Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Blame Game

I have had comments from several female readers about the fact that this blog should address more about what men should be doing to make their wives happy. I would love to invite guys to write comments or speak to this- so please send me your thoughts fellas! My intention for starting this blog was to get us wives to stop thinking about ourselves and our version of “the story” and to start thinking about the men we married in order to improve our marriages. If we each really considered how we can better love the other, rather than how we should or ought to be loved by them, there would not be as many broken homes and broken hearts.

Victor Hugo wrote beautifully, “Do I exist for my own happiness? No, my whole existence is devoted to her, even in spite of her.” We’d all actually find our own happiness created more easily if we had this attitude of adoration for our spouses.

Blame is one of the most destructive aspects of humanity. When I have a “problem” with someone or something it is always a good indicator that it is time for me to take a hard look in the mirror.

Let me share with you a story that happened to me a month or so back in my marriage. Picture this:

It is late Friday night, I have worked a 60 hour week and am consequently exhausted and climb into bed talking with my husband about all the things we have to do and take care of tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is Saturday and I have a million obligations and because both my husband and I work and we both share in running the household/taking care of our two boys, we rarely have time for weekend fun these days. I ask him what his day is like tomorrow in an effort to coordinate our schedules and the kids. He doesn’t mention anything in particular. I proceed to tell him how stressed I feel and even overwhelmed lately. He listens politely and we go to sleep.

Early in the morning about 6AM or so I am woken up to my husband all decked out in his snowmobiling clothes. He leans over me and kisses me on the cheek and asks if he can go snowmobiling with his friends for the day and will be back at about 5PM that night. I am wide awake and this point and pretty frustrated. Not because he wants to go snowmobiling but because he obviously intentionally didn’t mention these plans late the night before when I specifically asked him.

I share with him my confusion and frustration but he and I both know he was just “handling” me. He didn’t want to deal with asking me last night when I was clearly feeling overwhelmed. He wanted to wait until the last possible moment, with his gear adorned and a ride on the way.

I immediately start thinking up a series of self justifications as to why I have every right to be upset with him. I am now going to be the BAD guy, and I resent this- so I tell him he can do whatever he wants to do. (WE ALL KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS) If he goes HE’LL be the bad guy so he is left with no choice. He stayed home and helped me with our extensive list of errands. It was a yucky situation and we were both grumpy for an hour or so.

My being frustrated with him gave me a hint that I should consider thinking about his reasons. I then engaged in some serious self introspection and realize that I must be the type of wife that he feels he has to “handle” sometimes. I must be difficult to communicate with me sometimes, especially about his desire to get some sporting enjoyment occasionally out of our busy lives (which is another thing a lot of guys need/ the way) and certainly I don’t always make him feel 100% safe to approach me when I am verbally vomiting my stressors to him late at night. When I truly considered this about myself I totally got over being upset and actually felt badly for him and focused on how much I WANT him to go snowmobiling on the weekends with his pals. I WANT to make him happy and do everything in my power to allow him life's pleasures.

My change in attitude was matched and even outmatched by my adorable husband who came to me apologizing and saying he was sorry for being selfish and he acknowledged me for all that I do for our family and how he wants for me to have a turn to enjoy myself for the weekend. We kissed, hugged, and both apologized profusely. It wasn’t until each of us thought about the other person that our conflict was no more!

Some incredibly influential books and teachings about how we can learn to overcome our tendency of having the problem of not knowing WE have a problem have been offered by Arbinger Institue “Arbinger is a worldwide consulting company and think-tank comprised of people who have been trained in business, law, economics, philosophy, the family, education, coaching, and psychology." In their books, they capture the idea of “self-deception” and how all of us get into this pit fall.

When we are self-deceived we exonerate ourselves by placing blame or finding fault with others. If we talk about all the wrong others do and how they need to be better we merely use these conversations to justify our own short-comings. However, if we can overcome our self-deception, it often acts as the primary way of helping others overcome theirs.

So my sweet lady readers, while absolutely our husbands could improve- since I am not a husband, I am not sure it would be too effective for me to write about what THEY should do. Perhaps I will get some thoughtful men to write more on that as per your requests! Thanks for reading.

"The point of it all, the reason for our concerns about these matters, is not to polish ourselves to a nonhuman perfection, but to stand self-forgetfully and conscience-free in the light and to recover our balance quickly if we start to fall." - Arbinger Institute

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Create the Space

For me making dinner always comes easier if I don’t get behind on the dishes so that I have a clean and good work space to being in. Doing little things along the way long before dinner time is upon me helps me manage feeding my cute family. If I start before dinner, like for example thaw the meat the night before in the fridge, I want to kiss myself when 6 o’clock comes around.

I have taken generous steps to learn how to cook meals and recipes for my husband to remind him of home. He is from another country and there are some meals he just can’t get here so I do my best to indicate my love through this effort and he really appreciates it. It helps with homesickness and makes him feel special that I go that extra length.

Food can create a powerful emotional connection to memories. Throughout history and across many cultural lines, food has been associated with the provision of comfort. Consider as infants how we are soothed by mother’s milk. It is a raw instinct for us to connect food to satisfaction. Knowing this can be fun and powerful. Many chiefs and cooks adore the feeling of bringing others joy via their culinary gifts.

I am all about Girl Power! Perhaps this is why I love it when wives discover their abilities to improve their behaviors and consequently improve their relationships. When we as wives are more affectionate, attentive, passionate, and even by darned SEXIER… we can tap into new powers that truly work like a charm. I have had women come giggling to me because they are thrilled with the affect they have over their husband just by their own efforts.

So let’s create the space where we love ourselves and see our own potential for good-be it in our marriages or in the world at large.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Powerful Tie that Binds

I want to share another important response to my blog because perhaps there are others that feel the same. By the way, I really appreciate hearing from you. Feel free to make comments directly on the blog or you can email me personally. I may not be able to respond to all but your voice is helpful and welcome.

This reader pointed out something I wanted to address, she wrote, “You say this advice won’t work for everyone, and that’s fair. Obviously, for (my husband) and me right now, it’s not realistic. But when I see what you write and the comments that other people post, I get the distinct impression that I don’t relate because I don’t measure up. I never felt like there were any problems in my marriage or that I was neglecting my “wifely duties” until I saw this blog and the comments. It made me feel bad for (my husband), that he got stuck with a girl who gets migraines, has anxiety, and not a ton of energy. But then I remembered that HE gets migraines, too, and he runs out of energy just like me. We communicate about everything, and I think we’re on the same page as far as our sexual activity goes. We’re not perfect, but we’re doing our best.”

Dear reader, you are awesome for communicating about everything with your husband. I am sure it is one of the biggest reasons for your successful relationship. I am sorry that you feel badly about things written in this blog. They were never intended to hurt anyone’s feelings. NO ONE is perfect! No marriage is perfect! And there is no PERFECT answer for everything. I have just observed that unlike you and your husband, many couples are NOT on the same page as far as their sexual activity goes and many marriages suffer because of this fact.

Therapist Jane Greer, is quoted saying, “Marriage has changed, in the old days the husband was the breadwinner. The wife had the expectation of raising the children and pleasing him. Now they're both working and both taking care of the children, and they're too exhausted and resentful to have sex."

Some husbands have not speed up to this century where in most households women are also employed and yet these miraculous females are still raising children and are striving to be the best homemakers they know to be. These guys somehow think they can prop their feet up while “mother” does everything.

In my experience, the happiest marriages seem to be the ones where couples equally take on the work load, regardless of how it is divided. Here is a little tip for the men folk out there that will hopefully motivate them into stepping it up- The University of Washington’s research showed that those husbands who help more with household tasks have better sex lives with their wives.

On the flip side, I will say that I pity the poor hopeful husband that considers how he can maneuver some wifely attention at the end of his day who must somehow seduce his Mrs. who is not only economically independent, numbingly familiar with his ‘moves’, frustrated that he hasn’t cleaned the house to her liking, and chronically tired from her difficult days, but is also programmed to believe she should only be physical with him if she jolly well feels like it. It just seems like a hard win which really spells to me a hard win for the blessed institution called marriage.

In her book The Sex-Starved Marriage, Michele Weiner Davis, writes of the importance physical intimacy plays in the husband- wife relationship, "When it's good, it offers couples opportunities to give and receive physical pleasure, to connect emotionally and spiritually. It builds closeness, intimacy and a sense of partnership. It defines their relationship as different from all others. In short, sex is a powerful tie that binds."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some Points

A reader bravely wrote me about a few parts of my blog that she had mixed feelings about so I wanted to share her thoughts since I think it may prove to be helpful both for me to clarify and for you to have the chance to come to your own conclusions about some of her comments. She first wanted to address my “Why Men NEED It” post. She said that she feels the way it’s written makes it sound like men absolutely, physically must ejaculate every day. She wrote, “I think men may WANT to have daily ejaculation, but they don’t really NEED it.”

I actually never wrote that they need to every day… I just said they NEED to! I can see why she thought I was inferring ‘every day’ since I initially was suggesting 'take care of your man each and every day' because I think a lot of men would like it every day. So in all actuality she and I agree on this post. I will say again, I feel it is super important that wives understand that men absolutely do need to ejaculate eventually and this is why if they do not they will have a nocturnal emission. Their need/desire for physical intimacy is different then ours! Theirs is physiological and for this reason and many others, it is my hope that wives will think before they are quick to deny their husbands.

She also let me know that some men in her life indicated that they feel a little bummed at being portrayed as such simple creatures and being reduced to their stomachs and their sex drives. She wrote, “(They) hoped that there was more to making them happy husbands than keeping them fed and sexually satisfied. All of them also said that daily sex (or other sexual acts) are a nice idea, but that they would all be too exhausted to participate. They all also said that if they knew their wives were only acquiescing to their advances out of a sense of duty and were (maybe) just pretending to be happy about them, they would feel horribly guilty.”

Again, of course this specifically themed blog is a simplification! I do have to admit I was a little surprised that guys have beef with what I am saying on this blog because it really is intended to be for their benefit and for the married couple’s benefit ultimately. I do have some questions for those guys that would feel “guilty” about their wives acquiescing their sexual needs though…

---first of all these are probably very good husbands because they are thinking about their wives emotional well being, these husbands are unselfish, they want their wife to WANT to be with them intimately and not just because it is what she SHOULD do. Bravo good husbands! Bravo! Your willingness to be thoughtful in your marriage, I am sure, serves you well. But let me ask you this: Do you ever do things for your wife just because you love her and not because you necessarily want to? Like for example a foot rub, do you get physical pleasure out of caressing the appendage attached at the ankle? Do you get jolly when you take out the trash? Do you adore buying flowers for flowers sake? Or perhaps do you often do kind things for your wife PURELY because it makes you happy to make her happy? This is what I am trying to convey and teach loving wives on this here bloggity blog. I am trying to get them to WANT to be physical with you even if her body is not necessarily craving it because it makes YOU happy which can in turn bring her and your marriage joy.

Another point she brought up was, “You say feminism has done some harm to the family. I completely agree that for many people, they may feel that if they don’t have an impressive career, perfect kids, a perfect home and a happy husband, then they are falling short in some way….I think feminism has made it so that my husband is conditioned to the idea of sharing the workload in the home and with the family, instead of expecting to come home and sit in his chair and smoke his pipe…”

Great call reader! I agree. Many men today are almost programmed to the idea that they better help out in equal loads or else. The good parts, like this one, of feminism are not what I am pointing to as the extremes or negatives from the movement. Maybe let me put it this way… imagine if there was a blog by a man that was titled, “Love Making Starts in the Kitchen” and the writer wrote all about how men should romance their wives, shave, shower, bring a rose, help bath the kids, mop the floors, compliment how his lady looks that evening and then cuddle up on the couch and watch Pride and Prejudice while kissing the nape of her neck to get her interested before he even considers advancing to the final whammy. Do you think it would get people upset like this blog seemingly has? I think because the feminist movement has had to be so LOUD for so LONG in order to get women a place at the table of society it has polarized and swung too far and it's now really unpopular to consider the things I am saying.

In today’s world, the enviable and rare woman is not the one liberated enough to scream to society that she is wearing the pants in her relationship. Nor is she the one capable of getting her man on his knees with her power tactics of withholding. The rare woman, and I am suggesting often the happy one--is the woman who maintains her husband's sexual interest and who returns it with pleasure.

Thank you for your comments and thoughts. Please keep them coming!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Choose Him

The element that can regularly restore ones marriage to a relationship that resembles something of ROMANCE rather than roommates, is physical intimacy. Now stop and ask yourself how often do you share intimate moments with your husband? Do you think perhaps he may like more? What about you, would you like to have more feelings of twitterpation and excitement in your married life? Are you interested in your spouse? Where does he fit on your list of priorities?

If your relationship is important to you- than you have to invest in it. The grass is NOT always greener on the other side, it is greener where you water, weed, and fertilize it. In marriage you just have to be willing to be physical, hopefully you actually want to, but it is unfortunately very common for women not to desire sexual intimacy as much as she once did and certainly not as much as her husband does.

I know what it is like to be tired, to feel stressed, unattractive, and sometimes just not in the mood. But I have learned that when it comes to responding to a husband’s overtures women can actually turn up the heat in themselves just by simply participating. Simply having sex can fuel the desire for more intimacy in your marriage because if you have a satisfying experience (even just if for you- emotionally) that positive reinforcement will encourage more. And to add to that, when you are empowering your man because he is “getting lucky” your luck magically improves too because you find yourself more and more in LOVE with the person you are sharing your life. There it is indeed, the operative word; ‘sharing’. Share with your husband your life, your thoughts, your time, and yes... even your body.

Desire is really a choice. You have to choose to make the physical part of your marriage vibrant and intimately satisfying. Granted both of you have to decide this together to have real dividends and moving forward the two of you can create ways to rediscover that energy you once decided to say “I do” to.

It is really not complicated; it requires getting the kids to bed at a decent hour, acquiring a better attitude, and romancing the man you married. How important is your marriage to you? How badly do you want your home life to be a safe haven and your marriage to be a legacy to your family? Why don’t we CHOOSE OUR HUSBANDS every day like we promised to?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Good Food, Good Mood

Having emergency meals that are quick and easy on hand in case you run into issues is always wise. My little boys were sick with the flu today and between cuddling, nursing, and ‘clean up duty’ I certainly didn’t have a lot of time to put much thought into dinner. I always try to keep options available for these types of days. Sometimes our lives are crazy as wives and mothers and dinner is just not the most pressing thing on our minds, so for those situations check out blogs and websites for ideas for quick, easy and healthy dinners. Here is one I like.

Especially when your family has had a stressful day and people’s nerves are tense, having healthy food ready in a flash can keep things from blowing up. Often being hungry and being grumpy go hand in hand so taking care of this aspect of your marriage really can prove to help keep arguments at bay.

I have noticed when I make a concerted effort to feed my husband, I am in turn feeding my marriage. The good old cliché the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach is there for a reason. There is a biological explanation for the connection between food and mood which maintains that foods that taste good may promote the release of ‘endogenous opioids’ and influence a person’s mood. But one thing is for certain, men feel special when they are doted on or when they are served in any capacity… who doesn’t?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sexual Healing

Let’s just ring in the melodic beat of Marvin Gaye’s 1982 song “Sexual Healing” for this entry. Radical and REGULAR sex in marriage offers a host of physiological advantages, regardless if you are husband or wife.

An impressive study published in the British Medical Journal came out of Ireland and tracked a sample of about 1,000 comparable middle-aged men over 10 years. Those men who enjoyed the highest frequency of orgasm had a death rate half that of the others. So consider how “Show up Naked with Food” suggests that making love with your husband as much as he desires as an indicator of your appreciation and concern for him… well there is empirical evidence that it may even add years to his life.

There have been many studies conducted that show that having sex even a few times a week has an correlation or causal relationship with the following:

- Reduced risk of heart disease: A Queens University study found that having sex three or more times a week reduces a man’s risk of heart attack or stroke by half.
- Weight loss, overall fitness: E-R-Exercise, E-R-Exercise! Perhaps the bed is the best piece of workout equipment you own! A good mauling can burn up to 200 plus calories- (the equivalent of running 15 minutes) The equivalent of 6 huge Hamburgers can be worked off by ‘doing it’ three times a week for an entire year. Boosts of testosterone often occur from sex and leads to stronger muscle tone. It is like a positive cycle- more sexy time = better body, better body = more sexy time.
- Reduced depression: Some studies have indicated that those who enjoy a healthy sex life also have less of a propensity toward depression. I sure know it makes me smile!
- Pain-relief: Oxytocin is this awesome hormone that increases greatly as a consequence to orgasm, as a result endorphins are produces and help to alleviate the pain of everything from including migraines- so again having a headache perhaps is not the best excuse you should use if you are needing one.
- Boosted immune system: Wilkes University in Pennsylvania says people who have sex at least twice show higher levels of a specific antibody, which could translate into less sick day.
- Lower Risk for Prostate Cancer: The British Journal of Urology International published a study that claims guys in their 20s can reduce their risk of getting prostate cancer by a third if they have a physical ‘release’ five times a week.

There are health benefits specifically for women as well. Regular sessions can not only firm your stomach and that cute bum and has said to help to improve posture. I have been told it helps your skin and many other wonderful side effects. I have even read about the fact that women who abstain can be exposed to some physical risks. It can also help you get better sleep which is linked to a myriad of health benefits. But my personal favorite reason of all is that it can enhance your marriage relationship!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brides to Be

An intimate sexual relationship in marriage is vital. Married couples should strive to achieve a physically relationship that can renew and sustain their love for each other. The tender feelings couples can capture with physical intimacy cannot be found elsewhere in life. Couples can experience intimacy in many more ways than just physical interaction. The process of obtaining a marriage that is an intimate one, is a process that begins before marriage and continues long after. There are many areas in which couples can grow together- socially, emotionally, spiritually, cognitively, financially, and physically. When you are considering marriage with a lucky chap be sure to understand him as best you can in each of these areas. Be sure to discuss your attitudes about sex to see if both of yours are sound, healthy, and compatible. Ask him what his expectations are and talk to him about yours.

Members of the opposite sex are socialized to respond and think differently about affection starting long before marriage. (While this is a generalization) Typically women crave romance and men crave physical intimacy. Just consider the focus for many girls on her wedding day. For many women there is tons of emphasis on the event and the ceremony details including cake, flowers, and dress. For most men, the honeymoon is where their mind is. While both men and women can enjoy romance and physical affection, behavioral scientists have noticed that men and women actually internalize each differently. It is critical for many women to feel emotionally nurtured in order to be aroused. For many men they must first share physical closeness to their partner before they can become acutely aware of her emotional needs. Understanding these differences in men and women can be very helpful to you as you start this voyage called marriage. Misunderstandings and hurt feelings often happen because of a lack of awareness. So be aware what your future husband NEEDS to feel loved and keep track of how that evolves once you are married.

Many young people enter marriage with little to no education about relationships. Seek out the best possible opportunities to prepare yourself for marriage. Talk with those you trust that do have good marriages to gain insight but above all talk with the person you are considering marriage with about as much as you can before you make such a huge commitment. Realize that the learning curve is infinite.

Once married it is wise to consider seriously with each other if your sexual emphasis is about a loving and sweet moment for you two to share or if you are pressured to make it a performance. Love is about meeting the needs of others and not self gratification but the ironic part is that when you are really in love with someone and they are with you- it is almost impossible not to be satisfied yourself. Receiving love is wonderful when you can comfortably know that you have also given it. Choose to create a marital culture of affirmation and thoughtfulness and once you have set the tone, there is a good chance he will match it. Keep in mind that issues with intimacy, both emotional and physical, have been overcome by many couples via open and honest communication and willingness to change.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lessons Learned

My philosophy is to ‘take care’ of your man because you love him, because it is the right thing to do, and because it ultimately takes care of you. I have shared this to many of how when a wife lovingly and happily makes her man’s needs a priority, her relationship with him can flourish. In order to create an environment where our partners feel safe and valued we must be willing to give of ourselves. This giving of self can take many forms. The playful package of Show Up Naked with Food has evolved as I have learned over and over how pervasive the issue is of husbands feeling physically deprived. I have witnessed how in marriages neglect leads to neglect, hurt to hurt, and selfishness to selfishness. As I have tried to convince wives of making more of an effort to not be as selfish, particularly in the bedroom because this is where I have seen this mostly occurs, I am confident that when done in light of a decent man your chances for fortifying your marriage are much greater.

In a world that is incredibly sexually charged and where it seems the only resources to discuss sex are found in trashy magazines, I was hoping to provide a forum where people will not hear graphic details and unnecessary filth, but rather where they can discuss intimacy in the context of a committed relationship called marriage. No marriage is perfect, certainly some come close, but every relationship has its weak areas or places for improvement. This blog is here to extend ideas and thoughts of how to help wives build their marriages. I personally am far from perfect! And I want to take a moment to expound on this fact and acknowledge some lessons I have learned in light of starting this blog.

It has been brought to my attention that I have, while unintentionally, made some people feel uncomfortable and even judged with some of my words. I think the concepts I am trying to capture are difficult. There are so many different situations in life and only you as the reader can consider yours against some of my opinions. I guess I made the assumption that readers would understand that this blog is specifically themed and not intended to be all encompassing. I have also learned that often people hear what you don’t write even more than what you do and that even if you do write something you can’t totally control what message people will take away.

I hope to be more thoughtful and diligent on my end. For example, when I used the ‘once a day’ suggestion I really meant to take care of your husband however often he desires it and determine between the two of you if you need to improve the amount that you do share intimacy with one another for his and your benefit.

I was asked to blog my marriage soapbox by many friends who had implemented these concepts, tested and proved them and thrilled, felt others should hear what I had to say. Initially, I sent it out to only a few people. I got such positive feedback that I got excited and sent it out many more. While I have received a lot of applause for my efforts and many people are telling me this is needed, I have to admit I am laughing at how ‘silly’ I am at times.

Picture this, I am out and about and bump into someone that I know I sent my blog invite to… we smile and say hi and they say nothing about my seemingly controversial writings and I start to think of how many different scenarios that are possible. My first thought is I hope I have not offended them, then I consider that perhaps it just isn’t a big deal to them either way, but my last thought brings some color into my cheeks… what if they think I am some crazy nympho? I have to laugh at myself inside and realize I am one dorky kid and then mentally reassure that I should be proud of the fact that my man and I adore one another and that these concepts help feed our love life and brings us closer. The only reason for my ‘bravery’ in sharing my thoughts so publically is because of my desire to try and share what I have found to be so true. But let me say, I have learned a lot this past week. Thanks for being patient with me as I fumble my way. Now stop reading this and go love up your partner! ;)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

King of the Castle

Certainly some men maybe better cooks then their wives or perhaps they enjoy the task of cooking. Your family may like the effort of making dinner together and participating equally. Maybe the woman works and the man is the only option for chief. At our house, I make dinner and my husband offers to do dishes. Whatever the arrangement, preparing food and doting on your husband because you adore him often reads: I LOVE YOU!

I am all about girl power. I DON’T think women HAVE to do the chores or are made to be in an apron their entire life, but I have seen first-hand how having a ‘can do’ attitude in making my house a home sets a mood for my family to take pride in our living space. To a man there is little more self esteem building then when he is made to feel like the King of his castle. Here are some fun ideas to help make him feel extra special around meal time:

- Make his favorites: My husband likes meat and potatoes and I prefer salad and sushi but even though I choose the menu, I make a grand effort to offer him options regularly that I know he will enjoy.

- Put some effort into the production: Try not to just serve it on a paper plate or in front of the television because it doesn’t make it feel very special.

- Offer variety: Look for new recipes and try different dishes so that your dinners are exciting and your family looks forward to something new. Expanding your abilities to cook well start with experimentation and being brave.

The GREATEST way to make your husband feel like he has died and gone to heaven is to show up with a plate of fruit and chocolate in your bedroom and make sure you arrive naked. ;)