Vanilla and Kink: Power and Communication in Marriages with a BDSM-Identifying Partner

  • Catherine G. MeyerEmail author
  • Hao-Min Chen
Original Paper


This phenomenological study explored the marriages of 6 couples in which one partner identified with the BDSM culture and the other partner did not. Participants were individually interviewed regarding: the process of reconstructing their sexual relationship; the impact of the social discourse on the one partner’s practice in BDSM; and the nature of power within the context of the marriage and its influence on the couple’s negotiation process. Discussions are made to help therapists become aware of the power and voice within the marriage and facilitate a productive co-creation of the couple’s shared meaning of sex.


BDSM Sexual discrepancy Sexual minority Couple therapy 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LMFT, Couple and Family Therapy ProgramAlliant International UniversityIrvineUSA
  2. 2.Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Counseling and Psychology DepartmentTexas A&M University-Central TexasKilleenUSA

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