The Taser's Edge

Sheet Music by Kevin Leman

"Sheet Music"--get it?

I began reading Kevin Leman’s Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage because I found it at Goodwill and because I had had it recommended to me.  I finished it in about two days because it’s about sex and sex is neat, to understate things.

The synopsis of Leman’s presentation is this: good sex comes from healthy relating, from good communication, and from seeking to grow more imaginative and creative in pursuit of exploring one another’s sexuality.  Leman talks about larger relationship stuff—family of origin, communication, accepting one another’s differences, how self-love and other-love are equally necessary.  And he talks about sexual technique stuff—a few positions, a few rules-of-thumb, a few attending to questions Christians ask (for him on the several big questions many Christians wonder about, a qualified yes to masturbation as long as it fits into healthy rhythms of mutuality in sex, a triple yes to oral, and a slightly qualified no to anal, for the reason that it’s more difficult for that to be pleasurable for the woman).  His hope throughout is that a couple reading this book would be able to grow in enjoying sex through the delight of getting to know each other over a lifetime.

The part that kept bothering me was gendered stereotyping: men are like this and want that; women are like this and want the other.  I would attribute this to traditional evangelical Christian family values, except that I recently read John Gray’s Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, and Gray makes the same assumptions (thus leading me to believe that a lot of it is cultural and another sizeable piece is generational).

Some of the focus on male-female differences was helpful (the parts based on research, like the generality that women are more relationally and sensually focused while men are more visual and sexually focused, or the simpler “There are reasons why this never seems to work with your spouse…”) while some was less helpful (the parts based on online Redbook surveys).

And then there was the most helpful content, which was several sets of questions found throughout the book, such as a self-test of how well you know your spouse (e.g., What time of day does your spouse enjoy sex most?  What senses are central for your spouse’s enjoyment of sex?)  My favorite list, because sometimes Christian counselors seem to give less credit to the unconscious than it’s due, is a set of questions designed to help you explore your less-than-conscious assumptions about sex and those assumptions’ sources (e.g., What gets me most upset in bed?  What generates the most interest in sex?)

So, yes this is a recommendation for many people, including pastors seeking something to read and recommend for engaged couples.  And no, it’s not perfect, whatever that would be.


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