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Secret to Good Sex?

Talk, talk, and more talk.

What's the Problem?

Co-authors of Renew Your Marriage at Midlife, the Brodys make it clear that learning to talk intelligently about sex is doable, not impossible.

But deep down, most people are conflicted, at least a little. "There's an idea in this society that a lot of people are engaging in sex freely, without inhibition -- it's the Playboy philosophy," says the Midwest Institute's director, psychologist Barnaby Barratt, PhD, professor of family medicine, psychiatry, and human sexuality at Wayne State University's School of Medicine. "In fact, everyone has conflicts. Though many of us try, strenuously, to make it appear that we don't, we do."

On one hand, he says, everything in our culture is greatly sexualized. On the other, we feel profoundly guilty and ashamed about sex and think that talking about it in detail is despicable in personal relationships.

Easier for Some?

Why do gays and lesbians fare better than straights when it comes to straight talk, at least in the survey? Barratt ventures a guess, but stresses that it is pure speculation. If your sexual orientation and preferences are those of the minority, he says, you may learn to speak about your sexual wishes as you develop them. You have to work out your shame and guilt. "You have to own your sexuality," he says. This attitude of course, probably applies most to those who are "out" and comfortable with their orientation. Those who are just beginning to realize they are gay or lesbian may think about what they want but not speak openly about it.

More Difficult for Others?

Heterosexual men, on the other hand, may find it more difficult to communicate their wishes because they may be afraid of what they'll hear in response, says New York City psychologist Elyse Goldstein. "They're afraid that if they speak up about their needs and desires, the woman will speak up about hers and they won't be able to satisfy her."

Chicago psychologist and online relationship counselor Kate Wachs says that heterosexual men are often conditioned from an early age to shut up and perform.

The Brody Success Story

Whatever your orientation and level of discomfort, the Brodys say you can become better at talking about your needs and desires.

Married 29 years, the Brodys have learned to communicate their sexual desires very effectively. He's 53 and she's 49, but there are times, Cathy says, when Steve makes her feel like a 17-year-old in the back seat of a car.

"I'll say to Steve, 'I really like it when you undress me,' " Cathy says.

"And sometimes,'' Steve says, "I'll say, 'I really need oral sex now, that would help.' "

Cathy: "Or saying, 'Let's have sex on the floor instead of the bed.' " Or doing it in the morning instead of at night.

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