A fortieth birthday is a big deal that calls for a big present. How about 40 straight days of sex? That’s the gift that Carolyn Evans bestowed upon her husband, Ray, in January 2009. Immediately, she regretted it.
“I woke up the next morning and thought, I will not survive this,” says Evans, 40, who ostensibly did not receive an identical gift on her milestone birthday. “I was at a friend’s shop and I complained to him. He said maybe a token system will work better.”
Reaching under the counter, her pal pulled out a dusty Mason jar housing a collection of Venetian glass beads. Forty beads, to be precise.
That’s the title of Evans’ new book, due out Tuesday. Part memoir, part treatise on why men like sex more than women, part instructional manual in her proprietary method that she credits with transforming a marriage on the rocks into a happily-ever-after, Forty Beads is relayed in a straight-up, slightly raunchy tone reminiscent of a giddy gathering of too-tipsy girlfriends.
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The premise behind “beading” is simple: The woman keeps a bowl, a.k.a. beadcatcher, by her bedside. When her husband (or lover) is in the mood, he drops a bead into the beadcatcher. The woman has to be ready to slide between the sheets within 24 hours.
“I figured I’d give myself a little wiggle room,” says Evans, from Charleston, S.C., who comes across as a wise-cracking and self-proclaimed sexpert in the not-so-coincidental 40 chapters in her quickie beach read. “We women need a little time to get our brains around the deed. It also gives the man time to anticipate, which they love. When he drops that bead, he is filled with gratitude and love and sexual anticipation and all that positive energy gets funneled in his wife’s direction. It’s a little quantum mechanics, if you will.”
Evans’ experiment began a little over two years ago; she says the change in the dynamic between her and her husband was immediate. “At a certain point in a marriage, it’s all about the to-do list, with kids and jobs and everything going on,” she says. “After using the beads for just a month, I thought my marriage was better than it ever had been. The sex is just a vehicle to create this emotional connection.”
For example: “He drops the bead in a bowl and all of a sudden he’s scooping up the baby with the stinking butt instead of walking right past because he is so stinking happy with the promise of all this sex in his future.”
Looking out for the best interests of its female readers, Healthland asked Evans whether a woman has any recourse should her man act like a total jerk; thankfully, Evans has a clause for bad behavior. “If a bead has been dropped and the husband exhibits real a—hole behavior — not just run-of-the-mill irritating behavior — he can get turtled,” says Evans, referring to a maneuver in which the disgruntled wife turns the beadcatcher over so beads roll off. “My husband got turtled once in a year.”
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If all this emphasis on sex sounds a lot like amped-up teenage boys instead of grown men, you’d be wrong, says Evans; age makes no difference. “Men are always worried they won’t get enough sex,” she says. “My husband and I have been to lots of therapists over the years, and eventually it would come out that we don’t have enough sex.” Women, on the other hand, are a different breed, contends Evans; they can take it or leave it. One editor of a popular women’s magazine told Evans: “Honey, you’re preaching to the choir. I could go forever. I don’t have to have it!”
The Forty Beads method is a way to reconcile the predicament in which Homo sapiens finds itself: “A man has to have sex to feel close, and a woman has to feel close to want to have sex with him,” says Evans.
Soon enough, promises Evans, sex won’t feel like a chore. “He starts giving you the best version of himself, which makes you like him more, which makes falling into the bed easier. It captures that ‘just-been-laid’ energy and uses it to make your marriage better.” Evans writes that the principles of beading “remind you that sex is a no-brainer, a must-do if you want to enjoy the good life, which includes a really great marriage.” She writes:
That little Bead in the bowl gives the friendly little nudge we all need as we tear through our crazy-busy lives…Once you get into the Beading process and experience the changes that take place in your relationship, you’ll get good with gettin’ down, too, because it’s hard to maintain an ambivalent or negative attitude about something that makes your marriage and your life consistently so good.”
That realization was too sweet to keep to herself. Others might remain tight-lipped about their bedroom antics, but not Evans: she started telling her girlfriends about her bead thang. She encouraged them to give it a whirl, handing out cranberry red beads to disciples. Forget book club or Bunco; soon she had several groups of women meeting to talk about beading. They were so excited that Evans felt compelled to share the gospel with the world, in written form.
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“I am a songwriter,” says Evans, who favors country music. “I am kind of a bigmouth. If I find something that works for me, I like to tell people about it.”
In the end, whom does a girl turn to for advice but her mother? Evans asked her mom if she thought the beads could be responsible for the attitude adjustment in her marriage; her mom said yes. “So I said, If that’s true, everyone needs to know about it.”
If things go Evans’ way and sex sells, soon they will.