What follows is our story, my husband and I. It recounts how we found MLNP and the impact it had on our lives and marriage. I truly appreciate those who have brought this site to life as it has made such a difference for us. We hope this story validates the true success of MLNP — that it excites, entertains, informs, and helps people live their best sexual lives. Cheers to Cindy and the rest of you for your great work! – MLNP.tv members, honeyloving
From ED to MLNP:
Cancer. The word knocks the breath out of us. Humbles us. Scares us. I don’t think there is a more terrifying word in our language. So when we heard the word “cancer” several years ago, my husband and I responded just like anyone would. Fear, anger, sadness, and more fear. The weeks surrounding my husband’s diagnosis and subsequent surgeries are still a bit of a blur. He went from a healthy and happy man of 50 years to a fragile shell of a man relying on tubes, machines, and doctors to survive. The furthest issue on our minds was our love life. We focused entirely on life itself. The good news is that, despite a scary few months, he defied the odds and survived; the bad news is that once our life returned to “normal,” we learned that the most difficult part was yet to come.
A side effect of prostate surgery can be medical factor erectile dysfunction. Some men face it for a short period of time as they heal and their bodies rebound to function normally again; others have a more prolonged recovery, but with the aid of pills or other supports, they regain their form. Unfortunately, my husband wasn’t so lucky because multiple surgeries removed or damaged his nerves so significantly that he would experience permanent ED. He lost the ability to achieve and maintain an erection, and he also could never again ejaculate at orgasm. And let me just say, ladies and gentlemen, that this loss was significant because he had a really, really good one! I loved that appendage so much. It was perfect in every way for me. And then it was gone. Perhaps the second scariest word in the English language is “impotent,” especially to a strong, handsome, very manly husband, and as his adoring wife, I had no idea how we would live and love again as a couple without something so central to our relationship.
Let me take two steps back for a moment. We met late in college after we had both dated others and enjoyed the fun that those years have to offer. After a substantial courtship, we got engaged right after graduation. Upon getting married, we had a typical, if not fairly conservative, sex life. Sure, the newlywed years were fun and passionate as we made love often and in various ways, but we were by no means adventurous. Having only enjoyed one meaningful lover before we met, our experiences were few, and both being raised in the south under the supervision of religious parents, discussing or exploring sexuality wasn’t consistent with our values.
There was never any lack of passion–we loved each other deeply and openly — but our sex life was pretty routine (albeit still satisfying). This background is important because we had no real mechanism to talk about sex when we faced ED — even after twenty five years of marriage, the only language we had available was “fool around” or “do it.” I know that sounds silly, but that’s who we were, and we desperately needed help to move forward.
After some research about his condition, a few visits to the urologist (to learn none of the pills or other meds would work), and months of growing distance between us, we realized we had to find a new route to tackle the problem, so I started looking for a therapist with a practice focused on couples counseling and intimacy issues. Whether by divine intervention or pure blind luck, I found the perfect person. She had a practice near us, and while she usually dealt with women and sexual issues, she had experience with couples and men as well. For the first few months, she gathered information and helped us wade through the pain and sadness of his health crisis. Once we got past the tears, we started to feel closer again — there were more hugs, more snuggles in bed, more passing kisses in the hallways, more loving pats to my behind. But then we stalled because we didn’t know how to proceed. We both felt a longing, a need to be intimate again, and we had no idea how to go about that because there was nothing (no “thing”) that could literally connect us.
Our therapist started slowly with innocent, gentle touches to arms, shoulders, neck, etc. This took several weeks because it had been over a year since we invested in that type of touch. I think we both still held onto a deep fear because while the closeness of touching a spouse on his/her shoulders is nice, it used to lead to sex, and we still had one major component missing for that to happen. Maybe a little frustrated that we couldn’t move ourselves to the next step, our therapist finally said, “go home tonight, take off your clothes, and get in bed. If nothing happens, fine, but be open to the possibility.” I don’t think I’ve ever had so much anxiety going into a potential intimate moment, but we did as she requested — stripped down, got in bed, and rested there next to each other. We held hands for several minutes, and at a pause in our conversation, he rolled to his side, scooted next to me, and kissed me. With a sweet love that is hard to describe. And then it turned to passion, as if we hadn’t kissed for decades. This was the single-most passionate kiss we’ve ever shared, and we felt our spark again. But we didn’t know how to turn that spark into a functional and fun sex life. Without seeing a path forward, we kissed and gently held each other for the night.
When we returned to therapy, she asked us about our night in bed and was pleased with the results. We explained that we didn’t know what to do next. We literally didn’t know what to DO to have sex without an erection available. As we described our previous sexual encounters, it was easy to see that we followed a basic pattern — kissing, petting, sucking, stroking, licking, and finally making love. That progression is all we had ever really known, so realizing our background of inexperience, the therapist asked, “Would either of you be opposed to watching others have sex? Like in porn, but not really porn?” I recall my face getting flushed, and my husband shifted uneasily in the chair. She continued, “There’s a website called Make Love Not Porn. It’s essentially homemade sex videos made by regular people, so it’s not like the normal porn you would see in movies or on the internet. I want you to visit that website.” She recommended that we watch together, but was ok if we wanted to explore individually. This recommendation was so far from anything we had ever done, and I know we both had high anxiety about how the other person would react. Yet, I was truly curious (and a little turned on?) at the prospect of seeing the videos. I’m sure my husband had watched porn in his life, but it was never discussed (and I certainly never watched it with him).
A couple of days later, we brought the laptop to bed and found MLNP.tv. It was fascinating to learn about the mission of the site — we found Cindy’s TED talk and watched it too — and then we started clicking around to see the videos. We saw men and women, women by themselves, men by themselves, women with other women, and a host of sexual activities that intrigued (and definitely excited) both of us. There was a thread of uneasiness as we got to see fully functional men pleasuring women with a strong and substantial erection, but I held my husband’s hand for a moment before deciding to take the plunge. I reached my hand between his legs and held his soft manhood for a moment. He almost recoiled, but remained still so I could explore further. I was terribly nervous and a little sad at knowing it would never be the same beautiful penis I once loved, but something clicked in me and I kept touching him gently, feeling his body at my finger tips and relishing the warmth between us in the moment. I looked him in the eyes — both of us a touch misty-eyed but filled with love and desire — and told him I loved every inch of his body, even in its new form. He smiled a bit and told me that my touch felt good. He could feel pleasure and my caresses aroused him greatly, even though it wasn’t visible or tangible. I started to feel a tingle deep within myself, one that had been elusive for some time, and I knew our life together was changing for the better.
We spent an hour that night flipping through clips, watching others indulge in a delicious variety of sexual adventures, and for the first time in nearly a year, we took turns touching each other in erotic ways. He gave me a volcanic orgasm with his hands as I perused a lengthy video, and I could see his confidence grow after seeing me tremble in ecstasy.
At the end of the following week, we returned to therapy and shared our experience with MLNP. Obviously our therapist was ecstatic at our breakthrough and encouraged us to keep watching videos and touching each other for the next couple of weeks, and that’s exactly what we did. Every few nights, we would land in bed after a shower or warm bath to peruse the selections and watch something wonderful, and each time we would take a little more time to explore each other in new ways. Honestly, it’s liberating to venture into the sexual realm without intercourse on the agenda; we savored every inch of each other, spending time on parts or in areas that we never thought could be part of our intimate life. We also saw how many couples included toys in their sex play, and at the mention of it in therapy, our “sex coach,” as we called her, provided us a host of options to take home–vibrators, dildos, butt plugs, lubes, and much more. It was like the best naughty care package of all time! With MLNP, a nightstand full of toys, and an openness that we had never been willing to expose, we reached a new, pleasurable connection. My husband with ED satisfied me in ways that were never achieved in the past — let me say that hands, a tongue, and a couple of toys bring about more explosive results than any intercourse we ever had — and I’m proud to say that we’ve found ways to get him to orgasm without an erection. MLNP brought us on exciting adventures that have taught us much about ourselves and each other (who knew I loved anal play or that nipple stimulation would get him off?), and today we feel like we’ve just started to explore our intimate selves. With each new edition, we browse for things to try or ways to add nuances to our love making. While most of the world sees men as the primary purveyors of porn, I can proudly say that, as a woman, I’ve visited the site much more than my husband (and have probably bought five times the number of clips, haha!), which has given me a confidence I never had as a woman or partner.
We have doctors, nurses, and the wonders of modern medicine to thank for my husband’s recovery, and we have countless friends and family members who helped us get through a very difficult time. We also are eternally grateful to our therapist who helped us along this journey to the healthiest sex life we’ve ever had in 27 years together. Finally, we are so genuinely happy and thankful for the MLNP site and its community of amazing people who share themselves with the world, perhaps not knowing the difference they are making. More than teaching us fun things to try or ways that we can express ourselves or that all of our desires are perfectly “normal,” MLNP has taught us that making love takes any number of forms, all of which are perfect for the people whom they involve. My hope is that one day another couple facing ED or other sexual problem will find MLNP and its videos so they feel the comfort of knowing they are part of a community that understands, supports, and cares about their expression of sexuality. Who knows, maybe the edition they find will include a couple in their 50’s who have learned to use everything but an erection to live the sexiest life possible.
– Haley and Henry, aka. honeyloving on MLNP.