Is it OK to be married and flirting?

No matter how in love we are with our spouses, anyone who has been married or in a relationship knows that you don’t stop finding other people attractive. You may even have a crush or two over the years. But is it OK to be married and flirting?

If your spouse approaches you because he or she is upset that you have been flirting, it’s easy to become defensive. Flirting is innocent, you argue. We were only talking. It wasn’t going anywhere. I’m not seriously interested! Do you think I would cheat on you? How could you think that! This can easily turn into an argument.

But is flirting really so innocent?

Continue reading Is it OK to be married and flirting?

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10 Aweseome health benefits of sex

When you fool around with your honey-bunny, you do more than have a good time: you’re making an investment in your health! Here are ten wonderful health benefits of sex that should inspire you to write yourself a prescription for sweet, sweet lovin’.

1. Lower stress levels and blood pressure

Several studies have suggested that sex can lower your stress levels and your blood pressure.

Participants in a Scottish study logged their sexual activity and were then put in stressful situations such as speaking in public and doing math out loud. When their blood pressure was measured, those who had had intercourse showed better stress response than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or were abstinent. Continue reading 10 Aweseome health benefits of sex

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Does abstinence or delayed first sex benefit relationships?

Abstinence and pro-marriage education claims that loose sexual relationship early in life will negatively impact later relationships. Aside from the moral or religious issue of early sex, is this true? And if it is, then why? Whether inside or outside marriage, previous studies have shown those who have sex at younger ages tend to have more extra-marital pregnancies, as well as earlier marriages with more divorces. Psychologist Dr. Paige Harden of the University of Texas at Austin used data from the Child and Adolescent Longitudinal Study to compare age of first sex with how their romantic relationships worked out later in life. Continue reading Does abstinence or delayed first sex benefit relationships?

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The question of non monogamy

For thousands of years marriage has implied monogamy. In fact, marriage developed because monogamy was crucial to confirm paternity and establish lineage rights. In all but a few polygamous or polyandrous societies, non monogamy is not tolerated and often punished harshly. But how does the idea of sexual faithfulness to one person play into modern and/or non-traditional and non-religious marriages?

Non monogamy is, by definition, not being romantically exclusive to one partner. It may also be referred to as an open relationship. Non monogamy includes all sorts of arrangements from allowing kissing, flirting or non-sexual dating, to one night stands, to full-blown outside relationships, to polyandry (a relationship between more than two partners). Non-monogamy groups claim their arrangement makes everyone happier, reflects more realistic expectations about marriage, and can prevent divorce. Pro-monogamy groups argue that relaxed standards of fidelity are exactly what are causing divorce and only lead to broken hearts. Both sides have statistics and studies to back their cases. Continue reading The question of non monogamy

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How to beat the top 5 relationship problems

Every couple has their unique strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, there are a few major relationship problems that underwrite almost every marriage. If you’re finding yourself fighting, feeling distant, or otherwise “off” with your spouse, check out these top 5 common underlying problems and see if addressing them might get your marriage on track again.

1. Communication

You’ve probably heard many times “communication is key.” And it’s true. All of the below relationship problems rely on effective communication skills. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we’re taught how to do. Common communication mistakes include refusing to talk, nagging, sarcasm, using angry or accusatory language, and using “you” and “yes, but.” The symptoms of bad communication include feeling ignored, anxious, frustrated, or out of touch with your partner. Continue reading How to beat the top 5 relationship problems

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Marriage and mens health

Marriage may be the best thing a man can do for his health. Over the past decade many long-term studies have shown a clear link between marriage and mens health. Overall, married men are healthier and live longer than their single, divorced or widowed counterparts. It works the other way, too: stress in marriage also tends to negatively impact mens health more than women’s.

Marriage benefits for mens health include:

  • Never-married men are three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than married men.
  • Married men have a 46% lower rate of death than single men, even when controlling for major cardiovascular risk factors such as age, body fat, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.
  • Cancer patients who have intact marriages have a better chance of recovery and/or longer survival time.
  • Married men have cancer detected at an earlier stage and are more likely to get treatment.
  • Being married is linked to better cognitive function and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Why marriage?

Researchers posit that having an intimate partner offers behavioral, biological and psychological benefits for mens health. Men on their own tend to have a lower standard of living and engage in riskier behavior than women. Some studies have suggested that this contributes the men’s overall lower life-expectancy when compared to women. Living with a wife means men take better care of themselves. They are more likely to get regular checkups and doctors visits, eat healthier food, and less likely to drink or smoke excessively or engage in other risky behavior.

Secondly, marriage provides both spouses with a stable, emotionally supportive environment that also reduces stress by pooling resources. While women tend to have strong networks of social support, men tend to have fewer strong interpersonal relationships. Marriage provides them with a core human need for social connection and intimacy. Wives are companions, cheerleaders, coaches, advisors and comforters. Married men are less likely to experience loneliness or depression. A supportive marriage means a husband is more likely to live through and recover from an health problems that do occur.

Happy marriage is key

Of course, none of these stress-reducing benefits on mens health work if the marriage is a source of stress. Stress causes the release of hormones such as adrenaline,which raises blog pressure, and cytokines–proteins that trigger inflammation. Over time marital stress can lead to hypertension and the thickening of the heart’s main pumping chamber. An Israeli study also showed marital stress led to a 34% increase in the chance of dying from a stroke. Interestingly, these effects were not caused by

Given this information, marriage problems take on an extra level of urgency, even the low-level ones. Not only are they making you unhappy, they’re also hurting your health. Nip little, unpleasant problems in the bud as soon as possible with a therapist or an online marriage counseling program like Power of Two. It pays to work on keeping your marriage happy and harmonious–it literally may add years to your life!

 

via “Marriage and Men’s Health.” Harvard Men’s Health Watch, July 2010. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2010/July/marriage-and-mens-health

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How to deal with a jealous husband

When tackling the issue of jealousy, Dr. Hirsch likes to start with some Eric Clapton lyrics: “Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself!”

If you’re faced with a jealous husband or a jealous wife, you may be partially to blame. And if you are the one who is jealous, you should also examine your own culpability. Marriage problems are rarely ever a one sided affair. And they need to be solved together, too.

There are two situations where you might find yourself feeling jealous or have a jealous husband or jealous wife. If you are jealous, you are probably struggling with which one to believe: is there a real threat to your marriage, or are you just imagining and projecting things? This expert advice from Dr. Hirsch can help you decide and, most importantly, address the problem so you can repair your marriage in a positive and empowering way.

Case #1: The jealous spouse is picking up on clues to a real danger.

Example: Marcus’s husband Alison is working one-on-one on a tough work project with an attractive male colleague. They’ve been working late and getting drinks together after work. Marcus is feeling jealous and uncomfortable.

Should Marcus be worried that Alison is having an affair? It’s important to remember that full-blown affairs don’t happen all of a sudden. They grow over time. At the same time, Marcus’ feelings are very valid because they are warning signs of behavior that is threatening their marriage. Because of this he should speak up and address the problem now. Staying attuned to his early feelings of danger gives him the opportunity to address the issue before it actually leads to an infidelity.

If you are in Allison’s place, you might react to your husband’s jealousy by dismissing it. Of course you aren’t having an affair! How could he think that?? At the same time, remember that something you have been doing has been causing him distress and is already hurting your marriage. This alone indicates that you need to address the situation.

If you are jealous of your spouse, or have a jealous husband or jealous wife, here are some steps to take:

  1. Prepare for the conversation. Choose a time when you are both unstressed and rested. Also, make sure you have top-notch communication skills to handle this sensitive issue. You and your partner will want to remain as calm and positive as possible–this can be challenging with such an emotional subject. Try some PO2 activities to brush up on healthy dialogue skills.
  2. Approach the subject. This may be embarrassing or awkward, and at the same time, so important to work out. Stay open to your spouse’s opinions. Coming out of the discussion with a re-affirmed trust in each other’s fidelity is the goal.
  3. Set up an action plan so the situation doesn’t progress or recur. Also set up guidelines for what you consider appropriate behavior around members of the opposite sex. For example, Aliston might ask that Marcus not hang out with female coworkers one-on-one outside of work.

NOTE: If you find you cannot productively discuss the jealousy or come to a solution, you may want to try couples counseling or online marriage counseling with Power of Two. In addition, if you have a chronically jealous husband who tries to unreasonably restrict your activity and quality of life, you may want to check if his behavior falls under our reasons for divorce guidelines.

 Posting tomorrow…What if I’m just projecting onto my spouse? The 2nd Case Scenario.

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10 Quirky & Fun Date Ideas

Relationships provide security, love, support, and sexual fulfillment–and they also should provide fun! Enjoying each other’s company, taking time to have adventures and new experiences together, is a key element in how to make a relationship last. Date nights are a great way of reconnecting with your spouse after a long week of chores, appointments and responsibilities. At the same time, it’s important to not let your date nights turn into routines themselves–the point of the date is to try something new together and put a little pizzazz into your connection. Try these fun date ideas if you’re just starting out “dating again” or you’re looking for something new to try. Continue reading 10 Quirky & Fun Date Ideas

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Working through sex in marriage problems: Review of ‘Orgasm, Inc.”

For this special post on sex in marriage I watched one of the highest rated movies of this year (Rotten Tomatoes score of 86%): ‘Orgasm, Inc’. This is a funny, moving, and profound documentary by filmmaker Liz Cannon. It tells the story of pharmaceutical industry’s is race to invent the pill, spray, or cream to treat Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD), and the secret behind it all: Female Sexual Dysfunction may not really exist.

FSD is loosely defined as difficulty with arousal, orgasm, or sexual desire. The term emerged in the early 2000s when drug companies began to explore the idea of marketing the incredibly successful erectile dysfunction medications such as Viagra to women. Orgasm Inc. claims that medical professionals with interest in the pharmaceutical industry promoted FSD as part of a trend in “medicalizing more and more of ordinary life” because “there’s a lot of money being made in telling healthy people they’re sick.” In other words, doctors were redefining difficulty as dysfunction in order to sell a product.

While there are certainly women who have physical difficulties with arousal in the same way that men do, the film argues that FSD is problematic because it preys on women’s insecurities and misunderstandings about women’s sexuality. For example, it is relatively easy to gauge when men reach orgasm. With women, it’s much more complicated. Enjoyable sex doesn’t always end in orgasm and arousal involves emotions and situation more than just visuals or stimulation (of course, both these things can hold true for men, too). Unfortunately, the “average” male interpretation of sexual satisfaction is often held up as the norm for both partners. This can leave women feeling inadequate or “dysfunctional” for not enjoying sex in marriage and achieving orgasm in the same way as their male partners. The truth is, the vast majority of sexually healthy women cannot achieve orgasm through regular intercourse alone. It’s just our biology.

Most of women’s sex in marriage problems cannot be solved with a pill, patch, or cream. There are some exceptions: hormonal imbalances caused by endocrine system problems or medications (such as the birth control pill) cause lapsed sexual desire; women who have had a hysterectomy; women with other diseases that decrease energy levels. For these women, certain medications and other treatments can be helpful in rebalancing the body’s  sexual systems and bring tremendous comfort and pleasure back in to their lives.

At the same time, many more women suffer from problematic sex in marriage because of psychological and contextual (social, cultural) causes. One in six women will experience sexual assault in her lifetime, leading to a complicated and difficult relationship with sexual intimacy. 80% of women have body image issues and may feel too self-conscious to feel and enjoy any pleasure. And lastly, while sex in marriage is a blessed and celebrated act in all religions, negative messages about sexuality presented during youth can leave husbands and wives with complicated feelings of guilt and shame for enjoying sex. Not to mention that many women are never educated on the anatomy of their sexual organs.

Lastly, the problem can be pure exhaustion. Many women are holding down jobs while taking care of several children and a household. Women do on average three times more housework than men. After a long day of being poked and prodded by little ones, running around and attending to other’s needs and being physically active, the last thing a busy women may want is to be touched sexually. She wants to go to bed!

Here are some key tips for improving sex in marriage:

1) De-stress

Stress releases adrenaline and other hormones into your body that zap you into “fight or flight” mode and drain energy from other systems including your sex drive. Reduce the stress on your body by following the CODE: practice Calming activities such as meditation, yoga or prayer; Organize your day for efficiency and also prioritizing for your health; follow a healthy Diet; and Exercise.

2) Talk about it

Whether it’s a specialized sex therapist or a special session with your marriage counselor, talk to a mental health professional about your problems. There will be many things to discover about yourself in one-on-one sessions, and mutual things to work through with your spouse in group sessions. Talking with a trusted friend or finding an online discussion forum may also help.

3) Get Educated

If you feel lost or confused about your body and desires, there are many female oriented pleasure stores around the country that are friendly, tasteful and encouraging places to lean about your sexuality. Good Vibrations is one of the most well-known chains. There are also many faith-oriented blogs, marriage help books and websites that celebrate sex in marriage along with religion. I recommend The Pure Bed and Hot Holy Humorous.

I also highly encourage you to see ‘Orgasm, Inc’. It’s available streaming on Netflix. It’s a cheeky little film and deals frankly and humorously with sex, so be prepared, although there is no sexually graphic imagery. This movie will make you think very differently about your sexuality and the role medication plays in your life.

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