TOO OLD FOR SEX?

Long beyond child-bearing and child-rearing, parents continue to grow and change individually and as couples. Theories of family development suggest that family crises occur whenever family members join or depart from the family unit. Early on, many years are spent adjusting to the changing stages of children; later on, we must adjust to the changing stages of growing older. Consider the following relationship issues and how couples must adapt: Affection and Communication: Needs that never go away. We never outgrow our need for affection. While some people need more and others less, physical contact remains an important way to validate each other. Likewise, our need for communication is essential to help us feel important and to help us keep abreast of the world. When others speak with us, our greatest task is to listen well. Others sense when our attention is elsewhere; they also sense when we are judgmental, critical, annoyed or impatient. Even when we are sure we know what another is about to say, it is important to honor them simply by listening. Especially when someone seems to be repeating themselves, we must consider the possibility that they feel they have not been heard. Sexuality and Compromise. Among the greatest myths in our society is the myth that we grow to old to engage in sexual relations past our prime. On the contrary, regular sexual encounters serve to strengthen relationships and personal vitality. Some say that sex was designed to be lifelong, as evidenced by the fact that you can do it lying down. The secret to an ongoing sex life lies in a couple’s capacity to change and adapt as they grow older. Sex changes over the years along with every other aspect of our lives. Yet, the ability of spouses to enter into the closest of unions is not only possible, but highly desirable. As with other things in life, however, the ability to compromise and change together is an essential element of that closeness. Role changes and management of conflict. With changes in household occupancy and work schedules, comes the need to re-evaluate roles within a marriage. When kids are no longer around to help with certain tasks, someone will need to do them. When there’s an extra pair of hands around the house, it is only fair that the wealth of chores be spread around a little more evenly. When retirement or disability become real, couples must be willing to change what they do in order to adequately address the current needs for living. Without this ability to adapt, family changes are met with resentment, hostility and discontent. In contrast, we must be prepared to change our previous ways of doing things and willing to do so in the spirit of good sportsmanship. Understand the keys to lifelong happiness and personal satisfaction have never been as important as they are today. Couples are...

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ESTABLISHING RELATIONSHIPS

Today, for a variety of reasons, many adults find themselves living as Singles. Some have divorced, others are widowed, some have just not found their life partner… yet! So, it is not uncommon for those who have been in successive relationships to find themselves a bit battle-worn by the ups, downs, hurts and disappointments. Over the years, I have worked with a variety of singles of all ages. This post is dedicated to them. It takes time to heal from past relationships. Whenever we experience a loss, we are left with a sense of confusion. We wonder what went wrong, we replay our roles in search of understanding, and we question how to avoid the same mistakes next time. These are important learnings, and it takes “longer than you think” to learn them! It is important not to “hurry” or rush ourselves into the next relationship, even when it is difficult to be alone. It is important to learn from past relationships. In the end, we are left with memories. One constructive result is to analyze the relationship for the Red Flags that foretold of the mismatch in personalities, goals, and loss of communication. Many Red flags appeared at the beginning, and many were there all along. In new relationships, apply the principles of friendship. New “love” relationships often come with an acccumulation of expectations, but good friendships are built just one step at a time. As with any developing friendship, we must grow closer at a comfortable pace. When it feels uncomfortable, you owe it to yourself to step back and appraise how you feel. You may be experiencing a Red Flag. Each of us must be self-sufficient. No one else can bear the weight of meeting our needs; so we must be able to take care of ourselves. While single, become expert at standing on your own feet! Independence is a great personal quality; one which is often attractive to our next prospective partners. Interpersonal relationships are a great challenge… both to establish and to maintain. Healthy relationships require enough flexibility to allow for personal growth of all members, and enough time for enjoyable companionship. And if I haven’t mentioned it lately… we all deserve to be happy and fulfilled in our relationships!...

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FAIR FIGHTING FOR LOVERS

The ability to manage conflict is essential in healthy love relationships. While I often encourage couples to “bring their problems to the table” and brainstorm solutions together, I know this requires a fair amount of trust. We have to trust that we won’t be criticized, scolded or rejected. We have to trust that differences of opinion won’t turn into painful fights. Our love relationships are very precious to us. While there’s no escaping conflict, it is possible to use conflicts constructively. Here are a few more thoughts on the matter. Working through conflicts brings us closer together. Initially, all relationships are superficial. Relationships deepen when we achieve new levels of understanding and when we survive difficulties together. Couples who have been together a long time have usually survived a variety of trials and tribulations. When we combine our knowledge and experiences, we can help each other solve problems and we can watch each other’s back! We are always learning about ourselves and each other. Every one of us is like a tree. Each day we sprout a few new leaves, we stretch a little further, and we grow in some direction that changes us. This is a healthy part of life. Ideally, being in a relationship affords us someone who will help us celebrate that growth. Best friends share the story of their day, knowing that they will be encouraged, applauded or just listened to. Agree ahead of time not to criticize and not to be judgmental. Problem solving takes a bit of time and patience. If you wish to discuss a particular issue with your beloved, give him/her the gift of fair-warning. Usually we want to talk about things after we have thought about them for awhile, but our mates may be clueless that something’s on our mind. To be fair, our partners deserve a warning and some time to think about issues before being put on the spot. Say “ I’d like to have a conversation about money, sex, children, relatives, jealousy etc… not now, but let’s make a date to talk”. Good joint decisions require unrushed thought and open discussion. Agree ahead of time to work on problems until a mutually satisfying solution is found. Patience, trust and perseverance are valuable building blocks in long-term relationships. Stick and stones do break bones and names do hurt relationships. It is important to cool down when you are angry and avoid saying anything you might later have to apologize for. Every name that is called leaves a scar on our trust. Once there is scar tissue, it can feel unsafe to be open in a relationship. Before uttering cruel words, consider that they may cost you the entire relationship. There is a very steep price for losing your cool. When children sit down to play a game, they almost always ask each other, “what are the rules?” After...

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THE INTRINSIC VALUE OF A HEALTHY SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

Sex is one of the most talked about and least talked about subjects in the world. Studies confirm what happy couples already know; there is intrinsic value in a healthy sexual relationship. When couples are attuned to each others’ sexual needs, they behave romantically toward one another and develop a very loving and respectful relationship. But this is not a new idea. The time-honored wedding vows have always explicitly acknowledged that sex is a benefit, a responsibility, and an obligation associated with marriage. What are the secrets of a good sexual relationship in marriage? Here are a few thoughts on the matter. • Keep your sex life healthy. Research demonstrates a strong connection between sexual intimacy and satisfaction in marriage. Yet many couples describe an unfortunate decline in sexual interest following marriage. Reasons for declining interest run the gamut from exhaustion to marital conflict, childbearing, interruptions by children, erectile dysfunction, lack of interest, illness, etc. However there is no good excuse for not communicating about sexual intimacy and affection in your marriage. If you and your spouse are not communicating about sex, watch out! Without it, changing expectations and needs will go unmet, rendering the relationship vulnerable to intruders. The “instruction booklet” on marriage emphatically states that satisfaction with intimacy and sexual pleasure are essential, but not sufficient ingredients for a happy marriage. This means that while sexual love is essential, it is not automatic. A fulfilling sex life must be actively pursued and yes, it must be scheduled like a date. • The problem of bait and switch. Most couples describe their sexual attraction prior to marriage. Not surprising, sexual passion is usually one of the great selling points of a relationship. While dating, most partners are passionate, romantic and attentive to each other. They tend to be good listeners, they solve problems together, and they are excellent companions. In other words, they do all the right things on the road to falling in love. After marriage, however, many spouses begin to take that same relationship for granted. They may intentionally ignore or avoid each others’ sexual advances. But rest assured that even when couples talk less, their behavior speaks volumes if their playfulness and common interests are replaced by demands, criticism, and interpersonal rejection. • Marriage is an everyday affair. Before marriage, couples work hard to understand each other. We inform each other when our feelings are hurt. We express our likes and dislikes but try to remain open to new ideas. We monitor our combativeness, our tone of voice, and our attitudes as we work toward becoming a functional couple. Once married, however, it is easy to forget that we are working as teammates on joint goals and shared interests. The marital relationship is designed to reduce stress by increasing interpersonal support. As a couple, we are building a home together using our own creativity and designs for comfort,...

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