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?!?

Healthy sex involves a balance of unselfness and selfishness.

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?

Couples need to play at their sex life.

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.”

Creative romance enhances the affection in a relationship.

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

It is healthy for parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children about sex.

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

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

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

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

Many couples seem to go straight from the chatting to sex, skipping the emotional sharing.

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 Sex – anxiously seeking affirmation of worth, value, afraid of abandonment, clingy, and demanding

With secure sex, everything is relaxed, balanced and in tune.

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. 

Detached Avoidant Sex is often characterized with one partner hyper-focused on the climax while the other is frustrated and feels unloved.

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 often seen in those who are clingy and demanding.

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. They have sex to fill their need for self worth.

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

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?

Date Night Movies – Part #2

SHOW NOTES:

Date Night Movie Series
Date Night Movie Series

Thank you for listening to Relationship Helpers! We hope that you find our podcast helpful and dare we say it…entertaining!  This week marks the second part of a three part series we are doing on “Date Night Movies”. 

Each episode we will suggest two movies that you and your loved one can watch.  We will discuss some important themes in the movie, along with questions you can ask each other after you enjoy the movie.  Today we are talking about “Sleepless in Seattle” and “Hope Floats.”

 

Sleepless in Seattle

Sleepless In Seattle

Sleepless in Seattle is a 1993 Norah Ephron drama/romance movie starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.  The movie follows Sam, played by Hanks, as he starts a new life after the death of his wife with his young son Jonah.  Father and son move to Seattle.  Sam buries himself in his work while Jonah searches for connection.  In a particularly desperate time, little Jonah calls a radio show and makes it on-air.  Ladies all over the country hear Jonah’s pleas for help for his dad.  He wants to see his father happy again.  Letters pour in to their household, including one from Annie from Baltimore, played by Meg Ryan. 

Sam learns that Jonah has been calling this radio show and becomes angry.  He starts to date a woman he meets through his work.  Jonah finds her “blah.” He encourages his dad to reach out to Annie because he feels that Annie’s letter was the most genuine of any of those written. Meanwhile, Annie is engaged to a man that could also be described as “blah.”

Jonah and Annie make arrangements for Annie to meet Sam at the top of the Empire State Building, without Sam’s knowledge.  Does it happen?  Watch the movie and find out!

 

Hope Floats

Hope Floats

Hope Floats debuted in 1998.  The film opener is like Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer had a talk show baby. Birdie, played by Sandra Bullock, has been invited by her best friend to guest on a tv talk show where she is misled into believing that the topic is about friendship.  Instead, in front of millions of tv viewers, Birdie is devastated by her friend’s admission that she is having an affair with Birdie’s husband.  Crest-fallen, Birdie drives their young daughter Berniece to Birdie’s home town of Smithfield, Texas and the pair move in with Birdie’s mother to start a new life. 

A former pageant winner and school queen bee, Birdie is not welcomed back to her hometown with open arms.  In fact, many of her former classmates relish the fact that she has been knocked off of her pedestal.  This makes getting a job and starting a new life difficult.  With the guidance and motivation of her meddlesome mother, Birdie is able to start a life with an old love interest, Justin Matisse.  How does Birdie handle the death of her mother and the prospect of creating a blended family?  Find out by watching the movie!  It has heart.

Major Themes in Sleepless in Seattle & Hope Floats

Loss

Both films start with the main characters experiencing life-changing loss.  Both Sam and Birdie are faced with starting a new life in a new town with their children and what a new life looks like without major loved ones who have meant so much to their past.

Divorce

Sleepless in Seattle does not have divorce as a theme but it is the catalyst for Hope Floats.  Birdie has to start back at square one when she decides to live a life separate from the one that she and her one-time high school quarterback husband had created. She is forced to find work and make ends meet.  She has to become vulnerable to open herself to a new relationship.

Dating After the End of a Marriage

Sam contemplates finding someone new to share his life with after the death of his wife in Sleepless in Seattle.  Birdie, at the manipulations of her mother, is thrown together with Justin Matisse, and to her chagrin, falls for him.  Both movies show the awkwardness of getting back on the dating scene after couples have been in the comforts of years for marriage.

Blended Families

Both Sleepless in Seattle and Hope Floats have the theme of blended families.  Sleepless in Seattle is more of an implied theme as we do not see what happens to Sam, Annie and Jonah. The idea of a blended family is a “what-if question.”

In Hope Floats, however, there is a strong theme of blending family, as Birdie takes in her nephew who was been cared for by her mother after she dies.

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?

093 Date Night Movies – Part #1

SHOW NOTES:

Date Night Movie Series
Date Night Movie Series

Do you long for deeper conversations with your spouse? Do you see patterns in your relationship but have a hard time articulating them? In this three part series “Date Night Movies”, Laura and Vincent discuss good romantic movies that have strong relationship themes.

The goal is that your spouse and you watch these movies together and afterwards it spawns discussions about your own relationship. At the bottom of these notes are the questions for discussion.

In this first episode, our two movies are The Long Hot Summer and Sense & Sensibility.

 

The Long Hot Summer

The Long Hot Summer

Mysterious newcomer Ben Quick (Paul Newman) wants to earn the respect of the insufferable town monopolist Will Varner (Orson Welles).  Ben’s family’s reputation as “barn burners” follows him and complicates his new employment with Will along with his affections towards Will’s daughter Clara (Joanne Woodward.) 

Ben tries to rise above his past and being connected to the Varners can make it happen.  Does love triumph over family history?  Watch and find out!

 

Sense & Sensibility

Sense & Sensibility

Can a relationship make it on love alone in early 19th century England? In this movie we find Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson) forced to find a way for her aged mother and her two younger sisters to survive after the death of her father.  Because of old English law, she stands to inherit none of his estate, while her greedy brother and his wife do. This uproots Elinor, her mother, and two younger sisters, forcing them to move from a comfortable life to a much more impoverished one. 

Along the way, Elinor falls in love with Edward (Hugh Grant) who chooses a simplistic, rural life.  Meanwhile, her sister Marianne (Kate Winslet) is drawn towards shallow, yet dashing Willoughby (Greg Wise); ignoring the steadfast pursuit of faithful Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman).

Who do the Dashwood women choose?  Do they choose love or stability?  Don’t miss this wonderful film!

Major Themes In Long, Hot Summer & Sense and Sensibility

Society/Culture/Labels

Both films hinge on very specific cultural precepts. Long, Hot Summer, a movie based on the works of William Faulkner, is set in Mississippi in the 1950s. It focuses on the wealthy Varner family.

Will Varner has worked hard for his wealth. Ben Quick comes from a poorer and even criminal family. Ben wants to impress Will Varner who basically owns the town with his strong work ethic.  He wants to live beyond his label of coming from a “bad family.”

The Sense and Sensibility movie is based on the book of the same name by Jane Austen.  As with her other works, Austen encourages the reader to consider what women faced in the nineteenth century—namely having love and/or being able to survive in a paternalistic society.

The women feel defined by their status in society. The Dashwood women long for love, and for Marianne it’s romantic and sweeping, but for Elinor the oldest sister the burden of making sure the other women in the family are cared for weighs heavily in her decisions as to love.

Young Love

The Varners in Long, Hot Summer have some tricky love lives!  Will, a widower, has someone interested in him, but he’s so distracted by his work and family that he has shelved his feelings for Minnie (Angela Lansbury). 

Will’s son, Jody is incompetent and hardly the kind of son he wants to pass along his legacy. He is head-over-heals in love with his carefree wife Eula (Lee Remick).  She is attractive and more interested in playing and flouncing about in her posh digs.

Will’s daughter, Clara, has more altruistic pursuits as a teacher. She has been in a ho-hum six year relationship with Alan, a sickly mama’s boy. When Ben Quick attempts to catch her eye, he has to earn her respect.

In Sense and Sensibility we see how Elinor tempers her decisions on love based on how her family can survive. Marianne, on the other hand, finds passion and love to be her main guides, which drives her to more impulsive decisions.

Difficult Family

Long, Hot Summer has strong family dynamics.  Will Varner is bigger than life, and his family, all grown adults live under his shadow.  His is a story of a man with a strong business ethic whose children choose a different path and lifestyle. His son, Jody, has been enabled to have a carefree lifestyle that suits his almost gold-digger type wife just fine. Will Varner has a mess on his hands if he plans on passing his family legacy down to Jody. 

Enter Ben Quick, a man with negative reputation, who is trying to earn good graces to become a part of the business and a part of the family. Clara has to decide whether to make the “safe” choice with boring, weak Alan who has her family’s approval, or Ben who is scrappy and comes with baggage. 

In Sense and Sensibility, the first scene opener introduces us to the conflict in the Dashwood family. The death of Mr. Dashwood cuts off the female Dashwoods from their livelihoods. Rising above their circumstances, the female Dashwoods have to navigate a tenuous relationship with the eldest surviving male Dashwood, while trying to fend for themselves.

To complicate matters, Elinor falls in love with her sister-in-law’s brother.  Although her sister-in-law is difficult and miserly, her brother Edward has simple and noble intentions.

Both families in these movies have to come to terms with the love interests that come into the lives of the adult children, with interesting results.  How did your family accept your relationship with your significant other?

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?