Archive for the ‘Intimacy’ Category

Our Wedding Anniversary: a Personal Reflection by a Former “Desperado”!

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

     In these blogs I attempt to write about a variety of topics that you might find interesting and assist you in having an enlightened, healthier, and more loving life.  Today I offer a personal testimonial on how defenses can be brought down and a deeper intimate life can be created.  My story.

     September 30th is a special day of celebration for my wife, Sherry, and me.  We will have been married for thirty four years!  I feel fortunate and grateful that we have reached this point.  Most of the credit for this accomplishment belongs to Sherry.

     At the beginning I had some intimacy issues.  I did not want to let any woman get too close to my heart.  My emotional boundaries were solid, my defenses strong.  I became very independent.  My challenge was to be interdependent – a partner. There were reasons for these defenses, as there probably are for yours.  Everyone has some emotional barriers that need to be overcome if a more loving union is to be accomplished.

     In 1977 I met Sherry.  We got to know each other as friends. As the relationship developed we went on some dates.  An early one is memorable and pertinent.  We were at the Steak and Ale in Tucker having dinner.  After a tasty meal and good conversation we moved into the Lounge where Banks and Shane were playing.  Some of you know of them. As a part of their musical set they sang DESPERADO. You may be familiar with it. Some of the words follow:

                Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

                You been out ridin fences for so long now.

                Oh, you’re a hard one

                I know you got your reasons.

                Those things that are pleasing you

                Can hurt you somehow …

 

                Desperado, oh, you ain’t getting no younger

                Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin you home.

                And freedom, oh freedom, well that’s just some people talking

                Your prison is walking through this world all alone. …

 

                 Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

                 Come down from your fences, open the gate’

                 It may be rainin, but there’s a rainbow above you.

                 You better let somebody love you, before its too late

 

     For some reason the words hit me like a thunder bolt.  Here I was sitting with this beautiful woman who was one of the nicest persons I had ever met.  And she was trustworthy – what you see is who she is.  No pretense.

     I said to myself, “let her in”.  And I did.  The rest is history.  1978 was our marriage year.  Kristopher John was born in 1980. Brittany Ann in 1983.  Baby making stopped at this point based on a  response from Sherry when I asked her what might be a special gift for Valentines Day.  She replied, “Your vas deferens!

     The de –“fences” have mostly come down, occasionally present.  They are not necessary.  I am loved, not judged, criticized or controlled.  Past mistakes are not brought up. We share a fun and loving life.

     Our children, Kris and Brittany, are now young adults.  We are very proud of them as they have successfully moved on to the next phase of their lives.  They have married well and have satisfying careers. We still are a very close loving family. Even have a special one year old granddaughter named Hailey! However, “empty nest” is not empty because Sherry and I are living in Paradise together, with you our friends and community.  I hope that you will be encouraged as I have to “come down from your fences, open the gate” and see that beautiful “rainbow above you”. I am blessed and grateful to live with “the sunshine of my life”, still the nicest person I’ve ever met, and hope you are as fortunate. Bring on another thirty four!

 

Mars and Venus Relationships Collide: New Understandings Can Help!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

MEN ARE FROM MARS, WOMEN FROM VENUS. Most people on earth’s planet have heard of Dr. John Gray’s description of men and women differences using this Mars Venus planet characterization.  Dr. Gray, using his latest culled research, has written about how men and women react to stress in different ways.

Dr. Gray’s thesis is that this age is one of unprecedented levels of stress for both men  and women and that it is taking its toll on relationships.  Couples too often are exhausted, drained, and overwhelmed.  This condition is not conducive to being connected and affectionate.  Thus, individuals often feel isolated, unappreciated, and neglected.
Change is needed!

Couples can reduce stress and thrive when they feel safe and nurtured. Understanding men and women’s unique response to stress gives a new perspective on communication and how to give and receive support.  By becoming aware of such differences, alternative approaches can overcome passionless distance and resentment.

So, how do men and women differ in response to stress?  First, the big picture.  There are physiological reasons why women find comfort in talking about their problems and men prefer to retreat into isolation.  Also, women are able to multitask and remember most everything while men compartmentalize and focus on one thing at a time.  To quote Dr. Gray: “When a man needs time alone or doesn’t want to talk about it, it doesn’t mean that he care less for his partner.  When a woman wants to talk about her day, it doesn’t mean she is excessively needy or high maintenance.”

Some of the otherMars-Venus differences based on the brain help to explain:

1. Why women want to talk and talk and why men rush women to get to the point and get on with decision making.

2. Why, when faced with danger, men’s visual cortex is more stimulated than a woman’s, and therefore takes more risks, is more impatient and impulsive.  A woman’s brain is more connected to feeling than it is to action.

3. Why women never forget a quarrel.  Women’s brains are larger in the area associated with emotional remembering.

Men’s testosterone levels fall during the day.  At the end of the day his body must relax and restore itself.  If not, he is moody, irritable or passive, and libido challenged. Testosterone stimulates stress reduction in men.

Women need the hormone oxytocin for stress reduction.  Oxytocin is the social attachment hormone. Oxytocin levels deplete when feeling ignored or abandoned.

Oxytocin gives a rush in both male and female orgasm.  It reduces blood pressure, cortisol levels, and fear.  Calmness and closeness are the result.

Dr. Gray further elaborates on brain differences in his book as well as gives techniques to bring couples closer together. Such techniques include minimizing fights and learning to reconnect.

This is an interesting practical book that helps both men and women understand some basic differences that exist between the sexes.  Fueled with this knowledge a couple is more capable of developing a loving relationship that avoids collision and creates a more unified connection.

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.

An “Intimacy Test”: Can You Pass It?

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

When I do relationship counseling I want to know right away just how close these people are to each other.  Since people often use the same words to express different realities I use numbers to gauge each person’s perception of how close s/he feels towards the other. I ask each to give me an answer between 0 (the pits) and 10 (heavenly bliss).  It is a good starting point. Also, there are various instruments and inventories to explore this closeness, intimacy, factor.

The following “test, or inventory was developed by R.S. Miller and H.M. Lefcourt and published in the Journal of Personality Assessment.  I offer it to you with the authors” description of what your scores may portray.  Are you willing to give it a go? With your partner?

1. How much of your leisure time do you spend with your partner?

a) not much   b) a little  c) a lot

2. How often do your feel it is important for your partner to show you physical affection?

a) not often   b) sometimes   c) often

3. Would you feel hurt if s/he didn’t share deep intimate feelings with you?

a) not much   b) a little   c) very much

4. Do you understand his/her innermost feelings?

a) not much   b) a little   c) very much

5. How encouraging and supportive are you when your partner is unhappy?

a) not much   b) a little    c) very much

6. How much do you show him/her affection?

a) not much   b) a little   c) very much

7. Do you feel close to your partner?

a) not much   b) a little  c) very much

8. When you disagree strongly, how much does it hurt your relationship?

a) not much   b) a little   c) very much

9. How much time do you spend alone with him/her?

a) not much   b) a little   c) a lot

10. How satisfying is your relationship with your partner?

a) not very satisfying  b) somewhat satisfying  c) very satisfying

11. When you quarrel heatedly, does it actually make you physically ill?

a) not much   b) a little   c) very much

12. Do your arguments last two days or longer?

a) often   b) sometimes    c) not often

To tally your score give yourself 1 point for each “a” response, 2 points for each “b) response, and 3 points for each “c” response.

A score of 27 points or less: Your intimacy level with your partner is fairly low.  One or both of you has intimacy challenges and counseling should be sought.

A score of 28-32 points: You have an average degree of intimacy compared with other couples.  You need to decide if it is satisfactory or not – and what, if anything should be done to increase it.

A score of 33 points or more: You have an intensely close relationship.

Your scores may be indicative of your intimacy reality, depending on your awareness and truthfulness, as well as your partner’s.  This “test” is offered as a vehicle to promote self reflection, dialogue, and improvement, where needed, in a relationship.  Hopefully it was enlightening to some degree and helpful in getting the love and intimacy you desire.