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Nov 13

Welcome to “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” a column where we will openly discuss sex—and the other two things that typically accompany it—love and marriage, without the aid of two or three glasses of wine.

 

As a male therapist with over twenty years of experience having honest discussions with couples and individuals about the most intimate details of their lives, I hope to give you an insider’s view of what goes on behind the closed therapy door.

 

Why would you want this view? there are three reasons: first, for those of you who have never been to couples’ or sex therapy, I want to give you a sense of what you might learn from the experience.

 

Secondly, over the years, psychology has gathered useful information from research and practice that proves how you manage your emotions can have a very positive or negative influence on your sex, love and marital life. By learning various methods to manage and understand your emotions differently, you will have less conflict with your partner and yet, be able to discuss more controversial matters in your relationship.

 

And lastly, I want to help you better understand your own and your partner’s sexuality so the two of you can talk about sex more easily.

 

To help foster more understanding, I will share examples from client couples that are actually composites of real-life clients. I’ll change background and personal information to protect their anonymity while

clarifying their situations so that you can learn from them.

 

The first couple I want you to meet are based on clients I saw early on in my practice. The man called and left a message saying he and his wife needed sex therapy to help them with their “extremely different sex drives.”

 

When I met them in the waiting room, I immediately noticed he was as big as a linebacker and she was petite and demure as the stereotyped librarian. In spite of my doctoral training and all that research I’ve read that dispelled stereotypes about sexuality, I assumed he wanted to have sex often and she wanted it less.

 

When they sat down I asked each to describe the problem in their marriage. She offered that they had been married for 10 years and during most of their marriage, instead of wanting to “do her like a real man, he always wants to just cuddle.” When she said the word, “cuddle” she sneered. He was slow to respond but finally turned to his wife, and asked, “What’s so bad about cuddling?”

 

Like our linebacker and librarian, the general problem of differing desire and arousal patterns between marital partners is among the most universal within a marriage. Even the most successful couples face this problem on and off, so it’s good we start here.

 

Please let me know what other issues or topics you’d like to read about by emailing geralddrose@gmail.com.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 


Gerald Drose is an Atlanta-based couples’ sex therapist.  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit Dr. Drose at Powers Ferry Psychological Associates, LLC.  


More Gerald Drose articles, click here.



© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Dec 13

While it is completely natural for two people to vary in their level of interest and desire in sex over the course of a relationship, it is just as natural for couples to have a hard time working through the relationship strains generated by these differences.

Let’s go back to the couple I introduced last time, our linebacker and librarian. Recall that the linebacker wanted to cuddle rather than have sex, and his sexually frustrated wife was frequently upset by this.

It took several therapy sessions for them to be able to talk about their sex life in a rational way because both of them were so angry and hurt. Yes, she felt deprived sexually but what upset her more was believing his lack of interest in sex was really a lack of interest in her. She described him as “rejecting and controlling,” and even wondered if he was gay.

He felt like no matter what he did, his wife would never be satisfied sexually. He thought of her as “needy and smothering.”

Here’s how it played out in their bedroom: On nights when the librarian wanted sex, she would go to bed hoping her husband would get things rolling. She’d wait for him to initiate because she hated feeling rejected if he seemed disinterested in her advances. To her, cuddling was not foreplay; it was her husband’s endgame. She wanted him to seduce her with passion and lust, not tenderness.

On the many nights the linebacker would climb into bed and cuddle up to his wife, she would rarely take the next step—kissing or touching him because she was convinced he wanted to stop there. And that would only leave her craving more, long after he fell asleep. Even on nights when he desired sex, he wasn’t sure how to read her non-verbal signals because she showed no interest in him.

There were nights when they fell asleep without incident. But they also had just as many nights when they had loud and hurtful arguments. In the course of their clashes, she would frequently resort to name-calling and eventually threaten divorce. He would argue back before becoming quiet, withdrawn and defeated.

At the time this couple sought my help, neither partner wanted to initiate sex but their reasons for holding back were very different. Even so, the resulting arguments had upset the foundation of their relationship and rendered their sex life non-existent.

Many of us find ourselves in some version of the divide experienced between the librarian and the linebacker—frustrated by different levels of sexual desire and at an impasse.

In my next column, I will delve deeper into “the solution.” For now, let me hint that both are going to need a little bit of information about what may be going on inside each other’s heads, along with a peek into past issues that still lurk. As these things unfold, each must muster healthy doses of empathy for their partner and the courage to do the hard work necessary to fix their marriage and move forward.


Gerald Drose is an Atlanta-based couples’ sex therapist.  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit Dr. Drose at Powers Ferry Psychological Associates, LLC.  


More Gerald Drose articles, click here.



© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009 

Jan 31
“I bust my ass and no one appreciates me,” they both say.
 
In my last column, I introduced a typical two-career couple. Both are angry and resentful because they feel under-appreciated and misunderstood. Their anger has led to apathy, distance, coldness and disconnection. They long for that deep closeness they felt when they fell in love, but they’ve grown too far apart to get it. They are ripe for an affair or a divorce.
 
I’ll tell you what their lack of connection is not about. It’s not the other’s fault. The problem is not “All men are…” or “All women are….” Making generalizations about each other based on gender allows us to avoid our role in the problem, limits our expectations of our spouse (denying them the opportunity to grow) and prevents us from finding real solutions.
 
The problem is typically three-fold:
 
1. A lack of focus and attention to the marriage
2. A failure to effectively communicate needs
3. A failure to view each other’s needs as being of equal value
The beginning to the end of marital disconnection involves a change in thought and old patterns.
 
Change in behavior/thought #1: Recognize that a conscious, healthy marriage takes work by both partners, and it is worth it.
 
People generally fall into two camps: they either believe the Hollywood-hype that if you find the right partner it’s wine and roses from there on out. When things get hard, they don’t think they should have to work at it. The other camp (typically children of divorce) are cynical about the institution of marriage. Since marriages are doomed to fail, why bother investing in it?
 
Change in thought/behavior #2: You are required to know, value and express your needs and wants clearly (instructions below).
 
This will require both insight and courage! As much as you may desire it, your spouse cannot (and should not) read your mind.
 
Remember our couple from last week? Neither told their spouse what was important to them. She wanted him to help with chores, be more involved with the family, join her in bed and to do it all without her having to ask. She believed that if he truly loved her, he would intuitively know. “It’s not the same if I have to ask! Then he’s just placating me.” At the same time, he wants her to read his mind: to ask him about his work, to let him golf without guilt, and warmly invite him back into the fold after he’s been away. He’d never thought to actually express these wants out loud.
 
Often our desires are brought up during an argument and typically start with the words “You never….” “You always….” Usually they are generalizations that assure that the other will start defending themselves.
 
Try this instead.
 
Effectively Expressing Needs 101:
 
1. Timing matters. After 20 years together, my wife has finally learned not to make significant requests before my morning coffee or in the 9th inning of a Braves game. And I’ve learned not to bring up highly charged issues as she is winding down from a long day. You have to carve out a time to talk. If your husband avoids these talks, ask him to come up with the time and commit to it. Let him know you want your talk to bring you closer and that you are not signing up for a fight.
 
2. Watch the tone. I hear so much disdain and disgust between partners, it’s no wonder no one wants to do anything for anyone. If you make your request in the heat of an angry moment, your request will fall on deaf ears. You increase the effectiveness of your request by doing it in a calmer moment. This is true whether it’s about something as mundane as washing dishes or as intimate as how you want to be kissed. I know: when things are calm, why rock the boat? But letting your needs continue to go unmet will only add to the fire when they pop up again.
 
3. Eliminate distractions. Make sure the kids are in bed, the technology is off, you have some energy and you are reasonably sober (a glass of wine may reduce anxiety about talking, but three glasses of wine could spell disaster).
 
4. Be specific. “I need you to be more supportive,” means something very different to you than to him. You may be thinking, “I wish I could just vent and he’d listen and then say, “Oh man, that sucks!” Instead your husband advises you about fixing the problem because to him that is being supportive. Describe in specific terms exactly what you mean: e.g. “When I bring up a problem, I’d like you to hear me out without telling me what to do.” Or instead of saying, “I do everything for our kids,” ask if he can get the kids up and ready for school two or three days a week. We men are teachable!
 
Change in behavior/thought #3: When your partner lets you know what he wants, listen…and do it.
 
Ask him to be specific. It’s only fair: if you want what you want, give him what he wants. For example, if he wants to connect through sex without a long talk first or a back rub first give it a try.
 
Being close physically may actually open up more intimate conversations. Many times men and women like to connect differently, and not always based on gender (remember the librarian and linebacker?) One may prefer a long talk to feel close: the other prefers getting close in physical ways. These are equally valid ways to achieve intimacy.
 
If you want him to step out of his comfort zone, be willing to step out of yours.
 


Gerald Drose is an Atlanta-based couples’ sex therapist.  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. Visit Dr. Drose at Powers Ferry Psychological Associates, LLC.   



More Gerald Drose articles, click here.


© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009

Today’s world of education is fraught with potholes, even for a typical child.  Strong statement, I know.  As a parent of two adults, one with a learning disability and one without, and a teacher for over 40 years working with typical and at-risk youth, I speak from experience. 


I can’t speak for the generation that went before me.  I reject the nostalgic concept that life a generation ago was more kind.  However, I do believe that today’s school aged child faces enormous challenges. 


One area of angst that almost every parent experiences occurs during the first few weeks of school.  Unless your child attends a school in a small community that knows each family and the children who are being nurtured in their midst, there are simply too many unknowns.  A great many parents experience a feeling of free-floating anxiety during the first few weeks of school.  Most classrooms are comprised of extremely diverse students (not a bad thing) and the expected pace of academic progress allows for little “getting acquainted” time.  As a result, many parents vie for their position next to the teacher so they can garner, perhaps, some special attention for their child. 


At the end of the day, parents have lots of questions: Is the assigned homework an appropriate amount?; are the friends the child is making good for him/her?; is the curriculum a good fit for their child?  It appears that “danger” in the form of rejection, failure or unhappiness, lurks beneath every student’s desk.


Although I am a solution-based professional, I do not see one easy solution.  Little can be done to make a large school smaller or an overwhelmed teacher more attentive and responsive. I do think that increased communication between parent and school is a good beginning.  Setting aside some time at the end of the day for the parents to talk with the child and each other is also a way to, at least deal with current perceptions – or misperceptions – before they become overblown.  


Every parent needs to be able to allow their child to experience the school day without running interference for them.  However, they also need to be prepared to move in to address issues that go beyond the child’s ability to extricate himself or herself.  Sounds schizophrenic, doesn’t it?  


Today’s parent must walk that very thin line between letting the child learn from life’s experiences and addressing situations (such as bullying or sexual harassment) that require immediate adult management.


As with most problems, timely and honest communication is the key.  If a child feels safe with his or her parents, and knows that special time to talk about school is routinely set aside in the family, they can establish a routine of conversations that allow the parents to get a bird’s eye view of the school experience. And, then they can determine if their advice and support from home is sufficient or if they need to bring in school administrators to address an issue. 


Even if their child is not a talker, they have established a safe and positive routine that will serve them well as a family. 

 

Jacque Digieso has been an educator for over 40 years.  She and her husband Joe co-founded The Cottage School in Roswell, GA, to educate adolescents with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and other special educational needs. The school currently serves close to 150 middle and high school students.  Jacque and her husband have two sons, one of whom is adopted, and a handful of grandchildren. 

Check out Jacque's Cottage School blog here, follow her on Twitter @cottageschoolGA, and check out her Facebook page here. For more of Jacque Digieso's ShareWIK columns, click here.

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Oct 31

When I was in college, I’d never heard the term “binge drinking.” We used words like “hammered,” “trashed” and, well, “happy hour.”  I’m sure there were many nights when I had three drinks in less than three hours; while I never passed out or lost time, I know I made some of my stupidest decisions after sipping something strong.

Now that my son is entering the age where he’s curious about alcohol, my concern is heightened. Pay attention to your kids’ conversations and you’ll hear about friends drinking to excess on the weekends; filling water bottles with liquor, and stealing beer from their parents’ fridge. (Note: do not tell your kids that alcohol doesn’t freeze; you’ll know if they’ve been swiping your vodka when the bottle bursts.) I read just yesterday that visiting the ER to check for alcohol poisoning has become some sort of college freshman tradition.

Because I used to work for a media production company that specializes in producing award-winning programming about teen issues (www.cwknetwork.com), I’ve done my share of research about underage drinking, partying, addiction, and DUI. I was also married to an addict (now in recovery) so I feel as if I have some personal skin in the game where our son is concerned.

I first learned the inside horror stories of binge drinking from a book called Smashed: The Story of a Drunken Girlhood, which I read years ago when I was more concerned about my son swallowing a Lego piece -- not a six-pack of beer. Extremely well-written by Koren Zailckas when she was 24, Smashed is a memoir of her love affair with drinking -- which began when she was 14. 

Zailckas had alcohol poisoning at 16, her first black-out at 19 (when she was sexually abused), and woke up in an apartment at age 22 with no recollection of how she got there. That’s the day she stopped binging and drinking and decided to write about a life she often barely remembers. I highly recommend Smashed as an eye-opening account of what our kids – or our kids’ friends – could be up to on the nights they tell us that they're sleeping at each other’s houses. Better to be aware and paranoid and talk openly with our kids about our expectations than to  pretend it couldn’t happen to us.

Another resource I highly recommend is CWK Network’s Emmy Award-winning DVD, Shattered, the true documentary of a young woman who had everything going for her – college scholarship, pre-med, a loving family – until one-too-many-nights of drinking and driving left one person dead and irrevocably changed the course of many lives. It’s a must-see for you and your kids, before they get the keys to the car. This is definitely a case of “a picture is worth a thousand words” – and definitely more likely to be "seen and heard"  than another parental lecture. 

Another must-read recommendation is your state’s rules about serving alcohol to minors in your home. As our kids near high school graduation, there will likely be a chasm among your friends on the issue of underage drinking. Some parents will feel it’s inevitable and they’d rather their kids drink in their home than somewhere else and risk driving under the influence; some parents will hold the line at zero tolerance -- absolutely no alcohol for minors. And there will be some who aren't quite sure. The laws that govern your state might just help you make up your mind. Check out YouthBingeDrinking.com to learn the rules in your state regarding serving alcohol to minors. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather piss-off my kid or embarrass him than go to jail.

Experts recommend that you exchange phone numbers and friendship with the parents of your kids’ friends, and that you share philosophies, house rules and support. Having a direct line to another parent can be the most valuable information you have about your kid. 

And finally, here's a tip many of us could have used 20 years ago, or perhaps might still benefit us (or our of-age children). If you’ve ever had a little too much to drink and thought that now would be the perfect time to send that irate email to your boss, your ex or your mother-in-law, check out Mail Goggles, a Gmail app that gives you one last chance to have second thoughts before you hit send. Mail Goggles tests your mental agility with five math questions you must answer correctly before it will mail your message, expletives and all.

If only that guy I dated in high school would use it, I’m pretty­ sure I’d never hear from him again.


Ginger is a 20-year veteran corporate writer in Atlanta, and most recently, the former national web editor at skirt!, www.skirt.com. She is a regular blogger for Huffington Post’s divorce vertical (www.huffingtonpost.com/divorce) and skirt.com, the mother of a 16-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, and has been featured in More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared dozens of local and national TV and radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia. 


For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

            

Adolescent drinking is to be expected, right? I mean, really…all kids do it...what’s the problem? I sneaked a few drinks in my teens...especially our senior year when we were trying to be all grown up, didn’t you?   Hmmmm…


You’d think we would have this figured out by now.  I do remember my class night celebration when one of the girls at the slumber party got the dry heaves and scared us all to death...could have been alcohol poisoning. What did we know about that 40 years ago? At least it was all girls (well, the boys who stopped by didn’t stay long) so we didn’t have to worry about date rape or an unwanted pregnancy...two additional topics that were not on our radar screens at the time.


We repeatedly warn teens about the unexpected and dangerous consequences of alcohol use. There’s the law and the chance of getting caught.  There’s the addiction trigger that is unpredictable.  Most of us have an addict or two in our family photos, but few teens believe it will be them. Then there is the loss of inhibition that leads to irrational or unsocialized behavior. None of these options are good.  Since most of the time teen drinking does not lead to such dire consequences, the risks are ignored.


Until the unimaginable happens.  Once alcohol is introduced into a social situation, a “casual” flirtation could turn into a trip to the hospital for medical treatment …rape, pregnancy, STD…the list is long and diverse.  A party with alcoholic beverages could become a nightmare of irreversible consequences.  The party plans did not include a visit from the police, deadly car accident, or destruction of property, but lives could be forever changed.  


Actually, it is not the high school drinking that is the most dangerous.  Once a teen graduates from high school and attends the completely unsupervised arena of college, there are no curbs to guide them as they navigate a totally new social scene. The college social scene can be treacherous. The expectation that a student will drink permeates the air. Entire evenings center around drinking games.  For some students, every social interaction involves alcohol consumption.  The sporting events, sororities and fraternities, weekends…often revolve around alcohol consumption in some form.  Even with the structure that a community or a club might impose, the reality looms that most of the participants will consume alcohol.

 

Now that I have painted a picture of irresponsibility and impending doom, what to do??? Hell, if I know!  I raised two boys…one teetotaler and one party animal…..did I do anything different with the two of them?  Get real. They were ten months apart.  I barely got through all the tasks of mothering so I certainly did not have time for intentional, philosophic discussions.  Joe and I warned them, forbid them and consequated them….and they made it through, thank God!


It reminds me of the warnings about smoking and lung cancer.  I have several friends who have died of lung cancer and never, ever, smoked.  Then there is my mother–in- law who, at 90 years old, has smoked heavily since she was 15.  She refuses to admit that her COP, [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease] which only occasionally slows her down, is the result of years of smoking and insists that she is having a reaction a dead squirrel she found in her attic about 12 years ago.


If there were a clear and unrelenting consequence for smokers that left the undeniable message that smoking kills, cigarette companies wouldn’t be so successful! Alcohol use among teens is most often not associated with disaster.  It is risky, of course, but most instances do not end with addiction, accidents, or other painful outcomes.  Since the most heinous of consequences for such risky behavior are often intermittent, many of us can remain in denial for a lifetime! 


Obviously communication and supervision are key aspects of keeping kids safe.  But I also think (gasp!) that some of it is happenstance.  Some of it, mind you. A teen who knowingly attends a party where alcohol is involved is, of course, asking for trouble.  Sometimes he gets it and sometimes, he doesn’t.


The trick is to make our kids aware that just like automobile accidents, the more aware they are and the more defensively they behave, the better the chances of avoiding one.  There is no silver bullet…no magical formula…just common sense!


Jacque Digieso has been an educator for over 40 years.  She and her husband Joe co-founded The Cottage School in Roswell, GA, to educate adolescents with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and other special educational needs. The school currently serves close to 150 middle and high school students.  Jacque and her husband have two sons, one of whom is adopted, and a handful of grandchildren. 


The link to Jacque's Blog is http://cottageschool.org/jacquesblog/


To follow on Twitter: @cottageschoolGA


Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Cottage-School-Roswell-GA/163398465552?sk=app_106878476015645


Read Jacque’s blogs here


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

Jan 13

The act of sex does not stand alone. Three aspects of life are always connected to intercourse, whether we like it or not. These aspects are called "The Three Important C's of Sex" -- get your pencils ready. 


Sex is always connected to context (circumstances), culture (education) and communication (talking about it).

-----------------------------------------------


Context


Our decisions, our judgments and our opinions all rely the context of the sexual activity.


What's the context? Is this sex good or bad? Right or wrong? How and when is it happening? With whom is this sex and and for what purpose? These factors all contribute to the act of sex. 


Different contexts can change everything. Sex is different, whether you're on a honeymoon, with someone else's partner, celebrating a reunion, in the back of a car, switching partners, producing an heir, trying a threesome, having fun, relieving tension, or just trying to get to sleep


--and those are just a few examples. Sex is different every time, so we need to adapt to each circumstance.

-------------------------------------------------


Culture


“I learned so much rubbish about sex as a kid that it took most of the rest of my life to unlearn it and come up with something better.”

- Man, 49


Did you know that:


“Dirty” words in our culture tend to be either sexual actions or body parts?


What does that tell you?


How has the culture we live in affected our sex lives, our relationships, our knowledge about sex and our sexual behaviors?


Answer these questions and learn about yourself in regards to sex. Self-knowledge is the most enlightening awareness we have.


When did you learn about sex?________________


From whom did you learn about sex?_________________


Where did they learn about sex?________________________


What did they tell you?__________________


Had they had sex?_____________________


How old were you when you had your first sexual experience?_______


How was it?_____________________________


Why?_________________________


What is sex?____________________


All of these answers help to create your personal sexual blueprint. Your experience depends on what we can call your sexual blueprint. We all have one.


This blueprinting all takes place in the brain, that most important ruling sex organ between your ears. It was programmed by many factors and it’s time to recognize this. Notice the constraints that your past experiences have placed on your sex life.


Our culture leads us to think a certain way about sex. In some cases, we can't have fulfilling sex lives unless we find ways to ignore cultural expectations. Find your sexual blueprint-- it doesn't matter if it's culturally or socially acceptable. Everyone's blueprint is different.

-----------------------------------------------


Communication


Would you order dinner without a menu? Would you make meatloaf without a recipe?


When making choices, we make sure to educate ourselves on the available options. We strive to be well-informed in all other aspects of our lives, so why not in our sex lives? 


Talk about sex. Ask your partner what he or she likes about sex. Tell your partner about yourself and what works for you. Your partner will have trouble pleasing you if they have no idea what you like--- and vice-versa.


Don't stick to saying, “Oh puhleeeze. I’ve been doing this for a long time. We don’t have to talk about it… I just KNOW what to do." Everyone has different preferences and both partners will miss out if sex is treated like a "one size fits all" situation.


Communication is key in sex, relationships and life in general. Don't cheat yourself or your partner. Make sure to ask:


What can I do for you?


What would I like?


What would you like?


What works? What doesn’t work?



How have the Three C's helped you? Communicate- let me know in the comments.




Dr. Judie is a Clinical Sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk."  A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media.  She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

After 27 years of running our own school and another 20 or so in other institutions that attempted to prepare adolescents for the “real world,” I still experience that inner laughter when I watch our ready-to-graduate students rush through the next few months as if there is really something great waiting for them out there.  


I can laugh because I know that in a few months, whether they come back to tell us or not, they are consumed with the reality that life was easier before they had to manage it all themselves.  


I used to just “know” that high school graduates were struggling from the few indicators I would get when I ran into their parents or they stopped by to touch base.  With Facebook, however, the signs are everywhere.  Not a day goes by that I do not read the words of a frustrated or overwhelmed young adult that I once taught.  They have even increased their time in prayer, for goodness sake!


I joined Facebook after I came to terms with the fact that my communication with my new 25-year-old daughter-in-law was not working.  At first I thought she didn’t like me and was trying to avoid my phone calls or invitations to lunch.  She  is a lovely, intelligent career woman who is the perfect match for my son.  There was no observable barrier here, from my perspective.  


When I spoke with friends and family members they all knew exactly what she was doing and had seen pictures of her, my son and grandson, that I did not know existed.  That’s when I realized that she was communicating on Facebook and if I wanted to be in the loop, I needed to join in.  Of course, I could not just have one friend, so I expanded my list.


Now, after friending students, high school buddies, neighbors and business associates, I have a diverse group with whom I maintain contact.  I don’t really share…I just listen in… known as a “creeper” or “lurker,” I am told.  I see the patterns of life of the many alumni who have “friended” me.  Once they add me to the list, they forget I am there and feel perfectly comfortable sharing the latest job crisis, romantic disasters, episodes of morning sickness and job searches.  


This younger generation seems to have time to document their every move.  Not only do I not have the time but I do not think anyone else is interested in what I am doing at the moment...even I am not interested in what I am doing every moment!


Although their complaints and plaintive moans of dissatisfaction with their classes, their bosses, their spouses, their children, their car, their health, their bills, etc. are public knowledge, at this point, I remember when they couldn’t wait to buy the car, marry the sweetheart, get the job, manage their own lives.  And, I have to admit…they really are doing a great job of it… but now that they are adults, they have earned the right to complain…with the rest of us.

 

Jacque Digieso has been an educator for over 40 years.  She and her husband Joe co-founded The Cottage School in Roswell, GA, to educate adolescents with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and other special educational needs. The school currently serves close to 150 middle and high school students.  Jacque and her husband have two sons, one of whom is adopted, and a handful of grandchildren.  

 

The link to Jacque's Blog.  

 

To follow on Twitter: @cottageschoolGA  

 

Facebook Page 

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


     It seems unreal that I wrote this article just a few months ago. Mom turned 85 the end of November. Dad died two weeks prior.  I think my dad truly didn’t want to have dementia, knowing how difficult that would have become not only for him, but also for mom and the family. Dad became seriously ill and died suddenly of heart failure.  Because he had given us the gift of creating his advance care directives, we were able to honor his wishes without question.  I am continuously impressed with Mom’s grace through all of this. I am also honored to be one of five children that works together as family - each bringing strength to best meet each other’s needs and wishes.


     I have aging parents. My dad just turned 85 and my mom will be turning 85 in November. The past few years have been interesting to say the least. My mom survived breast cancer. She also underwent angioplasty as a result of a heart attack which she kept secret for three days not wanting to disrupt a relative’s bat mitzvah celebration. Mom volunteers in my office weekly and helps out with the bereavement mailings.


     Dad is a person with memory loss. This came to light the past couple of years and it has been a roller coaster of emotions, appointments, emotions, tests, emotions, more appointments, emotions, more tests,  emotions and more emotions. Did I mention Mom was a saint?


     Having been the point person between my agency and the Alzheimer’s Association for a grant a few years back, I knew a little too much about the disease progression.  I knew that Mom was bearing the brunt of Dad’s moods and that she and my siblings were experiencing and would continue to experience anticipatory grief.  Did I mention Mom was a saint?


     Anticipatory grief is the form of grief that occurs when one is confronted with a chronic or life threatening illness or when one anticipates the death of a loved one (or oneself).  


     It may be expanded to include illnesses like dementia where the person with the disease and their family are experiencing losses over a period of time.


     Anticipatory grief is not a device for completing the tasks of grief prior to the death of the individual. It does not substitute, or necessarily lessen, the post-death process.  It is not post-death grief pushed ahead in time.  But recognizing anticipatory grief can afford families to better manage the illness, problem solve and address losses as they occur.


Adapting to the new and ever changing environment.


     When a family member has dementia, things are constantly changing.  Often one feels they have just adapted to one situation and then a new crisis makes more change necessary. This can keep everyone in physical and emotional high gear.  Losses are constantly happening. 


Communication


     Communication is the key to coping and growing as a family through grief.  It is important to be together to talk, cry, rage, or even sit in silence.  At the same time there should be respect for each member’s way of handling their anticipatory grief.  Some family members will grieve privately, others openly, and others a combination of these two styles.  In many ways each family member must grieve alone. 

  •  Maintain a balance of attention between the family member that is ill and the other family members.
  • A hug or a hand on the arm or back can provide comfort and a sense of closeness.
  • It may be helpful to set aside time to be alone together as a family or even to hold a family meeting.
  • Encourage but don’t pressure family members to talk and express their anticipatory grief in their own way.  Be a good listener.
  • Create a memory or legacy project and talk about feelings regarding memories.
  • If depression, withdrawal or family problems are worsening or out of control, seek professional help.


     If you can learn to share your anticipatory grief as a family, hopefully you will grow as a family. I am fortunate to be one of five adult children who are amazingly all on the same page with addressing these issues. With our individual strengths and weaknesses, we do the best we can to keep Mom and Dad active and healthy. And while it’s heartbreaking to see my dad put on his gloves and hat in 70-plus degree weather, it’s kind of hilarious too.


     Did I mention Mom was a saint?


Diane Snyder Cowan is the mother of two grown daughters and a national leader in using music in grief therapy, as well as the director of Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center of Hospice of the Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.   She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. To learn more about Diane, visit her blog.


Read other Diane Snyder Cowan columns here. 


©2012  ShareWIK Media Group, LLC



 


 


Apr 17


After six years together, Phang and I have learned a thing or two about communication.  It seems there are different kinds of communication and we have developed a rhythm to our discourse.  And that rhythm is the basis for a new dynamic that I call "familiarity."


He starts by saying "...I'm just saying.". That's his way of telling me he needs to talk, and he needs me to listen.  I am a little more direct.  I'll start by saying "… Honey, sit down … We need to talk."


Listening and hearing seem to be different skills altogether.  He can be delightfully attentive during a conversation and then reply with "...what are you talking about?" As the conversation continues, he'll begin looking for an end point.  His favorite ending is ..."it doesn't matter."


So, we have the conversation, discussing the important issues and coming to an understanding. But I'd better not bring the subject up again or I'll get an ambivalent "...of what?". That's man-talk for "been there, done that, now let's forget it."


"Yes, dear" is the universal male statement of agreement.  This can be said with a smile or, in Phang's case, a knowing twinkle of the eye.  It's a shorthand that most males are familiar with.  This really means that we have already established what we must give to get.  There is nothing else to say after "yes, dear."


"Didn't I tell you?" is Phang's shorthand for "I forgot but I feign innocence, so don't get mad at me." This is a synonym for "it doesn't matter." 


"You are so adorable." This is the most intuitive of all male communications.  It is the universal way to disarm one's mate... saying "I love you" with a hug and a kiss.  Sometimes, men, that's all a woman really wants to hear.


Susanne Katz is a registered mediator with Mt Vernon Counseling, coauthor of A Woman's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce, and an arts and living columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com.

For more columns by Susanne Katz, click here.

 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC.

Aug 27



Now on to the nitty gritty:


In a survey conducted for the  book The Big 'O', it was  found that:

            47% climaxed for the first time through masturbation

            32% through sexual intercourse

            20% through hand stimulation

            1% while sleeping.


In the same survey, we found that the most common age of first orgasm was 18, but that it could also be as late as the 40s!

Better late then never!


The 20s and 30s


Even in their 20s and 30s, a lot of women have difficulty reaching orgasm. These days, most sex therapists believe that if  you don't climax during sex  not unusual) easily, it's a good idea to start by practicing on your own.


This may seem obvious, but many women, even today, feel inhibited about self-pleasuring and can't help feeling that it isn't something they should be doing. What did YOUR mother tell you??


But masturbating helps you in so many ways. It frees you to masturbate. And it frees you up to learn exactly which pressures and rhythms you need in order to bring you to orgasm. So, it can be more than useful. It can be the magic key. I might suggest you watch some  sex-education DVDs. One of the most valuable is  Betty Dodson's "Self-Loving".  It will give you permission to do this and get information in getting right to the basics of women's genitals and how they  (and yours) respond.


Once you have learned to climax easily on your own,  (and with some added courage) you can then show your partner exactly what it takes for you to climax.


Again, this may  be difficult and feel embarrassing at first. But the first step in  a successful and fulfilling relationship  is to communicate your feelings to him or her and to communicate how your  body  needs to be touched.


When you can't find the words, demonstrate where and what feels good. Also try to build up a vocabulary with your partner that's easy to use. Use easy everyday language  -- not clinical wording. A lot of couples find their sex lives fail simply because they don't have the right language. And saying: 'Could you rub .......er.... play with that...er.. down there... may not be specific enough to be helpful. It also may be very helpful for him to watch the  Betty Dodson DVD that you did.*

 

*Many women ( many)  find achieving orgasm much easier with the help of a vibrator.  You will get this all  from Betty's  DVD...And  there are several excellent online mail order sites that sell good quality vibrators. Also check out the Hitachi site and look for their Magic Wand. They are equally helpful to gay and heterosexual women.



Dr. Judie is a clinical sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk."  A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media.  She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  

 


To read other blogs by Dr.Judie, click here.  

 


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

 

Sep 10

The act of sex does not stand alone. Three aspects of life are always connected to intercourse, whether we like it or not. These aspects are called "The Three Important C's of Sex" -- get your pencils ready. 


Sex is always connected to context (circumstances), culture (education) andcommunication (talking about it).

------------------------------


Context


Our decisions, our judgments and our opinions all rely the context of the sexual activity.


What's the context? Is this sex good or bad? Right or wrong? How and when is it happening? With whom is this sex and and for what purpose? These factors all contribute to the act of sex. 


Different contexts can change everything. Sex is different, whether you're on a honeymoon, with someone else's partner, celebrating a reunion, in the back of a car, switching partners, producing an heir, trying a threesome, having fun, relieving tension, or just trying to get to sleep


--and those are just a few examples. Sex is different every time, so we need to adapt to each circumstance.

-------------------------------------------------


Culture


“I learned so much rubbish about sex as a kid that it took most of the rest of my life to unlearn it and come up with something better.”

- Man, 49


Did you know that:


“Dirty” words in our culture tend to be either sexual actions or body parts?


What does that tell you?


How has the culture we live in affected our sex lives, our relationships, our knowledge about sex and our sexual behaviors?


Answer these questions and learn about yourself in regards to sex. Self-knowledge is the most enlightening awareness we have.


When did you learn about sex?________________


From whom did you learn about sex?_________________


Where did they learn about sex?________________________


What did they tell you?__________________


Had they had sex?_____________________


How old were you when you had your first sexual experience?_______


How was it?_____________________________


Why?_________________________


What is sex?____________________


All of these answers help to create your personal sexual blueprint. Your experience depends on what we can call your sexual blueprint. We all have one.


This blueprinting all takes place in the brain, that most important ruling sex organ between your ears. It was programmed by many factors and it’s time to recognize this. Notice the constraints that your past experiences have placed on your sex life.


Our culture leads us to think a certain way about sex. In some cases, we can't have fulfilling sex lives unless we find ways to ignore cultural expectations. Find your sexual blueprint-- it doesn't matter if it's culturally or socially acceptable. Everyone's blueprint is different.

-----------------------------------------------


Communication


Would you order dinner without a menu? Would you make meatloaf without a recipe?


When making choices, we make sure to educate ourselves on the available options. We strive to be well-informed in all other aspects of our lives, so why not in our sex lives? 


Talk about sex. Ask your partner what he or she likes about sex. Tell your partner about yourself and what works for you. Your partner will have trouble pleasing you if they have no idea what you like--- and vice-versa.


Don't stick to saying, “Oh puhleeeze. I’ve been doing this for a long time. We don’t have to talk about it… I just KNOW what to do." Everyone has different preferences and both partners will miss out if sex is treated like a "one size fits all" situation.


Communication is key in sex, relationships and life in general. Don't cheat yourself or your partner. Make sure to ask:


What can I do for you?


What would I like?


What would you like?


What works? What doesn’t work?



How have the Three C's helped you? Communicate- let me know in the comments.


Dr. Judie is a Clinical Sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk."  A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media.  She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Some of the most important lessons one needs to learn in life never happen in the classroom.  In fact, even as a professional educator, I believe the most valuable lessons almost never occur in the confines of the traditional classroom.


I just returned from my eighth annual camping trip to South Dakota with my 8th graders.  There were 12 students and four of us chaperones on the trip this year as we made our way camping in the Badlands and Custer State Park.  


Every year this trip brings its own unique set of challenges.  Our overnight stay in the Badlands once again proved to be bad.  Gusting winds over 45 mph made setting up camp a struggle for the kids.  They worked together in teams to battle the blasts of air that meant to tear down their homes for the night.   With great effort they fished the flimsy fiberglass poles through the tent channels and pounded in the stakes to keep the tents from blowing all the way to Wyoming.  


They attempted to cook dinner as the winds threatened to constantly blow out the propane stove; you know, lukewarm brats and hotdogs aren’t really that awful tasting!  And they huddled close to one another as the nighttime critters scampered past their tents in the wee hours of the morning.  In short, they learned that no one can stand alone, that we are all in it together, and that they must depend upon both friends and foes.


Our time spent in Custer State Park was once more serene but colder.  Setting up tents was far simpler than in the Badlands but the frigid nights brought new challenges.  It was here that the kids really started to gel and the lines between girls and boys, friends and foes faded as they learned to communicate with someone new.  They shared the heat packets they brought so everyone could stay warm inside their own sleeping bags at night. And they explored the surrounding area as though they were the first people to ever set eyes on this new land.


But like any good thing, too much can be too much.  After being together for 96 straight hours, kids start getting on each other’s nerves.  Snide comments and short tempers fueled from lack of sleep started to grate on some of them. 

 

One young man, Tommy, came to sit near the adults while all of the other kids were playing Frisbee.  His head hung low as he sighed heavily, clearly a sign that he wanted our attention.  We asked what was wrong and he immediately fell into the victim role, which he is so quick to play in the classroom.  “Thomas is blaming me for Jon’s pillow missing.  I didn’t do it and he knows it.  I am so sick of him picking on me.” 


 We’ve been hearing this mantra for a long time and decided that now was the perfect opportunity to put this to rest.

Thomas was called over and we had the two boys speak directly to each other with their complaints and concerns.  Turns out, they actually have a lot in common that no one else in the class shares – an interest in cars and hunting weapons.  Both boys acknowledged to each other that they can take things too far and need reminders to rein their behaviors back in check.  In short, the atmosphere of the South Dakota trip worked its magic again as it afforded the boys an opportunity to get down to the nitty gritty of what it means to really have someone’s back and how to work through your differences rather than around them all of the time.


I love this camping trip for so many reasons.  It is an awesome time to really get to know my students outside of the classroom.  I love sleeping in a tent and listening to the night sounds as they lull me to sleep – coyote calls, owls hooting back and forth, and the gurgling of the brook that flows near the campsite.  


But what I especially love is how the kids learn to depend on themselves and each other as they go through the process of seeing one another at their best and worst.  And it is an intense course of human dynamics that one can never learn in a classroom.


Margaret Anderson is the mother of three teenagers and a middle school teacher somewhere in the Midwest.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

For more Margaret Anderson articles, click here.



 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


One of the unique aspects of The Cottage School’s innovative programming is the correlation to the working world.  Taking adolescents  who have experienced relentless failure and frustration in traditional settings, TCS provides an accredited academic and social environment, but is organized as if the students were employees, complete with time clock, hourly ( mock) salary for specific responsible behaviors, and pay levels that reflect accountability and trustworthiness.  

The result is that these talented (but frustrated) students replace their avoidance, anxieties and below grade-level performance with self-reliance, competence and pride. Graduates are successfully accepted into colleges, art and technical schools, military service and apprenticeships.  


In order to be certain that the lessons learned at TCS are consistent with the skills required in the working world, I subscribe to  trade magazines and other business related media.  One of my favorites is “The Atlanta Business Chronicle.”  Not only does it cover a wide range of economic topics, but the articles often address the issues related to soft skills such as creativity, communication and anxiety. 


Although these articles are designed for adults, I often share the topics with the parents at TCS.  It is important for parents who often focus more on academic skills than the life-long skills of time management, communication, goal-setting and conflict resolution to realize that unless addressed in a timely manner, social skills may prove to be a greater barrier to success than academic skills.


The lessons to be learned do not go away.  The student in high school who slips under the radar and just barely gets by, becomes the student in college who does not participate in class discussion because of a fear of ridicule. The road of least resistance becomes the road of least  reward, as well.  Communication skills and creativity are associate with a certain level of risk.  

For a person who is consumed with anxiety, the payoff is simply not worth the cost.  The cost in high school is  more than a less than fulfilling experience.  The cost is almost always a less than adequate preparation for the demands that a college or work environment  have in store.  


A recent issue has an article on the cost of social anxiety…a growing disorder in both adolescents and in the work place.  We often interview  teens who have a debilitating fear of attracting attention or interacting in their environment.  They come to us from environments that have battered them with ridicule, failure and shame. 


I have never met a teen who wants to fail, but I see multiple teens a week who are surrounded by frustration and disappointment every minute of every day.  Due to a problem with reading, executive functioning or self esteem, they can not meet the expectations in their school environment. What seems to come easily to others is chronically  absent in their school experience.  


The problem may begin small…falling behind in an early reading class or slow to pick up basic math skills.  Because there is no one to pinpoint the problem and protect the areas of strength in that child, the failure spreads from one area to multiple areas, leaving  the older student with an open wound.  Until that child/young adult/mature adult experiences an environment that sustains their success and helps them rediscover their areas of talent and competency, the companion anxiety can be debilitating.


The characteristics of social anxiety that emerge in the work setting include poor performance,  attendance issues and lack of achievement.  Just as in school, an adult who is consumed with fear, is distracted at their job, finds reasons to stay home and seldom puts themselves in a position for recognition.  Just in as the classroom, the anxious/invisible  employee is often overlooked and easily discounted.  The cost to the company and to the employee is immeasurable. 


If the issue can be addressed before employment, even before college or technical training, the results would be much more satisfactory.  Most schools do not include this in their curriculum, or even their sub curriculum. The author in the “Atlanta Business Chronicle” article suggests that the employer engage outside consultants  to get the job done.  Obviously, that step increases the overall cost.


Ideally, if a school environment is not addressing this issue, a parent would find other means to build these skills in their teen.  Clubs, volunteer agencies, summer camps, even professional social skills groups or therapists could achieve the task.  Business owners, today,  are focused on staying afloat and creating a competitive product.  The chance that a business owner would, in addition, invest in  employee social skills development is asking a lot.  


Addressing this issue, at any age, insures the best for all concerned.  A confident adult contributes to all aspects of their life, including the success of the company for which they work.  

That is what I call a good investment!



Jacque Digieso has been an educator for over 40 years.  She and her husband Joe co-founded The Cottage School in Roswell, GA, to educate adolescents with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder and other special educational needs. The school currently serves close to 150 middle and high school students.  


Jacque and her husband have two sons, one of whom is adopted, and a handful of grandchildren. 


Read Jacque's blog here, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter @CottageSchoolGA.

My grandfather was a youthful old man well into his 90’s. He enjoyed his hamburgers and milkshakes as much as his season tickets to the opera and the theater. He lived a playful life, rich with gratitude and love. He was, truly, a blessed old man who never really felt old.


Until the age of 94, when everything changed: my grandfather had a stroke.


On that fateful late night drive to the hospital, I tried to calm myself:  “Oh God, please, don’t let him be trapped inside his body.” That’s the thing when you hear the word “stroke.” You just never know how severe it is, and the spectrum of possibilities is enormous. I couldn’t get there soon enough to assess the extent of the damage. I was trying everything I could not to “awfulize” my sense of his worst case scenario – that his brain would be intact, incarcerated in a body he could no longer control.


My grandfather’s stroke wasn’t catastrophic, but it was significant enough to shift the course of his aging. More specifically, for him, it impeded his ability to communicate fluidly with spoken language. An immigrant at age 14 who spoke five languages, verbal expression was a keystone in his life.


PaSid had been a true, old world raconteur. He was a story-teller extraordinaire, and never lacked for an appropriate joke for any age listener. He held children and adults, alike, in rapt attention with his sparkling blue eyes, his authentic smile, and his approachable humor. He never put on airs, and there was almost no one I ever met who couldn’t find something to appreciate or relate to about him. He really was a gem of a human being.


The saddest aftermath of his stroke was that he never fully recovered his ability to communicate with the fluency that had reflected and represented his personality for 94 years. He lost his ability to “hold court.” Ultimately, that robbed him of more than his lack of independence and bodily autonomy combined.


After his stroke, PaSid was cared for, to some extent, and then to every extent, for the remainder of his life – which turned out to be another eight years. And while he struggled with his reliance on others, I think the hardest part for him was that he lost the ability to fully express himself.

Now, PaSid was no curmudgeon, and he handled this transition with relative grace. A few months after the stroke he met a new “girl” (who moved onto his hall), and they were adorable together. He surrendered to increasing dependence with (mostly) excellent humor. 


But I watched him in a crowd, and it was frustrating for him. He who had always been the crowd-pleaser was now removed the role of observer. He wanted to tell his stories, and crack his jokes, but no longer had the command of his tongue, or the necessary timing, to hold the attention of a group. And while speech therapy thankfully returned to him enough ability to express himself in speech, speech was never again a full-expression of his spirit – at least, not in a group.


I was privileged to have a grandfather live fully to the age of 102. Life was forever changed after his stroke, but for him it was structural, and that meant that that his personality was still all there. Sometimes, he needed a little assistance in expressing it, and in the grand scheme of things, it was an easy gift to offer. 


I wish I had known then what I know now. I would have been more aware of and attentive to the importance of language for his full self-expression, and I would have provided more opportunity for him to feel fulfilled in that area. 


With that in mind, here’s what I know now about supporting people whose strokes leave a lasting impact on their speech:

  1. Encourage them to sing. Singing happens in a different part of the brain, and sometimes they can communicate something by singing it.
  2. Make sure they have time alone with you. One to one communication is often easier for them than trying to be in a crowd.
  3. Don’t pretend to understand when you don’t. Encourage them to try again, and make sure they feel “heard.”
  4. Give them your undivided attention for listening, so that you can pay attention to the nuances of communication that are often left to vocal expression and variation, and therefore are expressed differently after a stroke.
  5. Consider whether there is an expression of “self” that is needed, and seek other ways for it to be fulfilled. If I thought about it, I would have scheduled more opportunities for PaSid to be with my children one at a time, and I would have asked him to tell specific stories. I might have also had him tell his stories to me, and written them down.  
  6. Translate for them matter-of-factly, so that they can still express themselves to others who can’t understand them as well as you do. I can still see PaSid nodding his head in affirmation, confident and fulfilled that “he” had expressed himself to his satisfaction.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus coaches parents from around the country, on the telephone, to confidently help their families thrive. She is the co-founder of ImpactADHD.com, a free resource for parents, and works together with her husband, David Taylor-Klaus, in their company, Touchstone Coaching. Elaine is a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com and ImpactADHD.com, and writes for “Living Without” and "Womenetics.com" magazines. Follow her on Twitter@TouchstoneCoach and @ImpactADHD.


Read more columns by Elaine Taylor-Klaus here



©2013 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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