Interview: Mark A. Michaels & Patricia Johnson: Authors

Partners In Passion: A ReviewI was lucky enough to be granted an interview with Mark Michaels and Particia Johnson after reading their new book: Partners In Passion, what follows is that interview.

1: How long have you been married and what special insight do you think this gave you when you wrote Partners In Passion, if any?
We have been together for over 15 years and will celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary in October 2014. This isn’t long compared to our parents whose marriages have lasted over 60 years. Still, we’ve been together long enough to experience many of the ups and downs and physical changes that people encounter in long term relationships. Our own experiences have given us many insights and have enhanced our capacity to empathize with the joys and challenges that people face when they’re together for a long time. Writing four books has required us to use the techniques we teach and demanded that we practice what we preach. Because Partners in Passion is so comprehensive, it was the most demanding of the four in this regard.

2: Tantric sex is a common  thread that weaves it’s way throughout Partners In Passion. How do you think that couples can gain from reaching into the sometimes seemingly mystical world of Tantra?
Part of our mission is to demystify Tantra. In the classical Tantric sex ritual, the partners worship one another as embodiments of the divine and each participant is there to facilitate the other’s experience. Thus, the job of each participant is to take the other higher. We feel that these ideas are incredibly valuable both in terms of how to approach sex and in terms of relating in general. If people can strive to bring an attitude of worship or reverence into all aspects of their relationships, they’re likely to be kinder to each other, to manage conflict more effectively, and to love more deeply. If people can put aside self-seeking and focus on the other (without abandoning boundaries or confusing service with servility) they will get more by giving. In modern culture, we’re somewhat stuck with a “what’s in it for me” mindset and tend to think of relationships as zero sum games in which one person wins and the other loses. We like to emphasize that the more you give, the more you’re likely to get in return. All parties have to be on board. When one person is doing all the giving and the other or others all the taking, it won’t work out very well. As in the Tantric ritual, mutual dedication is the key.
3: Of all the common myths that surround sexuality and long term relationships, which do you feel is potentially the most damaging when it comes to maintaining a healthy long term relationship?
That’s a tough one. There are so many potentially damaging myths, but if we had to pick the most damaging, we’d lean toward “they lived happily ever after”. Happily ever after comes from fairy tales, and its original meaning related to class, social status, and material comfort, not romantic love. It’s followed by “the end.” It has morphed a great deal in the modern era, as love began to be seen as the basis for marriage, not a fringe benefit for the lucky few. Happily ever after denies the fact that relationships change, that there may be periods of unhappiness, that we change and grow. If you believe in ‘happily ever after’, even brief periods of dissatisfaction can lead you to think the relationship has failed and should be abandoned when what you’re really encountering are transient difficulties.
4:  What do you hope couples or even singles will gain from reading, Partners in Passion? New and different ways of thinking about relationships, the understanding that no two partnerships are alike, tools for creating the relationship they desire for themselves, more fulfilling sex lives, more happiness, an enhanced ability to connect, a greater capacity for kindness and empathy.

5: If you had to describe your marriage in one word what would that word be and why that word? 
It’s hard to pick just one – dynamic or deepening. Dynamic because one or our key points is that relationships are always changing, which is something to celebrate. Our own experience tells us the same. Deepening because we are always discovering new things about each other and believe that this discovery process leads to a profound and ever-more richly textured bond.

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