When I first got asked to review this, I thought, “Ugh, self-help book. Boring!”
But when I read the book’s premise “How changing your everyday habits will make you HOT for each other all over again!” that was sent along with the request, my interest was a little titillated. And when the book “Stop Calling Him Honey and Start Having Sex!” by Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis arrived, I was relieved to see that it was fewer than 200 pages (190), including acknowledgements and introduction, which I confess I skipped.
I went into it with open mind, but looking for snark value, because how ludicrous to think that not using terms of endearment could enhance my sex life. The first thing I noticed is how down-to-Earth the tone of the book is.
I have certainly read self-help books (who hasn’t in this “enlightened” age?) which were so clinical and educated that they were impossible to understand to anyone who might actually need to read them. This book is a nice, comfortable read.
Its theory is that calling your spouse “honey” or any other cutesy name can damage his view of you, and your view of him. The pacing of the book was okay, but when I started getting bored, the writers would share a case history that revived my attention. The language used was generally casual but you can tell there are at least two voices being used. I never felt like someone in a sterile white coat was lecturing me, but I still had doubts about the value of the material itself.
However, I changed my mind by Page 50. That’s about when the warnings about baby talk and cutesy nicknames started. And I have to admit that once in awhile…okay, rarely….okay, occasionally I am guilty of that particular behavior so it caught my attention. I could see how calling your husband *“Snoogie-woogie-sweetie-cakes” could have a slightly detrimental impact on his masculinity, even if he doesn’t complain about it. And if he has a similarly saccharine nickname for you, well, isn’t it difficult to imagine hot, dirty sex with somebody who calls you *“Baby-snuggle-bunny”? In a high-pitched babytalk voice, no less? So, okay, there might be something to this.
And then there’s the discussion of sharing bathroom habits.
Oh, lord have mercy, some of those stories gave me a serious outbreak of the ookies! They shared several “case stories”, but the one which really stuck with me was the story about the couple whose male half seemed to take a childlike (or maybe sexual) delight in sharing his scatological times with his wife. He thought it was funny to show her the results of time he ‘d spent on the toilet and when she told him to stop that, he began to go out of his way to get her in there in time to see part of the process. Their marriage ended in divorce; she couldn’t feel sexual desire for a man she’d seen crouched above the toilet while crapping and grinning at her disgust.
Randy and I don’t do communal bathroom and never have, thankfully. Unless it’s an emergency, of course, or if one of us is sick and needs help. Other than that, if there is business going on in there that involves the Throne, it’s a single-occupancy room. A lot of our friends have laughed at us for that, but tell you what…it’s easier for him to admire my ass when he hasn’t seen what else I do with it.
But, things fell apart in Chapter 4. I found myself putting it down with no problem to go do other things. There was a lot of repetition. For example, in the beginning of the chapter when something like two full paragraphs are devoted to listing the shmoopy nicknames they’d run across. Well, that was the second time they listed those. The section on how to talk dirty didn’t catch my attention at all; I already know how to do that, and even if I hadn’t, I can extrapolate how to do it from the previous three chapters on how not to do it. There was a lot of repetition and wordiness in the last few sections of the book, as though they needed to fill it up.
After reading it, I had some questions I wanted to ask the authors. Julienne Davis graciously answered for both of them:
Q: Your book is pointedly heterosexual. Why aren’t gay or lesbian marriages/unions discussed?
I guess we were appealing to the large majority. That said, both Maggie and I absolutely believe the points in our book apply to anyone and everyone: gay, straight, young, old – anyone in a relationship – whether just starting one, considering one, or one that is months/years old. In retrospect, we probably should have used some of our interviews from gay/lesbian relationships also. But really, what we found was it didn’t matter. The same bad habits emerged whether a couple was heterosexual or not.
Q: How was your book received when it was first published? What kind of feedback did you get?
Some couples have written to us thanking us for saving their marriages. Which was the biggest reward we could have gotten. Others got really angry at our theory between the connection of pet names and less sex. Obviously we aren’t saying that if you call each other Honey, Sweetie, or Nookums you will immediately stop having sex… but what we are saying is that what those nicknames do to each others’ psyche doesn’t help. In a long-term relationship, wouldn’t you want to make sure you weren’t doing anything “damaging” to the relationship? We simply suggest that calling each other by their names again, confirms to both partners that you are individuals and are to be respected and perceived as such, rather than two halves of a whole. It’s our partners individuality and differences that turns us on and keeps us interested.
Q: You mention several times how good it is to be mysterious to our partners. Since you also cover the importance of having your own independence, it sounds like the mystery is separate from that. How is being “mysterious” to one’s partner different from being secretive?
Obviously being secretive isn’t good if it’s something important. Being secretive can drive a wedge between two people. We talked about being mysterious in a more light-hearted way. In other words, your partner doesn’t need to know every tiny minutia of every thought and deed throughout your day. He/she also doesn’t need to know everything you do in private either – in the bathroom especially! Having some mystery is okay, as long as that doesn’t involve being unfaithful or out-and-out lying and/ or hiding major issues and things from one another. All of us should be in touch with our own hearts and consciences. We know what’s “wrong” when we do it, don’t we? Of course these things need to be out in the open.
So, from the perspective of one who doesn’t really do the self-help books here’s my opinion: Overall, there was a lot of good information in the book. I don’t know that it’s worth the listed price of $14.95 – it was published back in 2010 and it is only 190 pages, after all, a lot that is filler – but I wouldn’t say it’s a waste of money, either.
*Real cavity-inducing nicknames changed to protect the guilty.