Cheat or Let Your Sex Life Fizzle? You don’t have to choose

FOF sex expert Pamela Madsen recharged her sex life while keeping her wedding vows intact. And she says you can, too. But, is her solution for everyone?

A few months ago, FOF published “The Case for Sleeping Around,” an interview with two psychologists that argue monogamy is against our biology. Comments on the article flooded in, with some FOFs in staunch disagreement. “It’s easy to excuse all kinds of selfish behavior as being based on our ‘biology.’ What about discipline, self-sacrifice, commitment?” commented one FOF. Others thought the article was right on point. “I totally agree. it is the lies that end marriages not sex outside of the commitment,” wrote another FOF.

Enter FOF Pamela Madsen. Pamela, a nationally-known expert on fertility and sexuality, believes its normal to feel sexually restless as an FOF. But, she says sleeping around isn’t the answer. Her new best-selling memoir, Shameless, chronicles her own journey to fulfill her sexual yearning while keeping her marriage intact. Here, she shares just how she successfully did it…

  • Why do many woman begin to feel sexually restless as they approach menopause?
    • Well, in my coaching practice I see women from age 27 to age 75. It happens all across the board. But, I do see a majority of women who are what I call “the shift before the shift.”
  • What do you mean by that?
    • It’s the things that happen before menopause. In our 40s, we’ve established our careers, our marital status is where it is, we’ve figured out if we are not having kids or already had them. And if we have kids, they’re becoming more independent. So, then all of a sudden we’re like, ‘Ohmigod…is that all there is?’ Sexuality becomes really big for some woman and for others it’s gone. We start looking for a way to really understand who we are, especially as erotic creatures. We want to make peace with our bodies.
  • You write that many of your friends who were feeling sexually restless started having affairs in their 40s. You don’t believe that’s the solution . . .
    • I believe that to ditch your marriage because you have the need to explore something around your sexuality is really a shame.
  • A few years ago you set out on a journey to fulfill your own sexual yearning while staying faithful to your husband. Tell me about that.
    • When I first started out on this crazy journey I felt completely alone and isolated. But, I knew that if I didn’t figure this out, I was going to ruin my life. So, I went searching for a sexy adventure that would keep my marriage vows intact. I found out about sexy massages with gay male masseuses, which is what I thought I wanted. I literally cruised gay male websites which led me to Marcus, my first sexual healer–a paid, hands-on practitioner. I worked with Marcus for a year and he introduced me to other people in this world. I was 43 then; now I’m 50 and that industry has changed a lot. It’s much more above ground now.
  • What does a sexual healer do?
    • ImageIn my book, you can read detailed accounts about my sessions with sexual healers, but generally they have helped me explore my sexuality. They don’t engage with me. They don’t show up as my lover, and there is no sexual intercourse or oral sex. They are usually clothed. It’s not about two-way touch. Of course there is some interactivity, they are not a prop, but the focus is about me and about my body and experimenting with my own sexuality. I got to discover who I was as an erotic creature, but I was able to do it really safely because there were boundaries that I knew were being held for me.
  • All these discoveries didn’t make you want to cheat more?
    • No, it fed me. It was enough. It definitely helped my marriage and my sex life. It worked things up at home.
  • And your husband was okay with all of this? He didn’t see it as cheating?
    • Yes, after he got over the initial shock. He went for two sessions. One session is in the book–it’s a very funny chapter. He got to find out what this was and what this wasn’t. He felt safe. These practitioners aren’t interested in cheating with you. They are professionals. This is what they do for a living. They are not interested in converting you into a relationship.
  • How do you find a legitimate sexual healer?
    • There’s an association for people who do this work. They’re called Sexological Body Workers and they’re certified in the state of California. They go to school, they have a business license, they have to adhere to a code of ethics….
  • Why explore your sexuality on your own or with a paid practitioner if the ultimate goal is sexual fulfillment with your partner?
    • Who says that’s the ultimate goal? For me, the goal was living my life in full. That’s really the crux of my story, learning how to fall in love with me, but not in a cliche way. I was finally able to do that. I lost 7 dress sizes, and I wasn’t dieting. I found true pleasure in my body and my life.
    • There stopped being free-floating anger and anxiety in my life. That’s what I want for other women. I want them to find their desire and their pleasure and it may not be through the path that I’ve taken.
  • So you’re saying sexual healers aren’t the answer for everyone?
    • No, we all have different sexual agreements in our marriage. My sexual agreement with my husband may not be someone else’s. It’s more about how we create the space so we can stay married and figure out who we are as individual sexual beings in a way we both feel safe…It’s expanded monogamy. I see a lot of women who aren’t working with sexual healers but are looking for their own ways to find embodiment. For some, that could be starting with a couples workshop. For others, it can be exploring pornography.
  • What if you and your husband don’t have the same feelings on what is ‘safe’?
    • If the partners are not agreeing, that is a recipe for being shut down sexually. That’s a recipe for divorce or an unhappy life. If they’re really committed to each other, then it has to be more than one conversation. They may need to work with an outside person or a sex therapist on how to come together as two unique sexual beings.
  • You mentioned ‘expanded monogamy,’ can you explain?
    • I think its really difficult to be completely fed in all areas in your marriage. Why do we think that we have exactly the same erotic needs as our partners? Why is it a realistic expectation that we can fulfill everything for each other? Sometimes people cheat because they feel trapped. What happens to a flame when there is no oxygen? It goes out. If you can let a little air in, then the flame in a long-term marriage can survive. I’m a huge supporter of marriage. My husband and I have sexual agreements and we trust and love each other enough to hold them. Our sexual agreement is that I don’t have affairs and I don’t. Am I monogamous? According to the rules of my marriage I am. But, I’ll leave that up for you to decide.
Author
Pamela MadsenPamela Madsen is the founder of the American Fertility Association and one of the nation’s most outspoken fertility and sexuality educators and advocates. Her blog posts on PsychologyToday.com have attracted 300,000 readers and her new memoir SHAMELESS: How I Ditched The Diet, Got Naked, Found True Pleasure and Somehow Got Home In Time To Cook Dinner is #1 on Amazon’s “Hot New Releases in Sexual Therapy.”

2 Responses to “Cheat or Let Your Sex Life Fizzle? You don’t have to choose”

  1. Candida Royalle says:

    I found Pamela Madsen’s thoughts and ideas to be very smart and insightful. How to keep the flame lit under a long-term monogamous relationship remains one of our greatest challenges. It’s rare to find any truly new ideas with real potential for success.

    Along with “sexual healers”, there have also been what are called sexual “surrogates”. As portrayed in the very moving, recently released feature, “Sessions”, sexual surrogates are paid to step in and take the role of the wife or husband (or some variation there of) when there are sexual issues or problems that require professional help. Surrogates, whose work is perhaps more “therapeutic”, are professionally trained and educated, and know how to remain emotionally unattached. Their work can be extremely valuable in terms of saving a marriage, or even helping someone come to terms with their own sexuality outside of a relationship, such as was the case in “Sessions” which was based on a true story.

    Unfortunately, because there remains such intense ignorance, fear and hatred of sex for pay, sexual surrogacy was often seen as just another form of prostitution, and the growing risk of harassment and arrest led both male and female surrogates in the US to abandon their chosen line of work; so I’m pleased to learn that it is legal to be a “sexual healer” in California. For more information

    Kudos to Pamela Madsen for this frank and enlightening discussion and valuable information. It may not be right for everyone, but it can start the conversation and maybe even give you a few ideas that might be just what the doctor ordered!

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  2. kittywhiskers says:

    What we thought was good at 18 and in our 20’s may have been at the time but hopefully we have learned a lot more and the sex we have and our sexuality and sunsuality at 50 is a lot different and fuller. If we are lucky enough to still have the original partner and he is willing and able to come along for the ride, what ever and how ever you explore is good and can open all kinds of pleasure centers and avenues for satisfaction.

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