Sweat Shop

Welcome to Bikram's torture chamber," says Joel Pier, a gentle, gray-haired yoga instructor. He's so peace-and-love looking, with his bead necklace and owlish little glasses, that everybody smiles.

Sweat Shop
Don't bother; she's too qrapped up in herself.

For about a second.

Then he clicks the door shut, sealing all 30 of us inside a third-floor walkup above a Philadelphia shoe store, with the furnace cranked to 110 degrees. We're told to stand arm's-length apart, lace our fingers under our chins, and huff and puff like fat guys moving furniture. After 90 seconds, the men are shucking their sweat-soaked shirts, and the women are stripping down to Jogbras. The sneaking desire I'd felt for the two women next to me, with their cute dancers' bodies and Pacific-island tattoos, has now become a last-canteen-in-the-lifeboat resentment of the air they're using and the body heat they're throwing off.

Keep in mind, all we've done so far is breathe.

Assuming the position

This is what can happen during a session of Bikram yoga, otherwise known, for obvious reasons, as "hot yoga." Bikram yoga has been booming in the past few years. According to one estimate, some three million people worldwide are now sweatin' and stretchin' Bikram From the cool, incense-scented lounge outside, things in the studio look pretty tame, especially compared with the Ashtanga, or "power," yoga taught in health clubs. Where Ashtanga can twist you into endless varieties of headstands, lotuses, and back bends, Bikram has only 26 postures, several no more complicated than the head-to-knees you did before football practice. You don't even hold them long-just about 10-20 seconds.

What kicks your ass, however, is the heat.

"Anyone chilly?" asks Pier, who's one of some 650 instructors certified in the United States to teach the Bikram method. "We're barely over 100 degrees," he taunts. "The earlier class hit 126."

Awkward Pose Stand with your feet six inches apart and extend your arms straight ahead, parallel to the floor. Now lift your heels. As soon as you're balanced, slowly bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as close as you can get them). Keep your back straight and your heels high.

The only answer he gets is the sound of sweat plopping onto our plastic mats. We're all too focused to respond, because after a few warmup positions, we're in the midst of a real killer: arms straight out, up on the toes, then dropping into a squat with arms and thighs parallel to the floor, while still balancing on the balls of our feet. It's brutal-little grunts and gasps are erupting all around the room as people fight for balance. "Lift up your heels," Pier suggests, "until your legs are jittering like sewing machines."

There are reasons-besides the sadistic-for conducting the class in a sauna. For starters, you'll lose weight. It's estimated that a person can burn as many as 600 calories during a 90-minute class. You'd have to hit the treadmill for an hour and 15 minutes to melt that much flab.

Superheating the body will soften the collagen around the joints, too. "Collagen is a lot like plastic, and its rigidity eases when you warm it," says Marc Darrow, MD, director of the Los Angeles-based Joint Rehabilita-tion & Sports Medical Center. "Some athletes ride an exercise bike before stretching, which heats the muscles and softens collagen, but there's no reason you can't do the same thing by adjusting the thermostat," says Dr. Darrow, who includes Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Johnnie Morton among his patients.

Heat also helps "feed" the muscles by increasing the circulation of oxygen-laden red blood cells, says Lewis Maharam, MD, president of the Greater New York Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine. It's like working a bellows-as you pump more oxygen into your muscles, they're able to burn more fuel. And the best way to let that rich, oxygenated blood into the inner recesses of your muscle tissue, Dr. Maharam adds, is to stre-e-e-etch. "Heat speeds up your metabolism," he explains, "and the yoga postures will certainly assist by improving your circulation and elasticity."

But who says our muscles need more oxygen? Speed skaters. According to a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Olympic speed skaters are especially prone to muscle fatigue because the tight crouch they skate in decreases bloodflow to their calves and thighs. Something similar happens to you and me when we're hunched over a computer or cramped behind the wheel of a car. "Some of your muscles are so oxygen-starved, they're living on dogma," Pier quips. "They've heard about red blood cells, but never actually seen them." The Bikram system, however, goes beyond promising limber limbs. On the home page of www.bikramyoga.com, the Web site of the discipline's founder, Bikram Choudhury, there's this prominent link:

"Have a health problem? Find out what Bikram Yoga has done for others. Then try it and see what it can do for you!"

Click on "Find out..." and you'll be sent to the Testimonials page and a menu of 23 health conditions ranging from the bothersome-insomnia-to the potentially fatal-kidney cancer. One account is of a diabetic who no longer needs insulin, and another of a man who says his irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure have disappeared. Then there's the person who's been cured of Lyme disease-all thanks to Bikram yoga.

"It will certainly improve your circulation and provide health benefits," says Dr. Maharam, "but no exercise is going to change your physiological makeup. It may relieve the symptoms of a disease, but it's not going to remove the disease itself." To be fair, the Bikram Web site does include a disclaimer of sorts, albeit impossibly hard to find: "...when Bikram speaks of curing chronic diseases... he is saying that if you faithfully follow his directions, you will be relieved of your symptoms of discomfort. That is the only 'cure' anyone can offer."

Too hot to handle?

"Okay, now hold that position while we bring out the jump ropes."

Yoga purists aren't big fans of Choudhury. "The purpose of yoga is to relax the sympathetic nervous system to disengage the fight-or-flight instinct and that's difficult when you're working out and sweating," says Patricia Lamb Feuerstein, research director for the International Association of Yoga Therapists. The high heat concerns her, as well. "We've had one confirmed report of a hot-yoga student suffering a stroke," Feuerstein says. "People in those classes may get nauseated and be told it's 'purification.' It's not-it's usually heat prostration."

Baloney, says Lawrence E. Armstrong, PhD, author of Performing in Extreme Environments and a professor of exercise physiology at the University of Connecticut. He's spent thousands of hours observing survival training and superheated treadmill tests, and all the scare stories about hot yoga, he says, are just, well, a lot of hot air. "Temperatures of 95, 96, 100 degrees are manageable," says Armstrong, who practices yoga himself and has observed hot-yoga classes. The key, he says, is to make sure you're medically cleared for normal athletic activity and aren't a high cardiac risk. "Your normal core body temperature is already 98.6," he explains, "so as long as the exercise intensity is not high, it's not dangerous to function in an environment that hot or a little hotter."

Yeah, but how about that 126 class Pier was boasting about? "Okay, that's extreme," Armstrong concedes. "You could be getting close to your body's max for cooling itself, so you have to monitor yourself." Watch out for nausea, dizziness, headache, or weakness, he says. And above all, stay calm. "The tenser you get, the more you contract your muscles," Armstrong says, "and that increases muscle heat production."

It's for precisely that reason, says Pier, that Bikram repeats the same 26 postures every class. "Repetition is calming," he says. "It helps ease the tension of the unknown and allows your body to get usedto the heat." That's why, in the middle of our class, he keeps calling for everyone to show him a "happy, smiling face." To drive his point home, he starts distracting us by kicking big, yellow smiley-face balls all over the room.

Being one of the people on the receiving end of a ball, I'm starting to see his point. Once I start to relax a little, the heat isn't making me feel so heavy-limbed and claustrophobic. I also notice that even the more experienced students aren't hesitating to cool down for a few seconds in the lounge. Once back in the room, your muscles retain their heat, but now your head is clear enough for you to hold balance and mimic the postures.

"Tough today, isn't it?" says John Fries, a 48-year-old carpenter who's lean and ripped enough to pass for a 20-year-old soccer player. He rolls a bottle of cold water over his forehead as he tells me he's a real lumber-hauling, belt-wearing carpenter, not some contractor who parks his ass in an office all day. But that's why he loves hot yoga: It gives him more energy after a hard day's work, not less. "I've got guys working with me who are 23, 24 years old, and I'm running circles around them. Because of yoga, I can work down on my knees all day, get up and down ladders, no problem."

With the end of the class approaching, it's time for the "cobra series": Lie on your stomach with palms down as if to do a pushup, then raise your chest off the floor so your back is arched. I'm tired and dying to call it quits, but once we begin, I feel a thrill fighting through the fatigue. I've got a chronically crappy back that generally lands me at the chiropractor's office after an especially tough marathon season. Now, I can almost hear my vertebrae loosening, cracking, like they're being broken out of concrete.

It feels exactly the way you always think you're going to feel when you get out of a hot tub, but never do. In a word, great. I've been to dozens of other yoga classes, but this time, I feel as if my well-warmed muscles are accepting the stretch, enjoying it, instead of straining like a frayed fan belt. Suddenly I don't care if the class goes on another hour. "Push until it hurts like hell," Pier is saying. "With a happy, smiling face."

The Cheating Curve

By Marian Trinidad

He was living a 'double life'— double breakfasts, dinners, and Sunday masses. The first would be with his girlfriend, and the second, with his wife, and their children, not necessarily in that order
You know how it happens. From a friend, a coworker, or your own life. You change your routine. You become busy with matters outside the home. You hardly spend time with your family. They easily bug you, and you blow up at the most trivial things. You make amends. But weeks later, you're back to telling one lie after another.

Why it starts

Roman*, a 45-year-old consultant, and his girlfriend were inseparable—breakfast, dinners, business and travels. They were together everyday, before and after office hours, and weekends, too. No doubt, he was happily in love for the first time in his life. But as Roman puts it, he was living a ‘double life'—double breakfasts, dinners, and Sunday masses. The first would be with his girlfriend, and the second, with his wife, Ellen* and their children, not necessarily in that order.

He is not the typical womanizer; neither does he go for casual sex. But when he met the other woman at the office, Roman says he suddenly could not stop thinking about her. Before he knew it, he was ready to leave his family to start a new one.

Psychologist and psychiatrist Randy Dellosa, MD says that while society speaks ill of infidelity, cheating is "popularly accepted as normal and even expected behavior of men" in the Philippines. A McCann-Erickson survey of 485 men in Metro Manila reveals half of the respondents admitting to an affair at one point in time.

Infidelity, according to Dr. Dellosa, occurs when there is a violation of couple's contract to be intimate and exclusive partners. The contract, formal or not, "defines the parameters by which each partner is to express intimacy outside of the relationship," he points out. It also comes in many forms, like flirting, cybersex, emotional affairs, correspondence through e-mail or SMS, and sexual relations.

Dr. Dellosa, Life Transformation founder and renowned life coach, explains that cheating happens when any of the main ingredients of a relationship—passion, commitment and intimacy—are found to be wanting. In Roman's case, he confesses, "She (the other woman) showered me with attention and care all the time as I did her."

Patricia*, 34, a wife whose husband, Tony* had an affair with a close family friend, describes the other woman as sweet and thoughtful. "What do you expect? She is the other woman, so she had to prove to my husband that she is better than me in many ways," says Patricia. "And yes, even in bed."


A study on "The Filipino Context of Infidelity and Resilience," conducted by the Ateneo de Manila's Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM) coordinator Ted Gonzales, SJ, describes cheating as a gender issue so well entrenched in the Pinoy culture. Traditionally, most sons were raised to believe that a man could have sex outside of marriage (and be forgiven), but never the woman.

Guys are more interested in masculine activities that exclude his family, like finding work, while passing on parenting duties to his female partner, according to the study. It has been impressed that failed family relations is a woman's failure alone, and not shared by the erring husband. When caught, a guy rationalizes the deed by trumpeting his responsibility as breadwinner. So long as your job puts food on the table and sends the kids to school, she shouldn't complain.

Gonzales also points to the external environment as a compelling factor, like the trend towards the rising number of female migrant workers that has left many Filipino families "without wives, mothers, daughters and sisters." House husbands surveyed in his study answer "loneliness, infidelity and losses" as consequences.

The study also refers to a report on The Economist that it has become increasingly uncommon among these migrant Filipinas "whose husbands have not taken a mistress, or even fathered other children."

Business practices also contribute to infidelity, according to Gonzales, especially when "business deals are discussed and clinched." In addition, marital dissatisfaction resulting from past and present experiences is significant. Guys who cheat claim to want to recapture youth, seek out emotional comfort in numbers, and crave relationships without the responsibility.

Consequently, women rank infidelity as the number-one stressor in a relationship, and when left unsettled often leads to its breakup.


Dr. Dellosa explains that cheating involves elements of boundary violations, deception and denial. He reveals that most women consult him because they felt betrayed by their partners. "Initially upon discovery of the betrayal, the betrayed partner experiences an overwhelming mix of shock, anger, disillusionment and grief," he explains. The betrayed partner "feels an overwhelming sense of rejection, with the doubt that she has been ugly, inadequate or incompetent partner."

Patricia admits having been physically and emotionally affected by her husband's cheating. She'd find text messages from the other woman on his cellphone, asking what he had for lunch or dinner, what he's up to, and where he's going. Patricia was even more riled by the discovery that he's been spending most of his free time with her. "I was beginning to get really angry and I began losing sleep," she says.

Aside from the emotional anguish, Dr. Dellosa adds that the betrayed partner is usually confused whether to continue or call it quits as a couple.

Patricia fit the profile. She had often packed Tony's stuff then changed her mind about sending him away. When he finally left, ironically, she was better in his absence. "I discovered that I am tough. My kids are my priorities and my own personal happiness is not, or was not, dependent in having man around me or in my life," she adds.

But not every woman handles it Patricia's way. Roman's wife, Ellen, for one, wasn't ready to handle his infidelity. When he was hospitalized, she balked upon seeing the other woman by his bedside. Ellen's growing depression led her to seek a psychiatrist's help.

After the confrontation with his wife, Roman recalls their later conversations as civil. "But it was interrupted by sobs and tears," he says. "I have never seen my wife so hurt in all my years with her."

Fortunately, there are several coping measures that women adapt—from friends, family, religion, counseling, work, education to self-improvement. "She starts to listen. She looks neat. She streaks her hair. She uses makeup. She tries skirts and stockings. She tries a bust lift. She learns to drive. She returns to school. She starts a small cottage industry. She takes a trip to Europe. She goes to Church," the study shares.


Dr. Dellosa points out that relationships may never be the same after an infidelity. But he stresses that while emotional healing may be challenging, it is possible. He enumerates these steps:

Owe up to your offense

Don't find fault in her, your job, or other external excuses to latch on. You made a mistake, move on and figure out how to rectify the situation.

Empathize with her emotions

She'll give you a hard time for quite a while. Suck it up. Listen to what she has to say. Take her out like you used to—she'll appreciate the effort.

Show remorse

Suggest and show up at marriage counseling. Express your regret shamelessly, but sincerely. Be as humbled as you were when you first courted her.

Commit to change

Consult a psychiatrist, see your parish priest, or join a spiritual group for guidance. You've likely steer cleared from these activities in your past, but they're concrete and positive actions to take.

Cut off contact with the other woman

Erase her on your phonebook, quit your job if you must, to avoid her with certainty. Now that you really do have free time, use it with your family.

Both Roman and Patricia have returned to relationships that survived an affair. You can aspire for similar success at second chances, but you have to work at it. For Patricia, she appreciates her partner's efforts to woo and win her back. But she's also gained a more realistic perspective. "It's not about having monthsaries but things that are doable," she says. "What's important is that they're lasting."

Asked if Roman still sees himself straying in the future, he considers it a question of one's willingness to inflict the same pain on your family and yourself, all over again. "I don't think it's worth the hurt," he says.

How to Find Your Way Home

By Laurence Roy Stains

With a sigh of relief, you pull into your driveway at the end of another 12-hour day.

You're ready to unwind. Already, your blooFd pressure is falling. But inside your house, your personal life is waiting. Maybe you have a girlfriend or wife who craves your companionship, and children who demand your attention. When you walk through that door, you may be thinking in terms of haven and escape. But in these next few hours, you're really undergoing a transition. You're going to make the switch from work to love, from ambition to emotion, from power to intimacy.

This transition is a big job—and the ramifications are bigger than ever. So you need to handle it well.

What if you don't? Hey, no harm done. You'll simply join the legions of the angry and depressed, with half your money gone to your ex-wife, your kids mad at you, your few friends slowly drifting away, and a vague sense of shame that keeps you from making social connections. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything. Okay? Now you can loosen your tie. But don't open the car door just yet. I want to talk to you for a while longer.

I'm not that crazy about the word "intimacy." I bet you're not, either. It's a department-store word. (Third floor: Intimate Apparel.) And, come to think of it, I'm never happy to hear the word "emotion." It means that pretty soon I'll be hearing the word "feelings," as in I've hurt her feelings, or I don't seem to have any feelings, unless team X comes from behind to beat team Y. When men hear about "emotion," we're usually about to be scolded.

I'm being more than a little defensive, but you and I both know that our apparent difficulty with the whole feelings thing bothers women. And, further, they grow testy over the fact that it bothers them more than it bothers us. But how's this for an idea? Men should stop being defined by what we lack. Instead, let's take a clear-eyed look at emotions, the unique ways in which we experience them, and their role in who we are today. Wouldn't it be cool if we understood that, and why we are the way we are? Wouldn't it be cool if we could finally explain ourselves to women? If only so they'd stop asking us?

Fortunately for all of us, some serious scien-tific and psychological discoveries of the past decade can help us do just that. So let's push beyond the gauzy metaphor of Mars and Venus. Yes, men and women are different, but it's no longer enough to categorize men by the words they fail to say.

And let's concede one point straight off: Men are not as emotionally articulate as women are. It's not out of spite; we don't stubbornly refuse to spend hours talking about feelings. We just can't do it. That is, the inner architecture of our brains just can't do it. New technology, such as functional magnetic-resonance imaging (better known by its abbreviation, fMRI), allows neuroscientists to virtually open up the skull and see what's happening inside. This means you can show people photos of mutilated bodies, for example, and watch their brains react.

It may sound cruel, but that's exactly what a team of Stanford scientists did. They showed brutal images to 12 men and 12 women. In the women, nine different areas of the brain showed higher activity, both when viewing the pictures and when recalling them three weeks later. Nine different areas! In the men, only two areas lit up. The comparison says it all.

Thanks to neuroscience, we now know that the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped region deep in the brain, plays a key role in both emotional reactions and emotional memories. And, wouldn't you know it, the female amygdala is far more efficient. That's why women can recall more emotional memories more quickly (have you noticed?), and their memories are richer and more intense. (No wonder she still remembers that hurtful remark you made last Christmas.) The amygdala may also play a role in women's greater tendency to engage in what scientists call ruminative thinking, the repetitive focus on negative feelings and events. (You've noticed that, as well.)

Psychologists now know that a lot of rumination actually confuses people about how they really feel—but you won't want to tell her that when she's ruminating.

There are other key brain differences. The female brain has a better connection between its left hemisphere, which is involved in speech, and its right hemisphere, which is involved in emotion. (That connective tissue is called the corpus callosum, and females have more of it than we do, in relation to total brain size.) When most women talk, both sides of their brains are activated; men use only their left hemispheres for speech. It's emerging details like this that are leading scientists to theorize that, yes indeed, women seem to have a greater built-in facility for talking about their feelings.

By simply observing little kids' behavior, we get the picture that our differences are innate. A whole slew of psychological studies have gathered data on the habits of preschoolers, and here's a sampling:

By age one, girls make more eye contact than boys do. A couple of years later, the paintings of young girls will almost always contain one or two people; little boys' renderings commonly depict rocket ships, bicycles, and cars.

At play, boys were 50 times more competitive over toy sharing, while girls were 20 times more likely to take turns.

Could a horribly sexist culture be to blame for those differences? No—at least not entirely, says Simon Baron-Cohen, PhD, a psychologist at UK's Cambridge University. In multiple studies, he has looked at the amount of testosterone babies are exposed to in the womb, and then looked at them at 12 months, 18 months, two years, and four years of age. The results have been startling. The higher the baby's level of fetal testosterone, regardless of gender, the less eye contact the child makes at age one, and the smaller his or her vocabulary is at 18 months. By age four, those with the highest fetal-testosterone levels score the lowest on a test of social skills and the highest on a test showing deep interest in a narrow range of topics.

Testosterone in the womb could be the big key to our interests and behavior as adults. "More specifically," Baron-Cohen writes in his book, The Essential Difference, "the more you have of this special substance, the more your brain is tuned into systems and the less your brain is tuned into emotional relationships."

There's the taproot of the male condition.

Baron-Cohen has marshaled all this evidence into a grand theory, which he lays out in his book. There are basically two kinds of brains—the empathizing brain and the systemizing brain. If you have an empathizing brain, you're exquisitely good at understanding how someone else might feel, and furthermore you want to alleviate their distress. You're good at identifying people's inner emotions simply by looking at their facial expressions. (Baron-Cohen and his colleagues have catalogued 412 discrete emotions. Oy.) You're good at relationships, and you maintain those healthy relationships by sharing feelings. And you have a flair for language, so you can express all 412 of those emotions.

If you have a systemizing brain, says Baron-Cohen, you're driven to understand systems—anything from plumbing fixtures to the NBA rule book, from patent law to the bond market. Systemizers specialize in events with predictable consequences, so that when you act, you can be pretty darn certain of the result. Such systems can take a long time to learn, but if you have a systemizing brain, that doesn't bother you—you can spend endless hours observing all the details, to the exclusion of everything (and, oops, everybody) else in your life. You're more interested in organizing principles than in the social world. You're good with mechanical things, not people. You cultivate an expertise. And you love sports, because it's a combination of four systems: an organizing system (S-P-U-R-S!), a system of rules ("He was nowhere near the paint!"), a motoric system ("...a 360-degree slam..."), and a statistical system ("...that keeps their playoff hopes alive if the Suns lose, the Jazz win, and the Lakers get lost on the way to the Staples Center!").

In the past, systemizers have been good at tool making, hunting, and trading. Now they're good at engineering, inventing, coaching, computer programming, and leading a corporation along a "critical path" toward "key metrics."

In their daily lives, these people tend to be independent, driven, successful individuals who do well in business because of their expertise and their ability to take decisive action. They do well socially not because of their power to empathize, but because they've reduced the pecking order to a system of rules and know how to manipulate their way through it. If they're men, as they often are, they're very attractive to women—the very same women who, after a few years, wonder why these guys aren't better empathizers.

Sound like anyone you know?

You don't have to be male to have a systemizing brain—but it helps. (Remember, your fetal- testosterone level helped shape your brain.) Baron-Cohen has come up with 60-question tests to identify people as empathizers or systemizers, and from the thousands he's administered to date, he figures that 44 percent of women have empathizing brains, 17 percent have systemizing brains (which accounts for the many brilliant female scientists), and 35 percent have brains that are roughly balanced between the two poles. Four percent exhibit an "extreme female brain" type.

Baron-Cohen says that 53 percent of men have systemizing brains, 17 percent have empathizing brains, and 24 percent are roughly balanced. The remaining 6 percent have an extreme male brain—and these men, he theorizes, exhibit behavior that's labeled autistic.

But just because your brain isn't tuned in to emotional relationships doesn't mean you can blow them off. Rather, it means you have to pay attention to emotions—those of others, and your own. Otherwise, when the chips are down, you'll find yourself sitting at the table alone, with no one to help you and no idea how to help yourself.

The psychologist Ronald F. Levant, EdD, has spent two decades conducting research in the field of men and their emotions. Having grown up in South Central Los Angeles, an area "that was tough and is tough," as he says, he experienced firsthand the ways in which traditional cultures teach men to stifle their emotions. As a researcher, he knew of a clinical condition called alexithymia (uh-lexa-THIGH-me-uh), which literally means the inability to put emotions into words. It was originally applied to the severe emotional constriction of drug-dependent posttraumatic stress disorder patients. But in his counseling practice, he saw a more "garden-variety" form of alexithymia. His male patients often exhibited an inability to know what they were feeling—especially if those feelings were in the tender and vulnerable vein.

As a professor of psychology at the University of Akron, Levant has devoted his research to showing that a mild-to-moderate form of alexithymia is widespread in our society. As he says, "It's normative for many men in our society to be genuinely unaware of some of their emotions."

He gives one quick example: In his practice, he saw a man who had been caught cross-dressing—by his grown children. So the man came to a therapy session with his wife. Levant asked him how he felt at the moment he was discovered. And the man turned to his wife and asked, "How did I feel?"

Levant believes we experience emotion on three different levels: the neural, biochemical level, expressed in heartbeat and breathing pattern; the physical and behavioral level, revealed in facial expression and body language; and finally the level of conscious awareness. Typically, alexithymic men lack the third level, and may even lack an awareness at the second level.

Whether this emotional checkout is hardwired or pounded into you, it can be crippling. Levant believes that the cost of repressing your emotions—or, worse, dissociating from them completely—leads to alcohol abuse, anger and aggression, thrill-seeking behaviors, and psychosomatic illness. To avoid these fates, it isn't required that you become a master of emotional fluency; awareness by itself is sufficient.

But this is not just about making sure you don't wind up in a wheelchair. If you know how to feel, you know how to act. "It helps us live better lives," says Levant. "It enables us to respond more quickly and more appropriately to events that arise in our lives, both at work and at home."

In my own marriage, I suspect that my wife uses emotions to avoid action. (I told her that. You can imagine how well it went over.) I suspect a lot of guys think of emotions that way, as the opposite of action.

Wasn't that Hamlet's problem?

But emotions are not useless. They can motivate us to action. Did you see Tiger Woods—a few months after the death of his father—annihilating all challengers in the final nine holes at Hoylake at this year's British Open? On the last fairway, with victory nearly secured, his caddy said to him, "This one's for Pops." And Tiger was wracked with big, gutsy sobs. Then, more to the point, he blubbered in the arms of his beautiful blonde wife.

Remember, Hamlet didn't get the girl or the claret jug. But Tiger did. Be glad it's 2006. Emotions are now part of the manly formula for success: acting with head and heart and hands. Or, in the words of Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert, PhD, "Emotion is a compass that tells us what to do."

You have a lot to cram into these next few hours. If you're going to nourish your rich personal life, you have some ground to cover. At any given moment tonight, the average guy will be juggling the following:

Friends. As men, we commonly base our friendships on shared activities. It's a pattern established in late boyhood, when we made friends on the basis of common interests, such as skateboarding or heavy metal. It's how we do intimacy. It's good fun, and it's good for our health: In his 2000 book Bowling Alone, Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam lists the many health benefits of having friends and concludes that not having a posse is as big a health risk as smoking.

Parents. If you've gotten closer to your parents recently, you're not alone. According to the US Family Caregiver Alliance, up to seven million are caring for elderly people, and the number of men providing the primary care may be on an upswing. One report documents the number of males becoming primary caregivers as rising 50 percent between 1984 and 1994. With the aging of the boomers and the parents who sired them, that number can only be rising.

Children. By their early 40s, 78 percent of American men have fathered at least one child, according to the 2002 US National Survey of Family Growth. And among men ages 15-44 who haven't had children yet, another 78 percent say it would bother them at least a little if they never had a child. Clearly, children are important to us—so important that, in the same study, more men than women say a man's kids should come before his career! And, for many separated men, their kids are their only family. (Ditto gay divorced cowboys, like Heath Ledger's character in Brokeback Mountain.) Sociologist Paul Amato, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University, has analyzed 63 studies dealing with divorced dads and their kids. He found that if the kids felt close to their fathers and if the dads provided authoritative parenting, the children did well in school and were less likely to get into trouble after school.

Wives—or girlfriends who might one day become wives. By age 35, 70 percent of us have gotten married. So marriage is important to most of us. Unfortunately, marriage is becoming less important to women. The latest evidence comes from the same survey. The 12,000 men and women who participated were asked to agree or disagree with the statement "It is better to get married than go through life single." Two-thirds (66 percent) of men agreed—but only 51 percent of women did. In other words, one in two women thinks marriage isn't such a sweet deal for her. Maybe your wife.

So where are you going to find the time to rekindle old friendships, look in on your parents,help your kids with their homework... oh, and do something that'll cause your wife to thank her lucky stars she married you? There's the problem: Time is scarce. You don't have the time. Experts blithely refer to this universal modern bind as "work-family conflict." And it's not just a girl thing. "Work and family is almost always viewed as a women's issue," says Joseph Grzywacz, PhD, an associate professor at Wake Forest University school of medicine. "It's equally important for men."

Grzywacz's most recent research focuses on the opposite effect, what he calls "positive spillover" from work to home, and vice versa. Your home life helps your work when you can talk about job problems and seek advice about solving them; it also helps if you can relax and recharge at home, and if you aren't interrupted by family disruptions at work. Conversely, work helps the family by making you a more interesting person, and by providing a good salary and benefits that the entire family wants to protect. "That's the best mental-health scenario," says Grzywacz.

The worst scenario is when work conflicts with family, and vice versa. That conflict leads to a greater likelihood of depression, anxiety, and problem drinking, he found upon analyzing the results of ?3,032 responses to the 1995 US National Survey of Midlife Development.

And, apparently, how men handle that pent-up frustration has everything to do with their ability to recover from it. Emotional spills, surprisingly, may not be the answer. Marc Schulz, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor at Bryn Mawr College, conducted a study of 42 married couples with young children; the men worked an average of 43 hours a week, and the women averaged 25 hours a week. Among those with the happiest marriages, the man would withdraw after a bad day—and his wife would let him. "They need time to unwind," says Schulz.

"Some evidence supports the idea that men are far from unemotional—that in fact they're exquisitely sensitive to emotions. They might in fact feel them too strongly. And so they just need some space when they're filled with negative feelings. There's something about good marriages that gives each partner the space to do what he or she wants to do."

As you've gathered by now, marriage is the linchpin of a happy life for most men. But to succeed in it, you'll have to balance a man's two greatest needs: the need for power and the need for intimacy. So says psychologist Gordon M. Hart, PhD, in his book, Power and Intimacy in Men's Development.

A common male mistake, he says, is to seek power and avoid intimacy. Some men just work and work and work—and never switch gears. We spend all day honing our lightning-fast problem-solving abilities—and then we take those skills home with us and try them out on the wife and kids: Hey, I get props all day for doing this stuff! Why aren't you guys impressed? Or we get scrappy with our wives in the same way we'd spar with a rival manager at work: No, I'm not selling my motorcycle! We reflexively approach everything as a power struggle: She's not going to tell me what to do. But she may think of it as an intimacy issue: I can't be your partner if you've splattered yourself on the highway.

Hart notes that in the average office environment, we have to keep our emotions in check, "otherwise we're seen as vulnerable. If we're seen as emotional, we're seen as out of control—and of course that's the kiss of death." But unless we trade in our emotional distancing for emotional responsiveness when we get home, we will lose that home. The guys who have figured out the secret of modern masculinity will come home and "take off the emotional armor," as he puts it.

Or they won't—and they'll get separated. Roughly two out of every three breakups are initiated by women. Sanford Braver, PhD, a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, surveyed hundreds of divorced men and women for his book Divorced Dads. The top reason women gave for a divorce was "losing a sense of closeness."

Marital researchers are saying lately that emotional closeness is the only thing the contemporary marriage has left. If she doesn't feel connected to you, is there any reason for her to stick around?

Most women would say no. Not practically, not morally, not financially. She had better feel close to you. If not, there's the door, and a lawyer is propping it open for her. When she goes, the children will follow.

Ironically, women still start out their marriages thrilled to be Mrs. You. Then comes Junior in a baby carriage, which nobody's ready for. According to a Univer-sity of Washington study of newlyweds, nearly two-thirds of wives suffer a big decline in marital satisfaction within about two years after a baby is born—despite what you see in diaper commercials. After year 10, satisfaction rises again—but only for men; it takes women 15 years to see a bump in satisfaction.

Men are rather famous for coming on strong before marriage and putting our feet up afterward. Marriage researcher Howard Markman, PhD, author of Fighting for Your Marriage, once told me that, after men get married, a sort of? "benign neglect" sets in, as they turn their attention to other things. "It's the biggest error men make," he said. "The man just starts taking the relationship for granted. He's assuming it's going to take care of itself." But, clearly, it doesn't.

We've had a nice little chat, sitting out here in your driveway. Now, before you go into the house, tell me: What are you going to do differently?

First off, you're going to take charge of this transition. If you need 20 minutes to decompress, take it. If you need 20 minutes sitting quietly with your wife in the den with a glass of wine and absolutely no children, do that. (My friend Kathy made that a house rule. She's still on her first marriage.) Whatever you need, man, just make it happen. "Nobody has to be a victim," says Marianne Legato, MD, author of ?Why Men Never Remember and Women Never Forget. "Eventually, people learn to wait a minute."

Okay, your 20 minutes are up. Let the games begin. Your wife wants a word with you. Sit down. Listen. Let her talk. You don't have to match her level of emotional intensity. "If other things start cropping up—like all your offenses for the past 15 years—just stop and say, ‘This doesn't help. What is the issue today?' Stop a discussion that is counterproductive," Dr. Legato says. But do it respectfully. And be patient. "Gently guide her to the issues she really wants to talk about. Give her room to calm down." In short, let her feel close to you.

A recent major study of 5,010 couples found that women are happiest in their marriages when they get their husbands' attention. The single most important factor in her happy marriage is her husband's emotional engagement. What does that mean, exactly? I put that question to Steven L. Nock, PhD, a University of Virginia sociologist and the study's coauthor.

He says it simply means "men showing interest in the routines of their wives' lives—the routine, mundane things that men normally don't talk about." Granted, it's not most men's style to do this, an acknowledgment Nock makes personally and professionally.

"I don't know about you, but for me it doesn't come naturally," he says. He wonders how many men find it perfectly natural, after several years of marriage, to sit down every day and say, "Tell me about your day." "It is an effort," he says.

Nock is sympathetic, but adamant: "Get over it," he says. Your marriage is important to you. You earn more money because of it, you live longer, you're in better health all around, your chances of having an active sex life are way better, and your standard of living is higher. If your marriage is happy, you're more productive at work than if your marriage is unhappy.

Plus, there's a more intangible but nonetheless important benefit: "Marriage is a standard of masculinity for guys," Nock says. It shows the world that you've grown up, that you're a stand-up guy. In short, marriage is a better deal for men than it is for women.

He comes to this conclusion after years of studying marriages and writing academic books like Marriage in Men's Lives. His bottom line to you: "If a guy is smart, he's going to realize he's getting a great deal, and he's going to put in a lot of effort to keep his wife happy and keep those benefits flowing."

One of the biggest trends in marriage studies of the past 30 years is videotaping couples talking and fighting. Researchers draft a bunch of undergraduate work-study grunts to watch these tapes and write down what they see, and five years later, you follow up with the couples to see who's divorced. Well, guess what? The couples who split are those who clearly ignored each other or were downright hostile. It's not the couples in which the guy actually listened to his wife when she spoke—listened and showed interest and affection. Five years later, those marriages are okay.

Five years from now, will your marriage be okay?

Now you're ready to walk in the door.

Be Her Do-Right Man

By Sarah Miller; Photography by Antoine Verglas

Take her hand and say, "Show me what you like here."

You know how public pools post lists of unacceptable behavior? Don't run, don't dive, don't vomit a New York strip steak and a bottle of cabernet franc into our brand-new filtration system. Be assured that this is the last time I will ever liken my vagina to a public pool, but I've always thought how great it would be to post something similar in my own bedroom.

Look, we love that you love having sex with us, and we love having sex with you, too. But sometimes you do things that we don't like. Weird things. Things that you think are going to make us groan with gratitude and pleasure but really make us want to roll over and turn on the TV.

Luckily, these mistakes generally result not from lack of skill but from wrong information. You can easily unlearn them. Remember: I probably know what I like better than you do.

And if I had a bedroom sign, this is how it might read.

DO NOT ask, "What do you like?" the first time we have sex. It's our third date. Okay, so maybe it's only the second, or maybe we just met in an elevator. At any rate, we're making out. Pants are coming off, eyes are smoldering. You ask this question and, bam...the magic is gone. First, I am embarrassed. I may have been ready to have sex, but not so up for talking about it! Second, I feel pressured to provide a provocative answer, something involving toys or systematic humiliation, but the only thing I can think of to say is, "Well, Steve, I suppose I like manual and oral stimulation followed by intercourse resulting in my eventual orgasm." Finally, I am annoyed. Are you trying to sound sexy, wild, open to anything? Because if you are, won't I eventually discover that?

DO...ask questions later. Questions help an ongoing sexual relationship move forward. They slow a new one down.

DO NOT stick your tongue in my ear. The innocent, unfortunate ear (a) is a semidiscreet spot, (b) is a hole, and (c) has folds. For these reasons, it has been ill-defined as a major erogenous zone. This is one of the great misperceptions in the history of Western civilization. Too many men work according to the metaphor that her ear is the fragrant soil of the French forest, and you are a truffle hound. Put yourself on a short leash.

DO...tread lightly. I'm not saying never go for the ear. Just not every time. When you do, the ear is to be kissed gently, maybe licked on the edges, or nibbled with restraint. Then you can leave it alone. It's an ear.

DO NOT try to stuff your semihard penis inside my vagina. I understand: You're hoping it will get harder once it's in. Or you're thinking that if you act like everything's fine, then everything will be fine. Or maybe you're treating your penis like a stubborn teenager—you're going to show him who's boss and send him to his room. The only thing more humiliating than stuffing a flaccid penis inside someone is being stuffed by a flaccid penis. In this one wretched act, we can feel all of your fear, desperation, and insecurity, concentrated in the precise place where you want us to feel something else. Add to this the odd sensation that we are getting a gynecological exam from a teddy bear.

DO...anything but this. Kiss. Watch The OC. Order a pizza. Unless it's a recurring problem requiring medical or psychiatric attention, it's not a big deal. Really.

DO NOT reach for my clitoris if you are in a position that is unsuitable for such a connection. Like when I'm clearly enjoying whatever we're doing. Or, say, if you're in the den watching TV and I'm in the kitchen making brisket. Such persistence is not admirable; it's annoying. It's good that you know clitoral stimulation is important. Now you need to know that if it's not done right—the right angle and pressure, the right motion—then it doesn't feel good, and it may even hurt.

DO...ask. It might help to take her hand and say, "Show me what you like here." Then you can follow the motion of her hand, or she can guide yours until you've figured it out. In certain positions, a woman just doesn't want stimulation there, or prefers to do it herself.

DO NOT shave your balls. Having sex with a guy who shaves his balls is like riding a horse with a saddle made of broken glass. If you are going to shave, you're going to have to do it regularly. Say, every half hour.

DO...embrace your hairiness. Unless you come up with a dignified solution—and they are expensive—try to accept your body hair. You're a guy. Your great-great-etc.-grand-father was a gorilla. No one blames you.

DO NOT have a nervous breakdown about ejaculating too fast, losing your erection, or not being able to get one. An occasionally temperamental penis is no cause for alarm—but a guy who freaks out about it is. (If you make a big deal about it, we'll start to think maybe it really is a big deal, one we'll have to worry about.) Conversely, it's also not a good idea to act as if nothing happened, because, well, that is just bull, and that never flies.

DO...acknowledge it, then laugh it off. The guy who says, "Wow, I usually only last for five seconds, so that was a record," or, "Gee, I guess those amazing anti-erection pills I got online are working"—that's the kind of guy who makes us want to try again. Later. After a movie. And possibly a chicken sandwich.

Trigger Happy

By Ian Kerner, PhD; Photographs by Jake Verzosa

6 Steps to Beat PE No torture.

Just lots of sex Men, you can last longer.

For years, I silently battled premature ejaculation and test-drove every bizarre remedy I stumbled upon. Follow these exercises that finally worked for me.

Master masturbation. Masturbate with a woman's orgasm in mind, not your own. In other words, take your time: Work up to 15 minutes. Bring yourself close to the point of no return, but don't let yourself ejaculate until time is up.

Squeeze. If you're overheating during masturbation or sex, stop and squeeze right below the head of your penis. Apply firm pressure with your thumb and forefinger and focus the pressure on the urethra—the tube running along the underside of the penis. The squeeze technique, developed by those icons of sex therapy, Masters and Johnson, pushes blood out of the penis and momentarily decreases sexual tension and represses the ejaculatory response.

Pinpoint ejaculatory inevitability. Masters and Johnson broke the process of sexual response into four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. It's the plateau and orgasm phases we're most concerned with, as most men crash through the former, straight into the latter. The trick is to slow down and recognize that there's a spectrum of feelings throughout the process of sexual response and to recognize your own point of ejaculatory inevitability. Rate your sexual excitement on a scale of 1-10. Try keeping yourself at 7.

Sexercise. Do your Kegels. A Kegel is an exercise that helps tighten the pubococcygeal (PC) muscles of the pelvic floor. Both men and women have them, and you can become familiar with the muscle group by cutting off the flow of urine and then starting and stopping it repeatedly. (Begin with a full bladder.) Once you have the exercise down, practice your Kegels anywhere: at your desk, behind the wheel. Tighten your PC muscles and hold for a count of 10, then release. Practice in sets of 10. Stronger PC muscles will help you exercise ejaculatory control when you approach the point of inevitability.

Press, don't thrust. Tease her, taunt her: Press the head of your penis into her clitoral head. Linger in her vaginal entrance, where the most sensitive nerve endings are. When you do have intercourse, focus on small, shallow movements that penetrate the first 2-3 inches of her vaginal canal. Press your penis against her G-spot. You'll last longer if you're not thrusting vigorously.

Show a little courtesy. Ladies first, gentlemen—and I'm talking about more than just holding the door open. Keep your woman happy. Women have an innate capacity to experience multiple orgasms. When you help her to her first one, it relieves you of some of the pressure to please and the psychological anxiety that feeds into PE. Use your fingers; use your mouth.

Ultimately, it was the "stop-start" method that pushed my fiancée, Tara, over the edge.

What with so much stopping and so little starting, not to mention all my various instructions—"Slow down, easy, easy, okay, go ahead, stop, I said stop!"—she finally blurted out, "Jesus, are we having sex or parking a car?" As she jumped out of bed and reached for her clothes, I pleaded, "Wait....You can't just get up and go—""Why not? That's what you do every time we have sex." I stammered and said something about lasting 10 seconds—two more than last month. She said something about menopause and how maybe we'd be able to have sex for a whole minute by then. "I'm so sick and tired of saying, ‘It's okay, really,' every time we have sex," she yelled. "It's not okay! This is your problem, not mine. And if you don't get it figured out by the time I get back from Hong Kong, the engagement is off!"

Premature ejaculation (PE) has been, without a doubt, the single greatest factor in the formation of my character. Whenever someone asks me why I pursued a PhD in clinical sexology and became a sex therapist, I always say it's because of my struggles with PE and the years of quiet desperation I endured. I still remember when my college girlfriend first went on the Pill. I was terrified. Until then, a condom lined with lidocaine(a numbing agent that rendered me barely able to feel my penis) had been my first line of defense. The sex wasn't pleasurable, but at least it wasn't totally humiliating. Now, however—could I go it alone? The first time we made ungloved love, I was overwhelmed by the sensations: the slippery warmth, the wetness of being inside her. It felt so amazing; I wanted desperately to savor the experience. But it was out of my control. On my very first thrust, I went in, but I didn't make it out. And as I lay on top of her—defeated, depleted—I cried. I wanted to make love like a man, but I was a little boy, incapable of controlling my bodily functions. I considered PE my tragic downfall and believed myself cursed with an Achilles penis. Today, at least I know I'm not alone. Indeed, whenever I see a commercial for Viagra or one of its new competitors, I get ticked off: Why isn't the media talking about PE? According to urologists Andrew McCullough, MD, of the New York University school of medicine, and James Barada, MD, of the Albany College of Medicine, PE is the number-one sexual-health problem afflicting men, and is three times more common than erectile dysfunction (ED). Estimates vary, but 20 percent to 30 percent of men suffer from PE—and those figures are based on self-reported studies. What do women say? Nearly two-thirds of them have had sex with a man who experienced premature ejaculation, according to a recent survey of 900 women conducted by www.MensHealth.com and Cosmopolitan US magazine. PE strikes men of all ages, andthe condition affects virtually all men at some time in their lives. Dr. McCullough and Dr. Barada surveyed more than 1,100 men with PE and found that those men report less satisfaction and more anxiety about their sexual relationships. It can wreck their confidence and cause the to avoid new relationships.

But what if premature ejaculation isn't a curse after all, but simply "survival of the fastest"? According to Mark Jeffrey Noble, MD, a consultant to the Cleveland Clinic Glickman Urological Institute, "One might find some logical sense, from an evolutionary point of view, to the idea that males who can ejaculate rapidly would be more likely to succeed in fertilizing a female than those males who require prolonged stimulation to reach climax." So in that sense, maybe PE isn't a sexual dysfunction at all—it's a completely normal way of functioning, based on male physiology. That's why we should stop calling it "premature" ejaculation and come up with a new, more accurate term: "immature ejaculation." Because, frankly, that's what it is: an immature way of doing things that largely stems from the way we're taught, or rather, not taught, to masturbate in childhood. Most young men, fearing discovery, masturbate furtively and quickly, unwittingly exploiting, and simultaneously hard-coding, their natural propensity to rapidly achieve gratification. Weight lifters talk about "muscle memory." I believe that premature ejaculators experience "penis memory." No wonder the pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey observed in his book Sexual Behavior in the Human Male that the average man can maintain penetrative thrusting for only about two minutes. (However, Cosmo readers said the average guy lasts 10-15 minutes.) We've trained ourselves to ejaculate quickly, and we need to relearn the process of sexual response in order to last longer.

At first, like any overexcited teenager, I dealt with PE in the usual ways: masturbating before going out on dates (which helps, but becomes less effective as you get older and require more downtime between erections); downing beers; and donning double, even triple, condoms. I even tried to delay orgasm in the heat of the moment by distracting myself with baseball statistics or images of dead people—and let me tell you, thinking about corpses during sex: definite mood killer.

Later, I graduated to herbal remedies, topical ointments, and miracle creams advertised in the backs of porn magazines. On one occasion, my little experiments led to an acid burn of my penis in the men's room of a Japanese restaurant. In yet another doomed effort, I put the Errol Flynn method to the test: a dab of cocaine on the tip of the penis. The matinee idol once explained that it could be helpful "if you're quick on the trigger." But it didn't work for me, and I doubt it really worked for Flynn. He claimed to have slept with more than 13,000 women in his lifetime. Now, how the hell are you going to do that without being a premature ejaculator?

The day Tara left for Hong Kong—giving me three weeks to shape up or clear out—I spiraled to an all-time low. In a desperate attempt to keep that ring on her finger, I tried every type of radical therapy. There was biofeedback treatment, in which an electrode was inserted where I least wanted it, and I was encouraged to engage in an activity once thought to cause blindness in teenagers; self-hypnosis tapes that lulled me into such a deep trance with its sounds of water being stopped and started that I woke up soaked in my own urine; and a session with a German "masturbation specialist" who sternly observed and critiqued my methods of self-pleasure, all the while keeping time with a metronome and commanding me to "stop, start, squeeze; stop, start, squeeze!" By the time Tara returned, I was a complete mess. I didn't know if I was coming or going. Or, for that matter, if I'd be coming and then going after having sex with her.

And as she emerged from the shower and came to bed, naked and glistening, I was so nervous, I didn't just prematurely ejaculate, I spontaneously ejaculated. True to her word, she left me. Don't feel bad. I don't. (Anymore.) And don't worry, either. According to the www.MensHealth.com and Cosmopolitan US survey, less than 10 percent of women say they've dumped a guy because he was quick on the draw. Shortly after we broke up, I began working with a really terrific sex therapist. I overcame PE within a few months, using six techniques. (See "6 Steps to Beat PE." ) I was so transformed, and inspired, that I decided to change careers and go down that path myself. Today, I continue to learn about PE, which is exactly what the late sex therapist Helen Singer Kaplan, MD, PhD, advised in what is still considered the definitive guide to conquering PE, titled How to Overcome Premature Ejaculation. My struggles led me not only to my passion in life—writing about sex and helping others through sex therapy—but to the love of my life, as well: my wife, Lisa. My short story finally found a happy ending.

Ian Kerner, PhD, is a certified clinical sexologist and the author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman.

The Sex You Deserve

Photographs by Jason Tablante

Best Gifts For Her


On the Washer

Your washing machine produces more vibration than any other appliance in your home. Problem is, most people don't use it right. You should be the one with your butt on the lid. The motion will be transmitted through your pelvis, essentially turning your member into a life-size vibrator. Run a warm-water load so the top won't be cold.

In the Vault

To really add some spice to your sex life, make a quick stop at your bank. A safe-deposit-box room is quiet, the door is locked, and there's no camera. It's a great place to make a deposit and withdraw.

In a Beanbag Chair

A beanbag chair is great for sex. You can contour it to any shape, and it'll support you in ways you're not accustomed to. Doggy-style sex works great when she's on her belly, draped over the amorphous blob (the chair, not you). Stick a couple of thick books under the bag to prevent sinking in too far.

During Christmas at the In-Laws'

There's only one thing that might make the marathon holiday family visits bearable: a little covert sex. Here's the best way to pull it off: Bring the kids' gifts—wrapped, but in a bag. Say you haven't wrapped them yet and duck into a spare room. Have fun with the bows.

Try These 2 Positions

The Cowgirl

You lean back with your shoulders against the foot of the bed and your feet on the floor, supporting the bulk of your weight. She straddles your midsection and uses her legs to thrust. Even if she’s never been the jockey type, she’ll have a hard time resisting this invitation to ride. Not only does she control the angle, speed, depth, and rhythm of the thrusts, but because she supports her own weight, she also has complete freedom of movement. One caution: Some women get weak in the knees during orgasm, so brace yourself for a little extra weight once she peaks. After you master this, try the reverse cowgirl.

The Mindblower

Have her lie on her back across the bed, with her head and shoulders dangling over the edge. (Make sure she keeps as much of her lower back on the mattress as possible, and stop if she gets too light-headed.) Enter her slowly, and show some restraint when you thrust—you don’t want to knock her onto the floor. Anytime you turn your head upside-down, you’ll feel a rush as blood pours in. This head rush, combined with physical pleasure, can heighten orgasm for some women.

First, Tell Her What She Wants to Hear

The top three things women like to hear most from men are...
1. "I can't wait to see you."
2. "I love waking up with you."
3. "I brought you something."

Find Something at the Last Minute

Stop at a drugstore. Buy a decorative gift bag and stuff it with as many bath products as you can find (bubble bath, sponge, shampoo, lotion). Attach a note that says, "Tonight, your body is in my hands." Flash your eye-brows, wink, and head for the bath. (She'll faint with pleasure, especially if you've cleaned the tub, too.)

Go to a video store and rent the first movie you ever watched together at a theater. She'll be so touched you remember that she won't even notice that this gift cost you squat. Make popcorn, drink wine, and see if that old stretch-your-arm-around-her-shoulder trick still works.

Pick her up after work, but don't tell her where you're going. Then take her on a tour of places that are special to the two of you—the bar where you had your first date, the park where you dropped the L-bomb, the parking lot where you dropped your virginity. At each spot, reminisce about your relationship. Memories are almost as good for her as ESPN Classic is for you.

How to Boost Your Penis Power

Exercise Control

Kegels are exercises that give some men stiffer erections and more control over ejaculation by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. Here's the program: First, find the right muscles: the ones you use to stop your urine flow. Then squeeze and hold them tight. Half of your contractions can be brief; hold the rest for three sec­­­­­­­­­onds. No one will know you're doing Kegels, so you can do them anywhere. Start with a few and work toward 200 a day. After doing Kegels for a few months, your pelvic muscles will be strong enough to prevent ejaculation if you squeeze them just before the urge to ejaculate.

Put Some Jelly on Your Head

If condoms reduce your sensation too much, try putting a dab of water-based lubricant (such as K-Y Jelly) or spermicidal jelly on the head of your penis before donning the condom. The lubricant will create a more natural-feeling sensation. Never use oil-based lubricants such as petroleum jelly, baby oil, or min­eral oil. They can destroy latex.

Lick Erection Problems

A healthy man normally has from three to five erections while sleeping, though these decrease in frequency after age 50 or so. Presumably, all the psychological and emotional stresses surrounding sex are absent when you're asleep. So if you're getting good nocturnal erections, any perfor­mance problems you're having are psychological. To run a systems check on your equipment, wrap postage stamps around the base of your penis and secure the ends together. If the stamps are torn along a perforation the next morning, everything is working correctly. If you wake up in a post office in Batanes, someone has played a cruel joke on you.

Smell Her Buns

It's not the smell of fancy perfume or coconut suntan lotion that turns men on. It's the scent of baked cinnamon buns. That was the conclusion of neurologists following a unique experiment in which they monitored penile bloodflow in 25 medical students while the students sniffed different smells. The experimenters exposed the students to a wide range of fragrances, from lily-of-the-valley to rose to musk, but found that cinnamon buns turned men on most. The scents of pumpkin pie, doughnuts, and black licorice also ranked high. Researchers speculate the smells may evoke a nostalgic memory that relaxes a man, making him more aware of sexual cues.

Don't Take Viagra with a Big Meal

To avoid turning your little blue pill into an expensive Lifesaver, wait at least 90 minutes after a lavish dinner to take it. High-fat foods prevent you from fully absorbing Viagra. Men who complained that Viagra didn't work usually had taken it soon after a fatty meal.

Eight Ways to Drive Her Wild

Find Her G-Spot

The G-spot is located inside the vagina on the forward wall (toward the navel). When stimulated, the G-spot swells to about a piso's size and has the puffy consistency of a marshmallow. To find it, insert a finger and curl it toward you, in a kind of "come hither" motion.

Hum during Oral Sex

Anytime you touch the skin with something vibrating, you transmit sensation to a wider area than you would through simple stroking. So relax your lips (think Mick Jagger) and hum a tune (maybe "Brown Sugar") as you bring the outermost portion of your kisser in contact with her vaginal lips.

Lick, Then Blow

By licking her nipples, private parts, and neck, then blowing on the wet patches you've created, you can generate a sexy tingle that'll drive your woman wild. To make her head spin even more, use alcohol. It evaporates more quickly than water or saliva, producing a greater cooling effect.

Hide the Honey

You're blindfolded; she hides a dab of honey somewhere on her body. You try to find it—using only your tongue.

Lose the Tie

A necktie is the one article of men's clothing that women love most. The way the silk feels against her skin, the way it smells after being tied around your neck all day. Mmm. So take it off and rub it against her skin, or, even better, use it to cover her eyes. She won't be able to anticipate where or when your next kiss or touch is coming, so every touch will feel more intense.

Turn On a Black Light

A black light positioned near the bed really helps start things cooking. It gives naked bodies a sexy-looking tan without either of you having to destroy your skin by baking in the sun. They're available at any home store.

Play the Alphabet Game

Make capital letters with your tongue very slowly on her clitoris. See if you can make it to M.

Shower Her with Flowers

Put flower petals on top of the blades of a ceiling fan. Turn it on when she lies down.

Best Pickup Strategies Ever

Touch Her, Then Stop

Still not sure if she's interested? If you've made it to a second round of drinks, initiate contact by touching her arm several times during the next 15 minutes. Then abruptly stop all physical contact. If she's attracted to you, she'll fire a few strokes your way as soon as she realizes you've stopped touching her. Touch is a very important part of courtship. If she touches you back, it's a good sign.

Approach the Amazon

Don't know how to break the ice with that gym babe? Ask her to show you how to do a particular exercise or operate a certain machine. She'll be flattered.

Deliver the Perfect Compliment

"You're beautiful" isn't a compliment. "Nice set of helmets" isn't a compliment. Compliment her on what she's made, not on what God's made. "Lovely dress," "Terrific memo," "Incredible insight," "Great joke!" And don't overdo it. Once is enough. Every compliment after the first one takes away half the value of its predecessor.

Bring a Fake Date

If you have a great-looking female friend, by all means show her off. There are few things more attractive to a woman than the fact that other women are attracted to you. In a study, when people were asked to judge men based on photographs of them with "spouses" of differing attractiveness, unattractive men paired with good-looking women were routinely rated most favorably in terms of status.

Find Women with Jobs

To locate a high proportion of good-looking (if somewhat bitter and humorless) women, eat and drink in the area surrounding the courthouse. Law offices harbor an astonishing number of female lawyers, paralegals, and legal secretaries. All of 'em eat. Runnerup: hospital cafeterias. (Nurses. Lots of nurses.)

Guess Her Age

Have her punch her age into a calculator. Then have her multiply it by 7, then multiply that product by 1,443. Have her hand the calculator to you. Her age will be repeated three times. Watch: 28 (age) x 7 = 196; 196 x 1,443 = 282,828.

And The Man Cleaves To His Wife

By Jomike del Rosario; Photographs by Compass Images

Prep Tips and Tricks

Pitch in on mounting the biggest production of your life with these I do's and I don'ts

1. I do take care of the honeymoon. Be romantic.
2. I don't go for a buffet when there are too many guests or if the reception is very formal.
3. I do get rested a week before the wedding. Two words: honeymoon stamina.
4. I don't have it in writing that we want cash gifts. Be subtle: say you have a fully-furnished future home.
5. I do send out ALL the invitations a month before so guests can schedule and get gifts that don't suck.
6. I don't get a videographer and photographer whose work I wouldn't bother looking at 10 years down the line

Before you can call her the old ball and chain–not to her face of course– you have to get through the wedding day and its preparation. That process itself may lead to (totally unnecessary) bloodshed, with all the avenues for arguments and stressful situations man and bride-to-be will face. We explore the ins and outs of the biggest day of your life to help you dance your way around those pitfalls, straight into the arms of your extremely ecstatic bride.

"Preparing for the wedding is a pretty good way of learning about your partner," says Allan Dionisio, MD, a premarital and marital family counselor. If you thought you could see into the very depths of her soul, think again. Once that engagement ring slips onto her finger, prepare to see an entirely new side of her. "From the time hormones start kicking in at the age of 13, she's already dreaming about her wedding day," Dr. Dionisio says. To make it even more of a challenge, Dr. Dionisio claims that the longer she stays single, the loftier those dreams get. Can you sense the potential for conflict or worse, utter disappointment here? No worries, buddy—just read on and give your girl The Day she'll tell your grandchildren about.

Wedding Preparations, The Fight-Free Way

Of all the aspects of the preparations, the budget is a hot zone for arguments. "A lot of arguments usually arise because the couple is not clear on this. Usually, the girl thinks the guy is being extra-stingy while the guy thinks the girl is splurging on a one-day event," notes Winnie Lee-Natividad, general manager of

The Wedding Library (www.weddinglibrary.com.ph), a one-stop shop for access to anything wedding- and honeymoon-related.

The key to staying within budget and fulfilling your fiancé's wishes is not to fight about cost, but talk about values. "The thing about a budget is it reflects your values," Dr. Dionisio explains. "The way you spend your money reflects the things that are important to you." So don't tell her, "Ang mahal naman!" Instead, ask her what it is about the object in question she wants to spend on. If you agree with her point, then maybe you spend a bit more. If not, you can find a compromise between your values and hers, say a less extravagant cake, but a bigger hotel room to frolic in after. That way, instead of a power struggle, an understanding is reached. Something to make you loosen up: You will make up some of the expenses when you get those fat checks from your ninongs and ninangs. It's tacky to mention, but it is true.

The second issue you'll have to hurdle is time management. Things do get quite hectic when planning is in full swing. The solution? Delegate. If you can afford a wedding planner, then by all means, do get one. If not, get family or wedding entourage members to help you out. That way, you get to spend more time relaxing with your ladylove before the wedding instead of running around like a headless chicken.

Simplifying things a bit wouldn't hurt, either. Just remember that what really matters is the 10 minutes it takes to exchange vows and be pronounced man and wife. The rest is just window-dressing, Dionisio says.

The Ceremony

The day itself will go by like life was set to fast-forward. Although it'll seem like a mad rush toward the aisle, no matter what you do, the day will be much more enjoyable if you're prepared. Be like Batman and bring along a utility belt stocked with: Band-Aids (for calluses), breath mints or gum (for nervous chewing and minty freshness), tissues, water, a mini-stapler (for on-the-fly clothing fixes and alterations), powder (to avoid oily noses and foreheads), and antacid. Have your best man keep it somewhere nearby so you can access it anytime. During the ceremony, agree with your bride on how to say the vows so you can both read or memorize it. That way, you don't feel like a dolt when she stares in your eyes and gives herself to you, word for memorized word while you shakily hold on to the program. Also, don't forget to smile, it's not called a celebration of love for nothing. And if your emotions surge, don't be afraid of a little guy cry. Paolo Mendoza, who got married in December 2006, recalls how he got so emotional, "Mom ko nasa likod ko umiiyak, mother-in-law ko umiiyak din. Tapos sobrang grand entrance pa si Chers! (his wife) Umikot yung sikmura ko. Ang sakit ta-laga! Di ko alam kung ano yun, stomach cramps yata o baka nag-hyperventilate ako. Kaya yata ako naiyak kasi ang sakit ng tiyan ko e! (laughs)"

The Reception

On the way to the reception, grab a quick bite: chicken nuggets and a shake, for instance. Being newly-married, alas, means not getting to eat on your wedding day. "Nung dinner, soup lang," Mendoza reveals. "Di kami naka-dinner kasi sobrang busy sa program and pag-entertain ng guests." Why the protein-packed snack? The protein helps absorb booze, which means a more vigorous you after the wedding. Lucky girl.

At the reception, make it more entertaining for guests by setting aside a budget for prizes during the bouquet and garter toss. That way, guests want to join in instead of making a mass pee-pee break when the event is announced. For the first dance, try doing it differently: Dance something fast and choreographed, ala Dirty Dancing; have her dad, then yours, then you dance with the bride to make it an "aww-shucks" moment. Don't be scared to get creative—your guests will appreciate it.

Also, prepare a speech for your bride as a surprise. Give her another bouquet of flowers then tell her in front of everyone (again) how great she is and how lucky you are. It will make the crowd, your new in-laws, and her swoon so hard they'd think they were trees and you were a gale-force typhoon. One last tip: If your drunken uncle starts to make a commotion, have the photographer pull him aside for a picture—outside. Crisis averted.

Wedding Night Sex!

The first thing to keep in mind is that wedding night sex is not a 'shebang' type of sex, it's more of a 'she-love' thing. Dr. Dionisio recommends not getting your moves from porn, but from a fact-based book on sex. Get a copy together, one she won't cringe to look at while pointing out the things you want to try out. There's no rush—you have the whole night to experiment.

We told you before that weddings are the girl's perfect day. Her dopamine and epinephrine–her feel-good chemicals, are going to be at an all-time high. She'll be open to getting, as well as giving pleasure. Spice it up with some edible oils, undies, and body-toppings (available at The Wedding Library branches) because you'll be hungry after the reception. Ask the hotel staff to sprinkle your room with rose petals. And buy nice bath products. That night will set the tone for your married sex life, so set the bar high.

In the morning you'll wake up and find your wife looking down at you with that smile. The one you fell for. Take a bow—you've just given her the wedding of her dreams.

Seduce any woman

By Lauren Murrow; Additional reporting by Omar Glenn D. Belo; Photographs by Bahag/BWP

"Hearing your desire is the strongest aphrodisiac."

"Sexual pleasure is linked to the gradual process of seduction, which includes courtship, touching, and kissing."

Stand proud, fellas. We are having more sex than the guys in the land of triple-D breast implants and porn. Way more. Surprised? American men are portrayed in pop culture and in the Internet as the sex gods of the world, constantly flocked by women, and having sex in the blink of an eye. Besides, they have George Clooney and Matthew McConaughey. And has anyone tallied Tommy Lee's numbers? The stats tell a different story, though. According to a Men's Health survey of 40,000 readers worldwide, we, along with other men in other countries, have sex up to 70 more times a year than they do. Ready to crown yourself king? Hold your horses. We surveyed the globe to know the secrets that make fellow stags from other countries so appealing to the ladies in their home turf. We also took advantage of expert advice from around the world to further boost your seduction skills. Get your black book ready and master their tips, as well as our own if you're still not too familiar with it. Soon, you'll simply be able to say "G'day" and mate.

Take her, outside

Hugh Grant has typecast British men as meek and bumbling. But according to a 2005 Durex survey of 317,000 people in 41 countries, these blokes are so irresistible, their partners can't even wait to get back to the flat. Twice as many Brits as Americans report having had sex on public transportation and in alleyways and gardens. "Many a chap has fallen in love in the checkout line at the supermarket," says Vicki Ford, a British psychosexual therapist and the author of Overcoming Sexual Problems. And apparently they consummate it on the way home.

How to do it: Arouse her temptation. Pull her into a side alley or a dark doorway and plant one while gently stroking her neck, suggests Emily Dubberley, a British sex expert and the author of Brief Encounters. "Fear of being caught stimulates her fight-or-flight response," explains Ford. "Adrenaline floods her system, making everything feel much more intense."

Drive her wild

Men love their cars, but Australian men love in their cars. Almost 75 percent of Aussies have had sex on the road, according to Durex. "We can always find a private space to get it on," says Jan Hall, PhD, an Australian sex therapist. The car provides the ideal cover: "Sneaking away for a surreptitious shag or fondle says, ‘I can't wait,' " says Gabrielle Morrissey, PhD, Australian author of A Year of Spicy Sex.

How to do it: Heading to a party is the perfect opportunity to lure her over to the driver's sidethe mood is up, and you're dressed to the nines. Playfully graze her inner thigh with your fingertips. Suggest that it's proper to be fashionably late–how should we fill the time?–and park on a secluded street for a quickie. "It's like sharing a secret all night," Morrissey says, "especially if you've promised each other an encore."

Play it straight

Meeting women is easy, if you're not sidetracked by insecurity ("Is she looking at me?"), coy games ("Have our waitress ask her waitress what she's drinking"), or body-language interpretation ("Dude, her eyes say no, but the angle of her feet says olé!"). When Romanian men want a woman, they tell her. "The men here have a lot of self-confidence," says Felicia Abaza, sex editor of Men's Health Romania. "And the women are tuned to respond to it."

How to do it: Tired come-ons will fall flat. Instead, lean in unexpectedly and whisper in her ear, "I just had to be near you." Be mindful of your tone. Brash: bad. Calm: good. "Caress her with your voice," says Patricia Cihodaru, MsC, a Romanian psychologist and sex expert. And when you've become friendly enough that you won't get a punch in the chops, "say she looks beautiful and tell her how much you want her," says Cihodaru. "Hearing your desire is the strongest aphrodisiac."

Build tension with technology

Forget the three-day rule. In China, men follow up the day after a successful date—by e-mail. "Technology plays a big role in relationships here," says Yoyoo Chow, sex editor of Men's Health China. "Most couples meet over the Internet. So if a man doesn't take the initiative, she'll find someone else pretty quickly."

How to do it: Send a short, suggestive note, says Chow. Something as simple as "Last night...wow! When can I see you again?" will incite her interest. If she feels the same way, she'll respond accordingly. As the sexual tension builds, resist the temptation to pour out your soul or create a list of your top 10 fantasies. At this early stage, short equals sexy—always. And remember: Use of emoticons will ensure that you spend the night alone.

Keep her coming

It's good to be in the 21st century. If this survey was done decades ago, the Philippines might be cellar dwellers. Now, rejoice. You have sex more times a week than most guys in the world. On average, Pinoys have sex at a rate of almost four times a week (3.95) as opposed to the Italian stallions (3.48) and the American stags (2.95). "That's not difficult to believe," says Agnes Bueno, MD, consultant at the Human Sexuality Clinic in St. Luke's Medical Center, Quezon City. "There are some younger ones who have sex 10 times in a day." If we had the land area of China, we'd be a superpower by now.

How to do it: A guy is easy to arouse but a woman is much more complicated, according to Dr. Bueno. "A lot of men, not only in the Philippines, are premature ejaculators. A woman takes longer to get aroused—eh ikaw naman gusto mo tapos na kaagad," says Dr. Bueno. Develop creativity and endurance, as well as take advantage of the woman's multi-orgasmic nature. "You may even have your first ejaculation and then you can go watch a movie or something. Get your second wind and romanticize your woman while you're at it," she adds. "Maybe by that time she'll be ready for her own orgasm. She can even have 6-10 in one encounter. You just have to be creative." Quit the smokes, too. You'll need all the gas from your lungs.

Seduce her with food

It's no secret that good food, wine, and conversation lead to great sex. "Italian men flock to dinner parties to meet women," says Adriana Amedei, sex editor at Men's Health Italy. "There's no crowd, no noise, it's relaxed. All you have to do is share your opinions...at least to start." The real mating game, says Amedei, begins at the table. Flirting overtly over a meal (or discreetly under the table) builds tension that will spill over later. "Food and sex are intimately connected, because they tap into the senses," says Martha Hopkins, author of InterCourses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook.

How to do it: "Listen attentively to her, make eye contact, and seek out a common interest," says Hopkins. "Then, while eating, conjure up the same sounds that accompany passionate sex: mmm, oooh, aahh." You're creating a mood and a fantasy. Be subtle about it, however. You don't want the host to say, "Um, Fred, do you mind? We're eating."

Prolong your pleasure

Indian men know that the journey is almost always more interesting than the destination. "Sexual pleasure is linked to the gradual process of seduction, which includes courtship, touching, and kissing," says Sanjay Srivastava, PhD, author of Passionate Modernity. "Focusing on the finish misses the point."

How to do it: Practice a technique called karezza, in which the man remains inside the woman for at least 10 minutes, moving only when necessary to maintain an erection. Penetrate her slowly and gently. Match your breathing and maintain eye contact to focus on your emotional connection, not the physical act. "Conventional sex can be very limiting," says Kenneth Ray Stubbs, PhD, author of The Essential Tantra. "This results in a larger climax for both partners."

Play with positions

Lovers in the Netherlands know what they want—and how to ask for it. Sixty-four percent of Dutch men and women are confident asserting their needs during sex, according to the Durex survey. "In bars, men are picked up as often as they approach women themselves, and both are willing to experiment in bed," says Achsa Vissel, a Dutch sex psychologist. Being forward with your compliments–and desires–will pave the way for pleasure.

How to do it: "Dutch men pay attention to places that seem less erotic, like the inner arms, back, and shoulders," says Vissel. Shaking up the routine leads to more sex: Sixty-three percent of the Dutch are satisfied with the amount of sex they're having, compared with 54 percent of Filipinos. When your partner is ready to move past the missionary position, try moves that allow you to stroke her clitoris during sex, like doggy-style or cowgirl.

Don't be so uptight

We may be bombarded with sexual imagery all day, but sex talk is still taboo for many Filipinos. Not in Greece…. "We talk about sex all the time—in the office, with our friends, with our partners," says Nikki Hayia, sex editor of Men's Health Greece. "A Greek man can talk dirty to his woman in front of 10 people, and it doesn't bother him to kiss and touch her in public." Simple public displays of affection can work for you, too: A recent study by the Berman Center in Chicago found that couples who kiss often in nonsexual situations are eight times more likely to be sexually satisfied.

How to do it: Hint at what's to come, says Hayia: Subtly stroke her thigh or lower back during dinner; run your fingers up her leg; steal a lingering kiss on her bare shoulder at a crowded bar. Hayia leaves this food for thought for the uptight ones: "Relax, guys. Have sex like there's no tomorrow."

Catch Her Eye

Every man in sight wants her attention. If you want to stand out from the crowd, here’s what she wants to see
By Nicole Beland

Whenever my single friends get the urge to mingle, flirt, and maybe more, we hit the big, noisy bars, where we know we’ll find dozens of men with an agenda similar to ours. But it’s not that easy. We end up ordering cocktails and standing around, scanning a sea of suits. It’s not that we’re shy, we’re just waiting to spot a cutie who we hope will be a little different—a little better—than the rest.

What are we looking for? Not what you might think. Yeah, good hair and an easy smile are eye-catching, but they’re too common to pique our curiosity. Here’s a list of the more rare characteristics that won’t just turn our heads—they’ll also get our butts moving across the room to say hello.

Mr. Excitement backfires

September 29, 2008

My pretty and sexy wife was going back from a four-month vacation in the US. Two days before her arrival, I conditioned myself with lots of multivitamins, energy drink and manhood-invigorating meds, hoping they would improve my stamina and performance.So I was an hour early at the airport. I was beginning to feel drained so I took more of those vitamins and energy drink to keep me alive. When she arrived, we wasted no time and headed immediately to the nearby hotel I had reserved earlier. We showered together and went on with the deed. The vitamins were doing their job; my performance was incredible for the first round. But after a short break, it appeared my body could only take so much without rest. I dozed off while my wife took a shower preparing for our next round. I woke up eight hours later while she stayed up the whole time because of jet lag. She kept asking me if I had sex with other girls while she was away because I didn’t seem so excited about it. When I explained what had happened, she burst into laughter and understood.

Ali, by email
Illustration by: Mikke Gallardo


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