Book Review: Love Worth Making
Sex technique and truly understanding sexual feelings are not the same thing. The former might work in the short-term, but over time, the novelty wears off and what the couple is left with is a chasm between them.
In his new book, Love Worth Making: How To Have Ridiculously Great Sex In A Long-Lasting Relationship, Stephen Snyder, M.D., one of America most trusted authorities on sex and relationships, takes us inside the lives of many couples, to discover that great sex isn’t about the latest and greatest sex toys, but rather an instrument of sanctification and peace that, over time binds a couple together.
“The secrets to great sex in a committed relationship are largely emotional. And emotions are slippery things – hard to capture and sometimes even harder to communicate,” writes Snyder.
Sexual arousal is a universal concept that we all recognize, become transfixed by, and would like to have. However, for many of us, it simply doesn’t fit into our busy lives.
“Many modern couples hurry through sex without letting themselves get very aroused – then wonder where their sexual magic has gone,” writes Snyder.
There is a realm beyond the tired “friction plus fantasy” definition of sex where we connect most deeply with ourselves, with our partners, and with the psychological components of arousal. It is here that we are fully absorbed in the moment.
“You stop thinking about bills, worries, responsibilities – your entire portfolio of ordinary concerns,” writes Snyder.
Yet love exists in a paradox – we tend to fall in love with complete strangers who have just enough signs of familiarity to not feel completely new.
“A man will usually choose someone who makes him feel he doesn’t have to compete so hard for their love. Someone who just enjoys him as he is,” writes Snyder.
Being chosen by the one we choose, notes Esther Perel, sex expert and author of Mating In Captivity, is one of the glories of falling in love that generates a feeling of intense personal importance.
The passion that transpires is what becomes most erotic. Snyder describes a patient who has tried – unsuccessfully – to please his wife, and describes her needs as very particular, yet when speaking to the wife, is told, “I’m just dying for him to show me a little passion.”
Passion, unlike what we might think, has a selfish nature.
“What’s more erotic, a partner who just wants to give you sexual pleasure, or a partner who wants to take sexual pleasure from being with you?” Snyder asks.
And here again is another one of the paradoxes of love and sex: we can be selfless, generous, and kind people, yet during lovemaking, we let ourselves feel free in the moment – as Snyder writes, “momentarily drunk with power.”
What we should be doing during sex, is what makes us feel turned on.
“Sex should never feel like work. If it feels like work, stop immediately. Don’t just do something because you like to hear your partner moan. Go find something else that makes them moan that you actually enjoy,” writes Snyder.
While sexual self is somewhat selfish, it can also be very sensitive to negative thoughts, and quickly turned off by them.
“Many people worry obsessively about themselves during lovemaking and then wonder why they’re not enjoying sex,” writes Snyder.
Sex is meant to be easy and the art of sex therapy is to make sex easy. Sometimes that means simply taking time in the presence of our partner to enjoy them for a moment – to “simmer,” as Synder calls it.
“Couples who are overworked and distracted (i.e., most of us) often neglect to get aroused in each other’s company unless they intend to have sex. That’s a mistake,” writes Snyder.
The focus is also not on the orgasm. Instead, an orgasm should be a natural outcome of really great sex, but not the reason we have sex.
“Whether an orgasm turns out to be worthwhile depends on the intensity that preceded it,” writes Synder.
For some couples, maintaining great sex is about returning to a sense of stillness inside that quiets the mind and opens the doorway to pleasure.
“Its normal for couples to lose their erotic inspiration and to have to look for it again…It’s absolutely crucial when you go looking that you first look within yourself,” writes Snyder.
It is in this mindfulness that we find the “inner game” of sex.
“Like mindfulness, sex is all about paying attention. It’s all about being in the present moment. And it’s about being without judgement,” writes Snyder.
Gently exposing our many misconceptions about sex, Synder – a clearly gifted therapist – draws upon his clinical wisdom, patience, and encouragement, to show readers the way to lifelong intimacy, a deeper connection with the sexual self, and a life full of erotic pleasure. For any couple seeking a deeper connection, Love Worth Making is an indispensable resource.
Love Worth Making: How To Have Ridiculously Great Sex In A Long-Lasting Relationship
Stephen Snyder, M.D.
St Martin’s Press
Hardcover, 304 Pages