Authors: Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis

Publishers: Health Communications, Inc., 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0-7573-9325-9

ISBN-10: 0-7573-9325-X

Congratulations to these women for breaking through the thick wall of silence and strutting through the lace-edged whisperings of the girls’ salon. Despite the title, which suggests another “how-to” book for unhappy wives, the authors are serious, intelligent, and smart to publish under the imprint: Health Communications.

One major point they make is that we need to cultivate our sexuality to be physically (not just emotionally) healthy individuals. This is such a well-kept secret that the miracle is, almost by accident, they discovered they had mutual feelings of dissatisfaction with their own sex lives, and then found out that many of their acquaintances also felt deprived. On investigating further, they realized too many lovers too soon turn into roommates. They felt they had to offer their advice even though they are not therapists. (Julienne is an actress and Maggie a publicist.) Someone had to – in support of the institution of marriage.

I would say Maggie and Julienne qualify as “intimacy coaches.” Their hope is to persuade other women to make some very specific and perhaps difficult changes in the way they communicate with their partners. Stop calling him honey is one. “Honey” is one of the many generic, sexless names husbands and wives call each other without making eye contact. Eye contact is missing from our conversations with each other. And flannel nightgowns should be missing.

I don’t want to give away their “commandments,” because you will find this book fun to read, and you will see yourself reflected in the stories they tell of individuals and couples they interviewed. Even I find it useful, at the age of 73, because at the very core of the argument is the urgent matter of appreciating yourself, and accepting your body and using it to advantage, which is to say, to get close to your partner in a way that is permanently bonding. Don’t lose each other prematurely.

I wish I had read this book fifty years ago. I was coming into womanhood during the June Cleaver, twin bed era that they say was so destructive to marriage. (Have you ever heard that before?) We were never told sex is “fun.” We were told it could be “good,” but only with someone you love. I still believe that, and I’ll bet I am not the only old lady who can say they wish they had “gone to bed” with a number of boys and men they loved but did not marry, and would have had there not been so many dangers lurking about at the time.

This book shares many provocative insights, and while it is targeted to women who are premenopausal, and to men who are not yet taking prostate medications, it would not be a waste of time to make it bedtime reading even if you are over 65. In fact, I hope, sooner or later, Maggie and Julienne will come out with a book on expressing sexuality for aging couples. If anyone can do it, they can.

There’s only one idea I could not agree to, and that is freely employing the F-word. To someone with 1950s sensibilities, it evokes other images in the rhyme, such as muck, truck, and good luck. Besides, it seems to me to be an example of onomatopoeia. You might as well call the ultimate act of love “grunting.” And that leads to other thoughts they disapprove of our sharing, so I’ll stop here.

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