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Video: Dial down the drama to turn up the heat

TODAY books
updated 11/16/2010 4:29:12 PM ET 2010-11-16T21:29:12

Those cute, creative pet names you call your partner could be leading to boredom in the bedroom, say authors Maggie Arana and Julienne Davis in their book, “Stop Calling Him Honey.” An excerpt.

It's seemingly one of the most innocuous words in the world, but for a relationship it can be one of the most dangerous. The word is honey. How many of us call our partners “honey”? Millions of us use the word in multiple countries and in multiple languages. Its use has become such a cliché that when we see a film or TV program where a husband returns home from work, we expect to hear him say, “Hi, honey, I’m home!” This is probably one of the most common, socially accepted habits that can develop in long-term relationships. Nearly everyone calls their loved one an endearing nickname. They can’t all be wrong can they? Yes, they can! And yes, they are!

What’s wrong with calling each other “honey,” you ask? Well, honey is great on a warm piece of toast, but lousy on a couple’s sex life. Calling your partner “honey” is the first step down the slippery slope toward a bland or nonexistent sexual relationship. And unfor­tunately, it usually doesn’t stop with “honey,” but degenerates into “hon,” “sweetie,” “pookie,” “papa bear,” “pumpkin,” “mugwump,” “snookie-ookums,” “furfy,” “tweetie,” “love bug,” “cuddle face,” “cutie pie,” “biscuit,” “tiger-twinkies,” “doober,” “schwinkie,” “toodle-puss,” “schmoopie”... you get the picture. And, yes, we could easily fill this entire chapter with the little endearing nicknames that we are all guilty of using. There’s a lot of creativity goin’ on there ... and that’s not helping either!

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When you get married, part of the ritual is that you both become one, and that is one of the beautiful things about marriage. You have a permanent partner, an ally, a most-trusted friend. You trust your life, your savings, and most important, your heart with this person. They are your family now. But we need to look further into what “becoming one” actually means.

Once you become one — as in two halves of a whole, rather than two whole complete separate people — you can say good-bye to the passionate sex you enjoyed in the beginning. Why? Because sexual attraction is often built upon being attracted to someone who is different than and separate from you. In marriage, however, this idea of two whole separate people often falls by the wayside after a few years of living together. It’s often so easy to get too comfortable with one another and so close that you blur the lines between you and throw part of your identity away in the process. Separation and unique identities are essential to maintaining a good sex life. Becom­ing one means two whole complete separate people are joined together in marriage. Meaning ... it’s a partnership! It is not that each person gives up half of who they are for that partnership.

The power in a name
One of the most important parts of our unique identity is our name. Maybe you have a beautiful name or maybe you have a name that suits your personality. Perhaps your name is the name of a beloved mother or grandmother. Why would you want to lose that? Whether we like it or not, our name is the most obvious sign of our identity. And, it’s having a separate identity that makes any relationship interesting, whether it’s your partner or a friend.

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Remember when you first dated your husband — didn’t you call him by his name? Sure you did, but how often have you done that lately? We’ve met many couples in our research for this book that haven’t called each other by their real names in years. Many women we talked to said they couldn’t even remember the last time their partner said their name to them, and when they did, they usually said something like, “Yeah, now that I think of it, I really miss him calling me by my name at home.” What seems to happen is that social mores take over, and we all fall into the same trap of using that age-old endearing nickname: honey.

Why is it that you can have a close friend for many years, someone you might speak to every day and share intimate parts of your life with, yet you never resorted to calling that person “honey?” And why do we feel the need to forgo our partner’s name just because we are having sex? When we become romantically involved with someone, his or her name usually goes out the window in the first few months and hardly ever returns. One of the most dangerous facets of calling each other “honey” is that it puts your mind in a nonsexual place throughout the day. Then in the evenings or whenever a sexual moment may arise, it is very difficult to get out of the “honey” mind-set.

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When you’re both calling each other “honey,” a small part of your identity is being eroded. Once that happens, you have started down the road to a sexual desert. The power of that seemingly harmless, simple word is amazing. By using it, you inadvertently take the sexual tension down a notch or two in your communication with your lover. Left unchecked, this effectively takes away their individuality, their sex, their female/maleness, and most important, their differentness from you! “Honey” and the like are saccharine sweet, androgynous words. Do you really want to turn your man into a sexless eunuch? Each time you continue to call each other “honey” or some other cute pet name, you chip away at the fact that you are two whole, separate sexual people. You then become two halves of a whole and, contrary to conventional belief, this is not a good thing. Who has sexual tension with the other half of themselves? No one!

You also have to remember that your husband probably has a past, including former girlfriends or wives. Don’t you think he called them “honey,” too? Why are you okay becoming the latest “honey” in his life? Aren’t you better than that? Why would either of you want to be relegated to a generic name? It goes both ways too: if you had past boyfriends where the relationship didn’t last, why would you want to fall into the same habits you used before?

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive

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