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Sex Talk: You need to read this book

I love books. And this one by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue has made rainy mornings cosier. If you can, find it.

Your favourite bookshop may not have it in hard copy yet considering it was released May 5, 2020 and our freight issues are still real due to Covid-19, but if you have an e-reader such as Kindle or iBooks, by all means buy What Makes A Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share With Us The Secrets to a Happy Life.

Actress and author Thomas, 82, and veteran journalist and show host Donahue, 84, marked their 40th wedding anniversary by releasing this spellbinding book. I have not been able to put it down. The high percentage of marriages that end in divorce today ‘inspired’ the power couple to write.

Couples from former US President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn (74 years of marriage) to actress Viola Davis and husband Julius Tennon (17 years), rocker Sting and wife Trudie Styler (28 years), tennis legend John McEnroe and wife Patty Smith (23 years) and Deepak and Rita Chopra (50 years), among so many famous names, share what has made them last.

Of course their story cannot be your story, but it will allow you to see your spouse in a whole different light and to relate or even evaluate your own marriage according to your dynamics.

For example, for political commentator and TV host George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth who have been married 19 years, it is about being watchful not to let your pink elephants lose their shine, or disappear completely.

“If you have the stomach flu, I get it,” Ali told Thomas and Donahue when they visited. “But otherwise, you have to make a point of having sex. We are all tired. We all have lives and careers. So, push it.”

Singer Sting’s bedroom reputation has been something of legend ever since he openly talked about his love for tantric sex and his sizzling chemistry with the mother of four of his six children, in magazines and tabloids.

The couple agrees, their sexual chemistry is still very much part of the deal, but they also connect at an almost otherworldly level.

“But what’s important is that I really like this woman and she really likes me. The sexual thing can cool off. It doesn’t have to be super-charged the whole time,” the British singer said.

This is a really good book. The couples selected candidly talk about their marriages, but it is also like a mini-biography for each of the 80 people Thomas and Donahue interviewed face-to-face.

The reader gets to know about the Carters’ laidback life; McEnroe’s love for music and art; Viola Davis’ tough background; how it all went down in the Carter household that night he lost the election to Ronald Reagan after just one term in office; what went through Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s mind in the split second before he decided to crash-land on the Hudson river  on January 15, 2009, becoming a hero; or the non-medical side to American neurosurgeon and CNN reporter Dr Sanjay Gupta and his wife Rebecca.

The book allows the reader to get a firsthand account of that much-written-about ‘scandal’ that saw a married Sting fall in love with his neighbour Trudie, who was also dating someone else at the time.

As the couples share stories and meals with the authors, they candidly talk about marriage and how to make it last – their way.

For example, the Carters have always looked for things they love to do together, such as bird-watching, tennis and even “learned to downhill ski when he was 62 and I was 59. Jimmy doesn’t want to just learn about things, he wants to do them”.

The former president and his first lady, however, say their biggest bond if their faith and they read the Bible together every night; even when one of them travels, it is a tradition never broken. Seventy-four years of marriage. Goodness!

McEnroe’s wife, rock star Patty, on the other hand, advises those intending to marry: “Marry the person, don’t marry potential. Women are notorious for saying, ‘oh, he’s got the potential’ – but potential is not good enough.”

The couples talk about conflict and how they resolve their differences; the utmost importance of marrying one’s friend; the futility of trying to change your spouse to be like you and what you want; and why compromise, trust and sex are the magic code for many couples.

Again, get this HarperCollins publication. It could be just what the doctor ordered for your marriage and library.


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