Posts Tagged ‘communication’
After reading a recent article in the New York Times, “Why Afghan Women Risk Death to Write Poetry,” I was overcome by a myriad of emotions. Anger and empathy dominating them. Once again struck by the struggles of women who, bound by culture and fear, are forced to share their lives with men who lack the education and self confidence to embrace and appreciate the wild, fiery, passionate, dedicated (and, yes, at times dramatic and difficult) entity that is the female spirit. In attempts to thwart off his own handed-down insecurities and assure himself that she will never have the freedom nor independence to see a life outside the one he deems “honorable,” he robs not only himself of the limitless possibilities promised by her ravenous spirit…but he robs her of a spirit that defines her, empowers her, and inspires her. Leaving her trapped in a relationship void of love, in a body void of familiarity…where she can only be, say, or do what is dictated to her.
In spite of this centuries-old practice, some women still manage to find a way to thrive. To write.
This ambitious group of Afghan women featured in the NYT article has found an emotional outlet in poetry. Writing as a form of escape, a form of complaint, a form of freedom. But they do so in secret because the act of expressing her feelings, her ambitions, her worries in written form is cause for extreme physical punishment at the hands of her husband, brother, or father. The men they dutifully answer to are threatened by such things, seeing her expression as a possible flight risk from her strictly defined domestic role. So, she isn’t allowed education or exposure to outside influences that may mar that role.
Feeding an unspoken fear as old as time…education leads to independent thinking. And independent thinking leads to rebellion.
Damn straight it does. Thank goodness!
Expressing oneself through writing is not only a source of therapy, expression, and self exploration for the writer, but also a source of strength, understanding, and inspiration for the reader. Though separated by oceans, cultures, and cavemen hell-bent against evolution, we all have the desire and the right to grow and learn by literary means.
To inspire. And to be inspired.
May these women continue to find both the strength and courage to inspire all women, as they have me.
I wish I may, I wish I might
Be a solitary bird lost in flight
Free to be, to love, to write
No glow of red, only green light
No tether, wrong, or right
Soaring high over mountains, cloaked in night
Shedding, ridding all semblance of plight
And fervently anticipating, with dawn in sight
A bold new rush of wind as I graze the sunlight
~ Chick Hughes
~ Refined and reposted from 2011 archive
Ok, admittedly, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. Ever ornery, I resent being guilted into expressing my love by corporate greeting card money whores. Forced to say “I love you” their way…on their day. Everywhere I look…cheesy cards, heart-shaped candy, and the foolproof red rose…guaranteed to make her shed her clothes. Apparently. “V” day could possibly be the most pressure inducing holiday of the year. He’s feeling the squeeze to romance her, lest she be the only “unloved” girl alive who will secretly plan her vengeance on some random day when he feels all is right with his all too romantically challenged little world . And, in appreciation for his romantic efforts, she feels pressured to give it up, lest he be the only “unlucky” guy alive, who will surely wither under the duress of an under-utilized appendage. He’s sprung for dinner and a gift…and he’s sprung yet again.
Forced to stalk the aisles ablaze with red and pink lovin’ necessities, we buy (literally) into the holiday hype for fear our sweetie will feel unlucky in love. Scrambling frantically, and at the last minute, through hundreds of replicated pledges of love, we’re mere puppets at the greedy hand of the greeting card industry. Five bucks to express someone else’s feelings and look the other way when the moment has passed and those feelings are tossed into the trash? Creativity is dead, it seems. A homemade card created from the heart is not only more romantic…it’s a thoughtful one-of-a-kind gesture, and you can be sure that thousands of other people aren’t pretending to love the same exact “gesture” while wondering if their heartthrob searched for hours on end or just grabbed the card nearest the exit route from the store. But hey, if retail giants say these token mass produced impersonal gifts will get you laid, who am I to argue?
But I do.
If cards, candy, and flowers were sure to set his sheets on fire with hot lovemaking (which is the true motive behind his romantic whim), you can bet the calendar would be inundated with more dreamt up “romantic” holidays. One competing with the next on its panty dropping ability. Men everywhere would make a daily pit stop at the local corner store to stock up on the “sure thing” card, candy, flower trifecta. The male consumer population would redefine the term “convenience store.” A quickie mart for the quickie smart.
Obviously love is more complicated than that. While it’s nice to be romanced on Valentine’s Day, we want to feel loved, supported, and appreciated every day of the year. After all, there are 364 more opportunities to show affection…and to get some. Attentive appreciation provides all the ammo our sweeties need to combat those 364 days chock-full of life’s not-so-welcome little surprises. Fickle and unforgiving, life is unpredictable on a good day, hostile on a so-so day, and a downright bitch on a bad day. Presented with twists and turns, ins and outs, ups and downs, we come face to face with everything life throws our way. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And through it all, we want to know that our one and only will stand by our side. That we can depend on that love, rain or shine. Dependability plays a vital role in relationship success and is rated one of love’s most valuable commodities. We want assurance that the one we love is there to catch us when life tosses us aside. We want more than a lover. We want a best friend.
Studies show that the happiest and most successful couples are also best friends. A best friend is there when life is good…dancing and playing alongside us in life’s blindingly sunny rays of happiness. A best friend is there when life is hostile…showing us a single ray of sunshine amid life’s ominous rain clouds. And, most importantly, a best friend is there when life is a bitch…standing right there beside us providing shelter in the eye of the storm. And when that storm passes, a best friend dances with us in the puddles, dries us off, and helps us move on.
On life’s sunniest and stormiest of days…we want a shoulder to cry on, a friend to rely on, and a lover to get it on.
No more holiday hype.
On Valentine’s Day, on a good day, on a bad day, on THIS day…be the best friend your sweetie needs.
Say “I love you” your way…every day.
Love when love doesn’t come easy.
And may your nearest redeemer for frequent flirter miles not be a 3 ft tall, grammatically challenged know-it-all. Although, this little green ladies’ man seems to know his way around a flirt…and a skirt. Once again, men are left scratching their heads as the whole concept of “size matters” is shot to hell by this image of a seemingly studly Yoda regaling women with tales starring the forceful magic of his “light saber.” Tales so heroic, so sexually charged, they send women’s clothing plunging to a crumpled heap on the ground in a desperate plea of surrender. Or so says Photoshop.
Captivating I am. Seduce you I will.
Every Jedi knows the art of flirting is a mix of conversation, body language, and physical touch…and may just be our most vital form of communication. It’s the foreplay to our foreplay, so to say.
We flirt because it’s a necessary road to reproduction junction. It could be that the flirtee is just too hot to be denied our charms. And it could be that it’s just fun. Scientists say that flirting doesn’t necessarily mean attraction. That, hot or not, we’re evolutionarily programmed to be sexually alert, on our toes, and prepared for passionate throes. Married, single, or “it’s complicated” …our primitive libidos are in constant battle with modern monogamy. So, even if we’re off the market, we flirt with potential buyers to humor our libidos…and our egos. Met with success, or shaming mess, we flirt to advertise our assets…and remind ourselves we’ve still got it. When we flirt, we display our creativity, our humor, and our intelligence…flaunting our stellar skills for withstanding whatever poo pies life may throw our way (selling ourselves as the optimal life partner). But aside from our dung dodging skills, we spread our peacock feathers…display our bountiful (surgically custom) cleavage, our Baby Got Back bums, our Fabio-lously spray tanned flexing pecs, our firm afterglow-inducing light sabers. Saying, without saying, “I got that good hit! Don’t you want to bag me?”
We flirt. We bag. We ensure the survival of our genetic genius. And we settle into family life. We now have children to raise, mortgages to pay, bosses to mock, and spontaneity to block. Burdened by an endlessly overwhelming list of chores and responsibilities that would make even the most devoted Family Guy pimp out his wife for a break, we don’t take time to maintain flirting fluency with our main squeeze. The romance dies. We’re merely roommates…without benefits…tending to chores. Making it from one day to the next. We get comfortable in the notion that our spouse isn’t going anywhere. And realize…neither are we. We’re in a rut.
It’s then that we realize that somewhere along the way, we’ve become biologically washed up. With no sex life and no sex appeal, we’re no longer relevant to the circle of life. We begin to feel unwanted and depressed. We start to miss the flirt, the chase…the thrill of sexual possibilities. Ironically, both spouses will come face to face with his/her own feeling of sexual loss. However, neither will attempt to fill this void for the other. Usually because we’re both too busy trying to maintain every other relationship in the daily grind…forgetting that a happy sweetie promises a different grind altogether. We go out of our way to please other people. Bosses, friends, co-workers. Why? Because we know that our bosses, our friends, or our co-workers can, and will, walk out on us at any time. We don’t take these relationships for granted. So we see the value in the work needed to maintain them. But our spouses…we take them for granted. We don’t work on the marital relationship because it’s the one place we think we can afford to get lazy and fall asleep on the job.
Divorce…and remarriage…statistics beg to differ.
The cold hard truth is…what we take for granted, someone just around the corner is all too eager to appreciate.
Whatever the cost to our social or family life, we’re drawn to flirty appreciation like an oompa loompa to shoe lifts. It boosts our egos, stimulates our sex drives, and spices up our lives. We need to flirt to feel special…to feel connected. We need it emotionally and sexually. So, if no one is flirting with us at home, we begin to feel stagnant. We grow bored with our marriage AND ourselves. And we’re all the more receptive to outside flirts.
Marriage is monotonous…on a good day. If we want to keep it fresh and romantic, we can’t put away our dazzling peacock plumage just because we’re too lazy to strut it. We need to continue displaying our assets. Otherwise, life clouds our memory. And we both forget why we fell in love in the first place. The flirt, the tease, the challenge, the FUN…this is what keeps our spouse true and still believing in “I do.”
Why flirting with the one that matters…matters?
* It’s adult play. We never outgrow our need for play. Make your spouse your toy.
* It boosts both egos. Flirting gives us a sense of power. Whether we’re the hunter or the prey, we all enjoy a good chase. It validates our sexual worth.
* It’s the language of love…promising the continual emotional connection we seek so ruthlessly.
* It reminds our spouse that we’re still very much attracted to them…translation: “I don’t take you for granted!”
* It’s healthy for children to witness our playful love. It provides them a sense of security and models a healthy, loving relationship.
* It will eventually lead to sex. Filthy, dirty sex…somewhere.
* Be witty and challenging.
* Tackle a chore your sweetie usually takes care of.
* Wear flirty clothes…or no clothes.
* Snuggle…give back rubs or massages.
* Engage in sexy, suggestive banter. Remember, the brain is our most sexual organ.
* Compliment. Flattery will get you everywhere.
* Send romantic/sexy texts or emails…either as yourself…or the sultry stranger who’s been lusting from afar.
* Create a special hand signal (sign language) for a romantic/sexy message just between the two of you.
It’s our nature to follow the flirt. When it comes to your sweetie, turn up your tease…
Lead the way.
“It’s not my fault that I fell for you, you tripped me” ~ unknown
Here a chick, there a chick. Everywhere a cheat, cheat? Ok, so maybe not everywhere. But tweet this! Women’s marital plates are now rivaling men’s when it comes to a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side. A daringly sweet dessert to offset the mundanely sour entree, perhaps? “Bone” appetit! Her sweet tooth is her best kept secret…or worst wept regret, once she’s caught. But much like her fidelity-challenged husband, the looming risk of getting caught is not a sufficient deterrence. Nope ~ the bootylicious boost in self esteem, the awakening shudder of the thunder down under, the thrilling drug-like high from being naughty ~ is worth it all. Her “good girl” persona is Gone With the Wind. She’s trading Scarlett O’Hara for the Scarlet letter. “A” for Adventure. And what does an attention-deprived, taken-for-granted, bored-with-herself chirpy chick have to say to her former doormat self?
Despite its long-time, tight-lipped, deliriously denied existence, affairs of the female kind aren’t exactly news. Though lacking the racy reputation of condescendingly conservative male politicians and their holier than thou erections, chick cheaters are and always have been flying just under the radar. They are, however, on the rise and soaring high. Inflation, in political terms. Studies show they become more prevalent with the onset of her mid-life (what life?) crisis. It’s during this mind-bending milestone that she begins to reevaluate herself, her career, and her relationship. And realizes that somehow, she’s not as happy as she’d planned she would be. She’s now had enough and is gutsy enough to stop settling for unhappiness. To test fate. She’s ready to take the bull by the horn…so to speak.
And he’s shocked by her sudden unhappiness and assertive affair. Why? Because rumor has it that women just don’t have affairs. That infidelity is a no-wo-man’s land. That women just aren’t that into sex. However, rumors are notorious for being false. Are they not? And what else is a long-time sex-starved married guy to believe? After all – in his house – a sexual advance ranks right up there with wiping boogers under the table in the “NO! DON’T DO THAT!” hand-spatting transgressions. No sex for you! Rejection has become his reflection. So, naturally, he assumes that if she doesn’t want sex with him, the last thing he has to worry about is her insatiable sexual appetite going elsewhere.
Contrary to popular male folklore, experts say she’s just as interested in sex as he is. Sex with him? Another question entirely. But women ARE interested in sex. We’re sensual beings and need to feel sexy to be sexy. If she’s not happy in her own skin, the last thing she wants is to flaunt the assets she’s so insecure with to someone she fears will criticize them. Whether she knows it or not, she wants sex too. But she needs to FEEL hot to act HOT. So, light a fire under her!
Or she’ll find someone who will.
An affair is risky. Dangerous. It risks her security, her family, her reputation, her life as she knows it. But she craves being craved. So she rolls the dice with the knowledge that this bet could break her. She’s operating on emotion, on a new love high, on her self-esteem’s desperate plea for pleasure – on anything but logic. For a she-devil, scarlet letter wearing cheater, risk rationale is about as relevant as the dangers of a ceiling fan to this guy. It’s fun to reach for the sky. But if the shit hits the fan, it’ll rip her roots to shreds. No pain, no gain…right? The stakes are high, but her spark-starved ego is a gamblin’ girl.
Why do women risk it all and stray?
~ She feels unappreciated, neglected, and lonely ~ She’s taken for granted. This may be the most common reason women stray. The drain of caring for the entire family with little to no return wears her down. She needs to feel special, loved, appreciated, adored, and pampered too. If all she’s getting is “What did you do for me?” and spends her days and nights playing maid – while HER wants and needs become distant strangers in the night – she’ll eventually long to join them. She can only give so much before she wants to break free and live. So when she finds herself on a dead end track to nowhere and someone comes along who makes her feel appreciated, adored, doted on, and alive again…she’ll buy herself a one-way ticket on a Runaway Train.
~ She feels something is missing, is bored with herself, and is looking to her inner bad girl to stir things up ~ She may have the perfect life. Perfect husband, perfect kids, and so on and so on. But she’s still missing something. Someone she used to be…or wants to be. So, she may look for someone who puts her in touch with her missing self. Someone who makes her feel good on a new and forbidden level allowing her to escape the confines of the perfect wife and mother prison cell she’s created. Someone who allows her to explore a world she’s not openly or socially allowed to be a part of.
~ She has low self-esteem ~ Child birth is not the baby-rattling picnic Hollywood has cast it to be. She no longer feels like the firecracker he married. She feels like an out of shape, out of time, out of patience mother. That in no way, shape, or form translates into sex goddess. Her motherly body is plaguing her with insecurities. So when a new hottie makes her feel less like a frumpy mom and more like a still-got-it MILF, she goes back for more. And more. And you guessed it…more.
~ She’s seeking an emotional connection that’s missing with her hubby ~ She needs an emotional connection! Always! She needs him to listen, care, and empathize…not criticize. She wants to be connected on all levels. And if he won’t connect with her, another he will.
~ She wants an insurance policy ~ Scientists say evolution may be to blame. That long ago, she would sleep with another man to ensure a back-up provider for her family in the unlikely event of her sweetie’s deathly demise. A back up key to start her engine, in case the master key goes missing. Also, modern day woman may sense when her husband has checked out emotionally and be lining up an alternate provider before he checks out physically. The eternal planner.
~ She’s looking for an out ~ If she’s miserable in the marriage, she may decide an affair is an easier way to end the relationship. Rather than initiating the split herself and dealing with his attempts to fix the problem. If he leaves her, she’s free to move on …She is woman! Watch her be passive aggressive!
Like men, women want to be adored and appreciated. Affairs are simply an attempt to discreetly fill a void without breaking up the household, crushing her kids, and ditching a spouse. An attempt to meet unmet needs while maintaining the needs of the family. She’s a multi-tasker to the end.
“One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall in again.” ~Judith Viorst
Communication is many things. Heard, misheard, code word, wrong word… and between couples, a 4-letter word. Attempting to translate the alien language of the opposite sex proves to be difficult, frustrating, and, at times, futile. In the words of Charlie Brown’s teacher, “wa wah wa wah wah wah wa wa.” Or something like that. Maybe this was some code language understood by the Peanuts gang alone. But so often, I wish Lucy, in all her smart-ass future feminist extremist attitude, would yell from her desk…
“Enunciate bitch! We can’t understand you”
Obviously, conversation doesn’t always equal communication. One can talk endlessly without saying a thing. And one can speak volumes without being heard at all. Successful communication requires both speaking and listening. I once read that we have one mouth and 2 ears…so we should listen twice as much as we speak. Yet, we don’t. The longer we’re together, the less we listen.
I sometimes watch older couples in restaurants…wondering what they’re talking about, how connected they are, or whether they’re existing side-by-side oblivious to the other. Body language reveals so much about a couple’s mojo. Many times, I’ve watched as a wife eats and jabbers on about whatever is on her mind. She talks, but he’s not listening. This person she’s conversing with hasn’t diverted his attention from the edible orgasm on his plate in 20 minutes. He has no idea that she’s talking, let alone what she’s saying. Yet, she yammers on…and on…never seeming to notice that her “communication” is being upstaged by the perfectly seasoned and sauteed carcass that’s giving him more oral action than he’s seen in a long time. By this point of my stealthy stalking, I’m not sure who I pity more…they both seem immersed in their own worlds, bored to death, and hardly connected. Their exchange, or lack of it, fascinates me. I watch. I analyze. I wonder…
Would he “stand up” and take notice if she sandwiched that meat between her boobs while she spoke? I’m kidding. Ok, so I’m not. Of course he would!
Are they happy? Or have they mutually surrendered to a lonely parallel existence?
Any long time couple can relate. After years of “togetherness,” we inevitably lose touch without realizing it. We assume that because we share close proximity, we’re also close emotionally. And on some levels, we are. Living together IS close. Intimately personal gestures like putting ass to toilet seat while the other scrubs unmentionable areas in the shower requires a certain level of closeness — wouldn’t you say?
But again, that’s physical proximity. Parallel existence is not communicating. It’s not connection. It’s not enough. Or so says the half of marriages that end due to loss of that connection.
Experts say there’s a reason we reach the “My husband/wife doesn’t understand me anymore” point in a marriage. And that reason is lazy communication. Research shows that we sometimes communicate better with strangers than with our own spouses. That long-time couples get to know each other so well that we assume too much shared information..and consequently, share less. The less we share, the less we understand, the less connected we feel. When communicating with a stranger, we realize they know nothing about us. So, we share more. More detail, more emotion – more in general – in an attempt to be understood. But when speaking to our spouse for the umpteen billionth time in a year, we mentally calculate (x number of years together = can read my mind). We falsely assume they know what we’re feeling and thinking. So we don’t bother to delve too much into it.
Like our bodies, our brains get comfortable…and lazy. After winning over our partner in marriage, we may let ourselves go, not make time for exercise, and avoid giving our mid-section a little in-spection. Our brains are no different. We get comfortable and let our communication slide. Maybe we eventually feel we’re repeating ourselves and stop. Maybe we feel the other doesn’t care, so why bother. Maybe we just assume he/she already knows…or should know what we’re feeling. And when “he” doesn’t, watch out! Because he should…right? Our brains are devious and self-protective enough to convince us that it’s the “other” spouse who doesn’t understand “us.” Or can’t read our mind. The lazy brain prefers to shift blame elsewhere. But to be heard and understood, Express Yourself!
If we’re failing to communicate and stay connected due to comfort, maybe we’re, in fact, too close for comfort. Sometimes we just get in a rut, take one another for granted, and grow bored. But remember the beginning of your relationship? When communication wasn’t a chore? When it came without effort? Communication just was, wasn’t it? We didn’t think twice about it. What else just was? Sex, cuddling, emotion. It all goes hand-in-hand. We communicate because we want to be closer. We want to be closer to have sex and a connection. So, a lack of communication will result in a lack of connection will result in a lack of sex will result in a lack of communication will result in a lack of connection will result in a lack of sex. Round and round we go. Where we get off – and don’t “get off” – we all know. Splitsville.
We can walk around with our iPods, iPhones, iAlones tucked securely in our pockets every single day. Reliably close. But if we don’t plug in the headphones and listen, we won’t appreciate them and will eventually decide we don’t need them around. Or someone else may steal them from our reliably close pocket when we’re not “listening.”
A happy couple needs three things to thrive: connection, love, and sex. Each relies on the other for success. If one falls to the wayside, the others follow in a domino effect.
Maybe the man in the restaurant would be less into his meal and more into his wife if he knew she’d be into him later in bed. After all, men communicate for sex. Women have sex to communicate.
So connect, communicate, and fornicate.
Plug in, tune in, “come” in.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
He is. He’s not. They love him. They hate him. It’s too much. Pretending to be someone he isn’t is tormenting his psyche, imprisoning his spirit, and annihilating his self-esteem. He knows he’s different. He’s always known. Always shouldered the burdensome lie. But as most burdens do, this one has become too heavy to bear. His secret too difficult to keep. He’s a monster. Apparently.
A gay monster.
Morally corrupt, an evil volcano bound to erupt, disgustingly vile, and doomed to social exile. Or so says his family, his community, and his country. On the contrary, he’s no monster. Just an innocent teenager whose heart has been labeled “evil.” Who is he to argue with a country full of know-it-all “adults” who blindly submerge themselves in a delusional pool of perfection? Casting down judgment from the safety of their high horse. Adults know everything…and nothing. We’re pros at lying. Even better at denying. But as they say, practice makes perfect.
How can a sexual feeling he has no control over deem him unworthy of living? This feeling…this secret…this thing…he can’t control is controlling him. But he has no choice. This secret is one society has forced him to keep. So he hides. Hides behind his fear. Behind their fear. Behind the mask that grants him acceptance. And day after day, he looks at his world from behind the mask…meets his mother’s loving gaze…his father’s expectant eyes brimming with hope. Their eyes…pre-shame. How would their eyes change? If he removed the mask? How would they look at him…WOULD they look at him…if they knew? Would they hate him? Stop loving him? Be ashamed of him? Throw him away? What would happen if he dared be…
Supposedly, they know him better than anyone. Love him more than anyone. Is that love as unconditional as they claim? He wonders. Nevertheless, his dad’s occasional gay slur, his mom’s complete and utter denial of homosexuality, and his peers’ relentless jeering of any soul who dares to be different…all keep his secret tightly sealed behind his otherwise sexually perverse lips. He fears his coming out will incur a social debt he, and his family, may never pay. A debt charged by hate. Never courageous, ever contagious, that hate spreads…and embeds. Embeds deep into his heart and his subconscious. He hates himself. Because he knows what they don’t. Knows that the hate they will unleash is kept at bay only by his silence. His denial. But he’s finding that his silence…his denial…is creating a very private, very hostile world of hate. A hate all his own. So, he has a choice to make…his silence, his fear, and their ignorance…OR his courage, his freedom, and possibly, their enlightenment. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll outgrow their H8.
“Different” is defined as “not identical, not ordinary, unusual.” Don’t we strive to be unique? We do. But we don’t. We want to stand out in a crowd…yet, we want to blend in with our peers? Each of us is different, yet the same. Different in terms of sexual orientation, politics, religion, race, culture, opinion. The same in terms of humanity, tears, pain, fears.
A hater dwells inside each of us. We hate because we fear. That which we don’t understand, we fear; therefore, we hate. It’s self defense. The human brain has evolved to do whatever it takes to ensure survival. Only the strong survive, right? Innately, we know…to survive, we must be dominant. So, we fake it. We self promote…puff out our chest, beat it a few times, bare our teeth, scratch our ass, and assert our dominance. We convince ourselves that we’re better than the others…Our skin color is better. Our chosen religion is the “only way.” Our sexual preference is better. Better is…better, no? We need to feel superior…lest we fall lower on the food chain of life. Risk our demise. When our “place” feels threatened, we become aggressive. Hate becomes our weapon of choice. We tell ourselves, “they’re not like me.” We banish “the others” from our inner circle…from “us.” That cues our brains to begin devaluing “the others” and justifies bullying, hate crimes, genocide, terrorist attacks, and war. We stop at nothing to assert our dominance. To be right. To feed our need to be right, we surround ourselves with like people. People who share the same values, opinions, prejudices, hates…as we do. Because hearing the echo of our own thoughts empowers us…Ahhh, sweet validation. Validation…and, uh, numbers. In any war, sheer numbers leads to victory. United we stand, divided we fall?
We hate out of ignorance…out of self promotion…out of fear.
But what exactly ARE we afraid of?
Religion scares us ~ We convince ourselves that our religion, or lack of, is the only one. Being wrong on this playing field carries heavy penalties. The gnashing of teeth, burning in hell, fire and brimstone kind. We’re right. We have to be - if we want to survive death. So, we condemn other religions as a sort of self-soother. We’re entangled in a desperate attempt to survive not only this life, but any possible after-life. Self preservation at its finest.
Race scares us ~ Conquering survival of the fittest means convincing ourselves we’re superior. Telling ourselves this skin color is better than that. As long as we feel superior, we’re good. We don’t feel threatened. But as soon as our superiority is threatened, hate jumps to our defense…snarling through it’s terrified teeth.
Sexuality scares us ~ Homophobia is no different than any other fear…it’s a protection of one’s ego. Like bullies in school, we pick on “different” because understanding it could lead to our social death. And condoning it could threaten our own sexuality…or at least others’ perception of it. Like teenagers in school, we long to fit in. We long to fit in because it’s a sure road to survival.
Survival means war. Or so it would seem. Not only do we wage war against “different” locally…but being the ambitious go-getters that we are, we take on other countries. We murder over power, religion, greed…all in an attempt to be dominant. To survive. But maybe true survival lies in education, not termination.
After all, ignorance is the root of all fear. And fear is the root of all hate.
So educate! Rip fear out by the root! Celebrate humanity…all its differences, all its imperfections, all its love.
Think with heart – not with hate.
“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” ~ Marie Curie
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
Coming home to a dark house, she wonders if he’s home. She opens the door to a dimly lit room and a trail of rose petals leading her to a Hallmark moment table adorned with wine, candles, and perfected place settings…a romantic candlelit dinner…a.k.a. the bait. Before she can take it all in, a glass of wine finds its way into her hapless hand. The day’s surplus problems race from her mind like children caught red-handed snooping through their dad’s forbidden box of “good articles.” It’s then that she notices a chocolaty drizzled message on her dinner plate: “No clothing. No option!” As she grapples to take in his strategically premeditated romantic gesture, he puts the last piece of the get-laid-tonight puzzle into place…and permeates the room with her favorite romantic love song. One sure to make her knees weak and her loins ache. Music and wine are intoxicating her. The puzzle is complete…now it’s time to “tear it up!”
the hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what a romantic candlelight mood!”
the hunter ~ “The better to relax you with my dear…”
hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what an interesting dining attire rule!”
hunter ~ “The better to see you with my dear…”
hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what delicious wine!”
hunter ~ “The better to woo you with my dear…”
hunted ~ “Why sweetie, what erotic music you’re playing!”
hunter ~ “The better to DO you with my dear…”
And the ravenous wolf devoured her…but not before she left her own passionate scratches of defense tatooed across his back.
Turns out music and sex have more in common than “I Want to Sex You Up” lyrics. They both cause the brain to release the chemical dopamine that’s responsible for making us experience pleasure and reward. While we’ve known that both eating and sex get our dopamine juices flowing, scientists now have proof that music is also a dopamine doozy. Studies prove that all types of music…from classical to punk, from jazz to bagpipes, from hip-hop to tango…all tickle the dopamine fancy. The studies were performed without lyrics, so it seems the music alone gives us the same high as sex. But it should come as no surprise that music provides such titillating pleasure, seeing as how most musical lyrics are consumed with love and sex…having always played up to our lovesick heartaches, heartbreaks, and booty shakes. So, sex and music undoubtedly go hand in “band.” The question is: Why do we sing our hearts out about our sex drought? Is it simply an outlet, or is music a subconsciously primitive means to a consciously sexual end?
Darwin believed the latter. His sexual selection theory suggested that music evolved to serve the same function as the rest of the animal kingdom…to mate. He viewed animal musical behavior such as the mating songs of birds, frogs, alligators, and whales as equal to the evolution of music for humans. Evidence of music dates as far back as the Paleolithic times, during which the first flute was created out of animal bone. In a time when survival and procreation were the only things on a busy caveman’s to-do list, what reason at all would he have for attempting to create music? It wasn’t necessary for food, fending off predators, or getting those pesky animal hairs out of his teeth. So, why spend time he could otherwise be hunting creating music? Why…to get the girl, of course. Darwin dubbed it a do-the-dirty methodology. He theorized that sounds generally evolved for the sole purpose of sex, which explains why music is a part of worldwide culture. But those sounds have continued to evolve along with human beings. With evolution, we’ve learned language…and thrown that lusty language in with our musically sexual quest. Interestingly, with the rise of feminism, men aren’t the only ones using music to their sexual advantage. “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?”
Darwin’s sexual selection theory has historically been dismissed by some scientists. But if food, sex, and music all cause our brains to release dopamine, we have to wonder…why? Food, sex, and music have one common thread…they’re a means to an evolutionary end. Like the rest of the animal kingdom, we have but two evolutionary duties in life…survival and procreation. Food is a means to survival. Sex is a means to procreation. Music is a means to sex, it seems. Maybe we subconsciously use music as a mating dance just as the rest of the animal kingdom. Is it possible our brains have evolved to enjoy the things we need in order to survive and procreate. We eat a slice of steamy cheesy pizza…we feel pleasure because eating is necessary for survival. We hear climactic music, we feel pleasure because we anticipate sex. We have climactic mind-blowing sex…we feel pleasure because we may now procreate. Survival…check. Procreation…check. The continuation of the species…check. All in a hard day’s work for primitive caveman…or modern He-Man.
Yes! It seems, when it comes to music, the beat isn’t the only thing getting our booties bumping.
So, next time you see young girls swoon over the latest heartthrob boy band, or some unsuspecting woman throw her panties at a rock band with mile-high hair, makeup you could carve your name in, and a sickly toothpick frame…reflect on Darwin’s theory. And know that music just has that “feel good” effect on us. You could try to pull her from the wolf’s sexually hypnotic grip…enlighten her…warn her…
“Hey girl! He’s just trying to get to your nitty gritty with his witty ditty!”
But chances are she’s aware and dancing along to the ditty for HIS gritty.
Love and war. Shove and roar. When we decide to go head to “head” in a heated Battle of the Sexes, we shamelessly fire off any and all ammo we can dredge up from the dark cobwebbed recesses of our minds…be it pertinent, or not…recent, or not…rational, or not. Emotion knows no rationality. So, once we’re hurt, we’re eager to return the favor. All’s fair in love and war, right? There’s a popular notion that we hurt the ones we love the most. Novel notion, no? Although we’re well aware of this tidbit, we’re repeatedly shocked with disbelief when a loved one uses our heart as a dart board. Why? Because we’re desperately passionate about the ones we allow close enough to throw those darts. If we didn’t love them so fiercely, we wouldn’t be invested in the argument. Wouldn’t care what they thought, why they thought it, or how it affected our lives. It’s because we feel so deeply that we fight so passionately. Any time we wage war on our sweetie, our emotions acts as our guns…our words the bullets. The bigger our gun, the more deadly the bullet. Words slinging around in the heat of angry battle like tiny grenades waiting to detonate can’t be easily rationalized, controlled, or unsaid. The experts tell us to talk, rather than fight…to communicate calmly and rationally face to face. But if we could manage that tip when our tempers flare…and successfully control emotion, we may also feel the need to capitalize on our newfound powers and TAKE OVER THE WORLD!
The truth is our emotions are powerful…and, at times, dominate rational thought. When an argument breaks out, our bodies feel attacked, become overridden with emotion, and respond negatively. We fight back. We wage an ugly war. A war so ugly, we sometimes imagine ourselves having an out-of-body experience…hovering and watching from above as our proudest chair-slinging Jerry Springer moment plays out in all its tacky cut-off jean shorts glory…and we watch helplessly wondering who the hell this untamed idiot is. Personal shame has abandoned us. We yell, scream, blame, avoid, cry, bully, play the victim…anything that makes us feel justifiably in the right…NEVER the wrong. Whatever it takes to further our delusion of self righteousness. Such is human nature. But when our delusion is challenged, we feel angry, defensive, hurt, alone…all of which tell our body we remain under attack. So, we pull out the big guns. We shoot off explosive words and watch them crash into each other like Stephen King’s possessed cars in a dare devil drag race. Explosion upon explosion. The intensity! But maybe there’s a better way to resolve our heated battles…leaving far less casualties in the wake, less blood on our hands, and make-up sex at our fingertips. An E-fight? Fighting via email? U got it!
Couples WILL fight…over finances, sex, kids, finances, sex, family, finances, sex, a lost connection. And sometimes, we fight over finances and sex. When we fight, our techniques differ. Experts say men tend to withdraw while women seek emotional support. A study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family followed 373 couples over a 16 year time span. They found that the couples’ fighting tactics were a predictor of marital success. How they communicated their disappointments to one another ~ whether they reached an agreement, agreed to disagree, or fought to the death. Essentially, it’s not our fighting that’s the problem, but HOW we fight. The study found the most volatile combination of spouses consisted of one who tackles the problem head on plus one who withdraws and avoids the problem. They found the spouse who faced the problem head on perceived the other’s avoidance as an uninvested disinterest in the relationship. An unspoken “f**k you.” So, if she’s pushing to fight and he’s avoiding the issue, she “rationally” comes to the conclusion that he just “doesn’t love me.” Sound familiar? But in reality, he just needs a cooling off period…time to think before speaking. Probably not a bad thing. After all, she may not want to hear what he’s thinking at the precise moment she’s rattling his ear drums with each and every fault he has the misfortune of possessing.
A fight is a natural part of any relationship…a healthy part. A chance for growth if managed properly. But the instigator sitting on the sidelines capable of destruction and egging it on is none other than EMOTION. Experts agree emotion is a perception of the bodily state…a mental understanding of a physical arousal. An event…such as her cleaning like a housewife gone mad while he reconnects his butt to the couch and his hand to the remote…leads to arousal in the body (likely negative). This physical arousal leads to an emotional feeling…such as resentment or anger. The emotion leads to a reaction…yelling, for example. Yelling is simply a byproduct of pain… “expressing your own pain through anger.” Or perhaps, sharing the “love.” But obviously, yelling is contagious, breeds more yelling, and drowns out hearing. Emotion has successfully brought about war with both now feeling pain and expressing it simultaneously. Both want to be heard. But neither is. We can’t seem to hear over our own anger. We’ve reached…an impasse.
But what if we took our fight to cyber world? A world free of irrational ammo AND emotion. Send our enemy an email explaining why we’re upset. No irrational emotions running the show. No speaking before we think. The very act of typing out a thought requires us to deliberate on its rationality. Our tears may short circuit the keyboard, but they’ll be productive tears…healing our pain instead of adding to the strain. Our thoughts and feelings ~ minus the accusations ~ will be listened to, and heard, in the neutral world of email. Both parties feel less attacked without our opposition looking us in the eye and combating us. Therefore, we listen more, contribute more, and counterstrike less. Win…win!
Whether we E-fight from completely different locations or just take turns on a joint computer, it’s a chance to pour our hearts out to our sweetie without assaulting him/her with every negative emotion that impatiently and inconsiderately spills forth from our mouth. And as we sit and read our spouse’s thoughts, feelings, and fears…we feel empathy rather than anger. Come together, rather than forcing a divide. Listen, rather than yell. We’re more likely to open up in a calm stream of thought-out emails. More likely to clam up in a steady stream of “go to hells.” When we type out our rebuttals, we eliminate the emotional trigger that sends our bullets flying and avoid hitting our spouse right between the eyes with heavy artillery. So, think before you shoot. If we shoot up today’s enemy, who’ll be tomorrow’s ally?
Next time a war is brewing, don’t go head to “head.” Send an email and go heart to heart. Through your glowering snarl and clenched teeth, look your opposition in the eye and growl…
“You’ve got mail!”
Because we can all use a little editing sometimes.