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    Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit

    lesmar(Editor’s Note: Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal are not only the authors of the new book, Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit, but they are also a married couple who practice what they preach. They have been together for nearly three decades and their relationship is still going strong. They recently sat down for a chat to discuss the book, how marriage can impact our relationships, and more.)

    Kim and Renate: We wanted to collaborate on a new writing project. Thanks to the Supreme Court, we had a topic for our new book: lesbian marriage. It was instantly clear what the book would be: a light-hearted yet serious, guide for couples who suddenly had the privilege, but also the mounting pressures, of marriage. After 28 years of a committed relationship, and as relationship experts, we felt we had a lot to say.

    Renate: But we didn’t want a big, heavy book on lesbian relationships. We imagined a short, handy book, designed to offer tools for the major challenges married lesbian couples are likely to face. We tried to define the role sex plays (and doesn’t play) in long-term relationships. In two seconds, it had us laughing and throwing definitions back and forth.

    We jotted down:

    “Sex is a trickster: it flares up, slips away, gets fixed on the one and only, changes partners, goes wild, thrives on intimacy, gets going only with strangers, falls asleep, changes form, gets bored, and sparks into life again. When we fall in love, we want sex to be around forever, for better or worse. But when we commit to a relationship and when we get married, sex tends to sneak away. Desire falls asleep and bed death is afoot—the so-called “lesbian bed death” (as comedian Kate Clinton famously quipped) is everyone’s bed death. Every marriage is challenged in the same way, whether you are hetero, gay, bi or questioning.”

    Renate: A relationship is a collaboration, sex is a collaboration, a conversation is a collaboration, and so is writing a book together. We’ve done it twice before, the first time about sex, the second about opera (two passionate pursuits). We never wanted to get married—until now. We preferred to be gay, bohemian outsiders who had as little as possible to do with established conventions. But there’s been a dramatic change in the cultural climate.

    Kim: Gay marriage has become political. The personal is political as we’ve been saying for
    a long time. It has also become historical, and we wanted to be part of one of the most significant legal decisions that has been announced during our lifetime.

    Renate: The freedom for lesbian and gay people to marry brings with it a new potential and new demands. We wrote Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit because in our long relationship “we’ve seen it all.” And we’ve weathered it all.

    Kim: We’ve written for a long time on women’s lives, spirituality, and sex. We’ve talked to many women personally and professionally, as mentors and as practitioners of a different kind of listening: a form of common sense conversation. (Common sense because over the years we have realized that common sense is the least common kind of sense.) Now we wanted to talk about what happens to sex “for better or worse.”

    Renate: Obviously, sex and marriage are not exactly a horse and carriage! We narrowed down a dozen major sexual challenges that occur in every committed relationship, but of course we wanted to address them from the perspective of women—women in love with women. And we gathered strategies, tools we ourselves have found effective in addressing these challenges. Advice we’d given to ourselves, and followed most of the time! For example, we talk about “Myths of Desire,” cultural notions of passion and pain versus pleasure. We talk about “You Always, I Never: Grudges and Bed Death” and about the “Genital Corset”—the need to loosen up our pre-set notions about where and how sex has to take place. We discuss “The Power of Never Now,” people being too busy and stressed to have sex, and “The Make-Over Marriage,” the inflated expectations of couples that marriage will solve all their problems.

    Kim: We are providing food for thought and, in addition to sexy stories, a toolkit—handy lists of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when passion and romance threaten to slip away.

    Renate: The best way to demonstrate what we are after in Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit is to take one central, general misunderstanding about sex in long-term relationships. We call it “The Hot Burn Versus the Slow Burn.” It is followed by our toolkit, the list of Do’s and Don’ts.

    Kim Chernin and Renate Stendhal are prize-winning writers as well as relationship experts. After a cross-cultural relationship of 28 years, they are now a married couple. “Lesbian Marriage: A Love & Sex Forever Kit” is their third co-authored book. They follow their own advice most of the time! To learn more about them and their latest book, available on Amazon,  please visit www.lesbianloveforever.com  

    See their other Bay Times articles here and here.