Archive for March, 2012

Who Are You “Sleeping With”? Where?

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The word “sleeping with” is an interesting verb in our society.  It denotes rest and it denotes sexual activity.  They often go together.  Let me be more explicit.

The National Sleep Foundation in 2001 found out that 12% of married couples slept alone.  In 2005 that number jumped to 23%.  And in 2012, what is the new number?  I suspect that it is continuing to climb.  The National Association of Homebuilders says that there has been a steady increase of requests for “two master bedroom” homes to be built.

What is this information indicating?  I presume that there are a variety of explanations for this trend. Health, stress, and romance come to mind.

Our society is aging, many citizens are overweight and drink too much.  Sleep apnea,  snoring, and leg twitching appear to be more prevalent or, at best, are not as tolerated by spouses as in previous times.  Restful sleep can be a challenge is such situations.

Stress is high in most households, especially today, due to jobs, income, financial markets, family problems, etc… Stress affects health, sleep, and romance. A good night’s sleep in most needed during such times.

Romance may or may not be present in a relationship for a variety of reasons. A partner’s snoring, sleep apnea, or leg twitching  may be a convenient “excuse” to leave the bedroom and sleep someplace else to avoid intimacy.

Over the years I have heard every explanation possible as to why a couple is not  sleeping together, as well as not snuggling or having sex together. Operative word here is “together”. Solo sex still thrives in most cases. Different biological “clocks”, television, computer, the kids, work demands, snoring, etc… are reason offered for not going to bed together.

I encourage couples to end their day together on most nights– with their love partner – by spending at least ten to twenty minutes snuggling, preferably without having your boxers, jammies, or nightgown on.  Then if one person is not tired or wants to get up for whatever reason, at least the couple has ended the day together with some degree of closeness. This activity helps to maintain a connection so as to not just be living together under the same roof.  Just being “roommates” is not enough for a couple who profess to love one another.

I invite you to look at your sleep patterns and why they are what they are.  Do your sleep habits say much about what kind of spousal sensual relationship you have? May the need for a good night’s sleep not be an excuse for not sharing emotional and physical closeness with your partner.  Loving touch is a basic human need for survival.

“Sleep” well – together if at all possible.

How Do You Handle Suffering? Some Tips To Consider

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

To live is to suffer. It is a part of the experiential cycle of our existence.  No one is spared.  How you respond to your suffering is what is important and what differentiates winners from whiners.

Some people respond to their travail with a “woe is me” persona.  They become martyrs and blame God and everyone/everything under the sun for their difficult times. Others will praise God and say it is not for us mere mortals to understand God’s plan for us as He puts suffering on our plate.  (It is amazing to me how people “use” God to
explain both sides of the coin.  Personally I do not believe that a God of Love causes pain and suffering to carry out a plan.  I do believe, however, Spirit is available to work through the suffering. Enough theology for now.  Let the preachers put their own spin on it – as diverse as they are depending on their own belief, denomination, etc…)

So, what is your response to suffering, your own or of those you love?  Attitude is a choice.  What is yours?  A few suggestions, if I may.

1. Optimism is a better choice.  You can be better or bitter. “For every door that closes, a door of opportunity opens”. Your suffering can serve as a catalyst for change. New personal growth can come with a revised perspective and mission in life.

2. Grieve: Own and feel your pain.  Don’t deny it or stuff it.  It will end up hurting you more in the long run. You need to feel it to heal it.

3. Your own suffering can enable you to have more empathy and compassion for others.

4. Recognize and stop self imposed suffering. Some people find perverse pleasure in creating and wallowing in their own pain.  It becomes a “comfortable” place to be.

5. Find people who are available and capable to support you in your time of trial.  To reach out and accept other peoples’ caring for you is important. You need and deserve it.

6. Count the blessings you do have and appreciate them.

7. Find a role model, advisor, and/or therapist that you can learn from for your next step.

8. Find and keep a sense of humor wherever possible.  You might be surprised where you might be able to experience humor.

9 Utilize prayer, meditation, and silence as sanctuaries of comfort.

10. Commit to some growthful and loving action.  Good can come out of suffering.

The Recovery community has a wonderful saying that I focus on often: “Just do the next right thing.”  It helps keep you on path.

Kahlil Gibran has a wonderful saying in THE PROPHET:  “Your capacity for joy will be determined by the space that pain has hollowed out in you.”  Some people have a greater capacity for joy than others.

For those of you in a state of suffering, I offer my caring and empathy.  I hope the above suggestions can assist you in moving forward and creating some goodness out of the pain you suffer.

Ladies, Are You Cabable of Pushing the “Re-set” Button in Your Relationship?

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

In the last couple of years I have observed more and more women shutting down from their husbands. This “shut down” may involve staying in the house and being a remote roommate, or seeking a separation or divorce.  These women “have had it”!  They have fallen out of love with their husbands and want to disconnect from them.  They are not open to working on their marriage.  They have pushed the “off button”.  I have noticed that when most of these women push the “off” button, they mean it – and it stays off. Over!

The reasons for this shutting down and shutting off from the relationship vary. My position as a therapist is to describe, not judge, these decisions.  Some examples follow:

1. The corporate or military wife who has been a loyal follower of his many career moves, often sacrificing her goals while subservient to his.  “My turn” she says.

2. The wife who participated in letting the marriage die while focusing on raising the kids. Now she has little in common with her husband.  The relationship was not nurtured.

3. The wife who suddenly realizes that she is getting older, is not getting enough love from her husband, and now wants to be free to explore other male experiences.

4. The wife who is having an affair and wants to pursue it to see if marriage is an option with this new “love”.

5. The abused wife who finally stands up for herself.

6. The empty nest wife whose children have moved on. Her husband has retired and is “driving her nuts”.

7. The wife who cannot forgive her husband for some infraction(s).

8. The wife who made a “mistake” in marrying the man she did and now wants to find the “right one”.

9. The wife who is married to a man who drinks too much or does other hurtful or shameful acts.

10. Fill in the blank. There are other reasons.

Should some of these women get out? Probably. But perhaps not all of them. They pushed their “I’m done” button and are not willing to push the “re-set button”.  Some of these relationships could be saved and the women involved might well be happier if they had truly tried to work it out.  Much of the current research supports such a statement.

It is important for any and all women to stand up for themselves and address their concerns, needs, hopes, and dreams. Unless they do this there is limited reason to believe that her marriage, or life in general, could be better.

It is usually true that for many a man, they don’t “get it” until they are about to lose what they do really want – their wife. I wish more women would give the formerly clueless men a chance to show that they can become a good and loving husband.  Some of these men surely have been selfish, shut down, boring, non-loving husbands.  They may be willing to work hard with a therapist to learn why they did not do what they should have and what they need to do in the future.

Ladies, is your “off button” pushed down? Would you be willing to “push the re-set button” to see if it is in your best interest, and your family’s, to see if this phoenix marriage can arise from the ashes? If it does not happen, then you can say with a clear conscience that you tried.  “Re-set buttons” sometimes open the door to a bright future!

Are You Making the Necessary Sexual Adjustments in Your Marriage? Some Tips!

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

In a committed relationship there are many adjustments that need to be made over time for a growthful harmonious relationship.  This article focuses on some of the sexual adjustments that need to be made.  Each of these factors does not exist for every couple, but some do for all.

1. Dating and early marriage sex is different than sex later in marriage.  This is largely due to the newness of the relationship and the biochemical P.E.A. (Phenylethylalamine) in the brain. The P.E.A. “peters out” and if the endorphin chemical does not kick in, sex is not very good.

2. Presence of children in the home affects sexual activity.  For some people it is the fear that the kids will walk in and seecoupling.  Also, kids drain energy an rob you of sleep. Thus, your drive and capacity for sex is diminished.  And then there are the parents who focus too much on the kids and do no not nurture the romantic relationship, therefore, distance and resentments develop.

3. Marriage elicits an emotional vulnerability in you.  Your emotional wiring implanted by previous sexual experiences enters into your marriage sex.  Certain parts of the body are to be avoided or particular sexual practices become undesirable and taboo in the marriage relationship.

4. Aging, illness, injury all create their own sexual changes.  Loss of libido, sexual drive, and capacity to perform diminish as a result of these factors.  Male and females have unique idiosyncratic challenges is these areas.  In many cases there are remedies available to maximize a pleasurable sensual experience.  “Making love” takes on different meaning and form over the years.

5. Timing and mood are important factors in sexual activity.  Your time of day, month, or year may not be the same as your partner’s. Your mood may not coincide with him or her.  Communication and understanding are vital here.

6. How you react to being desired or rejected is important.  Who takes the risk, the initiative? Your partner many want you but youare not in the same place.  You may want
your partner and s/he is not accommodating.  How do you handle the feelings of being rejected?

Sexual activity between partners is all about “making love”.  It is not about performance. How, when, and where may change, but hopefully the “why” continues in some form or fashion – because “we love each other”.  And if you love each other you bring the best you can to your partner and willingly accept the limitations of your partner, knowing s/he is bringing his or her best to you.

These listed topics are but the tip of the iceberg in terms of adjustments needed for shared sexual activity in committed partners over periods of time.  I hope they have shed some light, caused you to address your sexual issues, communicate and do whatever is necessary to improve, if needed, your love-making.

“I Love to Fish. I love My Wife”: The Lifestyle Choice Is?

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Have you heard this song by Brad Paisley:
“Well I love her. But I love to fish. I spend all day out on this lake and hell is all I catch.
Today she met me at the door. Said I would have to choose.
If I hit that fishin’ hole today
She’d be packin’ all her things.
And she’d be gone by noon.
Well I’m gonna miss her
when I get home …”

For this fella fishing was more important then having a good relationship with his wife. He made his choice, she was gone. This was the life style he chose.  The two were not compatible.

Lifestyle is as important as love for long term success of a relationship.  Most people, especially younger couples, think that love will carry the day.  “If we love each other, everything will work out.”  Wrong!  Before two people commit to a life together, they should examine the type of life style that each envisions.  Unfortunately this is rarely done.

For a couple to be compatible in the long run they need to share a life with significant common interests.  If not they will drift apart, living separate lives.  Hurts and resentments build up regarding the particular choices made by one or both of them. Loneliness is the ultimate result.

Life is about choices.  Decisions based on priorities need to be made.  “Every decision involves an incision” a wise person once said.  In the above situation, the man chose fishing over his wife, and she left him.  End of relationship.  They should have discussed this issue before getting married. Now if she also enjoyed fishing perhaps the two of them could have enjoyed their time together doing this sport.

How does the lifestyle fit for you and your significant other?  It is worthy of discussion.  If you are drifting apart as a couple in part because of a lack of common interests, perhaps you could work to find an activity or hobby to share.

If you currently are not in a committed relationship, spend some time thinking about what type of lifestyle is important to you.  Then as you meet potential partner be sure to see if there is a match in this area.

For life’s long journey it is wonderful if your traveling companion is your best friend, your spouse.  Being aware of your needs and interests, and that of your life partner, exploring and sharing them, can make for an adventurous life.

The bottom line here is, how do you want to live life, your lifestyle,  during its various stages?  And, who do you want to share this vision?  Are the two compatible?  Put the two together and life can be glorious – as long as the relationship is first.
In many ways and on many days, that fisherman has an empty net as he sits alone with his chosen life style.