Friday, June 6, 2008

Sexual Healing

In her new book called The Return of Desire: A Guide to Rediscovering Your Sexual Passion, Gina Odgen, PhD, gently takes women on a voyage of sexual self-exploration and discovery based on over 30 years as a researcher and marriage, family and sex therapist. In it, she proposes an expanded model of sexual experience that she calls the ISIS Wheel of Sexual Desire, which embraces the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual components of sexuality. It's obviously not a new concept, but she puts it together in a way that largely avoids the tired cliches in most self-help books on the subject and the moony New Age beatitudes of some tantric sex tomes. Dr. Ogden does a good job of integrating our sexuality into our lives and our relationship with ourselves and our partners, if we have them.
Anyone who's been paying attention knows by now that women need to take responsibility for their own sexual pleasure and happiness instead of simply expecting men to know what we like, want and need. Dr. Ogden goes beyond the usual advice to women to light some candles, pour a glass of wine, take a bath and explore your body till you know what turns you on, so you can tell him what to do. She helps readers explore more deeply and realistically their whole relationship with themselves, their sexual history, and their partners in the service of improving the relationships, not just the sex.
She does, however, hold men responsible for learning more about how to truly make love to their partners and she gives some good, non-threatening and easy tips for helping him move past his focus on nipples and clitoris. She has a funny story about a woman who complained her husband rubbed her clit as if he were Simonizing his car. One thing even the most meat-and-taters guy would be willing to try is this one: "hold her against your chest with both of your hands between her shoulder blades and breathe in unison with her." Another one that's a bit more advanced but still pretty nonthreatening is to make mad, passionate love to each other for at least half an hour, but never go above the ankles.
The Return of Desire is a good book for anyone looking for greater self-acceptance and a fuller relationship with your whole self and your partner if you have one.

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