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Bedwork 8: Happy Camper Date

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

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in a post, Eric and I recently had our anniversary. And, as is our tradition, we went out for dinner and had our State of Our Union talk. (You can find a run-down on how that works here.) This year, I asked him to take me on a “creative” dates. Make no mistake, we have plenty of dates, but I felt that we had fallen into a rut about what we did each week. I knew that Eric would be up for the task because he used to make extra money to pay for college by planning dates for other dudes who couldn’t figure out how to impress a woman. He can definitely get the job done.

He didn’t waste a lot of time planning our first date. Last week, he surprised me by showing up in the middle of the work day with concert tickets in hand to the Pitbull/Kesha concert. I was ecstatic. Now, I can take or leave Kesha, but I fell in love with Pitbull last year when my dance group did a hip-hop routine to one of his songs. Please don’t judge me.

If I am being completely honest, this is not a concert that Eric would have chosen. In fact, when he let a friend know what he had done, his buddy responded by saying, “You know the best part of Pitbull announcing his name at the beginning of every song? You know to change the channel.” Eric would tend to agree with his friend. Well, he likes the new Pitbull/Christina Aguilera song, but I certainly wouldn’t call him a fan.

However, sometimes in marriage, you have to choose a “Happy Camper Date.” For a lot of couples, just trying to decide what to do on their date causes conflict because they have different interests and tastes. This leads to frustration…and then dates taper off altogether.

Here’s how the “happy camper” date works: one week you go on a date and your husband gets to choose what he activity he wants the two of you to do. (He gets to pick the movie, the restaurant, the hockey game, etc.) You go on this date with a great attitude – you are the “happy camper” this week. However, the following week, it is his turn to be the happy camper and do whatever you would like to do without complaining. This experience gives us greater insight into what makes our spouse tick and it builds our common history together which, in turn, leads to a stronger marriage.

Here is your Bedwork for this week: Plan two “Happy Camper” dates for the next two months (unless you are an overachiever and want it to be for the next two weeks). Draw straws to see who has to be the happy camper first if you have to, but make sure you each have a chance. If you like the concept, make sure to plan this type of date once a month.

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

 

Play time!

There is a story that is often told of Gregory Bateson, an anthropologist and the husband of the Margaret Mead. He was asked to come observe a group of otters that seemed depressed to their zookeepers. Otters, if you didn’t know, love to play. You can watch them for hours as they leap, swim, wrestle with each other and get up to all sorts of antics. These otters, however, seemed listless and lethargic.

 

After watching the animals for a number of days, Bateson dangled a piece of paper on string into their habitat. Before long, an otter came over to the string and began to bat at it. Very soon after, another otter joined in and then both otters started to play with each other. Even when Bateson removed the paper on the string, the otters continued to play.

How did two otters – creatures that are playful by nature – stop playing? Simply put, they got bored.

 

It is very easy for couples to get bored and, by extension, stop playing with each other when they have been married for years.

 

I was recently chatting with a client, and she mentioned that her husband liked to pull out a stuffed animal, put on an alter-ego voice, and make silly comments. She didn’t have a clue how to respond. Naturally a very serious person, this activity seemed very confusing to her. When I suggested that she make a silly comment in return – something fun and playful – it made her stop and think because it had been so long since she had been playful in their marriage.

 

Are you playful together? Believe it or not, this can be one of the most effective tools to making your relationship last. If you are having a lot of fun together, it makes it much harder to split up.

 

What are you doing to be playful with your spouse? Do you need to introduce something new into your environment to remind the two of you how to play again? What will that something new be? (as a suggestion: you might want to try something different than a just piece of paper on a string!) How can you make your spouse laugh this week? Can you surprise your spouse with something that will completely delight him or her?

 

As you think about those questions, let me leave you with a video of two otters, taking a nap at the Vancouver Aquarium. They are holding hands so that they will not float apart.

Remember: Playfulness not only combats boredom, but it also engenders intimacy.

An Open Letter to my Husband

Dear Husband,
I love the fact that you are always on the lookout for new information on my business. What I do just wouldn’t be the same without you. Not only are you my VP of Research & Development (a job with little pay but many perks) you are also the love of my life. And so, when you sent me a not-so-subtle email message about this article that you found (“THIS IS A MUST READ”), I was quite happy to oblige.

As I read the article, I wondered how much you were actually saying to me. I talk about the importance of communication all the time, and yet it is so easy to let the sound of our own voices be drowned out by the cacophony of daily life. It is easy to talk about communication, but it is much more difficult to do. Perhaps you were telling me something…something that you had never quite found the words to express yourself. And so I looked for little pieces of you throughout the writings of this author. His raw honesty was both refreshing and disturbing and has me asking a lot of questions.

What do you mean that guys are “sick of date night“? Isn’t that our time to spend alone time with you? Oh right… You like to be surprised too. You like spontaneity. I used to do random little things for you all the time before we had our daughter and I don’t find enough time to do them anymore. I bet you miss those times and wish we had them back. I get it. I need to schedule spontaneity until it (hopefully) evolves into a naturally occurring event.

And do you really, honestly, think that I am hot when I am bending over to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher? Really? Is that why you are always grabbing my butt when I am trying to clean up the kitchen? Instead of finding it annoying, I guess I should change my perspective. It seems that in the midst of the mundane, you are still attracted to me, and I need to appreciate it for what it is.

And you are turned on by the fact that I am the mother of your daughter? And your time with the guys actually makes you excited to come back home to me? And when you reach to hold me in the middle of the night, it’s not just because you want to have sex??? Amazing. Simply amazing.

I see a whole new side to you through the eyes of this tidbit on the internet. And I love what I see because I have a whole new respect for who you are and what you need from me. Thanks for sending me the link, honey. And plan for some spontaneity tonight! Nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

Couples – read the article together and give me your comments:
What Your Husband Wants You to Know, But Isn’t Telling You

PDA – public display of affection

I go to Hip Hop classes. Yes, that’s right. It’s my way of taking my own advice. You see, when I am contorting my body into all sorts of new positions which feel incredibly awkward all the while trying to make them look sexy and full of attitude, I get in touch with my inner diva a bit better. I love the sweat dripping off me at the end of my class because it is proof that I really worked hard, even if I sucked at it. I love the sense of accomplishment that comes when I get a move coordinated to the proper beat of the music. I love the fact that I dance with a bunch of middle-aged moms who, like me, are trying to regain a bit of their youth through this class. I love pretending that my husband is in the audience getting totally turned on by my new moves.

After class is over, the ‘tude is dropped and we all morph back into the suburban moms that we are in our real lives and troop over to the local Starbucks. LL Cool J would be so proud. Anyways, tonight we were enjoying conversation about our kids and their dance classes (and how much better than us they are), and all of a sudden our gaze was irresistibly drawn to a young couple who had walked in, arm in arm. After placing their order, they moved over to the pick up counter, and while they were waiting for their coffees (or vanilla cream frappachinos), they embraced and proceeded to kiss. Now, make no mistake – I’m not talking a little peck on the lips. I’m talking the full-on open-mouth French kiss.  Also known as: lip locking, mugging down, tongue wrestling, spit swapping, or my husband’s personal favourite – tonsil hockey.  (when we were dating he liked to refer to himself as the Wayne Gretzke of tonsil hockey)

Public Display of Affection

The reaction around our table was quite interesting. I mean, just 20 minutes before this little public display of  affection, we were throwing our boobs around and grabbing our crotches as we prepped for our dance recital (yes, this is truly part of our dance). You would think – given how comfortable we have become with groping ourselves in front of other people – that some PDA wouldn’t faze us in the slightest.  You might even think that we would have whistled or cheered or clapped.  But that was not our reaction.

Instead, the table suddenly went completely quiet. And then the obligatory “get a room” comment was thrown out. And then we all tittered about how inappropriate it was – those two standing in our Starbucks stoking the flames of their hormones.

But as I drove home, I wondered when was the last time these women kissed their husbands like that young couple. Come to think of it, when was the last time I kissed my husband like that? Are we so offended because this behaviour is truly inappropriate (after all, we watch far worse on TV, movies, dance videos, and the like)? Or are we offended because it is a face to face reminder of what we have let slide in our own relationships? Something that we have let go. Something that we deeply miss, when we are being honest with ourselves.

I recently had a friend point out an article in a magazine. It talked about relationships and sex, and concluded by saying that if we still had the passion that had before we got married, we would never get anything else done besides having sex. Now, I don’t know about that, but I sure think those kids in the Starbucks were having more fun than we were.

When is the last time you kissed your spouse like he was your lover (or like she was your lover)?

Four Kisses a Day – thoughts

Last week, I had the privilege of being my daughter’s guest at her school’s annual Spring Tea. In her class, there is a mix of 3, 4 and 5 year-olds and they had all been busy for weeks making the preparations to serve their parents at this special event. As the parents waited in the hall outside the classroom, the children came out one at a time to speak to their parent and say, “Welcome to our Spring Tea. Won’t you come in?” The little girls finished their request with a curtsy and the boys bowed. We were then escorted to our assigned tables, complete with place cards. The theme of the tea was Mexico, so once everyone was seated, the children served us lemonade, chips and hot sauce, and quesadillas. It was incredibly sweet to see them so very excited, and yet behaving like proper little hosts and hostesses as they fulfilled all their duties.

After we had our goodies served to us, the children when to the front of the classroom and sang to us (mostly in Spanish) for about 10 minutes. Cameras flashed and video recorders whirled as all the parents attempted to capture this performance for posterity. My favourite song was called “Four Hugs a Day”. They introduced it in Spanish, but not speaking the language myself, I didn’t have a clue what it was. I was fortunate because after the first verse in Spanish, they sang it in English. And here is how it goes:

Four hugs a day, that’s the minimum.
Four hugs a day, NOT the maximum.
Step One: Look them right in the eye
Step Two: Face to face
Step Three: Reach out your arms
Step Four: You can’t do any harm with
Four hugs a day, that’s the minimum.
Four hugs a day, NOT the maximum
.”

Needless to say, all the parents beamed with pride. How can you NOT hug your kid after a performance like that??!!

But evidently, the theme of Four a Day doesn’t seem limited to school Spring Teas!

If you follow me on Twitter, then you might have seen me retweet some things from @hismilkmaid (her Twitter name).  One of her posts was on a study out of England that I thought was really interesting.  Recently the UK newspaper, The Telegraph, reported that a new study has come out which says that couples who kiss four times a day are more likely to stay married.  (if you want to read the article you can, here.) In fact, if you want the whole prescription for success according to the study, it’s:

  • kissing 4 times a day
  • having sex 2-3 times a week
  • staying in touch during the day (by phone, email, text, etc.)
  • enjoying two romantic meals out each month
  • spending three nights of the week cuddling on the sofa together and
  • getting away for a couple of romantic weekends each year
  • one annual foreign holiday

These activities shore up the foundation of your relationship and helps ward off divorce.  I made special note of the “annual foreign holiday” to my husband, who smiled and said, “I guess we’ll have to take our chances” and winked.  Oh well, even if I don’t get a yearly trip to someplace exotic the rest of these really are great ideas for couples.

So in light of this study, here are my coaching tips for the day:

  • Kiss on your wife or husband today (yes, four times!). Try a couple warm kisses and a couple deep kisses (remember what those are??).  Why not throw in a couple of extra little kisses on the top of their head as you walk by them.
  • Send an email or text (their preferred method) telling them how much they mean to you.
  • Be intentionally intimate with your lover – have sex tonight!
  • Plan a romantic dinner with your lover.  Go out to a nice restaurant or stay home and make a romantic dinner right there in your own home – you could picnic on your bed for instance.

And for those wanting more than something that can be done today:

  • Start saving for and booking a getaway night or weekend for the two of you. Send the kids to relatives, do a kid-swap with friends (they take your kids one weekend and you take theirs another weekend), hire a young married couple to come for the weekend to babysit. Get creative and get it done!

And lastly, with apologies to my daughter’s pre-school class, and sing with me…

Four kisses a day, that’s the minimum.
Four kisses a day, NOT the maximum.
Step One: Look them right in the eye
Step Two: Face to face
Step Three: Pucker up your lips
Step Four: You can’t do any harm with
Four kisses a day, that’s the minimum.
Four kisses a day, NOT the maximum
.”

Four Kisses a Day

4-kisses-a-dayKeeping Romance Alive

Sharing two hobbies, having three cuddles every 24 hours, saying at least one ‘I love you’ a day and enjoying two romantic meals a month could also help ensure a lasting liaison.

Researchers also discovered the husband and wife who will stay true to their ’til death us do part’ vow will have met through friends – and tied the knot after three and a half years together.

More than 3,000 married adults were polled to discover the secrets of their success in staying together.

Carol Richardson of confetti.co.uk said: “The research shows just how many components make up the perfect marriage, including the ideal age gap, dating duration and time to get married.

“After wedding hype is over, the study shows how important it is to keep the magic alive with regular kisses, cuddles and romantic nights out.”

The study found the longest-lasting marriages involve a man who walked down the aisle at the age of 31 – two years and three months older than their partner.

They should also say ‘I love you’ to each other at least once every day and have sex three times a week.

To keep the spark alive the poll found that married folk should enjoy two romantic meals out each month and spend three nights of the week cuddling on the sofa together.

They will also keep in regular touch – even when they are at work – through at least three phone calls, text messages or emails.

Two surprise weekends away every year, one annual foreign holiday and two UK breaks will also keep the marriage strong.

But while the ideal couple will share two hobbies, the study also revealed it’s important to keep some independence by having two separate nights out with friends a month.

__________

Full article: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/4902206/Four-kisses-a-day-are-key-to-long-lasting-marriage-survey-suggests.html

Photo: The Telegraph

Missing the woman I fell in love with

By Josh Lerman on parenting.com

Tue April 7, 2009


(Parenting.com) — My wife and I share a home and a bed. We kiss goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening with such ritualistic regularity that if one of them somehow gets missed, I worry it means bad luck.

We have a marriage in which we tell each other things, without large, dramatic fights, a marriage that in our affection and respect for each other seems awfully good in comparison to those of most of our friends.

But somehow in the past ten years or so since our first daughter was born, in the mad swirl of breastfeeding and colic, of Pull-Ups and wipes, dinners and playdates, car repairs and sweeping, versions of each other that we used to take for granted — versions of our relationship — have gone missing.

Christina and I met around 20 years ago. The friend of a friend of one of my college roommates, she appeared to me first at a party a few weeks after graduation. I thought she was gorgeous, and remember standing in the kitchen talking to her, trying to make her laugh.

She left the party early, and I later heard she’d gone off to Europe. There was a boyfriend.

But through the coincidences of social life in a big city, I ended up living with a high school friend of hers, while she returned to New York to work in the same office as another friend of mine from college. We became part of each other’s circle of friends.

Over the next year or two, as we spent time with each other on a semi-regular basis, our banter became more flirtatious, and I finally asked what she was doing Friday night. She answered “Something with you,” and we’ve been together ever since.

What I remember most about our first years together was our laughter. We giggled in bed at night and over the course of long weekend mornings, lying on our backs, legs draped across each other’s legs. Shameless hilarity in restaurants, malls, on the sidewalk — a private world of absurdity and delight, in love with the ridiculousness of the world and each other.

We moved in together, married, and bought an apartment. Jobs gotten and lost, money pressures, depression, a relative’s drinking problem, fertility issues — the stuff of adult life — all pounded at us but ultimately pushed us closer. At last we became parents together, sharing the shocking face-smack of responsibility and obligation that comes with the precarious-seeming beauty of infancy.

Of course we were still silly together — it’s who we were — but there was less time, less energy. Christina’s body, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and even after, it seemed, was owned by our daughter Olivia. The baby was lavished with affection, but maybe not husband and wife so much.

The baby was tickled and sung to and spoken nonsense to and made to laugh, but maybe not the husband and wife so much.

A new job, more fertility trials, the dehumanizing infinity of adoption paperwork capped by waiting, waiting, and finally our baby, a second daughter, Lucy. Our life continued, almost on autopilot.

The children grow and their needs change. They must be fed, the mortgage paid, the sidewalk shoveled, bedtimes enforced. The obligations — to the preschool, the PTA, my job, Christina’s work, Olivia’s preposterously plentiful homework — are a constant, staticky background to our lives.

My wife and I support each other, can count on the other, and on random weekends away can recapture flashes of that old lightheartedness.

And there are new shared pleasures: looking at each other in baffled rapture at the half-wit brilliance of 4-year-old Lucy explaining “how they make grass”; beaming with outsize pride at 9-year-old Olivia’s dance-recital seriousness and grace; witnessing a spontaneous, unexpected gesture of affection from an older sister to a younger. And the attempted mom-dad hugs in the kitchen dissolving into four-headed laughing kiss-fests.

But it’s too little, too fleeting. We spend so much of our lives passing each other on the way somewhere. Me on the way to see whether the sudden, eerie silence from the girls’ room is Lucy scaling her dresser like a climbing wall (it is). Christina on the way to the basement to put the laundry in the dryer because no, I have to admit, it wouldn’t occur to me to do it on my own.

Our bedtimes drift apart — Christina’s closer to the girls’, mine later toward a precious hour or two of private, need-free quiet time listening to music, reading, or watching bad TV.

What’s gone is the pure selfishness that brought us together. Something that belonged only to us, that was unique to us and part of us, has gotten lost.

But isn’t this what happens in life — that what I remember was a time, not a thing, and we can no more recapture those versions of ourselves than we can travel to ancient Rome? That a normal part of becoming an adult, of raising a family together, is leaving behind treasured swaths of the love affair that got us here — the mindless lust, the inside jokes, the laughter? Perhaps. But even so, selfish though it may be, I miss my wife.

So we must build on what we had — what we still have. We’re different people now, in different lives. We’ve changed, and so our love must change. The problem isn’t really that something is lost. It’s that we’ve been looking in the wrong direction, sitting there waiting for something to materialize instead of getting up and making it ourselves.

We’ll have to try a little harder to see past the day-to-day. If I do, I’ll find my wife — she’s in the basement taking stuff out of the dryer.

And if she can postpone bedtime for just a few minutes (please!), she’ll find me down in the living room watching bad TV. I can’t tell you how easy it would be to get me to turn that damn thing off.

By Josh Lerman

Copyright 2009 The Parenting Group. All rights reserved.  Read the original article here.

And read Eryn-Faye’s response to this article in her blog, then share your thoughts too!

Eryn-Faye on Marriage Uncensored with Dave and Christie

On March 15th, Marriage Uncensored with Dave and Christie asked me to come on the show and talk to them about my role as Canada’s Passion Coach. They wanted the discussion to revolve around the kind of questions that I get asked “behind closed doors” by women and men. The episode is only 24 minutes long (half-hour show) but we cover a lot of ground! You can watch the entire show here. Hope you enjoy!



Watch Eryn-Faye on Marriage Uncensored in Celebrity & Showbiz | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Learning to Date Again

Why is it that we stop dating when we get married? Theoretically, once we live under the same roof we should have more money to spend on each other because we have combined expenses. Are we afraid of spending time alone because we have forgotten what to talk about? Do we confuse quality time together with the fact that we are in the same room watching TV together? If we are going to keep that spark alive – the one that drew us to each other in the first place – then it needs to be nurtured. And one of the best ways to nurture it is to date each other!

Learning to Date Again

How do you do it? Here are five ideas:

1.    Start dating again. Choose to go on regular dates with your spouse. Put the date on the calendar, book a babysitter, make reservations at a restaurant, purchase tickets to the game and go! If you are out of the habit, then begin dating your spouse once a month and make it easy to remember (for example, the first Saturday of the month is date night). Make it your goal to decrease the time in between so that you eventually go on dates once a week.

2.    Don’t let cost get in the way. I promise you, the cost of having regular dates is far less than the cost of a divorce. Build the expense of your dates into your budget so that you know how much you can spend and not feel guilty about it. Remember that this money is an investment into your marriage. However, if you are really pinching pennies, then get creative. Set up a babysitting co-op with friends: you watch their kids one night, and then they watch your kids another night. Go on inexpensive dates: have coffee at a local coffee shop; park close to the airport and watch the planes come in; take a long walk together.

3.    Try a “Happy Camper” Date. For a lot of couples, just trying to decide what to do on their date causes conflict because they have different interests and tastes. Here’s how the “happy camper” date works: one week you go on a date and your husband gets to choose what he activity he wants the two of you to do. (He gets to pick the movie, the restaurant, the hockey game, etc.) You go on this date with a great attitude – you are the “happy camper” this week. However, the following week, it is his turn to be the happy camper and do whatever you would like to do without complaining. This experience gives us greater insight into what makes our spouse tick and it builds our common history together which, in turn, leads to a stronger marriage.

4.    Set the rules of the date. The focus of the date is the two of you deepening your relationship together as a couple. So consider limiting your conversations about the kids or work (these can often be all consuming topics). If this leaves you nothing to talk about, then think of things that you used to talk about before the kids came along, what is going on in the world around you, or get a book which gives you questions to ask each other. Learning to talk again as two lovers may feel awkward at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be.

5.    Put some effort into your appearance. Remember spending hours in front of the mirror or in the closet picking out the perfect outfit when you were first going out? Fixing your hair so that it looked just right (women – this isn’t just directed at you. I have known plenty of men who spend more time on their hair than women!) Doesn’t your spouse deserve the same now? The art of attraction should never be neglected or lost simply because your partner said “I do.”

One of my coaching clients had an amazing perspective on marriage. She told me that her spouse is the one person who will be witness to her journey through life. We leave our parents’ home, our kids eventually leave ours, we change jobs and friends move away. But our spouse stays with us and we build a common history together over the years. Solidify this history with memories of the two of you.