Couples therapist and author Esther Perel discusses her book, "Mating in Captivity," which helps couples reconcile the domestic and the erotic.
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Hello! I’m Esther Perel, I’m a couples and family therapist in New York, the author of Mating In Captivity and Lacking Erotic Intelligence. Working with couples, I realized that quite often they would come in and tell me we love each other very much. We have no sex. Why does great sex so often fade in couples who love each as much as ever? Time and again, the couples that I would meet would describe to me the paradoxical relation between domesticity and eroticism between our need for secure, stable, reliable relationship. We also have a need for adventure, for mystery for a novel. And while love needs closeness, desire needs space to thrive. I think that the distance that people need to create rests on the ability of a couple to maintain a sense of individuality. When I ask people, tell me when you find yourself most drawn to your partner, the answers are internationally similar. When I watch him or her—be passionate about something. When I see her on stage, when she is different, when he surprises me, when I see her at the party and I see how other people look at her. They all imply looking at the other person as a separate entity from a comfortable distance and this person that is already so familiar is momentarily once again somewhat mysterious, someone unknown and somewhat elusive. I would probably say that my greatest success is in couple’s therapy don’t come from me. They come from the couples themselves. One of the ones that really stand out is a woman whose husband had struggled to eroticized her she had had children. One night, ask him if she wanted her to perform oral sex on him and of course he was quite interested and she asked him if he wanted the regular treatment or the special. He said of course he would rather have the special. And after she pleased him, she said, okay now, give me a hundred bucks. You know, now you would never confuse me with the mother of your children and was sure to the point, witty funny and it broke the spell. Anytime I am able to help a person, open up one of those erotic locks. I think that we are really on our way to a very different experience of life.
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