Their bedroom was made for love, but not much love was being
made. The satin comforter failed to inspire seduction, and the gleaming Jacuzzi
was used strictly for soaking. This long-married pair had decorated their
boudoir as a love-nest but rarely had sex.
Frustrated, they turned to Ruth Morehouse of the Marriage and Family Health Center in Evergreen, Colo.,
who found their story of sexual "blahness" not at all unusual.
"Often, people don't like the sex they're having," says Morehouse,
"and yet they do very little to explore what it would look like if they
could have whatever they wanted. They have no idea what turns them on."
By Lindsey Palmer
Can taking a break from making love actually improve your sex life? Sex
therapist and REDBOOK Love Network expert Ian Kerner, Ph.D., proposes just that
in his new book, Sex Detox. Here, Kerner explains how it works:
With Morehouse's encouragement, the couple brainstormed about
erotically charged places or situations. Off they went with a blanket to an
alpine meadow. There, they discovered that the risk of being seen by a passing
hiker gave their sex a passion they hadn't felt in years.
By deliberately setting out to discover what turns them on,
this couple took a step that experts say is key to a vibrant sex life: They
charted their own map of erotic pleasures. Sexologists have found that each
person's emotional and physical requirements for sexual arousal are extremely
individual. People have quite specific styles of behavior during sexual
A process that is both fun and informational, erotic
"map-making" is especially important for women, Morehouse says, because
some still believe that their role in bed is to follow a man's lead. In fact,
if a woman becomes an expert on what she needs for her own sexual satisfaction,
the relationship will benefit from the increase in energy and desire.
"Think of yourself as an adventurer," she says. "You're exploring
your erotic self."
If the numbers are accurate, sexual dissatisfaction is
widespread in America, and many people could benefit from Morehouse's advice.
According to a study published in the Feb. 10, 1999, issue of the Journal of
the American Medical Association, 43% of women and 31% of men studied
reported sexual dysfunction, including lack of interest or pleasure in sex.
"It's hard to believe when you're hot to trot early in a
relationship that it's not always going to be this way," says Bernie
Zilbergeld, author of Better Than Ever: Sexuality at Mid-Life and
Beyond. But often, he says, sex fades in frequency, intensity, or pleasure.
"At some point you have to make a stand and say, 'OK, this is important to
us, and here's what we're going to do about it,'" he says.
One Woman's Sexual Success Story
Cathy Williams (not her real name), a 50-something mother of
three who lives in California, hasn't experienced a drop-off in her sex life,
probably because she has long been a student of what interests her sexually. If
she didn't like the way one boyfriend made love to her in college during the
late 1960s, she found another. With experience, she began to define her sexual
style. One important piece of information came in the 1970s when she dated a
"fabulous, sensual man," she says. "He felt comfortable enough in
his body to dance naked in the big living room," she says. While "I
Heard It Through the Grapevine" blasted from the stereo, he lifted her into
the air. Then they made love.