Archive for August, 2011


We live in an age of options and solutions.

The average Joe can learn how to participate in the stock market. A 50-year-old homemaker can go to law school. A longtime couple can figure out why one of them keeps falling asleep during sex.

“The pragmatic approach is the only one that makes sense — and that is for everything,” says Bernie Zilbergeld, the author ofThe New Male Sexuality: The Truth About Men, Sex and Pleasure.

Perhaps because boomers were the first generation to talk about sex compulsively, the subject has become pragmatic and ordinary. That means people can seek practical solutions, like talking about problems or taking a pill.

We live in an era of options, Zilbergeld says. Would you benefit from counseling? Great. Get it. Need a boost for physical or psychological reasons? Try Viagra. Do you wonder if your partner would enjoy something? Try it. Or better yet, ask.

Zilbergeld says progress on the man-woman front is not advancing as quickly as, say, Internet technology. But there is progress.

“We are in an era of growing personal freedom, and people are adopting the religion of pragmatism,” he says.

Zilbergeld says making sexual relationships work calls for communication, conflict resolution, experimentation, assertiveness and sensitivity. It doesn’t mean mystery-enshrouded tantric yoga or hand-me-down ideas from the ancients.

“There are grounds for hope,” Zilbergeld says. “I am cautiously optimistic.”

Even recent history is littered with many outdated models.

“Women were led to believe that a so-called vaginal orgasm was for truly mature women. Guys were killing themselves trying to learn how to give them one. Women felt as though they had to be multi-orgasmic. It was always how things should be. Today, we just say, `Try a bunch of things and see what works. It no longer has to be any particular way.’”

This kind of openness and pragmatism is only possible if people believe, as Zilbergeld does, that sex is good and natural and private.

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Even if you don’t well up at weddings and romance movies, you may still find this book powerfully moving. Once again, the Chicken Soup brigade hits the spot; this time with a medley of real-life love stories.

The stories include an excerpt from Christopher Reeve’s autobiography,”Still Me,” describing his struggle with paralysis and his relationship with his wife, Dana. Equally poignant is the love story between the legendary dancer Dame Margot Fonteyn and Roberto Arias, Panama’s former ambassador to the United Nations, who was crippled by assassin’s bullets. While Fonteyn took curtain calls in “Romeo and Juliet,” Arias watched from the wings in a stretcher.

If all this sounds a little too schmaltzy, rest assured that there are sobering snippets here, too. Among them are quotes from the famous. “There is only one serious question … how to make love stay,” comes courtesy of author Tom Robbins. You don’t have to be the sentimental type to enjoy this book, but it might help.

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People should try having sex early in the morning instead of trying to shoehorn lovemaking into the end of a long, trying workday, suggests sex and couples counselor Eleanor Hamilton, 90.

Hamilton, who hung out her shingle in Manhattan in the early ’70s, celebrated her 90thbirthday yesterday by continuing to dispense motherly advice on sex and intimacy through the Pt. Reyes Light, a Marin County, Calif., newspaper which has carried her column since the mid-’80s.

Hamilton sees how harried and busy couples are these days, and knows how tough it is to maintain interest in a fulfilling sexual relationship. “I think you need to focus fully and shut out the rest of the world for good sex,” she says. “You need to literally go someplace, where you know there will be no telephone, and no interruptions.”

Take advantage of hours when your energy level is at its peak, she adds.

“The more appreciative you are of the other person, the better your sex life will be,” says Hamilton. “In the business world, people get torn down all day long; it’s wonderful to come home and have someone that’s there especially for you. My husband used to always bring me breakfast in bed and that was just a delight to me.”

Hamilton feels that a relationship goes dead when people lose their passion for each other. A relationships with no passion leaves both men and women ripe for an affair. “So many people stop listening to each other in relationships and that’s what erodes intimacy.”

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