After dedicating 22 years of his life to struggling relationships as a family lawyer, Stan Levine jumped to the other side of the fence to explore the deeper workings of relationships by studying IMAGO and Hot Monogamy. Hot Monogamy is a tool for relationships that helps create (or recreate) the passion required for your relationship to seriously thrive. Convinced by its effectiveness to support seriously successful coupledom, he left his well-paying legal career behind to work as an IMAGO educator and Hot Monogamy trainer. Stan explains the principles of Hot Monogomy: desire, technique, variety, romance, body image, intimacy, passion, sensuality and communication
Okay. you’ve heard about our background and you left something out actually in between that after I gave up law I went into business with them and had the restaurant, went into business with my son for about 10 years manufacturing cakes cookies biscuits and things which and he and I decided to retire. And then at that time I had the opportunity to study in imago with Francesca. Where she was going to study at the same time and I went along more or less to keep her company and I fell in love with it. Knowing my retirement plans are still on the shelf and I’m not interested in retiring and I get so much pleasure out of seeing the transformation that couples work in our office and between sessions, it’s extremely satisfying. It really is wonderful and I don’t think I’ll ever have enough of it. The advantage, I took advantage of the opportunity also while we were doing after we became qualified to pursue an interest in sex. And this course in hot monogamy was developed by also an imago therapist lady from Texas, who was a redhead who’s a riot to listen to. Her name is Doctor Pat Love which is very appropriate and she just got married for the fourth time so she’s an expert in the field but she really is. Next time she comes to Australia, which and she does from time to time I would recommend that you can see her because she’s wonderful to listen to. Anyway she taught us all the stuff about hot monogamy and it is, it relates, it uses the imago principles for dealing with the sexual side of the relationship.
Now most couples who come to us don’t come just with sexual issue or particular other issue. Everything’s inter-related and we find that with a lot of couples who work on their relationship generally and then often that will move eventually to studying in hot monogamy. We do it as individual private sessions, we do it in groups, we do it in intensives, as well we work with one couple for one or two whole days. It’s very powerful but again it’s based on the idea mainly of communication. Talking to your partner respectfully and listening to your partner which is even more important. The dialogue works brilliantly in that because sex is a very sensitive subject. A lot of people find it embarrassing, very confronting and that usually due also as with all other are other issues to our history particularly in cases where children have been abused. Sexually abused. And they grow up with the most incredible issues and they of course surface when they are in a relationship as an adult because all those old things are triggered by their partner. The partner wants sex in a particular way or an unusual position, or some fantasy or whatever it is that appeals to that particular person their partner is horrified and that’s often what causes big, big problems between couples. So we try to deal with that but not as a sexual issue as such but as an issue of communication.
During the course of the work we start actually with what we call a sexual style survey we usually send that out to clients before they actually come to us because it takes maybe a week or two to go through that carefully and they do it separately. They don’t do it as a couple. They do it individually and the idea deals with the nine main topics that we cover in which I’ll go through with you that we cover in the course of the work. And it’s not like a competition to see that you get a high score a low score that’s not the issue. The issue is to establish where they are on the level so that if there’s a big discrepancy between the partners in relations side intimacy. Then we know that’s an area that needs to be worked on. If there isn’t a big discrepancy even if they have a low score then it’s not an issue between them. Even though they may want to improve that. Which we can do but it’s not a major issue because they’re both happy at that level so we deal with each of these topics individually for them. And we find that it really does work and we’ll use, getting to use the dialogue process.
The dialogue process, not sure if Francesca brought this up. When you’re speaking in the dialog, you’re talking about yourself only. Did you mention that darling? You’re not talking about your partner, You’re not saying oh you always do this, you never take the bins out. You say, when you do such-and-such I feel… So you take ownership of what’s going on for you. It has nothing to do with your partner. Your partner has merely inadvertently triggered on old feeling. Again, it’s usually from childhood or particularly if you were abused then that really does surface badly for you. And it’s very difficult to deal with and the only way you can have this sort of dialogue is if you feel safe enough to do so. So you have to have the connection to start with and then you get to safety. After you’ve got the safety you’ve got to communicate, and then you can develop the passion.
The passion is as Francesca said, it’s not just sexual passion. It’s passion about living. Being joyfully alive and if you have that then you can get sexual passion as well as passion in other areas in life. We have all sorts of exercises for people to do. The exercises, we use them, verbal and written in the office. Physical exercise is clearly, we give them to take home. Do at home and get them to report back if they feel like it on what the experience is like. But they don’t have to do that because it’s, as I said, very confronting for other people to talk about sex. And I think one of the major issues that so many people, I don’t know about your generation but my generation people didn’t talk about sex. Certainly didn’t talk favorably about sex. And from what I understand with my children’s age group that same issue still applies. I imagine since you’re similar demographic to our kids that I would imagine that the similar thing has happened, is applied to you and you didn’t get a good sex education. You know the differences between men and women, that’s about it. I mean, I could be wrong and I guess it depends on the school you went to because maybe some schools do have a good course appropriate for the age of the children they’re teaching. But certainly is a majority that didn’t apply. Would that be the same now? Still? And I don’t think if any of you are teachers or in the education field. You would probably know if you are. And that’s a great pity that we still live in the dark we learn about sex from our friends or from movies or from books and it’s really highly unsatisfactory because usually it just deals with something physical and has nothing to do with the emotions associated with it.
And good sex is not just physical. It’s about connection with your partner. I mean there’s nothing wrong with a quickie. It’s fine. There’s not, there’s not, but I don’t call that good sex. You know it’s fine for the moment. It’s releasing oxytocin and make you feel good temporarily but beyond that, it is not appropriate for a long-term relationship. What we’re talking about in hot monogamy is sustaining an exciting passionate sexual relationship in a long term relationship. Now I know a lot of people think that when you’re past thirty or forty or fifty whatever age group it is, that you know, you’ve been together with the same person for a long time, that you know sex becomes mechanical or not almost non-existent. And you’re bored and maybe you look for it elsewhere because you like the excitement of a new relationship. Well that’s crap because if you want excitement get it in your current relationship. You can! All you have to do is use a bit of analysis. You know, again, the re-romanticizing it, as Francesca mentioned before, we use that in hot monogamy too. What did you do when you first got together that you would like to do again, because you can! You can have it all again. I can honestly tell you that our sex life is better now than it was when we were younger. It truly is. You don’t have to worry about having kids. We don’t anyway. We don’t. Right? We don’t. Well that’s not an issue for us. And because we’ve been together and we talked. We don’t worry about it. No. We don’t. We have it when we want to. That’s it. And the thing is, and it’s so important, once you get in a long term relationship if you are communicating, you can talk about sex. And you can have a really exciting sex life. You don’t have to look for somebody else or sneak off to a hotel with the secretary or whatever it is. It’s just not necessary. If you want excitement you can have it in your relationship. Most people think it’s not possible but that’s just crap. It is possible if you want to. You have to work on your relationship in all areas. That’s one thing we tell all our clients. If you want a good relationship it’s like anything else, work for it or you get depreciation from. Anything that’s really valuable requires work otherwise there’s no appreciation. If you just get it handed to you on a platter you can just go off and do what you want.
Generally we find with a lot of people, a lot of the sexual difficulties also stem from the fact that, there still seems to me in this world which is quite wrong, an attitude towards men and women that’s different from sexuality. A woman who enjoys sex, I’m talking about single people now, woman who enjoys sex and wants multiple partners is still often viewed as what they used to say when I was young, “easy” or “slut”. But a guy, that’s fine. He’s a stud. That’s so wrong. Particularly in the world today, women and men are equally sexual and they both have desires. And what is wrong with them expressing? Nothing. Because we grew up with that, again women particularly and generalizing here, may find it difficult to be able to be truly liberated in their sexuality. Because they worried about what the guy’s gonna think. The guy on the other hand is very often worried about his performance. You know, what is she gonna think? Am I good enough? Et cetera, et cetera. Well, again, one of the things we teach is focusing on your partner, not on yourself. So for a guy, stop thinking about your performance. That’s not important. If you think about what pleases your partner, that’s what’s important and that will give you connection. So connection is really the basic thing. It takes you to anywhere. There’s nothing more wonderful when you both made love and really got a close connection and you just really feel like one person. It’s an amazing thing, it’s so spiritual. I’m not talking about religion here obviously and religion on the other hand has also has a lot to answer for, negatively. I’m about sex because there are a lot of religious attitude, anti-sexual, which destroys people’s lives, absolutely do. You know anything between to consenting adults is fine. Doesn’t have to be what somebody else does or somebody else likes, if the two you are happy that’s it! It doesn’t, it’s nobody’s business. And I believe, who’s that couple that’s here on their first date? Sorry? I want to congratulate you for coming here to hear about this stuff tonight. No really, because I think it will all go so well for your future together. Really! To open up and be, and learn about what it is like to be in a real relationship. A real relationship that goes through phases and that also includes a sexuality. There will be times when you think, “oh done it all, I’m not interested etc.”. But as I said before you can learn and you can have a wonderful relationship as long as you stay together. Truly.
So should they have sex on the first night?
I’m not telling them what they should do. If they want, be my guest!
The other thing is that a lot of people feel that, as I said before guys are suppose to perform and people have a lot of things, attitudes towards sexual activity that it gets very serious. Particularly if things don’t work out and then you know, you don’t have multiple orgasms every time. That’s nonsense. Guys also are very big on, how big is my penis. How does it compare with this guy in the next urinal and all that sort of thing. Particularly if you went to boarding school like I did, you’re very conscious of all of this stuff. It was you know, really, there were some kids there that got real complexes because they were very small in comparison to other guys. Even though they were we actually, you know, preteens in that. Something that’s in men seem to think it’s so important. but it really isn’t. Size honestly doesn’t count. It’s what you do with it.
What? That depends. Okay I haven’t been on the receiving end so I really shouldn’t say that. I bow to your expertise. I was generalizing okay? There are exceptions. The other thing is that a lot of men feel that if they don’t get an erection every time they had sex there’s something wrong with them and that can lead to a lot of issues… emotional. Now I remember when we’ve been married not very long and one day, morning glory or afternoon delight, whatever it was, I couldn’t get it up and I was a bit horrified by this. God what’s wrong? So my wife, in her naive way rang the doctor. The doctor happened to be a friend as well and she said, a friend of ours, she said “Stan couldn’t get an erection”. It was dead silence on the phone. I was horrified too. And she said what can he do? So there’s silence for a while and he said, tell him to pickle it. I don’t know what he meant by that but anyway that was the one and only time it happened. But it did horrify me at the time I thought there was something seriously wrong. And unfortunately if you get a partner who’s not empathic when that happens that can lead to a lot of distress. And that again is an issue that crops up alot of times. and the other time I remember, we’re talking about having fun when you have sex, you need be able to laugh when things go wrong. Another time when we were in bed and I don’t know if it was because of the activity but suddenly I nearly jumped to the ceiling. My bum felt it was on fire. What happened was we inadvertently left the electric blanket on. The two wires that cross shorted and when I moved that suddenly Fran fell off the bed. Not at not a good start but at least we laughed about it afterwards. Anyway going back to hot monogamy.
The nine areas of sexuality that we deal with in this is desire, technique, variety, body image, passion, intimacy, romance, sensuality and communication. I mention about communication really because that is really the most important area. We help people talk about what they like and what they don’t like in very specific terms. You know it’s not just good enough for example for the woman to say, I like you to touch my breast. She needs to be able to say how she wants her breast touched and where exactly. On which breast or both breasts or whatever it is. Because particularly for women with their menstrual cycle, what they liked today they not necessarily want you to do tomorrow. Right? So guys listen. Just because you do it well today and I had three orgasms doesn’t mean tomorrow’s gonna be the same. Don’t get into an automatic routine which a lot of guys do. I’m not saying anybody here does but that’s what a lot of guys do. And it’s boring. That doesn’t make for good sex. So we teach people to be able to be very, very specific as to what they like and where they like it. The others technique, technique is what you do with your equipment. Okay? I don’t know how else to put it it. You know, how you, it is your responsibility. Put it this way, you’re responsible for your own sexuality and your own orgasm. Your partner is not responsible for that. If your partner helps that’s great but it’s entirely up to you to let your partner what you want. What’s important to you? How you like it, when you like it.
Body image, now this is incredibly effective against sex for a lot of people. Particularly a lot of women. Actually I don’t know any human being that I’ve ever met who is not unhappy with something about their body. Doesn’t matter what it is. It might be the shape of their bum or their nose. Or their ear lobes or the color of their hair, they got one foot bigger than the other, whatever it is there’s always something. I know I’ve got, my thing is back hair. I hate back hair because to me it makes me feel like an ape. So a regular habit, waxed. I hate it. Doesn’t bother Fran. She doesn’t care if I’ve got back hair. And usually body image is an issue for the person. They’ve created it themselves out of, generally again, it’s usually old stuff. And particularly when you were a kid you were teased about something about your body. Often for girls reaching puberty, they were teased about their breasts or something else. And a lot of women carry, they get into that because they feel they’re too fat when they’re not but that’s their perception. They might even look like a skeleton but they still feel they’re too fat. That’s the sort of thing that goes on. That’s extreme of course, but we all, I don’t think, is anybody here who doesn’t have something about their body that they don’t like? Who’s that? Who? You like everything about yourself? Great! As you’ll realize, you’re in the minority unfortunately. The vast majority of people do have something. And what happens is in sex they feel that they are not right in some way. That their partner doesn’t like them all. They’re embarrassed to show, to get undressed in the light. So they get dressed in the dark or they go into another room to get undressed and then put something on because they don’t want to be seen. And it’s such a pity because being open about yourself builds your own confidence and generally a partner doesn’t care. Generally your partner doesn’t care.
Variety. What’s variety? Variety is, what are you smiling about? Oh okay. Variety again, helps to keep your sex life exciting. Variety is about different positions, different places. Doing different things, maybe having sex while you’re having food. No really, you know. Having sex in a public place. Bigger the thrill of maybe being caught. There’s all sorts of things. On a bus, in a taxi, you know, whatever. But anything, do I hear knowing laughs? But whatever it is that gives you a thrill. Be prepared to experiment. That helps to keep your life exciting. Not just sexually but generally.
Intimacy. Now that’s a difficult one for a lot of guys. Most, a lot of people, many men think intimacy is just about sex. For most women intimacy is about communication and feeling that they are known by the person they are gonna have sex with and that they are valued by that person. In our work we found that there’s a lot of research being done the last 30-40 years about sexuality. Going back to the 50’s with the Kinsey report and the Masters and Johnson report and since there’s a lot more detail on. But we found that there are, the population is roughly divided into two types: there is the psychogenic and the otogenic. This is sexually I’m talking about. Otogenic generally comprises about 80% of the male population. About 20% of the female population. And there are people who are ready for sex anytime. That’s what they generally like. 2 o’clock in the morning, at work, midnight. Doesn’t matter when. The other type, are the psychogenic. That usually accounts for about 80% of the female population, 20% of the male population. And they are people need to be warmed up. Right? So that requires, it’s not just about foreplay just before you have sex. It’s about feeling as I said valued and important to your partner and considered. And so for example you know if a guy comes home and says how about we have sex and the woman’ just sort of finished washing and dealing with three kids all day and she’s absolutely stuffed. She’s really not in the mood. But if he says to her, I’ll tell you what, I’ll make dinner, you go have a bath and relax and then maybe we’ll have sex. She’s much more likely to be receptive because she feels that he’s considering and thinking about her. Not thinking about his orgasm, his ejaculation.
That is not primary even though that is part of it. That’s not primary. And the consideration of the other person is an essential part to the work we do in our imago, carried over into the hot monogamy. You think about power more than you consider what you need. It’s not about what’s in it for me. What can I do to make my partner good? And by doing that, you know that old thing, better to give than to receive? It’s so true because if you give your partner generally will feel like giving back to you because your partner will feel valued. So intimacy is, that part of intimacy, it starts with verbal intimacy. And then emotional intimacy and then physical and then sexual. And unfortunately for a lot of blokes they don’t want to do that. You know, they’re just more interested in, oh I’ve got a couple I’m seeing at the moment actually and his idea of foreplay is that, gets into the bedroom and he quickly touches his partners breast. Left breast right breast, only one, not doing two because it’s too much work and then he just wants to have intercourse and that’s it. That takes maybe 3 minutes. Now he thinks that’s foreplay. She tried to explain to him that’s not foreplay. You know? And I’m gradually, it’s not easy because he’s not used to this. He’s never heard of it. He doesn’t understand that women and men are different. Apart from the obvious differences. But he doesn’t understand the emotional basic differences why sex is different for both people. The other thing is that with the psychogenic person, I say person but even though it’s mostly women, once they get aroused, they’re just as orgasmic as the otogenic. When couples get together and they have these sexual problems they don’t realize that it’s not because the other person doesn’t wanna have sex or that they don’t wanna have sex with you or that they don’t care about you or they don’t love you. It means they just can’t do it. Their brain, their whole body is not ready and they’re not going to do it just automatically. Get them aroused sufficiently because you care enough, it can be fantastic.
Romance. Anybody here romantic? No? Oh great. Got one customer. That’s beautiful! The problem with romance is there’s no problem with romance. The problem between people and romance is that most people don’t know what their partner considers to be romantic. It’s the same thing as Francesca was saying before, to find out what makes you feel loved and cared about. We do that exercise as well so we know, maybe for you romance might be having your head stroked. Might be one thing that makes you feel that your partner’s being romantic. For you it might be that he brings you flowers every week. It doesn’t matter what it is but it’s different. You might get flowers and it’s no big deal for you. You might have your head stroked and it’s no big deal for you. So it’s no good giving your partner what you think they want, what you think they like. What did I miss? If Francesca strokes my head, massages, I’m in heaven. But if I do that to her it’s no big deal. What makes her feel loved and cared about is if I listen to her and improvise with her. That’s what’s important to her, that’s what makes her feel because she didn’t have that when she was a kid. I never had physical touch when I was a kid, at all. And so to me physical touch is the best. Skin on skin feels fabulous to me. Really does. It’s so important to me. So everyone’s got their own thing and part of the work we do is to help you to uncover that because some people don’t stop to think about it and even if they did, they haven’t communicated it to their partner. So if your partner doesn’t know he or she can’t give it to you. It’ll be guesswork and then you’re not getting the romance you really want.
Sensuality. Now sensuality is not sexuality obviously. It’s to do with the five senses and we have various exercises that we teach people how they can increase their sensuality with each other. and i’d like you may be to try this yourselves at home. We don’t have room here. Well clear the tables! What you do is, one of these exercises which really is very powerful. You both lie down on the floor facing opposite directions but chest to chest. So my feet would be there say Francesca’s feet would be there and chest to chest and then with your, sorry, with your outside hand you rest your hand non sexually on your partner’s chest. Forget the boobies guys okay? Just press your hand there and then you close your eyes, and if you want to put some music on that’s fine, and you just let yourself breathe naturally and become aware that your breathing eventually synchronizes you’re breathing in tune and you become aware of feeling the bodies next to each other. You can either be clothed or not. It doesn’t matter. That is not to be sexual. It’s just to get you more in touch with your senses. The sense of touch and you can do with all sorts of things. You can sit down and do a non-verbal massage for 5 minutes. You ask your partner what part would you like me to message? Your hand? Your feet? What? And they tell you and then you do a non-verbal message for a certain period of time that you pre-agreed with your eyes closed and you just let yourself soak into that. It’s amazing! You become fully aware of your partner and what it feels like to touch them non-sexually. That can be done obviously as a prerequisite or prelude to having sex but it isn’t meant to be sexual as such. So becoming, be aware of taste. What does your partner taste like? When you lick them. When you kissed them. We’re you aware of it or you just do it without thinking? Again it’s more about awareness which is something Fran, what are you laughing at? She’s very tasty, yes. And also her smell. What does her partner smell like? You know, really all these things that we don’t take full advantage of. If you just give yourself time to do that. Again, that is also can be very romantic. All these things are interconnected. It really does work well.
The last area that we deal with is passion. And again if a person has passion in their lives about, if they’re passionate about an activity for example, then they can be passionate sexually too. You can’t be passionate sexually if you don’t have passion in your life. You might think you’re passionate because you’re thrusting madly when you’re making love but that’s not passion. Passion involves all the feelings. Everything. It really is so powerful and it’s a wonderful feeling.
I’m going to just finish up with one other and as we said before, sex is about connection and connection gives you a feeling of safety so that you can really relate to your partner. Wholly, absolutely. And the worst thing you can do, again going on with Francesca said before is criticizing. Zero negativity which is very very difficult to do. Zero negativity is almost impossible but it’s something to aim for. And it doesn’t just mean you don’t say negative things to your partner. If you sort of roll your eyes and yo go make make funny noises that’s all very negative. Try to fight and it is very difficult not to be negative when you’re feeling shit or when your partner’s done something that really aggravates you. If you can train yourself to stop and think, what’s it like my partner that he or she is doing that or saying that? This is not easy stuff. It takes a lot practice but it’s really worth trying and it does work. You get much more harmony and your sex life will improve.
Okay? Any questions? Yes darling with the greatest of pleasure!