Dangerous Beauty

Some years ago the movie Dangerous Beauty commanded my attention largely because the heroine, Veronica Franco (played by Catherine McCormack), discovered the pleasures and powers of embracing her potent sexuality. If you also watched it, do you recall how vividly the story of her role as a voluptuous courtesan (a highly paid, cultured prostitute) in 1500s Venice wowed the city’s male population with her beauty, wit, and courage? And that’s only one thread in a rich tapestry of dramatic events and memorable characters told artistically and tastefully.

If you’re intrigued by the ways female and male sexuality/love intertwine, conflict, and ultimately mesh, then this tale will prove a treat. In addition to the opulent Venetian culture of that time period and Veronica’s personal history (she really lived), there is abundant social commentary about feudal society’s rules and taboos that reflect our own social morals today.

Here’s a link to the trailer and full movie: Dangerous Beauty

Sexless Marriage? Here’s one solution….

s-SEXLESS-MARRIAGE-large“Even though we live in one of the most sexualized cultures ever, Americans are having less sex than they were in the 1950’s.” So says Jill Blakeway, acupuncturist, herbalist and author, who goes on to say:

“I’ve talked with thousands of people over the years about their sex lives. So I’ve heard over and over again about how much sex people are not having, how they just don’t feel much like it, how they are too tired or too stressed to even think about it. But I also hear, with equal fervor from women … how much they want to want sex.”

Ms. Blakeway goes on to offer a Taoist “solution” regarding one’s loss of libido, but I’m wondering if you are rather skeptical like I am. If you think it works — “intense orgasms” anyone? — let me know. If not, why not?

Here’s her piece on the Huffington Post: Sexless Marria

Reconciling Sex and Spirit

sex as spiritual practice“Pure sexual energy is as unstable as dynamite and just as explosive.” That’s one of the dozen and more pithy takeaways from a brief article I discovered by Robert Peng, Why Sex Should Be Treated as a Spiritual Practice. Brimming with wisdom in every paragraph, Peng’s insights will educate and inspire seekers hoping to understand the mysterious connection between erotic sexuality and cosmic spirituality.

In order to “reconcile the square of sex with the circle of spirit,” Peng writes, it is necessary to “identify the fundamental, seemingly irreconcilable differences between male and female sexuality.” Then he goes on to clearly explain understandable ways to unify those differences that makes inherent sense (information a person has always known but never put into words).

Click to read his article and find out for yourself. Are you as enlightened (and convinced) as I a

Intimacy: J.Z. Howard’s interview on Ennyman’s Territory

From Ennyman’s Territory: JZ Howard Talks About Intimacy and His New Book All of Me Wants All of You

“J.Z. Howard’s book All of Me Wants All of You is categorized as a Contemporary Inspirational Love Story, but it’s a far cry from modern romance fiction. This is a seriously well-written novel that vividly paints four characters and thrusts them into situations that unearth and shake the foundations of who they are, what they really want and what they believe.”

Click to read more of this interview with me where I discuss the dilemma of sexless marriages.

All of Me Wants All of You (Minneapolis, MN: ALL4U, 2014)

Dean Nelson searched for loving words to write in the anniversary card to his wife. ‘To my one true love forever,’ he considered writing, but mentally scratched it out. An intriguing mix of love, sex, and spiritual awakening, J. Z. Howard’s All of Me Wants All of You presents a bold portrait of four adults whose relationship crises are in desperate need of some divine intervention. Mired in a sexless marriage, Dean Nelson is at his wit’s end. He seeks refuge with the beautiful Larissa Beaumont, but his conscience demands that he call off the budding relationship. After discovering Dean’s emotional affair, his wife, Kate, confronts Larissa. The two women form an unexpected friendship, however, and Larissa sets out to help Kate mend her perilously shaky marriage. But Larissa herself fears that she’ll never find her soul mate. An introduction to Dean’s friend Trevor Harrington, however, brings renewed faith that maybe love is possible after all. A dramatic tale of passion and faith, All of Me Wants All of You is an entertaining love story that inspires people who want to go deeper in a committed relationship.

A fuller description, sample chapters and great links can be found here: jzhoward.com/jzbooks.

Sex 6 Times a Year is NOT Sexless

Sexless doesn’t mean “less sex” in the world of my readers, it means “no sex—period.”

Recently I read about a married couple in their mid-30s who had sex “six or so times in the past year,” and the writer made clear, “we’re perfectly happy.” The writer, an anonymous wife who stated her views in redbookmag.com’s article, “Why I’m Happier in a Sexless Marriage,” said her husband’s and her own level of desire are equally matched.

I think that’s great. It’s healthy for her to go public owning that both spouses are sex-satisfied, and I am genuinely glad she is pleased that their degree of attraction and arousal are balanced. “We’re both on the same wave length in terms of how much importance we place on our sex lives.” She then cites the crux of the dilemma for many “no sex” couples, “I believe that problems arise when couples have wildly different sexual needs.”

Bingo. It’s the “wildly different” part that peeves rejected spouses and guilt-trips the disinterested spouse. There’s a common understanding out there in folks’ minds that sex a few times a year means “sexless,” which, of course, is the notion she is speaking about.

But she goes on to say it would be something else altogether “if we suddenly stopped having sex.” Ah, there’s the rub! As with thousands of “no sex,” long-term committed relationships (chronic and persistent rather than infrequent and intermittent) many of the positive factors she names are missing in the love lives of no-sex couples:

  • He’s hot!
  • He is attracted to me.
  • He and I definitely make time for intimacy.
  • I’m not a prude.
  • I’ve used a vibrator.
  • We sleep naked together sometimes.
  • We both stay in shape.
  • We enjoy sex when it happens.
  • We’ve always been like this.
  • We are just not super sexual people.

Relationship factors like these are the mark of a healthy union and evidence of solid, two-way communication—hardly descriptors typical of “no sex” couples’ relationships. The forums and blogs which readers of All of Me Wants All of You visit contain a dearth of such essential traits, and that’s why the fictional couple in my novel, Dean and Kate, strive to resurrect their stale and listless love life to new heights of vulnerability, trust, and sensual passion—even to discovering a sacred connection.

How do you rate your relationship? Sex-satisfied? Less sex? No sex? . . . Sound off!

When Is a Marriage Not a Marriage?

Marriage not a marriageOn a long overseas flight recently, I sat back and got my head into (and my heart, as it turned out) Deborah Raney’s unusual love story, The Face of the Earth.

What made Raney’s love triangle unusual—between Mitch the husband, Shelley the neighbor, and Jill the missing wife—was the relentless lack of clues throughout the book that tested Mitch’s vow of faithfulness. I empathized with this godly man’s struggle to remain true to his wife during many futile months as he gradually fell in love with Shelley, and as she fell in love with him. As Christians, each person had to make choices: to stay chaste or cross sinful (to them) boundaries.
When is a marriage not a marriage?

It’s a well-written and touching relationship tale about two neighbors, a man whose wife has gone missing mysteriously and her best friend, a divorcee, who lives next door. They join forces to search diligently for the missing woman and, day after day, are drawn to each other’s best qualities. Both struggle with the mounting love each feels for the other as the shadow of the missing wife raises questions of fidelity and remains unsolved. (See my review on Goodreads)

The longer Jill went missing, despite all their efforts to find her, the more I wanted Mitch to set aside his vow and allow his love for Shelley—who never once behaved seductively—to become their reality. This tension resonated deeply with me, I believe, because it raised a key question:

That’s something many spouses ask themselves, I think, especially in long-term marriages and love relationships. Also, it spawns another question: When does a spouse take action to change things (for better or worse)? Consider the high number of divorces we hear about and how one spouse at least had to face the necessity to strive for a mutually healthier marriage while the other spouse or partner resisted, refused, or remained complacent.

With Mitch and his marriage to Jill, he stubbornly held on to the conviction that their marriage should remain intact, even if indefinitely, despite the numerous indications that Jill would never reappear. In a similar way, Dean, the husband in my novel All of Me Wants All of You, faces troubling questions about his failing marriage to Kate, and must choose between the “for worse” options (such as divorce) or the “for better” options (such as keeping his own “till death do us part” vow).

What about you? Have you ever been, or are you now, trapped in a marriage that’s not a marriage? Have you ever struggled to stay true to your partner in highly adverse or demoralizing circumstances and felt forced to take action? Please leave a commen