FREE WEBINAR EVENT! GET NAKED: EXPLORING MARITAL INTIMACY

The question of intimacy, will always be one which will determine the health and state of our significant relationships. But what is intimacy? What does it really look like in marriage and why is it so important? What hinders intimacy in marriage? Why do we run from it and how can we build and strengthen the capacity for intimacy in marriage?

Join me on Saturday April 25th, 10:00 am – 10:45 am AST for a  FREE WEBINAR EVENT : GET NAKED! Exploring Marital Intimacy

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone by clicking on the link below. Space is limited, so please log in at least five minutes early, to secure your place.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/454043093

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Great RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION you don’t want to miss. Brought to you by Better Blends Relationship Institute and Red Red Apples.

Do You Fall In And Out Of Love?

romantic_couple_sunset-wallpaper-2048x1152The idea of “falling in love” as an all-consuming passion over which we seem to have little control is standard romantic fare. We meet someone with whom there is a strong physical and even emotional attraction. We may even get to the stage where we become mildly obsessed. We can’t seem to get this love interest out of our minds. We not only think about this lucky one constantly but when we see him/her we often get all warm and fuzzy inside and our body might do things which we didn’t exactly plan for. But each of us knows that these feelings do not last. Why then do we claim to have “fallen out of love?” Do we honestly expect to maintain these heady feelings for a lifetime and what are our relationship options when this intensity begins to fade?

Scientists explain that the chemical dopamine plays a big role in those initial intense feelings of attraction. It provides an intense pleasure-rush not dissimilar from what is experienced in other addictions. The danger comes when we literally get hooked on the butterflies or on the rush and high of initial sexual attraction. If these feelings also inform our expectations of what a relationship should be, then we can experience intense disappointment when the feelings wane or absolute confusion if we experience them with someone else.   How many times have we heard a friend claim to have “fallen out of love” with one individual and “in love” with a next? How then should we navigate our relationships when faced with the reality that these feelings have not lasted?

1. Change our relationship expectations: If we understand from the outset that the fall from the high of love is inevitable, then hopefully we won’t fall apart when it occurs. We often unrealistically expect that “true love” means sustaining our original emotion. Coming to terms with the reality, that change can be a vital sign of our maturing love, should enable us to redefine the fuel which drives our relationship.

2. Desire more than feelings: It’s regrettable that so much of the literature and even music which exists about love, is based on feeling. It is important to reframe love as more of a decision to commit which is of course buttressed by attraction. Essentially, this commitment is a choice to deprive ourselves of other choices. While those mushy feelings which drive attraction may be great, they’re obviously not enough to base a lifetime of commitment on. Attraction should, however, be viewed as an ongoing dynamic which must be worked at by both partners. At the same time, our love should come from a deeper place. Knowing what makes us attractive to our spouse and working on that constantly is, therefore, also critical.

3. Understand that love is an action: Verbalizing love is great. Many of us women particularly, love to be told “I love you”. Love should however be evidenced through active demonstrations of thoughtfulness. It should also be communicated in the love-style which our partner desires and not necessarily what we prefer. Our love-style simply means how our experiences, personality and gender converge to influence how we like to give or receive love. This will mean stepping outside our comfort zone to learn and do the things which our partner may appreciate but which may not necessarily be second nature to us. So if a woman needs to be romanced or a husband needs sex to feel wanted, then we should respectively oblige.

4. Add personal value to our relationship: Very often in relationship-land we tend to focus on ourselves; on our needs and on what is important to us. Seeing our relationship, however, as a place where we can give and add value means that we focus less on us and more on the greater good of the relationship. This will require us asking ourselves “How can I improve my relationship?” or “What can I change about myself to make this relationship better?” Moving out of self-preservation mode to focus on the value which we can add, also forces us to take responsibility for our own happiness.

5. Create memorable moments: Our daily experiences form the basis for our sense of life-fulfillment. When those experiences are positive and pleasurable, we feel a sense of peace and contentment. Creating positive memories means living each day of our relationship intentionally. This will encourage us to put more thought into our actions, to think before we speak and to evaluate our core motivations for doing things. This will also encourage us not to take those daily moments for granted. While living in the moment is good, planning for future moments means taking our relationship off automatic-pilot to work towards the lifetime of love we want.

How Is Your Post-Valentine Relationship?

man-roses-mainOkay; so the yearly annual red roses hype has ended. The flowery words in cards of red and white have been stashed away by vendors until next year. Some of you may be out of pocket by a few bucks depending on how seriously you adhere to the Valentine’s Day tradition. Whatever the case, another special occasion for the expression of love has passed. So what’s next in your significant relationship? Although a die-hard romantic who loves romantic gestures, I’m always inclined to think that the true state of a relationship is tested outside the marketing hype of any special holiday. Romance must not be viewed as an act or posture we assume because it’s popular or because it will hopefully get us some sex. It should also never be used to manipulate the one we claim to love. Am I purporting that we should get all cynical and boring and ditch the roses? Of course not! But what is our relationship really like the many mornings after Valentine’s has passed? Is romance just a seasonal thing with us? Do we really value our partner and do we let him/her know it? Seasons and special days are important because they should allow us to creatively affirm our love. They should provide a context for our partner to feel special. Maintaining authentic expressions of love and appreciation outside of these times is, however, also imperative. If we’re to really make our relationships strong for the long haul, then we must engage in positive acts which demonstrate that our love is more than mere talk. In a classic case of putting our money where our mouth is, putting the love we feel into action should demand our willingness to spend our time, money and resourcefulness. For those who may think this is complicated or for those who may feel fresh out of ideas, the following tips provide some great tips for improving your relationship post-valentine’s and beyond.

  •  Cook your partner’s favorite meal and do a special decorative layout of such; this can be especially meaningful on a regular day when it’s totally unexpected
  • Do an at-home massage or spa treatment complete with scented candles and oils to create that setting which says that your loved one is truly special.
  • Send your partner to a classy spa for a full day of expert handling and relaxation.
  • Volunteer to babysit the kids so your wife can go shopping or simply hang out with the girls.
  • Pre-purchase tickets for your guy’s favorite game.
  • Buy your partner that special electronic toy or gadget which you know he’s had his eyes on for the past couple of months.
  • Send flowers when there’s no special occasion.
  • Give your spouse the time to work on a special project or to pursue his/her passion by holding down the fort at home.
  • Take over a regular at-home chore for which your partner is primarily responsible.
  • Wash your partner’s car.
  • Surprise your partner with a new book from his/her favorite author.
  • Write your lover a letter or e mail which itemizes why and how much he/she is loved.
  • Send a special love-song request via the local radio station.
  • Buy your lover a bottle of her favorite wine and make some time to share it.
  • Massage your partner’s neck, shoulders and or feet after a tired day at the office; especially without being asked.
  • Make a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or blend a favorite cocktail or health-drink for your spouse.
  • Plan a surprise romantic getaway weekend or trip for you and your spouse.
  • Buy that sexy lingerie or those crotch-less panties you long go see your woman in and do all kinds of hot things to her to let her know just how much of an effect she’s having on you.
  • Arrange babysitting if necessary or get away from home and plan to get it on with your partner with a night of steamy, uninhibited lovemaking.

 

Is Jealousy Destroying Your Relationship?

Let’s patop-10-ways-to-deal-with-jealousyint a familiar scenario. You’re out at a restaurant with your partner when you notice his eyes wandering to the beautiful lady across the room or perhaps his eyes rested a bit too long on the backside of the attractive waitress. Immediately, you become incensed at the audacity of the man and this spoils your date night for the rest of the evening. Is this spate of intense jealousy a reasonable response to the common practice of the wandering male eye? Is jealousy ever permitted or is it always an out-of-place emotion which can do more harm than good?

One rule of thumb which must define any committed relationship is a sense of integrity. When mutual integrity forms the basis of a relationship, then partners will not readily act in ways to jeopardize or compromise that union. Having said that, with human nature being as fickle as it is, the road towards relationship integrity can be a rocky one. It is definitely a journey and not a destination. In other words, no relationship is immediately perfect. The preferred quality of your relationship will not be ideal  from the get-go but will require hard work and constant dialogue throughout the course of your lives together. So how then should we deal with that green-eyed monster if it rears its ugly head?

Setting realistic parameters for all opposite sex interaction which will occur in the course of your relationship, is advised. This simply means deciding together what is or is not appropriate. Realistically, we will find other people attractive from time to time. Being in love does not make us blind. Acknowledging attractiveness with a cursory glance should be fine. Dwelling on someone else’s attributes in a prolonged way, out rightly flirting with them or even being physical or playful whether or not our partner is there, is, however, disrespectful to our primary relationship. This behavior should be confronted, discussed and hopefully discontinued. Discussing relationship expectations in this regard is therefore critical and partners must be clear and consistent about what they will not tolerate.

On the other hand, jealousy can also be an unreasonable response which stems from insecurity and or immaturity. Sometimes an individual’s idea of commitment means total ownership and control. Of course this is a flawed idea but it exists in several relationships nonetheless. Controlling who your partner speaks to or glances at, even when such behavior is not disrespectful in any way, can mean that there are deeper issues at stake. Fear of abandonment, or fear of rejection in one partner, can contribute to such behavior. Infidelity in a previous relationship can also influence the lens through which we see daily interaction between our partner and others. This must also be confronted and exposed if a relationship is to assume a sense of normalcy.

These extreme examples aside, we may experience a fleeting sense of jealousy occasionally in the course of our relationship; this is human, normal and to be expected. We are in a relationship because we desire exclusivity and at heart we do want to be the only girl or guy in the world, in our partner’s life. Having said that, being open about deep, recurring feelings of insecurity or confronting our partner if his/her actions make us feel disrespected in any way, is also vital to the life and health of our relationships.

Actions Speak Louder: How to Do and Not Just Talk Love

aa-couple-laughing-hugging-475As a previous connoisseur of the romance novel, I had their formula so much down pat, that I could have easily written my own. Back in those good old days when the Mills & Boon novel reigned supreme, what struck me about my favorite stories was that no matter how badly the main character of the novel treated his leading lady, all would change on his profession of love.

This popular formula saw men almost incapable of expressing their true feelings to the women they were so enamored by. So blissfully ignoring the heroine, being cruel to her or even flirting with other women, were the order of the day. Of course this all changed usually towards the last two or three pages of the story when said man mustered up the courage to declare his undying love and proposed marriage all in one fell swoop.

There springs a common anomaly of relationships; professing words of love while actually not quite living up to those words. In our romance-laden culture, talking love has become almost second nature for both men and women. We hear it so often in love-songs, that it sometimes seems like a master tactic for a guy to quickly get his way. For those of us in settled relationships where we already know that we’re in love, demonstrating love can almost be taken for granted. We may have grown so accustomed to saying it over the years, that the idea of doing something special to show it may seem a stretch. Even the busy nature of our everyday lives can overwhelm us to the extent that we fail to give our relationships the attention they deserve. But no matter how long we have been married, it’s important that we recognize that love is first an action word, which requires demonstration.

Whether male or female, each of us in a relationship needs to know how much we’re loved. The following 25 tips should give some great ideas for showing and not just telling that special someone just how we feel about them.

1. Cook your partner’s favorite meal and do a special decorative layout of such; this can be especially meaningful on a regular day when it’s totally unexpected

2. Do an at-home massage or spa treatment complete with scented candles and oils to create that setting which says that your loved one is truly special.

3. Send your partner to a classy spa for a full day of expert handling and relaxation.

4. Volunteer to babysit the kids so your wife can go shopping or simply hang out with the girls.

5. Pre-purchase tickets for your guys favorite game.

6. Buy your partner that special toy or gadget which you know they’ve had their eyes on for the past couple of months.

7. Arrange a special date at your spouse’s favorite restaurant.

8. Send flowers when there’s no special occasion.

9. Give your spouse the time to work on a special project or to pursue their passion by holding down the fort at home.

10. Take over a regular at-home chore for which your partner is primarily responsible.

11. Wash your partner’s car.

12. Surprise your spouse with a new book from their favorite author.

13. Write your lover a letter or e mail which itemizes why and how much they are loved.

14. Send a special love-song request via the local radio station.

15. Buy your lover a bottle of their favorite wine and make some time to share it with them.

16. Massage your partner’s neck, shoulders and or feet after a tired day at the office; especially without being asked.

17. Make a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or blend a favorite cocktail or health-drink for your spouse.

18. Plan a surprise romantic getaway weekend or trip for you and your partner.

19. Buy that sexy lingerie or those crotchless panties you long go see your woman in and do all kinds of hot things to her to let her know just how much of an effect she’s having on you.

20. Arrange babysitting if necessary or get away from home and plan to get it on with your partner with a night of steamy, uninhibited lovemaking.

21. Put on some sexy music and do an exciting dance and striptease for your man.

22. Initiate some novelty in the bedroom which you think your husband or wife would like to experience.

23. Plan a lovemaking session where all the focus is on giving to your lover all the best that you’ve got.

24. Write your own love song or poem and romance your partner with its words or music.

25. When you’ve messed up in the relationship or offended your spouse, don’t hesitate to say and to show how sorry you really are, especially when you believe that you are right.

 

 

 

 

 

Kick-Starting Your Relationship In 2013

NEW-YE~1Most of us look towards the prospect of a new year with loads of excitement. Although the new-year is really only the turning over of one other 24hr period, somehow, we humans continue to imbue it with a remarkable power to change the course of our lives.  When you think about it, times and seasons are really reference points which allow us to reflect on where we are and to set goals towards where we want to be. What better area to do this in than in our relationships? The prospect of a new-year should therefore provide us with fresh impetus to bring much needed change to our intimate relationships. Making a relationship assessment is much easier when we look at the critical areas that allow us to evaluate our level of happiness or satisfaction. Even if we have cruised through 2012 without much fuss, making a commitment to kick-start our relationship should begin with our determination to make it better in all the critical areas.

Communication
Commit to more open and honest communication in 2013. Sometimes bad relationship habits like skirting on the truth, telling white lies, convenient omissions or failure to confront, can take their toll on a relationship. Deciding to be up-front and honest about those relationship issues which rub you the wrong way is a sure-fire way to keep the communication channels open between you and your partner. While there is some scope for overlooking some idiosyncrasies in your spouse, it is important that critical issues are not continuously neglected. The truth is that even when we believe we’re not rocking the boat by discussing volatile issues, our body language or even the way that we treat our partner, becomes a powerful communicator of our unhappiness. Deciding to take our communication of dissatisfaction to the next level through open discourse, is a far more healthy way to encourage the resolution of problems.

Couple Time
Admittedly, our lives today are ridiculously busy. Between our professional lives, family commitments, pursuit of studies and recreational activities, we can sometimes feel a serious tug-of-war pulling us in several directions at once. Carving out special couple-time is critical for preserving that sense of special intimacy which should characterize a committed relationship or marriage. Kick-starting your relationship in 2013 should therefore include a decision to regularize date-nights. Date nights need not mean that we must break the bank every time with extravagant dinners but can include simple activities like movie-nights, romantic walks on the beach, home -dining, dancing and the like. Doing such activities together minus the kids or even with another couple, can be a powerful reminder of why we got together in the first place and can serve to keep the spark alive.

Super Sex
When our sex degenerates into a boring, hum-drum activity which we always do on morning rush-hour with eyes half-closed, we know that we have a problem on our hands. Even if the sex is not as extreme as described here, any move towards relationship enhancement must take stock of the state of the bedroom. So how will you rev things up in the sex department this coming year? Well; actually getting out of the bedroom may be a good place to start. Deciding to be a tad risqué by making out in your car, patio or garden (of course with privacy observed) may be a great way to add some excitement to your sex. Of course for those of us with really busy lives or small kids, committing to actually having regular sex, even minus the frills, may be a great starting point. Scheduling sex need not be a boring, predictable alternative to zero sex, since some sex is actually way better than none at all. Planning for passionate encounters, however, allows a couple to roll out the champagne, the rose petals, the music, the scented oils, the flavoured condoms, the adventurous lingerie and the like. These are the things which admittedly we can’t do every week but when we do take the time to include them, they can make our sex something really special. Let your sex goal of 2013 be the shedding of sexual inhibitions, as you and your spouse strive for something new.

Re-Invention

Ultimately, the best way to inject a sense of newness into our relationship, is to inject some newness into ourselves. Very often our relationships are stale and boring because we’ve become stale and boring. A failure to change something as peripheral as a hairstyle, make-up, or style of dress, can be indicative of the fact that we may be stuck in a time warp. Surface changes should not just be seen as mere treks into vanity, but can indicate a willingness to try new things. This penchant for “the new” can actually spill over into other areas of the life. Pursuing studies, taking up a foreign language, learning a new skill or hobby is a great move towards self-investment. Not only will you benefit from your new-found enthusiasm and zest for life but this new, more fulfilled, more interesting and sexier you, is likely to be far more enticing to your partner.

Making a commitment to developing the self can be parallel to our commitment to developing our relationship, as we head into the new year together.

 

 

 

Marriage + Sex = Boredom?

If you’ve watched VH1’s “Single Ladies”, (as I do religiously), then you would have recognized that the writers do a pretty good job of representing the life of the single lady as one that is fairly exciting. From the array of different men these gorgeous, well-dressed divas get to date, one would assume that singleness is all sexy fun to the hilt. Of course the girls do have their share of heartbreaks but as television goes, this is often remedied by the next hot dude to come along; an option which we married people should not even allow to cross our minds.

This brings me to the question of marriage and how it is represented in the movies. Since Hollywood pays scant attention to giving on screen marriages the same type of steamy, passionate scenes often afforded to singles “playing the field” or hooking up, many are fed the subliminal message that marriage plus sex equals boredom with a capital B. Many actually fear marriage because they assume it will spell the death of passion and excitement. While admittedly a long-term relationship like marriage will have its own set of challenges because a couple can become accustomed to each other, this should not automatically signal the end of romance and passion; especially if a couple is diligent about their relationship.

In my recently published book, “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain!” I seek to dispel the common myth which suggests that the quality of sex in marriage is necessarily poor. Read the following excerpt, to catch my thoughts on this issue.

MYTH 2: Marriage often signals the end (or at least the slow death) of regular, passionate, uninhibited sex. 

FACT: Not only has research shown that married people have the most sex but the regularity also means that they get to practise knowing each other’s bodies pretty well. This “practice-makes-perfect” routine means that far from inculcating boredom, husbands now have the opportunity to become the connoisseur of one woman’s body as opposed to being the mediocre player of several; the same holds true for women. Women also get to bask in the security of a committed relationship and can grow sexually with their partners from orgasmic strength to orgasmic strength.

Sheryl Kingsberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of Reproductive Biology and Psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, agrees with this premise when she states that “a woman’s sexual interest is greatest when she’s in a stable relationship.”  Another study conducted at the University of Chicago by the National Health and Social Life Survey, confirms that it is far more likely for unmarried women to experience anxiety about sexual performance hence hindering their ability to climax when compared to married women. How does this translate? Married women, by virtue of the emotional security they feel, tend to be more sexually confident and therefore more sexually responsive and orgasmic than women in other types of relationships.

The stability of marriage not only increases a woman’s desire for her partner but research has also shown that her husband’s sexual responsiveness as controlled by his testosterone levels, also becomes regulated by his wife’s menstrual cycle and by her own hormone levels. In fact, women in their twenties who have sex less than once a week have been found to have problems with ovulation, with regular menstrual cycles and even with maintaining regular sexual desire. This strengthens the notion that the regularity of marital sex can filter down and have a positive impact on all other areas of a woman’s reproductive health, thereby, increasing her sense of well-being.  And what do we want to do most when we feel well? Have more great sex of course!

Far from decreasing the incidences for passionate encounters, the psycho-emotional effects of the marital bond should encourage couples to work on the quality of their sexual relationship. Great sex is not so much about meeting the national average as it is about each couple finding and perfecting their own dance. At the same time, we don’t deny that the more a couple has sex, the greater their desire for each other will be.

© 2012 Denise J Charles   Taken from: “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain!”

Does Size Really Matter?

Some of you might be a bit disappointed because this is definitely NOT going to be another article about penis size. But let not your heart be troubled; do read on. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed for too long.

I recently did an interview with Sexuality and Relationship Therapist Rebecca Rosenblat, on her television talk-show Sex @ 11 With Rebecca, on Rogers TV, Toronto. Before I actually came on air, she was responding to an e mail and seeking to reassure one of her viewers, who had been grappling with a poor body image and an insensitive partner. Rebecca’s statement that “Fat is not the Kryptonite of sex!” immediately peaked my interest and actually inspired this article. For those of us who have been following the adventures of Superman over the years, we well understand the impact of Kryptonite on Clarke Kent’s ability to be super and strong. But does “fat” have a similar impact on our sexuality, our sense of our sexual selves, our body image or on our partner’s ability to enjoy our bodies? Now unapologetically I say it most certainly does! Not however because of some intrinsic flaw inherent in having a few pounds or curves. While “fat” in no way inhibits our ability to be sexy or to enjoy a good roll in the hay, what we think about it often does.

Ultimately sexiness is a state of mind.

We are inundated mercilessly with media images which seek to convince us that a truly sexy woman must be a size six or under. All the stars of the really great romantic comedies, of every romantic novel and of all the music videos we watch, have a particular body type. This says nothing about the magazine cover-girls and poster girls of Weight-Watchers®, like Jennifer Hudson. Suddenly Ms. Hudson is now “living the life” and “looking like a blast” according to the media-validation and hype which now comes her way on account of her moving from a size sixteen to a six. (We wonder what her fans really thought of her before). While I’m most definitely not knocking Ms. Hudson, weight-loss (could definitely shed me some pounds) or a healthy lifestyle, it is apparent that the media convinces most of us that thinner is sexier; and we believe the crap!

Now to the million dollar questions: Can a woman be “fat” and sexy? And does size really matter when it comes to our emotional and sexual health?  Honestly, I do believe that we should all strive to be our better selves. That often includes shedding some pounds, getting into an exercise regimen, eating more balanced and healthy meals and spending more time getting adequate rest and relaxation. In an ideal world; this is where we would all like to be. Being our better self (since there’s always room for improvement), however, also includes knowing who we are outside the definitions of media, family, friends or sexual partners. It is also true that today’s “fat” and “plus-sized” is yesterday’s voluptuous. (Studies actually show that the average woman is a fourteen and not a four).

Each human being is special and unique. As women, we need to feel comfortable with our own sense of style and with our expression of our sexuality. This is going to be very difficult to accomplish, however, if we are constantly beating ourselves up because we don’t look like someone else’s version of sexiness. Yes, I’m entitled to feel great if I’ve set myself a weight-loss target and then accomplished it. But should weight-loss define my happiness and sense of self? Of course there are loads of women with metabolic, thyroid or other medical issues which may make obesity and required weight-loss a challenge. But even for those women, it is important to find and validate the self. At the end of the day, while our bodies are our windows to the world, we are in many ways not just a body. There is personality; essence, mind, soul and spirit.

Losing weight to make YOU healthier or to feel more energized is actually great. Doing it to “fit in”, to please or to keep your partner, is another thing altogether. If a woman needs to move from an eighteen, sixteen, or fourteen to a six, to feel that she has suddenly struck gold as an individual, chances are, her sense of validation is flawed, shallow and dependent upon externals. Anything will shake the foundation of a woman who can only feel fabulous when her dress size conforms to the media stereotypes. Yes, every woman loves a great make-over. No woman can deny that we feel sexier in a new outfit, with a new hairdo or with a fresh manicure. We feel ready to take on the world and then some but if we can’t leave home without the make-up or the weave, then something is inherently wrong with our self-image. This is what is damaging to our sexiness.

There are many full-figured, voluptuous women, who have never been without a partner or who are happily married and sexually fulfilled. What attracts a man to a woman is not the number on her dress tag but her wonderful personality and sense of sexual self-confidence. This is what makes a woman riveting and unforgettable. The woman who turns heads as she enters a room exudes an aura which says “I know I look good and I really don’t care what you think!” No matter what size you are as a woman, learn to do you to the max, as you engage your incredible sexual energy in positive ways.

Here are seven helpful tips that will hopefully make this happen:

  • Strip naked and look at yourself in a mirror. Decide what you like and affirm yourself eg “I love my butt”, “I have great legs/breasts” etc. If there is stuff that you would love to change, devise a realistic plan and timeline to make that change a reality. If you’re totally happy with what you see, more power to you diva!
  • Do NOT beat up on yourself if your planned changes do not emerge as you would like them; know that you are great; regardless.
  • Think about your core personality and of the things that you feel passionate about. Find ways to engage your passion and your dreams. When we are emotionally fulfilled because we are connected with our purpose, it shows up in our walk and our talk; instant sexiness!
  • Treat yourself to a “spa-day”, even if done at home; a facial, manicure, pedicure, hair-conditions, re-braiding or perm can go a long way to boost how you feel about yourself. See these things, however, as enhancers of the real you and resist the temptation to be totally defined by them.
  • If you are in a committed relationship or marriage, discuss the concerns you may have about your body-image with your spouse but “own” your own body and the decisions that you make to improve it.
  • Do not accept emotional abuse from your spouse, family members or friends on issues of weight gain. Those who truly respect you will lovingly affirm you, despite what you look like.  When advice is offered or concern expressed, it should be non-threatening, non-derisive and sensitively communicated. Abuse that becomes defining or over-bearing in an intimate relationship or marriage, warrants the intervention of a Counselor, Pastor or Therapist. Do not tolerate this as normal.
  • Ultimately sexiness is a state of mind. Learn to love yourself, warts and all, by affirming that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and by thinking positive, sexual thoughts. A woman who loves herself is ready for some good loving and the terrific sex to follow.

When it Comes to Relationships, Are You ‘Meetable’?

Many women (and to a lesser extent men) are today bemoaning their inability to find Mr. or Mrs. Right. As a consequence, they peruse bars, nightclubs, churches, gyms, supermarket aisles; anywhere basically, hoping to find “the one”. Some of my girlfriends actually report that there are no worthwhile, available guys around. They’ve basically given up hope. Others assume that if they meet a guy in a particular context, that this means ‘Bingo!’ In other words, “meeting place” to them, says a lot about the type of guy they have “landed”.

For instance, such women may naively assume that an intellectual met at University will be a good marriage and financial prospect (dollar signs literally float in their heads) or that a gym enthusiast will be a great health buff, a teacher, good father material or a ‘church man’ one with integrity. We can become so consumed with not only meeting a partner but with where we meet him, because we believe that this “meeting-place” will determine the quality of the prospective partner. But in the quest for “the one” perhaps we need to look a bit further.

It’s not simply where you meet your partner that will determine the success or longevity of the ensuing relationship but really, whether or not you are “meetable”. What do I mean by this?  Sometimes we can become so locked into what we are looking for and our specific requirements, that we forget to check on our own selves and our preparation, readiness or suitability for a relationship. So here are some critical questions. What are the important interpersonal dynamics which make you a good candidate for a relationship? You may have your own list of requirements but are you anywhere near to fulfilling them yourself? Are you even the type that someone would want to have a relationship with?

Warmth and Approachability

When a guy sees you, does he bolt and run in the opposite direction? Does your vibe say “I am available; ask me questions; get to know me” or does it convey “approach me at your own risk”. The initial message you send may be critical in determining whether or not your potential, ideal guy even bothers to give you the time of day. Admittedly, some of us women may have had bad experiences and as a result, just want to keep the undesireables at bay. In the process, we may have set up a virtual scowl which says “don’t even think about it!” and this just might scare off the right guy! It is important therefore that we remain aware of how and who we send our signals to.

Presentation

While we are definitely not cows on display at the local animal exhibition, there is nothing wrong with ensuring that we look like the type of girl a guy would want to take home to his mother. I know many women who drool over a guy’s six pack abs or his firm biceps, while paying scant attention to their own fitness or grooming. Am I buying into the concept that a woman is no more than what she looks like? Of course not, but no guy will be initially attracted to your wonderful personality. Men are definitely not intuitive personality readers. They can’t get to know the unseen, without first approaching what they can see; namely you. So while wanting a guy to love you for who you really are is all well and good, he needs to be given the okay to really get to know you in the first place. In the presentation department, it is also unfair to demand what you yourself are unwilling to deliver. So it is important for a girl to get her glamour on.

 

Integrity

There is perhaps nothing as endearing as finding a really decent guy; you know the type that was perhaps raised by his grandmother and who exudes old-fashioned chivalry. There is also the belief that you can tell the type of man you’re dealing with based on how he treats his mother or by extension his home circle. In the same way, a woman’s level of commitment to her parents, siblings or even her friends, can say a lot about the type of partner she is likely to be. Even as you search out these qualities in your ‘Mr. Right’, are you aware of what your familial relationships reveal about you? What about the quality of your regular friendships? Are you loyal, gossipy, afraid to confront or overtly critical? It is likely that the habits you have imbibed in negotiating your other relationships, will also influence how you handle a romantic relationship. So before you spill the beans on your best friend to a new guy, be aware of what he is probably surmising about you.

Self-Confidence

A woman who knows who she is and what she’s about is undeniably sexy and will draw most men like a moth to a flame. We women are also drawn to a man who is self-assured and knows what he wants out of life. Conversely, a wimpy, blundering, indecisive man is as attractive as a prickly thorn. Most of us want to avoid such men, unless we are really manipulative, control-freaks! In spite of this, so many of us women, lack the inner confidence, which we crave in a prospective partner. We often convey a needy dependence which most men find unattractive. While I do support the idea of partners building each others’ self-esteem, neither of us should be entirely or solely dependent on the other for affirmation. We should not enter a relationship because we need it to feel complete. Confidence conveys an infectious energy which makes it known that we are ripe and ready for a relationship because we chose to be.

Playing Fair

Lest I be misunderstood, I am not conveying that personal perfection is required for us to be relationship ready. The reality is, that quite often, it is our very quirks and imperfections which draw us to each other since as the saying goes, “opposites attract”. We seek to compensate our own weaknesses by discovering opposing strengths in others and this may have some merit. Be that as it may, if we want to be taken seriously, then it may pay to take some time to look inward. Are we emotionally prepared to dish out what we are so willing to take from another? Are we prepared to be that partner that we want or require? If after honest reflection we discover that we aren’t, do we intend to work on making ourselves at least a little more ready? Ultimately, in this game called love, it just might pay to play fair.

 

 

Do You Have Sex With Your Eyes Closed?

Do we know why we close our eyes in bed?

For those of you in a sexual relationship, the way you have sex says a lot. Yes, sex is so intimate and revealing an activity that it has the power to uncover and expose us; literally. Having been in and around the Performing Arts for some years, we have always been told that dance is very revealing. It has the power to strip and expose the dancer so much that whatever a dancer is going through emotionally, is often revealed through his/her dance. The same is true about sex. The way we behave sexually, says quite a bit about our perceptions of sex, our attitude towards sex, our comfort with our own sexuality (or lack thereof) and our beliefs about sex itself.

So our title question “Do you have sex with your eyes closed?” is to be taken literally, at the same time that it is symbolic of our general comfort levels with the idea of sexuality. I often say during talks to married couples or to young people thinking of marriage in the future, that sex is extremely important in to a marriage relationship. We all hope to be married for a really long time I am sure. And yes while we will share bank accounts, a mortgage, car-payments and various life-goals and achievements, the reality is, that most of us will spend a fair amount of our married years having sex with our spouses. Even though this is so, most of us if we’re honest are still uncomfortable talking about our personal sexuality. Yes some of us have sex but we don’t even want to discuss it with the person we’re doing it with. As a consequence, many remain dissatisfied in the bedroom or experience serious sexual conflict that seems to have no recourse, simply because the act remains so deeply hidden an issue.

So what does “having sex with our eyes closed” reveal? It can actually suggest a range of responses dependent on how you see it.

  • It can mean that we’re decidedly uncomfortable with our own sexuality or with sexual expression.
  • It can indicate that we’re savouring the experience and prefer to shut everything else out to focus on our senses. (Remember closing your eyes to relish a really sweet fruit or a succulent cut of meat?)
  • It can suggest that we’re concentrating really hard on the “action” to ensure that it’s as enjoyable as the last Cosmo article said it would be.
  • It can intimate an innate embarrassment with our own sexual enjoyment and or with our bodies.
  • It can mean that we actually hate what we are doing with a capital H and are there in body only, while being absent in “spirit”. In other words, it can reveal that we are disconnected from our spouse and would really prefer to be somewhere else.

I believe that if we had to conduct an informal poll to investigate attitudes to sex and sexuality, that women would register the greatest levels of conflict or discomfort. Yes, women today are far more “liberated” and overtly sexual than they appeared in the past; I will agree to that. The very revealing styles of dress advocated by many women today and the ease with which sex is discussed among girlfriends, would seem to suggest that this is so. However, my experience also suggests that this is not always indicative of true liberty in the bedroom or of a woman’s ability to “let go” sexually. This is especially true of women raised in conservative homes or those raised on sexual “mis-information”. On the other hand, men who are normally socialized to embrace their sexuality, tend to have less of an issue with the problem of sexual-conflict or discomfort. Instead, this is how men are validated and defined.

Conversely, society often forces women to bear much of the blame for incidences of sexual impropriety which involve men. Because we women are often blamed for a man’s sexual downfall or for his lack of sexual discipline, many of us imbibe the idea that our very potent sexuality is an enemy. If a woman has suffered sexual abuse as a girl or was conflicted by her body’s own betrayal to her abuser, she may also internalize the idea that to be sexual is to be bad (Remember Rihanna’s “Good Girl Gone Bad?). It’s like we can’t be sexy and good all at once. This can encourage a woman to withdraw emotionally, even in a relationship like marriage, where her sexuality should be freely celebrated. Internal conflicts like embarrassment or a deep sense of shame or even body-consciousness, can also lead to attempts at “blocking out” the sexual experience.

Serious relationship conflict is felt in the sack.

Unresolved issues in a relationship could also lead to “sexual-eye-closure” which is really symptomatic of the deeper issue of sexual disconnection and withdrawal. Unsettled arguments, insults, prolonged emotional abuse, infidelity which goes unchecked or un-confessed, physical abuse, and financial neglect are among the many causes which could negatively impact the sexual connection between couples.  Be that as it may, many continue to treat sex like an instinctive behaviour which they are unable to do without, while refusing to deal with the deeper, underlying challenges of the relationship. This is counter-productive and spells danger for any marriage.

Whether we are single or married, our attitude to our sexuality is likely to be a product of a number of influences. Our socialization, our personality, religious persuasion/faith, personal beliefs, knowledge about sex and the context of our relationship, can all have an impact on how we “behave” sexually.  A fulfilling sexual relationship where we are free to be the uninhibited, sensual creatures we were meant to be will only be possible, when we can experience a sense of peace, with regards our sexual selves.

This means ensuring that our pursuit of sex, matches the ideals which we hold dear. For example, if we know that commitment, integrity and honesty in marriage are the ideals we strive towards, then we shouldn’t feel pressured to “give it up” just because everyone one else is. We should also not settle and give in to the guy who really is not worth the time of day, just because he claims that he can’t live without our “honey”. We also should definitely not practise self-abuse, by dutifully giving sex to a husband who we know is sleeping around, exposing us to STD’s, beating the living daylights out of us or disrespecting us by not dealing with the critical issues in the relationship. Sex might be great and all of that, but surely we are worth a lot more than a few moments of romping in the sack.

Serious emotional or spiritual challenges with sex may require deep counseling or therapy. We may need to open up and share with a trusted friend, who is grounded enough to give some valuable insight. Ultimately, making our sex-lives better, may also mean laying down the ground-rules for more honesty and openness in the marriage, by practicing greater levels of communication.

So next time you’re having sex and your eyes are closed, let’s hope it’s because you’re in a place where you are clearly savouring the delicious enjoyment of a truly, great sexual experience.