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What Your Sex Life Says About Your Marriage – Part #2

SHOW NOTES:

We hope you are enjoying our two-part series on married sex.  Last week we took a look at types of love, intimacy and sex.  This week we look at how being a selfish lover may actually HELP your marriage!  Before you shake your head and say we’ve lost our minds, read/listen on!

Healthy Balance of Selfishness and Unselfishness

Do you like for your partner to climax when you’re having sex?  If so, a certain degree of “selfishness” on their part has to happen!  What?!?

Let us explain. The Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31) and “husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28) You are actually loving your spouse by knowing and getting yourself to the point of orgasm during sex. 

Let’s look at it a different way: if you are ALL about pleasing your partner while denying yourself the chance to orgasm, you are not going to please them.  Your partner wants you to have an orgasm—that’s part of the beautiful process of sex.  If you continually deny yourself orgasm, you are denying your partner the chance to be a part of YOUR orgasm. 

In “A Celebration of Sex,”  Dr. Doug Rosenau calls this “righteous selfishness.”  It’s a kind of paradox.  In order to ultimately fulfill your spouse’s utmost sexual desires, you have to seek out some responsibility for your orgasm while you are having sex with your partner. 

To put it another way:  healthy selfishness is having an orgasm.  Unhealthy selfishness is being unwilling to empathize with the other person’s needs and desires. Healthy unselfishness is pleasuring your spouse.  Unhealthy unselfishness is playing the sexual martyr or being passive-aggressive. 

According to Dr. Doug Rosenau in his book “A Celebration of Sex”, a healthy self-concept is important. Having a positive view of yourself and your partner enhances sex. 

That means ladies, your man may want to be with you more when you stop asking “does my butt look big in these jeans?”  It’s self-defeating.  He sees you as beautiful and wants to be with you.   

6 Character Traits of a Fantastic Lover

What makes married sex great?

1. Playfulness – includes excitement, curiosity, eagerness, & spontaneity “You cannot work at creating better lovemaking – you and your mate have to play at it.” Doug Roseneau

2. Love – you must love yourself and love your mate. Accept yourself and your mate – strengths of your appearance as well as “flaws”.

3. Knowledge – become a student of your mate and yourself. Technical knowledge of sexuality.

4. Honesty – “dishonesty destroys trust, allows boredom, and creates confusion & hostility.” Doug Roseneau

Examples: 1. Husband who lacks sexual skills but can’t admit to himself – says to himself “She says sex isn’t very fun, but she reaches a climax most of the time.” 2. Wife who plays manipulative sexual games – she says to herself “If he forgets our anniversary again, he won’t get sex for a month.”

5. Creative Romance – surprise gifts, foot & leg massages, verbal demonstrativeness, mutual showers, dinners with candlelight, soft glances

6. Discipline – keep a time sacredly reserved for sex

-Go to bed at the same time

-Teach children to respect a locked door

-Agree to schedule lovemaking so many times per week

Out of the sex, I mean “six” character traits, knowledge is key.  Taking  (Insert Your Spouse’s Name Here) 101, will go far in your relationship. 

Study your spouse.  Creative romance may not mean gifts or candlelight.  Because you know your spouse, you may know that hiking the Appalachian Trail would be a greater turn on.  Because you know your spouse you may seek spontaneous sex instead of scheduled sex because she likes surprises, or vice versa. Knowledge is key.  

Resource:  A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Doug Roseneau

What Your Sex Life Says About Your Marriage

SHOW NOTES:

Thank you for listening to Relationship Helpers!  Today’s episode may be an eye-opener for many of you on the subject of sex in marriage. Sex experts tend to focus on what’s wrong about sex in marriage, without offering much in what is right. 

Of course we’ll take a look at problems with sex, but more importantly we’re going to look at what makes it the soul-stirring wonderful experience God intended to be.  

How We Learn About Sex Informs Our Sex Lives

People learn about sex in many different ways.  HOW we learn about it shapes how we see ourselves as well as how we view sex.  Many people are introduced to the topic of sex when a parent talks to them about it.  When a parent has an age-appropriate discussion about sex it makes that child have a strong foundation on which their sexual knowledge is built.  A parent that approaches sex with a lot of nerves or shame can unwittingly negatively impact their child’s view of sex. 

If a parent does not take on the role of educator then children learn from their peers and the media, leaving the child to other people’s opinions and misinformation.

The most heartbreaking way children are introduced to sex is through sexual abuse. Sexual abuse often influences the survivor to carry shame and negative coping mechanisms where sex is concerned.

Types of Love Needed

How someone is introduced to sex matters.  It’s the lens through which a person looks at intimate love. The Greeks defined eight different types of love. Today, we will look at three:

Agape – unconditional love and commitment; act of will

Philos – brotherly love, companionship; enhanced by time spent together

Eros – passion, excitement; no defensive walls with erotic & romantic feelings

Agape love requires intentionality. It’s the kind of love that makes you stay with your spouse when you are having a really hard time even liking them right now. It is the “for richer and poorer” and “in sickness and in health” kind of love.

Philos love is what makes marriage like a friendship. It’s about making time for one another, whether that’s through leisure activities or through making efforts to just talk to one another.

Eros love gets some people in trouble. They are seeking out the “high” that comes with the passion and excitement of eros love. Eros love depends, to a degree, on biology and chemistry. For sex addicts and people with unhealthy relationships it can be what keeps them caught in a cycle of seeking out sexual pleasure above all else. 

When in a healthy marriage, Eros love is at its greatest.  It’s God giving the green light to sexual bliss. 

Progression of Intimacy

Chatting – Emotional Sharing – Sex

In a culture of one night stands or “test-driving the car before buying it,” much of the pure sexual excitement that comes with married sex is lost.  When a relationship in the context of marriage follows the progression of chatting, to emotional sharing, to sex it helps to develop a spiritual bond. Sex seems empty when you don’t “know” the other person.

In the Bible often “knowing” is a euphemism for sexual relations.  Isn’t that what sex should be?  You can be physically intimate with someone without having an emotional or spiritual bond.  But is that all you want out of a relationship?

God’s gift of sex offers much more bonding than what physical intimacy only can supply. 

3 Kinds of Sex

1. Secure Sex – emotionally attuned and vulnerable

2. Detached Avoidant Sex – splits off emotion and purely focuses on physical, performance, and novelty

3. Ambivalent Protesting – anxiously seeking affirmation of worth, value, afraid of abandonment, clingy, and demanding

We are biologically wired for reproduction and attachment. When a couple struggles sexually, there is often an attachment issue.

Healthy attachment is what is considered “secure sex.” Each spouse is open to one another. Each person strives to understand the other better and allows themselves to be emotionally vulnerable to the other person.

Detached Avoidant Sex makes sex more of a performance. It may be flashy, but there’s probably no depth. It is purely physical.  Many times this type of sex results from people who have sexual addictions or sexual abuse histories.  For those addicted, there has been a hyper-focus on reaching climax, which often leaves their partner feeling left out of the process, frustrated, and unloved. For a person struggling with a sexual abuse history, detachment may be a way to dissociate from the hurt that rape or molestation has brought in the past. 

Marriage counseling can be particularly involved when a sexually abused wife is married to a man with a sexual addiction.  The husband may orgasm quickly and she can be so triggered that she never reaches orgasm.  He is left unsatisfied because she did not climax. She is left further traumatized, wondering why she can’t achieve orgasm with her husband and maybe even angry that he does not consider her feelings about it.

Ambivalent Protesting Sex is when sex becomes a means for achieving value.  This is often seen in people who are clingy or demanding.  Fear of abandonment fuels their sexual choices.

Obviously, secure sex is what we should hope to achieve, but how does it come to be?  Tune in next week for ways to improve your sex life! 

Resources: 

A Celebration of Sex by Dr. Doug Rosenau

Face to Face Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage by Dr. Jesse Gill

Teens & Devices

SHOW NOTES:

Welcome to Relationship Helpers!  We’re so glad you’ve taken the time to listen to us today!  You’re catching us towards the end of our podcast, as we are about to take a break. 

Today’s episode marks our 97th episode. When we hit 100, we’re going to take a break from the weekly podcasts, but be sure to check our website as we will continue to update it with great information.

Technology’s Pros & Cons

Over forty years ago, it would not be uncommon for Vincent’s parents to tell him to step away from the tv screen claiming  “It’s going to hurt your eyes!”  Oh, how times have changed!  

These days kids and adults alike are transfixed by a mobile screen device that is used to avoid talking in the waiting room or while waiting in the check out aisle.  It’s used in bumper to bumper traffic as an escape and it’s a substitute for having a real, face-to-face conversation.  When you don’t want to “people” you can go on Facebook.

Technology has its benefits, but also its pitfalls. Sometimes its use can be an unintentional mindless activity that makes us feel productive, but in the long run, what are we doing to ourselves?

Brain Development & Devices

Did you know that your personality—so much of who you are as a person— is centered just behind your forehead.  The prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain just behind your forehead, is responsible for decision-making, executive functioning, empathy and impulse control.

Did you know that device usage is shrinking our prefrontal cortexes by about 10 to 20 percent?!?  That’s a scary thought. No wonder so many parents bring their kids to our therapy practice wanting to know why their child suffers from attention issues, the inability to empathize with others, poor decision-making skills and social anxiety.

We highly recommend reading “The Digital Invasion” by Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd to get a stronger grasp of technology’s impact on children and what we can do about it.

We are a nation with children that have “digital dementia.” Neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer coined this term upon learning that because we are becoming overly reliant on technology, our brains our losing cognitive functioning.  

When we receive a “like” or a “follow” on social media, it hits the pleasure center of our brain like a drug.  Recently we had a senior in high school conduct an informal study among his friends.  He asked each one how often they check their phones.  The highest number was two hundred and forty five times in one day.  The lowest, sixty-nine.  The average:  147.18 times.  

Obviously this isn’t a formal study, but we know that teens are using smartphones prolifically. Imagine having two hundred and forty-five “hits” similar to a drug hit? We’re not talking about something lethal like heroin or cocaine, BUT the chemicals in our brains are not something to mess around with.  They alter how we experience the world around us. 

How Can I “Parent” This?

In our work as therapists, we often have parents tell us that their children “do so much better” when they do not have devices. For many of you listening to this, you may be thinking it’s too late.  What can you do now?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics children under the age of two should have no exposure to devices or tv.  Those between two and five should only have one hour of quality tv programming that you watch with them.  If you have a child above the age of six, you should set a consistent amount of time that your child uses media. Take into account how much sleep they should be getting, along with physical and social activities. Device usage should not take the place of these activities.

If you have a teen that has had unlimited technology usage, you may be struggling with what to do about it now, especially if you’re seeing concerning behaviors.

How Do I Know If My Child is Using Too Much Technology?

Be aware that two hours of social media usage contributes to anxiety and unhappiness among teenagers. Signs that your child is suffering from too much exposure to social media and technology include: 

  1. Grades dropping
  2. Careless work
  3. Difficulty having conversations with others
  4. Anxiety surrounding routines
  5. Isolation
  6. “Phubbing” (choosing to look at phones instead of the people around them)
  7. Relationship issues surrounding device usage. 

How Do I Get Us Back On Track?

Some teens are looking at screens eleven hours per day. Some are on-screen more a day than they sleep. This degree of exposure also limits the amount of face-to-face conversations they have with the people that are important to them, most importantly family.

Intentionally Spend Off Devices

Make it a point to put your own phone down. Put away your laptops.  Turn off the tv.  Model “screen-free time.”  Make yourself available to chat with your child.  Plan activities such as bowling, hiking, any kind of FUN activity that you can do together as a family.  Help them to want to spend time AWAY from their screens.  

Set Limits

Don’t allow social media usage among children under the thirteen year old requirement. Have limits for each person in the family. Educate yourself on the different apps out there—be aware that many apps are deceptive and are not what they appear to be.  (Consider how some may look like a calendar app on the home screen but they are actually a deceptive app meant to hide unwanted behaviors.) 

Encourage Your Kids To Be Social

Help your kids learn to be social by engaging them.  Have them order their own food at restaurants.  Make them order pizza delivery.  Have them schedule appointments on the phone. Don’t shield them from these tasks.  They learn how to do these things on your watch.  If you do it for them, they will be forced to try to learn how to do it as adults, or worse, they avoid doing them all together.

Dinner Time

Make family dinner time a priority.  This time is specified as ‘device free.”  

Show Discipline Yourself

Model healthy device habits yourself.  You can’t preach limiting social media or device usage without doing it yourself.  Turn off your devices and turn your attention on your children.  Have meaningful conversation.  

The rapid-fire social media environment lends itself to very little depth.  We’re constantly jumping to the next best thing.  It doesn’t allow room for having deep, meaningful experiences.  We’ve let gaming become how we do life, jumping from the next thing to the next.  As parents, we have to make the change. 

Resources:  The Center For Digital Wellness

The Digital Invasion  by Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd

096 Parenting: Teens & Vaping

SHOW NOTES:

Welcome to Relationship Helpers!  We’re so glad you’ve joined us for our 96th episode today.  We are winding down our podcast as we approach our 100th episode!  Today we discuss teen vaping.  Parents all over the country are having to play a massive game of catch-up with this new trend.  It’s not one that parents had to deal with when they were teens.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared teen vaping an epidemic. According to a survey from University of Michigan, eleven percent of high school seniors, eight percent of tenth graders and three and a half percent of eight graders report vaping with nicotine in a one month period. 

Vaping devices and liquids can be sold to anyone over the age of eighteen.  Anyone under the age of twenty-seven is expected to provide identification to purchase them.

What’s In a Name?

Vaping devices are known as vape pens, juuls, pod mods, tanks, electronic nicotine delivery devices, e-hookahs and e-cigarettes. Vape liquids are called e-juice e-liquid, cartridges, pods, or oil. Vaping devices can deliver nicotine, marijuana or flavored chemicals.  Think how jelly beans have hundreds of crazy flavors, so is true for vaping liquids.  

Is Vaping Safe?

The rationale behind vaping is that it is safer than cigarette smoking and is a means to quit smoking, yet there is no research to support this mentality. There are ninety three harmful or potentially harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, as determined by the FDA. Vape liquids have fewer chemicals, but still contain the drug nicotine.

Have We Forgotten The Harm of Nicotine?

Nicotine is a highly addictive drug.  Research confirms it is toxic to developing fetuses. It is harmful to brain development in children up to the age of twenty. Memory and attention processing can be negatively impacted by nicotine usage. 

Surgeon General Adams states that the most reported reason teens vape is because of the flavors in them. Many teens do not realize that they are inhaling a drug when they vape. The amount of nicotine found in an entire pack of cigarettes is loaded into a single “juulpod.” 

Parents:  Let’s Talk About Vaping

Parents need to educate themselves about vaping.  We live in a fast-forward culture where things our teens experience did not exist during our own teen years.  Rather than choosing to avoid learning about it, educate yourself.

One of the key elements to a healthy relationship with your teen is learning how to communicate with them. If you want your child to ask you questions and for them to talk to you, you have to make yourself approachable.  This means being intentional.  Choose to put away your technological devices and have time where you can talk, face-to-face.  Help them feel heard.  Empathize. Put yourself in their shoes. DO THIS EVERY DAY.  Don’t be reactive and make the only times you talk to them when you are punishing them. 

Find teachable moments.  If you are watching tv together and someone is vaping, ask them about it.  If it is mentioned in a song while you are listening to the radio, see what they think about it.  These are non-intrusive ways to create dialogue.

We hope you’ve learned something new today and will incorporate it into your parenting.  Be sure to check out our other parenting episodes!

Resources: 

“The Vape Debate:  What You Need to Know.”  

“Monitoring The Future Survey:  High School and Youth Trends.”  

“Your Teen is Underestimating the Health Risks of Vaping.”

Date Night Movies – Part #3

SHOW NOTES:

Date Night Movie Series
Date Night Movie Series

Welcome listeners! This marks our last episode of the “Date Night Movies” series. Each week we have been suggesting two movies that you and your loved one can watch.  We discuss some important themes in the movies, along with questions you can ask each other after you enjoy the movies. 

Today we are talking about “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days” and “27 Dresses.” We’re taking a detour from the more serious movies from the last two weeks and taking a look at two lighthearted, albeit contrived rom-coms. Have fun!

How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days

How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days

Andie is an ambitious journalist that wants to write about religion, politics and ethics. She writes, however, for Composure, a Cosmopolitan-like women’s magazine.  When it is time to pitch ideas for the newest issue, Andie’s editor-in-chief Lana makes it clear that she will be expected to contribute yet again another superficial article.  Andie’s friend and co-worker Michelle struggled to make it to the meeting that morning—she was suffering from the blows of ANOTHER breakup. This inspires Andie to pitch the article idea of “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days.”  Lana loves the idea and encourages Andie to find a man and put him through all the ways women drive their boyfriends away.

Ben is in advertising and is vying for the DeLaurer account, but he has competition. His co-workers, Judy and Judy (yes, you read that right), have just visited Composure the day the pitches were made for the newest issue. As Ben’s boss describes the newest project, Ben bets him he can make any woman fall in love with him.  His boss says that if he does, he will give him the project.  The Judys suggest to their boss that the woman that Ben must attract has to be Andie while at a party. (This is done without the boss or Ben being aware that Andie is working on a project of her own on how to drive men away.)

Does Ben fall in love with Andie, who does everything in her power to make him break up with her? Watch the movie and find out!

27 Dresses

27 Dresses

Jane loves her boss George, she just doesn’t know it yet.  He is self-made, moral, and a hard worker—all traits that she possesses herself.  Enter Tess, Jane’s younger sister.  Unbeknownst to Jane and George, Tess has a few secrets.  She has been dumped by her boyfriend and lost her job.  She is spiraling, but she lets no one know.  Instead, she falls for George and he falls for her.

Jane has a quirk.  She’s always the bridesmaid, in fact, she has twenty some odd bridesmaid dresses hanging in her closet to prove it.  One night while performing in several weddings AT THE SAME TIME, she meets Kevin during a cab ride. Kevin does not let on that he is the commitments columnist for the newspaper. When Jane leaves her planner in their cab, Kevin discovers Jane has an interesting past-time. He is fascinated by Jane’s devotion to being the perfect bridesmaid.

George and Tess are moving TOO fast.  The pair decide to get married only weeks into their relationship.  Kevin is contacted to cover their wedding festivities. When Kevin puts it together that Tess and Jane are sisters, he concocts a plan to write an article on Jane’s peculiar constant bridesmaid status. 

Kevin and Jane spend quite a bit of time together in getting ready for Tess’ wedding.  He confronts her about her obvious love for her boss.  Meanwhile, Kevin and Jane have their own chemistry simmering below the surface. A character-revealing slideshow at Tess’ wedding rehearsal threatens the impending wedding ceremony.

Does George find out that Tess has been lying to him about who she really is?  Does Jane and George end up together?

Major Themes in How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days & 27 Dresses

Perfectionism & People-Pleasing

It could be said that Lana and Andie have laser focuses on what they want in life and that’s where the conflict starts in “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days.”  Lana’s magazine, Composure wouldn’t be what it is without sticking to a very specific tagline. Andie hasn’t come all this way to just write for trashy chick rags.  Somewhere along the way, however, Andie hasn’t had much of a life. Her focus on her career has put having a love life way beyond the back burner. Perfectionism may be what has kept her from having a life outside of writing. People-pleasing has kept her in good graces with Lana and employed for a magazine that she really doesn’t believe in.

For Jane in “27 Dresses,” she has performed “perfectly” for her boss. She bends over backwards to her own detriment to keep him happy. He even tells her that she performs beyond his expectations.  It strokes her ego.  This behavior acts as a mild substitute for love with Jane.  She acts also as a people-pleaser to her sister, enabling her childish behavior, rather than calling her out on it.  Jane ends up being a great example of what happens when a people-pleaser has said ‘yes’ to much—she acts out in a very passive-aggressive way that shocks everyone. 

Codependency

In “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days,” Andie basically does just about every classic codependent behavior in the book to send Ben running.  Ironically, it doesn’t work.  His desire to win his bet forces him to behave very empathically. He learns how to cope with an unstable significant other.  He listens.

Jane fulfills the role of “family hero” in “27 Dresses”.  The loss of their mother was difficult for Jane and Tess.  Jane becomes a mother-like figure to Tess.  This gets the both of them in trouble. Tess ends up relying too heavily on Jane to be responsible for her.  Jane feels a sense of satisfaction for playing this role.  It’s not healthy, but often in relationships such as these it is seen as benign and even good.

Confrontation

It takes confrontation in both movies for the different couples to face how they really feel about each other. In “How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days,” Andie learns from Ben that if you want real love, you can’t play games.

In “27 Dresses”, Jane’s friend Casey, explains to her that if she had been direct and upfront in the beginning, so much hurt and chaos could have been avoided. Jane had to come to terms with the fact that she had been allowing her perfectionism to stroke her ego as well as fuel the platonic relationship with her boss. Kevin also confronts Jane and helps her to determine where her feelings are really coming from.

Post-Viewing Questions

After you and your significant other watch the movie together, ask each other these questions.

Which relationship do you identify with most?  How?

What’s been the theme/s in your relationships?

What do you think will happen to the couples after the movie?

What did each individual need to do to make the relationship work?