I was asked a few weeks back by Cleis Press to check out one of their books, Partners in Passion; A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-Term Love by Mark A Michaels & Patricia Johnson. Of course I jumped at the chance because I love to read and I always like a good book that gives ya some great advice on improving your sex life and your relationship!
Mark and Patricia are in fact a couple, and also are teachers of Tantra. Tantra is not something I’m familiar with but I’m not intrigued on the subject and will expand on it in future posts (once I’ve done some research of course!) So I wont speak too much about the topic in regards to the book, as they don’t focus on it very much in this particular book.
The book is very sex positive which is awesome. I love a sex positive attitude, in people and in writing. I find that in all aspects of life we should remain unjudgemental of what couples do in the privacy of their own bedroom. It’s important not only to keep a positive outlook on sex for yourself but also within your relationship- One of the many topics Michaels and Johnson talk about throughout the book.
Because this book was a monster! (400 plus pages!) I’m only going to touch on a few things that I took away from the book that I think are amazing tips to building a successful relationship and enhancing your sex life in the long term. This book is not necessarily for new couples, but for those who have been in long term relationships. New couples can definitely apply their tips to help keep the longevity in their relationship though!
One of the things that Michaels & Johnson talk about are the myths that we’re often convinced to believe by the media, traditions and what not. They cover 10 but the one that stuck with me the most is Myth #8: Sex should be spontaneous. I’ve talked about this before, how its important that we should make time for sex, schedule it in and make it a priority in our lives. They have the exact same mindset. Michaels & Johnson made an excellent comparison about scheduling sex:
For most couples, dating is effectively a form of engaging in scheduled sex. When people don’t live together, they plan their meetings, prepare for their dates, and get together at an appointed place and time, perhaps for dinner and maybe a movie. All of this is frequently just a buildup to the main purpose, a sexual encounter, and the buildup enhances the entire experience. Even if sex in this context feels spontaneous, it has actually been planned, and in a way that is as structured as many a well-crafted short story or play. Thus, scheduling sex is OK for most poeple, in certain contexts and provided they don’t openly acknowledge the scheduling. (pg 33)
This paragraph really stuck with me. If you think of scheduling a date night, not necessarily with the intent to have sex, but to create an experience that brings you and your partner together, there’s a great chance that you’ll have a “spontaneous” sexual encounter. You planned it, but not really because your plan was to bond and spend time with each other. Treat date nights like when you were first dating! Its a great way to bring back that excitement and energy into your sex life!
Take joy in pleasuring your partner. Don’t focus on what your partner is not doing and focus on what your doing to give them pleasure! If you are BOTH doing this, you’ll both be pleased! This is actually one of the most amazing things about my boyfriend…he puts me first for sure. Which in turn makes me want to put him first and our sex life is amazing. When we’re both focusing on pleasing each other its less about what we want for ourselves and instead it brings us closer and makes the sex that much better.
“Good Enough” Sex is Good Enough. Yeah…I questioned that too, but then after reading what they meant by “good enough” it made complete sense. If you know what is pleasurable or if you are content with having sex once a month or whatever your sex schedule is and you enjoy it and it works for you then thats great! Don’t worry about what the “average” is or what your neighbors are doing. If the sex your having is enjoyable, your not bored or its working well for you and your partner then don’t change a thing! If you want more then make the change!
“Sexual knowledge, including sexual self knowledge is very important if you want to be a good lover” You have to know yourself sexually in order to communicate with your partner what you enjoy! Its also not always about skills, know your body parts (shockingly enough, many people don’t know their own sexual organs) Know what turns you on, know what gives you an orgasm when you masturbate. Knowing these things allows you to give your partner good instructions.
Don’t wait to feel Desire. Foreplay is all about creating arousal. Even if we’re not in the mood, we can create arousal and you can have just as satisfying sex if you’re not in the mood than if you are. (pg 129) If you wait until you feel desire, it could take forever! According to Michaels and Johnson;
Humans can choose when to be sexual. We don’t have to feel desire before we make love. You can use whatever works to keep the choice to be sexual foremost in your mind, whether it’s your interest in being close to your partner, a decision to make sex a priority in your life, or just the recognition that sex is a great tool for reducing stress. This is a way to trasform desire from a bodily need or a vague emotional state into a more conscious process, something over which you have greater control.
Be open and kind to what your partner wants, even if its something you don’t want to do. Now this doesn’t mean you have to do it, but it means that you need to be non-judgemental of your partner. You need to understand what they want and you can take time to think about it if you are comfortable doing it. Be kind when responding, instead of saying “theres no way in hell I’m doing that” or “thats disgusting no way” approach the topic more gently and considerate, “I’m not comfortable with that particular activity, but perhaps we can try this instead” Give an alternative, meet in the middle. Don’t judge your partner for wanting something that is outside your comfort zone, that creates negative energy within your relationship. Listen, learn and process what they are saying before you jump to conclusions and make fast decisions. Take time to think about it, if its still something you can’t get past, then don’t do it! Find some other way to satisfy their desires that is comfortable for you!
There are so many other great things I took away from this book, but it seriously would make for an even longer post. But if you’re interested in learning some new ways to enhance the relationship you’re in and create a pathway to a better sex life with your partner, check out this book! It’s enlightening and will give you some great things to think about when it comes to your relationship!