Erotica vs. Pornography

Keep the comments coming on the last post. The discussion has been very interesting to look through and I'm impressed with the respect shown in most comments.

In my mind, there is a difference between erotica and pornography. I will share my opinions on both realizing that you may not necessarily agree.

Erotica can be defined as literature or art dealing with sexual love.

Pornography is the depiction of erotic behavior intended to cause sexual arousal.

Some have written me asking if I would recommend erotica in their marriage, but I think they're really asking me about viewing pornography together.

Your definitions may be different from mine. I think movies with a passionate kiss or sexual tension (e.g. Pride and Prejudice), songs, poems and many pieces of art are erotica. Pornography, to me, leaves nothing to be wanted- it's all right there in front of you. It's sole intent is to be sexually arousing. Erotica may have a side effect of being sexually exciting to some, but it's not the sole purpose. Another interesting thing about pornography, is that people don't usually want to broadcast their use or viewing of pornography and many do it in private (Notice all of the anonymous comments in the Pornography post).

There can be wholesome connecting forms of erotica and others that cross the line into pornography. The line is becoming increasingly blurred. It likely varies between couples and individuals what falls where.

Some questions that might be helpful to ask yourself and your spouse to determine if material is appropriate in your relationship could include: Is this material demeaning, objectifying or uncomfortable? Is the sole purpose of this to be sexually arousing? Do my partner and I both feel comfortable? If we differ in our opinion- why?

There was recently an article in Psychology Today where the author explains his distinction between erotica and pornography. He articulates his ideas much better than me and I agree with most of what he says.


Ask the Audience -- Pornography

What are you thoughts on pornography? Is it good or bad? Is it okay in a marriage? Does it depend on the situation?

Is there a difference between erotica and pornography? Where do you draw the line? Is one okay, but not the other?

Have you been affected by pornography use in your partner? Have you struggled with a pornography addiction yourself?

Are romance novels really just pornography for women?

Should we just expect that most people will look at pornography at some point in their lives? Is it just normal for men to look at pornography? What about women?

How does pornography use affect a relationship?

Do you have a story you want to share? Do you have advice to give?

Comment or email me at alyssamftATgmailDOTcom



"He is not here, but is risen."
Hope you have a wonderful Easter with those you love.


The Sex-Starved Marriage

"Contrary to what you might think, a sex-starved marriage is not necessarily one that has no sex (although abstinence can and does occur); it is a marriage where one spouse desperately longs for more touch, physical connection and sex, while the other spouse, for a variety of reasons, just isn't interested."

Michele Wiener-Davis has written a book entitled The Sex-Starved Marriage. Many couples enjoy reading this and find it very useful.

She also has a book called The Sex-Starved Wife. She found in a study that 60% of women say they want sex as much or more than their husbands. She claims "Low desire in men is America's best kept secret." You can watch a clip of her on the Today Show as she talks about this book.

Michele operates in her practice from a solution-based approach and gives lots of tips and ideas so if you want a practical book and are willing to try new things, these books would be a good fit for you.


Sexless Marriage

Sex should be approached with love and respect. I believe that the sexual relationship is to be nurtured by both individuals. It is within each partner's power to discuss and improve their relationship if there are struggles.
If you aren't satisfied with the frequency of sex in your relationship, say something to your partner. However, don't attack or be demeaning or blaming. You could try one of the following:

"I love you and I want to be closer to you emotionally and physically...."

"I would like to increase the amount of intimacy we experience in our relationship and I think seeking outside help would help us look forward to...."

"Sex is really important to me because it makes me feel...."

Feel free to offer other suggestions that have worked for you.

Don't say things like "When are you actually going to have sex with me?" "Is your sex drive just dead?" "Why don't you love me?" These comments are manipulative and hurtful and will just push you further apart.

In most studies, both partners generally desire more sexual frequency. Simply talking about it and making it a priority in your life may be all it takes.

It is normal for one partner to have higher desire than the other.

It can be beneficial to understand if there is something feeding in to one partner's low desire. Some possibilities might include:
  • Past sexual trauma
  • Past or current shameful sexual behavior (e.g pornography use, emotional or physical affairs etc)
  • Misunderstanding of each others sexual history
  • Eating Disorders
  • Body Image struggles
  • Knowledge of the sexual response cycle
  • Culture around sex
  • Individual beliefs about sex and its meaning
  • Possible sexual dysfunction
  • Medical problem or difficulty


Preparing for Marriage

I'm going to write this from the viewpoint that you are preparing for marriage and haven't yet had sex. I understand that not everybody that reads this blog is a virgin at marriage, but to make writing this easier I'll just aim toward that audience.I recommend Premarital Counseling for anybody wanting to get married. If nothing else, you will be given the opportunity to talk about things that will impact your relationship in a safe environment. This is a great environment to talk about sex and the basics of the sexual response cycle. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for resources such as books to help you become familiar with sex and help navigate your way through. It's also a great environment to talk about other real life issues like finances, role expectations, housing, values etc.

Be open and honest about your sexual history with your partner. If you've had sex before, they should know. Keeping secrets is never a good way to start off a lifetime of happiness. Your partner is the one person that should know everything about you. If they can't accept you for your past than you're probably better off without them. Also, don't guilt or shame your partner if they have had previous partners. Forgive them. Move on. Build your life together.

If one of you has a sexual history and the other doesn't, be aware that this has the potential to become a divider if not openly discussed. So make sure you talk about it if you feel self-conscious. Be kind and patient with each other.

If there is a history of sexual abuse, make sure your partner knows and is aware. Victims of sexual abuse may have flashbacks or react to a sexual situation differently than expected by their partner. It's important to talk about triggers and what is uncomfortable. Seek professional help if the sexual abuse is still affecting you and your relationship. As a witness to your partner's abuse, be patient, calm, loving and understanding. Never pressure your partner to do something if they are uncomfortable.

Discuss your sexual expectations. Frequency of sex, how arousal takes place, sexual activities, grooming etc. You may have to revamp this once you are married and actively having sex. In fact, you may revamp multiple times throughout your relationship. If you can start off your relationship talking about sex then it will be easier to talk about it later on.

Discuss expectations for birth control and child-bearing. If you choose to use birth control, decide together what method would be best and make it both of your responsibility.

If one or both of you experiences pain or some kind of dysfunction, seek help and guidance. Work through it together.

Be patient, loving and understanding.

Remember that sex is a divine gift from God. It is an opportunity for husband and wife to be united physically, emotionally and spiritually. Celebrate your unity with each other and enjoy expressing your love and commitment to each other.


Ask the Audience -- Lingerie

Some women tell me they don't like to wear lingerie. When I dig deeper, a lot of them just don't know what style of lingerie to wear or what looks good on them. I'm not a style expert so I thought I'd ask you what you've found.

I think if you feel comfortable and sexy, it will show in how you carry yourself and you will look sexy no matter what you're wearing- or not wearing.

There are lots of different styles and fabrics. For example, I've noticed that lace and sheer fabrics can be really forgiving of stretch marks and other skin imperfections and baby dolls can be worn throughout a pregnancy.

What do you suggest for different body shapes?

To get you thinking...

Here are some body shapes:
Inverted Triangle

And here are some lingerie styles:
Baby Doll
Halter neck
Peignoir Set
Knee length
Floor length

Comment with your suggestions and findings.

Let us know if one of you experts wants to do a guest post about this!


Health Benefits of Sex

  1. Sex Relieves Stress
  2. Sex Boosts Immunity
  3. Sex Burns Calories
  4. Sex Improves Cardiovascular Health
  5. Sex Boosts Self-Esteem
  6. Sex Improves Intimacy
  7. Sex Reduces Pain
  8. Sex Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk
  9. Sex Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles
  10. Sex Helps You Sleep Better
Please don't use these reasons to try and convince your significant other to have sex with you.

For more information, see the full article on WebMD.


How to Choose a Sex Therapist

If you and your hubby are looking for a more individualized discussion and treatment for sexual dissatisfaction or disorders then I really recommend meeting with a sex therapist.

AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists) as well as AAMFT (American Association of Marriage & Family Therapy) are great places to start your search. Hopefully, you can find somebody in your area that meets your needs.

Don't be afraid to shop around for a therapist. Most counselors will do a free initial phone consultation. Be upfront about your background, your values, your goals and qualities you would like in a therapist. You will have a better experience if you are open and honest.


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