#36 MATING IN CAPTIVITY - with Dewaldt de Kock

Updated: Oct 13, 2021



Everyone, welcome. Thank you, Dewaldt, for joining us on Fresh Perspective. I look forward to sharing your perspective with our listeners. Just introduce yourself. What do you do?


My name is Dewaldt. I live in Joburg. I’m a pastor. I work at a church. I’m also passionate about couple-hood. My wife and I, we work with couples. We use Imago, and we the use encounter-centred transformation process to take couples through a process. We like working with larger groups as well, facilitating processes. In the lockdown time, we started a group on Whatsapp called Mating in Captivity. We borrowed the name from Esther Perel. We got a hundred and eighty couples signing up for that. We did… I think it was… We wanted to do the twenty-one days, but then it was extended. In the end, we did a thirty five-day process with the couples, sharing the basic Imago theory from Harville Hendrix’s book, Making Marriage Simple. And from a few other sources.


At the end, we had a Zoom couples evening using Harville Hendrix’s Caring Behaviours. Most of the people on Imago never knew about this book, because he gave it out for free (laughs). So, no one took it seriously. But it was a free book, and in this book, it’s just called Caring Behaviours… and it’s an unbelievable process we took a few couples through for a month.


That is amazing. A hundred and eighty couples!


Yes. Sometimes, we put on things that were not so serious, and then a few couples left. But in the end, we had about a hundred and sixty couples on board. I think that sometimes, the whole lockdown thing… too many things on Whatsapp, too many Zoom groups. Or maybe we do not want to face this, we’ll rather leave the group. But at the end, to see so many couples going through it… we started it as a tongue-in-the-cheek thing. Because after China’s lockdown, they asked a few people, what would you do, the first thing after lockdown? And a few people said, we’ll get a divorce. So, we realised, now you’re stuck in this house with your partner. So how will we mate in captivity? How are we friends in captivity? How will we enjoy sex in captivity? How will we survive captivity?


That’s amazing. Wow. I love Esther Perel. So maybe just talk about Ester Perel's work a bit. Obviously, you know her work, and Mating in Captivity is a fascinating book. So how did you use that? Or was that just the name that you used?


It was the name. And then we put her TED-talk up there because she’s brilliant. And then the basics of the TED talk is… we have a friend, and in Imago, you will know her. Grete Becker. She read the book, and then she decided to go with her husband. And what her husband does, is he works on golf courses. He makes sure that the sprayers are always in the right place, and that the golf course is nice and green. She had to work the computer because everything is computerised. Then she would switch on the water, and it would splash on him. And she looked at him, and they’ve been married for forty-five years plus. And she said, something happened to her. She looked at him, enjoying his work. She looked at him, having passion for what he does. And she got a deep sexual attraction towards this man. Something she hasn’t felt that deeply and intensely for a long time.


And that’s one thing that Esther Perel says. It’s almost impossible to stay with a partner for your whole life and be only sexually attracted to him or her. But when you see that partner working in his and her passion, it can create a sense of sexual desire. That intrigued me a lot. To see your partner working in his or her passion. So, the fortunate thing now with seeing my wife at home, working over Zoom, and seeing the passion and the love with which she does her work. It also creates this… I like this woman. I like what I see.


But no Zoom-bombing in the real sense then?


No Zoom-bombing in the real sense (laughs). Yes, you do not want the camera on. Otherwise, you’re producing movies for a different industry.


(Laughs)


So that’s a thing that fascinated me about Esther Perel’s work, is seeing your partner working in his or her passion. She came to Joburg a while ago, and I couldn’t be there, but one of my friends went. It’s just fascinating to… and he’s never encountered her. It was her and a guy called - his surname is White. He’s a poet. You actually went for the White guy. Sorry, not the white guy. His surname is White.


(Laughs)


But he enjoyed Ester Perold as well because of the way she speaks about relationships. And the passion.


Could you say something about… Because one of the things that fascinated me about her work, is the fact that she says, you create this emotional safety. You want to be safe with your partner and all those kinds of things. So, you create this safe space, and actually that counters the sexual desire. Can you say something about that, please? That’s a fascinating aspect of her work for me.


I remember that, but I’m not so into… what I think you said is to create a bit of space, of being a rebel. What we did with Sophie Slade that also said that, is to create a sexual tasting menu. You sit with your partner, and like you would do a tasting menu, you create a five-course meal. But all the courses are sexual encounters with your partner. So, you write down this sexual tasting menu. Like the first thing… the ambience. The rest is a restaurant, this place. We want candles. Or I want to be out in the veld. Or I want to be in a public area. And the first thing you do, is you touch me. You do this. The main course is, we do that.


You go through these courses and the after-play, and everything you want… so food can be involved, but it doesn’t necessarily need to have food involved. But she taught us how to write a sexual tasting menu. We take couples through that. Because the moment you do that, you go into an area. Because it’s usually things you want to do with your partner, but never had the courage to tell him or her.


But, growing up, and you being a pastor… especially growing up Christian, right. You can’t even admit that you want those things.


Especially a Christian woman. You grow up, you’re not allowed to have sex. You’re not allowed to enjoy sex. The moment you get married, now you’ve got to have sex. You have to enjoy it, and you have to be a tiger in the bedroom. And that’s almost impossible. What a sexual tasting menu does, is then you share this tasting menu with your partner, and then there are just a few questions. What about this menu excites you? What about this menu… the thing about that menu that scares me?


Just to get it right, Dewaldt. So, you comment on your partner’s menu? They present the menu, and you comment, and you say, this scares me, this excites me. Okay, I like that.


And what I would change about my menu after I’ve heard your menu. Because now I realise, wow, mama, but you’re a wild one!


(Laughs)


Because it’s usually like that. We haven’t encountered that… And you should see the couples when they share with each other. They get so excited because I couldn’t believe that you’re wanting to do this with me. So it creates a space, almost a teasing space. Because we fall so easily into the rut of vanilla sex. The rut of, it’s the same over and over.


Vanilla sex. Is that when you listen to Vanilla Ice, Ice Baby the whole time during sex?


Exactly not that. (Laughs) Collaborate and listen!


(Laughs)


What happened to Suzelle and myself, is we started to live out these menus. It got to a place where Suzelle started exploring – Suzelle is my wife, she’s not a strange woman – started exploring her own sexual journey. When we moved to Joburg, she drove past a park. And it triggered her because she was molested as a child by her granddad. And it triggered that. She went to see someone, working through her own sexuality and her own sexual issues. She had to reclaim her sexuality from the age of ten. Because he molested her at the age of ten. Up to her age now, which is forty-five.


So, with this sexual tasting menu, making it an explorative journey towards – and a safe explorative journey because that’s what… that’s what makes you discuss the menu. You don’t just jump on your partner and expect him or her to do this. You explore this menu. And with her going through therapy, exploring her sexual healing… going through that and reclaiming her own sexuality, it was a great journey to go on. And to rewrite, and afterwards, go back and write another sexual tasting menu. Because tonight you feel like Chinese. But tomorrow you feel like Mexican. Spicy sex.


(Laughs) Could you say a few sentences more about reclaiming your sexuality?


What happened to her, is the moment she… When she was ten years old, her grandfather abused her. In that specific park that she saw, she told him to stop it. And it never happened again. But from that time, in her subconscious, she had this idea that she had to perform in a certain way. That men expected certain things of her. And what that did, it put her in a place where she separated her body from her soul, basically. She separated those things. So, she could have sex without being fully present. And I always had a sense of that. That we’re having sex, and it’s nice to have sex. But I wanted her to be fully present. And that was the thing. I wanted her to be there. So, for her, sex was almost wham, bam, thank you ma’am. I wanted to do the foreplay, the after-play. The holding of each other. And she was like when it’s over, it’s over. And now we can go on with our lives. And I wanted more.


As she reclaimed her sexuality,