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Inside Dateline: Bedroom battle of the sexes

July 14, 2006 |

He said, she said in the bedroom battle of the sexes (Rob Stafford, Dateline correspondent)

Our Dateline team sat in a room in the middle of the Colorado Rockies not knowing what to expect. The room was right outside the office of Sex Therapist Dr. David Schnarch who had agreed to participate in our story. With the permission of two volunteer couples, we had wired the doctor's office with cameras and microphones. Through the television monitors in our room , we would see, hear and record four intense days of "sexless marriage" counseling. Counseling for married couples who have little or no sex and are hoping to rekindle the spark they had when they first got married.

Our volunteers had tried everything from hormone creams to date nights but nothing seemed to work. His therapy is significantly different than what most couples experience with traditional sex counseling. Schnarch doesn't offer tips on how to make love, but he does promise a no holds barred dissection of why sex was missing from their bedrooms.

What we witnessed during this week of therapy was riveting. Dr. Schnarch helped these two couples confess feelings they'd been afraid to share for years. We saw anger, love and every emotion in between. As producer Carol Gable and I watched the sessions unfold, we found ourselves bickering at times. She often sympathizing with the wives as I stuck up for the husbands. Clearly men and women will watch this story in different ways but Dr. Schnarch doesn't pick sides and he doesn't play the blame game. His only rule is being truthful to yourself and your mate. By the end of a gut-wrenching week, these couples learned there was little chance of having satisfying sex without honesty.

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Dateline's report on "Love and Marriage" airs Friday, July 14, 8 p.m.

July 13, 2006 |

On tour with Bill Gates and Former President Bill Clinton (Campbell Brown, NBC News)

Maseru, Lesotho - President Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates traveled to South Africa and Lesotho to tour HIV/AIDS care and treatment facilities and meet with patients and staff on July 12, 2006.Ralph Alswang / Clinton Foundati

The world's richest man and the ex-president who still gets rock star treatment around the world are, individually, two of the most fascinating people I have ever covered. Watching them together, side by side, adds a whole new dimension and makes them all the more compelling. Clinton and Gates, along with Gates' wife Melinda, have made enormous commitments through their respective foundations to improving global heath. They are concentrating their efforts on fighting AIDS in the developing world. The Gates Foundation programs center on AIDS prevention and the Clinton Foundation on AIDS treatment.   Traveling together in Africa, the two Bills are trying to spotlight some of their projects, with the clear recognition that joint appearances offer an alluring new angle to a story that sadly gets too little coverage.

Together, they are hypnotic. Stylistically, they seem both at odds and oddly complimentary.   One (you guess which) is driven by emotion, fully immersed in the sensory experience. We visited an AIDS treatment center in the tiny country of Lesotho that is funded in large part by the Clinton Foundation. Clinton held the hand of a young girl with AIDS during most of the visit. His focus was on listening to the stories of victims, like the one told to us by a teenage girl who had been raped and infected with HIV. Gates' interest was equally intense, but directed more at how the clinic was run, areas where additional help was needed, specifics on what was working and what wasn't. Physically he was reserved, even distant, but intellectually just as engaged.

Ralph Alswang / Clinton Foundati

Balancing the extremes of Clinton and Gates was Gates' wife Melinda.  She is the driving force behind the Gates Foundation and its true voice.  She is both knowledgeable and engaging, and deeply committed to finding ways to empower women to protect themselves from HIV infection. I had never heard of microbicides before this trip, but they are Melinda's passion. The simplest explanation: a gel-based substance that women apply vaginally to, theoretically, block the transmission of HIV. The idea behind them is to provide a method of protection to women in developing countries who are in subservient roles and often have little or no say over whether a condom is used during sex. The problem with microbicides is they have yet to be proven effective. In Durban, South Africa, we visited a clinic funded by the Gates Foundation where microbicide testing is now underway. The medical experts there say they are still years from finding one that is effective. But the Gates Foundation has committed over a billion dollars to funding research. Melinda Gates, in her words, believes that finding a microbicide that works could break the back of AIDS in Africa.

During an in-depth interview (obligatory plug: airs next week) the Gates' and Clinton all acknowledged that the real solution, an AIDS vaccine, is likely 10, even 20, years away. But none of the three seem at all daunted by the challenge. Their styles may be different, but their dedication seems equal.  It is a powerful partnership.

Campbell Brown is currently in Africa. Her report on this trip airs on the Today Show Tuesday and on Dateline next Friday. Click here for former President Clinton's own words piece in last month's Newsweek on his quest to improve AIDS care.