Tag Archives: husband

Love Between Men, Women Can Be Like Apples and Oranges

Men may feel love more strongly but be less able to express that love.

I’ve read studies about how men tend to fall in love faster and have more emotional difficulties managing a breakup. To add to this line of thinking, a recent Rutgers University study of 5,000 American adults found that men are becoming more interested in commitment and attachment, while more women are seeking relationships with a degree of independence.  So, the stereotypes of women having stronger emotional ties may not be true, at least in present day.

But even when a man feels the emotions of love very strongly, he often expresses himself much differently than a woman.  Generally, he expresses much less of himself. One reason is that our brains are simply wired differently. Women generally have more developed language and communication centers. That’s because the corpus collosum (the communication strip between the two cerebral hemispheres) is more developed in women, allowing women to integrate data and experience subtleties. 

Knowing all of this, why do we women push our men to communicate as we do? We want more intimate talk, more complete understanding, and more communication of all kinds. Are we asking too much? Maybe, at least for some men.

In addition, men may be more private with their deepest feelings, says author and Huffington Post writer Peggy Drexler. She suggests when you have a man who is reliable, kind, and attentive, it makes sense for a woman to stop pushing against the “boulder of biology” to try to make him communicate like you.  Can we appreciate that love is present, and be grateful for our mate’s positive qualities? Can we recognize and even embrace that our man is built much differently than we are?

I think it’s tough sometimes for us to realize when our expectations may be out of line.  I do think that husbands should do their best to communicate effectively and not shut their wives out. On the other hand, wives should probably learn how to speak more succinctly if we hope to keep our partner’s attention.

The bottom line is even if your hubby isn’t writing you poetry each week or professing his undying love before he hits the pillow every night, it doesn’t mean that your marriage doesn’t mean the world to him. Husbands:  Please take a brief minute and tell your wives that her love means the world to you, and that you know you should tell her more. Wives:  Don’t make it into a marathon conversation. Just kiss him, smile and tell him thanks.

Men:  Consider taking this to the next level to other important female relationships. Tell your daughters you love them and you’re proud of them. Tell your mothers you appreciate all they ever did for you. Unlike men, women tend to look for these important expressions as a barometer of the quality of your relationship.

What do you wish your mate would tell you today? Have you asked for what you need?

Photo by photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

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Differing Sexual Needs in Marriage

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

Some men feel personally rejected if their wives don’t desire them on a daily basis. This is just one example of differing sexual needs that may catch couples off guard, say couples counselors Matt and Marilyn Stevens of ConnectEd PAIRS.

They  say that for women to be ready for sex, they need affirmation, a feeling of connection, nonsexual touch, intimacy (not the sexual kind but the deeper connection kind), and romance. How often does romance lose out after the honeymoon?

On the flip side, men have other needs to feel sexually fulfilled. These include mutual satisfaction (men want to know they can please their partner, so communicate what pleases you), connection, responsiveness (i.e., eagerness rather than passivity), initiation, and affirmation.

So, if we’re keeping score, affirmation and connection were on both lists. That means all the readers today should find something they respect or appreciate in their partner and communicate it to their partner. Don’t let another day pass without building up your spouse. And work on maintaining a strong connection—listening well, providing support and loyalty to one another, and using touch throughout the day.

Then take a look at the rest of the list and see if you have any room for improvement in the areas your partner needs.

When you married, were you surprised at how different your spouse’s needs were from your own? Next Friday, I’ll share foods and scents that can boost your libido.

LINK:
Keeping Your Marriage Strong Even with Kids

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The Antidote to the Poison in Your Marriage

Author Betsy Hart calls negative emotions like hatred, bitterness and jealousy “poison of the heart,” and she advises parents to teach their children to steer clear of these thoughts. (In other words, she teaches that we have a say in how we choose to feel.)  Resentment and unforgiveness are certainly poisons within a marriage. The effects of negative emotions can be very damaging—to our emotional as well as physical health.

Forgiveness research by sociologist Greg Easterbrook and discussed in his book The Progress Paradox concludes that “people who do not forgive the wrongs committed against them tend to have negative indicators of well-being, more stress-related disorders, lower immune system function, and worse rates of cardiovascular disease than the population as a whole.”  In short, these emotions poison us from the inside out.

We inherently know that these emotions are bad for us. We feel it when we allow ourselves to be taken away by these feelings. Think about the stomach ache or headache that often occurs during a conflict. But do we work to rid ourselves of these emotions?

While we don’t want to become doormats or become taken advantage of, most of us know that we could be more graceful toward those around us—especially our partners—when they make a mistake. Sometimes a spouse doesn’t even know when he or she has done something wrong, and we are busy holding a grudge, stewing all evening.

We might even have a list of “unforgiveable offenses” that we decide upon before marriage. Things like infidelity and drug abuse are placed high on this list. I’ve seen dedicated couples overcome these and many difficult scenarios with a valuable antidote called forgiveness. But the day-to-day poison of resentment is almost more difficult to overcome.

If you or your partner are regularly resentful, rolling eyes, making snide comments, holding grudges or acting negatively, you are poisoning the relationship. All the small doses of poison can be as dangerous as one nearly lethal dose.

It may require getting some help, but clear the air and learn how to forgive and move on. We can lead ourselves through positive actions rather than allowing our fears, frustrations, anger and resentment to lead us. This week, when you’re feeling less than loving, try to act kindly and calmly. Take a deep breath. Give your spouse the benefit of the doubt. Offer to help them if they’re stressed. Show affection. Forgive. You’ll find you will be improving your own health as well as the health of your relationship.

How much poison can your relationship handle? Are you willing to find out?

Photo courtesy of Stockvault.net by Jake Wood.

Show Love by Making Your Mate Feel Safer

Snow and ice blanked much of the U.S. last week, but I felt protected during an ice storm even when my husband was traveling across the country. He showed acts of love by making sure we had contingency plans in place in case the power went out, which it frequently does where we live. He made sure to review with me how to manually open the garage door, how to start the generator, which essentials to run, and where to plug them in. He even made a last-minute trip the grocery for extra supplies. These actions helped me to stay calm and know that I could care for my children and myself even in the worst scenarios.

Even if you live in a warm and cozy climate, there are ways you can make your spouse feel secure and protected. Many husbands don’t realize how unsafe their wives may feel when traveling alone or even when alone at home. Showing concern for her safety helps demonstrate your love.

Here are a few ideas:

*Buy her a glass-breaking tool for the car that allows you to break the window if the car becomes submerged under water.

*Install solid doors, deadbolts and/or an alarm system in the home.

*Offer to pick her up if she is arriving late at the airport.

*Make sure the car is filled with gas, has the oil changed and is in good working order.

*Check to make sure she reached her destination if she’s traveling a long way.

*Add an emergency supply kit to her car, along with bags of salt or sand.

*Put a GPS in the car if she frequently gets lost.

What wife wouldn’t swoon over a guy who checks her tires and oil before she has to take a trip? It’s the loving gesture as much as it is the act of ensuring her safety.

I think most men are more concerned with feeling safe in being themselves than they are with their physical safety. Some may be reluctant to share their feelings or experiences due to fear of criticism or feeling judged. A happy husband is one who can be honest about his feelings and knows his wife will be supportive and loving. A husband who walks on egg shells when he arrives home or tries to stay clear of the nagging and complaining is not one who will feel safe enough to share what is deep in his heart.

How are you making your mate feel safe today? What other ideas do you have for improving feelings of security—both physical and emotional?

Useful Links:

Are You Doing all the Heavy Lifting in Your Relationship? Alisa Bowman wrote a great post called How to Swallow Your Pride to respond to questions about whether it’s fair when one mate does most of the marriage improvement work.

Trends in Modern Manhood. Tom Matlock writes about porn addiction, the media and modern manhood in this Huffington Post article. Tom interviewed men from all walks of life–the rich and famous to the laborers–and found one thing again and again: the struggle to stay true to themselves as men.

Do You Not Relate to Sex Studies? Paul Byerly explains in this post that many sex-related studies are not about married couples like you, so take them with a grain of salt.

Deterioration of Traditional Marriage. Article written by David Blankenhorn, Sr., the father of the president of the Institute for American Values. His perspective on the generational shifts and trends in traditional marriage.

Photo credit: ©Andreys Pidjass/PhotoXpress.com

Choose Exciting over Pleasant Activities to Boost Marriage

Exciting activities improve marital satisfaction much more than pleasant activities. A new study by the Interpersonal Relationships Laboratory of New York State University showed that a group of couples who spent two hours each week engaging in a new, exciting activity gave a dramatic boost to their marital satisfaction. A second group who engaged in highly pleasant, but only moderately exciting, activities, showed no significant change in their perceived marriage quality.

I found the results interesting, because I would have expected at least some reported improvement in both groups. However, I’m not surprised the first group with their novel experiences created stronger results. This is because previous research has focused on the hormone oxytocin that is released when a couple falls in love, has sex, or shares novel, exciting experiences together. This hormone helps a couple bond and feel all lovey-dovey. In addition, if you are learning about or experiencing something new together, you are united in your goal of accomplishment. It can be exhilarating to enjoy a new experience or learn something challenging together.

As many married couples find it difficult to keep their passion alive, the study is a great reminder to focus at least some of our attention on how to keep things exciting. It can be a bit daunting, however, for those of us who don’t spend much time climbing mountains or exploring underwater caves. So, it’s important to find something you both would find enjoyable, new and exciting.

The study authors had couples make a list of things they would like to do that are exciting. This is a perfect starting point for you. Make a list, and rate each activity 1-10 for pleasantness and excitement. Find something that you both find moderately pleasant but high on the excitement scale.

You might consider:
• Travel to a new, exciting destination
• Learning a new language together
• An outdoor activity, such as zip lining, biking in a challenging terrain, training together for a mini marathon.
• Taking a cooking or dancing class
• Getting a couples massage
• Talking about, and experimenting with new techniques in the bedroom (or buying an enticing, sexy new garment)
• Going to a rock concert or venue you wouldn’t normally attend
• Surprise each other occasionally with a gift or a date night
• Go on a marriage retreat or a weekend getaway
• Brainstorm ideas that fit your interests and area of the world—scuba diving, hiking in the mountains, skiing, camping—but only activities that are NEW for you, not what you find yourself doing over and over again.
• Learning a new skill together—photography, pottery making (remember that scene in Ghost?!), a musical instrument, race car driving, flying an airplane

Married life doesn’t have to be dull. What makes affairs exciting is the notion of getting to know someone attractive and new, going to new places, trying new activities, and having new sexual experiences. Have an affair with your own spouse, and experience these exhilarating feelings in the safety of your own marriage. Maybe you do your hair differently, or put at attractive outfit together. Then, go do something really fun together, and enjoy the boost in your marriage. There’s no excuse for saying married life is boring.

What’s the most exciting thing you have done lately as a couple?

Interesting Links:

Bikinis or briefs? Read a new study that proves bad underwear can ruin your day. Really. So, choose your panties carefully, and it may improve your life and make you feel sexier and more confident. Your hubby may also appreciate this.

Divorce’s Impact on Teens. More than half of American teens (55%) do NOT live with their married mother and father. Using United States Census Bureau data from 2008, a study revealed that 62 percent of Asian-American teens live in two-parent households, compared to 54 percent of whites, 41 percent of multiracial background, 40 percent of Hispanics, 24 percent of American Indians or Alaskan Natives, and 17 percent of African-Americans.

Walk through effects of Divorce. A new program in Britain—the country with the highest divorce rates in Europe—suggests that couples on the brink of divorce confront the realities how divorce would impact their family before taking the next step. It’s based on an educational program in Norway that has been effective at keeping families together.

Do you believe in soul mates? This marital therapist at Psychology Today does not, and says the idea alone contributes to relationship failures. She says too many people leave their marriage then they decide they have finally met their “true” soul mate, who ends up not being so ideal in the end.

Photo credit: © Maxim Petrichuk/PhotoXpress.com

Three Steps to Great Sex

“Keeping the Sparks Alive” Series

 

Thanks to Julie Sibert for today’s fabulous Guest Post:

My husband and I learned early in our relationship two vital pieces of information – he doesn’t like to be hungry and I don’t like to be cold.

Armed with these tidbits of wisdom, we have dodged more discord than I can recount. I would never initiate a lengthy conversation 45 minutes before dinner, when insanity from low blood sugar has settled into my husband’s brain.  Likewise, my beloved knows full well that if we were ever to buy a new car, I would look at no other option beyond the seat warmer.  Literally, this is what the salesperson’s voice would sound like to me: “Blah, blah, blah. Seat warmer. Blah, blah, blah.”

Obviously, it wasn’t too hard for us to weave this information into our marital fabric.  But not all pertinent information comes so easy, does it? Like how to have great sex.

When we were first married, we were pretty clueless as to how to sexually satisfy each other (naked and in love, mind you, but clueless nonetheless). It’s not that we didn’t know what sex was.  We both had had sex before we met each other.  We just had never had sex with each other until our wedding night.

We weren’t naïve about this lack of knowledge.  On our wedding night, we closed the door of our hotel room well aware that we were about to embark on some awkwardness.  Not all couples, though, have such an “eyes wide open” approach.

I am convinced that one of the most perpetuated fallacies ever to befall married couples is that amazing sexual intimacy is natural – that it won’t take effort, time, communication, and lots of trial and error (with a fair amount of humor as well).

So many couples journey years (and even decades) of married life never really experiencing great sex.  Some of you reading this right now are well acquainted with that scenario. It drapes across your marriage bed with heaviness. For you, sexual intimacy has been boring at best, and mere obligation at worse. Maybe it’s even caused overwhelming tension in your marriage.

By “great” sex, I’m not just talking about orgasm, fun and passion.  All very nice elements, I might add.  I’m referring instead to really knowing each other sexually – knowing how to turn each other on and experience mysterious oneness. It’s about more than intercourse. It is instead about the little nuances, touches, techniques, intentions and words that add up to sacred sexual knowledge about each other.

Do you genuinely know what it takes to bring your spouse to the edge of intense pleasure, and then lovingly and powerfully push them right over that edge into unabashed ecstasy?   Do you know how to allow your spouse the privilege of doing this to you? Both are essential sides to the same coin.

While the reasons that thwart great sex are many (and some quite serious), for some couples it is more of a matter of indifference. Sex just fell by the wayside, lost beneath the responsibilities of paying the Visa bill, keeping milk in the fridge and washing soccer uniforms. Life happened, and sex disappeared faster than baby socks in a clothes dryer. Or maybe you never nurtured intimacy in the first place. Hot newlywed sex? Pure myth for many people.

If you can identify with any of this, you’re not alone. It’s not that you don’t love your spouse or value your marriage.  It’s not that you’re opposed to sex.  It’s just that sex falls way down on the list (somewhere between organize your 7,000 digital photos and clean the basement floor drain).  In other words, you never get to it. Or you make love so rarely that the likelihood of really knowing each other is…well… highly unlikely.

Are you ready to change those patterns in your sexual intimacy?

Here are three tips to move sex out of the “ho-hum” category and into the “wow!” category:

1. Call it like it is. If your intimacy has stalled or is non-existent (or is just plain boring), then get courageous and draw this into the light. A conversation starter can be as simple as this: “I know sex hasn’t been the greatest for us, and I am wondering what together we can do about that.”  If it causes you too much anxiety to start a verbal conversation, consider writing your spouse a note. At any rate, take a step to lovingly express that you want sex to be a priority.

2. Start with your hands.  For all the focus put on our genital regions, I think there is a lot to be said for the role our hands play.  Touch is powerful.  If you and your spouse have just been going through the motions – quickly getting to the main attraction of intercourse – you are missing out on a full-body experience.  Learn to caress each other. Vary the firmness of your touch, and take your time.  Some areas of particular arousal can be the neck, ears, head, upper arms, inner thighs, chest, behind the knees and across the lower back. Extreme sexual pleasure is built upon a foundation of being aroused.  Touch isn’t just the opening act; touch is the headliner, too.

3.  Try at least one new thing. I’ve never been a big fan of “variety for variety’s sake.” I am, though, a fervent champion of variety that endears a husband and wife to each other sexually.  A married couple is afforded tremendous freedom to pleasure each other sexually, so break out of routines and learn new ways to please each other.  Try at least one new thing (new position, oral sex, making love in a different room, etc.)  Sure, it will feel awkward at first, but together you can discover depths of pleasure you may have never known.

My last suggestion is this: resist the urge to give up too soon. Within sexual intimacy, we are at our most vulnerable emotionally, physically and spiritually. When we feel vulnerable, we are more likely to retreat if things start to feel difficult.  If you do that, though, you won’t break through to information that could significantly improve your marriage. You do want that kind of breakthrough, right?

Sure, my husband knows I don’t like to be cold. And I know he doesn’t like to be hungry. As beneficial as that information has been, it pales to what we know about each other sexually.

I’d love to write more.  But I need to go push a certain someone over an edge.  If you know what I mean.

Julie Sibert writes and speaks about sexual intimacy in marriage.  You can follow her blog at www.IntimacyInMarriage.com. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, their two boys and one rambunctious German Shorthair Pointer puppy. © 2011 by Julie Sibert. 

Photo Credit: @PhotoXpress.com

Can You Show Love with a Sticky Note?

I apologize if you received this post twice. The e-book was unavailable last week, but was just improved and re-released. If you add a comment, you will be qualified for a free e-book giveaway!

I recently read an e-book called Sticky-Note Love by Matthew French-Holt. In it, Matthew shares advice about how to please women, after realizing he needed to be regularly reminded about simple ways to please his wife. (I don’t know if any guys out there can relate, or if you have us women figured out.) Because Matthew says he tends to forget how to keep the romantic streak alive in his own marriage, he  created a simple system to help. He believes other men have similar tendencies and can benefit from the same model. (You can find Matthew encouraging all kinds of adventure at Adventure-Some.com.)

The gist of his advice is to write your wife a love note every single day. While that can seem daunting, Matthew gives tons of simple suggestions, and even says a one-sentence love message on a sticky note will surely do the trick. The key is to write from your heart and to be consistent. As in every single day. I was surprised how easy and doable Matthew’s idea is; the hard part is in keeping it up.

The e-book isn’t quite as simple as that one piece of advice, as he gives you some of the reasonings behind why it works, as well as many tips and suggestions so you don’t have to sit holding that piece of paper wondering what to say each day. The three pages of ideas for your love notes is one good reason guys should consider getting the e-book! Of course, you want to be honest with your feelings, but it’s a great start.

In essence, the goal is to create a virtuous cycle rather than a vicious cycle. In the vicious cycle, your wife may be seeking acknowledgement that she is loved. When she doesn’t receive affirmation and hear what you love in her, she may question that love and be slow to give affection. This cycle can slowly make you feel out of touch. The virtuous cycle means that as you regularly express love, she becomes more secure and confident in your love. She then becomes increasingly affectionate toward you, which causes you to share your affection and feelings of love even more. In this cycle, you feel ever more bonded to one another.

One of my blogging pals, marital therapist Dr. Michelle Gannon, shares a story in an article for Hitched Media that seems to support Matthew’s theory.  She explains how to have more gratitude and positivity in your life and marriage. Then, she shared this story:

My husband and I were presenting at a conference, and I met a lovely 70-year-old gentleman who told me that he had been happily married for 50 years. I asked him what was his secret to success? He immediately answered that when he was married for one week, his new wife came to him and asked, “What are three things that you love about me?” He answered, “You are beautiful, smart and a great cook.” The next week, she asked the same question. He gave the same answer, and she responded, “You already told me those three things. Tell me three new things.” So he did–week after week, year after year. He claimed that every week for 50 years he has given her three new compliments or expressions of appreciation and gratitude.

So whether you want to be put on the spot by your wife, or whether you want to think in advance and make one grateful comment or write something you love about her every day, it seems clear that this kind of activity makes a wife feel more loved and appreciated. Interestingly, the act of sharing your love and gratitude will also help you as a husband. (See my past post about the benefits of gratitude.)

The e-book is available for $19.99 at: http://snl.adventure-some.com/.

Decide how you plan to express your love and gratitude today. Then figure out a way to be consistent. Whether it’s a sticky note on the mirror, a daily verbal expression, a text sent every day at the same time, or a love note under the pillow each night, you’ll find these expressions go a long way to strengthening a marriage bond.  What are you waiting for?

Photo credit: ©Chad McDermott/PhotoXpress.com