Category Archives: Sex

Resources for Couples Impacted by Infidelity

No one knows precisely how many couples are affected by marital infidelity. I have seen marital infidelity rates quoted from as low as 15 percent to as high as 80 percent. Peggy Vaughan, a marriage writer who experienced a cheating husband but later rebuilt her marriage, reported an estimated 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women have extramarital affairs.

The truth is that none of us is immune to the risk of an affair. Even people with “good marriages” have affairs for various reasons. We can, however, prepare ourselves with education and tools to help strengthen our marriages and reduce the likelihood of cheating. And we should know that there can be healing after infidelity, even though the road is not an easy one.

Peggy recently passed away after battling cancer. As her legacy, she asked that her resources to help couples deal with and heal after infidelity be available free to the public. She shares her personal story as well as articles on who has affairs and why, tips to avoid them and information on rebuilding trust. The information can be found at DearPeggy.com.

Peggy calls honesty a prevention tool for affairs. “Couples can’t avoid affairs by assuming monogamy or even by promising monogamy without discussing the issue. And they can’t avoid affairs by making threats as to what they would do if it happened. Either of these paths create a cycle of dishonesty.” Instead, she suggests spouses be willing to admit attractions and temptations to one another, because if they won’t admit to being attracted or tempted, they certainly won’t admit it if and when they act on the attraction. And if you admit to an attraction, it kind of takes the secret excitement out of your feelings.

If you do have an attraction, by all means, don’t place yourself in tempting situations, especially when you are alone with that person. Don’t share personal details or try to get to know them better. Better yet, run.

Hopefully you have not experienced infidelity first-hand. If you have, maybe these resources can help your marriage heal. If you have not, give thanks, then educate yourself about keeping your marriage strong and infused with honesty and behaviors that benefit you both.

It’s a myth that your spouse won’t be hurt if you cheat on him or her but you are not caught. There’s you, your spouse, and the marriage. And the marriage always knows.

Have you experienced infidelity? Did your marriage survive? If so, what tools were useful to you?

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats atwww.LoriDLowe.com.  Great for holiday stocking stuffers! 

Image by Simon Howden courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Reasons Women May Not Desire Sex

Happy couples can attest to the fact that a healthy sex life is part of a healthy marriage. In fact, research has shown a very high correlation between the amount of sex in a marriage and the level of satisfaction by the partners. Sometimes sex is a stumbling block in a marriage, but don’t give up hope that things can greatly improve.

I wanted to share a post from the blog Hot, Holy & Humorous, which deals with wives who have low libido or just don’t want to be physically intimate. It’s written sensitively to the women who may experience this and is one of the most comprehensive lists I have seen. Whether “stress is sucking the life out of your libido” or there are physiological, body image, or other reasons, most women can probably relate to some of these issues at one point or another. Identifying the “why” is part of the challenge and may help you both find a solution.

Read the full post here: For Wives: When You Don’t Desire Sex. Then, she followed up with More on Wife’s Low Sex Drive which links to a variety of other blog posts on the subject.

Lori Lowe is the founder of Marriage Gems and author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Ambro courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Simple Solutions for Busy Families—Get Back Hours a Day Starting Today!

Even with the school year winding to a close, most of the families I know are struggling with lack of time to do all they would like to do, or even all they feel they must do. It’s such a pervasive issue that affects marriages and families of all ages that it’s worth spending some time to see if there are solutions.

I was prompted to write this from a couple of things I’ve read recently, the most recent of which was a blog post by Kathleen Quiring on “The Importance of Not Being Busy.”  She makes many good cases for striving to be less busy, including the fact that busy people are less likely to give their time to help those in need. (FYI, this isn’t just her opinion; it’s been shown in research.)  Also, busy people are more likely to get into accidents, to sleep and eat poorly, to yell more, and to waste more resources in the name of convenience.

Yes, these are all important reasons. I think even more important is the fact that your family needs you to be present and available, and to do that you need to have time to give. Most of us don’t even have wiggle room in the schedule. When we are rushing from one event to the next, it’s hard to be present and loving—let alone patient and kind. A marriage needs time to be nurtured. We need time to go on dates, or even to watch a movie at home together. We need time to talk and to make love. For those of us with kids, we need time to have real conversations, not just discussions of homework and the schedule of supervised activities or sports. I read a stat today that I seriously hope is wrong that says the average number of minutes per WEEK that parents spend in meaningful conversations with their children is 3.5. I wonder how many minutes per week we spend in meaningful talks with our spouses.

Is there a way out of this busyness trap? Of course. But when I said the solutions were simple, I didn’t say they were easy. They are doable! What would you do with an extra 20 to 30 hours a week? Would it fall through the cracks or would you spend it with your husband, wife, friends, sleeping, or enjoying your hobbies? Could you use the time to better organize your home or family so life doesn’t seem so chaotic? First decide what you would do with that time so you have the motivation you need to make changes.

Today I’ll focus on the absolute biggest time waster for the average American family, then I’ll add some additional tips later in the week.

Your TV May Be Stealing Your Family Life

Nielsen surveys say that say the average American watches four hours of TV per day. That adds up to two months non-stop in a year, or nine years of your life up to age 65. Nine years! The TV is on for six hours and 47 minutes a day in most American homes. And about half of Americans say they think they watch too much TV. Two-thirds watch it while eating dinner.

The average adult male watches 29 hours of TV per week; the average adult female watches even more–34 hours per week. And remember the kids having less than four minutes a week having real talks with their parents? They watch an average of 1,680 minutes of TV a week. When I shared this with my son, he said, if that’s the average, then lots of people watch even more than that! My daughter chimed in, “I’m glad we’re not average.”

I’m not saying TV is terrible in itself. But it’s what we are giving up to have so much of it. What is the opportunity cost for you? What could you accomplish with an extra hour or four extra hours a day? You get to choose what you think is most important in your life. In my experience, TV shows can feel pretty addictive. We get into patterns and they are hard to break. We think of the characters as friends, even as we neglect our own friends. Even the marketing campaigns convince you it’s “must-see” TV. But if you stop watching the new shows, they can’t pull you in.

During the last few years, my husband and I have drastically cut down on TV time. Even when he is traveling on business, he only watches TV if he’s in the exercise room working out. I enjoy a few minutes with Matt Lauer in the mornings, and TV helps me pass the time on the treadmill, but most evenings the TV is not turned on.  I’ve used my extra evening time to write a book (see the end of this post), read many great books, take tennis lessons, and enjoy more time with my family. And I often write this blog in the time that used to be eaten up by TV. I do sometimes miss a show I wish I’d seen. But by the miracle of the Internet, if I really want to see it later, I can watch it commercial- free online. I’m not a fan of TIVO, because I think it encourages more TV watching. My kids watch less than an hour a week and don’t seem harmed by it in the least.

If you and your spouse enjoy the same show, at least you can enjoy it side by side and maybe trade back or foot massages. I cringe when I see that often one spouse watches one TV while the other watches something else in a different room. Every night.

OK, my last point is regarding TV in the bedroom. I’ve said it before, but research shows couples with a TV in the bedroom cut their sex life in half. An Italian study showed having no TV in the bedroom doubles the couple’s sexual frequency.

I can hear people saying, “but TV relaxes me” or “I need to veg out after a long day of work.” But it’s just a habit that’s been formed. You could just as well relax by taking a walk or having a glass of wine with your honey on the porch. What new habits could you form that would be fun for you and would benefit your family?

If you’re not a big TV watcher, first ask yourself if that’s really true or if you just aren’t adding it all up. But if TV isn’t an issue or you aren’t willing to cut back, stay tuned for other solutions this week.

Please share if you have found cutting back on TV helpful for you or your family—as well as other solutions for your busy life.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available  at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Ambro courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net

More Couples are Sliding into Cohabitation

According to the New York Times, cohabitation in the U.S. has increased by more than 1,500 percent in the last 50 years. While many people still have moral and/or religious issues with cohabitation, more than half of all marriages are now preceded by living together. If you are thinking about whether cohabitation is feasible for you (i.e., saving money while you decide if your partner is marriage material), read “The Downside of Cohabitation Before Marriage” from The New York Times’ opinion pages by Meg Jay. Despite the title, she is not really against the idea of cohabitation; she just offers an array of warnings. She discusses “the cohabitation effect” as well as researchers’ findings that cohabiting partners often have differing, unspoken agendas. She touches on research that shows a strong strong correlation between cohabitation before marriage and lower marital satisfaction.  Read on for more insights into this piece from our guest contributor. Breakups may also involve division of substantial assets like homes. That’s where today’s contributor comes in.

Today’s guest post by Indianapolis realtor and relocation expert (and friend of mine!), Kristie Smith. Kristie is always on the front edge of trends, and she has found the need to provide more than the usual housing expertise to her clients. While in the past, most buyers were either single or married, today’s realtors need to be prepared to sell homes to the growing number of cohabitating partners who may or may not understand the legal implications of such a decision. When I found this article on her blog, I thought many of you would be interested in reading her insights.  And if not, maybe you’ll like the clip from Mad Men. By the way, Kristie is happily married and resides in Indianapolis. She’s a long-time supporter of Marriage Gems and of my book, First Kiss to Lasting Bliss. Thanks, Kristie!

Guest post by Kristie Smith

Kristie Smith

If you caught the April 29 episode of Mad Men, in one of the climatic scenes, Peggy’s very Catholic mother admonishes her daughter after Peggy announces that she’s moving in with her boyfriend, Abe. “You are selling yourself short,” Mrs. Olsen says, explaining her anger. “This boy, he will use you for practice until he decides to get married and have a family. And he will, believe me.” Watch the first two minutes of the clip below for an inside look at this story line!

The show takes place in 1965, so Mrs. Olsen’s reaction may seem quite old-fashioned when viewed through the lens of today’s “anything goes” culture. But was Peggy’s mom on to something?

A recent must-read column in the New York Times suggests that she was. According to the article, while two-thirds of 20-somethings say that moving in together is a good way to test the waters before marriage, and therefore avoid divorce, research shows that couples who live together before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) “tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not.”

Why is this? Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist and author of the column, describes a phenomenon called “sliding before deciding.” You’re together all the time, you sleep over frequently and then voila—you’re living together, more for reasons of convenience and finance than real commitment. And once this arrangement begins, it’s hard to get out of, especially if you buy furniture, a pet or even a home together. Jay compares it to opting in for a credit card with zero percent interest for the first year. After 12 months, the interest shoots up to 23 percent; you haven’t paid off the balance and, whoa—you’re locked in.

I do tend to be of the conservative persuasion, like Mrs. Olsen. In addition to the social implications of the living-together-before-marriage trend, which I find fascinating, I of course am interested in the real estate implications. After all, nearly 40 percent of all closings that I attend are for non-traditional buyers, and statistics show that more than eight percent of all owner-occupied homes in the U.S. are owned by unmarried couples.

Before you get into what could turn out to be a bad situation (some say a breakup between two unmarried people who own property together can be worse than a divorce), here are some big issues you should take into consideration:

  • What if you buy a house together and you eventually break up? This is a significant consideration given that almost half of unmarried couples break up within five years, and unmarried couples do not have the benefit of legal protections that married couples enjoy. To protect yourself, it’s of utmost importance to put the answer to this question in writing. Work with an attorney to draw up a Home Sharing Agreement, which will spell out your individual rights and responsibilities with respect to the property as you purchase your new home and on an ongoing basis.
  • What if one of us doesn’t want to sell the home after a break up? If there is no Home Sharing Agreement and you break up, you can mutually decide what happens to the home. If the house has no mortgage, then one party can simply sign a quit-claim deed and remove all rights to the home. This makes sense if the home has little or no equity. However, if there is a mortgage on the property in both names, you cannot simply quit-claim your interest and walk away. That mortgage and debt impact will influence your credit (and buying potential) until the home is eventually sold or refinanced. Therefore, it’s critical that if a partner is keeping the house, he MUST refinance the loan into just his name. If the remaining partner cannot get approved for the loan solo, then the property must be sold to protect the displaced mate’s credit and financial responsibility for the home.
  • What if you move in to a home that your partner already owns and you then break up? It doesn’t matter how much money you put toward maintenance, improvements and other expenses. The home is in your partner’s name, which means you will have no legal recourse should you break up.
  • What if one person owns the house and there is a death? Because of this possibility, it’s important to write the deed in both of the couple’s names with “rights of survivorship,” even if only one person is financially responsible on the mortgage.  If the title is NOT set up this way, the house will go to the next of kin of the “owner.”

Although many unmarried couples slip into their living arrangements because of convenience, living together brings up all kinds of legal considerations, especially when an unmarried couple buys a home together.  Although you may think that you don’t need a piece of paper to prove your love, you should at the very least have a home sharing agreement to protect your interests. Marriage shouldn’t be entered into lightly, and neither should living together. To echo Peggy’s mom, don’t sell yourself short.

——

Thanks to Kristie for sharing her insights. You can reach Kristie at www.IndyHomes.com.

Lori Lowe, founder of Marriage Gems, is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available  at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Strategies for Manly Married Men

Lots of men seem to be looking for a magic button of sorts to satisfy their partners in bed. I’m guessing that is why there are so many magazines and books focused on various sexual techniques, finding the elusive “g-spot” and other tips for men.

Notwithstanding the fact that women can be a bit complicated, when I read the following paragraph from Tom Basson’s blog, I thought it might just be the best sexual advice I’ve read for husbands to always remember. The article is called This one goes out to all the manly men, and he offers very good advice on how to create the love story in your life you’ve always wanted.

“Husbands, make love to your wife’s heart, not just her body. As ferociously as possible, find that woman’s heart and connect with it. Learn everything about her and connect with her in as many ways as possible. Understand her story and care about her past. Then her body will respond in ways she never thought humanly possible, and, for that matter, so will yours.”

The advice isn’t only intended to satisfy a mate sexually, but to build a better connection between both partners and satisfy a deep longing in both of them. Husbands and wives have a deep desire for connection, and the pace and technological influences of our day don’t help us meet that desire. Instead, they create obstacles that impede us in our drive for true connection, because they take our eye off the ball with many distractions.

What can you do to move your love story forward, and to bring you and your spouse closer together? How can you truly connect this week, understand your mate’s cares, desires and longings? How can you help stay connected despite your many obligations? How can you remove distractions that get in the way of your focus on your spouse? If it seems like too much of a challenge, read on.

How much time are you spending a day together?

Here’s one possible way to get a jump start. Dustin Reichmann at Engaged Marriage blog has a 10-minute test drive, with eight short things you can do with only 10-15 minutes of time to spend each day with your spouse. He nicely did the math for us, and explained that if we spend just 15 minutes a day connecting with our spouse, we will spend more than 91 hours together in a year. And this type of daily connection is more important than an annual vacation, especially if you are neglecting the rest of the year.

So check out the 100-minute challenge (10 days, 10 minutes) and you’ll see the steps are not at all daunting. For instance, day 5 is relaxing with your favorite dessert or drink together while sharing three things about your day, and day 6 is sharing a foot or back massage. Days 1 and 10 involve rating your marriage to see if you have made a difference in just 10 days. I think these bite-size challenges are a great way to infuse a little extra connection into your day.

What other ideas do you have to help you build a daily connection? Discuss your ideas with your spouse, and feel free to share your ideas here!

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. The book tells the true stories that demonstrate that marriage can thrive even in the most difficult circumstances. Learn from 12 inspiring couples who experienced child loss, infidelity, drug addiction, cancer, financial crises, brain injury, stranger rape, military service, infertility, opposing religions, unsupportive families, interracial relationships, raising special-needs children, and much more. These couples found the pressures of life didn’t destroy them; instead, they crystallized their commitment to each other. Available from Amazon.com or at your favorite e-book retailer.

Photo by Ambro courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net.

6 Feel-Good Things Your Husband Wants You to Know

Parenting Magazine shared 6 things your hubby may not want to tell you but is often feeling, at least according to one guy’s opinion.  Check out the article for the full explanation, but here’s a short synopsis for you:

  1. I want to cuddle. He may be as surprised as you that he enjoys this bonding time, but cuddling can be a relief after a difficult day, even if sex isn’t happening—although they’d prefer it be happening, too.
  2. Initiate in bed. Husbands often tire of always having to initiate, and feeling that sex is a chore on your list. Increasing your interest and surprising him by initiating go a long way toward making him feel loved.
  3. I’m fed up with date night. Traditional date nights can be boring and expected. Try doing something off-beat like dropping the kids off at school, taking a day off of work and spending the day together having fun, seeing a movie or whatever strikes you. Or at least try a less structured date where you’re not focused on how much the sitter is costing you or talking about the kids.
  4. I need more guy time. Either take turns spending a little time with friends, or hire a sitter and occasionally go spend time with girl/guy friends.
  5. You look hot. Even without makeup while washing the dishes.  “We know you’re convinced we’re crazy – how can we possibly think you look sexy when you feel overweight and out of shape, when you haven’t gotten a pedicure in ages and your eyebrows need to be waxed, when your clothes are all puke-stained, and when you haven’t showered in two days? We get it. But you know what? We still think you’re hot,” writes Ian Kerner.
  6. It turns me on that you’re the mother of my child. “The sense of manliness that’s wrapped up in you and the kids and our little family is a wellspring of sexual self-esteem,” adds Kerner.

I think men probably feel many of these things, especially number two. Perhaps they don’t think it’s worth their energy to discuss, because they think they  know how their wife will respond.

Do you think husbands are thinking any of these things? If so, do you think they are reluctant to communicate the messages? What are the topics you don’t feel are easy to communicate with your spouse? Do you worry that even compliments might get taken the wrong way?

Photo by photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Is Low Body Image Harming Your Marriage?

Most of you do not like your bodies, according to a new poll that surveyed men and women. Is your dislike getting in the way of intimacy with your spouse?

Fitness Magazine and Yahoo! surveyed 1,500 American men and women aged 18 to 64 and found 57 percent of women think they look fat naked, and 81 percent of adults have a body part they hate.

It may not be surprising given that approximately 68 percent of adults are overweight (with men being more likely to be overweight than women). However, women’s body confidence issues were more likely to be with certain body parts rather than their overall weight.

Thighs were the “most hated body party” among women and men (14 percent), followed by arms rears, with 11 percent each.

Men appear to have a higher body confidence, with 48 percent of the men reporting that they think they look good when they glance in the mirror. The full results are in Fitness Magazine’s February issue.

I’ve written about body image before (see Improve Sexual Sparks with Better Body Image) but this new research is a reminder that our self-image related to our bodies is not getting any better. In fact, advertising is well known for using editing software to make models look thinner and to change features to fit with a “cultural ideal.” What we look at we begin to see as normal and acceptable. For this reason, be careful about the media you consume and the images that get entrenched in your mind. The cultural ideal changes with the fashion and the time. We can’t all be expected to fit a random ideal, nor would we want to have everyone looking the same. (I just saw on CNN that one of the current top models for female fashion is actually a tall, thin male with no curves. If you don’t believe me, here are his runway looks.)

Boost Body Image

Men and women need to compliment their spouse’s physical attractiveness on a regular basis. Be honest, but find features that you love and be vocal about your appreciation. It’s important for both men and women to hear compliments. However, for women it may be more important to have a positive body image if they are to relax and enjoy sexual intimacy with their husbands. It may even be a reason why the wife doesn’t initiate more if she is embarrassed to be naked, or if she spends her mental energy worried about how she looks.

Remember that confidence is one of the most attractive features we have. Men are visual and appreciate the female body.  I have heard from a few readers about husbands who denigrate or put down their wives for their bodies, which is so harmful to self-esteem and only creates a downward cycle. Never put down your spouse, even if you are trying to encourage a positive change.

If weight loss is a goal, try to work as a family and adopt healthier eating and lifestyle habits. Go for a walk instead of watching TV, or make small lifestyle changes that you can continue. Be encouraging and complimentary of progress your partner makes. I find that even if my body stays the same, I feel more confident and energetic when I’m on a regular exercise program. My husband also feels better about himself when he’s eating right and exercising. (He needs fewer reminders than I do.)

On the whole, though, I hear from men who say they love their wife’s body as it is, even if it has changed over time or after childbirth. They wish they could convince their wife of this. Women should appreciate more the power of their body’s capabilities and accentuate their strengths. Find clothing and lingerie you feel good in. Wives should be willing to hear their husbands out and let their message of love sink into their hearts and under their skin.

Your homework:

  1. Compliment your spouse’s body at some point today. “You look great in those jeans,” or “I love the way you take care of your body,” or “I love to see you naked” are a few examples.
  2. Compliment yourself. Don’t let negative self-talk bring you down. Focus on your positive features, and celebrate your strength.

With spring break around the corner, many of you are thinking about whether to plan a vacation or where to go. This post from Simple Marriage offers great insights into Why Vacations Make the Best Dates!

To read about 12 inspiring couples who used adversity to improve their marriage, check out First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. Details at www.LoriDLowe.com. Or, go to Amazon.com or your favorite e-reader site.

Photo by imagerymajestic courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.