Review of The Great Sex Weekend

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review by Syrinx

The Great Sex Weekend
by Pepper Schwartz and Janet Lever
Putnam Publishing, 1998

This is a simple, charming book based on a simple, charming premise: that the key issue which gets in the way of many couples' sex lives is lack of quality time together. Essentially, it proposes setting aside special weekends for extended romance and lovemaking, and goes into delicious detail on how to do just that.

The Great Sex Weekend (subtitled "A 48-Hour Guide to Rekindling Sparks for Bold, Busy, or Bored Lovers") comes from two authors with impeccable credentials in sex education. Dr. Pepper Schwartz is a professor of sociology at University of Washington and a past president of SSSS (Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality), and Dr. Janet Lever is a professor of sociology at California State University in Los Angeles and the senior analyst on the largest sex survey ever tabulated (the 1982 study). I actually read through The Great Sex Weekend twice: once with a critical mindset and once with a romantic mindset; my critical mind couldn't find a single inaccuracy and appreciated this book's quality of writing, editing, typesetting, illustration, and binding. Despite the authors' academic background, this isn't an academic book; there aren't any footnotes and there isn't a bibliography. It's an easy read, and for many couples probably an ideal gift for each other.

Despite the fact that this book is very romantic, I ultimately found it to be highly practical: I agree with the authors that lack of time and "special space" for sex may be a big factor in couples' declining sex lives, and agree that the "getaways" they are proposing could be the perfect thing for many folks. Actually, though, my agreement or disagreement isn't really necessary. The production process for this book appears to have included circulating a draft copy of the book among quite a few "test couples." Their comments helped shape the book, confirmed that what the authors are proposing works, and allowed the book to be sprinkled with many comments from real-life couples who have tried whatever is being talked about in that section.

After introducing the basic "getaway" concept, this book launches into a guide to the weekend, starting with Friday evening and ending on Sunday. Different parts of the weekend focus on different things, but the overall tone is one of renewing your connection with your partner, having romantic experiences, and enjoying a lot of good sex. I liked very much how the specific activities the book recommended ran the gamut, including a lot of things I found touching or erotic and not shying away from giving valuable and explicit sexual advice. Also, I really can't think of any other book which could better teach someone how to become "romantic" if they're not ordinarily inclined to be this way.

Although this book gives workable options (in Appendix 1) for couples who have only one day rather than a whole weekend, and for couples who can't get away from home, its foundation is on being able to go to a different place, "away from it all," for 48 hours. To that end, Appendix 2 gives an extensive list of romantic getaway spots in America and Canada, which I was also pleased to see is on the book's website. For local readers who are curious, the "close to Seattle" recommendations included Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, The Inn at Langley, and the Guest House Bed-and-Breakfast Cottages.

Not everything this book suggests will work well for all couples, but to the authors' credit they do talk at length about everybody being different, and the importance of focusing on the things that work well for you as a couple. For example, although I suspect many couples will respond positively to the suggestion that they abstain from sex during the week before their getaway and flirt heavily instead, some couples might find this too frustrating (although it DID occur to me that this suggestion might be just the mental ticket for type A folks who have a hard time justifying taking a whole weekend away from work; they can rationalize the time they're lavishing on their partner during the weekend by thinking it's time they saved during the week...).

I would still recommend this book to couples even if for whatever reason they can't take a full weekend for each other, and even if they can't leave their home. The authors DO give options for people in these situations, but the fact of the matter is that the individual exercises and ideas the book talks about can often be enjoyed in and of themselves, and the well-articulated range of sexual advice is bound to yield something which will be of value to you. If you do go this route, however, expect to be tempted by the thought of the full weekend getaway!

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