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It started innocently enough. You connected on FaceBook with an old boyfriend or girlfriend (isn’t technology wonderful?) — or started meeting regularly for lunch or drinks with a colleague from the office. You felt the chemistry, but you weren’t going to act on it. And since “nothing” was going on, you didn’t need to tell your spouse. But now you can’t deny it any longer. Whether your relationship has become physical or remains technically just a friendship, you know that you are in deep. You don’t want to hurt your spouse, but you are sure that ending your affair would break your heart.

At times like these, it can help to know something about human nature. When people feel intense emotions, the parts of their brains that process emotions become more active. Meanwhile, the logical parts of their brains remain relatively inactive. The result? People find ways to make sense of, and support, their emotional state; and it’s incredibly difficult to challenge this emotionally driven thinking.

When someone is having an affair, this kind of thinking intensifies the passion of their new love while also magnifying the inadequacies of their spouse, or their current “real” life. They can try to argue with themselves about how they shouldn’t feel as they do and how pursuing the affair is not a good idea, but that approach usually leaves them feeling a stronger “need” to pursue it. Still, the guilt about doing this can also be overwhelming.

So, if you are caught in this dilemma, what can you do? The first step is to fully acknowledge it. Trying to pretend that a budding love doesn’t exist, or isn’t that strong, will only send your awareness of it underground; where it will influence you without your even realizing it. You will likely find yourself the victim of a surprise attack; I was avoiding her and was okay with that, but then she needed my help with something, and, well… The next thing you know, you are thinking this must be fate. If, instead, you admit to your feelings and look squarely at the problem, you can begin to address it.

Addressing it means, in part, admitting that your thinking is clouded by strong emotions. With this acknowledgment, you are choosing to lead with your head and not your heart. You can consider your values and at least try to correct for the bias of your emotionally driven thinking. This doesn’t mean ignoring your emotions, but rather considering them with the perspective of what’s best for you in the long run. Remember, after all is said and done, after your heart’s fluttering has subsided, you will need to be able to wake up every morning with the results of your actions — so consider them carefully.

Think about your marriage vows and how important they are to you. Think about the effects of continuing an affair on your thoughts and feelings about yourself, as well as on your spouse, children, new love, and anyone else involved.

Many people want to savor their new love, but still have strong incentives to work on their marriage. They want to strive to be happy again with their spouse, not disrupt their lives (for themselves and their children), and do the right thing. But they also ultimately want to be assured of having romantic love in their lives if their efforts at reviving their marriage fail. The dilemma is understandable. However, holding onto both relationships simply does not work. It can’t. Honestly working on a relationship means giving yourself wholeheartedly to it.

by: Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD from WebMd.com

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There’s nothing wrong with candles and baths — or, for that matter, lingerie and scented oils. “Those are all stand-ins for the little signals most couples have,” says Epstein. “Most couples’ signals are subtler: being in bed and awake at the same time, reaching out to one another on a weekend morning, making some gesture.”

You may pine for the days of spontaneity that you enjoyed when your relationship was young — making love at odd hours, in the least likely places, just because you felt like it. But if you have small children, and two careers, and the usual laundry list of responsibilities, the chances of you spontaneously hooking up without some planning are about like the chance of your playing in the NBA — when you’re over 40. And white. It takes a little doing to have a passion in marriage.

There is nothing wrong with planning to have sex, is there? Thinking about it ahead of time might just get you in the mood, just as thinking about what you’re going to eat before you go to a good restaurant only whets the appetite.

“People have to get in the habit of making time to be sexual in the same way they make time for everything else that’s good in life,” says Weston. “Some people will just sit and let the hours wash over them in front of the TV rather than do something that takes a bit of energy and a bit of intention. You have to kind of get conscious about what you’re doing.”

Sometimes a man’s lack of desire is really about something else. “In those situations there is often something going on that is unexpressed or unknown, says Mark Epstein, MD, a psychiatrist in private practice in Manhattan and the author ofOpen To Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life.

Most often, Epstein says, that lack of attraction stems from anger. Perhaps your anger is misplaced; perhaps you are angry at her because you are not attracted to her. You can get to the source of your anger and beyond in therapy. But getting down to getting down is the relationship equivalent of advanced physics.

“You have to be able to experience conflicting feelings, or difficult feelings,” says Epstein of the rapprochement process. “If you are holding yourself back all the time, you don’t have to face what you might be feeling. But if you get close to her in bed, if you get aroused, there might be a lot of conflicting stuff that comes up. You want to be with her, you want to make her happy — but you are angry with her.” To get past the anger, and on to the fun part, you have to be willing to let down your guard, and let love in.

Those same darn women’s magazines often offer intimacy as the tonic to save the foundering sex life. You’ve drifted apart, the logic goes. Take interest in his life, his work, his recreation — even if it’s watching retired athletes yelling at each other on cable. But there is a fine line between being cared for and being crowded — and the latter is definitely a buzz kill.

“Sometimes too much closeness stifles desire,” says Esther Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Manhattan and author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. “Separateness is a precondition for connection. When intimacy collapses into fusion, it is not a lack of closeness but too much closeness that impedes desire,” she tells WebMD. Don’t call each other ten times a day, she cautions, and don’t ask each other about every little thing. “These questions turn intimacy into surveillance.”

And don’t be so sure that you know that woman that you’re with. In her work with couples, Weston has found that people don’t always know what creates sexual arousal in their long-term partner.

“I try and lay out their own idiosyncrasies — what ‘does it’ for them or what did it for them when they were younger and first dating,” she says. “There is often a moment of revelation: ‘I always thought you liked that!’ Or, ‘I always thought you hated that!’ And it’s often based on something the other person said 18 years ago when you tried something once. So they closed off one portion of sexual experimentation or behavior because of one errant comment.”

A lot can happen in those intervening years. Isn’t it time you found out what’s going on beneath the surface?

 

In dealing with people who have been married or together for a while, she has found that familiarity breeds — if not contempt — then at least too much familiarity. “Sometimes with a long-term partner, a person feels like they know every freckle on that other person’s body,” she says. The solution may lie in exploring the unfamiliar — though not necessarily.

“For some people, predictability is very exciting,” cautions Weston. “You have to figure out if you’re a ‘surprise’ or ‘predictability’ person. If you’re a surprise person, asking your partner to surprise you is a good first step. If you’re a predictability person, and there is something predictably bad or neutral about your sexual experience, getting some changes in there can be a positive thing.”

By: Sean Elder, WebMd

You can still rekindle passion and improve your sex life in a low-sex marriage.

Generally speaking, magazine articles about how to improve your sex life — especially in marriage or a long-term relationship — contain the same advice: candles, hot baths and soft music are often invoked.

That may be because these “better sex” stories are a staple of women’s magazines. I don’t know about you, but candles always make me think of church, baths are something my mother made me take, and soft music reminds me of going to the dentist. Definite turn-offs all.

But how do you regain the passion in your relationship when you feel it’s slipping away? Is it possible? Or when that train has left the station, is it too late to bring it back?

“A lot of people get to that point and have to decide what to do about it,” says Louanne Cole Weston, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and board-certified sex therapist in Fair Oaks, California. “Novelty is sexually interesting to most people — not always to the point that they will act on it, but the idea has a little bit of a thrill to it, for men or women.”

The following posts will go into detail about sex in marriage.

From WebMd.com

by: Bill Hendrick

It may be common for couples to have sex before marriage, but a new study shows that couples who wait until marriage are happier with the quality of sex than couples who have intercourse before their vows.

What’s more, couples who delay sex until their wedding night have more stable and happier marriages than couples who have premarital sex, according to the study, which appears in the Journal of Family Psychology.

The study involved 2,035 married participants in an online assessment of marriage called “RELATE.” According to the study, people who waited until marriage:

  • rated sexual quality 15% higher than people who had premarital sex
  • rated relationship stability as 22% higher
  • rated satisfaction with their relationships 20% higher

The benefits were about half as strong for couples who became sexually active later in their relationships but before marriage.

Developing Relationship Skills

“Most research on the topic is focused on individuals’ experiences and not the timing within a relationship,” study author Dean Busby, PhD, a professor in Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, says in a news release. “There’s more to a relationship than sex, but we did find that those who waited longer were happier with the sexual aspects of their relationship.”

It may be that couples report greater satisfaction and sexual quality if they’ve waited because the extra time gives them longer to learn about each other and develop the skills necessary for good relationships, Busby says.

About 92% of the respondents had attended college, 32% completed some college, 24% obtained a bachelor’s degree, and the average age was 36. The majority of the couples had sex within two months of starting to date, while 16% delayed intercourse until marriage.

Prioritizing Sex at Start of Relationship May Not Be Optimal

Mark Regnerus, PhD, of the University of Texas, who wasn’t involved with the study, says it suggests to him that couples who “prioritize sex promptly at the outset of a relationship often find their relationships underdeveloped when it comes to the qualities that make relationships stable and spouses reliable and trustworthy.”

He is the author of a forthcoming book titled “Premarital Sex in America,” being published by Oxford University Press.

Busby and colleagues controlled for the influence of religious involvement in their analysis because it often plays a role on when couples choose to initiate sex. “Regardless of religiosity, waiting helps the relationship form better communication processes, and these help improve long-term stability and relationship satisfaction,” Busby says.

The study says 21% of respondents were Catholic, 39% Protestant, 6% Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), 17% members of “another religion,” and 17% who indicated no religious affiliation. The authors write that sexual intimacy in the early stages of dating is sometimes viewed as an important part of testing compatibility, and determining whether a relationship would work later on.

But the researchers say their findings are clear, that “the longer a couple waited to become sexually involved, the better that sexual quality, relationship communication, relationship satisfaction and perceived relationship stability was in marriage …”

 

It is very common, unfortunately, to make jokes about dads occupying the role of the biggest kid in the house. Robert Young (“Father Knows Best”) and Bill Cosby have been replaced by Homer Simpson and numerous other fat imbeciles somehow married to thin, attractive, and super-responsible wives. But we can’t blame the media. We feed our children this dangerous “humor” all the time – and we start when they are very young. Have you read a Berenstein Bear book recently? That dad is continually portrayed as another kid mom has to put up with and the kids learn what not to do from him!

There’s a reason why this stereotype persists. Both men and women do just enough to perpetuate it. Husbands, you cannot let your wives do all the child-rearing and housework, blame her for your lack of freedom, and then expect her to respect you, and even long for you, as a man. Wives, you cannot complain about your husband’s lack of involvement, criticize his parenting and/or housework when he does get involved, and then expect him to appreciate you, and woo you, as a complete woman. One of the best things you can do for your marriage and your children is to be aware of how you treat one another.

-Hal Runkel, Author of ScreamFree Parenting

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