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Bedwork 10: Find Your Attractive Self

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

For years, I have been a fashion disaster. Any sense of style that I now possess is a direct result of the blood, sweat and tears of more savvy girlfriends helping me over the years. But despite their valiant attempts, I still feel like a dud. Accessories? They don’t even remotely hit my GAF (Give a Flip) Metre. I have a few sentimental pieces that I wear all the time. A diversity of colour? No thanks. I would rather throw on a white top (or grey in the winter) and call it good. Shoes? Ok. I really like heels. I had a horrendously broken bone this past year and couldn’t wear heels for months. I was seriously unhappy.

But in an attempt to figure this whole fashion thing out, I have been reading a book called “I Have Nothing to Wear.” Even the idea of picking up a fashion book made my skin crawl but my sister swore it would change my life, and I agreed to read it out of love for her. Looks like it was written for me because it talks about the utter frustration of jumping from style to style, trying to keep up with the latest trends. When I read that part, I was hooked. I don’t have a clue what the latest trends are and I struggle with a lot of guilt because I secretly don’t care. (We’re back to the GAF Metre.)

In this book, the authors outline 6 different “styles” to which women gravitate. They are: Classic Girl, Preppy Girl, Fashionista Girl, Soccer Mom, Bohemian Girl and Surfer Chick. The idea is to identify and own your own style so that you feel most comfortable in your own skin every time you step out the house. Turns out, I have been getting advice from Fashionistas and Bohemians for years, when I am a Classic Girl. This was an ah-ha moment for me. I felt normal for the first time in my life.

And that is where my bumblings in the world of fashion intersected with my professional life. For years, I have seen that there is a direct correlation between a woman who feels good within her own skin and her confidence as a lover. She doesn’t shrink into herself as often. She isn’t as concerned about how she looks. She is kinder with herself about her flaws. She isn’t as hesitant about getting naked. She knows who she is.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that these women fit into some crazy cultural standard of what “looking good” entails. They aren’t all size 0s. They don’t all wear makeup. They don’t all look like they stepped out of a magazine. And they certainly don’t like all the parts of their bodies.

I met a woman once who was teeny-tiny and she asked me, “Do women struggle with body image in the bedroom? I weigh the same as I did in high school, but everything has shifted.” After I worked through my own fit of jealously about her weight, I was deeply moved by her vulnerability. Even the women who look spectacular on the outside carry their own shame.

Women who feel comfortable in their own skin have not escaped body image issues completely, and they don’t fit some cultural stereotype. They are just real women who have learned what works for them. Through trial and error over the years, they have found their attractive selves. They have come to accept parts of their bodies that have shifted with age, they have made the changes that were possible to make, and they have found what makes them feel like a “10.” They like themselves, and their husbands have a deep appreciation for them as well. Because this kind of confidence isn’t limited to picking out clothes in the mall. It extends all the way to the bedroom.

Here’s your Bedwork for the week: Find one outfit (in your closet OR use this as an excuse to go shopping) that makes you feel like a “10.” Wear it this week and then jot down in a journal how you felt. Make note of what it was about the outfit that made you feel like a “10” so that you can duplicate this experience. Need a bit of help in the fashion department? I highly recommend “I Have Nothing to Wear.”

Want more Bedwork? Check out my book The Essential Elements of Sex: 9 Secrets to a Lifetime of Intimacy.

Bedwork 9: Change up the Routine

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

 
Recently, I have been prepping for a TV interview on the topic of infidelity. In the process of my research, I came across a slightly alarming statistic. Of the men and women who confessed to having an affair, 71% of the men and 49% of the women said they did so because they were sexually bored. In fact, the boredom reason far out-paced other justifications such as business trips, high sex drive, close friendships with others and rekindling romance with an old flame. Boredom is a subtle threat that can lead a marriage into very turbulent waters.

For those of us who are in long-term relationships, it is very easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes routine is a wonderful thing – everyone gets his/her needs met with a minimum amount of effort. However, sometimes this rut creates a deep sense of dissatisfaction. In order to last the decades together, we need to become experts at recognizing 1) when we are in a rut and 2) how to get out of it.

Here is one rut I notice couples fall into frequently: the time they choose to have sex. They always have it on Sunday night after Game of Thrones (I mean, seriously, that show is hot!) or maybe they have a quickie after date night. Sometimes sex is reserved only for special occasions. It is the same, all the time.

So this week, your Bedwork is to change things up a bit by changing your regular routine for sex. Instead of having it at night, set your alarm clock for half an hour earlier in the morning. Perhaps you can kidnap your spouse at lunch and sneak away to a hotel. Perhaps if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can wake your spouse up too. Whatever you do, just do something different and breathe a bit of life into your routine.

Want more Bedwork? Check out my book The Essential Elements of Sex: 9 Secrets to a Lifetime of Intimacy.

Bedwork 7: Clear the Obstacles

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

 
I once had a client who had to have the kitchen completely clean before she could relax enough for sex. There was nothing she hated more than going to bed with a dirty kitchen waiting for her in the morning. It stressed her out – so much so that she was often grumpy if her husband wanted to have sex.

As this woman’s story illustrates, sometimes the things that get in the way of sex are logistical. The kids’ schedules keep you on taxi duty until late into the evening. The TV is a perpetual distraction. The bedroom is a mess and the last place you feel sexy.

Once my client’s husband recognized the source of her resentment, he began pitching in and helping her get it done. In his mind, cleaning the kitchen became part of foreplay. Not only did she feel grateful for the assistance (and therefore much more amorous), but the task got done faster, leaving more time for fun!

For Bedwork this week, think about three things that take your time and focus away from sex and brainstorm solutions. Are the kids up too late? Then move their bedtime back a half-hour for the next couple weeks and see what happens. If the TV is a problem, then turn it off an hour earlier. And that messy bedroom? Clean it up and slap a fresh coat of paint on it so it creates a relaxing atmosphere. And then reap the benefits.

Want more Bedwork? Check out my book The Essential Elements of Sex: 9 Secrets to a Lifetime of Intimacy.

Bedwork 6: Combat Habituation

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

Today Eric and I celebrate our 15th anniversary. This is pretty spectacular considering people were taking bets at our wedding on how long we would make it. At our reception, one woman whispered in Eric’s ear, “If you hurt her, I’ll kill you.” No lie.

I suppose they had reason to be concerned. It had taken us 6 years to make it down the aisle, with plenty of break-ups and tears and screaming matches between our first date and our vows. We were back then, and still are today, extremely feisty. I use the term feisty to make it sound nice and glossy, but I probably should use terms like driven, passionate, outspoken and direct. We have had all the wonderful ups and bumpy lows that go with those traits. But slowly, I mean s  l  o  w  l  y, over the years we have learned how to harness our strengths for good instead of evil, and I wouldn’t trade our partnership for anything in the world.

As I reflect upon it, one of the core aspects of our relationship is that we do not take each other for granted. Of course, in any marriage there is the tendency to get used to what is in front of you day in and day out. Psychologists call this problem habituation, and it truly is deadly in a relationship. When you get lulled into the comfort zone of thinking you know everything there is to know about your spouse, you stop looking, and as you stop looking, you stop seeing, and then you don’t notice when your spouse changes and grows over the years. It’s no wonder that the empty nesters are the one demographic in which the divorce rate is rapidly rising. Once the kids are gone, so is the glue that holds the relationship together because they stopped seeing each other years ago.

But Eric and I walked into marriage with tragic reminders that life is preciously short. I was a cancer orphan by the time I was 21, and he lost his dad to cancer at 25. We were determined to never take each other for granted because, morbidly put, we simply don’t know how long we will have each other. So, for example, to combat habituation in our relationship, I actively watch how others perceive Eric in our social and work circles. When we get lulled into the drudgery of running the household, balancing schedules and making sure our daughter gets fed, people outside our relationship remind me of his witty sense of humor, his creative brain and his wicked smile. I am reminded once again of how much I adore him. I become intentional once again to balance the drudgery with passion. These outsiders’ perspectives keep mine fresh.

So here’s your Bedwork for the week: When you are out in a social setting with your spouse (church, restaurant, the hockey rink, a dinner party, etc.), pay close attention to how people interact with you spouse. Learn from it. Be inspired by it. Be curious about it. Allow it to breathe some freshness back into your relationship.

Want more Bedwork? Check out my book The Essential Elements of Sex: 9 Secrets to a Lifetime of Intimacy.

Bedwork Week 2: Play!

Listen to my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

There is no doubt that we live in a crazy, busy world. Most of us are in double income families, we have long commutes to work, and our children have music, foreign language, sports, dance, art and tutoring lessons so they become “well rounded” and can get into university one day. It is so easy to rush around so frantically that we don’t truly connect – with our spouses, with our friends, even with ourselves. It is no wonder that we feel like we can barely keep up the pace.

Often, instead of slowing down and eliminating activities, we just speed up even more and cite the mantra of the Little Train Who Could – “I think I can, I think I can.” After all, if Little Miss Perfect down the road can do it, so can I! We get caught up in a world of perpetual exhaustion. When our friends ask, “How are you doing?” We say, “I’m so busy!” and they sigh because they are busy too. This response does two things for us:

1)   It makes us look good, because culturally we have linked “productive” to the term “busy.” (Truth be told, you can be very busy and still incredibly unproductive.) In essence, we perpetuate the façade that “busy” makes us worthwhile to those around us. In our minds, they are thinking, “Oh, she must be so important because she is so busy!”

2)   It creates distance in our relationships. We send out the subliminal signal “Don’t try to spend time with me, ask me for anything or talk to me. I am too busy for you.” Sometimes we think we need this distance – if people would just leave us alone, we could get all our tasks done! But this attitude just leaves us feeling lonely. We have run off the very people who are best positioned to carry some of the load with us.

A couple years ago, I came across a profound quote by Dr. Stuart Brown that began to change my perspective on the activities in my life. Dr. Brown said this:

“Do you know what the opposite of play is? No, it’s not work. It’s depression.”

When we do not create time and space to play, we become depressed. We become more and more isolated. Our unhappiness grows. Our stress levels spike. We get grouchy with others. And far too often, we try to work our way out of this hole. But this is the opposite of what we should be doing. We should be making more time to play.

This holds true with our relationships as well. When they become too much about function and task, they become depressed. Sometimes we treat the problems with in-depth conversations. Sometimes we go to a counselor to discuss everything that is wrong about the other person. Sometimes we allow distance and silence to grow between us. We circle around and around the problems never seeing much progress and we lose hope that it will ever be different.

Perhaps, we just need to give ourselves permission to play. To do something fun and enjoyable for no other reason than because it is fun and enjoyable. To laugh and giggle. To put that old argument on the shelf and just hang out together. To grab on for a hug even though things are not perfect.

So this week – regardless of whether you are fighting with your spouse or not – your Bedwork assignment is to have at least one hour of play together. Go dancing. Play a game of tennis. Do an art project together. Have a snowball fight. Go skating on the local pond. Rent a comedy and laugh together. Have a wrestling match. Dust off your ancient copy of Monopoly. Whatever you choose, play. Play hard. It might be the best thing you have done for your relationship in a long time.

Bedwork This Week: Kissing

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

One of the greatest tragedies I see in couples today is that after they have been together for a while, they stop kissing. They might give each other a little peck as they walk out the door, but they have long since stopped the deep, intimate kisses.

This concerns me because there is some pretty good evidence out there that kissing is extremely healthy for you and your relationship. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases during a session of kissing.
  • Passionate kissing releases oxytocin and other “feel-good hormones” into the brain.
  • Kissing promotes the feelings of long-term attachment and passion.
  • Couples who kiss four times a day are more likely to stay married.

When you realize that kissing can make you feel better and strengthen your relationship, making time for it seems like a no-brainer. But then, you have to actually set aside the time. And that’s always tough in our busy lives.

So here is your Bedwork assignment for the week, if you choose to accept it: Go experiment with different types of kisses. Vary the type of kiss as well its placement. Try pecks on the cheek, a kiss on the head, a warm kiss on the palm of your husband’s hand, a closed-mouth kiss after a deep gaze into your wife’s eyes, a lingering wet kiss. Try kissing with your eyes open. Kiss with your eyes closed. Have fun and enjoy!

For more information on how to build the feelings of love and attachment with your spouse, get my book The Essential Elements of Sex today!