Bedded Bliss: A Couple’s Guide to Lust Ever After does something novel: it intersperses marital advice for keeping long-term monogamy hot with a collection of erotica. Author Kristina Wright — the editor of a over dozen Cleis Press anthologies, including Fairy Tale Lust, Dream Lover, Lustfully Ever After, Duty and Desire and the Best Erotic Romance series — begins each chapter of Bedded Bliss with an essay on a particular sexual-marital topic (e.g. lust after parenthood, exploring boundaries, growing old together, etc.); she ends each essay with three sensual calls-to-action; and Wright concludes each chapter with a few erotic short stories (some by her, most by other erotica authors) that are related to the chapter’s theme. (Erotica is a very personal thing, but there’s enough variety in the stories that almost everyone is sure to find something they like.) Through positivity and encouragement, the book tries to help readers become members of that invisible species in our culture: the sexually satisfied married couple. Below are a few excerpts from the essay sections:
If you had different attitudes about what was enough (and the right kind of) sex before you got married, those differences are still there. If you had body image issues or difficulties communicating or insecurities about your sexual performance—they’re still there. It’s all still there for both of you and you both will, at some point, have to confront it, deal with it, and move beyond it. Because that’s what a marriage is all about—working together and moving forward together. And a good lifelong sex life with your partner is one of those things that is absolutely worth working on and fighting for at every stage of your marriage, even while you’re still on a honeymoon high and looking blissfully toward the future.
On Sex’s Inevitable Priority Slip:
There are dark days in every marriage, highs and lows in every stage of commitment. The divorce statistics tell us that a lot of couples decide to go their separate ways rather than hold on through the tough times. Most marriages that end go out with a whimper instead of a bang—no pun intended. It’s rarely one big cataclysmic event that ends the relationship; rather, it’s the distance that occurs over months or years that serves to drive a bigger and bigger wedge between couples. Job stress, health issues, the demands of parenting and family obligations—we all get wrapped up in the day-to-day struggles and forget about our partners. Sex slips farther and farther down the priority list, behind getting the dryer fixed and polishing the resume in case the economy dips even further and taking the twins to ballet class, until sex—and the marriage itself—is dead last on an impossibly long to do list for both people.
Sharing your sexual fantasies isn’t about being someone else—it’s about being the person you want to be with the person you love most. Being your truest self. This kind of sharing is about honesty that you may not have experienced since you were dating…But our interest and needs, including our sexual interests and needs, are not static, they change throughout our lifetime. And the person you should be opening up to about your interests and needs (in bed and otherwise) is the one you share every other aspect of your life with. The one who is going to be there through better or worse, in richer and poorer, in sickness and in health—and through rug burns and misplaced sex toys, too.
On Marital Dating:
You thought you got to stop dating because you got married, right? Nope. No one likes the idea of scheduling sex, but date nights are lifesavers for a relationship whether sex is the end result or not. You need the occasional dinner or movie or walk in the park alone with your spouse with your attention, your touch and your gaze focused completely on each other.
On Getting Kinky:
You know what I’m going to say here. The kinkiest thing any couple can do together is communicate their needs to each other. You don’t expect your partner to know what you want for dinner every night—why would you expect him to know you want to try bondage tonight? In truth, I think most people realize they need to tell their significant others if they want to experiment outside their sexual comfort zone and that’s exactly why they don’t—it’s outside their comfort zone.
On “Keeping in Touch”:
Remember when you couldn’t keep your hands off each other? Living together may take the edge off the need for the constant touch you experienced in the early years, but touch is still important.
1. Hold hands even if it isn’t something you usually do. Always kiss each other good-bye, even if you’re just running to the store. Curl up on the couch together when you watch a movie.
2. Enroll in a couple’s massage class and rediscover each other in a new, therapeutic way. You can take what you’ve learned and explore the benefits of erotic massage in the bedroom.
3. Shower together whenever you can. It doesn’t have to be about having sex (although there’s nothing wrong with that!); it’s about staying connected. Plus, getting clean now can lead to getting dirty later!