The commonly-occurring condition known as erectile dysfunction can be caused by a variety of different factors. The first step in coping with this condition is to seek the advice of a physician in order to address specifically physiological factors. If a medical examination suggests a psychological basis for the condition, the following exercises may prove helpful.
1. Resolve not to attempt intercourse until you have completed the remaining steps. By taking intercourse out of the equation for a period of time, the resulting “sex holiday” will relieve you of occasions for “performance anxiety” while you explore other avenues of physical intimacy.
2. Read The Art of Sensual Massage by Gordon Ingeles, and have your partner do the same. As you read each page, ask yourself, “Is this something I might enjoy having done to me?” and “Is this something I might enjoy performing on my partner, with consent?” As you both go through the book, talk with your partner about the experience of reading it. Explore areas of possible reluctance or reservation and discuss how to deal with these areas. Or you may find reading the book a turn-on. In either case, the discussion will promote intimacy.
3. Reflect on how you and your partner experience physical intimacy non-sexually. Do you hold hands when walking? When do you put your arm around your partner? On what occasions do you embrace? Do you observe the rule of thumb of “at least four hugs a day”? As you reflect on these questions, consider how you might expand your repertoire of non-sexual physical contact.
4. Make a list of the ten ways in which you shine at being a husband. List the ten things you most treasure in your partner. Have your partner perform the same exercise, and then compare notes.
5. Make a list of your ten most admirable qualities as a lover. List the ten qualities you value most in your partner as a lover. Have your partner perform the same exercise and then talk over what you have both written.
6. Think about the manner in which you would most enjoy being caressed on your head, face, shoulders, arms, chest, etc. Ask your partner to do the same. Then practice non-sexual touching with each other. Use your imagination to heighten your awareness of physical touch. For example, you might try stroking each other with fabrics such as silk, satin or velvet.
Erectile dysfunction frequently has the effect of making you doubt your worth as a man and as an intimate partner. If there is a psychological basis for the problem, you may want to seek the help of a psychotherapist to explore what is causing it and attempt to change it. These exercises, by inviting you to explore ways of being physically intimate without intercourse, and enabling you to separate intimacy from “performance,” are designed to alleviate the psychological pressures underlying erectile dysfunction. They may also have the beneficial side effect of enriching and enhancing the variety of your sensual experience.
Arthur Wenk holds a doctorate in musicology and masters degrees in information science, music theory, and psychology.
Art‘s client-centered approach is based on empathic listening, helping clients integrate thoughts, feelings and actions, and assisting them to revise self-stories that have kept them enmeshed in problems: all in the interest of achieving mental, emotional and spiritual wholeness.