- “Mating in captivity” is one of the best sexology books about desire in committed relationships.
- The author is a renowned couples therapist with decades of experience.
- Busy couples, especially parents of small children, should make time for intimacy.
- Don’t wait for your sexual problems to magically resolve. Get medical and psychological help as needed.
Can you still have passionate sex ten years into your marriage? Is cheating inevitable when you’ve been together for a long time? How do you find time for intimacy after you become parents? Esther Perel’s “Mating in Captivity” is one the best sexology books to answer those questions.
Why We Love It
Esther Perel is one of the most renowned therapists in the world. Over several decades, she has worked with thousands of men, women, and couples from different cultures.
Her writing is intellectual yet simple. Perel takes on the challenge of answering the question, “Is it possible to want what we already have?” This book shines not as another collection of tips for bored lovers but as a thoughtful reflection on the state of modern love and intimacy.
Is This Book for You?
Whether you’re a newlywed or getting ready to celebrate another decade together with your partner, you’ll find food for thought in this book.
For those starting a new chapter in life — moving in together, getting married, having a baby — the stories of Perel’s clients will serve as cautionary tales. You’ll be reminded that desire is not a given. We need to nurture it every day.
If you’ve been with your partner for longer than you can remember, reading “Mating in Captivity” will give you hope that all is not lost on the sexual front.
What You’ll Learn?
“Mating in Captivity” will help you understand the complexity of desire and sex in committed relationships. From conservative upbringing to more liberal American values — Perel proposes bold theories about the sexless marriage that make sense.
Here are some of the key learnings for intimacy-starved couples:
Cozy Is Not the Same as Sexy
A house in the suburbs, a family car, a steady job and marriage — this is what most of us have been taught to pursue in life. But hyperfocus on stability and prosperity can be a death sentence to sexual fulfillment, says Perel.
To bring desire back, the author claims, we need to allow ourselves the time to feel lust. We must embrace the fact that eroticism can be wild and full of passion. And that it’s OK to share our fantasies, talk dirty, and get loud in the bedroom.
Sex Is About Power Exchange
Is gender equality behind the sex problems of modern couples? Perel asks such controversial questions, pushing us to consider how society impacts the most intimate aspects of our lives.
The author is in no way anti-feminist. But in her work with clients, she has noticed that couples who strive for complete equality in the bedroom are often the ones with problems. Sex is not egalitarian, she explains. What makes it exciting is the power exchange between lovers. Someone takes and someone gives.
One way to play with that is to experiment with dominance and submission. You don’t need to go all the way and build your sex room with chains and whips! Use your imagination and get away from the curse of always being nice in bed. Next time, try being naughty instead.
Don’t Sacrifice Dates for Playdates
Stephanie, one of the clients Perel describes in her book, is a dedicated mom. She organizes activities for the kids, bakes cookies, and invents art projects. In the meantime, her husband, Warren, is feeling abandoned. He misses the sexual connection, and he misses his wife.
When two become three (or more), many couples experience a drastic decrease in their sexual frequency. Quality suffers, too, and intercourse is often more like a chore than a pleasure.
One of the things busy parents should try out is planning. But be careful here! You can’t put “sex at 10 p.m.” on her agenda and expect her to cooperate. Create a habit of regular dates and time without kids.
Make an effort to show her that you still remember her as a woman, not just as the mother of your children. Let her know that you care about reconnecting as much as you desire the sexual contact.
It Takes Effort To Cultivate Desire
Remember the early days of dating your partner? Thinking about what to say, what to wear, planning how to impress her. . . . When we’re starting out with someone new, making an effort feels obvious. We want to be and do our very best.
To keep desire alive after many years with the same person, you need to remind yourself to try harder. It’s so tempting to let it go and say to yourself, “She/he loves me the way I am.”
Love is unconditional, but intimacy has its demands. Sexuality and romantic connection need to be nurtured to thrive. So, go ahead, buy her those flowers for no particular reason, go back to using her favorite cologne, and offer a sensual massage without expecting anything in return.
Facing Sexual Difficulties Together
Perel has been counseling couples for over 20 years and has seen all kinds of sexual problems. To her, things like erectile dysfunction or lack of orgasm are to be expected. They are challenging for a couple, but they certainly aren’t a death sentence to a happy sex life. With ED medications, such as Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra, you can get your erections back.
The author warns us not to focus too much on such things as a rock-hard erection. Instead, she suggests, we should awaken our curiosity and look at our life companion as if we’ve just met them.
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Anka Grzywacz is a sexologist, reproductive health expert and Certified Sex Coach™. In her online practice she helps busy women and couples solve their intimate problems.