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June 26, 2007

Should You Videotape Yourself Having Sex?

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Paul, a feisty 23-year-old engaged to Sally-Ann, who is 11 years older, was downright embarrassed to watch himself constantly brandishing his penis and begging to be serviced by his fiancée, even if she was wiped out after doing all the housework. Almost as quickly as he could zip up his pants, Paul went about changing his behavior. He signed up for his share of the housework — and actually did it — and stopped acting like a prepubescent. As a result, Sally-Ann stopped using sex as a bartering tool and began to see it as a mutually enjoyable act.

Gone was the sexual power struggle that plagues so many couples. While both partners are the gatekeepers of sex, the one who says no and keeps the gate shut has the power. The danger in amassing that power — and doling out sex like cookies, as one member of a couple often does — is that it inevitably generates a power-resentment loop. The more you say no, the angrier, more frustrated your partner gets — and the angrier, more frustrated your partner gets, the more you want to say no.

Kelly and Sean, married for less than a month, had a different power dynamic. Kelly clearly had the upper hand in the marriage, partying with her friends several nights a week and whining for Sean to do things like bring her a glass of water when they were in bed — generally treating him like a doormat. Not surprisingly, her dominance extended into their sex life.

The solution ended up being several bans for the couple. Kelly wasn't allowed to talk on her cell phone after 9 p.m. (a huge sacrifice, considering she'd brought the damn thing to bed on their honeymoon) or initiate sex. Sean, on the other hand, was banned from doing Kelly any favors unless she reciprocated. The results were phenomenal: Kelly began to respect Sean, and he went from submissive to sure of himself. Their sex life soared, and their follow-up footage — with Kelly looking smitten and Sean confident — was some of the most touching we taped.

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