The married couple, who practice “intuitive listening and common sense conversation,” have shared their lives for more than 20 years and have excellent credentials. Chernin has published 17 books — fiction, nonfiction, memoir and poetry — exploring feminist and/or Jewish themes. Stendhal, perhaps best known for “Gertrude Stein in Words and Pictures,” also is the author of “True Secrets of Lesbian Desire: Keeping Sex Alive in Long-Term Relationships.” Together they wrote “Sex and Other Sacred Games: Love Desire, Passion and Possession” as well as a book about opera singer Cecilia Bartoli.
After a frank dialogue about their own relationship, the authors present a dozen possible challenges to a passionate, productive partnership, including menopause, butch and femme roles, bed death, the other woman, and more. The down-to-earth, recognizable concerns, culled from their own experience and/or those of their clients, are engagingly presented, sometimes as dialogues. Each challenge is followed by a list of helpful do’s and don’ts, reality check reminders of the traps it’s so easy to fall into.
Designed for couples just starting out as well as those who have been together for eons, the guide’s practical 6-by-8-inch format makes it perfect to keep stashed in a backpack, glove compartment or nightstand. I can just see one partner whipping it out to make a point: “Look, honey, on page 102, the authors say, ‘Don’t be a fool and throw in the towel the minute things start to cool off.’”
Engagingly designed with witty drawings by Joey Hachtman (in color in the Kindle version) and space for “notes, scribbles doodles,” the authors make the hard work of relationships fun in the book, an ideal precursor to necessary conversations or sessions with a couples counselor. Encouraging humor, honesty and sensitivity, the authors mine magical and mundane aspects of marriage: passion, pain and pleasure, fantasy, frustration, time management.
The book’s bottom line is also its very first: “You care about your marriage; you want to keep your love alive and passionate.” With warmth, wit and a wealth of wisdom, this refreshingly realistic look at relationships is perfect for any marriage: gay or straight, legal or not.
Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit
By Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal
Published by lesbiansurvivalsex.com