Archive for February, 2011
There’s a popular notion spoon fed to us by barbie media…willingly embraced by the conservative woman, vehemently rejected by the liberal woman, yet, on some level, wrestled with by every woman. Open wide! The notion of “happily ever after.” A studly white knight on a horse who whisks us off to the land of eternal bliss. Rescues us from…reality? As “Sex and the City’s” most beloved princess, Charlotte, so shamelessly put it… “Women really just want to be rescued.” Now chew on that. According to princess pop culture and every wedding coordinator taxed with the job of creating “happily ever after,” women do indeed want the fairy tale. A prince charming who will sweep her off her feet, wed her in an over-the-top elaborate princess style shindig her friends will never match, give her to-die-for genetically endowed cooing babies, and take care of her forevermore, forevermore… forNevermore?
This notion proves to be very enticing…that is, until the honeymoon is over, she ages, her prince charming drops the charm, her adorable grown “babies” are mouthing off to her, fighting, and turning her into a screaming referee with a “Your face is gonna get stuck like that!” complex. Add to this dwindling romance and escalating financial stress. And suddenly, she doesn’t feel so princess-esque anymore. In no “happily ever after” does mass media suggest the princess will later be spending her days cooking, cleaning, and refereeing while dragging the tired exhausted shadow of her formerly hot ass around the house in a sloppy pony tail and holey sweats! As if! Cinderella was rescued from her shabby clothes and household chores. Hmmm…now that she thinks about it, she’s not feeling so rescued after all. The media has patronized and misadvised her. What the hell happened to her fairy tale? Or was the fairy tale just…a tall tale?
From the moment we take our first step or utter our first syllable, we’re slammed with one fantasy of “happily ever after” after another. The Disney animated princess…Barbie…or better yet…the animated Princess Barbie! Blurs of blond-haired blue-eyed beauties winning over their prince with one flutter of their exaggerated eyelashes, one toss of their synthetic hair, and not one ambitious bone in their “made in china” bodies. All hail the media! As little girls, we aspire to be “pretty in pink” princesses. Why? Because we’re encouraged to, of course. This parent trying to “out-love” that parent by indulging us in over-the-top princess birthday parties. And our parental crowning doesn’t stop there. In case the metaphorical crowning wasn’t enough, we’re encouraged to tan up, wig up, and dumb down to walk “beauty” pageant runways straight out of the womb. All in hopes of being adorned with the awe-inspiring symbol of beauty itself…the over-sized tiara…the bigger, the glitzier, the better. As we grow into young women, we aspire to find our handsome prince charming, become Mrs. Charming, and live “happily ever after” …replacing the tiara with a diamond ring intended to represent just how “BIG” he loves us. Finally, as newlyweds, the pressure is on to help populate our tragically underpopulated planet. One baby, two, nineteen...and counting? It’s our privilege…our duty, no?
When we do finally get word that the stork is circling overhead, we rejoice over the success of our dutiful whoopee. Baby on board! It’s at this moment that our fairy tale is complete. Or at least the one set in motion by June Cleaver and popularized by the mass media.
No sleep, dirty diapers, and non-existent sex life aside, there’s a flaw in Cinderella’s perfectly stitched gown of happily ever after. Ambition! Today’s woman goes to college, becomes educated, and adds successful career to her dreamy fairy tale checklist. She dreams of all the things princess pop “cult”ure has washed her brains with. But princess pop culture has an elephant in the room…and that elephant is college educated and dreams of changing the world…one poopy diaper at a time. Apparently. She wants to marry the perfect man, raise the perfect children, and attain the perfect career. She can have it all, right? When she first embarks on this feat, she fails to see the practical conflict of her maternal and professional ambitions because she’s young…because she has no concept of “can’t” …and because no one warns her…no one exposes the “fairy tale” for the lying sham it is.
Happily ever after is a myth.
It is an elusive sasquatch creeping into our adolescent psyches touting its over-sized existence, yet failing to produce cold hard proof. But experience will educate her…reveal the truth. She CAN marry her prince charming. She CAN have 2.5 kids. She CAN have a reputable successful career. Disclaimer: The simultaneous combination of the three may cause spontaneous combustion! And extinguishing the problem will leave the bigfoot supermom drowning in the puddle of despair she fears most…Failure.
The working mom tries to do it all. Rushes the kids to daycare, drags into work, tries to be all she can be professionally while juggling the disapproving sneer from her boss and phone calls about sick or misbehaving kids, scrambles to pick up the kids on time..and races home to complete homework, baths, dinner, laundry, dishes, bedtime, and sex like a Stepford wife on speed. A forced smile through it all. But behind that robotic smile lurks a bottomless pit of guilt, self-doubt, exhaustion, and a persistent sense of failure. For no matter how much she does… it’s never enough. So, she pushes herself to the brink of insanity, and then she dares to push a little more. As she continues to spread herself too thin, she begins to feel her world crumbling around her. She loses her bearings. She feels…lost. But lacks the “me” time to find her way out.
Maintaining a full-time successful career while trying to slay the child-rearing dragon is a feat that will eventually leave her charred and begging for mercy. Consequently, some modern moms are opting to put a career on hold, stay home, and take on the dragon full time. Seems the easier option…for now. But is the dragon’s head the only trophy she seeks? The reality: a stay home mom may slay the child-rearing dragon with ease…but it’s the demon in her own head that proves to take her down…the struggle between herself and her myth.
The college educated stay-home mom is riddled with unfulfilled professional ambition. Her own personal fairy tale hell threatens to bring her sanity to its knees. On one hand, she weighs the commitment to her children…to be available whenever they need her…as a nurturer, a teacher, a playmate, a friend. On the other, she weighs the desire to work, have an identity, make her own money, be successful, and make a difference in her corner of the world. All the while, the weight of both relentlessly crushing her.
How does she do both…and do them well?
If she opts for the 9 to 5 career, she sacrifices fleeting time with her kids. They miss out on parent-child events at school, afternoon soccer, baseball, dance, help with homework. They become latch-key kids. They see her for two chore-filled hours a day before they must sleep to prepare for the next day, another in which she will play a minor role. They act out because they feel last in her list of daily priorities. Guilt consumes her. However, if she stays home and forfeits her career, she sacrifices herself. Disappoints herself on a daily basis. Begins to drown in her own pity pool of missed opportunities. Watches the professional life she planned and dreamed of in college slink off into the night robbing her of self-confidence and leaving her a stranger to herself. Mid-life looms…she wonders… “What now? Who wants to hire a mom who has been at home for so long…college degree or not. I have a resume filled with diaper duties and fending off cooties…and Dora the Explorer as a reference.” Her struggle continues.
Regardless of the choice she makes, her maternal side and her professional side remain in a perpetual tug of war.
Ambition proves to be her double-edged sword. She struggles daily not to disappoint the supposed “fairy tale” she’s created…and, at the same time, not to disappoint her “me” she’s yet to create. But at the end of the day, it’s her “me” she’s yet to create that seems to be falling by the wayside. She wants it all, damn it. A prince charming. Happy kids. Love and success for them all. But she also wants…HER. Her career. Her success. Her happiness. She wants to look in the mirror and recognize her once ambitious face. To be proud not only of her family, but of herself. To make a difference in the world she’s introducing to her children. To set a feminist example for her daughter…convince her she can do anything she sets her mind to. The sky is NOT her limit, for beyond her sky lies an unknown and unexplored universe. But a paradox presents itself. As she preaches unbridled ambition for the taking, she does so as a mother who has done the opposite…
telling her daughter to take on the world and let nothing stand in her way, but showing her to sacrifice it all to raise a family.
So she wonders…is she teaching her to be all she can be? Or is she simply perpetuating the fairy tale hell?
How can she possibly teach her kids to raise their hands and reach for the stars when she’s tied her own hands behind her back? How can she manage to satisfy the dreams of both herself and her kids? How can any mother?
Mirror, mirror, on the wall…
What DO women want? DO we want the fairy tale? Or does the fairy tale want us?
“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.” ~ Eugene O’Neill
Saying “I do” … $20,000. First twirl of the “virginal” lily white gown around the dance floor as husband and wife … $3000. That dreamy oblivious newlywed stare as guests gorge on cake and romance… $1000. One hell of a honeymoon night romp… $2000.
That sex-starved post-dreamy glazed over look of defeat after several years of marital reality…priceless.
A wedding day is pure bliss… So enjoy.
Quickly! …going, going…gone.
Weren’t those 24 hours worth every penny? They say words are cheap…clearly, whoever said that never priced the words “I do.”
Now that the wedding is yesterday’s event, welcome to the marriage. The two are not only opposites…but archenemies. One promising eternal bliss. The other proving to be a total diss. One starring the happy couple. The other starring the tantrum-prone offspring. One boasting the price tag of a stellar college education. The other roasting the price tag of 2 kids + college education. WTF?? One teasingly offering frequent sex, shameless flirting, and permanent googly eyes. The other delivering rare nookie, shameless averting, and loveless rolling of the eyes. At some point every marriage departs from the land of the “dreamy” and enters the land of the “dreary.” Such is the path life cruelly steers marriage down. The sex dwindles and takes a back seat to…well, everything. Who has time, right?
The once “sho” thing is now a “no” thing. But sex is vital to the health of marriage. It’s a deal maker and a deal breaker.
So, why IS sex so important…aside from the obvious?
~ Sex is a basic physical need ~
We physically need sexual release…our biology demands it. And who are we to argue with biology? It’s the one thing that draws us to the opposite sex…the only thing men and women have in common…aside from the ability to “release” multiple times. Oh, wait…nope, my mistake. Sex is what brings us together to begin with, right? We certainly don’t go looking for a mate to celebrate our celibacy needs…have a “burning of the condoms” rally. First and foremost, we’re drawn to a partner to satisfy the howling horndog that dwells within. And yes, consequently, we fall hopelessly in love. But love is simply a result of satisfying those needs. Sex releases a chemical into our brain giving us “That Lovin’ Feeling.” So, no sex…no love! We marry because we ARE in love. But let’s face it…without our pushy libido running the show, we never would have paired up and gotten married in the first place. It IS the driving force behind our union. The dirty ulterior motive behind the elegance and romance of the exchanging of the wedding vows.
We spend more money on the “big” day than is conscionable. Why? Because on this day, we’re forking over mega moola to say, “Hey! I like banging her. She’s mine, and no one else can have her.” Or him. We’re horny stingy overgrown kids at heart…MINE, MINE, MINE! And sharing…out of the question! So, part of this union deal is monogamy. No extracurricular banging allowed! Once married, we rely solely on our hottie of choice to fulfill our biological sexual needs “until orgasmic death do us part.” Routine sex is the unspoken insinuation of “I do.” And frankly, it’s the reason men put up with the rest of marriage’s shenanigans. Sure, they love us…but without the dirty to keep them invested, they will meander off the marital path. And honestly, so will we. Women want it as much as men do…ok, so maybe not AS much. But if it slacks off, trouble brews. And if it, dare I say, ceases altogether…all bets are off. All wedded promises null and void. The irony? After one day’s overpriced hoopla to celebrate the union and say “I love you,” a simple piece of paper suffices to say, “My bad…hit the road Jack.”
~ Sex is an intimate emotional need ~
We communicate through sex, through touch, through sensation. We express love, desire, and affection…all through sex. We reaffirm that love with every tender caress, every sweet kiss, every screaming orgasm. Sex leaves us feeling exhilarated, desired, and alive. Who doesn’t want to be an object of desire? So, if our spouse doesn’t want us, we take a major hit to our self esteem. We feel rejected, unloved, unattractive. And we begin to doubt our sex appeal, doubt our sweetie’s sex appeal, and doubt “us.” Human beings need affection. We crave it…thrive on it. It’s the language of love. With it we can say, “I love you. Can’t get enough of you. Do me now!” Or we can say… “Nah… I’ll pass.”
We don’t want to be with someone who makes us doubt ourselves. Our ego won’t stand for that at all…and will convince us we don’t have to either. You can bet we listen up when our ego speaks. It’s our inner Gandhi! Respected and revered.
~ Sex keeps us CONNECTED ~
Marriage is a river of problems. From romance to finance. From kiddos to low blows. From families to failures. Our only hope of crossing that river and surviving its treacherous waters is to join together and form a bridge. An interlocking connection that will lead us safely to the other side. If we don’t come together, interlock our pieces, and stay connected…we’re left with no means of crossing that river of problems. And the only recourse will be divorce.
Our bridge is sex.
Sex is connection…a marital lifeline that bonds us. So, if the sex fades, intimacy fades. No more touching, hand holding, kissing, snuggling, talking, confiding, …No more anything. Connection broken. Bridge blown to pieces. No way across.
Successful marriage is an endangered institution. Sustaining it requires connection. Connection requires sex.
So be proactive. Change your world.
“Sex is an emotion in motion” ~ Mae West
Thrills, chills, and squeals. Adrenaline junkies at heart! We love to hate horror movies, push our fear factor limit by creeping through haunted houses, plunge from ledges with nothing but a glorified rubber band fending off the grim reaper, and flock to amusement parks in search of a thrill like hard ‘n’ horny “gentlemen” waving dollar bills in a strip club. Some of us take on those thrills, climb on stage, and bump and grind…while others stand on the sidelines, live vicariously, and just…watch. One group will leave with a thrill. The other, only the bill. So, here’s the question: If life were an amusement park and new experiences the rides, which rides would you stand in line for? Which ones are worth it? Worth the wait…worth the risk? Would you opt to play it safe, take the short line, and settle for the Teacups, Tilt-a-Whirl, or indoor shows? Or would you seek out the risk, build anticipation in line, and get your adrenaline pumping on the biggest, baddest, hair-raising, death-grazing roller coasters in the park? The shush or the rush?
Relationships present the same dilemma. Once we pair up, settle down, and marry…then what? Do we settle into routine, expect the expected, and watch our zest for life run away with the hottie next door? Or do we dare to dry new things, strive to grow as individuals, and sample life’s wide array of flavors together…as a couple? Do we opt for a love affair with life…or bore one another, derail our marriage, and flirt with divorce? Keeping a marriage on track is not for faint-hearted. It takes work, work, and more work. Hitched hoopla has it that marriage will falter under the strain of many things…paying the heating bill in a cold economy, disciplining an undisciplined child, a sexual affair in a sexless relationship, or who the hell’s turn it is to scrub the toilet. While all are deal shakers, sheer boredom may just be the big daddy deal breaker. After all, what does one do when bored? Bored with monotonous chores, with do-nothing weekends, with rare ordinary sex? Hmmm…look for something else to do? SomeONE else to do?
Hold on to your pride! YES! Humans are inquisitive by nature. We do NOT like to be bored…not with work, not with life, but most importantly…NOT with love.
Studies show that modern couples are looking for partners who make their lives more interesting, more fun, more…stimulating. We’re looking for the va-va-voom! And according to divorce statistics, we’ll sacrifice family and finances to get it. Dr. Gary Lewandowski, a professor in New Jersey, performed studies proving that individuals use relationships to accumulate knowledge and experiences. That what we’re looking for in a partner above all else is self-expansion. We want to learn, to grow, to view ourselves in new and exciting ways. So, if we see our partner as a source of gained knowledge, creativity, and fun, we’re more likely to remain committed. But once we stop expanding, we grow bored and begin looking elsewhere to further ourselves. Damn egos.
Researchers conclude that couples who have fun together, engaging in silly or intellectually stimulating experiences, report feeling more connected…more in love. And on the flipside, those who only engage in boring monotonous stimulatingly challenged experiences — i.e. chores — report feeling disconnected…unhappy…wondering what else, or who else, could be waiting around the corner. Disconnection precedes divorce. No fun…no hon. Laughter is, in fact, the best medicine…for all your boring needs.
Doubt our need for excitement? Just count the zeros on the paychecks of entertainment stars. We want, need, and will pay high dollar for entertainment. “Entertain me” may sound very self-serving. It is. But we are. We ignore our self-serving ways. Reject our selfishness out of guilt…blame our boredom on something more socially acceptable. Irreconcilable differences, perhaps? Reject away…but at our core, we’re self-serving individuals…human beings successfully evolved to outwit, outplay, outlast. To do this, we must grow, learn, and expand. Without the idealistic pressures we place on ourselves, without the societal expectations of being a do-gooder, without worrying about what someone else will think…drop the mask. Explore the “banned no-man’s land” of your mind and ask yourself…
“Am I bored?” No judgment…no one’s listening.
The reality is…as long as we’re growing, learning, experiencing, pushing life’s envelope, and having fun, we’ll stay committed. We’ll plant ourselves in our spouse’s garden, reach for his sunny rays of excitement, soak in his nutrients, and grow. We place great value on that garden…remain content basking in the “glow of the know.” But once the sun recedes, the garden shades over, and the nutrients dry up…we begin to wither and droop. Our buds drag the ground. We long for someone to dig us up, transplant us to another, more promising garden, and bring us back to life.
Next up: affairs, separation, and divorce.
Is it any wonder a new relationship is so exhilarating? It presents us with new ideas, new experiences, new takes on life, and new sides of ourselves. Makes us feel alive. Being in any long-term relationship, good or bad, will usher boredom to our doorstep. We can let it in, settle into our butt-imprinted comfy chairs, and fall asleep watching sitcom repeats…or we can meet it at the door dressed as our fun alter ego and take it…take us…for the ride of our lives.
So, how do we provide ourselves AND our sweeties self-expansion?
Step out of the comfort zone. Try new things. Go new places. Meet new people. Explore unexplored sexual taboos. Take a class together. Discuss politics, news, the latest Chick Hughes article, culture…life. Engage in a friendly debate. Constantly push and challenge one another. Anything to keep us feeling fresh, new, relevant, ALIVE. When we feel alive together, we feel connected…In Love! Mi Amore!
So, while touring life’s amusement park, which rides will you get on? Will you go for the rush or settle for the shush? All couples can get on the Teacups together, but they may not get off together. A terrifying toe-curling coaster with your sweetie will leave your blood pumping, your heart racing, your connection sealed, and sparks flying. You’ve just self-expanded together. Love and learn.
Love on the edge.
“Boredom: the desire for desires” ~ Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
Life’s many faces