what she should be told. But, the very fact that she presented this question to me, as someone doesn’t overtly offer sexual advice to anyone, should be a clear sign to all just how important both relationships and self-esteem are to women and that when things aren’t working, they will sometimes resort to desperate measures to try to bring things back to normal.

Luckily for Christy, the question landed with someone who could give rational, tested advice with the help of a research team instead of some whacko who could have done irreparable damage to her and her relationship by offering guess-work and opinion, or in the case of some less scrupulous individuals, whatever would manipulate her emotions the most. Here’s her first e-mail, and the subject matter is a little less “family-oriented” than I usually print, but please just bear with me because the resulting understanding will be well worth stepping outside your comfort zone for a moment – after all, these are real-world issues, and they don’t go away just because people don’t like to talk about them:


I'm currently on my "monthly cycle" and during this time, my live-in boyfriend and I don't have sex. I still make it a point to try and please him, but he takes advantage of the "break" and masturbates to thoughts of other women. The other women are mostly fantasy -- movie stars, porn actresses, or faceless women in general. I consider myself a very attractive and satisfying woman (and he knows it), so I think it's questionable and even hurtful as to why he currently fantasizes about women (I also think porn is reserved for single men only). Our sexual relationship is VERY healthy, so I'm at a loss. Is this okay for men to do this when they're in a happy coupling? Can this be considered mental cheating?

Wishing I was the only one

My reply:

Hi Christy!

Thank you for writing. Your question is a tricky one, and the correct answer depends on some details that you haven't yet provided. At first glance, it doesn't appear that there is a problem. If he's telling you that he's fantasizing about other women, he's being honest, and most likely faithful; if he were lying about it, or had any real desire for another woman, he'd be trying to conceal that, and lying to you about what stimulated him during masturbation.

Contrary to what women are unfortunately taught as they grow up, men don't masturbate because they are unhappy with their partner; we masturbate mainly for physical relief, especially if we are health-savvy and know that lapses in sexual activity cause a build-up of DHT and minerals in the prostate gland, which causes prostate congestion, which is uncomfortable to say the least, then Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH, commonly known as swollen prostate or prostatitis) and has also been shown in clinical studies to be a prime factor in contraction of prostate cancer later in life.

As for whom he's fantasizing about, men are primarily visually stimulated sexually, and it may simply just be easier for him mentally to recall the images of things he's seen on the screen, especially if the two of you generally have sex with the lights out. Even the most sexually free men have some subconscious issues with masturbation because of the way parents deal with it, and frankly, it's prone to make us quite raw and sore if it takes too long, even with lubricant, so we tend to take the quickest and easiest path just to get it over with. If you're satisfying your man and he’s being honest and open about what he’s doing, the evidence says his masturbation is strictly preventive medicine, and I would strongly suggest to you that you don't try to read anything into it.

If you are insecure with him recalling the images from porn movies (speaking of which, many couples sit and view porn films together, sometimes as a mood enhancer, sometimes looking for adventurous techniques, etc., but it's by no means something that a woman should be concerned about unless he's spending more time with porn than with you, or is burning up half his paycheck with porn movie rentals, which is an obvious sign of some kind of mental problem) as he masturbates, there are a few things you might consider, among them, having sex while you're on your period, if you can find a way that's not uncomfortable, like in the shower (unless of course your objection is that it's painful during that time), or offer him some other form of sex in addition to or in lieu of his masturbation.

The main thing is to try to find a way to make it pleasurable for both of you, don't try to read anything into it, especially any kind of shortcoming on your part or infidelity on his, and use it as an opportunity to find new intimacy in your relationship. If you allow it to impact your self-esteem, both of you will pay dearly for that mistake, and if you feed any insecurities about his fidelity over this issue, you'll send a strong signal that he can't be honest with you about some things without being punished for it, and punishing honesty can turn into a relationship-killing problem.

I hope this helps. I'm not going to publish this in my newsletter unless you feel that it adequately answers your question and you're okay with having this show up in the newsletter, with or without your first name (I never use full names when quoting readers). If we need to discuss this further to fully address your issues, please feel free to write back.

David Cunningham

Now, her final reply:

Thanks for your quick reply! I'm comfortable having this in the newsletter if you choose to do so, but then I wouldn't get to read anything new tomorrow :p. I think your response was logical and it helps me realize I'm just fueling my own insecurities. I'm definitely going to buy your book!


Now, note the last sentence before she says she’s going to buy my book: my response was logical and helped her to realize that “she was just fueling her own insecurities.” Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot overstress how nearly all women are prone to do this, obviously some much more than others, and how all it takes to put things right is simple, honest communication. It would have been far better if Christy’s boyfriend had answered her question instead of me, but he apparently made her believe that he was too “closed off” to discuss it, or just blew it off as something “she should just get over.” WRONG ANSWER!

What he should have done when it was cursorily discussed (which they must have done because she had details that she could have only had if he had provided them, like who he was involved with in his fantasy images), was to recognize that she wasn’t being whiney, she was looking for dialog and understanding, and he should have left her an open channel to discuss her feelings and how the two of them might approach their “down time” that could be more satisfying for both of them. Women get through problems by first talking about the problem, especially the emotions that the problem generates, and then negotiating a resolution.

Refusing to take part in that process comes across to women as dismissal, and on a scale of one to ten, that’s about a seventeen for being bad for your relationship or marriage. And the ugly part is that he may not have recognized her concerns if she said something like, "And you think this is okay for a married man?" which is how a woman says, "I don't think a married man, especially MY married man, should be doing this."

The Lesson: Gentlemen, when women bring up anything that has to do with your relationship, they are concerned; they actively manage their relationships of all kinds, and work the hardest to manage the ones most important to them. Don’t make light of their concern and blow them off, because you then leave them to their own devices and assumptions, which are mainly emotionally-based since it’s an emotional issue and they are emotionally-driven, in lieu of factual information, to try to handle the situation for themselves, and this will never end well. If they were secure enough for it to end well, they wouldn’t have been concerned in the first place. They can easily grasp fact and logic when you give it to them before they have a chance to get upset and get amped up on drama adrenaline, so talk WITH (NOT “TO”) them when they want to talk instead of waiting until they force you to talk.

Ladies, until your partner has been through my book and fully understands how you view relationships and communicate, he will have little to no clue as to the importance of this subject matter because he is unfamiliar with your priorities and not skilled enough at interpreting advanced female communications protocols and techniques to read between the lines. Try to keep your emotions in check and your wits about you, and know that you have to voice your concerns, bluntly and verbosely, and looking disturbed and rolling your eyes as you omit a guttural exhale doesn’t constitute bluntly and verbosely. You must be patient, and spell it out for them. When you do this, they may still not completely understand your dilemma or why it’s such a big deal at first, but will understand that since you’re speaking bluntly when they’ve never heard that before, it must be something incredibly important and you will have their undivided attention long enough to make progress, unless they are just a complete and utter moron.

I’m sorry that it took so much verbiage to get this across, but this is such a shining example of what can happen in a communications vacuum and how easily it could be avoided that I just had to do it. Unlike some, I can’t do things half-heartedly or half-assed, and I hope that you will settle for nothing less as well. I’ve taken the same approach in “THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage,” giving you 118 single-spaced pages of solid, tested information (in normal type) when most reports and e-books in the $40 range are more like 30-60 pages of double- or triple-spaced large type; I was advised by others in the industry to keep it that short so I could “fluff it up” and turn it into a paperback later, which I found disgusting to say the least. Download your copy today at and start getting along, instead of just getting by.

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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