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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.

 

 

Post Halloween Reflections

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Since my daughter is still young, Halloween is a HUGE event in our household. The conversations about costumes and candy and safety begin literally weeks before the big event. This year, Riley’s teacher fully embraced the season and read what Riley called “spooky-scary” books to them, wore Halloween ties and pumpkin earrings, and sent home a list of ways to be safe and responsible while Trick or Treating. Riley was so excited that she could barely see straight.

One morning, she announced to me that her teacher had said that they could wear heels to the class Halloween party, as long as they “went with the outfit”.

Now, allow me to give you a little insight on my daughter. She is a fashionista. Young though she is, she has an innate sense of style – albeit her own unique style which often involves pairing pink fluffy dresses with cowboy boots and a string of costume pearls. I seriously doubt that you would find anything even remotely resembling a “Riley Line” on the catwalks of Wal-Mart much less Milan or Paris. But it nevertheless emanates from who she is and how she wants to present herself to the world.  And ever since her MiMi bought her first (and only) pair for her this summer, she has absolutely adored heels.

So after her big announcement regarding the permissibility of wearing heels, I then asked her, “What do you want to be for Halloween?”

“A WITCH!” She cried excitedly.

“Do witches wear heels??” I was a little dubious.

“THIS witch does!” She grinned from ear to ear. Her enthusiasm was matched only by her self-confidence.  However, in an unfortunate blow to fashionable Halloween witches everywhere, when we went looking for costumes, she decided that big pointy hats and black shawls were not so stylish and she ended up going as a mermaid.  And with the same enthusiasm she employed towards her first idea, she made no bones about the fact that mermaids also wear heels.

And so, when the big night finally rolled around, we dressed up and unashamedly set off to randomly knock on doors, beg for food and take candy from strangers.

Like all kids, Riley loves the costumes and candy, but I love the community spirit that Halloween builds. It is one of the few times when we actually see and interact with our neighbours. Parents linger along the streets as their children go from door to door. I met – for the first time – the moms and dads of many of Riley’s schoolmates. I walked through my neighbourhood rather than driving. I slowed down. I chatted. I began relationships.

One couple in particular stood out to me. As they walked along, they held hands and were as warm in their affection for each other as the night was cold. But when I realized that they newly dating and not married, it made me very sad that they were showing up all the rest of us who were.

But it also gave me pause to think, as I grabbed Eric’s hand and cuddled up to him.  I know for a fact that I am more in love with my husband than she is with her boyfriend.  I know this because we have 18 years of history, of moments lived and memories shared.  So why on earth would I not be more affectionate towards my husband?

So here is my thought for you: make time this week for a little PDA (public display of affection) with your spouse. Nothing obscene, of course.  But hold a hand, give a smooch, link arms together. And then write me to tell what you did and what the reaction was around you. I want to know!

And then have some left over candy as a “reward”!

Relational Eroticism Part 2

I am not a history teacher by any means, but I have heard the comment that those who do not study the past are destined to repeat it.  I understood that statement to be an indictment on ignorance, and I have never wanted to be ignorant.  So, in order to “study the past” I became a student of it, mostly by watching the History Channel and Mel Gibson movies every now and again.  And one of my, now less so, guarded secrets is that I love watching the History Channel.  I was watching it the other day when my husband walked in.  He stared at the screen for a moment and saw men dressed up in medieval armor and turned and looked at me…waiting for some explanation as to why I was watching historical battles reenacted. I didn’t really have one other than a meek, “there wasn’t anything else on.”  But the truth is that I found it fascinating.

I love the names we have given to periods of time in history:  “The Dark Ages”, “The Renaissance”, “The Age of Enlightenment”…these all sound so romantic.  It’s way better than simply saying, “I grew up in the 70’s!  Best I have is “The Age of Bellbottoms and Awful Moustaches”, and that doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Just like looking back at pictures from the 1970’s and wondering how on earth our parents could have thought those clothes were fashionable in any way, when we look back on other ages in history it is always interesting to see what odd and even ignorant perceptions and paradigms people held so dear to themselves.

For instance, look at the so-called “Middle Ages” or “Dark Ages” for instance.  It was not until hundreds of years later that scholars began to use those terms for it, and it quickly took on a derogatory meaning.  It became a way to sum up that section of time by focusing on what was deemed to be “wrong with it.”  For a while it was called the “Age of Faith” because religion reigned supreme in the culture. Later, when this was deemed to be inappropriate because it is in direct conflict with the subsequent deification of intellect and man, scholars began referring to that period of history as “barbaric” and “priest-ridden”, and spoke of “these dark times”, “the centuries of ignorance”, and “the uncouth centuries”.

By the same token, these same scholars began calling their own time the “Age of Enlightenment.”  Thanks to the great oracle Google, I can tell you that, The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment) is a term used to describe a time in Western philosophy and cultural life, in which reason was advocated as the primary source and legitimacy for authority.  In fact, during this time reason was held to be the primary value of society.  Reason was prized above authority, intuition, emotion, mysticism, superstition, and faith.

Why am I forcing you into my private interest in history?  Because there are things we can learn from the past.  In fact, our current culture is shaped, in many ways, by cultural past. Studies have been done that show as much as 90% of our beliefs are secondary – meaning, that we either heard or read it, but did not personally experience it, and yet we believe it to be true. So when we hear “Dark Ages” we believe those times to be “bad” and when we hear “Enlightenment” we believe those times to be “good”.  What follows from that are logical conclusions that we should do like those who were “enlightened” and not be like those who were “ignorant”.   The pendulum has swung fully from a time where mysticism and faith (belief in that which cannot be seen or explained) were revered to a place where reason and understanding reign supreme.  Anything that cannot be fully known, understood, and explained in minute detail is not to be trusted.

The problem with this, like with any over-reaction, is that we have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.  Believe me, I too love to know and understand things.  When my husband is telling me something, I often serenade him with a chorus us “details, details…I WANT DETAILS!!!”  Seriously, I really do sing this to him.  It’s cute when I do it.  Seriously.

Anyway, the point here is that I am like everyone else when it comes to knowing things.  I want to know.  I need to know.  It’s my God-given right to know!  And therefore I tend to not trust things that I do not really understand.

This same philosophy has wormed its way into our belief about relationships.  I cannot tell you how many people have told me that they “deserve to know” every detail of their lover’s past and present in every area of their life.  And if they don’t know every detail, then they assume that things are being hidden and if things are being hidden then they must be bad or they wouldn’t hide them, and if they hide things then they don’t trust them, and if they don’t trust them then they cannot truly love them…and round and round the circle goes – each link in the chain assuming more and more negative qualities and it will become a major block in a relationship (if not a causal link to it failing).  Somehow in marriage we have come to the point where we actively and intentionally strive to eliminate all mystery.  We lose tolerance for a spouse who loads the dishwasher differently than we do – we don’t even bother to see why they do it a different way, we just know that our way is better.  We lose all tolerance for ambiguity – everything has to be nice and predictable.  Orderly.  Able to be quantified and classified.  Simple and easy to explain and understand.

The problem with this banal perspective is that it is, well, boring.  And aside from boring, it by definition extinguishes any erotic life from marriage.  Eroticism thrives in an atmosphere of mystery.  It allows for, and even encourages, spontaneity.  It provides fodder for our powerful imaginations to re-engage in the area of sex.   We regain a sense of wonder about sex.

I love the wording of that phrase: sense of wonder.  The very word bestows us with permission to not know.  To wonder is to not be sure – to not know.  And yet, one of the things we revere about children is their unadulterated sense of wonder – their amazing ability to simply look at things in awe without the overwhelming desire to understand it all.  They can take things at face value and appreciate them for what they are on the surface.  Faith comes easy to them.

We as adults, on the other hand, almost pride ourselves on our cynicism.  No one will take advantage of us.  We have ubiquitous sayings that permeate our sub-conscious like, “fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me” or “if it seems too good to be true, then it is” or “I’m from Missouri, SHOW ME.”  We require proof.  In many ways we still cling to the pendulum that swung so far.

This is because, in North America, our thinking has been so radically impacted by the Age of Enlightenment. We can rationalize and explain virtually everything in our world. Intellectual discourse is high on our list of values. If I can explain things more articulately than you then I win the debate. We put very little value on mystery, on that which cannot be explained. Even our “mystery” shows on TV – CSI and Bones among others – are tied up neatly with a bow at the end of the episode. Shows which refuse to explain every little nuance – the show Lost comes to mind – drive us insane. (Why can’t they just tell us what is up with that island anyways?!)

And so it is with our relationships. Can’t communicate well? Head to your local bookstore and look through the thousands of self-help books. Or even better, flip on Dr. Phil – he will give you an answer. Can’t sustain an erection? Go to the doctor and get a prescription of Viagra or Cialis filled. If that doesn’t work, you can research penis implant surgery.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that diligently seeking solutions to life’s problems is wrong. Au contraire – I wholeheartedly advocate being solution-oriented. And yet, there are times when we cannot find answers. Times when the prescription medication he is taking to keep him alive has devastating side effects on his libido and despite all the things you have tried, nothing can take away the ache that he doesn’t pursue you like he once did. Times where even though she has never had an orgasm with you, she finally confesses that she cannot live like this any more. Even though you have tried and tried, nothing is working and your fear that she will leave is escalating with each failed attempt.

In these moments, do we stop looking for solutions? No.

Rather we have to act like the love illegitimate love child of Mulder and Scully from the X-Files.  While looking for answers, we have to simultaneously learn to embrace the ambiguity of mystery. We choose to learn from the very fact that we do not know the answers. Contrary to everything our culture teaches us, we realize that we can grow from not knowing. We choose to see this mystery box as something that will weave richness into our life’s story rather than an inconvenience that needs to be immediately eradicated.

Richard Rohr calls this place “liminal space.” He says, “It is when you have left the “tried and true” but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else… It is when you are in between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. It is no fun.”

No, it is not fun. However, if we can survive liminal space without bailing out too early for cheap and easy answers, we reap incredibly rich rewards: we become adept at dealing with anxiety, living with ambiguity, and stoking the flames of eroticism.

You thought I had forgotten about eroticism. Trust me…I’m getting there, but we have to build the foundation first. Next week: Exploring the Mystery of the Erotic or The Truth Erotic is Out There…

the erotic is out there

Awareness Regarding Sex and Menopause

In this short Q&A, Eryn-Faye, Canada’s Passion Coach, answers an audience member’s question about the major issues regarding sex and menopause.

Download this file as a .mov file for your Quick Time player OR as a .m4v file for your ipod OR as a .mp3 file to listen to the audio on itunes

Laughing About Lingerie

This past weekend, our family attended a wedding of a dear friend. Since my husband was the master of ceremonies for the reception, we were invited to the all the festivities which lead up to the big event. During the rehearsal dinner at a local restaurant, several of us ended up in the bathroom to have a last minute discussion about sex. Two things might jump out at you about that last statement:

  1. public bathroom; and
  2. sex talk.

It just goes to show you that women will talk about sex anywhere! The environment was less than stellar, but I am always willing to work with what is available, and it was a follow-up to a more thorough discussion that the bride and I had had earlier in a much better setting.

As toilets were flushing in the stalls behind us, the bride mentioned the amazing lingerie shower that she had been thrown and all the new items that she was going to get to model for her new hubby. We all laughed that most men won’t even remember what you had on because it ends up in a pile on the floor so quickly! One lady mentioned that she wore an outfit three times before her husband recognized it as part of her wardrobe.

Over the years of marriage, however, we often stop trying so hard to look enticing for our husband. Maybe we gained a little weight and so now we feel self-conscious. Maybe we spend our money on clothes for our kids instead of ourselves. Maybe we are just so tired at the end of the day that we just want to crawl into our favourite sweat pants. Maybe we don’t feel like we deserve to get something that is so flimsy and worn for such a short period of time. Maybe we have just forgotten about how much fun it is to wear something sexy.

Here’s my question for all of you who have been married for a while: When was the last time you donned something special for your spouse? If it has been a while, then what is stopping you? How can you overcome that obstacle?

Need some great ideas?

  • Get a lacy bra with matching panties – this is a somewhat practical suggestion as you can wear them all day but still look hot for hubby later!
  • Purchase a teddy – if you don’t like the way your stomach looks, this is a very sexy way to cover it up!
  • Try some silk or satin – they feel great against your skin!
  • Check out this great blog post on crotchless panties

Now, in the words of that great American poet Justin Timberlake, go bring sexy back!!

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
.”

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