Originally Aired: March 21, 2017
EPISODE 6: Our Sexual Potential
Host ELIZABETH AND DAN ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING COUPLES FIND THEIR OPTIMAL SEX LIFE. IT’S WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING.
LIKE OTHER LEADERS AND TEACHERS, THEY ALSO UNDERSTAND THE CHALLENGES OF WALKING THE TALK.
Elizabeth: If sex educators aren’t having sex, then we’re not – it’s not very good for business.
Host OFTEN HOW PEOPLE TALK ABOUT RELATIONSHIP IS VERY DIFFERENT THAN THEY ARE IN RELATIONSHIP
ALSO IN TODAY’S EPISODE, I’LL BE TALKING WITH DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER DOUG BLOCK ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP INSIGHTS HE GAINED FROM HIS FILM “112 WEDDINGS.”
Doug Block: The real secret is give her five orgasms to your every one.
Host MY NAME IS ANDY HORNING, AND THIS IS ELEPHANT TALK. IT’S ABOUT ALL THINGS RELATIONSHIP – THE SOULFUL, THE SILLY AND THE SEXY.
ELIZABETH We were walking out of or walking from the facility last night and I’ve suggested that possibly we go back and into therapy because it seems we potentially are stuck in a place where we’ve been stuck a few times before. How did you react when I said, “Well, maybe we need to go back into therapy”?
DAN I don’t think so.
Elizabeth There are times in our relationship when where you honey, have been shut down because of previous relationships and things in our community and your work. I feel I invite you quite often not to shut down around me and yet, we still seem to be in our little box.
Dan I would agree
Elizabeth I want to engage you in overcoming that with me. I’m your wife. I’m the one who wants the charge. I’m the one that wants your hunger. I’m the one that wants your eroticism to enter the room. How can I help you build that trust?
Dan I think it’s a continuous reminder to me. And even though we teach telling people to schedule sex and things like that, I’ve done that a number of times and then the first time started doing it, we blew it off. But since then, it’s been because I’m traveling and everything else that it hasn’t gone on the schedule and we haven’t made it a priority, and it’s not just me, but I don’t think you have either. Just coming to me in the morning where we’re first lying in bed and saying, “Hey, we need to be more sexually charged,” it hasn’t worked. And so I think it’s something that we both need to work on and schedule it and it shouldn’t be just me that’s scheduling it, but the two of us that’s doing that.
Elizabeth I think it’s super important for us as sexual educators to be having like robust and vigorous sex or at least talk about when we’re not.
Dan I would agree. I think that we should be walking our walk, talking our talk. We’re so engrossed and immersed in this work and then doing it for ourselves we hardly have time for. I’ve got a lot of trauma still from past relationships that I need to try and work through and I need help doing that, not just telling me, “This is what you need to do.” And I feel it’s been more of a, “Well, I would like you to be like this.” Then when I don’t engage in a way that you expect me to engage and I don’t necessarily know how you want me to engage it hasn’t helped me.
Elizabeth I don’t know what to do other than asking.
Dan Set it up.
Elizabeth Like put it on the calendar?
Dan And say, “I would like you to use this flogger or use this paddle.
Elizabeth Or not. [Laugh]
Dan Or not. Or use this vibrator
Dan Do you want me to stop?
Elizabeth But I mean I want to know because apparently what I’ve been doing hasn’t been helpful to you and maybe further closed you off.
Dan I’m closed off from the receiving side of things because that’s my job. I need to shut that down. There have been times when we’re together and you wanted it, but I’m doing kind of what I do in sessions and I can’t go there. It’s the muscle memory that’s been generated over time.
Elizabeth I don’t know when you get stuck. The conversation last night and this morning was when you really sort of said you were stuck again.
Elizabeth You hold back. You hold back your sexual energy, your sexual expression. I want it. I’m the one that wants it. It’s safe here. That is how our business affects our marriage from your perspective and mine.
Dan No, absolutely. I mean, that’s a huge impact in our relationship sexually because that’s the muscle that I exercise all the time and so I pull it back. And it’s not for me to receive. It’s for me to provide and give.
– BREAK –
Elizabeth You’re very open and willing to take more risks than I am. So, you and I were talking about what would make either one of us like super uncomfortable.
Dan That’s when you kept pushing it and I said I think we should just let it be spontaneous and let it go. And you kept pushing and you kept pushing and you kept digging and pushing and I was kind of done with the conversation.
Elizabeth I think I asked once, but that’s okay. That’s a different perception, but you had shut down and then there is a discussion of control and I shut down around that and that’s why when we were walking out, I was holding your hand walking to the car saying, “We need to probably get back into therapy,” because I felt very shut down and I felt you had been shut down also.
Dan You were very quiet and so that’s when I asked you, “Should we just cancel this?” Because I’m thinking you’re upset.
Elizabeth What changed for both of us?
Dan I think we were talking about the upcoming workshop and me going out there and receiving and trying to receive which is something that we both know that I don’t do very well. It’s a give and take and I don’t necessarily want to do that.
Elizabeth So you became vulnerable with me. You started to actually tell me rather than just staying blocked. And so that’s when I sat down at the table, brought my breakfast over and said, “Tell me more.”
Dan I felt first and thought later. Because you weren’t talking about to me. I didn’t know how to open up a conversation about as we talk about something. So let’s throw out a big gun and get it started.
Elizabeth So I saw it as caretaking. You saw it as…
Elizabeth Controlling. Yeah, that’s a fun dynamic, isn’t it? Not for me.
Elizabeth Boy! Do we need therapy? I’m a little warm right now. I feel like I’m on the hot seat.
Dan You are.
Elizabeth I know. So are you.
– BREAK –
ANDY AND SO THERE THEY WERE, ELIZABETH AND DAN, ON THE HOT SEAT. AND NO, I DIDN’T RESCUE THEM. INSTEAD THEY MOVED TO A DIFFERENT SUBJECT – WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE KNOWN AS A SEX EDUCATOR. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF ALL YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY KNOWING THAT THIS IS WHAT YOU DO FOR A LIVING?
Elizabeth We fully give our friends and our family because people are asking me, my nieces and nephews are asking me, but we give them permission to ask questions and be curious. The text message that I got from my niece the other day about what is some toy. And I was like, “Oh, crikey, where is she going with this?”
Dan Which was that?
Elizabeth It was the anal beads. She had read something or somebody said about anal beads. And for a college kid, I was like, “Uh-oh, where is she going with this?” But, all she wanted was what are they, who uses them, why do they use them. And I was like, well –
Elizabeth What anal beads are – it’s not for everybody but those that are open to exploring anal pleasure whether they’re gay, straight, men or women. The beads are inserted with a lot of lubrication and sort of a lot of preparing the anus. They’re silicone they’re graduated the size of marbles, nothing – it could be the size of a gobstopper for heaven’s sakes.
Elizabeth The anal beads are inserted into the anus which can bring somebody pleasure, but there’s supposedly even more pleasure when you start with arousal. There can be quite an erotic sensation when you pull the beads out. It can heighten the arousal during climax.
Dan Because there are so many nerve endings in the anus that can provide lots and lots of pleasure.
Elizabeth That’s why sometimes it feels good when you have a really big poop. It’s the truth. There can be some relief there and it’s a mechanical physiological thing that happens normally in the body.
Elizabeth I mean, come on. I mean, let’s be honest. I mean, sometimes it just feels good to poop. When did we disassociate it from a normal body function? “Am I going to be ashamed because sometimes pooping feels good?” No. It sounds funny to say it, but I mean, just be honest. It’s normal human function. And anal play can be very pleasurable to some people. And I’m not going to judge that. Enjoy it. Experiment with it. And if you don’t like it, don’t do it again. But if you do like it, make sure you have the right lube and are prepared. You know?
Elizabeth I have a commitment to all of my sisters that if the kids start asking me questions, then I’m going to answer them truth based.” And she’s like, “Okay, I just wanted to know.” That was the end of her text. And so now she is more informed. But that I think is part of what we model because we talk about sex. Our own sexual strife is really no different than any other couples, but we’re willing to talk about it and say, “Point blank, this is what I want. This is what I don’t want.”
Dan And explore to learn what we do want.
Elizabeth And the freedom to be like, without judgment, like, “Hey, this floats your boat. That floats your boat. Let’s see how it works in our relationship.”
Dan I really enjoy the journey now. I enjoy the journey probably far more than the climax. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a good climax. But at the same time, I’ve taken that stress off of me and when I find myself chasing after a climax, I’ll just shut it down. It’s like, “I don’t want to do this.” Because then I start getting tired, I start getting frustrated, I start getting stressed out, and just enjoying that journey has been wonderful for me.
Elizabeth I’d like to work on bringing that thing, giving you your downtime, asking you to be in the receiving mode more and refueling you so that you’re not as empty because that’s gravely affecting our sex life. It’s like, “Oh, let’s sit down and watch.”
Dan I wouldn’t say gravely, but it’s impacting it for sure.
Elizabeth Okay. So I’m a little bit more dramatic. If sex educators aren’t having sex, then it’s not very good for business. And since I love touching your body, just like giving you the foot rub or massaging your shoulders or giving you more so that you can fill your somewhat empty tank in any way, shape, or form. I’m like, “Yay!”
– BREAK –
Dan We don’t become shy about talking about sex and what we like, what we don’t like, erection strength, erection weakness, wetness. I mean any of those conversations we can have without even thinking about it. We have them all the time. So it’s made it very easy for us to have deeper conversations around sex that I think a lot of couples are very shy of.
Elizabeth We know what’s out there in terms of sexual potential. We know the practices. We know the exercises to do separately or alone. We know the capacity of pleasure in our bodies individually and collectively and we don’t do it. We don’t practice what we teach a lot and that to me is really frustrating because I know it’s possible. We’ve had it. We’ve experienced it. When we go to really fun workshops and we are participants and not teachers, we’re like blown open again and super connected. We should do all of these every single level that they have and we fall in love in that fun, really magical way
Dan So one of the things that I really appreciate about you is your willingness to work on things. You drive me nuts in certain ways about things that I don’t understand and your whole fear of what others think. But I appreciate you very much for how it is that you do approach a relationship and do strive to make it work.
Dan One of the things that I find really valuable or desirable about you is that we’re on the same trajectory, we’re on the same growth path, and previous relationships have, at some point in time, gone off in separate directions and I don’t see that with us. I see us growing in the same general direction and that’s what I want in a relationship and that’s what you bring.
Elizabeth Thank you. With you, I think after it sinks in for a little bit like why I press in and why I won’t let something just sort of gloss over, I think you get really pissed off and irritated and then when you have time to sort of see that there is some rationale or some reason why I come at you, I appreciate that. But being given that space to kind of let your own thoughts formulate around it and then come back and regroup with me, that’s the strategy that is working now.
Dan You see the bigger picture in the moment than just in the moment itself of being upset with each other. You know that this is all going to blow over at some point in time. We’ll get on with it. So cuddling in bed, hugging, lying on the couch together and doing whatever is a way that you definitely bring us back in together.
Elizabeth Who knew a hug would be so freaking complex and complicated? It seems like such a simple gesture act, but it works. That’s like our glue. We’re definitely good at that, holding hands. I mean even when I would say, “Should we go back to therapy?” We’re holding hands and swinging on the way home, it was late at night and it was dark outside, you holding me and saying, “Watch out for the curb,” and holding my hand and say, “Step here,” that’s one thing that –
Dan I wasn’t trying to steer you to the pothole.
Elizabeth No. You had me stepped right over the pothole. That’s always a way that I feel you’re protecting me and keeping me safe. I don’t see as well as you do at night. So I was noticing that again, a very tender moment even though I was irritated with you. It was very sweet. I’m like, “Oh, yeah, there he is. There is that nice person that I’m in love with. He always holds my hand when we’re walking in the dark.” So loving you at the same time has been incredibly irritated by you.
ANDY AS A THERAPIST WORKING WITH COUPLES, ONE OF THE THINGS I FOUND DIFFICULT WAS THAT HERE I AM HELPING COUPLES AND I GO HOME AND IN MY OWN MARRIAGE I DO THE WRONG, I SAY THE WRONG THING, I STRUGGLE. OFTEN IT WAS EASIER TO TELL COUPLES WHAT TO DO THAN IT WAS TO BE A HUSBAND IN MY OWN RELATIONSHIP.
I RELATED TO WHAT ELIZABETH AND DAN WERE DEALING WITH IN THAT THEY’RE SEX EDUCATORS. BUT I FELT AN AFFINITY AND COMPASSION FOR THEM AS THEY ACKNOWLEDGE THE CHALLENGE OF TALKING ABOUT SEX ALL DAY LONG WITH COUPLES AND, YET, NOT HAVING MUCH SEX IN THEIR OWN LIFE.
ANDY DOUG BLOCK FILMED OVER ONE-HUNDRED WEDDINGS IN A SPAN OF TWENTY YEARS. OVER THAT TIME HE BEGAN TO QUESTION WHAT HAPPENED TO THOSE COUPLES ONCE MARRIED LIFE BEGAN. IN HIS FILM “112 WEDDINGS,” BLOCK REVISITS NINE OF THOSE COUPLES.
Doug There was one couple. I asked them, typically what makes for a happy marriage and they would give the usual answers of ‘listening and respect, put their needs before yours’ I asked ‘well, do you think you have a happy marriage?’ and there was a silence that I later timed to twenty-two seconds, that we just couldn’t use in the movie because it just was- t was funny but it was so painful and it was so awkward, kind of unfair because, who knows, the might’ve just not be able to answer at the time, you know, we’ll try not to editorialize it that way but oh, my God! Was that the most unbelievably, revealing twenty two seconds I’ve ever seen.
Andy Your relationship to- your relationship to relationships is as a videographer, documentarian.
Doug First and foremost, I’ve been married for thirty years now, living in sin for four years on top of that, you know, that’s more than half my life, you know, I’m a father, stepfather, son, you know, all that goes into what I do as a filmmaker because I tend to make personal documentaries about my family and about my relationships. Including the fact that for well over twenty years I’ve been- as a side business, videotaping weddings. Being around so many couples getting married, I wouldn’t say it makes me a relationship expert but it does give me a bit of insight of what goes into marriage and why people want to get married, and…
Andy And what do you notice? Like, if you take a broad stroke, what do you notice?
Doug What I was most interested in doing film is: why do we stay married? I mean, I think we all know why we get married, there’s just so many things that feed into this idea that we have to get married, we have to get married, if we’re going to have kids, we have to get married. It’s the only way I’ll be happy.
Andy So what did you learn from that experience of going back not into people’s wedding but actually into their marriage?
Doug Well, I’d say it kind of comes down to happily ever after is complicated [Laughter] It’s not like I didn’t know these things, I knew- I know how hard marriage is. I consider that I have a really good marriage and it’s really hard! It’s got moments when we want to kill each other, you know, and there’s luckily many more moments when we don’t want to kill each other. In fact, we’re quite fond of each other, but it’s hard, it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of talking through and working out. And what I’ve found by talking to- you know, and interviewing these couples for the film is that, you know, they experience the same thing, they all acknowledge, you know, with kind of rueful smiles, you know, that is work. I don’t know, people seem very disappointed by that answer. Because it gets to the heart of this whole discussion of what makes relationships work and, you know, strangely enough it’s work that makes relationships work. But that’s not a depressing notion, you know, I mean, we seem to live in a society that we want to lose weight but we don’t want to go to a gym or go in a diet, a tough diet. We want to have those programs where we can exercise at our desk for five minutes a day and lose thirty pounds in two weeks. Something where we’re not required to do the work or the heavy lifting.
Andy And that applies to our marriages as well.
Doug I think so or people want to think that people who have a somewhat happy marriage or successful marriage have some secret.
Andy Have that secret.
Doug I got so tired of people being disappointed at my answer that I started to make up answers and finally one day, one very relentless interviewer on live radio just kept asking me, just kept circling back, you know, I would say the answer and he’s like ‘Doug, what’s the real secret to a happy marriage?’ I finally [Laughter] I finally just said ‘ok, the real secret is give her five orgasms to her every one. And that’s it, I mean really, honestly, that is the real secret’.
Andy [Laughter] and then did that stop her questions?
Doug She did not circle back again, let’s just say.
Andy [Laughter] that’s just great, that’s great
Doug We were talking about having difficult conversations, I found that there are- there’s a phrase, a four word phrase that usually gets us over the hump and it has to come from me, it’s ‘sorry, I was wrong’ it’s magic! Magic when I say that, but it often takes me a long time to get to that point.
Andy And I would imagine at times your wife is wrong too but there’s something about…
Doug Oh! She’s always wrong! [Laughter] but…
Andy There’s something about you acknowledging it?
Doug It’s me saying ‘sorry, I was wrong’ that just does the trick.
Doug I found that it’s like, I don’t’ know, one thing that I think it has really helped our relationship and our marriage over the years is that we’re actually really good at fighting, we rarely ever fight when we’re like- we never yell at each other or scream, or something… but we can be plenty angry and do it but we know how to control it, try and be as… rational and as articulate, not bring the whole history of resentment or, you know ‘you did this way back then, you did this, you said that’ try not to bring that into and, you know, just kind of commit to talking it through.
Doug I think a lot of it boils down to a willingness to grow, both as individuals and as a couple, support each other in their growth as individuals. And that’s, you know, not always easy for couples, they tend to think that this stuff should all be natural and, you know, just kind of happen on its own, and there’s something wrong about going back to school or taking courses, or going off to a meditation retreat for ten days, or –
Andy I do think couples come together with an agreement like ‘you don’t change, I don’t change, let’s sort of keep that contract’.
Doug Yeah or like there’s something wrong with change when in fact that actually should be part of the end goal. How can you have a family or have kids, raise a family, and not think you’re going to change in the process? I mean, is nuts!
Host TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DOUG BLOCK AND HIS FILMS VISIT D-WORD.COM.
THANK YOU TO ELIZABETH AND DAN FOR SHARING THEIR STORY. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THEIR WORK WITH BEDROOM EVENTS VISIT BEDEVENTS.COM
OUR PRODUCERS ARE LISA GRAY AND KIM POLETTI. OUR THEME MUSIC IS BY ROB BURGER. ADDITIONAL MUSIC BY JEFF WAHL, EHREN STARKS, DANIEL ESTREM, AND BLUESBOY JAG. AUDIO PRODUCTION ASSISTANCE PROVIDED BY LESLIE GASTON-BIRD AND JOSH KERN.
IF YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE YOUR STORY OR COMMENTS, VISIT US AT ELEPHANTTALL.ORG. SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST ON ITUNES, STITCHER, SOUNDCLOUD, OR WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCAST.
AND THANK YOU FOR LISTENING. I’M YOUR HOST ANDY HORNING. THIS IS REAL LOVE. THIS IS ELEPHANT TALK.