Sex and Salt Lake City

Sex and Salt Lake City: A kinder, gentler year

After a couple of years of dating, followed by living together, my partner and I were married in 2004. We attempted the first few years to celebrate our union by doing traditional anniversary gifts. The first year was “paper,” the second was “cotton,” the third “leather,” and so on. To be honest, we kinda gave up the traditions after a while. But that first year’s gift stuck. Together we purchased a leather-bound journal with the intention of taking turns writing love notes to each other in it.

We began with the book placed on one of our bedside tables, and every now and then, one of us would pick it up and add a sweet love note to the other or a recounting of some cool adventure we’d shared. It was an incredibly romantic gesture that we both treasured. Over time, as the rose would seem to lose its bloom in the relationship, it was nice to pick up and read previous entries and remember why we chose to commit to this partnership; Which, of course, would lead to the writing of another kindness to the other.

It’s been 16 years since we started our shared journal writing. Like most relationships, we’ve had many ups and downs since we began. Some of the pages have been used as expressions of hurt, anger, disappointment. Some have shared loss of hopes and aspirations. Some haven’t necessarily been written in a gentle manner but rather a scathing rebuke to the other. But invariably, every single time, the messages return to sweet, loving, adoration, and kindness to the other — or more importantly, to ourselves.

We’re now on our fifth journal.

This morning I picked up the most current journal. It’s hardbound with the scene of a windmill on the cover — a purchase we made in Amsterdam at the beginning of 2020. The very book itself is a reflection of how much our life has changed over the past year.

Like most, I entered 2020 with some big hopes. Personally, I had goals to travel more and spend more time with family. Career goals included more public speaking engagements at universities and conferences. By mid-March, I expected some things would be delayed. That thinking proved to be naive.

When March and the first days of quarantine hit, my partner and I were naively a bit giddy about the endless days we were going to spend in bed together and all the home projects we were going to complete. Of course, as with most, as more and more people have fallen ill, lost jobs, and all sense of security, it’s been a real challenge to keep our moods up. Giddiness is very far away — let alone feeling any kind of sexy.

So now we face the hopes of a new year ahead — fresh goals and aspirations. In spite of that, many people are rightfully speculative. The truth is, the year may be a new one, but we’re still faced with a raging pandemic, racial inequality, record unemployment, food and housing insecurities, political divisiveness, and on and on and on.

For the new year, I’d like to suggest we all make a resolution to just be kinder — whatever that looks like. Kinder and gentler to ourselves as well as others. Maybe we don’t do the projects we had hoped for. Maybe we eat comfort food and gain weight rather than exercise during these down days. Maybe it has been weeks since getting fully dressed. Maybe being social even through Zoom calls, texting, or a phone call feels like too much. Maybe there’s just a lot more binge TV time that feels justified. Whatever the coping mechanisms, be kind to yourself and recognize that this time we’re in is just flat out tough.

It may be some time before we’re able to gather in groups or feel comfortable meeting new potential partners. Yes, we have a new administration, and yes, there’s now a vaccine making its way through our population, but we still have a collective recovery that will be experienced for some time, and there is still much work to do.

So in the meantime, I again encourage you to be kind to yourself. Pick up a notebook or journal and begin the process of writing love notes to yourself. My personal journals with my partner now find their way to all different areas of the house. We still each take a turn and write heartfelt messages to the other. But just as importantly, if not more so, they serve a purpose to write heartfelt words to ourselves.

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a Clinical Sexologist with a private practice in Salt Lake City. Due to COVID, all sessions are virtual and on a sliding scale. She can be reached at

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook

Dr. Laurie Bennett-Cook is a graduate level Clinical Sexologist, with an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Doctorate Degree in Human Sexuality. As a Clinical Sexologist, she believes a large part of her job is to be a sex enabler. Through counseling, workshops, and hands on exercises, she assists others in achieving the level of sexual function they desire. She enjoys the study and research of not only what people are doing sexually, but how they feel about it. Dr. Laurie divides her time between Los Angeles California, and Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to seeing clients in either of her offices or via skype, she is President for the non-profit, Sex Positive Los Angeles inc. (SPLA) and recently began a chapter in Salt Lake City, (SP-SLC). Her non-profit offers sexual education and support programs throughout Los Angeles and Salt Lake Counties. Rounding off her work, she is an IPSA certified Surrogate Partner Therapist working with clients and therapists in a triadic model to assist in bringing clients comfortable with their sexual selves. Dr. Laurie can be found in various publications; radio, podcast, and television interviews. For individual consultations or appointments please contact her at Welcoming and affirming of all gender identities, all sexual orientations, all sexual and relationship expressions.

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