I had the pleasure of meeting Mark and Patricia last year at some workshops they were facilitating and loved them. We crossed paths again this year at another of their workshops and we had a chance to chat further. They had just launched Partners in Passion: A Guide to Great Sex, Emotional Intimacy and Long-Term Love and offered me a copy to read and review. I gladly accepted (I would have bought a copy anyway!). I read the book and made MANY a note (which is why I’m having a hard time writing a post – I don’t want it to be too long). Now I’m ready to share my thoughts with you.

As always, my views and reviews are honest and BS-free. I will tell you what I think whether I paid for something with my own money or it was given to me. Disclaimer done. Onto the review (and giveaway).

I love this book so much, I not only want to tell you about it, I also want to give you the chance to win your own copy. So, I’ve gone out a bought a copy just to give away. (Ignore the fact that I spilled orange juice all over and THROUGH my original copy and was tempted to keep the one I bought for you…)

partners in passion cover

I knew Mark and Patricia as tantra guides having taken their workshops. During those workshops, and subsequent chats, I got a strong sense of who they are as a couple. They are quite respectful to each other. Very loving. Very playful. I immediately fell in love with their style and presence. They have written books in the past, mostly around the world of tantra. I was very excited to see their next book was more of an all-encompassing relationship book. Although tantra is sprinkled throughout, whether that is something you’re into, curious about, or don’t give a hoot about, this book has so much to offer you and your partner(s).

Partners in Passion is a fantastic book for those in long-term relationships, for those just starting out, and even for those who are single. You’ll come out the end of the book with a deeper sense of who your partner is, and who you are. The authors are coming from a place not only of being educated on these subjects, but also having experience. They themselves are in a long-term relationship – one that has great sex and emotional intimacy.

You can read this book from beginning to end, in order all the way through, as I did. You can also jump from section to section, forward, backward and around. It’s set up so you can go to a section that speaks to you, and then nose around at whatever piques your interest at that particular moment. I found myself making notes to share with you, as well as personal notes to take back to my own relationship. There are so many different sections and ideas in this book that I could build numerous posts around them – and I just may.

Mark and Patricia talk about applying the term joint adventure to your relationship. This sums up the spirit of the book.

People often think that addressing their sex lives requires a big conversation. It’s far better to talk about sex a lot, and in as light-hearted a way as possible. Sex can be quite silly, after all, so make talking about it a priority, and retain a sense of humor.

I love that one of the first things the book addresses is ten “good relationship myths”. There are many that are pervasive in our society and the first step is shining a light on them and asking ourselves why. Some of the myths tackled are:

You need to find a soul mate

The idea that you have to be in total harmony all the time is just as toxic as the idea that you need to find the perfect match.

You should work on you relationship

Sustained effort and attentiveness to your partner are important if a relationship is to thrive, but effort and work are not synonymous. Relationships are not jobs and should not be drudgery, so we encourage people to change their language.

Monogamy is natural and optimal

The biggest problem with monogamy as currently practised is that it is a default mode – a relationship style that is taken as a given, as morally right, as the only healthy option, as a way of being that cannot be examined, let alone questioned.

This next myth shifted my perspective on “scheduled sex”.

Sex should be spontaneous

I had a vision of “Thursday, 8pm – sex” on the calendar. I hadn’t thought about the fact that my partner and I used to have scheduled sex a lot and it was very hot. We just didn’t look at it that way. “Meet me at home at noon” is scheduled sex, too. There’s a lot to be said about spontaneous sex, but scheduling it doesn’t have to take the heat out of things. In fact, it can add to it. Sending little messages a day or two before. “I can’t wait until tomorrow night” or “I am so looking forward to running my tongue along your body” can go a long way in helping ramp up the anticipation. My partner and I have a “bed day” every now and then when all we do is focus on each other. That’s definitely scheduled sex. I just hadn’t thought of it that way before.

We hear a lot about communication and honesty, and while the authors aren’t dismissing that, they come at it from a bit of a different angle.

…while openness and honesty are important, discernment about when and how to be open and honest are equally important.

The distinction between privacy and secrecy (or the corrosive form of secrecy we’re describing) is not always obvious. Recognizing it, and being honest with yourself about which is which requires a high degree of self-awareness and some vigilance. When behaviours start to feel compulsive or you repeatedly find yourself quitting your web browser hurriedly when your partner enters the room, you’re probably no longer just keeping something private.

And this. “I was just being honest” is not a way to excuse us from hurting someone.

It’s also important not to assume that just because your intentions are kind, your words and actions are being received that way. Pay attention to the way your partner responds. If the conversation stops, slows down, or body language and facial expression are indicative of distress, you may have misspoken and expressed your feelings in an injurious way. The mere belief that you did not intent to hurt does not absolve you of responsibility if your words caused pain, so it is important to distinguish between your intention and the actual impact of what you say. When in doubt, check in and ask.

It is very important to be honest with your partner, but the way you go about it is crucial. We have encountered quite a few couples for whom the statement “I’m just being honest” is really a justification for emotional battery.

Honesty tempered by prudence is a much healthier approach.

The book is filled with practical ways to put these ideas into practice. Here is an example about awareness and atunement.

Being aware of your own style while recognizing what’s going on with your partner and moving back and forth between the two of you are skills that you can develop. It is usually easiest to begin by exploring the interplay between inner and outer observation in nonsexual and pressure-free circumstances. You can practise this in virtually any context, and with or without a partner. For example, if you’re out walking in the woods, you can move your attention back and forth between what you’re observing in nature and what you’re feeling in your body.

There are so, so many things in this book, it’s hard to narrow down the ones I feel are most important. One point I consider significant, especially in the context of a long-term relationship, is don’t wait to feel desire.

Humans can choose when to be sexual. We don’t have to feel desire before we make love. You can use whatever works to keep the choice to be sexual foremost in your mind, whether it’s your interest in becoming closer to your partner, a decision to make sex a priority in your life, or just the recognition that sex is a great tool for reducing stress. This is a way to transform desire from a bodily need or a vague emotional state into a more conscious process, something over which you have greater control. This will enable you to choose erotic activities even when you do not actively desire sex. Unless there’s a serious physical or emotional disruption, having sex when you’re not in the mood is likely to leave you feeling just as satisfied as having it when you are.

Partners in Passion does a fantastic job of covering a lot of ground in a way that isn’t overwhelming. There’s even a section on basic anatomy. We need to know our bodies well, and what’s connected to where and why, in order to explore what feels good – for ourselves and so we can communication it to our partner.

Mark and Patricia also do a marvelous job of being inclusive without being preachy about any relationship style.

It’s up to you to define sexual adventuring for yourselves. Adventuring may or may not include other people (as we discuss in Chapter 9: Advanced Sexual Adventuring); it may or may not include various forms of kinky interactions (Chapter 10: Kink); it may include things that look entirely “vanilla” to people in alternative sexual communities; or it may involve things that would shock your neighbours.

The book is also sprinkled with enough tips and techniques to keep you busy for quite a while. It’s obvious I enjoyed this book, and as mentioned at the beginning, I enjoyed it so much I wanted to share the love and bought a copy to give away to one of you. The contest is open to those in Canada and the continental U.S. Contest runs until 11pm EST May 21, 2014.

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About Anya Hastings

Anya is a mom of four, two she gave birth to and two that came as part of the package when she joined lives with her partner. She’s done the marriage and divorce thing. She’s loved, learned and loved again.