Editor’s note: As one of the fathers of modern bodybuilding, Joe Weider founded the International Federation of Bodybuilders, created the Mr./Ms. Olympia contests, and published numerous fitness magazines. He also developed several weight training programs in the 1950s, many of which were available by mail-order. Weider was interested in helping his clients build the whole man, and along with the booklets on bodily development he sent out to subscribers, he sometimes included pamphlets on how to strengthen other aspects of their lives like dating and career.
Below you’ll find one of these pamphlets on the “Secrets of a Healthy Sex Life.” (It has been condensed from the original, but the ellipses do not indicate cuts — that was just Weider’s writing style.) While some of the advice may read as old-fashioned, much of it is quite sound and deserves to be circulated — if only to propagate the delightfully amusing phrase “barbell widow.”
My Dear Student:
You have faithfully followed my bodybuilding courses and I am sure that you have developed a strong, well-knit physique; one with which I know you are highly pleased and greatly impressed.
And having studied the personal success courses which I have sent you week by week, I also know that you have achieved an equally notable improvement in your personality. I’m sure that you feel emotionally stronger and more secure, and that others have noticed this continuing expansion of your more-powerful personality.
Gradually, progressively, surely, you have become a well-integrated individual…a man of confidence who lacks fear; a man of leadership who accepts high challenge; a man who knows that success in life will henceforth be assured.
And now you have come to the point when the last unfoldment of your personality must be as well-served and as diligently worked for as any other phase of your physical and personal development: achieving a happy and healthy sex life and the winning of the girl of your dreams.
How to prepare for this life…how to practice it and build toward it is most important, for if you have a thorough knowledge of what is good and bad in it you will reap the riches of a bountiful life. Without such knowledge — just to drift along without understanding and appreciation of it — can be personally and physically disastrous.
In previous lessons I have urged you to always be selective. To size up things in their proper light; to judge men shrewdly; to calculate risks; and to make your first decision the right decision.
This selective principle will serve you well in whatever you do; and it is particularly important to utilize it in the choice of the girls you go with; the girl you may ultimately fall in love with and court; the girl that may eventually be your mate for life.
Common Sense and Sexual Maturity
The two most important factors in achieving a healthy, happy sex life — a life that is an integral part of a happy marriage — are common sense and sexual maturity.
Let’s not mince words. A healthy sex life and a happy married life are indivisible. To be happily married means that you enjoy a healthful, happy sex relationship. To have a healthful sex life before marriage or without marriage is a doubtful thing, for promiscuous sexual relations with girls of easy virtue is scarcely rewarding in view of the dangers involved.
Both you and your bride-to-be should go to the altar free of possible contamination from social diseases, free from sexual entanglements, free to start fresh and clean upon a wonderfully rewarding life. Therefore, it is wiser to sublimate your sexual impulses by concentrating more strongly on sports, studies, exercise, outings and hobbies. This is easily done and you will go to your bride honestly and openly…proud that you have strongly resisted sexual temptations, and glad that you can start this thrilling journey into a new life without regret, recrimination, and remorse.
Since choosing the right girl is so vitally important, let’s speak of the common sense approach before discussing the equally vital factor of achieving a healthy, happy sex life.
1. Do You and She “Speak the Same Language”?
Is she sports-minded? You’re a bodybuilder and therefore you have a love of the bodybuilder’s way of life. Has she? Does she like sports…play them…talk of them intelligently? Has she a trim, beautifully-contoured figure? Does she like working out with you? If not, does she understand just how important your workouts are to you? Would she frown on your having your own home gym?
2. Would She Weep as a “Barbell Widow”?
Would your wife be jealous of the time you spend on workouts? If she doesn’t take to the idea of your having your own home gym, would she resent your going to a professional gym?
One of our famous California bodybuilders got married recently. Although training had been a vital part of his life, nevertheless, he gave up bodybuilding at his bride’s insistence because she strongly objected to his leaving her for even an hour!
He’s doing all the giving in this marriage…she’s doing all the taking. This isn’t sharing…it’s bondage. How long will this marriage last? A few months, perhaps, but then how much longer could it last?
3. How About Outside Interests?
Does your bride-to-be share your other interests? Does she like good music, fine paintings…can she speak in a well-informed way about the theater, films, photography? Does she like to go on outings…picnics, as you perhaps do?
If not, then too soon each of you will begin to go your separate ways. When this happens, much of the reason for marriage is negated. What should be the “common bond” now becomes the “secret life”. Marriage means sharing and if there is nothing to share, then marriage is marriage in name only.
4. And the Patter of Little Feet?
You’ll be wanting children…will she? What kind of mother will she make? Will she bear healthy, sturdy children because you are both strong and healthy? Will she be strong enough to cope with children, to care for them through each day without tiring? Will she maintain her calm, unruffled disposition even though the children are throwing mud-pies, messing the floor, creating childish mayhem? Will she fret, lose patience often, and become a nagging wife?
5. And Her Appearance?
Will she be always well-groomed in and out of the house? Or will she turn out to be “just a wife,” careless and frumpy now that she has “landed her man”?
6. Will She Dissipate?
Does she dissipate a bit too much now…smoke a little too much, drink, perhaps? If anything destroys a woman’s appearance it’s nicotine-stained fingers, cigarette breath, and the angular appearance of the lips as a cigarette habitually dangles from the corner of her mouth.
And alcohol? Make sure that she can control her drinking habits otherwise you will have a psychotic complex on your hands…instead of a real love.
7. Is She Too Critical?
Does she respect her friends or does she continually find fault with them? In this, beware! In such cases this means that she is a bit abnormal, for when one tears another apart with criticism, it generally means that she is unhappy herself…possibly it is this that drives her to drink.
Sex does not exist in married life for itself alone. It smoothes the rough edges, giving marriage beautiful contours, and puts the radiance of eternal youth in both your lives. And it makes you more human, more tolerant, more charitable and a more reliable person in whom everyone instinctively trusts.
An ability to really enjoy mature sexual love is a growth into the maturity of life itself. It gives you such added poise and a wonderful awareness of self that you can’t help communicating to others.
Badly-controlled sex life or what’s worse, extra-marital sexual experiences, are the death of marriage. Because inconsideration of your wife’s safety and health, not to mention the transference of social diseases to your children or children-to-be, causes negligence in manners, it will not be long before neither she nor you can have the slightest respect for each other…nor respect for the conventions of marriage. To cause your wife to suffer indignities, crudities of sex, and contraction of syphilis or gonorrhea because of your promiscuous extra-marital sex flights, is a crime as terrible as murder. For murder it frequently is…slow death from disease or a broken-heart.
Ignorance and Unrealism: The Enemies of Marriage
Now anyone should have no difficulty in developing a satisfactory sex technique. It’s a natural thing…don’t be embarrassed or shy or self-conscious about experimenting with it…this is one of the joys of conjugal love. Besides, libraries are full of books on the subject, and it is touched upon at many points in these courses which you have been studying.
Ideal sexual relations seldom “happen.” They must be experimented with, nurtured, planned and worked for. Just because you are a strong, virile bodybuilder doesn’t mean that you can excite an inspired sexual response from your wife. You must realize that emotional love and spiritual love are quite as important to the sex act as sex technique itself.
Woman is forever woman and to achieve a climactic and whole-hearted sexual response from her can be achieved only through a whole-hearted regard and respect from you. Never cause her to lose her sincerity, her sense of dignity, and character. Give her respect and love as well as passion.
Never Take Marriage for Granted
Marriage to the end of your lives must not be taken for granted. Always try to keep romance alive. Here are some pointers you should remember in this respect.
1. Do not become dowdy, careless, mentally dull, or conversationally boring. Keep well informed on current topics and speak of them interestingly. Don’t let your world be confined to eight hours in the office, a couple of hours reading and relaxing, then off to bed for the night. Do something different each day…take a new turning around another corner and see how the rest of us live. Keep your ideas fresh and your memory green.
2. Do not be inattentive, or unappreciative if she does something especially for you…if she buys a new dress or hat, or has a new hairdo. Remark on it, and favorably, with obvious relish.
3. Be a good provider. Don’t stint on having good food and plenty of it. As your purse will allow, take her out to dinner often, to a different place each time. Introduce her to foods of many nations. Experiment with her in matters like this. Always let her know that such nights “on the town” are an especial pleasure for you because she is with you. Be proud to show your wife off to others.
4. Be gallant…keep your good manners and good breeding on exhibition all the time. Never treat her one bit less gallantly and considerately than when you were courting her. How she’ll love you for this!
5. As the cycles of life proceed, and as each of you finds a touch of grey in your hair, consider these changing conditions with understanding, tenderness and the realization that each period of your life has had its own special reward. Remind yourself that God planned it that way, and those who follow God’s plan receive marvelous blessings.
6. You will be wise throughout your married life to become interested in affairs of the church. Learn to pray together, even as you share your joys and disappointments together. Draw together as spiritually close as you can. This is a bond that no one can break and it is the highest form of pure conjugal love.
7. Keep well-groomed. Always be immaculately dressed and careful with your personal hygiene. Always take a shower before retiring and be sure to apply a good deodorant under your arms and on other areas where perspiration collects.
8. Be sure to shave very closely before being intimate with her. After all, she wants a caress, not an abrasion. And a pleasantly-scented lotion will go far in eliciting a warm and loving response from her…an eagerness to enter into idyllic love play as enthusiastic as yours.
9. Wear clean pajamas each night…and be sure that you have a variety of patterns in pajamas. You would not expect her to retire in a worn nightgown with cold cream daubed over her face…hence you should make yourself just as attractive as she.
Don’t ever think, “Well, she married me, so she must love me!” This is negative thinking. Put the power of positive thinking to work. Make that sentence read, “I’m going to make myself so physically appealing that my wife will love me to pieces!”
There is a psychological factor to consider when your or her appearance is neglected. You may both become so disenchanted with the sex act that it will become a bore, and when it becomes a bore the danger of sexual impotency is imminent.
Keep this in mind: Keep well-groomed…both of you. Keep your bodies firm and strong by exercising regularly…both of you. Keep your weight normalized by eating a sound, healthful diet of proper caloric content for the amount of energy you expend. Keep your sexual activity always at a peak of high enthusiasm. Keep your interest glowing in the world around you. Then you’ll have a happier married life as the years go by.
It is then that you’ll know that the girl you fell in love with was the wisest and only choice you could have made for a wife. Be selective…make this first decision the right decision.
Given faith in the future, and measure of common sense and mutual respect, any normal couple can win marital happiness and achieve a solid and lasting union. May I wish this most transcendental blessing to you.
Your Friend and Instructor,
“Trainer of Champions”
Last updated: August 7, 2017