Want to start an intimate conversation?
This woman knows how. And tells us how in a great starter book
“Watch their feet, not their mouth.”
The old axiom above is for measuring the value of a person’s actions over their words – and it’s a good guide – but Shamyra Howard’s short, pithy book, Use Your Mouth, puts a whole new emphasis on the value of our mouth, particularly as a starter for some of the more difficult conversations about intimacy we need to have with our partners.
This is a quick, easy, insightful read and a good first step in building, renewing or rehabilitating one of the most important cornerstones in a relationship – communications. Shamyra sets out seven types of intimacy that depend on good communications to build and maintain intimacy and it reinforces the life principle that everything starts with us. She says, the prerequisite is “being emotionally attuned and having an intimate relationship with yourself.”
The point about “yourself,” is the bedrock of her theme. If we don’t know ourselves we can’t truly be ourselves with a partner. She addresses how “vulnerability” is a powerful prison that we all struggle with and until we can be safe in being vulnerable with a partner, we can’t really have a full relationship. And it starts with being aware of, and knowing, who we are.
“Who are you when no one is looking?” – Shamyra
Starting an often difficult conversation with a partner isn’t easy and the book provides lots of examples and questions to open things up. Shamyra frequently touches on the need to know yourself but I kept wanting her to go further, deeper, and talk about how to better understand our intimate thoughts. She mentions the importance of “expressing yourself,” being “non-defensive,” being “vulnerable,” but I would have liked more on how to dig into those very real needs. (I trust she’s working on a bigger book with all that good stuff in it).
We don’t know what we don’t know
My favorite chapter was “Conversation 5: Intellectual Intimacy.” She explains how some people become sexually turned on by intelligence and refer to themselves as sapiosexual, which, BTW, is part of the theme in Philip Roth’s classic, The Dying Animal, and the protagonists, a professor and young student (see book review). However, I see an additional role for intelligence, which is the foundation of all conversations, whether they be starter conversations or ongoing, in depth conversations.
Shamyra touches on this but I found I wanted her to go further, tell me more (I assume that’s where her personal counseling comes in). She says, “Of course, the best way to increase intellectual intimacy in your relationship is to use your mouth.” I agree. But what our mouth uses is rooted in what we know and understand, and if we don’t know what we need to know, then what we say may well not amount to much – to our partner. Knowledge and understanding of all things in love, intimacy and sex are critical in creating lasting, intimate conversations. She mentions several questions (i.e., “What are your favorite topics to discuss?”), all good, but I wanted to add one more: ‘What would you like to read – together?’
“Your brain is your largest sexual organ.” – Shamyra
Couples who read together, stay together
In the context of how our brain is hard-wired to our sexuality, Shamyra covers how it responds to intimacy and we need to understand this connection. But there is another connection that should be explored – the amount of knowledge in our brain that fuels and fosters all conversation. The more we know the more effective we can be in talking and sharing, intimately. All the things she writes about – emotionally attuned, knowledge of self, awareness, security, vulnerability, wholeness, judgement – are directly tied to how knowledgeable we are.
Learning in itself is a growing experience, a strengthening of our inner self, and if we do more of it with our partner, we have a wonderful opportunity to learn and grow together. Plus, further intimacy. And there is no shortage of sources of learning.
A sexologist like Shamyra is a prime resource because she not only provides knowledge but also guides us through what can seem to be an intimidating and complex subject. In addition to expert counseling, there is an endless selection of sources of knowledge, and perhaps the best is books. For at least five reasons:
- It’s easy to share and discuss.
- It’s a catalyst for conversation (the type Shamyra recommends).
- It’s always handy to revisit and reference.
- It can deliver in depth information and expertise (much more than a movie or video).
- Women who read about sex have 74% more sex.
After you get started by reading Use Your Mouth, here are a few other resources to look into in your quest for learning more and more about love, sex, desire and intimacy – all the things that most of us are very limited in, and by.
Read more, talk more, love more!
Visit Shamyra’s website >>
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