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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 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.

 

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 5: Side-by-Side Communication

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

One of my favourite researchers is Dr. Helen Fisher, a renowned anthropologist with Rutgers University who specializes in romantic love. (She gets to stick people in fMRI machines and see what happens to their brains when they see pictures of their loved ones. How cool is that?!)  Back in 2008, she did a TED Talk on the different ways men and women communicate and bond. During this presentation, she said something profound that we all need to understand in our relationships:

Women tend to get intimacy differently than men do. Women get intimacy from face-to-face talking. We swivel towards each other; we do what we call the anchoring gaze, and we talk. This is intimacy to women. I think it comes from millions of years of holding that baby in front of your face and cajoling it, reprimanding it, educating it with words.

Men tend to get intimacy from side-by-side doing. As soon as one guy looks up, the other guy will look away. I think it comes from millions of years of standing behind that bush, sitting behind that bush, looking straight ahead trying to hit that buffalo in the head with a rock. I think for millions of years, men faced their enemies as they sat side by side with friends.

Many of the women I meet are desperate for, in fact sometimes they outright demand that their husbands look them in the eye when they are having a conversation. What they do not understand is that eye-to-eye contact is intuitively very aggressive for a guy. That is not where he functions best. He genuinely wants to have intimacy with his wife, but if eye-to-eye contact is the only acceptable path in her mind, she is setting him up to fail.

As your Bedwork this week, I want you to leverage this information and use it to build greater intimacy in your relationship. Have a conversation while you are side by side. You might want to go for a walk, a drive or even get on the phone together. Regardless of what you choose, limit your eye contact. Now here is your topic of conversation: Top Five Intimate Moments. Take a walk down memory lane and share – in as much detail as possible – your favourite times together.

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

The Drew Marshall Show

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of being interviewed on The Drew Marshall Show – Canada’s Most Listened to Spiritual Talk Show. I had absolutely no clue what to expect, but was delighted by Drew’s ease with the subject and Tim The Tool’s sense of humour. Both made for a lively interview.

For those of you who were unable to catch this segment live, here is a link to the show (scroll down a few guests to find my segment).

 

 

The Quickie vs. Making Love Debate

This past weekend, I was speaking to a group of pastors and their spouses on The Essential Elements of Sex. As I began to talk about the concept of making love versus having a quickie, one woman called out, “Sometimes you just need a snack!” The room dissolved into laughter and even the most shy in the room were giggling in approval.

As a coach, one of the common complaints that I hear is that the woman wants to “make love” and feels that her husband just wants to have “a quickie”. The former evokes images of a couple looking into each other’s eyes and kissing deeply while the latter conjures up the picture of getting pinned against the wall and being taken right then and there. Both can be deeply passionate, just different forms of expressing the passion.

 

Sometimes, sex will be a deep, soul-connecting intimacy with our spouse. Other times, it will just be a way to experience pleasure together quickly. Sometimes it will be a two-hour experience; sometimes it won’t last ten minutes. Sometimes it will be long and luxurious; other times it will be fast and frantic. Sometimes both spouses will walk away having experienced orgasm; other times the focus is on one person alone.

 

Difficulty arises, however, when couples fall into a rut of believing that it has to be one or the other… all the time. I have seen husbands refuse to acknowledge the need to make love and I have met wives who insist that each and every sexual encounter must be “making love”. A dogmatic adherence to one or the other undermines true intimacy. A steady diet of quickies denies the concepts of exploration, creativity, and deep communication because, amongst other reasons, there is simply no time to venture into those areas. On the other hand, if couples only have sex when they have time to make love, they might never get to it out of sheer busyness!

 

Both types of sex build intimacy if they are done in balance. Sometimes you need a gourmet meal; sometimes you need a snack.

 

Which one do you need to work into your sex life to regain balance?

Essential Elements of Sex Course

Beginning next Wednesday, I will be doing a teaching series on The Essential Elements of Sex: Reigniting Passion, Love and Intimacy at the Women’s Breakaway program in Langley, BC. During this 8 week course, I will be answering questions such as:

  • What are the myths that we believe about sex?
  • How can we juggle our busy lives without neglecting this crucial aspect of our relationships?
  • How can we communicate effectively with our spouses about this sensitive subject?
  • How do we navigate differences in desire levels?
  • How can we overcome the insecurities that we experience?
  • How can we have more fun together?

If you would like to join me, the Woman’s Breakaway Program is being held at North Langley Community Church:

Location: 21015 96th Avenue  Langley, BC V1M 2Z3

Time: 9:15am – 11:15am

Runs: Every Wednesday from September 23rd – November 25th

Cost: $25 for the course  ($10 for child care for the entire course)

For more information, call the Women’s Breakaway program at 604-888-0442.