Archive for July, 2010

leovdworp

Ahh, love.  It comes.  It goes.  It takes your breath away… leaves you floating on air.  Then one day, it simply takes your breath… leaves you deflated, void of life, and gasping for the very air you once floated effortlessly on.    But what goes up must come down, right?   We fall passionately in love… can’t pull our otherwise rational head out of the clouds – not that we want to.  Our love is intoxicating, empowering, and seemingly infallible.  Little do we know.  🙂  We trust that love so completely that before long, we take it for granted.  Anything we take for granted, we neglect.  A marriage neglected becomes a marriage…fallible.  What comes next?  The better question may be what doesn’t come next?  We may find ourselves in love limbo…somewhere between “in love” with our spouse and divorce.  No man’s land.  We still love our spouse, but we’re not “in love” anymore.  What now?  Do we give up, lawyer up, and begin the battle of who gets what?  Or do we fight for our marriage, rather than against it?

It happens every day to couples everywhere.  Spouses fall out of love.  They no longer feel that electric spark between themselves…no longer see in their spouse what they did once upon a time.  They’re simply no longer happy with this person they vowed to love in “sickness AND health.”  Of course, there are occasions when divorce is the best choice.   But more times than not, a couple who was once passionately in love can find their way back to that love…given a little effort and an open mind.  Do you remember those heartfelt vows you pledged to your spouse?  Do you remember the look in your spouse’s eyes when you were exchanging those vows?  Do you remember the moment you said “I do?”  Do you remember the officiant who wed you waving the “easy marriage” wand over your heads?  Do you remember the marriage license containing a disclaimer?  “Warning:  Marriage will suck the life out of you.  If you have a wandering eye, a short temper, a stubborn personality, a closed mind, or if you in any way, shape, or form classify yourself as HUMAN…you may want to consult your divorce lawyer before entering into this contract!”  Of course not!  We don’t enter into marriage with the anticipation of divorce.  We’re too blinded by our love at the point of “I do.”   But there will come a time…a time when you don’t share the same spark that once had the ability to set your whole “forest” ablaze…a time when you simply tolerate the other…a time when you no longer feel “in love”…a time when you wonder if divorce is inevitable.

You won’t be alone.  When we say “I do,” it’s hard to imagine the profound reality of the next 50 years.  As newlyweds, we’re infants in the world of marriage.  We can’t comprehend the difficulty that awaits us…the stress of keeping mounting bills paid, raising kids whose primary job seems to be pulling us away from each other, meeting the needs of career, family, and life, in general.   Romance is often times stuck on the back burner, metaphorically speaking, and forgotten about until we smell that “burning” stench lingering in the air.  We forget to pay attention to it until we’re so far apart emotionally that it may seem too late…and we begin kicking around the “D” word in our thoughts.

The fact is ALL marriages will go through these “dry” spells.  This is the ebb and flow of marriage.  Spouses fall in and out of love with one another all the time.  We enter marriage “in love”…obviously.  As the years pass and stress envelopes us, we may begin to neglect one another…and fall out of love.  While we may still love each other (just as we love our family), we may not be “in love.”  We may love him, but not like him very much anymore.  We may wonder why we ever married this person to begin with.    We may even be disgusted with our spouse on occasion.  We may think there’s no hope…no way to get “it” back.  Wrong again!  By this stage in life, we should be growing accustomed to being…wrong…every now and then.  🙂

The beauty of love is that it tends to come full circle –  much like that iconic, circular representation of it we exchange on the day we wed…the wedding band.  Our love will start out in a state of romantic bliss.  Bliss will fade.  “Getting by” will become our daily struggle…but love will endure.  That iconic symbol will withstand being left at home, being temporarily lost, being smudged by life’s daily messes…it will even withstand us outgrowing it (just as we do our love at times).  But even with all the trials that band encounters, it remains an intact circle and very difficult to “break.”

Love will come and go.  Someday, we’ll fall out of love with our spouse and find ourselves hovering in love limbo.  But give it time…that love will return.  Search for the charming, endearing things your spouse does, rather than focusing on the negative annoyances.  One day your spouse will wink sensually at you, touch you lovingly, or kiss you in a way that reignites that “long been out” flame.  That flame will cause your knees to grow weak, send your heart aflutter, and…hopefully, leave you in the throes of passion.  All the things that made you fall in love in the first place will come rushing back to you…and possibly, leave you floating on air once again. On this day, your vision won’t be so utterly impeded by all of life’s messy trials.  You’ll be able to see what initially attracted you to this person you pledged your life to.  Once returned, that love will likely be stronger than ever before. After all, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…right?  Cliche, but true.

A love that once found us WILL find us again.  We just have to do our part:  be patient enough to wait for it and devoted  enough to draw it a map.

Chick Hughes

Trip over love, you can get up. Fall in love and you fall forever.” ~ author unknown

13dede

The kids are asleep.  The house is quiet.  It’s been a while since the mattress springs have been properly challenged.  He’s feeling frisky.  All arrows point to go on the sex front…for him.  He makes a move to coerce her into the bedroom.  But instead of a warm, passionate kiss followed by a romp in the hay, he’s met with excuses.  “I’m exhausted.”  “I have a headache.”  “Not tonight.  I just want to get some sleep.”  He’s left feeling rejected, denied, and alone.  He may think… “She doesn’t want me.”  “Maybe I don’t do it for her anymore.”  Her rejection can plant insecurities in him.  But then again, he may just wonder where her libido has slithered away to.  It’s unlikely he’ll employ much further analysis.  He’ll just leave it at that, get tired of being rejected, and give up.  Once he gives up on the much needed sex, he won’t make any attempt at emotional connection.  He’ll feel the same rejection from lack of sex that she feels from lack of connection.   Both create distance and disconnect.  Sex and emotional connection…one isn’t more important than the other, as they balance each other out.  So, why IS she rejecting him over and over again?  Why is she so disinterested in sex?  Not because she isn’t into him…probably not because she wants to catch up on her sleep…and certainly not because of a headache, which can actually be relieved with sex.

While there are plenty of reasons why women may not be interested in sex…ranging anywhere from complete exhaustion to an emotional disconnect to sexual dysfunction…there’s one reason she’ll never admit to…one reason she may not have even recognized herself.  And even if she is aware of it, he’s the absolute last person she’ll confide in with such personal information…for he’s the one person that can never know…because it’s his image of her that she strives so fervently to maintain in a positive light.  This reason:  insecurity.  Simply put, she feels fat, undesirable, and overcome by flaws.  But if she tells him that, she fears that she’s opening his eyes to things he doesn’t already see.  And if he does already see them, she doesn’t need, nor desire, the scrutiny.  So, it’s best to keep sexual intercourse to a minimal…and keep the room dark when she does oblige.  After all, in the dark, she can be anyone he wants her to be, right?  She doesn’t have to worry about how her butt looks from behind –  how, and where, her fat jiggles ever so flatteringly – how her tummy looks from “that” angle – or how her imperfect curves resemble that of a jelly jar, rather than an hour glass.  No… in the dark, she can become the sexy vixen she knows she’s not, the one she knows he desires.  She can escape the judgment…the ridicule that consumes her brain…the disgust she’s sure consumes his.  Dark is good…or, better yet, maybe she should just avoid it all together.  Less sex means less judgment.

Women are their own worst nightmare when it comes to body image.  She’ll nitpick every imperfection, obsess over it, and even create one where none exists.  She does this because the media has convinced her that she’s not desirable.  Airbrushed magazine covers, starved skeletal models, celebrities who’ve allowed themselves to become their plastic surgeon’s patchwork quilt…all of these somehow dictate to women, and men, their concept of “beautiful.”  Because of these false images and the impossible goals they set for women, insecurity is the devil on her shoulder pointing out every imperfection as she inspects her body in the mirror…the body she’s convinced he couldn’t possibly be attracted to.  If her body image is severe enough, something else begins to happen…her self-imposed fears will get confirmed.  Even if she’s not that into it, he still wants sex.  He always will, even if her insecurities are giving HIM a complex.  But because she’s not that into it, the foreplay and pleasure will give way to a “wham, bam, thank you ma’am.”   So, her fears are confirmed.  Now she’s convinced she was right all along…he’s disgusted by her.  That little devil on her shoulder steps in once again… “He’s disgusted by you…he can’t wait to get it over with…he’s just using you to get off.”  Now the insecurity has taken on a life all it’s own.  Not only does she hate her body, try to hide it, and avoid sex, if possible…now she’s convinced that he’s using her too.  The foundation was already laid for the emotional wall dividing them…an overnight crew has just completely cemented it up.

She may feel shy, or ashamed, of her body because her post-baby body refuses to bounce back.  She may have just put on a little extra weight over the years.  She may be feeling older and less attractive.  Whatever the reason, her self perception is the one controlling the red light.  Until she feels sexier, the light will remain bright red.  Men…when she feels sexy, you’ll know it.  She won’t be able to get enough of you.  Her confidence in her body, or lack of it,  is powering her sex drive.  When her confidence is low, exercise is a great way to release endorphins, get her feeling more fit, and give her the energy to steer her sex drive out of the bushes and back out onto the main highway.  Headlights glaring in your face.  😉  However, one sure fire way to keep it stuck in the bushes is by criticizing her…whether you’re criticizing her body, or her desire.  Being critical, or pointing fingers at her for your lack of sex, will only fuel her insecurities.  And neither you, nor your dwindling sex life, want that.

So guys, getting rejected occasionally is likely just due to exhaustion or distraction.  But if rejection is a regular occurrence, it’s unlikely you’re the reason.   So stop being “hard” on yourself .  😉  She IS into you.  She may just be terrified that if you see what she sees, you won’t be into her.  It’s easier on her ego if she remains in power and rejects you before you reject her.

When she does give the occasional green light, take your time, pleasure her, convey to her that she makes you crazy hot…but never judge.  That encouragement, along with exercise to boost her self esteem, may put that red light on the fritz.  Underneath that shy, seemingly uninterested woman, lies a sex-starved, can’t-get-enough sex kitten who’s just been freed from HERSELF.  Be careful what you ask for.  You may be the one begging for the red light.  Nah, probably not.  😉

Chick Hughes

“My wife is a sex object – every time I ask for sex, she objects.” Les Dawson

debsch

Does your spouse know everything there is to know about you?  Do you know everything there is to know about your spouse?  Are you an open book when it comes to each and every detail of your thoughts, insecurities, fantasies, embarrassing moments, etc.?  Is your spouse?  If you think you know every minor detail about your sweetie’s inner self, I’d love to know how the weather is over there in “your” world.  And,  even if you think you’re completely honest with your sweetie, I challenge you to think long and hard on it.  Maybe you’re so good at keeping your secrets, you’ve fooled even yourself.  We each have secrets…those thoughts we’re ashamed to admit we have (like sexual desires we’re afraid to share with our spouse for fear he/she will reject us), those little uh-ohs we’ve made over the years no one else knows about (like fender benders witnessed only by us), those little crushes we develop on someone other than our spouse (being married doesn’t mean we’re dead…we still find sparks outside our marriage every now and again), or those things we take a peek at when we think no one’s watching (like online porn or flirty glances at strangers).  These secrets range from hiding that shopping indulgence we knew our spouse wouldn’t approve of  to harboring romantic feelings for another person…from failing to mention previous relationships  to having post-work beers with the guys while you’re thought to be working late.  These are the little secrets we keep to steer clear of confrontation, to avoid shame, and to dodge repercussions.   But are all secrets bad?  Do we really need to know every thought or experience our other half has?  On the flipside, do we want our other half to be privy to every private thought and detail about us that we’ve tried so desperately to keep hidden?  Obviously, the answer is “NO!”

For years, marriage counselors have preached complete honesty (NO secrets) as the only way to have a successful marriage.  But recently, professionals are rethinking this stance.  It’s now thought that we need to keep some minor details secret (obviously not major details –  such as affairs or financial secrets that will affect both partners) in order to maintain a little mystery, as well as to maintain what’s left of our individual identities.  When we marry, we become one.  But should we…is becoming one the best way?

Sure…at first, becoming one seems like the thing to do.  Walking down the aisle and receiving that symbolic piece of paper seems to be the only way of becoming as close as humanly possible to that person we can’t seem to get enough of.  We want to eat, sleep, and breathe this ONE person.  But in time, as time has a way of doing, we may yearn for our own little piece of identity back.  If our spouse is aware of every fleeting thought, every pending fear, every little move we make – every second of every day –  (and we’re just as aware of his every move and thought) we begin to lose ourselves somewhat.  The line separating where one ends and the other begins becomes as blurry as that cute little yellow line in the middle of the road after one too many jello shots.  When that line blurs, we begin to grow bored with one another and wander over to another “traffic lane.”   Knowing too much about the other can be monotonous.  To a point, this is good…monotony means security for some.  But without a little mystery and spontaneity, we’ll soon bore ourselves to death and, possibly, search for that spontaneity elsewhere.

Keeping secrets is a defense mechanism…self preservation…a natural behavior in human beings.  But our culture dictates that we defy that instinct, divulge every detail of ourselves, and be completely honest in every aspect of our inner beings when it comes to our spouse.  Not only are we taught to practice complete honesty regarding our most personal thoughts, but we’re also taught to expect the same from our spouse.  Guess where these expectations get us?  Denial…denial of our own feelings and actions and denial of our spouse’s feelings and actions.  Denial is yet another defense mechanism we employ when we can’t come to terms with unrealistic expectations.  Why do we insist on expecting superhuman traits from our spouses AND ourselves?  These idealistic expectations are doomed to bite us in the ass.  There’s no way either partner can accomplish this feat… being human and all.  So, what happens when it comes out that one of us has kept a secret?  What happens when she discovers that he’s been sneaking a peek at porn sites?  What happens when she finds a love note from a girlfriend he had long before being married?  What happens when he discovers she has a crush on another man?  Just what does happen when we have our blinders ripped off and realize that our spouse – who we thought was so perfect and incapable of keeping secrets from us – does, in fact, have a few secrets…and is, in fact, not so perfect?  Unnecessary fighting, tension, and disappointment are unleashed as the three-headed dragon that it is.

We’re convinced by society that, as a married couple, we should know everything there is to know about the other.  And, if one is keeping secrets of any kind, the marriage is in trouble.  So, when we uncover a secret…and some secrets will be uncovered…we feel betrayed.  We feel like our marriage is a sinking ship…like we never really knew this person at all.  This is what we’ve been taught to think.  We’ve been taught that if our spouse keeps anything at all from us, we’ve been betrayed.  We’ve learned to deduct that our spouse can’t possibly love us if he’s keeping little secrets… and divorce becomes our life boat to our perceived “sinking ship.”  Maybe this is why the divorce rate is so high?  If we go into a marriage expecting to become one person, expecting to know every detail about the other person, and expecting those details to merge with and mimic our own, where does this marriage have to go but down?

With a certain amount of privacy comes a feeling of being in control of our lives.  Without it, we almost feel as if we’re still checking in with our parents…YES, that’s right…this is especially emasculating to men.  We don’t want to feel controlled.  We need, and deserve, our privacy.  We need our space.  And we need our individual identities if we want to remain appealing not only to our spouses, but to ourselves as well.  We aren’t capable of remaining in love with our spouse if we feel we’ve lost ourselves to that person, if we feel we no longer know who we are without that person, if we don’t love ourselves any longer.   We’re only capable of loving another, and being happy with another, when we know who we are and love ourselves first.

So, realize that we are imperfect beings marrying other imperfect beings.  As these  imperfect beings, we keep secrets to protect ourselves, as well as the ones we love.   Know that your spouse will have secrets from you.  Remember that you, too, have secrets of your own.  Accept the presence of these secrets, know that they don’t end marriages (unless we expect them to), and embrace the humanity in all of us.  Stay mysterious.  Stay individual.  Stay married.  🙂

Chick Hughes

“The human heart has hidden treasures, In secret kept, in silence sealed; The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, Whose charms were broken if revealed” Charlotte Bronte

fireyes

Do women nag?   Hmm, do babies cry?  Do men like sex?  These, of course, are all rhetorical questions.  The answers are yes, yes, and yes.  It’s true!  Women nag.  “Are you going to get your hair cut this week?” (asked 4 times before he follows through and it becomes apparent that he does, in fact, have a forehead separating his hair and eyebrows).    “Don’t forget to take out the trash!”  (asked 5 times after having picked up the same piece of trash that keeps leaping from the overflow as if on a suicide mission).  “That garbage disposal really needs to be fixed.” (asked 6 times before realizing your outdoor garbage can has become the local bar and grill for an entire neighborhood of raccoons.)  Let’s face it, ladies.  We do nag.  We nag because we need things done.  If he helped out the first time we asked…a second, third, or fourth “nag” wouldn’t be necessary,  now would it?  I joke, but realistically, I think the science behind nagging is much more complex.

In the first few years of marriage, there’s not a lot of nagging going on, is there?  If there is, you’ve already started out on rocky terrain ~ good luck.  What IS going on in the first couple years of marriage?  Sex.  Communication.  Connection.  We’re in love.  We want to please one another (emotionally and sexually), and we want it to be reciprocated….and it usually is.  She feels connected, loved, emotionally fulfilled…not taken for granted.  Because she feels this, she also feels frisky and seductive.  He feels wanted and desired, and he’s having plenty of sex.  Because he feels this, he also feels the desire to help her, take care of her, and make things as easy as possible for her.  So, he preemptively tackles little things like chores because he’s more in tune with her happiness.  In turn, she’s fulfilled, happy, and focuses more on their connection… less on minor details or chores that somehow seem relatively unimportant.  Result: not a lot of nagging.  Isn’t this a happy union?  Also referred to as the honeymoon phase.  Short and sweet.  🙂

But as the years go by, this connection will “spring a leak.”  We tend to slowly focus less on the connection, and more on the minor details that fill up our busy lives.  The connection suffers.  The sex suffers.  The communication takes a leave of absence, and in its place comes the nagging.  Once our lives fill with countless stressors, we’re not so blissfully happy anymore.  Our happy union has skipped out on us.  Because we let life’s daily trials get in the way, the connection slips, and, consequently,the sex also slips.  If women are feeling emotionally distant, we’re not feeling the sex –  because, to us, no emotional connection means “we’re broken.”  Less sex, for men, translates into “we’re broken.”  Less sex results in more emotional distance.  When men aren’t getting what they need, the desire to take care of her, or be her hero, fades.  So, doing little things around the house to make her happy becomes less important to him.  Essentially, you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.  When his efforts stop, so do hers.  When her efforts stop, so do his.  Dizzy yet?

So, now we have a couple who has a rapidly shrinking connection (and sex life), a growing rift between them, and a steadily mounting list of household demands.  Household chores, responsibilities, kids…none of these will take a break until we figure out how to get back on track.  They still demand constant attention.  But, now that there’s less communication (sexually and verbally), the main topic of conversation revolves around what needs to be done.   What’s left to talk about?  When men disconnect, they become almost unaware of what needs to be done.  Someone has to pick up the slack, and that someone is typically her.  So, she is forced to ask for help.  Trust me, she gets no pleasure out of this.  She much prefers his preemptive stepping up to the plate without having to be begged like one of her children.  This is a turn off of epic proportion.  What’s interesting, though, is that neither spouse is cognizant of the fact that his/her unmet needs will manifest themselves in such a way.  We may think that the nagging is simply about getting the job done.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is, to a point.  But sometimes, the minor jobs that we “nag” about are symbolic of something bigger, something missing –  and that something is her connection with him.  She may even be nagging because it’s the only communication transpiring, and she’s desperate to get some communication going…even an argument.  Professionals say kids act out in an attempt to seek attention from their parents — whether it’s good or bad.  Maybe seeking an argument with our spouse isn’t so different from our childlike behavior?  Humans are so complicated…stupid humans!  Rarely are our marital arguments about the issue at hand.  Wouldn’t it be nice if life were so black and white?  Not a chance.  🙂

There seems to be a direct correlation between level of connection (emotional and sexual) and level of nagging.  When we’re happy, connected, and sexual, we have more teamwork and less need for nagging.  However, when we’re unhappy (consciously or unconsciously),  disconnected, and sex is a rare event, we become less of a team and the nagging for help becomes more steady.  To work as a team again, we need to be bonded.  Sex is a bonding experience.  Chemicals given off in the brain during sex bond us together, making us feel more connected.   Once we’re more connected, we yearn, and strive, to please one another.  And so, the need for nagging dwindles.

Next time you find yourself drowning in a sea of nags, think about the true driving force.  Maybe all your nag needs is a good shag?  😉

Chick Hughes

“I date this girl for two years–and then the nagging starts: I wanna know your name.” Mike Binder

photo by: wikkedhill

A chore is, by definition, an unpleasant or burdensome task.  Sarcastically translated – action everyone desperately wants a piece of.  So, it’s easy to see why couples get so combative when they aren’t allowed their fair share.  These are, after all, life’s little treasures, aren’t they?  Who doesn’t love to prepare meals three times a day, do dishes twice a day every day, wash, dry, and put away load after load of laundry, or dispose of trash that just keeps reappearing?  If this list seems short, allow me to confirm… it IS.  An actual list of daily household chores (especially households in which children reside) is so ongoing, so tedious, so perpetual…one may begin to feel like throwing in the damn towel rather than washing it ever again.  Chores are no fun as it is.  But when one spouse is doing most of the chores without help, the tension can become so tangible that it seems to evolve into yet another mess that needs “mopping up” before the day is done.

This scenario may sound familiar:

She’s had a long day with the kids and work.  She’s exhausted, but sees no end in sight where the chores are concerned.  The kids need to be bathed, dinner needs to be made, dishes need to be done, a load of laundry awaits, the garbage is overflowing, the phone is ringing, the dog needs to be fed and walked, the kids are arguing, her head is spinning, her sanity is wavering, and she looks over to find her “partner” dozing in the recliner.  She goes from feeling overwhelmed to feeling angry and resentful in a split second.  Why is it her sole responsibility to tend to the needs of everything AND everyone in the house?  Why isn’t her partner helping her?  Of course, resenting him takes time…time she doesn’t have at the moment.  That argument will have to wait.

As for now, dinner, dishes, kids, baths, garbage, and bedtimes are jackhammering her patience.  Once everything is done and the kids are in bed, she can finally sit down for a break.  However, that anger is still lingering just beneath the surface waiting to explode like a shaken soda bottle – all he has to do is open the top.  She’s drained of energy (mental and physical), and suddenly, he’s alertupstairs AND down.  He suggests they go to the bedroom.  Bottle top opened…instead of the warm reception he hoped for, he gets slammed with each and every way he made her night miserable.  The argument that had to wait before is now fully engaged.  May the best man, or woman, win.

He was most likely unaware of her frustrations.  He feels completely blindsided by her ranting, just as she felt alone and taken for granted while he rested.  Her anger has gotten the best of her, and she’s attacking him.  He goes into defense mode and attacks back.  Neither hears the other.  Because he didn’t attempt to help her with chores, she no longer sees him as a partner.  Women will never come out and tell men this,  but when left to take care of absolutely every chore the house demands and every need the kids demand (as if it’s “her” job alone), she feels she’s lacking a partner and her spouse becomes – in her mind –  another “child” or “chore” to tend to.  Is it any wonder she’s not interested in having sex at the end of the night?  Not only does she feel a lack of connection, but she’s seeing him as a chore, rather than a lover.  What was the definition of a chore again?  A burdensome task.  So, when he approaches her for sex after she’s completed EVERY other need in the house, she begins to view that as just another “job” to do before she can relax and go to bed.  Her sentiments may include:  “I did all of this alone…you can do that alone.”  :0  Now he feels rejected, angry, and refuses to help the next night.  The cycle begins.

A marriage is a partnership.  Household chores are the responsibility of both husband and wife.  There are chores inside and outside the house.  And believe me, they’re not going away…ever.  Whether laundry or yard work needs to be tackled, both partners need to help each other and participate.  “Your job” or  “My job” shouldn’t be part of our vocabulary.  All chores fall under “Our job.”  Otherwise, lines are drawn, those lines are crossed, and battles erupt.  The battles erupt because one partner feels shorted.  Tension and resentment replace affection.  And the argument becomes a contest of “who does what every day” and “who did it last.”  When both husband and wife are helping, both feel appreciated, both feel equal, both feel connected.  When both are pitching in, chores are finished sooner.

No one feels unappreciated or taken for granted.  She now sees him as her partner and feels closer to him because they shared the work.  On this night, we don’t have one partner who’s rested up and ready to go and another who’s drained of energy and ready to rest.  On this night, we have two partners who are in the same place physically and emotionally.  They understand how tired the other feels from doing the housework, and they’re emotionally connected because they shared the experience.  Now guess what other experience they’re likely to share?  Because the emotional connection is there, she feels a true partnership.  The groundwork is laid.  Now it’s his turn.  Sex is no chore tonight.  When he approaches her tonight, there won’t be any ranting …maybe a little panting, though.

So, keep in mind…the house, as well as the kids, belong to both of you.  The responsibilities belong to both of you.  The chores belong to both of you.  Remain a team, and avoid nightly wars by sharing the nightly chores.

Chick Hughes

“Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces; marriage is also three meals a day, sharing the workload and remembering to carry out the trash” Dr. Joyce Brothers

c-louise

Few things can crush our spirit and strangle our marriage like unrelenting criticism from our spouse…the one person we depend on for strength, love, and acceptance.  A constant onslaught of jabs, insults, and nit-picking leaves devastating scars on the hearts of our spouses…and, sometimes, gaping wounds on our marital trust that may never fully heal.  Undoubtedly, we’ve all been guilty of a little criticizing from time to time.  I’m not sure it’s possible for one to live with the same person day in, day out, year after year, without playing the occasional critic.  Obviously, there’s a difference between the random constructive criticism meant to help our other half and the endless spewing of critical comments meant to drag the other down.  What compels us to repeatedly hurl destructive “balls” of criticism at our spouse?  How does that criticism affect the one on the receiving end?  And how long before we’re pitching hurtful remarks to a catcher who’s left the field and the marriage?

Let’s say, hypothetically speaking,  you’ve just started dating someone.  You go out to dinner a few times, maybe a movie or two.  It’s unlikely that either of you will say anything hurtful to the other for fear the potential relationship will roll over and play dead.  But, what if your date began to tell you all the things about you he’d like to change…how you should dye your hair red because he finds that unbearably hot, how you probably shouldn’t wear those pants again because it looks like you’re smuggling two Easter hams back there, how he thinks you should wear more makeup because “You have a cute face, but you could be hot if you tried harder”, how sometimes she’s ashamed of your obsession with country music and the infamous, ratty hat that is so soaked with smelly sweat you’d swear it’s breeding mosquitoes in the seams, how you should really let her do the talking because “You’re kind of clueless and incompetent.”   Would you stick around to see how this turned out?  Hell No!  That’s a phone number that would no longer be listed in your cell under “Jake” or “Megan.”  You’ve now replaced that “name” with “asshole-don’t answer” at least until you feel they’ve gotten the hint and have stopped calling.  ALL HAIL:  Caller ID.

So, if these criticisms would never make appropriate date conversation, then why does it manage to slither it’s slimy little head into our 5, 6, 7+ year old marriage?  Because it can…Because we let it… Our guard is down… our love “high” is no longer keeping our kite soaring in the sky…somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our wind.  This loss of “wind” will lessen our perceived threat of consequences hurting our spouse may bring.  Finding too much fault in our spouse isn’t something that only happens with “other” people.  Any one of us can slowly fall into this pattern while we’re not paying attention and taking the other for granted.  Keep your guard up.

Maybe we criticize because we’re insecure with ourselves and feel the need to spread the “love.”  “My spouse won’t leave me if I can convince him I’m better than he is – that I’m the best he can do.”  Maybe we’re just no longer happy with our spouse and feel safer lightly, persistently jabbing our “dragon” with passive aggressive comments,  rather than attacking it head-on.  Maybe our spouse has hurt us somehow, and we criticize him as a form of punishment or retaliation.  Whatever our reason, with each and every tiny criticism, we personally create new links in the chain binding our spouse to his own insecurity.

Whether we’re criticizing our spouse’s likes, dislikes, parenting techniques, appearance, weight, grooming, etc.  – hurtful words from us can never be reclaimed and have a way of convincing our spouse of his faults like no other source.  Countless complements on our appearance from others can, and will, all be erased with just one negative, hurtful comment from our spouse.  Why?  Because no opinion matters quite as much to us as his.  It’s unlikely that the object of our criticisms will bounce into our lap, thank us for our astute observations, and beg us for more.  It’s far more likely that he/she will internalize the painful attacks, learn to question every personal thought or decision, wonder if we would approve, lose all independent thinking, and eventually, all self-esteem.  These needling remarks have not only caused our spouse to lose self-confidence, but now the confidence in our relationship has gone missing as well.   Our spouse may now be thinking, “What does he like about me at all?”  “Why is he still with me if  he hates everything about me?”   At this point, our spouse’s trust in us is nonexistent.  We’re crossing the line between friend and enemy.  The bond is cracking, and will soon snap.  The number one bonding activity a couple engages in is sex (due to bonding hormones released in the brain during sex).  Unfortunately, our spouse is now riddled with insecurities, and bonding  over sex is highly unlikely.  Who wants to have sex with the perpetual critic –  finding fault in our every detail…during sex, we’re the most vulnerable we’ll ever be.  Criticism in that department is sure to shut down business and supply power to the giant, glowing, neon “CLOSED” sign guaranteed to be hanging over our bed indefinitely.

Now that our spouse is bound by the chains of criticism that we’ve so lovingly created link by link, how will our marriage hold up?  How does a person who is restrained usually respond when they’ve had enough?  They rebel, break loose, cheat…leave.  Once our spouse tires of being stripped of his self-confidence, he will likely look to rebuild that confidence without you –  maybe with someone else, someone who will help him find the person he was pre-US.  Can we blame him?  Fault him?  Persecute him?        For what?  Trying to be happy?

Marriage is no picnic.  No fairy tale –  even on a good day.  It’s hard work.  And it’s hard enough without constant criticism from our partner.  For our marriage to stand the test of time…the good times, the not-so-good times, the “kill me now” times, and the “I’m already dead and in Hell” times…we have to be there to breathe life into each other.  It’s our job to build each other up, encourage each other.  If we, instead, choose to bind our spouse with criticism and replace each shred of self-esteem with a nice, shiny link of chain, we might want to step back.  Sooner or later, those chains will be broken…and we may get slapped in the face with a nice piece of shiny “criticism” hand-crafted by yours truly.  Give love.  Get love.  Give hate.  Await your fate.

Chick Hughes

“Never criticize your spouse’s faults; if it weren’t for them, your mate might have found someone better than you” Jay Trachman

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We all have them.  We all enjoy them.  We all hide them.  Sexual fantasies.  Our dirty little “not so secret” secret.  Men and women alike entertain our own individual fantasies…those things that turn us on, rev our engines, send our hearts to racing, our body temps to rising,  and our drawers to dropping.   Of course, these fantasies vary from person to person…but, generally speaking, men have extremely visual and sexually explicit fantasies, while women tend to fantasize about the titillating seduction, foreplay, and romance.  Summed up, men enjoy the act…women, more the chase.  Sexual fantasies, because they always have been, and always will be, based in fiction, mean big bucks to those willing to serve up that fiction to us on the silver platter of our choice – whether it be via dirty magazines, sex toys, romance novels, or romantic movies dripping with unrequited love.  Fantasy plays a role in any normal sexual appetite.   Accept it, embrace it, enjoy it.  The trick is remembering that fantasy is just that…it’s fiction.  How do we manage to enhance our relationship with our fantasies…without allowing those fantasies to distort our expectations of our reality?

Why is porn so sought after by men?  Because men fantasize in the same manner as they do anything else:  directly and to the point.  They are turned on visually, and they are goal-oriented.  They fantasize about the act of sex itself, the visual eye candy, the sweaty bodies  “getting it on”, the sex without the hassle…this should come as no surprise to women.  Men are extremely direct and focus on the destination, with little patience for the long, tedious roads and pit stops along the way .  Women, on the other hand, fantasize about the romance, the chase, the moments leading up to the big finale.  They tend to be more subtle,  pay more attention to detail, and have a much more complicated sexual “rubik’s cube” ~ extremely difficult for men to figure out… but when they do…oh, the possibilities.  😉  Women are captivated by the sultry, steamy, erotic romance novels because they focus on the chase, the act of falling in love, the flirty glances and provocative touches, the intoxicatingly close proximity of two bodies ready to explode with passion.  Could men and women be more opposite?

Because our fantasies are so different, we have very different ways of indulging in them.  Men have their porn.  Women have their romance novels and chick flicks.  Porn is more direct.  Romance novels and movies, more subtle and “innocent,” wouldn’t you say?  But even with all of their differences, they serve the same purpose to us: to turn us on and get our juices flowing.  Are romance junkies really any different from porn junkies?  Aren’t women’s romance novels the equivalent of men’s porn?  Both fulfilling our secret fantasies, both giving us what our reality may be lacking, both filling our heads with sex and  romance that doesn’t exist in our realities?

Our fantasies can be beneficial to  our sex lives ~ keeping us feeling lively, vital, sexy, desirable, and young.  All good things, right?  Sharing our desires, our daringly taboo fantasies , with our spouses can heat up our love lives.  No one enjoys a hum-drum –  twice a month –  two possible positions – only in the bed – sex life.  Do they?  This lack of fantasy will leave your sex life “dead in the bed.”  Be open-minded and daring.  After all, you vowed to be faithful to only one person ~ have fun with it.  🙂

There can, however, be a dark side to these fantasies.  Pornography is completely fictional.  Never will a man walk into a house delivering a pizza and be greeted by three naked, buxom blondes complaining about a lack of “sausage” on their pizza.  These women are often times the masterpiece of a plastic surgeon – recreated from head to toe.  Playboy is filled with pictures of women who don’t truly exist.  They’re merely a face pasted on a digitally enhanced image…Real women could never, under any circumstances, live up to, or recreate, these fantasies.  They’re fictional entertainment.  As long as men understand this, it remains fairly harmless.  However, some men begin to blur the line between fantasy and reality.  When he is no longer attracted to real women due to his media-induced delusion of the way women should look and behave, the fantasy has gone horribly awry.  No relationship can survive this kind of delusion.  He will be forever alone, as he will never find an actual human female who can “stack” up.

The same is true for women.  We sometimes allow our romance novels and movies to distort our reality.  We wonder why our over- worked, over- stressed husbands aren’t as attentive and romantic as our leading man.  We wonder why he doesn’t hang on our every word anymore.  We want him to sweep us away, to obsess over us, to flirt shamelessly with us.  Basically we want to perpetually feel the high of new love.  But, of course,  we have about as much hope of this as he has of coming face to face with the porn vixen.  Reality sucks, huh?  😉 So, we complain about the lack of romance in our relationship.  Why?  Because the media has instilled in us the version of a relationship that doesn’t exist – just as the media has instilled in men the version of the ever- horny Barbie doll that doesn’t exist.  Tit for tat.

Our fantasies are normal, healthy, and here to stay.  We can acknowledge them, accept them, own them, and use them to our advantage ~ as long as we realize that it’s not reality – only an escape to help us enhance our reality.  A complete lack of fantasy can suffocate a sex life quicker than a live-in mother-in-law.   A healthy amount of  fantasy can keep a sex life hopping (maybe literally).  But too much fantasy can distort, and consequently, destroy our reality.  In the end, that distortion will leave both parties feeling unsatisfied and alone.

We color our hair, exercise, tan our bodies, so on and so on.  Why?  We need those things to make us feel young and hot.  Our sex lives need fantasy and variety for the same reason.  To stay hot!  Now we just have to balance our fantasy with our reality.

Find your balance.  Find your sweetie.  Find your sex life.

Chick Hughes

“Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” ~ Terry Pratchett