Frustration and Peace

In talking with my Junior in college daughter the other day, she used the word frustrating a half dozen times.  So many times that the word jumped out, not so much as an idiosyncrasy, but as a condition of how she felt which brought her mom and I to attention.  She described several instances of her life where she was  frustrated.  One instance was an epiphany where she felt it was time to grow up and take care of herself.  College is a time when that realization is cause for joy, but my daughter expressed frustration.  Granted, she was looking at her behavior relative to her desires and saw a major gap there.  She is also training for a triathlon, plays on a soccer team (another point of frustration), and cooks her own food, is getting mostly A’s in school, has been pursued by the school to be a leader, and is newly enjoying the attention of a young man (another point of frustration).

Which brings me to my definition of frustration: The emotional sensation that is felt when reality falls dramatically short of expectations.  One doesn’t feel frustration when the movie you just spent $10 on is horribly below expectations.  There’ll be another movie down the road.  One doesn’t feel frustration when the food you ordered is cold or unsatisfying.  The next meal will be better.  One feels frustration when the things that have longer term meaning are getting off course.  The frustration sensation is the opposite of flow.

The question is: Is frustration a consequence or a choice?

As a parent your desire is for your children to be competent when they go off to college.  To be able to take in life’s issues, extract meaning, provide value, and come away at the end of most days with a feeling of positive engagement.  You want them to grow and that growth be invigorating.  Frustration connotes baggage, misunderstanding, shallowness. Not good traits.  The fruits of  the spirit would indicate joyous engagement, a cup that runneth over, and a depth of understanding that provides appropriate context to life.  Frustration isn’t a fruit.

An aspect of frustration is shallowness.  Young girls engage in petty issues that are generically referred to as “high school”.  This flighty aspect of the female nature can be overcome, but it can also be like a magnet.  If one lives around it, like in a dorm, then having shallowness resonate in your perspectives is understandable.  If one is engaged in petty squawking, it is easy to view life’s circumstances with a depth that lacks context.

Should this inner conflict grow, my daughter would not be the fountain of joy that I know her to be.  She is light and easy, funny and mature. But one thing she is not is permanently shallow.  So today’s issue is a temporary loss of  “peace”.  Personal depth indicates a maturity that rests on principles whereas shallowness is tossed about by circumstances, emotions, and intentions.  Depth has at its core a peace with a bias towards the understanding that circumstances change, usually for the better, and patience is a virtue.  The serenity prayer is one such principle:

“Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can,

The patience to accept the things I can’t,

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

As a parent, it is imperative to be the adult when parenting, to not get ‘caught up’ in the tumult of circumstances.  One must BE an example of depth, patience, and maturity.  You can’t fake this to your kids, but must practice it in all aspects of life.  Your fruit will show your kids what kind of tree you are.  Frustration is a choice – in the long run.  It indicates a lack of depth, perspective, patience, and FAITH!  Faith that life will ultimately work out for those who are positive, joyous, and giving. The more you believe in these principles, the less likely you are to be shallow and frustrated.  As a result, your children will gravitate to who you’ve demonstrated the correct way to be.  It’s not what you say, but who you are that will largely define your children.

Gain depth and perspective and your children will follow you.

They will know you by your fruit (Part 1)

These posts will ask the question: What is your fruit?
Watch out for false prophets.  They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.  By their fruit you will recognize them.  Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thisltels?  Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matt 7-16)
Fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”  (Gal. 5-22)
Drawn from the book “Power vs. Force” by Dr. David Hawkins
Shame:  All have some awareness of “losing face,” becoming discredited, or feeling like a “nonperson”…Early life experiences that lead to Shame – such as sexual abuse – warp personality for a lifetime unless these issues are resolved by therapy. Shame produces neurosis. It’s destructive and, as a consequence makes one prone to the development of physical illness.  The Shame based personality is shy, withdrawn, and introverted…Shame based people are prone to hallucinations of an accusatory nature.  They compensate with perfectionism and rigidity, becoming driven and intolerant.  Moral extremists…projecting their own unconscious shame onto others whom they feel justified in righteously attacking.  Often produces false pride, anger, and guilt.
Guilt: ‘so commonly used in our society to manipulate and punish, manifests itself in a variety of expressions, such as remorse, self-recrimination, masochism, and a whole gamut of symptoms of victimhood. Many people struggle with Guilt their entire lives, while others attempt escape by amorally denying it altogether…Guilt provokes rage.
Apathy: Characterized by poverty, despair, ad hopelessness.  The world and the future look bleak; pathos is the theme of life.  Apathy is the state of helplessness; its victims, needy in every way, lack not only resources, but the energy to avail themselves of what may be available….The apathetic are dependent; people in Apathy are “heavy” and are felt as a burden by those around them.  Apathy is the level of abandonment of hope.
Grief: The level of sadness, loss, an dependency.  Most have experienced it for periods of time, but those who remain at this level live a life of constant regret and depression….those who accept failure as part of their lifestyle, often resulting in loss of jobs, friends, family, and opportunity, as well as money and health. Grief holds the notion of the irreplaceability of what’s been lost or that which it symbolized.
Fear: Fear of danger is healthy.  Fear runs much of the world – fear of enemies, old age, death, rejection, and a multitude of social fears are basic motivators in most peoples lives.  The world looks hazardous. The media and advertising play to Fear to increase marketshare.  The proliferation of fears is as limitless as the human imagination; once Fear is one’s focus, the endless worrisome events of the world feed it.  Fear limits growth of the personality and leads to inhibition.
Because it takes energy to rise above Fear, the oppressed are unable to reach a higher level unaided.  Thus, the fearful seek strong leaders who appear to have conquered there own Fears to lead them out of slavery.
Part 2: 
DesireAngerPrideCourage

Sex VIII

What is a practical way to pull all this together into a technique that allows each partner to value the other, recognize each love language, address strengths and weaknesses, pull weeds as they come up, and move into ever growing understanding of a mutually satisfying relationship?

Agreement.

It doesn’t have to be magical, “The 10 Secret Tips” you might find in a women’s magazine.  The issue at hand is that relationship problems are opportunities to grow from the current version into the next version of maturity.  Agreements require identification of the problem and communication of potential solutions.

For example: A man comes home after a long day at work.  The wife has been with young children all day, or if a working mom, comes home too and faces the tasks of the home life.  A man might want to relax and be valued like that of a returning hero from battle.  The wife might want a reprieve from the non adult world of child rearing and talk to an adult; or if she’s working, the scramble of getting the kids and catching up on their day.  There is dinner to fix, the house to straighten up a bit, the kids to bathe, jammies, and read to – then comes the ‘me time’.  This is day in, day out for years.  Since the desire for each child’s development and even the demand for attention from children pulls the focus away from the ‘we time’, building agreements become critical. 

His top love languages may be physical touch and words of encouragement.  Her top love languages might be quality time and acts of service.  She keeps the house clean and makes dinner in which she pours her love into her family.  He appreciates that and wants to express his love for her with verbal praise and love making.  She’d rather that he do the dishes, get the kids to bed, and rub her feet while they talk.  She derives pleasure and value by having a nest that is clean and orderly, so her unstated preference is that if there is any love to be make it will be in making the bed – without being asked.  He wants to be wanted in such a way as it reaches his true needs.  She desires to be desired in such a way that it reinforces her self image.

Therefore, leadership is understanding how she wants to be valued and providing that value.  Key here then is to provide value to her without condition.  Then, and only afterwards, expressing how he wants to be valued and express how she could provide that value without condition.  This then becomes the agreement.  Each side is 100% responsible for the success of the agreement and relationship.  He makes the bed, does dishes, helps with the kids, hangs out and rubs her feet, calls her in the middle of the day just to chat, sends her a hand written note in the mail, plans a dinner out and coordinates the babysitter, gets a group of guys and sends the wives on a scavenger hunt, takes the kids to a movie and leaves the wife at home to veg, investigates a parenting class and suggests attendance, and brainstorms the future together.  In turn, he offers specific suggestions in “times of non conflict” on how she can bring him satisfaction and happiness.  The point is to communicate who you are and what would make you happy.  Chances are, she’s not going to be able to guess correctly.  

If your sex life is less than desired, how many times per cycle is desired?  20? 15? 10?  3?  If the quality is less than desired, what IS desired?  Would one night of Fantasy Sex per cycle be reasonable?  What would that look like?  What are the signals that are sent that indicate “We’re on.” or “Not tonight.”?  Is it ok to schedule the big night of Fantasy Sex?  What are the things that get in the way of your sex life that she is willing and able to remove?  Is she using these obstacles as an excuse?  Is sex a chore that gets piled on to all the other chores she has during the day?  The agreement is that you pour into her cup so she has something to pour out.  If she pours into the kids all day, is there any left for you?  Agreement gets her to ration her pouring with the expectation that you’ve got a babysitter lined up, dinner plans, and some quality time for her.  This is leadership.

Sex VII

What causes a crisis in a relationship?  First we must identify how many relationships exist in a marriage.  Three.  There’s the relationship a man has with his wife and visa versa (one).  There is the relationship a man has with himself (two); and the relationship a woman has with herself (three).  It’s important to make this distinction in order to understand the formation of a crisis; because a crisis is the flowering of a problem that has grown underground for enough time to have developed such a root system that serious effort is required to yank that beast out of the ground. Underground refers to the relationship the man or woman has sub consciously that manifests all kinds of things that only slowly emerges into awareness. Every seasoned marriage has heard “You have been doing ______ forever and it drives me crazy!”  To which the response is “Yes, but you just told me about it this morning!”

In other words, a seed of discord (issue) was planted a while ago (maybe in childhood), is fertilized and watered (by being married and facing adult issues), and one day sprouts its weed-like head above ground.  At this point, only one person knows the weed exists (normal).  But as the weed grows and (let’s get real here) Mr. Gardner doesn’t catch the non-verbal clues provided by Mrs. Gardner (“If you loved me, you’d know!!!”), the weed will begin to define the garden (life together).  Now let’s say that Mr. Gardner is working on other aspects of the garden and STILL doesn’t see the specific weed.  Mrs. Gardner talks to other Mrs. Gardners and seeks female gardening tips.  Why doesn’t Mrs. Gardner either pull the weed herself or bring it up directly? (Probably because if you have to beg someone to love you it cheapens the feeling).  What happens, though, is Mrs. Gardner pulls back in other areas.  Do all Mrs. Gardners do this?  No, but enough do to identify a larger issue.

The weed represents the first of many issues that will arise in a marriage that test the question for the woman, “Did I choose wisely in picking this partner to lead me and my children to a safe and happy place?”  This question stems from the relative position of women in society that a man brings certain qualities to a relationship that a woman needs if she is to bear children and tend the garden in peace.  Sex VI spoke of those things.  This question of ‘choosing correctly’ emerges from the dirt and into a woman’s awareness slowly.  And just as slowly, she responds with hope and fear as she sorts through all the actions and qualities of her choice in a man.  If Mr. Gardner is able to identify her needs, navigate the weed pulling crises, and help her grow into maturity and flower beautifully, then the marriage and family flowers in a long summer of intimacy.  If he is not able to identify the weeds and help root them out, then the garden will not prosper and grow.  As a result, the weed’s roots deepen and sprout shoots until the garden is overrun.

Criticisms, verbal tone, not risking transparency, withdrawal of sex, weight gain, skin issues, health issues, children issues – the weeds multiply.  Love is watering nourishment and if it starts to dry up, the garden suffers.  Are there other gardens worth looking at rather than this one?  “Tempted by the fruit of another” so the song goes, has more to do with the fruit in one’s own garden.

It is the crisis that defines the marriage; that period of time when the weed is identified and Mr. and Mrs. Gardner try and figure out whether it’s a big deal or just a small thing.  Once identified as something that won’t go away with casual effort, Mr. Gardner is essentially asked something that he hasn’t been asked before, “Will you grow up enough to lead this family?”  His answer determines the fate of the family.  A partial pulling of the weed only means that the weed will return and may be bigger and may look different, but it still has the same root system.  Marriage crises are forks in the road and every marriage has them.  “What will our garden look like?”

How do you resolve the crisis? 

Pulling weeds is as important as tending (being tender) the crops you’ve planted.  Your crops are your children, friends, workmates, health, wealth, personal development, and those things that bring satisfaction in life.  The serious weeds stem largely from seeds planted in childhood and a wise Mr. Gardner starts the re-parenting process early in a marriage.  A garden doesn’t just happen.  Intentional effort is required to nurture the good and pull the bad.

  • Young couples: develop a quality group of friends that do more than party.
  • Young marriages with children: go to parenting classes and develop playmate relationships with like minded parents. (this topic will be another post).
  • Married life (done with child bearing): parenting classes that challenge your understanding of life, parenting, marriage, and personal maturity.
  • Mid married life (teens): If you haven’t identified the weeds or pulled the one’s you have identified – seek counseling.

Grow, grow, grow as a person and seek the wisdom of others early and often.  Start a Saturday Morning Dads group to round out your perspectives, help you set goals, and provide accountability.  Sustained attention to the good life fosters pushing the maturity envelop which ultimately results in wisdom. Old too soon; wise too late is a lament that is tinged with regret from the many gardeners whose fruit is bitter and unsatisfying. 

Be a good gardener.

Sex VI

For the man who desires more sex and/or better quality sex, the answer is leadership – and leadership starts with understanding.  In order to get more of what you want, you must understand what it is that provides it or prevents it.  Leadership can develop those elements that bring about what you want and overcome those elements that inhibit a fulfilling life.  Simply enough, you must understand what makes your wife act, react, and pro act (or not).  These factors are generalized, of course, and are just a guy’s perspective.  Discussing them with your wife will probably help you increase your intimacy just in itself.

Women want/desire/need:

  • To be engaged by their husband –be where you are.
  • To be loved in such a way as they can feel loved -quality time, acts of service, physical touch and closeness, words of encouragement, gifts.
  • To be secure in family, body, and economics – Maslowe’s hierarchy of needs must be addressed for a lasting sense of well being. 
  • To have companionship – to hang out and have fun.
  • To be in control organizationally – a man finds harmony after having sex; a woman must have harmony in order to have sex.
  • To share management and responsibility of the family life – to come home and participate in the family life and marriage as well as the necessary chores that clutter the day.
  • To partner with someone who is growing in maturity and social skills – to be worthy of being proud instead of being embarrassed.
  • To partner with someone who creates a family vision, character, identity, and adventure – to cheerlead the family name, to develop family qualities, to identify areas of mutual growth and demonstrate personal strength towards achievement.
  • To partner with someone who has direction and energy – to consistently get from the day instead of just getting through the day.
  • To partner with someone who sees them as lovely – to constantly look for and express reasons of appreciation. “This is why I love you….”
  • To partner with someone who will help them see themselves as lovely – to recognize that she may need help in overcoming self esteem issues and can’t be criticized into loving herself. 

This may not be the best list in the world, but I bet if men were to understand and genuinely pursue the above, the marital satisfaction rate would go up dramatically.  Essentially, leadership is about pouring out:  If you pour out of self into your spouse, her glass not only will be half full at minimum, it will overflow in the long run. 

There is so much more to the above than can be said in a short post, so next time…

Sex VII.

Sex V

Words have meaning.  Some words have more meaning than others and those distinctions help us grow to understand life a little better and understand ourselves a little better.  A chair is just a chair because it’s a noun, but there’s a difference between a house and a home even though they’re both nouns.  So it takes a second to stop and reflect on the notion that for some a home has a richer meaning than just a house.  As one gains experience in life you begin to make those distinctions and hang on to the richness of that discovery.  Sympathy and empathy are synonymous until you’ve experienced personal loss.  People send you their sympathies because they feel sorry for you and want you to know they care.  But when they’ve also experienced loss, they reach out and share that they know your pain - they empathize with you.  Words help us mature as concepts become clearer in our minds and we draw dividing lines and gradations within thoughts, as we weigh one idea next to another, as we emphasize one value over another.

The drive to have sex, for men, is biological.  It is not just to procreate, to replicate yourself and perpetuate the species; it’s not just to recreate, to enjoy the pleasures of life.  Rather the sex drive is one of God’s more brilliant gifts, and in the pantheon of God’s gifts that’s saying something.  Its hidden nature is to provide satisfaction.  Upon discovering the orgasm, whoa, what a gift from God.  Then discovering sex, does it get any better than this?  But if you’ve experienced sex for 20 plus years since puberty, you already know that pleasure fades and those things that provide pleasure can lose their allure.  Satisfaction is one of those words that evoke personal definition, but it doesn’t take much experience to see that satisfaction is a weightier word than pleasure.  Pleasure is a short term goal for the sex drive while satisfaction is a long term one.  Though the physical experience provides pleasure, it is only relational intimacy that provides satisfaction.  To achieve pleasure, God has gifted us with a creative mind and an intelligence to overcome many obstacles.  Unfortunately because pleasure fades, seeking the ever elusive next pleasure ‘high’, one runs the risk of increasingly becoming empty.  The complaints you hear about marriages becoming unsatisfying and empty can often be attributed to the fading of the pleasure from the Discovery years of sex.  Marriage is a jar in which you put life.  If the life you put in it fades, then you’d better put in something that lasts or the emptiness will stand starkly in contrast to other elements of your life.  If the kids leave and the allure of sex diminishes, what do you have left? 

Contrast emptiness with satisfaction.  If you’re satisfied with something or someone, you’re not out shopping for a new one.  You value it.  You invest in it.  You take care of it.  You enjoy it for its own sake.  It satisfies.  So the spectrum of complete emptiness on one end and complete satisfaction on the other are contrasts that ask the question: Where are you on the scale?

Intimacy is satisfying.   Sex has something to do with intimacy, but not everything.  So for the wise young man that is looking into the future and recognizes the need to create a satisfying life, intimacy is the key.  Intimacy is a choice and a skill.  It does not happen just because you live with someone and have sex with them.  The 41% divorce rate is a testament to that.  Intelligence doesn’t automatically lead to intimacy.  On the contrary, intelligence and ego have led to many a break up.  Religion does not guaranty intimacy.  Many people are deluded into believing God will provide a ‘happily every after’ and become victims to their naive religious beliefs.  Wealth clearly is not a guarantor of marital happiness.  Though each situation and era of life differs by degree and emphasis, clearly satisfying sexual intimacy is the capstone to a loving relationship in the young and not so young married years.

Developing intimacy = male leadership…Sex VI.

Sex IV

Expectations -  I’m circling back a little here and taking the psychological and putting it into a relational context.  The point I was making earlier is that desire plays a pretty significant role in our sex lives – both our desire for our wives as well as our perceptions of their desire for us.  It’s not good enough that we want to have sex with them; importantly, we want them to want to have sex with us.  We want sex to fulfill their desire.  For us it’s pretty straightforward: we desire her; we have sex; we’re satisfied.  For her it’s a little more complicated.  Desire is erratic rather than erotic and sex doesn’t necessarily create satisfaction for women.  For guys, if she is just accommodating our physical need because that’s what wives do, sorry, that’s not enough.  If that’s all she’s got, then ultimately there will be problems.  The whole person needs to be involved in sex and that includes one’s desire.

Here’s where it gets challenging.  A guy can’t demand desire.  He can’t beg for it.  He can’t whine it in to existence.  A guy looks at porn and sees some hottie going to town on some dude like a snake eats a meal.  He fantasizes.  That kind of image, whether supercharged by porn or not, captures the essence of what a man is looking for at some level: The femaleness of the woman is energized and ultimately satisfied by the maleness of the man.  More directly, a man desires that she get physically turned on by the thought and reality of being with him; and having been with him, is satisfied.  Well, call this the ideal because it is difficult to achieve regularly at best.  This is why porn sells so well – it’s fantasy.  No strings attached female diggin’ on a man.

No, female desire is a little more delicate and a great deal more complex than a www.xxx website.  This also is why porn is not only addicting, but destructive.  It programs a man’s psyche that fantasy is real and his desire and arousal is queued only by that kind of sexual interaction.  A recipe for disappointment and conflict.  Do you expect your wife to act like a porn star?  Do you want your wife to want you?  What are your expectations?

 Female desire requires a much more broad understanding of women in general and the wife in particular in order to create the atmosphere where quality sex can emerge and be maintained where both partners can display and fulfill their desires. What are those factors that influence female desire?  Coming up…Intimacy in Sex V.

Sex III

Since 87% of all statistics are made up on the spot, it is clear that 98.2% of male sex is psychological, whereas it’s only 86.9% for females.  These “statistics” clearly show that physical sex drive is far outweighed by non physical factors. What are those factors and how do they affect our sex lives?

 Desire, Love, Upbringing, Security, Power, Children, Work, Stress, Fantasy, Society, Money, Well-being, Brokenness, Religion, Spirituality, Self Image – to name a few.  I stayed away from the physical elements such as hormones, health, attractiveness which are clear influencers of one’s sex life, but not part of today’s theme, at least directly. 

 If you haven’t looked at a word lately, taken a bite out of it and savored all the nuanced flavors of that word; when it comes to sex, the effort is worthwhile.  Seriously, what’s the point of this discussion anyway?  The point for us guys is to get more and get better sex, right?  Sort of.  Take the word Desire.  Desire is such a pregnant word that has life of its own in its belly separate from what it appears on the outside.  Where do our interests, predilections, fantasies, urges, judgments, quirks come from? Why would we prefer a blonde to a brunette?  Skinny to voluptuous? Domineering woman to passive? 

 There is so much we don’t know about how things come about that it seems pointless to even think about it.  But there is value in the pursuit.  Again, personal sexual desire comes from such a wellspring of mental, emotional, psychological, physical, sociological factors that just in understanding that fact alone, we are more prepared to engage in a healthy sex life than if we were to just point at our crotch and whimper.  One guy I knew had beaten his very, very attractive wife.  A factor that came out was that when he was very young and bounded into his parents bedroom with a boner, er sorry, erection, his German born parents told him to go put that thing in the icebox.  Another guy I knew got divorced because his wife complained that he was addicted to porn.  Another guy, also divorced, told his very hot wife when she came to him with desire for sex.  He responded, “Don’t beg”.  In order to describe healthy, I try and point out ‘not healthy’.  These examples are saturated with upbringing issues that manifest in unhealthy sex lives.

 Our desires come from somewhere.  I’m guessing that it comes from where most things start – our upbringing.  I’m no Freudian who thinks we’re making love to our mother.  Talk about going limp.  But the way in which we behaviorally define how we experience love, express love, receive love, manifest love is key to understanding our sex life.  That clearly starts at the beginning.  Because, as we begin to discuss value – How do I value her?  How does she value me? – all these factors should be considered – upbringing, security, power, etc. – to help us understand the word ‘desire’.  And desire is a major component in a healthy sexual relationship.

I believe what God has created here in marriage is the opportunity with our spouse to grow to understand ourselves more clearly by using sex as a motivator and goal.  We can improve our sex life by opening up and discussing at appropriate times the factors that make us tick.  That increased level of intimacy leads to better sex and a richer life.

Sex II

I guess the best place to start when trying to communicate something that has many meanings is to define terms.  Sex is generically used as a term to reference interaction between body parts of two people.  But that definition is pretty limiting.  Between a husband and wife, sex is more commonly used to reference the act of coitus, making love. However, sex has so many facets and nuances that it might make sense to identify the many scenarios of sex to draw out the meaningful elements that inhibit or enhance a couple’s sex life.

Discovery Sex is an introduction into sex acts or a new relationship.  Enjoying the pleasures of one’s own body and providing pleasure to someone else’s seems like the nirvana of sex.  Newness can last years as God’s ever refreshing batteries seek discharge.  However, for some, the psychological aspects of sex quickly emerge.  Newness wears off and chasing frontiers of exploration often separate men from women as different comfort zones develop.  Furthermore, women’s connection to sex is significantly more emotional than men’s; therefore, men appear to pursue the physical act of sex while women pursue the relational.  The thrill of Discovery Sex can be mistaken for love.  Lust is confused with love which sometimes leads individuals to seek that newness outside of marriage in order to recreate that thrill rather than do the heavy lifting of recreating the relationship.

 Love Making – Let’s call this our base line.  It’s the intimate act where husband and wife share intercourse in order to give and get mutually.  Each partner pursues pleasure in a balance of selfishness and selflessness that establishes sharing and intimacy not found in other aspects of the relationship.  The fore play and after play aspects of sex establish important relational ritual.  This type of sex is the heart and soul of a healthy sex life in marriage.  A balanced exchange of life’s elements provides context for Love Making, otherwise the relationship becomes strained and thereby mutual quality sex life reduced. 

 Accommodation Sex is when one party, typically the woman, provides her body while half heartedly engaging emotionally or psychologically.  She submits to a man’s physical drives without participating fully.  There is a subtle but meaningful difference between participating without the ability or intent to orgasm for the woman and just submitting physically in order to avoid conflict.  Intimacy requires two people, so Accommodation Sex is a woman’s partial retreat from the relationship when something within the relationship is amiss, but not so broken that a full withdrawal from sex is required.  Or, if the relationship is so imbalanced the woman feels she must submit out of duty, for the children’s sake, for economics, or for safety.  If any of those reasons exist, intimacy is not on the menu.

 Pre Travel Sex is sex before one heads out of town for a night.  The relational -reason ostensibly is to wish him well with an act of love.  If a multi-night stay away, it’s an opportunity to be together before a long absence.  At some level, it could be a reminder of what awaits at home with a faithful return and a subtle request to be faithful. 

 Fantasy Sex in mature relationships is more akin to Discovery Sex than normal Love Making.  A more prolonged time together where sex is the objective and the normal routine is set aside for more variety.  In younger relationships Discovery and Fantasy may be synonymous, but as time passes, more factors become part of the equation leaving Fantasy outside the bedroom door.  Fantasy is an important psychological element in sex, but requires a delicate balance to maintain.  It requires more time and energy from the woman’s part and often hormonal input that is lacking during segments of the menstrual cycle.  Therefore timing is key to a successful Fantasy Sex life. 

 Vacation Sex is the carefree opportunity to return to a life of adventure in an environment outside of the norm.  Fantasy Sex during a vacation is more likely if enough of the other boxes are checked, children taken care of, hormones available, no time crunch, and time together is maximized.

 Assistance Sex is when a woman is on her period, but a man would prefer to ‘be together’ anyway.  It’s a substitute for Love Making.  The couple must navigate the rocky terrain of Assistance due to a woman feeling ‘unclean’ during her period, un-sexy, un-helpful, and possibly unloved.  If Assistance is routinely requested without reciprocating the occasional  physical touch, the woman will build up a belief her main purpose in life is to provide a man physical release.  The reciprocation (back rubs, hair stroking, foot rubs, etc,) must be genuine and un tethered to Assistance or it will be seen as manipulation and given no credence.

 Physical Touch is intimate contact throughout the daily relationship.  It doesn’t have to be sexual in nature, and likely isn’t, but is critical for developing a loving relationship for those who relate to world physically.  Holding hands, making contact whenever you pass by with loving intent while avoiding groping is quality physical touch.

 No doubt there are other scenarios that provide meaningful distinctions.  By providing these different definitions, the idea is to show that there are commonalities within all our marriages that sex evolves and goes down common paths as men and women age, as children enter the scene, as relationships mature or are challenged by the many circumstances of life.  Sex seems to be a barometer of health, but not always and not always in a straightforward manner.  It’s complicated.

How is your sex life?

Sex

Sex is a central issue in the health or ill health of many families because it is a foundational element in the male/female relationship and therefore creates or fails to create well-being for the entire family.  Any foundational element adds to or subtracts from family stability because of the environment it creates in the family.  So bedroom issues don’t stay just in the bedroom.

 This post is the start of one guy’s views on what a healthy sex life is and does for a family and how to get there.  The hope here is that this introduction can lead to discussions where men can exchange perspectives in a positive forum that leads to increased growth towards a happy, healthy sex life and family well-being.  As such, as uncomfortable as it may be, most all topics are worthy as long as there is the compass heading leading toward that goal.

 For example,

  • How do men and women reconcile different sexual drives?
  • What role does fantasy play in sex?
  • Is masturbation appropriate in a healthy marriage? 
  • Should women orgasm every time?
  • How do children affect sexual intimacy?
  • What is sexual intimacy?
  • Is porn destructive to the family?

Sex is viewed differently as people age and mature, as relationships change, as children enter the scene, as economics change, as stress is introduced, as marriage is challenged and as those challenges are surmounted or not, and as hormones fluctuate.  Fortunately society handles the whole thing with dignity and delicacy.  Oh wait, strike that.  Society does a horrible job regarding sex.  So we’ll give it another go in this forum.

How is your sex life?  Is there room for improvement?  Are you as intimate with your mate as you’d like or are you occasionally frustrated by lack of understanding, lack of communication, or just by circumstances. 

What do you want to see discussed here?