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    Secret to Good Sex?

    Talk, talk, and more talk.

    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.

    Simple Self-Improvement Tips

    There are many ways to improve your sex-talk skills, say the Brodys and other experts. Among them are some tips that sound obvious -- but are often overlooked.

    • Is your partner doing something that pleases you? Tell him or her. It's called positive reinforcement. It works on lab animals and it works on humans, too.
    • Make concrete requests, such as, "Hold me and kiss me.'' This is more likely to get the desired result than expressing a vague wish, like "Be romantic."
    • Talk gently and honestly about sex afterward, about what worked and what didn't. When stating your preferences, begin by saying something like "I like it when . . ." It sounds better (and will evoke better results) than "You always do this wrong . . ."

    Honesty, the Best Policy

    Sometimes the truth hurts, but you can always look back and laugh. All Steve Brody has to do is remind himself of the Great Nibbled Ear Fiasco.

    "For several years," he says, "I'd nibble on Cathy's ear. I thought it was supposed to drive her wild. Finally Cathy said, 'That doesn't really do anything to me.' "

    Says Cathy: "I thought if I grunted loud enough when he got to the other places, he'd sort of get the hint!"

    Now they both know not to leave their sexual wishes and desires to guesswork and grunts, but to communicate them clearly.

    Scott Winokur is a San Francisco Bay Area journalist who often writes about health and human behavior.

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