• Unsatisfied?
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    Psych Central

    So why don’t people just ask for what they want instead of complaining about what they don’t get?

    We want to believe the other person can read our minds, and if they could we wouldn’t haven’t to ask for what we want.

    We want to punish the other person for not giving us what we want. Hard to admit, but it’s true.

    We want to avoid being vulnerable, opening up and asking for what we want.

    But, these are nothing more than self-justifications for why we complain about what we don’t get instead of asking for what we want.

    Try it this weekend. The next time your partner does something you don’t like, instead of complaining about it, just ask your partner for what you want.

    And the next time your partner doesn’t do something you wish he or she would do, instead of pointing out that they didn’t do it, just ask them if they would do what you want now.

    Notice what happens. Notice your tendency and habit—maybe even desire—to be critical of your partner. What’s that get you? Maybe you get to be right, but do you get to be close or to connect? And, which do you want more?

    Something tells me that the linked article was written by a really cranky therapist after a hard session of all out marital combat.

    As cranky sounding as it is though, it’s so true.

    And, it’s difficult. None of us find it easy to ask for what we want — the other person could decline our request and then what will we do. It’s so much easier to complain.

    But, the vulnerability of asking does wonders…

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  • How to have really great sex.
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    The Age

    What does it take to make sex more than merely functional or even satisfying but truly memorable and extraordinary? That’s the question Canadian psychology professor Peggy Kleinplatz has spent the past decade trying to answer.

    Together with students from the University of Ottawa, she’s conducted a series of studies featuring long interviews with volunteers who referred to themselves as experienced in great sex in order to describe in an empirical way the components of what she calls ”optimal sexuality.”

    Her 64 participants included many older people – 60 plus – recruited for the knowledge they acquired in long-term relationships, as well as gay and bisexual volunteers and a group of sex therapists. The result was that eight components were identified as contributing to optimum sexual experiences:

    ■ Being present, focused, and embodied – staying totally absorbed in the moment.

    ■ Connection, alignment, merger, being in synch – two becomes one.

    ■ Deep sexual and erotic intimacy – mutual respect and trust.

    ■ Extraordinary communication, heightened empathy – being tuned into each other’s feelings, needs and responses.

    ■ Authenticity, transparency, being genuine, uninhibited – stripped bare, emotionally and physically.

    ■ Transcendence, bliss, peace, transformation, healing – a unique ”high”.

    ■ Exploration, interpersonal risk-taking, fun – great sex involves laughter.

    ■ Vulnerability and surrender – one’s entire being in someone else’s hands.

    What surprised the researchers was the uniformity of responses. ”The participants differed enormously from each other in terms of sexual orientation, age, relationship status, level of physical ability and sexual functioning but their conceptualisations of great sex were far more similar than they were different,” say the authors.

    Indeed, great sex turned out to have very little to do with sexual techniques, orgasms, erections or physical prowess.

    The rest of the article is good — but the intellectual center is the above author’s work.

    Dr. Kleinplatz’s early work on understanding the erotic encounter is some of the most foundational and brilliant understanding of the inner workings of human sexuality.

    This work looks to match it and, at the very least, functions as both a clear picture of how similar male and female sexual desires are as well as a decent and highly achievable checklist for building a really great sex life.

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  • And then again, perhaps you DON’T want to date her…
    3 Comments on And then again, perhaps you DON’T want to date her…

    James M. Sama

    We’ve spent a lot of time discussing things that good men don’t do, as well as things that they need to do better. But we must not forget that there are two sides to relationships and that men need to know what to look out for in women, also.

    Men are used to pursuing women, so she shows interest back in our direction, it’s natural to overlook the red flags for the fact that she makes us feel wanted or perhaps how beautiful she is. But we need to discipline ourselves to slow down and be honest – does she display these warning signs?

    The whole article is worth reading — and some of the comments are even more telling. But, here are the highlights.

    She doesn’t appreciate things.

    Nothing is ever her fault.

    She keeps you on a tight leash.

    She’s inconsistent.

    You’re the only one she’s nice to.

    She feels entitled, all the time.

    You argue way too much.

    Your visions for the future aren’t even close.

    What gets me the most about this list? It’s almost always the nice guys that get this type of girlfriend.

    The guys who responded to a controlling and overbearing mother by putting women in their place and even using them, the guys who cary a quiet chip on their shoulder towards women — these women never even go near them.

    The guys who are gentle, soft, have no desire for games and who can’t imagine a woman would play them. The guys who are just looking to be safe and loved in a mutually giving relationship and who struggle with setting boundaries because they cary some order of guilt or shame — the above type of woman is ALL over them.

    And, worst of all, he thinks its his fault…

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  • Perhaps we’re doing something right…
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    The Centers for Disease Control released a monster report last week on the state of Americans’ health. The 511-page report makes one thing abundantly clear: teens are behaving better right now than pretty much any other time since the federal government began collecting data.

    It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s mainly comprised of charts and it’s the perfect buzz-kill for the usual narrative of, “Kids these days are never gonna amount to anything.”

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  • Here’s a strange one…
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    When he came out of rehab for the fourth time, we knew something had shifted.

    The last rehab focused a lot on codependency and trauma, and how they played out in our relationship. For the first time, I went to therapy sessions with my husband, and together, we learned skills for handling the bumps in the road that were sure to come up in our relationship. Recovering from sex addiction is not just about quitting unhealthy sexual behaviors—the quitting is important, but once an addict is sober, he needs to understand the core issues. Otherwise, it’s the equivalent of being a dry drunk. Because of how much work my husband and I had done on ourselves, we were able to really concentrate our focus on the codependency issue, which seemed to be one of the main triggers that could sabotage our connection. I used to think my husband had to be “my all,” “my everything,” “my other half.” That puts an incredible amount of pressure and unrealistic expectations on a relationship. So now, instead of expecting my husband to complete me, I work to make sure my life is full and that when I participate in this relationship, it is by choice, not by necessity. When I’m craving attention, my husband sometimes meets my needs, but if he is in a bad mood or has had a bad day, instead of getting bitter and resentful, I practice self-care, turn to my friends, and do my own thing.

    Firstly, there’s a lot about that article I really wouldn’t advise as a means of dealing with a partner’s sexual addiction – a LOT.

    But is still very worth a read — especially in a culture that nearly always tries to shoehorn this sort of story into a victim/perpetrator narrative.

    And, because the author is smart enough to grasp the difference between stopping addictive behaviours — and being free of addiction.

    And, simply because getting this out of Elle mag is roughly as shocking as getting intelligent marital advice from Penthouse mag…

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  • The virtues of low self esteem.
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    Noting that there are “almost no findings showing that [high] self-esteem causes anything [beneficial] at all,” University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin Seligman laments:

    “Something striking has happened to the self-esteem of American children during the era of raising our children to feel good. They have never been more depressed.”

    This is no doubt partly because, raised to believe that they are special and perfect and entitled to all good things, they face terrible comedowns in the real world.

    If (as often happens nowadays) every student in a class gets an A grade or every player in a tournament gets a trophy not because they all deserved these things, but rather in order to boost their self-esteem, then A becomes commonplace and meaningless, an average grade of no particular pride-inducing significance, just as C was a few decades ago. And the notion of “victory” is blurred. If everyone is special, then no one is special. Q.E.D.

    Such revelations might shock the self-esteem boosters, who envisioned high self-esteem as an all-powerful magic potion, but will probably not shock us. Researchers have found that high self-esteem does not guarantee happiness and is often linked with depression because those whose self-esteem is elevated on false or flimsy pretexts – e.g., being told that everyone adores you or being told you’re perfect just for existing – are highly susceptible to all perceived slights. So-called beneficiaries of the self-esteem boom have been brainwashed to believe they deserve the best grades, the best treatment, the best of everything. Thus they are very easily offended, angered, disappointed, and crushed by even the faintest criticism. Psychologists call that kind of sky-high but baseless self-esteem “fragile self-esteem.” Its healthy opposite is achievement-based “secure self-esteem” – otherwise known as earned self-respect – which is not necessarily sky-high, but less likely to leave its possessors sulking and raging when the real world delivers its usual harsh doses of reality.

    People with high self-esteem often seem like aliens to us, and icky aliens at that. We blame ourselves for everything. They take no blame. We’re always sorry. They never are. We fear punishment. They don’t. Often, they do the punishing. Our flaws obsess us. They think they have none.

    “One has only to go into a prison,” writes former jail doctor Theodore Dalrymple, “to see the most revoltingly high self-esteem among a group of people (the young thugs) who had brought nothing but misery to those around them, largely because they conceived of themselves as so important that they could do no wrong. For them, their whim was law, which was precisely as it should be considering who they were in their own estimate.”

    Ignoring, for a moment, that self esteem is essentially a nonsense term with just about as many definitions as there are people using the term, what is being described here is essentially unmerited, “Self Esteem.” The unwillingness to allow children to struggle and fail — and then try again until success (and the deep satisfaction of such) is experienced for real by the child.

    In other words, “Helicopter parenting,” coupled with irrational praise for doing nothing more then breathing.

    The combination of such may produce something we call high self esteem — but believing, “I’m all that and a bag of chips,” is just a mask. It does nothing to address the child’s deeply buried levels of shame, guilt or fear/disconnection — though it can hide them well.

    And it’s shame, guilt or fear/disconnection that drive acting out.

    Food for thought…

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  • What if we treated physically sick or hungry people like we handle mental illness?
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    The sad reality of the above is that it barely tells half of the story.

    All you have to do is walk into the hallowed halls of religion to see all of the above – plus:

    You should pray more.

    If only you had more faith.

    God must be punishing you.

    Are you sure you don’t have unconfessed sin in your life?

    Just claim your healing in Christ!

    Have you fasted and prayed?

    And, the above also gets inflicted on physical illness, relational struggle or personal brokenness/addiction with equally reckless abandon.

    At least on the secular side we have comic strip artists and the crude, sexist and utterly profane rantings of people like Dave Chappelle to take potshots at this order of positive-thinking nonsense.

    But, in the church? We’re too busy being self-righteously angry at people who would dare to speak like (or even post a link to) Chappelle while forever being accepting and tolerant of the little old ladies of the church who spout so much worse…

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  • The needs of a husband.
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    Good Men Project

    To start, ask him if he feels you’re looking out for him; can he tell how much you’re there for him? Then, ask him what are the best ways you can show him your support. Listen to his answer. Make an effort that very moment to respond to what he says.

    Here’s what emotional support can look like:

    He wants more physical affection and touch from you—and not just sex. Men tell me all the time how they want their significant other to show more affection. So cuddle up to him while you watch a show, give him a big hug and kiss hello, or give him a 5-minute should rub while you’re laying in bed together, getting ready to go to sleep. Make an effort to show some physical affection towards him consistently.

    Every once in a while, he wants you to join him in his hobby. Maybe it’s going with him for that round of golf, or sitting with him in the basement while he plays guitar. What’s important is that you’re doing some things that he cares about so you can be with him.

    He wants you to be on his side. Find a way to let your partner know that you’re in his corner. You might show your loyalty by standing up for your guy when he feels the world is against him. Let him know you support what he’s passionate about. Show him that you value what he values. This adds a sense of teamwork, security, and intimacy to your relationship.

    He might even like a love note or two. Men respond to these gestures, even if they don’t tell you how much they love getting them; trust me, they do. Whether it’s a cute note in his wallet saying you miss him or a quick email telling him you’re thinking about him, your guy will feel loved when he knows you took the extra effort to tell him he’s on your mind.

    He wants to share the burden. If he’s stressed about a work project or an upcoming presentation, ask him what you can do to make his life a little easier. Small gestures that will make his responsibilities feel a little lighter that day will make a world of difference.

    In fairness, the attitudes towards the needs of women we came out of the 1950’s with were appalling. They clearly mandated the level of aggressive push for attention to the needs of women in marriage that now almost completely dominates discussion of marriage in the public square. And, those needs still matter — and matter even MORE then they are currently publicized.

    On the other hand, Archie Bunker really didn’t have a very good life either — he just got his way more often — or at least thought he did…

    If we step back for a wide angle view, education about meeting the needs of women has now far outpaced its counterpart regarding the needs of men. In my experience, it’s far more common for women to be surprised about specific needs of men then men about their spouse’s needs. The very fact that the starkly-obvious above linked list was written in such a tone of revelation almost speaks for itself.

    Something is out of balance here.

    While we can’t back off for a second on fixing marriage for women, we’re not helping much if we don’t match it with an equal push to also fix marriage for men.

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  • When relationships get glued together with silly-putty.
    2 Comments on When relationships get glued together with silly-putty.

    Heart Support

    Here’s the issue with that. I can’t tell you the last time I spent on the couch just making out with my wife and telling her how incredible she is, how she hung the moon, let alone wanting to even spend an hour on the couch just sucking each other’s face. But when we first started dating? That’s all I could think about. Sure, we have INCREDIBLY romantic times together still and days where my heart is so full it breaks at even the thought of being without her, but that infatuation we first felt is long gone. What’s replaced it is a deep soul bond that says “I see your flaws. I see all of you. And I choose to be with you through bad times, horrible times, unbearable times and continue to love you when those days come.” That’s a lot more romantic to me. There’s nothing romantic about saying, “I choose to stick with you as long as things are good.” That’s just straight selfish and reeks of someone who, down the line, will leave you for a younger, hotter version of your current self.

    The sad reality is we’re spending our days getting struck by Cupid. And the glue that holds a relationship together is getting sacrificed for silly-putty. Instead of spending hours, months, and years growing as friends, we spend a few days obsessing just how “sexy/cute/funny the other person is and what they would look like naked” and then decide that’s a good enough reason to start dating. What a weird way to begin a relationship. To have that as the glue? And then if we can ignore the areas of our relationships that need work until we’re engaged, we hope that we can still cram some time in tending the relationship and fixing issues before our fast approaching nuptials.

    I wish we’d spend a lot more time growing together as opposed to obsessing together. I wish we’d invite wise council into our relationships long before we ever decide to get married. To ask “Hey, are we even right for one another or are we ignoring major issues for superficial happiness?” I wish we’d invite our close friends to speak more open and honestly about our relationships, because here’s the truth: A guy can always trick one girl, but he can’t trick her fiends. And a girl can always fool a guy, but can’t fool his friends.

    Just maybe if we spent more time doing those things we’d set ourself up for some truly healthy relationships. And when the storms and tempests come those relationships will be the ones that survive showing others a little wear and tear, but a house that’s still standing.

    On the one hand, I strongly suspect this guy’s wife really needs him to spend some time on the above mentioned couch, “Sucking her face.” Really, really desperately…

    On the other hand, he’s right. The good news is, it’s really starting to catch on. A large majority of the couples we now see premaritally come pre-engagement. They come because they want to be absolutely dead sure they are doing the right thing and fully prepared to do so.

    That’s wisdom.

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  • The real pain of an affair.
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    The Local

    She also exchanged intimate photographs with some of her correspondents, Le Figaro newspaper reported.

    In her defence at the divorce hearings she argued that she had done so while in a state of depression.

    But the judges decided that her depression was not a factor in her visits to the website and last month ruled in favour of Bruno.

    It’s no surprise to most people that it is far easier for most marriages to recover from one partner having a one night drunken infidelity with someone they met in a bar then it is to recover from a (comparatively) much more intimate affair that, often, may not include sexual intercourse. The damage of the loss of an intimate bond of two hearts is much more deeply the foundation of a marriage then simple conjugal rights.

    Ironically though, most legal systems of this world regard physical sexual contact as the definition of a marital breach.

    In this respect, and as the pain of so many grieving spouses openly demonstrates, this ruling is common sense finally invading the court system.

    Unfortunately, they couldn’t stop there…

    French law states that spouses owe each other mutual respect, fidelity and help.

    “It was in this notion of respect that the wife had failed,” said the lawyer.

    The court ruled that the divorce was the sole fault of the wife.

    Aside from victim-mill authors who seem to feel that everyone who has ever heard a raised voice is an abused spouse, does any serious researcher in the civilized world still believe that one person could be 100% at fault for the disintegration of a marriage?

    Any credible attempt at restoring a threatened marriage of this nature always has to include a grim and determined hold on two key realities:

    (1). It’s the wounded hearts that matter — not the specifics of who did or did not touch who when and where.

    (2). It took two people to break this marital system, and it’s going to take two people to fix it.

    No, it’s not politically correct and, no, it’s not going to make many people who have become parked at protest (part of an arrested grieving process) very happy. But, any other position has to be seen as ultimately being lethal to the survival and rebuilding of the marriage.

    And, when two people have stood before God or a J.P. and pledged, “Till death do us part,” the the survival and rebuilding of the marriage has to matter — a lot.

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