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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!

How to be a Good Spouse at the Christmas Party

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

There is no getting around it – holiday parties can be dreaded events. As if being forced to spend time with colleagues you avoid like the plague during work hours isn’t bad enough, you’re supposed to be, well, merry. The only thing worse than attending a Christmas party at your own office is going as your spouse’s “plus one.”

But what if the Christmas party could actually help your relationship? What if your presence could bring value to your spouse’s professional life? What if attending could be one of the best gifts you give your spouse all year? If you have the right attitude, you can reap a lot of relational benefits from the Christmas party. Here are some pointers:

1)   You get a snapshot of your spouse’s life 40+ hours a week. If you are like a lot of couples, there is an extremely good chance that the people at your spouse’s workplace get to see him more than you do. Sure, you get to hold his hand, raise children together and go to bed with him at night, but when you subtract the hours that you spend sleeping, commuting, eating and other such necessary activities, there might not be a lot left over for you. The Christmas party is your chance to step into your spouse’s world. Who does he interact with all day? What makes him so passionate about his job? How does he interact with others? How does he treat his direct reports? What does he really have to put up with from his boss? These answers give you new insight into your spouse – a very valuable thing in marriage if you want it to last.

2)   You get to see your spouse through the eyes of another. It is inevitable that over the years, we all have a tendency to put our spouses in a box. You have preconceived notions of what she likes, how she behaves in certain situations, and how she gets work accomplished. But her colleagues might have a radically different perception of her. When she is at work, her quirky sense of humour might have more air to breathe than at home rushing through dinner and homework duties. Her ability to manage a team might look drastically different than her attempts to support the elementary school fundraiser. What do your spouse’s colleagues appreciate about her? How does she bring value to her workplace? Discovering the answers might reveal a side of her that you haven’t seen in a while.

3)   You have the opportunity to make your spouse look good. Ultimately, this is the greatest gift you give your spouse. If you show up at the party with a great attitude, mingle with others, show interest in your spouse’s colleagues and behave respectfully (no heavy drinking, no tacky comments, no inappropriate outfits and no bugging the boss about overtime), your spouse will reap the benefits professionally, and you will reap them personally.

The holiday season is about sharing love and kindness to those around us. It is about slowing down enough to appreciate the small but significant things in life. Allow this holiday cheer to extend to your spouse’s Christmas party and into your relationship for the New Year.

 

 

Public Proposals – Yay or Nay?

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

My sister got engaged last week, and I am thrilled. She called me from Hawaii, where they were vacationing, and squealed the news over the phone. She has dated some duds in her life, and this guy seems to really love, appreciate and value her. I couldn’t be happier.

The interesting part of their engagement was that, despite the popularity of flash mob, Jumbotron and YouTube proposals, Meredyth’s finance popped the question on a quiet beach with an elegant picnic, against the beautiful backdrop of the ocean. It was just the two of them – their own private moment.

This stands in stark contrast to the way that Eric proposed to me. It took 12 hours, 900 miles and 40 people before he popped the question. I literally traveled all over the state of Texas, collecting pieces of a charm bracelet and chapters of a story that he was writing about what our life would be like together. I thought this was incredibly romantic. He said he was just trying to wear me down because he was terrified I would say no. He claims he had a sniper installed at the top of the grassy knoll where he proposed ready to take one of us out if I said no. He didn’t care which one it was. That’s how they roll down in Texas.

My proposal was very public. My sister’s was very private. Which one is better?

Here is my cardinal rule for any proposal: It is not about your ego, it is about your partner. If your partner is someone who has a sense of adventure, has no problem being the center of attention and will appreciate all the meticulous planning that went into a public proposal, then it might be an incredibly sweet memory the two of you can share together.

However, if you partner is intensely private, hates going on Facebook, has a tight-knit group of friends and doesn’t appreciate surprises, then maybe you should skip the Jumbotron and have a candlelit dinner at home instead. That way, when she thinks back on your proposal, it will not be tainted with feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment.

Remember that you are beginning the rest of your lives together. Start off on the right foot by focusing on what your partner would love, rather than just trying to impress everyone else. Even though they went about their special moments totally differently, I think both Eric and Ryan nailed it. Well done, gentlemen. And a HUGE congratulations to Meredyth and Ryan!

88 Years is Picture Perfect

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

A couple in China is making headlines because they have been married for 88 years and are just now getting their wedding pictures taken. Evidently, back in 1924 when they wed, cameras were not prevalent in their part of the country. Now, at the ages of 101 and 103, their community has come together to make sure that they are photographed in all their wedding finery. Here they are, Wu Conghan and his wife Wu Sognshi. Congratulations!

Wu Conghan, 101, and his wife Wu Sognshi, 103.

Can You Vote Differently and Still Stay Married?

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

Today is Election Day in the USA. And in all my years as an adult, I cannot remember an election that was this close and this divisive. As duel citizens, my husband and I have been watching it carefully and debating the options. Although we have lived most of our marriage in Canada, we care deeply about the impact the next President will make on our friends and relatives down in the States.

Because we have lived in numerous countries, traveled extensively and worked for international organizations, the perspectives that Eric and I have on the world, and thereby the elections, have changed over the years. The people we were 20 years ago are not the people we are today. The choices we make today are a reflection of our own observations in life, not just the political ideology we were taught as children. That is a good thing, I believe. However, in the process of this continuing metamorphosis, we do not always reach the same conclusions at the same times – and this often leads to lively debates.

I clearly remember having an in-depth conversation about politics with Eric, and the discussion was on the brink of turning into a full-on fight. All of a sudden, out of the blue, it struck me that I didn’t have to change him. I could love him deeply and respect him fully without demanding that he clone my beliefs and perspectives. We could agree to disagree and still be lovers and partners in life.

I believe that the ability to respect your spouse, without expecting him to agree with everything you think or feel, is foundational to a good marriage. In fact, lively debate can be productive as long as it does not devolve into criticism, contempt or defensiveness. There is no way that you are going to live with one person for the rest of your life and agree with absolutely everything she believes. It just won’t happen. But, if you can respect your spouse as an individual with different thoughts, perspectives, opinions and beliefs and love him anyways, that is the sign of true companionship. That will last the test of time.

I think that Eric and I are on the same page at this point of our lives (he never showed me his absentee ballot, so I cannot be fully certain), but even if we aren’t, it’s ok. Even if he voted for the “other guy,” we can have peace. Politics, it turns out, are good practice for the other areas in our marriage where we aren’t clones either.

How Do You Blow Your Marriage?

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

On her radio show this afternoon, Susan Knight mentioned a blog post by Single Dad Laughing. Having two divorces under his belt, the author wrote a post on 16 Ways I Blew My Marriage. I think it is a fabulous piece because it gives us all the opportunity to look at our relationships and see where we are “blowing” it right now, but it also gives us tools to make things better.

Single Dad Laughing (aka Dan Pearce) has some great insight, and I highly recommend you read the blog for yourself. But before you do, let me highlight a few take-aways from his list.

1)   The little things are important. You know how we are always told not to sweat the small stuff? Well, the small stuff is important in marriage because a bunch of small stuff accumulates into big stuff over time. Remembering to hold hands, putting effort into staying attractive, making meals and letting your spouse know you appreciate him – that might seem small in the moment but it has a huge impact on a long-term relationship.

2)   Get rid of contempt. Yelling, name-calling, and believing you are better than your spouse are all signs of contempt in your relationship. According to Dr. John Gottman (who claims to predict divorce with 93% accuracy), contempt is the fast-track to divorce. So stop calling your spouse a jerk or pointing out all his faults…it’s not a productive way to let out your frustration.

3)   You have got to laugh! Laughter (often prevalent in the infancy of our relationship) is absolutely crucial to its well-being. Pearce mentions that you have to have fun together, and while I agree whole-heartedly, I would take this a step further. Laughter releases endorphins in our brains and makes us feel closer together. So, instead of fighting, trying watching a funny movie or going to a comedy show together instead. When we are laughing with each other, it is a lot easier to sort through the tough stuff in our marriage.

Thanks for bringing Pearce’s post to my attention, Susan! The rest of you can go read it for yourselves here.

Saying “I Love You” Without the Words

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

Several years ago, I attended Michele Weiner Davis’ course, Divorce Busting® Intensive for Professionals. We buckled down for days, and from 8:30-5:00 every day, we talked about techniques to help couples on the brink of divorce resolve their differences.

One of the stories that she shared was of herself as a young wife. She got married in the 70′s when the modern woman was emerging and this culture was the filter through which she viewed her marriage. She didn’t need to cook for her husband – she was too busy building her career! As the kids arrived, she realized that she had to do something to get some nutrition in them, so she began to ensure that there was actually food on the table when they got home. What she was quite shocked by was her husband’s reaction to her new-found culinary skills. He would smell the food wafting through the house when he arrived home and gave her the most enthusiastic of responses! As she thought about this reaction, she began to realize that his mother was a superb cook. In fact, at family gatherings, the table was covered with all sorts of dishes to enjoy. Because of the way he was raised, Michele’s husband felt loved when she put an effort into cooking!

Inadvertently, Michele had stumbled upon a concept which she now shares with all the couples that she meets – Real Giving. Real giving occurs when we give to our spouses something that we know they will like. It might be a hug when they are being particularly ornery. It might be tidying the house even though you are exhausted and want to go to bed. It might be starting up the car on a cold winter day so it can warm up before your spouse gets in it. It might mean filling up the gas tank in your spouse’s car. It might mean sitting eye to eye and having a conversation. Or it might mean letting them go for a night out with their friends.

It might not seem natural, come easily, or even feel like it is a big deal to us, but we must learn to recognize what our spouse sees as important loving acts and do them. It’s not about sacrificing for our spouse; it’s about showing them love.

In his groundbreaking book, The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman wrote of this important concept. In this book, he theorized that people have one of five “languages” in which they speak love to their partners. They are:

  • Words of Affirmation (telling your spouse through verbal or written language how much they mean to you, how good they look, what you love about them, etc.)
  • Physical Touch (reaching out to have physical contact with your spouse)
  • Acts of Service (pitching in to help your spouse doing things such as running errands or household chores)
  • Quality Time (having undivided attention and spending alone time with each other)
  • Gift Giving (giving gifts of other tangible expressions of love to your spouse)

Frequently, spouses speak different languages. An Acts of Service husband might take care of all the household chores, but his Quality Time wife just wants to spend time with him. A Words of Affirmation wife might be telling her spouse what a great husband he is, but her Physical Touch husband wants to be able to cuddle more often.

Furthermore, all of these languages have “dialects.” A Words of Affirmation spouse might be embarrassed to hear you speak the words aloud, but is delighted to find little notes around the house which express your affirmation. A Physical Touch spouse might crave back rubs and massages. A Quality Time person might love spending time together on the golf course and go out for beer afterward. A spouse who delights in Gift Giving might like fresh cut flowers to put on her table each Friday night. An Acts of Service person might like to have the car washed each week.

If spouses are speaking different love languages to each other, and they don’t recognize that their partner doesn’t speak the same language, they will overlook the acts of love that their spouse is giving them. Even when they find out there is such a thing as different “languages” of love, some people ask – Why should I learn his language if he won’t learn mine?! Or worse, these people will get judgmental and think to themselves, “Her way of showing love is stupid; mine is better.” These attitudes are toxic to the relationship. They create a deadly standoff in the marriage wherein neither party is willing to budge first.

If we are not able to learn to recognize and then speak the language of our partner and if we refuse to practice real giving, then we are channeling the actor from Cool Hand Luke who said, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate!” Neither party is going to feel loved and both parties are going to feel resentful! Welcome to the fast-track to divorce!

However, when couples are practicing real giving (even if just one party starts the process), then they are putting aside the notion of a tit-for-tat relationship and seeking ways to show love to their partners in manners in which the partner recognizes,  accepts and cherishes. And it is quite amazing what usually happens – once the first domino is tipped over, it creates a chain reaction throughout the relationship which is incredibly positive! Both parties are going out of their way to show love to each other.

What to do some real giving practice this week? Here are some ways to get started:

  • Which language do you speak?
  • Does it have a particular dialect?
  • What language does your spouse speak?
  • Does that language have a dialect?
  • Practice real giving this week by picking two things that you want to do in your spouse’s love language, and give it to your spouse as a gift.

What Mila Kunis Can Teach Us about Sexy

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


Esquire Magazine just came out with their proclamation of the Sexiest Woman Alive for 2012. (And by “Sexiest Woman Alive” what they actually mean is “Sexiest Woman in the American Media.”) This year’s winner, Mila Kunis, follows in the footsteps of other women who most men would readily take to bed if they were given the opportunity. Those of us who think our culture has gone insane with its obsession with the perfect body just ignore the press releases and move on with our lives. Those of us who watch celebrities from a distance inwardly sigh in resignation that we will never be sexy.

But Hollywood has no shortage of women who are half-starved, surgically altered, primped and then airbrushed so that very little of the human remains. If sexy only means a certain clothing size, or cup size, and long, luscious hair, then the decision makers at Esquire would have a very difficult time narrowing down the candidates for their yearly title. So I did a bit of research to find out what is so catching about Mila. Here are some qualities that make her stand out from the crowd.

1)     Sexy is being comfortable in your own skin. Mila moves like she knows what she is doing. That is difficult for most of us. Moving easily, feeling good about ourselves was always derided as pride or vanity. However, it is at the heart of being sexy. One of my favourite definitions of the word comes from the book Sex God, wherein the author’s wife explained the term to their five-year-old son. “Sexy is when it feels good to be in your own skin. Your own body feels right, it feels comfortable. Sexy is when you love being you.”[1] When you know who you are and like yourself, you have one of the key ingredients to sexy.

2)     Sexy is passionate. When they announced the winner of this year’s title, Esquire also released a racy video of Mila prancing around, scantily-clad, giving sultry looks. (Here is the video.) But at the end of the video, she writes on the wall, “I’d rather be scuba diving.” It is completely disarming because we often assume that sexy is all about the sex appeal. But authenticity plays a role as well. Substance is important. What you are passionate about, the core of your being, comes out when you are being sexy.

3)     Sexy is warm and expressive. During the interview for the article, the reporter noted that Mila laughs and speaks loudly. “Loud enough that any of the ten or so people in the immediate vicinity can hear every word she’s saying. Loud enough that you start whispering just to counteract it.”[2] From the context of the article, I got the distinct impression that this was not so she could draw attention to herself, but because it is intrinsically part of her being. So many times, we minimize ourselves so we will fit in with the world around us. Unfortunately, this only serves to cut us off from others rather than deepen our connection. Sexy connects.

4)     Sexy is slightly mysterious. There are certain things about Mila’s life that are simply off-limits. She does not talk about the men that she is dating. When she needs privacy, she intentionally tries to dodge the paparazzi. A little bit of mystery is good for your sexy self as well. Not the “I’m not going to tell you where I was all night” type, but the “I’ll close the door when I go to the bathroom” variety. Understanding the difference and giving mystery room to breathe cultivates sexy.

We can’t all look like Mila. We can’t have the life experience, the visibility in the media or the roles in movies that she has had. But we can all be sexy.


[1] Bell, R. (2007). Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 46.

[2] For the complete article, see McCammon, R. (2012). “Mila Kunis Is the Sexiest Woman Alive 2012.” Esquire, October 6. http://www.esquire.com/women/women-we-love/mila-kunis-video#ixzz28pFzIVFX.

4 Tips for Meeting the Parents This Thanksgiving

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

So, you are spending Thanksgiving with your partner’s parents…and you have never met before. Talk about being thrown into the deep end of the pool! Meeting the parents is always a nerve-wracking occasion, but mixing it with a major holiday ups the ante even further.

Here are a few tips for you:

1)   Very often, things go awry when we have unspoken expectations, so talk to your partner before the visit. You can ask questions like, what does your family get-together usually look like? Do the women cook and then the men clean up? Do you want me to hang out with you, or can I ditch you to play Wii with the kids and gossip about the Kardashians with your sister? Does your mom make us say one thing we are grateful for around the dinner table? Getting answers to these questions will not only help you feel more prepared, but will also give your partner a chance to warn you about anything that you might want to know ahead of time. Like the fact that Aunt Gerta has a huge mole on her chin, and is super self-conscious about it.

2)   Everyone likes to talk about themselves, so find out what your partner’s family is passionate about. If his mom is crazy about gardening, then you might want to brush up on the basics of this hobby beforehand so you have some good questions to ask her. If her brother just had a baby, then be prepared to ask about the joys and trials of being a new parent. If his dad is a Toronto Bluejays fan? Well, that’s a tough one. Just be prepared to fake enthusiasm. In all seriousness though, ask questions. Be interested about their lives. Seize the opportunity to learn everything you can about your partner as a kid. This is all good information to have, and they will appreciate your effort.

3)   When the family asks questions about your relationship, be warm and respectful of your partner. Remember, your partner has been a part of their world a lot longer than he has been in yours. This is not the time to bring up the fact that he likes to cheat at board games or falls asleep during staff meetings at work. Emphasize the things that you appreciate about her and the reasons you enjoy spending time together. Not only will your partner appreciate the feedback, but you will be complimenting her family too. After all, they have played a role in how she has turned out.

4)   Get feedback after the holiday is over and you have returned to normal life. If you have long-term plans with your partner, you will run into his family again, so find out what his perspective was on the experience. If you royally screwed up, you can make adjustments (or apologies) when you see them again. If you knocked it out of the park, then you have a road-map for the next time you go for a visit.

Above all, relax, have fun and enjoy the turkey!

I Would Walk 5,000 Miles

Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM about Dr. Crocker:

What happens when you have a chance meeting with a beautiful woman in a foreign land but return home without getting her name? Evidently, it means that you ask your boss for four weeks off and go back to find her.

Dr. Sandy Crocker, a dentist from Kelowna, BC, was on vacation in Ireland with his brother over a year ago when he saw a gorgeous redhead in a café. Too shy to get any details of importance, or even give her a compliment to jump-start a conversation, he instead resorted to asking for directions. He has regretted that decision ever since.

After fourteen months of thinking about this mystery woman and second-guessing those few minutes, Dr. Crocker finally decided to quit pining away, and see if he could track her down. He is currently in Ireland, putting notes in the café where they met, advertising in the local newspaper, and enlisting as many news sources as possible to reach out to her.

What drives a person to trek thousands of miles to find someone he only spoke to for moments?

Infatuation.

When we become infatuated with someone, we have a spike of epinephrine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and phenylethylamine (PEA). When this happens, we have more energy (even if we have been up until 4am talking to each other), lower inhibitions (we will try things we always swore we wouldn’t), and a higher-than-usual libido (we struggle to keep our hands off each other). Furthermore, we just can’t get this person out of our head. They consume our thoughts.

Fortunately, infatuation can mature into genuine love. As we discover common values, have shared experiences, and dream together for the future, infatuation can blossom into a solid foundation for life together. Over time, the hormones that give us those feelings of bliss give way to oxytocin, the bonding hormone that weaves richness and stability into our relationship.

I admire Dr. Crocker’s gutsy decision. According to the reports in the media, he seems quite aware that he may never find this woman…or, if he does, she might be happily married. However, he doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life wondering what might have been had he not taken this trip. Bravo, Dr. Crocker. You remind all of us to pay attention to the little moments in life and not let them slip away.