4-month subscription Amazon Fashion nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Electronics Holiday Gift Guide Starting at $39.99 Halloween Candy Cozy Knits Book 2 or More Hours of House Cleaning on Amazon bajillions bajillions bajillions  All-New Echo Dot Starting at $89.99 All-New Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Cycling on Amazon
Customer Review

435 of 482 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing: a couples therapist finds the sex in sex, September 21, 2006
This review is from: Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic (Hardcover)
Everyone knows that familiarity breeds contempt. Especially if familiarity comes with a wedding ring attached. A book about sex in marriage --- now there's a thin book!

But here comes Esther Perel to suggest that we --- men and women alike --- have it wrong. Good sex doesn't have to end when the hormones cool. Lust doesn't have to devolve into companionship. You can be a mom and a sex kitten. And as for "intimacy"....in the bedroom, a little goes a long way.

Who is this wild woman? A therapist in New York who's been working with couples and families for two decades. Belgian-born, to Holocaust survivors. Married (to her original husband). Two kids. Speaks eight languages --- including common sense.

Not for Perel a how-to book of ridiculous exercises you can practice to rekindle the passion you once knew. If she had her way, you'd never consult a manual again. You might, however, write a dirty letter about all the hot things you'd like to do to your partner --- or that you'd like done to you. Or maybe you should start two e-mail accounts just for the sexual dialogue between you and your mate.

But she's the mother of your child!

But he's the guy who only gets his kicks from online porn!

Perel has heard all that. Many times. She's not fooled --- underneath those smart New York rationalizations are hearts that still want to believe in hot sex with someone you know. The problem, she says, lie in the unspoken assumptions of most marriages.

Like: To love is to merge. Wrong. Merging is what happens when you see the Other as your security. That's death to sex. Good sex requires a spark. A spark requires a gap. Cross the gap, feel the sizzle. No gap? The best you can hope for is a cuddle.

"There is no such thing as 'safe sex,'" she writes. Sex requires mystery, excitement, uncertainty. Which means not knowing everything about your partner. You find that threatening? You'd find it less so if you stopped equating intimacy with sex.

Here's a radical thought: don't do everything together. Cultivate your own set of friends. Create differences, not affinities. "Ruthlessness is a way to achieve closeness" --- ponder that for a while. Monogamy? Great if you can honor it. But it is, statistics show, "a ship sinking faster than anyone can bail it out."

Infidelity is a symptom of deeper problems in the relationship? Many believe that. Perel doesn't. She finds life...complicated. She hates the verb "have" when used in relationships --- for her, no one "has" anyone. Relationships are negotiations, not assumptions. You can get crazy with someone you've lived with and known well --- if your "rules" allow that.

Eroticism, she says, is "sexuality transformed by the imagination." So, start dreaming. There's a big payoff: "Nurturing eroticism in the house is an act of open defiance."

I live in a city of therapists and in a neighborhood where they are at their most dense. I have done couples therapy; socially, I know several sex-and-couples therapists. All women. All buttoned-up --- their sexuality is not just unseen or tamped down, it's under lock-and-key. So it's a great relief to read Esther Perel. No question about it --- she's hot.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in


Track comments by e-mail
Tracked by 2 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 20, 2011 3:31:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 22, 2012 10:15:17 AM PDT
giselle says:
Emotional distance? Swinging? Uncertainty? Perhaps if your in teens (with no children) who can live without consequence.

This book is good. But also tricky if you value monogamy. So it must be read very carefully.

I'm not saying that mystery, emotional distance, individuality, and living open with a little 'edge' isn't useful to keep passion 'alive' .

But too much of that (especially swinging, threesomes, no communication, mystery etc) will not work long term at the domestic capacity laced with trust and confidence that's built to last.

While Perel does claims to leave it to the reviewer to decide 'what is right' for them... there are certain written passages that potentially suggest otherwise in her writings if you read between the lines.

I also don't think she values true trust between married couples as well.

The most helpful 3 star review says it all. Read it. Then read it again.

On another note: I would like to see where the authors client base actually ends up in the real world after incorporating her certain suggestions after a period of 3-5 years. Interesting.

Posted on Nov 14, 2013 8:02:34 AM PST
Yes. Just heard her TED talk. Gonna go at it for a 2nd read as I own this book. This author is very bright and this review, stellar.

Posted on May 2, 2016 10:27:16 PM PDT
Sam Lake says:
Esther is on to something big and is (thankfully) changing the face of couples therapy. Too often (or rather usually) couples therapists
think that if "communication" is improved, if intimacy is improved, etc., that sex will be also. Sometimes it is, but often times not at all.
Also couples therapists need to talk with couples about sex and too many don't. They focus on "the marriage." Forget "the marriage"---talk
about the relationship and yes, talk about sex.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›