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I got my breasts the old-fashioned way. I grew them. That they are natural is obvious by their shape and their sag, which in a woman in my age and size bracket, is to be expected. I’m not bragging. Heidi Montag found out what natural breast women have been saying all along. Big boobs hurt. The bras we must wear pinch delicate skin. Our shoulders hunch from holding up our twin globes, which when not encased by support, tend to resemble globs.

Hollywood beauties continue to put their enhanced ‘breast’ features forward at various times and poses, and we stop, stare and pause, mesmerized and horrified, as the boobie wars continue. Are they for pleasure? For purpose? Does admiring them reduce us to T&A? How one answers that depends on so many things…


From the point of view of some feminists, breasts on display convey the message that a woman’s worth is determined by the size of her silicon valley. Along with breast-feeding advocates, they loathe the sexualization of a part of our bodies that most women admit feel pretty damn good in the hands and mouth of the right lover.


That breasts are both utilitarian and the source of sexual pleasure is a given to me. What I’m intrigued by is this: when it comes to size, some suggest there is a double-D standard in place depending on whether nature or the surgeon provided the goods. Breasts that are enhanced take on a life and admiration all their own compared to women whose body is au natural.


I suspect that there is something going on that has less to do with size, and more to do with proportion. Let’s call it breast to body volume percentage. Similar to body mass index, this term considers a woman’s breast mass vis-à-vis her overall body mass. And what used to be more normal proportions, that is, what Mother Nature generally dolled out when girls began developing, has been subverted by many factors.


Women who are naturally well endowed tend to carry weight in other places too; more cushion- for-the-pushin’ is one way to gently describe the ‘zaftig’ look. Nature rarely gives skinny little girls big lady boobs. Of course, there are exceptions, but by and large, womankind came in various shapes and sizes, with breasts to match.

All that has changed. I personally blame Jessica Rabbit.


Remember her? For those born after the 1980’s, Ms. Rabbit (not to be confused with the vibrator made popular in the “Sex and the City” series), the sultry sex-bunny of that brilliant movie, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” introduced a ratio hitherto unseen in the natural world.  I was a teen at the time, but I had a funny feeling even back then that this cartoon version of womankind would have a lasting impact.  If Hollywood could craft an image like that, and surgeons could operate, it wouldn’t be long before women (some with men nudging them along) would seek out ways to squeeze, suck, slice, suture and starve their bodies in an effort to look like a cartoon vamp.


Is it any wonder that young starlets like Heidi would succumb to this pressure? And now, 10-plus surgeries later, she’s got the scars inside and out to show for it.


But you tell me your thoughts on this. When it comes to showing cleavage, how much boob is a good thing? And do we discriminate when it comes to natural versus silicon valleys?

 


Follow Tinamarie Bernard at @ModernLoveMuse and on Facebook, Tinamarie Bernard,Modern Love Muse.
 



Tinamarie is a top-rated writer of sex, love and relationships. From celebrity relationships, sacred and eco-sexuality, erotica and feminism, to dating and mating advice for couples who want to deepen intimacy, Tinamarie covers what today's Modern Lovers want to know about. You can send her emails, good vibes and inquiries about relationship book reviews to tmbsdre@yahoo.com. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 


Read other columns by Tinamarie here.  

 


©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Many people find journaling and other forms of writing to be helpful for healing. Journals can store our innermost thoughts and feelings and provide a healthy release of emotions. Journaling provides the bereaved time to attend to their grief and a way of identifying and processing though grief reactions. While the inner world of grief feels chaotic, journaling helps add structure for clarifying our experiences.


If you never kept a journal you might not know where or how to begin.  First, remember that the journal is for you. You are writing for yourself, not an audience. If you are not sure where to begin, write down what happened. Then describe what is happening now. Write what you are feeling and about where those feelings might come from. Even jotting down daily events can be a way to tap into other feelings.


Keep it simple. Be patient with yourself. You don’t have to write pages and pages and you don’t have to write every day.  Writing prompts can also be helpful and I’ve included some tips to help you get started. There are three types of journals:


Visual Journals - If you are more of a visual person, try a visual journal. Purchase an empty sketch or an unlined journal that you can fill with drawings, paintings, and collages. Be sure to include quotes or narratives as well as scrapbook images, photos, and newspaper or magazine clippings.


Digital Journals - Perhaps you would rather put your thoughts on a computer rather than in a journal. Many people find it easier to write on a keyboard. If you plan on turning your journal into an online blog, remember that your innermost thoughts and feelings would go from a private to a public domain.


Readymade journals - Bookstores and greeting card stores often carry journals with quotes to get you started. There are several geared toward the grieving individual. 

 

Here are 10 tips for getting started:


  1. What I miss most about you and our relationship…
  2. What I wish I’d said or hadn’t said…
  3. What I’d like to ask you…
  4. I forgot to tell you…
  5. You taught me…
  6. You would be proud to know that I….
  7. I can hear you say…
  8. I am grateful for…
  9. What I’ve had the hardest time dealing with…
  10. Ways in which you will continue to live on in me…

 

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

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC
Nov 05

There has been much talk about extended adolescence as a new development in American social life.  I beg to differ. I’ve been in extended adolescence for over 40 years.


There are a number of people in my life who have been encouraging me to become an adult.


My wife signed up to have three children, not four.  My adult children have been surprised to discover their father is also their younger brother.  This has brought new meaning to Ray Stevens’ song, “I am my own Grandpa.”


Ignorance is bliss.  There is a lot to be said for adolescence.  Spending hours on Facebook while simultaneously surfing the Web have both expanded my network of friends and increased my ability to multi-task.  Texting several times a minute has helped narrow my vocabulary and improve my hand-eye coordination. I am getting much better at spending someone else’s money and now that I no longer live with my parents it is easier to ignore their advice. I like showing up for events when I feel like it, as well as the freedom to change my commitments if something better comes a long.


But it seems that my love affair with bliss is coming to an end.  Not because I can’t continue as I am, but because it is not very fulfilling.


I’m becoming less contented. The song Hole Hearted by Extreme puts words to my conundrum.


Life's ambition occupies my time
Priorities confuse the mind
Happiness one step behind
This inner peace I've yet to find


While I certainly have the shallowness requisite for staying as I am, I’ve begun to realize when it comes to happiness, fulfillment and contentment I am living on the outside looking in.


Rivers flow into the sea

Yet even the sea is not so full of me

If I'm not blind why can't I see
That a circle can't fit
Where a square should be

I’ve mastered the arts of mental distraction and emotional stimulation, but for too long I’ve ignored my heart.  It has been seeking to gain my attention for years but it is now speaking with a volume I can no longer ignore. 


There's a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
And this hole in my heart
Can't be filled with the things I do


It is increasingly obvious I cannot fulfill myself, by myself.  What has perplexed me for all of these years is how relationships can fill the void. 


I’m not good at relationships.


I’m not good at loving others.


I’m good at being nice.


I’m good at fulfilling tasks (expect for those around the house).


But I’m not a very good lover; and in saying this I being sincere, not immodest. 


When I have tried to love another I have often done more harm than I imagined and less good than I had hoped. 


People who only know me casually may not believe this about me, but people who know me well do, especially those who know me the best 


This heart of stone is where I hide
These feet of clay kept warm inside
Day by day less satisfied
Not fade away before I die

It’s time for me to grow up.  It’s time for me to man up.


And what does it mean to man up? 


To learn to love well.


Loving shouldn’t be that hard.  It’s not hard to understand.  “Love is this, that you lay down your life for another.”


So what’s my problem?  Why has adolescence had such a hold on me? 


Rivers flow into the sea

Yet even the sea is not so full of me
If I'm not blind why can't I see
That a circle can't fit
Where a square should be


I have what the psychologists would call, “reverse transference.”


When I seek to love another person, while I may think that I am loving them, what I am really doing is seeking something from them to fill a need in my life.


The more I survey my life and consider the hurt I have done to those I love, the more I realize that while I thought I was laying down my life for others, I was asking them to lay down their lives for me.  I was not seeking to fill a hole in their lives, but asking them to fill a hole in mine. 


There's a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
And this hole in my heart
Can't be filled with the things I do
There's a hole in my heart
That can only be filled by you
Should've known from the start
I'd fall short with the things I do


If I am to become a lover, I need an extreme makeover from the inside out.


In order to be a good lover in a dangerous world I need to be remade by love.


I need more than a behavioral change.  Reprogramming my behavior would be about as effective for my soul as plastic surgery would be for my body.  More hair and plastic won’t do me much good.


Transforming the soul is hard, and as an adolescent. I don’t have the maturity to fight this battle by myself.  I need a father who won’t let me go until I am reborn.


I want to be whole hearted.

 

Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D. is the author of “Sex and the iWorld. Rethinking relationship beyond the age of Individualism.”  He is the Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good and founding director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.  He a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

 

Read other columns by Rev. Dale Kuehne here. 

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

Dec 03

George Bernard Shaw is the only person to win both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar, but he was no physician.  He said that “time is a great healer.”  He could not have been more wrong.

 

The first sleepless night of my life was after Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.  If I see a replay of the Mets winning that game, I am immediately transported to moment when I became acquainted with what New Englanders call the “Curse of the Bambino.”


The power of memory is so intense that the Red Sox Nation continues to live as if they have never won a World Series, with this past September’s collapse just another part of our tortured history. 


Winning isn’t a great healer.  Time certainly isn’t.

 

I remember the moment I allowed myself to be talked out of purchasing Apple stock when Steve Jobs has just reassumed control of the company.  Being spared the burden of paying a capital gains tax on over $500,000 is little consolation and time hasn’t changed the economic facts.


Failing biology the first semester of my freshman year of college conjures up such feelings of inadequacy that it is still difficult for me into walk the science building on our campus.


Having to take swimming lessons as a child when the ice was still on the Minnesota lake has translated into an adulthood where the only body of water I will approach with joy is a hot tub. 


In the 70’s there were several times when women I fancied looked at me and uttered the phrase that sent daggers into my heart, “Let’s just be friends.”


All I need to hear is a specific song from the 70’s that is associated with each young woman and I am immediately transported emotionally to the specific time and place.

 

When it comes to relational estrangement, time does not heal. 

 

Due to selective memory syndrome, the passing of time actually hinders healing.

 

Every estranged relationship stands still at the moment of the rupture. The only thing that changes over time is our recollection of what caused the rift and our motivation to work for healing.  The longer we get by without a relationship the easier it becomes to ignore it. 


But the scars remain and the moment of arrested development impact us whether we admit it or or not. 


Life is all about the relationships, and since every relationship matters so the estranged ones.  


So what heals hurts from the past?


The ability to confront the memories, and when possible the people, and find a path of reconciliation and healing that we did not see before.

 

To do this, the first thing we need is hope.  We will never seek relational healing if we have lost relational hope.


An indispensable part of hope is coming to know who we are and how we relate to others.  If used well, time can help us mature and gain self-awareness and other-awareness we did not possess before.


We cannot gain this kind knowledge by ourselves.  In order to know ourselves we need a reference point outside of ourselves.  Having a friend who loves us enough to be honest with us is the greatest gift we could ever desire.  Self-understanding and other-understanding only comes from those who love for us enough to help us see ourselves for who we really are, and not who we wish we were.


The truth hurts and sets us free.


News Flash: Therapy helps.


Therapy can take many forms.  It can come from a mature family member or friend who knows us well and cares enough to listen and respond with empathy and wisdom.  But the right professional can help us more than we imagine. 


Talking about the past is just the first step.  It helps us remember what we haven’t forgotten.


The memory demands a next step, of which there are two variations.


One is forgiveness.


Alexander Pope had it right, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”


Sometimes forgiveness is the only avenue available to us.  It only takes one to forgive.  Me.


If we are fortunate and the other with whom we have “fallen out” is willing to connect with us, reconciliation is a gift that lies in front of us bot.h 


In considering the prospect of seeking reconciliation observing children is instructive.  One minute they can be fighting, another minute they can be crying.  Shortly the adult in the room strongly encourages an apology and an acceptance, and within minutes they are playing as if nothing happened. 


Unfortunately when we grow up there is not an adult in the room when we need one. 


One of the unfortunate relational legacies of adults is their unwillingness to seek reconciliation with those with whom they have had a falling out.  


Reconciliation doesn’t mean going back to the way we were.  It means moving ahead, and moving ahead has many different looks.

 

Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa is the greatest example of the possibility and power of confronting people who have hurt us in the past.  It involves those people we have hurt and those who have hurt us.

 

The Commission is a divine example of the power of confronting the past in the name of reconciliation.  For some people involved in the process, it was simply the opportunity to confront those who they had hurt or who hurt them and their families. It was a chance to say what each needed to say, and even if the people involved never interacted with each other again, it allowed everyone to move beyond the place of pain where they had both been stuck.


For others it became the start of a new relationship, which has become a friendship no one could have expected.


For all it provided a gateway to a future they never imagined existed. 


Someone once said youth is wasted on the young.


I think it is more often the case that adulthood is wasted on adults.


A wise sage once said not to let the sun set on your anger. Another said, if you find yourself at the altar and know that another has something against you, leave your gift, go be reconciled and then come back to offer your sacrifice. 


Time doesn’t heal.


Forgiveness and reconciliation do.


There is a season for everything under heaven.  Let it be for all of us a healing time for relationships.


Every relationship matters.


And for those of us in Red Sox nation, I think it’s time to realize that “it’s only a game, it’s only a game, it's …”

 

Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D. is the author of “Sex and the iWorld. Rethinking relationship beyond the age of Individualism.”  He is the Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good and founding director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College.  He a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

 

Read other columns by Rev. Dale Kuehne here. 

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 


Jan 01

Welcome to the debut of Straight Talk about Sex.


This column is for any man, woman or otherwise who wants to know more about sexual development, thoughts, feelings behavior and sexual potential. It is for those currently having sex and those who are not currently having sex. It for those in relationships and those who are not in relationships. It is for those with a partner and those whose partnership is with themselves. It is for all ages and backgrounds and ethnicity and country of origin, and, sexual preference and identification. 

 

Sex is like fine wine. It improves with age and knowledge.

 

It is for those who want information, those who want advice on how to make sex better and those who have questions just about sex for themselves and SEX in general.

 

Please note that this exciting addition will contain material that may be offensive to some. At this point I would suggest you stop reading this disclaimer.  Hit the politics page, food reviews, cartoons, interviews, travel section or editorials.


This material will be informative, humorous and enlightening. And perhaps confronting. For those of you who want to lighten up and have fun with life…take a shot with sex.  What have you got to lose besides

Taboos?

Wrong news?

Blues?

Booze?

Clues?

A snooze?

????


Why a sex column?

There are behaviors in the world about which we have limited knowledge. Sex is one of those activities about which we think we know, expect we should know, is a natural know,  everyone knows. They just do it. Unfortunately there is much we don’t know and knowledge is missing and even worse the knowledge is incorrect.   After all… where did you learn about sex and from whom did you learn about sex? (Just think about THAT.)

 

In this column we will touch on many topics about sex, some of which will be:

  • The secrets to sensational sex
  • What women want to know about men
  • What men want to know about women
  • What they each want to know about themselves... 
  • Health issues
  • Drugs
  • Toys
  • Vibrators
  • Cross dressing
  • Masturbation
  • Sex for three
  • Films
  • Books
  • ++ (no end of pluses no end of material)

No topic is too hot to handle or too sensitive.


Much of this will depend on you…


You ask and get the answer to your questions.  The emergence of a page like this puts a public face on a generation coming of age and a generation that came of age in a society that has grown more open about sexuality. Sex should be enjoyable and fun.  It is my intention to have it be so in reading and doing.



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 a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Dec 29

I wrote this favorite column after realizing, after several painful interludes, and an inner struggle against the vanity of "winning" such a remarkable and beautiful and wise woman, that this second marriage had to be stored in my heart and not go to my head.  We had really helped each other, in long talks, deep revelations, for about a year after our prior marriages had dissolved.  There were four children, of widely different ages, involved and not without anger.  It just took time to realize that our friendship-grounded marriage was like good leather--fine but flawed and therefore real.


--Ben



Nothing More Naked Than A Lover's Quarrel


Although it is a malady of the heart, it seems to first affect the linings of the stomach.  It immediately sucks comfort from the intestines and the resulting disorientation feels like the clinging aftereffect of a blow to the midsection.  Your eyes don’t see straight, your ears ring with unfamiliar and unwelcome sounds, and you don’t really know where to put your hands.


You are stuck in a place that you are determined to hold at exactly the same time you wish desperately to flee.  You don’t know why your pride has completely vanquished any trace of common sense and how you can possibly be saying the most hideous things to exactly the one person who represents the opposite of the words that are coming out of your mouth.  And these words are flying with more convincing velocity (and perilous disbelief on your part) than anything you remember.  Meanwhile, she is blurting out declarations, flaring, some really hitting home, others painfully gratuitous.  Her product is convincing--you know this but at the moment are in no mood to tenderly forgive.  What she says smacks of cultural or personal baggage that on other days are actually part of her charm and vulnerabilities.


Then comes the worst part—the Sitzkrieg.  You both retreat to separate, edgy spaces, though no one really has a place to alight.


Two people, desperately in love, having perhaps fought hard to build a life together, both cognitively aware that a few misplaced words triggered by economic stress and/or petty resentments (none of which should go unexamined ultimately) withdraw to emotional and geographic sanctuaries for what amount to synthetic and decidedly unfulfilling and opaque intervals.   The movie you share may have been interesting, but the adjacent seat was unequivocally empty.  The ocean you walked was particularly vast during the trek to clear the head and the horizon, lonely.   Anger is quite insipid, even as words blasted in anger can wound like verbal bullets.


It’s not funny nor is it cute, this business of fighting between lovers—though it is a hallmark, if sickening experience of real human life.  Good people suddenly reach for old dark histories and scatter them, like contaminants, about a marriage already seasoned and refreshed by maturity and atonement and the harvest of partnership.  It is so easy to trample a garden in just a moment of pollutant carelessness after several solar turns of experience.  Strong relationships, like leather, survive the marks, and retain their character.  But will what was said this time be the ugly collateral for the next time?


Postscript:  I have twice been married, (now successfully) and have been a central part of the failure and success of the enterprise of love throughout my adult life.  Moreover, my work happens to revolve around the business of human life.  So this much I know for sure:  When folks tell me they don’t ever fight, that’s when I really worry. 

  



Ben Kamin is one of America's best known rabbis, a multicultural spiritualist, NYT Op-ed contributor and author of seven books, including his latest, "NOTHING LIKE SUNSHINE: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination."  He is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.


 More Ben Kamin articles, click here 


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC



Dec 30

So here I was, getting adjusted to a new life, when I entered into this relationship.  That started the tug-of-war known as the proverbial battle-of-the-sexes.  It was time for both of us to develop new skills and laugh at ourselves as we stumbled around the kitchen.


The aha! moment came when we realized that our battles were waged in the name of love and honor.  Now he snorks and I leer, and we appreciate the different people that we are.  It is challenging to learn how to dance with your new partner.  And that is what Second Life is all about...doing the same things better while being better at being ourselves.



The kitchen is where the power is.  Powerful are those who mess up and those who clean up in the kitchen.  This isn’t a joke.  We keep people close or keep them at a distance depending on how they relate to our kitchen.


For instance:


I do not eat meat.  It is not allowed to come into my kitchen.  Anyone who brings it in is relegated to the porch no matter what the weather is.  Vegetables, grains and fruits are welcome any time, but they have to be fresh, washed, and not made with meat soups or sauces.  Mine has been called a Mediterranean diet.  Add fish or cheese and I have my perfect meal.


I live with a wonderful man who I call Phang (not Phyllis Diller’s Fang).  He is a rip-roaring meat eater; a bar-b-q fanatic who loves that beef, pork and even lamb.  He and his leftovers are relegated to the porch.  Better to just overeat at the bar-b-q place than to bring that stuff home.  I know this will offend meat lovers, but truthfully, it reminds me of the neighbor’s cat bringing home a bird.


Then there is the washing and loading of the dishes.  Some folks like to put all the dishes and pots in the dishwasher.  Phang washes the pots and all the large serving dishes by hand.  So the dishwasher doesn’t get run that evening and there is a heap of dripping pots and dishes on the counter.  That saves on energy but wastes water and destroys my manicure. 


It’s a different story if we are washing my china, crystal and silver.  There is some dignity in treating these 

as fine objects.  It’s akin to respecting your elders. 


In every kitchen there is the drop area.  It’s the place where everything goes first, then gets sorted and then goes somewhere else.  This includes the mail, papers that haven’t been read yet, purses and keys.  The designated counter is not the glass kitchen table.  It’s a workhorse counter that can stand up to the daily drops.  This is the third kitchen frontier.


It used to be that a kitchen desk was standard in every home.  But no desk was large enough to do the job.  That is, unless you institute the one-drop rule.  That’s not the rule for eating food that has dropped on the floor.  It’s the rule that says if you pick up a bill, you pay it and mail it the same day.  It’s the same for newspapers.  They are to be read and put in the recycling on the same day.


Phang’s mail and newspapers can last on the counter for a full week.  I move them to his side; he moves them back to the counter in the middle.  I would move them to my side, but that’s already filled with magazines I haven’t read and the grandkids’ artwork.  These have much more staying power and I like to look at them more than once.  Actually, I just don’t really know where they should go.


When we started living together, I expected the power play would be in the bedroom.  But it looks like control of the house is really determined in the kitchen.   And I like a man in the kitchen.


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


More Susanne Katz articles, click here.


2012 ©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Feb 08

To understand what takes place during a sex therapy session, it’s important to know what doesn’t happen. Contrary to what some people may think, you will not be physically intimate with each other while the therapist is watching. If having to discuss your sex life is an obstacle to getting help, you can rest assured that the sex therapist will not push you too quickly. Also, remember than an essential part of the treatment is talking about your sexual feelings more comfortably. Can you imagine wanting to cook something and not asking for a recipe?


What to expect:


Sexual problems are nearly always intertwined with cultural, psychological and relationship issues. As a result, treating the physical problem (if one is present) is only half the job. If sexual issues persist for any length of time, anxiety, anger, frustration, low self-esteem, lack of physical affection between you and your partner and a sense of hopelessness, can further harm your sex life. So can a tendency to blame yourself or your partner for the problem. Most people need help repairing the emotional distance created by the problem before they can regain a healthy sexual relationship.


Licensed sex therapists are particularly well suited to this task. Although they’re qualified to understand the same broad emotional issues as individual or couples therapists, sex therapists have advanced training in addressing specific sexual problems, and they use a more targeted approach.


Initially, underlying personal dilemmas, educational issues and relationship conflicts are addressed mainly in the context of your personal sexual history and subsequent problems. As a result, sex therapy will probably return you to sexual functioning sooner than traditional counseling. However, as the sexual issue is being resolved, many people choose to continue working with the sex therapist to tackle deeper personal and relationship issues.


The role of sex therapy is to help people explore the nature and possible causes of their sexual concerns, better communicate their sexual needs and preferences, recognize their past constraints and expand their repertoire of sensual and sexual activities. By increasing the overall pleasure and intimacy of sexual contact, a couple will be able to enjoy expressions of sensuality that are free from what are often the goal-driven pressures of intercourse and orgasm. It is not the end... it is the means to the end.


Much of the behavioral and relationship-building work of sex therapy is actually done at home between meetings with the therapist. After a comprehensive assessment is complete and the couple feels comfortable with and trusts the therapist, the therapist will probably assign behavioral exercises to practice at home. You’ll be asked to focus on your feelings, sensations, and thoughts during the home assignment and to discuss them with the therapist in the next session.


The therapist may also serve as a sex educator. The therapist will discuss issues with you during therapy sessions and may suggest useful books and DVDs. (yes, these are both educational and erotic).


He or she will also help you question erroneous beliefs and assumptions that stand in the way of enjoyable sex, such as “All sexual contact must lead to intercourse,” “The man must be in charge of the sexual activity,” or “Foreplay is only for teenagers and isn’t really sex.”


Sex therapy can also help you learn to take some control of other factors that inhibit your sexual enjoyment. By understanding where stressors lie and how they influence sexual functioning, a couple can take steps to create a relaxed, distraction-free environment for sex. Older couples, who often need more time and stimulation to feel aroused and reach orgasm, may find they benefit from a leisurely romantic mood.

 

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 here.  

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Flight attendants have it right – and the advice is just as useful for those on a plane as well as off. “Remember to place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth before assisting your child.” In other words, fail to take care of yourself and you won’t have what it takes for your kid. 

 

This is especially true for mothers with eating disorders. Anorexia is the most blatant form of self-neglect. Its theme is the refusal to meet the body’s most basic needs (for food) but it often entails the denial of other important needs (i.e. love, pleasure, intimate connection).  


While the stereotype is that eating disorders are a current day affliction caused by media images, they’ve been around for centuries.  Generations of women have suffered, but they were undiagnosed and untreated. Some wound up in mental hospitals or experienced chronic illness and early death from malnutrition or suicide. Those who were higher functioning got married and had kids. 


When an eating disorder goes untreated for decades it becomes an entrenched and defining quality of one’s self-concept. 


I’m the thin one. 


I’m the one who resists the treats at the restaurant.

 

I’m the one who cooks for others but never succumbs to temptation.  


The “pride” in being able to achieve these victories over the body’s needs is a substitute for self-worth.  Like saccharine, its momentary sweetness has no real substance behind it.

  

Unfortunately, the older generation of moms had little awareness of how living on nicotine, caffeine, saccharine and adrenaline would affect their offspring.  Their adult children often struggle with a deep and abiding sense of emptiness. 

   

Olivia sits in my office, the daughter of one of these moms. “I’m grumpy,” she starts off one summer morning. “Actually, I’m hung over, as in ‘Food Hangover.’ Had dinner with Mom last night.”  


A successful, attractive professional in her late 40’s, Olivia secretly binge eats whenever she spends time in the presence of her mother.  That night before, Mom had come through town and taken Olivia out for dinner, ordering a side salad with no dressing and black coffee (“…always the damn black coffee!” Olivia fumes). Her mom excused herself several times to step outside for a cigarette. She looked with judgment and disdain as Olivia ordered dinner off the menu. By the time dessert arrived, Olivia was planning her post-dinner binge back at the house.  


Olivia felt like her mother wore her anorexia like a badge of honor. During her childhood Olivia’s mother never ate dinner with the family.  When they went on vacation, her mother would avoid eating all day, admonishing the kids, “You’re not hungry!” when they started asking for lunch around 2:00 p.m.  Sometimes Olivia would discover her mom quietly eating a box of crackers late at night in the dark kitchen; she’d hide the box like it was heroin.   


Because she was chronically hungry, Olivia’s mother was often irritable and short-tempered, blaming Olivia for being “overly dramatic” or “too needy,” a trait most loathed by someone with anorexia. Because her mother’s cup was empty, she perceived her daughter’s normal needs (for love, food, attention) as burdensome. Because Olivia was a bright, sensitive child, she could come to no other conclusion than that she was faulty, unlovable, too much, a disappointment. Despite her many friends, her professional success, and her delightful and effervescent personality, for 47 years Olivia has held firmly to this core belief.  

  

Thankfully, today there is less shame and greater awareness about treating eating disorders.  Moms who are suffering are seeking help.  


Kerri, a mother of three, had become so depressed from her food rituals that she was not able to parent her kids, spending hours every day in her darkened room.  She avoided family meals, then binged and purged when they were otherwise occupied. She sought therapy when she became frightened by her suicidal plans. She’d written the good-bye letter to her kids and staked out the bridge she was planning to drive off. But her eldest daughter was on the verge of puberty and starting to worry about her body image.  This was Kerri’s wake-up call. She did not want to abandon her daughter at such a crucial stage. She remembered feeling emotionally neglected by her mom at 13 and believed that this contributed to her bulimia.


She called me for help, petrified to reveal her secret to her husband, but ready to break bulimia’s 30-year grip.   


Kerri has worked hard in therapy these past two years. She is now fully engaged as a mother because she is trying to meet her needs by getting sleep, eating meals, exercising, taking medication for depression (and having hot dates with her husband!). She has meaningful discussions with her daughters about their changing bodies, saying the things that she wished her mother had told her at that age. Her kids now see her as a source of love and support rather than a source of pain.   

 

Meanwhile on a summer morning, I try to help Olivia stop taking her mother’s inability to love her personally. Even as the Adult Olivia knows her mother has an untreated illness, the Kid Olivia still believes the faulty messages that her mother conveyed. So Olivia will need to fill the emptiness with real acts of love. She can nourish her body with rest and exercise and delicious meals (with no guilt). She can fill her heart with the love of her close friends. She can feed her soul by making a difference in the world. 


Food is as essential as oxygen for our survival, but you never hear people feeling guilty for breathing too much, or making ridiculous statements such as: “Wow, you look great! Are you cutting back on oxygen lately?” 


Maybe when a woman decides to become a mother, her doctor should say something like: “You are about to embark on an important journey. Please be sure to feed and nurture yourself before you attempt to nourish a child.”

 

Dina Zeckhausen is a nationally known clinical psychologist and author who specializes in treating eating disorders and body image in both adults and adolescents. She is a weekly columnist for ShareWiK.com. You can visit her on the web at dinazeckhausen.com and MyEdin.org.

 

More Dina Zeckhausen articles, click here.

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 
Feb 05

If the heart is the center of the body and the brain rules all of the body’s organs including the heart, then how do I know if I feel love in my heart or in my brain? Granted, there is a mind-body connection, but how do these two organs communicate? 

 

It all started with a heart-shaped valentine.  This symbol is what I will give Phang to help me express my love for him.  If my head knows how I feel then how, I wondered, did that feeling get to my heart…or vice versa?


“I knew I was in love way before you knew,” Phang revealed.  “I just felt in balance and it felt right.”  


I feel in balance when I have completed a great hour’s workout or when we finish our three-mile walk with our dog, Mazik.  My Second Life has felt more in balance as Phang and I have created a world for ourselves.  There is an intuitive feeling of well-being and a physical feeling of calm and satisfaction.  How can I express this with a heart-shaped symbol in a valentine?


I think there is an energy that connects our brains and our hearts.  With positive emotions, freedom from stress, good nutrition and a nurturing environment, both organs communicate or pass energy to each other.  Still, that does not explain how the heart has come to be the symbol of love.


My heart has a brain and my brain has a heart, so why not incorporate both of these symbols to express the true nature of love?  To complete the picture, I would have to include the five senses:  seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and speaking.  


When you see your loved one, hear them speak, speak lovingly to them, touch them and kiss them, you receive those yummy senses … as exciting as that red foil wrapped heart-shaped hunk of chocolate.  To me, love is a pleasure for the senses.  It is a gift that can be delivered in any shape at all, but pleases every time.


The challenge will be to express all of this in a card with a red-shaped heart that looks a bit like my brain and my heart and conveys the delight to the senses as well.  Maybe it would be wise to just stick to the traditional heart-shaped symbol that we see on every Valentine’s Day card. 

  

Susanne Katz is the author of “A Woman’s Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce,” the host of the radio program, “What Women Want Now” and a columnist for Atlanta Jewish News.  She is also a regular ShareWIK.com contributor.

 

For more Susanne Katz articles, click here.


 
 

@2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

Thanksgiving morning 2000, the phone rang early. My then 94-year-old grandfather said simply, “Come get me." 


Within 30 minutes, my husband, my two brothers and I arrived with a pick-up truck and moved him out of his girlfriend’s house, where he’d been living for six years.


When you do the math, there are many fascinating subplots you might want to follow in this story: grandfather, 94, live-in girlfriend, etc. Here’s one you might not expect. When he called, I seized the opportunity to get him out quickly, before he changed his mind.


My grandpa and I were really tight, and it was becoming clear to me that his relationship with his girlfriend had gone sour. Early on, it had been a great arrangement: they traveled to Elder Hostels and were wonderful companions. But he wasn’t 90 anymore, and it was getting difficult for him to travel. Let’s just say she wasn’t being very nice about his increasing dependence on her. As her resentment grew, her volume rose and her language grew foul.


At the age of 94, he was in an emotionally abusive relationship and he didn’t know how to get out. In fact, he didn’t really believe that he could get out. He thought he was stuck. Once I realized that, I was able to help him see the options available to him, which gave him the power to pick up the phone that Thursday morning. It was not an easy phone call to make.


A bad relationship is like an addiction. You can’t imagine life without it, but you just don’t know how to quit. This can apply to all relationships of intimacy – parents, kids, friends and partners.

Part of you knows its not good for you, but low self-esteem leads to one of two outcomes: either you don’t want to fail so you stick with it and try to make it work; or, you don’t believe you can do any better, so you stick with the devil you know. Either way, it’s a damaging, downward, vicious cycle. Either way, you think you’re stuck.


Emotional abuse is subtle. It doesn’t leave bruises; it leaves psychic stars. There’s a fine line between poor communication and abuse in a relationship, but there are a few markers that can help you determine if your relationship crosses that line.


So, here’s What I Know: Five warning signs of emotional abuse and five coaching skills you can use to help yourself get out of a bad situation (and run in the other direction).


A relationship might be emotionally abusive… 


… if you find yourself questioning whether you should (or wanting to) leave a relationship, but you think you have no options.


Coaching skill to work on: Trust yourself, listen to your instincts.


 … if someone routinely feeds you messages that make you feel bad about yourself. In all likelihood, you don’t deserve it. True friends want you to feel good about yourself; they do not constantly cut you down.


Coaching skill to work on: Accept that you deserve to be treated with respect.


 … when someone you’re involved with creates a wedge between you and your friends and family, implying that s/he is the only person you can trust.


Coaching skill to work on: Stay connected. Don’t let yourself lose touch with other people in your life. Put effort into more than one relationship.


… when you find yourself walking on eggshells, never knowing what’s going to set someone off (but certain that something will!).


Coaching Skill to work on: Don’t take other people’s explosions personally. You can’t make someone else freak out, that’s his/her issue. Try not to react!


… when you find yourself changing who you are to keep from losing a relationship and start feeling like you’re not being true to yourself.


Coaching Skill to work on: Get clear on what’s important to you (your values) and make a conscious effort to be true to yourself daily.

 

If you are in a relationship that is not nurturing you, take a hard look and ask yourself some tough questions. Figure out if any of these warning signs apply to you. It’s likely to be difficult, but it may be time to run in the other direction.


If you do decide you want to make a change, try finding support from a coach or a therapist. It helps to have a professional on your side to positively reinforce the messages that you DO deserve to be happy, and you DON’T deserve to be treated badly. You know those things, of course, but sometimes it’s easier to believe them when the messages are being reinforced.


Just in case you’re wondering, my grandfather was lucky enough to have an adoring granddaughter (and two grandsons) coach him through his break-up. He had never experienced many of the emotions that come with intentionally ending a relationship. What did he know? He’d been married to my grandmother for 62 years! We were able to guide him through the change. It was actually pretty cool.


Just a few days after Thanksgiving, he was living independently in a retirement community. By early 2001,he’d gotten himself another girl. Miss Parks (as we lovingly referred to her until her death seven years later) was as sweet as we could have hoped. They held hands, and snuggled, and cared for each other lovingly.


Other than playing a trick one Valentine’s Day, convincing his homecare worker that he and Miss Parks had broken up, my grandfather never had to run away again. At 94, he realized that he was in a bad relationship. With help, he ended it. As a result, he lived his final years, joyously, with a kind woman who loved him and knew how to show it well. THAT is what a relationship is all about, and something to run toward, for sure!

 

Elaine Taylor-Klaus is a Life, Leadership and Parenting Coach and the founder of Touchstone Coaching and ImpactADHD™. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

Read more articles by Elaine Taylor-Klaus here.  

 

 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 

“What should I do?” my friend asked as we stood together, the sky darkening to that place where it is neither dark nor light, that unsettling in-between feeling creeping up on all of us.


Despite clearly articulated expectations, the kids’ mom was MIA, not answering her cell phone and two hours late returning the children to their primary home. Forget about the now-missed appointment. Agitation was turning to fear. There was nothing to do but wait.


Nearly two-and-a-half hours late, my former friend drove up, mildly apologetic and mostly excited about the great street festival they’d been attending. Irked that her exuberance was met with anything less than a shared enthusiasm for the great life adventure she’d just shared with her kids, she became defensive and dismissive. We can imagine it didn’t go well from there.


This was early in their divorce, but continues to define their dynamic 10 years later. The biggest difference between then and now is my friend’s ability to accept what he cannot change, and trust that his kids will be okay.


Over the years I’ve accompanied many friends and clients through divorce. Encouraging, supporting, listening. I’ve helped people re-discover themselves in enviable ways, re-connecting to their own passions and re-directing their lives. Sometimes, there has been inspiration amidst the disappointments. That is the positive side of divorce.


At other times, though, I’ve supported people through a different kind of personal growth. You know, the kind we commonly refer to as “learning experiences,” which we all know is a euphemism for “hard knocks.” In those cases, the life lesson always seems to be about learning to Let Go.


When divorcing with children, the relationships don’t end, they change. Sometimes couples do a great job of co-parenting and keeping the children’s best interest at the forefront of their relationship. But when the responsibility load was already lopsided in the marriage, or when one of the adults has a fractious relationship with mature behavior, attention on what is best for the children can be a struggle.


When a divorce results, ultimately, from a severely dysfunctional parent, the other parent’s focus often turns to damage control. 


You may recognize this dynamic: one parent is “the responsible one,” and the other gets to play. One parent sets guidelines and limits, and the other makes exceptions and pushes boundaries. The responsible parent often struggles for years in this cycle before finally bringing the marriage to an end, only to discover that the divorce does nothing to eliminate the pattern.


So how does the “responsible” parent survive the constant struggle? 


Well, sometimes she just has to learn to deal with it. Over time, she learns to:


recognize what’s not in her control

believe in the resilience of children

trust that the solid foundation she sets is enough to stabilize her children


When she does it well, she tries not to vilify the ex-spouse in front of the children, and she is there to support them when they are (inevitably) disappointed by their other parent.


At other times, the complications are compounded when there is an ineffectively managed and/or severe mental illness at play -- Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, or Bi-Polar. In this case, he:


fights for primary custody to maximize the safety of his children

doles out visitation/supervision as necessary, depending on the health of the ex-spouse

tries desperately to help his children maintain a relationship with their other parent


This, as you might imagine, has been a painful process to witness, albeit humbling and character-building. 


In either scenario – with an ex-spouse who is irresponsible because of selfishness or illness -- the “surviving” spouse goes through a process similar to the Kubler –Ross stages of Death: 


denial (usually while they are still in the marriage); 

anger (early stages of divorce); 

bargaining (this part happens again and again, and again); 

depression (when the reality and the finality sink in); 

acceptance (a sort of peace and letting go)


Ultimately, this final place of letting go is a gift, despite the pain that brought it present. It provides a different perspective on viewing the world that is free from the need to control. It has at its core a universal trust.


I was laughing with my friend, lately, about his reactions to his children’s mother. Now, he is able to laugh at some of the more absurd situations. He has learned to select his battles carefully, and to let go of things that once would have posed monstrous obstacles in his life. 


The good news? This tendency has translated to all aspects of his life. And while he wouldn’t choose for his children to go through it all again, he is grateful for the gifts that letting go have brought into his life. 


Elaine Taylor-Klaus is the co-founder of ImpactADHD.com a virtual coaching community for parents of kids with ADHD. She is a regular columnist on ShareWIK.com and MySpecialNeedsNetwork.com, and writes for “Living Without” magazine. Elaine coaches women and parents from around the country, on the telephone, to live full and empowering lives. She works together with her husband, David Taylor-Klaus, in their company, Touchstone Coaching.


Read other Elaine Taylor-Klaus columns here.


©ShareWIK Media Group 2012


When my editor said that this week’s topic was divorce, I started researching immediately. There was important TMZ celebrity divorce news to analyze, I figured! ( Did you know that Arnold and Maria were spotted buying furniture together? You know what that means, girlfriend.)


 Yet Hollywood marriages spill no secrets why people become, er, terminators. It’s what you find in the rest of America—or at least Beverly Hills: infidelity, addictions, hot tub abuse, “irreconcilable differences” after being together 55 hours, and of course the ever- present complaint “Honey, after they did my make-up and hair, they called 'action' and I had to be in a bed with this gorgeous naked actress. Don’t worry, there was a sheet, and she wasn’t nearly as hot as you!"  Or other grievances:  “Ever since that party at Heff’s, you’ve been acting strange…”


But the online gawking world of celeb divorce offered only futile research, so I switched over to data on the real folks, and spotted the headline “Jobs That Cause Divorce” on divorce.com. And surprisingly, “Hollywood A-list actor with $50 million who goes to awards ceremonies” was not tops.


A paper published in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology showed people working in stressful jobs have a higher rate of divorce. (Really?) But when they controlled demographics, race, gender, age and income for each occupation, here’s what they found:


Dancers leap into the divorced pack at 43 percent (it did not specify whether this was pole dancers, teaching a ballroom dance class at the Y, or the going-on-tour-with-Lady-Gaga-type-dancer). Bartenders and massage therapists come in second at 38 percent (baffling:  a spouse resisting a free back rub?), and nursing, psychiatric and home health aides, as well as entertainers and sports people, concierges, and telemarketers (do they fight with their spouse when the phone interrupts dinner?) tie at 28 percent. Scroll through more occupations -- everything from judges to maids to executives -- and there at the bottom is the lowest divorce rate.


Agricultural engineers:  2 percent.


There’s our answer, people.  Did you marry an agricultural engineer, someone who can invent machinery, solve complex problems, and figure out how to conserve soil and water while growing better food? It should’ve been on your “marriage-material” checklist. Your divorce rate would be down to 2 percent! And, imagine, if an agricultural engineer marries another agricultural engineer, it is probably 0 percent!


I suddenly realize that this must be correct because I do not know any divorced agricultural engineers!  (For that matter, I don’t know any agricultural engineers. I suffer from allergies, so I base myself around cities of concrete and steel instead of fields of wheat and corn, preventing a violent sneezing death.)


True, my collective knowledge includes passing through corn fields on a highway and seeing engineers drinking coffee at Cracker Barrel, but they seem incredibly nice. I imagine these people come home from long days and not complain that it’s your night to go to book club and they’ve got to watch the seedlings, two of which have strep and the third has algebra homework. See? They LIKE to solve problems! “Sweetie, go. Have a great time with your friends. I’ll feed the kids and animals and install a sprinkler system in the sloping backyard while you’re gone.”


 I imagine the agricultural conventions to be happy places, where spouses are invited.  I envision the colleges of agricultural engineering to be full of nice students who binge drink milk and grow up to be people who can solve complex riddles, like how do you get child 1 over to baseball field B while child 2 must be at field C at the other end of the county from where child 3 is.


 These engineers are probably so courteous that there would be little anarchy 10 years later over who gets the remote.


If you want the secret for sustainability in marriage, become an agricultural engineer, or marry one. Be fruitful and multiply.


It just may be your field of dreams.


Who needs to know that Kevin Costner’s divorce cost him $80 mil, anyways? 


 

Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in books, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit with her at www.KristineMeldrumDenholm.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com/KristineMeldrumDenholm or on Twitter @writerandmom.

 

For more Kristine Meldrum Denholm  columns, click here 


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Mar 23


Politicians, pundits, and social commentators, among others, are talking about the various challenges facing America, but no one is focusing on our most acute crisis: the crisis of relational hope.


We are losing faith in the possibility that we will be able to enjoy lifelong relationships of growth, maturation, and love.


This realization has been growing within me for some time, but it was brought home to me recently.  


I received an e-invite to visit a website called “Ashley Madison” that was created to expand “my relational horizons.”  As my therapist has been encouraging me to get involved in some new activities and groups, I decided to check out what the site had to offer.  


When I went to the site, the slogan immediately clued me into its essential purpose: “Life is short, have an affair.” 


I quickly discerned that “Ashley Madison” existed to expand horizons I didn’t want expanded. This site, targeted at married men and women, is one of the largest social networking sites on the web, and its membership rivals dating sites for singles.  


Call me naïve but I was astounded to find out that within seconds of entering my zip code there were dozens of married women living just a mile or two from me in search of a tryst with a married man.  


With my curiosity piqued, I then visited some dating websites, and a cursory search of the web revealed many different sites, with each having dozens of women looking for dates living a mile or two from me.  Almost all the women were over 30 years of age, and on virtually every site women seemed compelled to advertise their luring physical qualities.  There seemed to be little demand for great companionship and good conversation.


You could look at these sites and assume they reflect what has always been, updated for a technological age, but I believe they reflect something new: a significant erosion in relational hope. 


Married people have had affairs since the dawn of marriage, but I’d venture to say most of them were based on physical and emotional attraction and when they entered into their liaison they shared some relational capital.  “Ashley Madison” is about engaging people in affairs with minimal relational capital, and no sense of a longer commitment.


It is as if we live in an age where we are so relationally challenged we can’t even have a “decent” affair.

 

The various websites bring to mind a lyric from the song “Eleanor Rigby,”


"Look at all the lonely people, where do they all come from?"


These sites are signals to something deeper going on in our society.  Recent research is revealing the following about us:


  • More individuals over the age of 50 are getting divorced with the intention of growing old alone.
  • More young people are delaying marriage, and only 20% of 18-29-year-olds are married:  the lowest figure in American history.  
  • 45 percent of children in American are born outside of marriage.
  • Grandparents are serving as the primary care providers for an increasing number of children.


These are not merely statistics that impact a segment of the population with which we don’t socialize.  These trends are expanding across our culture and impact all of us.  Each of us knows people in all four groups; for virtually all of us, they have impacted our families, and the number of those we know is growing.


For many years I have criticized college students for engaging in the hook-up culture on campus.  What I failed to notice is that they are merely following the cue of culture.  We live in a hook-up culture. Unless you are married and wish to stay faithful, the new matchmakers in America are bars and websites.  They are  providing the primary social outlet for Americans of all ages who are looking for companionship, with step one being the one-night hook-up.  Dating and courtship are relics of the past.  We have very limited options for meeting others outside of a sexualized encounter.


It would be easy to say that these trends don’t matter in a society that values individual freedom, as no one is forced to opt into this lifestyle.


But we are more intelligent than that.


Choice only matters when you have meaningful options.


How do we know it matters?


We see it in the lives of our adult children.


Their children.


Our friends.


Our extended family.


This is a development whose significance is beyond what we can presently comprehend.  If trends were arrested at present we could not yet understand its full implications.  We will only know when those 0-18 grow up and enter adulthood.  Early reports from grade school teachers are not promising.


As there is no indication of the trend abating, about the only thing we can say with certainty is that this shift toward temporary relational connections will continue to change the relational nature of American society as we know it.


As our relational commitments become more temporary and less permanent, bonds of blood and long-term commitment will dissolve.  


Family life will fragment


Extended family life will wither.


Marriage will become less common.


Grandparenting will become more complicated.


Friendships will be more temporary.


The factor that all these changes have in common is the loss of long-term relational hope.  We need to get what we can now from our relationships because either party could be discarded soon.


Who will this most impact?  Those yet to be born.  


Lest I be accused of treating this with a “sky is falling” paranoia of Chicken Little, I cannot find a serious social commentator who doesn’t recognize the gravity of the social implications of these trends.


This is not just a crisis impacting individuals, families, and friendship; it is a crisis of democracy as well.


Democracy requires citizens who can engage in responsible self-government.  Self-government is not an individualistic term but a description of how men and women come together to govern us collectively.  Of all forms of government, democracy requires the most trust and relational hope. 


So is there hope?


Yes.


It is to be found in love.


Love is by definition a relational word.  


Love is not something we can do by ourselves.


We can be nice by ourselves, but we can only love with another.


Henri Nouwen said that love dwells in the space between us, and we can only experience it when we are in a relationship in which love is welcomed.  


It applies to all relationships and not merely romantic ones.


We are losing relational hope because we are losing touch with love.  


Love is the currency of human relationship.  It is the air relationships breathe.  


We live in an age that could be coined the “iWorld.”  A world all about “me” and every other “me.”


We are living as though the universe is designed so that each of us can live as we wish or as we please.  


Love is a better way.


What difference can love make.  Here is one example.  


How about if we use our religious meeting places and public spaces to create “Friendship Zones” on Friday and Saturday nights?  These “Friendship Zones” could be places where people can come and be with others in a safe place and a no “hook-up zone.”  People can come as strangers, spend a few hours getting to know a variety of others, and they can build on these relationships in subsequent weeks without expectations and with the luxury of time.


This wouldn’t be hard to organize and I believe that the demand would be overwhelming.  Why?  Because we are made for love and relationships.  Right now we are catering to the lowest common denominator.  We can do better. 


How sure am I of this?  


I am helplessly hoping.


Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D. is the author of “Sex and the iWorld. Rethinking relationship beyond the age of Individualism.”  He is the Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College and founding director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Dale serves the Evangelical Covenant Church of America as an ordained minister. He a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.  


Read other columns by Rev. Dale Kuehne here

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Mar 31


Most people are serious and have every intention of keeping their word when they give it when it comes to marriage and monogamy.


But while people generally have the best intentions when making such promises, human behavior is not always governed by the fact that vows were taken and that promises were made.


When it comes to making decisions about love and and relationship, logic and reason have a difficult time competing with emotions. So frequently, our emotions influence our behavior and lead us down paths we had no intention of traveling.


Many separate emotional systems are involved in not following the agreement to be monogamous-- sexual desire, romantic love, attachment, anger, resentment and the "unexpected." And often these emotional systems pull people in different directions - Truth, Lies, Romance,  Desire, etc.

 

Often the victim is seen as the recipient of a spouse's infidelity. But... what about the perpetrator?

 

What is with them that their actions take a path they never expected or wanted to take?  What is it that triggers someone getting intimately involved with another?


What types of situations influence our emotions and bring out the least expected in our behavior?

 

ASK:

         Is something is happening to our original relationship?

 

IS it...

  • Being close or interdependent on someone other than one’s spouse
  • Being around someone who is sexually interested and interesting
  • Spending a lot of time one-on-one with someone else
  • Not feeling close or connected to one’s spouse (e.g., feeling lonely, being upset or angry with a spouse, etc.)
  • Situations that create the sense of opportunity - the feeling that one will not get caught (e.g., meeting someone in private, out of town trips, etc.)
  • Situations involving alcohol or drugs

 

When placed in these types of situations, one's emotions often prompt people to act in ways that are contrary to their original intentions. On occasion, poor decisions get made. Unfortunately, for many people, it is very difficult to be in control of one's emotions when placed in these types of situations.


What about the usual expectations of  "willpower" or "self-restraint?"


Research shows that "willpower" or "self-restraint" alone do little to change or influence our behavior. In fact, some cultures have decided that individual "willpower" and "self-restraint" can not be trusted. Some cultures have made the decision that the best way to prevent lack of monogamy is to make sure that the situations listed above do not occur - essentially, controlling situations as the best way to control behavior.

IS this possible??

In western cultures, we place greater value on individual responsibility. We do not collectively try to prevent these types of situations from occurring. Rather we allow situations to happen, but then we hold individuals accountable for their behavior and we expect people to behave appropriately. Individuals are supposed to exercise their self-restraint and have the will power to control their emotions and their actions. Unfortunately, for many people this does not work.

Relying on willpower or self-restraint  fails to work when other issues are involved, too.  People make promises and vows they cannot keep. More often than not, willpower and self-restraint are not enough to control one's behavior,  and it often requires a change in lifestyle,  communication, environment, social networks, and sometimes even therapy to reach that level of control.  The consequences of "cheating"  on both people are much more severe than the consequences of failing on a  diet. In any case, people do struggle with these issues and making promises alone typically does not result in a lasting change.


Overall, infidelity, like many other human behaviors, is difficult to control.

 It takes two to tango. Being faithful to a spouse is more complicated than simply making promises to do so.

Bot  people in the relationships will suffer  (albeit not in all situations).


Being faithful to a spouse often requires ___________________________________________ . Fill in what you think.


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 

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.

Apr 23


Cynthia and I didn’t hit if off immediately when we met a ten years ago.  Although, at the time, I thought it was her fault. 


She’s glamorous—always so well put together, with her shoes matching her purse and something funky always added to make her outfit different, unusual, so Cynthia.  She’s articulate and passionately opinionated, punctuating her points of view with sweeping gestures and a marvelous throaty laugh that starts low, like an engine revving, and ends with her head thrown back, fourth gear engaged.  She challenges me.  She stimulates me.  She makes me laugh. 


She is also black.  Not negro, not colored, not Afro-American and not African-American.  She’s just black, she tells me.  She hates all that politically correct stuff.  Our friendship has been slow going.  Cynthia does hand out the title “friend” easily, or to many.  If you’re white, like I am, she immediately puts you on the back burner to simmer.  Trust is something she doesn’t let go of often, especially if you’re white. 


The first time I referred to her as “my friend,” she corrected me, telling me I don’t know anything about her.  When I responded, “What do you mean, Cynthia?  You’re just like one of us.”  She shot back, “No, I’m not.  I’m not anything like you,” and then proceeded to tell me I don’t know what it’s like for her, a black person, to grocery shop, go out for coffee, to try to fill your car with gas or to mail a package in this lily-white town where we both live.  Slowly, quietly, carefully, she begins to tell me why we’re different and why I can’t even begin to understand what it means to be black in America in this day and age.


She tells me about wandering for over an hour through a local furniture store, ready to purchase a complete set of furniture, armed with a purse full of cash, with nary a head bob of recognition from a sales person.  I’ve been to that store.  I can’t go two feet without someone stopping to ask me if they can help me.  They hound me to the point of being annoying.


At our local paint store she is always asked for a $25.00 deposit, as well as her credit card number, before being allowed to borrow a wallpaper book.  Me?  I’ve never been asked for anything but my name and phone number when borrowing anything from that store.


She tells me she has to constantly warn her sons to never, ever drive more than one mile over the speed limit, reminding them the police are just looking for a reason to pull them over.  Her boys know she’s right.


She tells me about the white women clutching their purses tighter and leaning away from her and her husband in an elevator taking them to their regular mezzanine level seats for the symphony.  This makes her particularly furious.


“They don’t know anything about my husband and they’re acting like he’s a thief and a sexual predator,” she tells me, the anger, the hurt, the weariness from it all coming through.


I’m incredulous and I stop her.


“No way!  There is no way this is happening to you!”  I tell her.  I thought this stuff only happened to a certain type of black—someone on the edge of society, the drug dealers and the punks, I tell her. Not law abiding, well-educated, well-dressed blacks that live in my community, right down the street from me.


When I tell her I don’t believe her, that I think she’s just being overly sensitive, that she’s just overacting, she looks down, get quiet and takes a deep breath.


“Diana.  All I’m saying is some things are very clear.  And how many times would you say it would have to happen to become clear to you?  To register that it’s a problem?”  she asks me.


It became clear to me the first time we met for lunch.  Walking in together, the hostess looked only at me and asked, “Can I help you?”  Cynthia was completely overlooked, ignored, persona non grata.  And she’s hard to miss.  She's beautiful and glamorous.    


When we are out together getting coffee, buying bread, greeting cards, luncheon meat, shopping for jewelry she is invisible, while I am not, to people whose job it is to help both of us.  Instead of helping her, I notice they eye her suspiciously, watch her closely and try not to obvious about following her through their stores.  I wish I could say these were isolated incidents, but they’re not.  The more time we spend together, the more I notice.


I want to protect her.  I want to go before her and make these ignorant sales people help her, pay attention to her, make them look her in the eye.  I want to stand at the doors of the great hall where the symphony plays, and hand out her and her husband’s resumes.  I want to shame someone, like I’ve been made aware of my own shame, ignorance and indifference.


She used to live in North Carolina, where she said it was much, much easier. Because there, at least she could tell who didn’t like her—they’d tell you to your face, she explains.  I understand that better now, living here in the South as I do.  Our contractor began my kitchen remodel weeks ahead of schedule because he quit the job before ours.  Why?  Because when he showed up with a black man on his crew, the woman of the house told the contractor "that man"--yes, she referred to him as "that man"--wasn't allowed in her home.  Instead of agreeing to her request, my contractor walked away from the job.  


Cynthia now lives in the Midwest, and she says it’s much harder.  White people aren’t as honest here, she says.  They pretend to like you, when in fact, they don’t.


I’m so sorry, I tell her.  But she doesn’t want an apology from me, or from anyone else. 


She just wants it to change.




Diana Keough is the mother of four sons and co-founder and editor-in-chief of ShareWIK.com. Read other Diana Keough columns here


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC




May 01


I came home last week with a cloisonné vase and an alabaster tiger.  I was doing a little housekeeping while visiting my mom at the assisted living facility.  These two objects were gifts I had given to her in the past and now they would live at my house.  Why, I thought, was I saving these objects?  I was thinking about how to determine their monetary value.  Maybe their only real value was the memories I assigned to them.


If I have given these gifts in the past, then was it wrong that I took them back?  I didn’t want to see them get lost, or maybe I just didn’t want my memories to be lost.  What makes an object valuable is based on its price on the commercial market, but the memories, as they say, are priceless.


So what was I going to do with them?  I could keep them on my already crowded bookshelves.  I could hand them down to my children, who may or may not want them.  I could sell them on eBay.  I had no plan for all of my mom’s stuff that I would relocate, but this was a good time to take stock.


I began to look around my house and to take stock of my own stuff.  The inventory consists of antiques or almost antiques…or maybe just old and gently used items.  I still have my kids’ cherished collectibles… baseball cards, sports trophies, school photos and report cards.  And then there are boxes and scrapbooks filled with photographs…memories of the past that document our lives.  


Material culture is about our need for consumption, and our relationship with those objects we choose to have in our lives.  What we have helps us, as a society, to define who we are.  And that is when I started thinking about Mothers’ Day.  


I am making a list of gifts I want to give my children and grandchildren.  They are not gently worn and can’t be sold on eBay.  They won’t wear out.  They will, I hope, be examples of what I consider the valuable things I own:

Iris bulbs… from my garden, given to me by my mother, and a tribute each spring to Mother Nature.

Recipes… for a handful of special treats …forgotten cookies, black bottom cupcakes, the unforgettable trifle.


Time… to walk, to attend festivals, to pick apples and to fish…and to share those times together.


Words…my list of words that can bring back a special memory and a chuckle… flying buttresses (makes them laugh every time they see the architecture), tulip (it’s my replacement word for a rather undesirable five letter word that irreverently refers to women), Carl (our universal name for catfish), hoot (when we have a good time, it’s a hoot!)


I have five of my mom’s lamps, a cabinet, a chair, dishes and clothes.  But of greatest value to me is her piano sheet music.  I will keep it near her electronic keyboard that sits in my basement where, one day, maybe one grandchild will pick it up and begin to play the music that has been handed down to him.   


That too is priceless.




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.com.  She is also a regular on ShareWIK.com.


More Susanne Katz here.

  

 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Apr 29


After writing  the article about the relationship between sex and divorce in my last blog, I decided to get some specifics from women and men about their personal concerns, anxieties and expectations when newly entering into a single status. I was wide-eyed when the responses often were blurted out... effortlessly and spontaneously. The first quote here was a trigger for me to find out more.

 

While it may be a sad or uncomfortable time in a person's life, the post-divorce period can also be a time of new sexual discoveries.  And these sexual experiences “can be absolutely fabulous—and very different from what one was used to, especially as your original relationship  deteriorated,” said one woman. I discovered this from every person with whom I spoke.

 

Now surprisingly enough, I spoke with several women for real comments and not the usual therapist stories. The first woman was so interesting I continued questioning (no names) and it was eye opening! Her comment about the thought of sex after her divorce was:

“I hope it will be: more exciting and fun! But… I do dread getting naked."

The next woman who had been married for 15 years said: "Hurrah! I am free!  Now what is in store for me?"

Then a woman who is a nurse said: "I was pregnant when I got divorced and was not interested in sex.  Two months after the baby was born I met a guy I used to date, someone I knew, and we had sex, easy and comfortable."

Another successful career woman stated: "Both times I got divorced I was already having sex with another man."

A teacher whose husband had not been monogamous said: "Would I be valued? I didn’t know if I could have someone touch me."

Beautiful successful MBA grad said:  "Is my body ok? Perhaps I will forget how to do it."

Female : " Not thinking too much but wishing it would be different."

Female : " When I was divorced I was always needy for sex and also afraid to become vulnerable to a man again. I did not want a relationship for a very long time so  didn't mind just using men for sex. Younger men asked me out so I felt safe that I  would never marry them because of the age difference."

 

Male: "Widowed.. second relationship on sex is different.  First wife was aggressive. Second relationship. I'm more aggressive than partner."

 

Another person (sex unknown): "After divorce sex was going to be with many partners of my choice and lots of fun. It was."

 

Female: " I couldn't wait. "

 

Male (I think) Still married: " After 40 years of infrequent passive vanilla, missionary sex, I would wish  a partner  was  a more active, eager and inventive."

 

Female: "Sex, Money, Education, travel. Then more sex and money ( they are connected)."

 

Male: "Need to find a partner comfortable and supportive of alternative lifestyle."


I would like to hear from anyone  about their personal thoughts, experiences, and comments. Funny how we think we know about people.  Not only do we not know.. but we don't know what we don't know. 



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 

 


May 25

Everyone talks about ADD and ADHD in terms of whether it’s being over-diagnosed or children are being over-medicated. And I agree that these are extremely important issues. 


However, I have seen very little written about what I like to call “second-hand ADD.” Just like smoking cigarettes doesn’t impact only the person smoking, but those around him or her, ADD, I believe, affects the parents or spouses of those with ADD or ADHD.


For parents, the questions and responsibilities are enormous. Does your child have ADHD or is she just a normal, active child? When teachers recommend your child be medicated, is it because the teacher just does not know how to motivate your child or control her classroom? If you decide to put your child on medication, are you just giving up and saying you don’t know how to handle your child?


I have spoken to mothers who agonized over this decision. One mother, particularly, fought the idea of medicating her son. When she finally overcame that hurdle, she was sorry she waited: the child had never been happier and more successful in school. 


Another mother I know didn’t realize her daughter had ADD until the girl was a teenager. While it’s never easy between a mother and a teenage daughter, my friend had a particularly difficult time and it didn’t really ease until the daughter was in her 20s.


When one child in the family has ADHD, there are often repercussions on the other children. Because that child “acts out” or is especially challenging, he or she receives the majority of the parents’ attention. Other children often feel slighted.


It is not unusual for adults to suddenly be diagnosed with ADD. There are several signs of adult ADD: having trouble holding a job, taking unusual risks, being highly distractible, interrupting others or being unable to read body language in others. These signs are most obvious to spouses.


Job security, of course, impacts an entire family, but other indications of ADD affect close relationships, too. I know one man who was recently diagnosed with ADD and placed on medication. Immediately – without that knowledge – friends saw a difference. The man was calmer, smiled easier, just more relaxed. The man himself, though, couldn’t detect the difference in himself after he was medicated.


And that’s not unusual for people who are unable to read others’ body language; with ADD, they often aren’t very self aware. This can be a problem for adults diagnosed with ADD who resent having to take what they see as behavior-moderating drugs. And it’s a real problem for their spouses.


I am reminded of a scene in “A Beautiful Mind,” with Russell Crowe playing brilliant mathematician John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in economics. He didn’t have ADD, but developed paranoid schizophrenia. He seemed to hold his life and family together as long as he took his medication. But he became delusional without the drugs. While his wife encouraged him to take his daily pills, he hid the fact that he had stopped.


If an adult with ADD cannot see the difference in his behavior when he’s medicated, he can resent his wife constantly reminding him to take his pills. What’s the big deal? For her, though, under medication, her husband is more relaxed, easier to be with, more organized and on top of his responsibilities; he has more patience – all of which contribute to a closer relationship, both with his wife and his children.


So, to me, there’s no question that there’s a second-hand ADD syndrome. And, someday, there may actually be a support group for members of a family related to someone with ADD or ADHD.


Jan Jaben-Eilon is a long-time journalist who has written for The New York Times, Business Week, the International Herald Tribune, the Jerusalem Report and Womenetics. She was a founding reporter for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and was international editor for Advertising Age before she fulfilled a lifelong dream of moving to Israel. Jan and her Jerusalem-born husband have an apartment in that city, but live in Atlanta.

 In November 2006, Jan was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer and has kept a blog on her cancer journey since December of that year. Click here for her story.

Read more of Jan’s blogs here.


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


For many, the death of a loved one becomes a time to revisit world views and beliefs. 


Death can shake core beliefs and throw the bereaved into a time of chaos. Finding meaning in the death of a loved one can be helpful in adjusting to the loss. The meaning is personally determined. The meaning one person finds can be vastly different than that of the person’s spouse, children or siblings.  Some folks search for concrete meanings such as how their loved one died. Some find themselves trying to figure out who am I now that my spouse died. Yet others question their spirituality and ask why did God let this happen?


This begs the question: how does one find meaning in loss? There is no easy answer. Counselors won’t tell you. It’s their job to listen and accompany you as you figure it out for yourself.  Ultimately, each individual will manage grief in their own way. Some will allow it to be transformative. Some will find meaning in the process.


Here are lessons that others have shared:


1. There is “something” after death.  One of my siblings remarked after our father died that she did not previously believed in a world after death, but sitting with him and watching him nearing death, made her a believer.


2. Help others. One young bereaved adult made meaning of the tragic loss of her father by volunteering and helping others go through painful experiences in their own lives. It’s important not to do this too soon after the death.


3. Love never dies. Many bereaved maintain a connection with the deceased, which provides great comfort.


4. Do not take for granted what really matters in life – what is truly important, what is valuable.


5. Explore difficult emotions such as anger, resentment and guilt. This can provide insight into yourself and your relationship with the deceased.


6. Become part of a caring community. After a group tragedy, those directly impacted often become more compassionate and find ways to give back to their community. It takes a village….


Sometimes trying to make meaning out of death seems impossible. How does one find meaning in the death of an infant or child?  How does one find meaning in a life cut short by tragedy? 


Searching for meaning is part of the grief journey. Seek help from a trusted friend or counselor to support you as you search for meaning and allow your grief to be transformative. Join a support group. The sharing of stories in a support groups not only offers the members the chance to be helped but to help others. No one needs to grieve alone.


Please visit our on-line grief discussions groups at  http://www.hospicewr.org/discussions/grief/.

 

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. 

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC


Jun 12



I can identify with almost any song written about love.  “Love is a Many Splendored Thing.” “LoveHurts.” “Thank God and Greyhound You're Gone.” “Two Hearts Beat as One.” “Love Stinks.”  I could go on.  If I were a poet I could add my voice to the joy and lamentations of the generations.


An enduring favorite of mine is “Once in a Lifetime” by the Talking Heads.


And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?


Shakespeare said, “It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”  Shakespeare assumed, however, that love would live to be lost another day.  He doesn’t tell us where to look when we can't find love.


Love has been the subject of poetry and ballads since the beginning of time.  It has an elusive quality that compels us to rejoice when we find it and lament when we have lost it. 


And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My God!...what have I done?


Almost all of us have been in relationships in which we believed love dwelt, only to be mistaken.  At times we believed we were loved, but were discarded for another.  Sometimes we were the ones who did the discarding, and other times the unpleasant discovery was mutual.  As love is such an essential part of life, one would expect humans to be good lovers, yet we are often deceived by others who are themselves deceived, or worse, by clever counterfeiters.


When we discuss love gone wrong, it is romantic love that immediately comes to mind.  But love is multidimensional and encompasses all human relationships. We have one word for it in English, the Greeks had four words for it, and there is no reason to believe they understood every dimension of love.  Love is the foundation of all relationships, including family relationships, business relationships, and friendships.  We don’t often associate love with business or politics, but relational betrayal of every sort cuts to the core of our being, and romantic betrayal isn’t the source of even half of our pain.  There will never be a recession for therapists because relational hurt is never in short supply.    


Were love not essential for existence, our ancestors would have cast it into the dustbin of history.  But we cannot live without it, which is why we continue our search even though it often feels that love will be our undoing.  Try as we might, there is no substitute for love.  Nothing, not even wealth can suffice.  The stories of lottery winners, along with the pain that fills the faces of the rich and famous on the tabloids, testify to its indispensable nature.  Without love we cannot live.  Coroners aren’t allowed to attribute cause of death to a broken heart, but this needs to be changed.  Very few people die from alcoholism, yet their cause of death is almost always a broken heart.   


Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground.

Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...


Despite the difficulties involved in understanding, let alone finding love, our quest continues.  Consider the curious phrase “true love.”  Its loaded meaning is immediately apparent to all who hear it precisely because of the relational misunderstandings and betrayal we have all endured.  This experience is so universal and pervasive that a child can understand it, witness the use of the phrase "true love" in virtually every fairy tale. 


Anyone who has ever lived bears the scars of relationships that were not true.  Socrates said that that the very best of men would be hung on a tree, because no one is exempt jealousy and betrayal.  Love has never been tame, and like our shadow, it possesses an elusive quality.  

Yet I believe presently we are facing a crisis of love that few generations or societies have ever faced.  Love amongst us is becoming an endangered species.  


The evidence is overwhelming.  Marriage as an institution is withering.  Only 20 percent of Americans under the age of 30 are married.  It is the lowest figure in recorded history and signals that we may be to the point where a majority of Americans will never be married.  


Some commentators surmise that young people are merely delaying marriage. I beg to differ.  I believe an increasing number of young people will not marry because they are losing relational hope.  The idealism of youth is being replaced by relational cynicism at an earlier age.  Why?  Children and adolescents, when they look at the lives of their parents and the families of their peers are provided scant hope that they will find security and love in marriage when they come of age.  Little wonder social networking and avatars are such an attractive alternative to the messy world of relationships.  


It is understandable why an increasing number of adolescents, rather than looking for their "true love,"  the one person with which they hope to spend their lives raising a family, live in the hope that they can find a couple of relationships, romantic or not, that can sustain them to the grave.  

The loss of relational hope is not confined to young people.  An increasing number of us over the age of thirty are losing relational hope as well.  The rise in debt and consumerism among the Baby Boomers betray self-absorption grounded in a decline in relational hope.  It should not surprise us to learn that an increasing number of unmarried boomers over the age of 50 profess to prefer singleness for the rest of their lives.  


With relational hope in decline among younger grandparents, parents, and children, I find an increasing number of students telling me, “The world of relationships has always been this way, it’s just that people used to be more tolerant of bad marriages.”  In their next breathe they tell me that today we are better off because people are getting out of bad relationships.  


We are right to reject those who romanticize the past, but it is important not to commit the fallacy that relationships are the same as they ever were. There are good marriages today, and there have always been.  There is domestic abuse today, and there has always been.  But all marriages are not equal and never have been.  All cultures are not equal, and never have been.  Marriage and family is in crisis in the West, but it has not always been this way.  


What is constant is that there is not an example of a society that survived the relational breakdown of family.  Why?  I believe it is because humans cannot live without the type of love nurtured in family life, and particularly in the extended family.  Psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists can all see the adverse long-term impact family breakdown has on the lives of children.  


It is not just alcoholics who die of a broken heart,  Nations and civilizations die when their is widespread outbreak of broken-heartedness.  Rome was not undone by external forces, and as historians have never quite found the words to describe Rome's cause of death, I think we can attribute it to broken-heartedness manifest in self-destructive personal and social behavior.


There are few constants in this world, but one of them is our need for love.  What the world needs more than anything else is love.  In the midst of all the talk about economics we need to remember that ove is the only thing that can save us.  


Can it be found?


It has always been here.


We merely forgot where to look for it.


It isn’t found in roses and contracts and guilt.


Philosophers and the great religions exhort us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Some also emphasize the importance of loving God, self and neighbor.   Love is not something we can do alone.  It is not an “I” activity, but a ”we” activity.  Love is not a task to perform, but something that lives in the relational space between two or more people.  As we love God and neighbor as ourselves, love will grow in the relational space between us.


Love can’t be bought, but it can be found anywhere on earth, including the most humble of circumstances.  People were not drawn to work with Mother Teresa because of the smell.  They were drawn by the love they found in the relational space between her sisters, and the people for which they cared. 


It is in loving our neighbor as ourselves that love dwells.  


Same as it ever was.  



Rev. Dale S. Kuehne, Ph.D. is the author of “Sex and the iWorld. Rethinking Relationship Beyond the Age of Individualism.”  He is the Richard L. Bready Chair of Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College and founding director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. Dale serves the Evangelical Covenant Church of America as an ordained minister. He a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.  


Read other columns by Rev. Dale Kuehne here

 

©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jun 13



It’s estimated that there are about 30 million adult children of alcoholics in the US, and that today, one in four school children (or 13.5 million children ages 5 - 17) lives in a home where there is alcoholism or drug addiction. If you add in addictions to food, spending, the Internet, sex, codependency, and what I call “Toxic Intensity,” or the addiction to self-generated angst, it is likely that a far greater percentage of children -- and adults -- are living with the effects of addiction.


You see, addiction of any type has a negative impact on every member of the family, not just the addict. While the statistics below are about children of alcoholics, as revered pollster George Gallup, Jr., points out, “any type of addiction makes parents unavailable to their children and is damaging to them in other ways as well. The resulting neglectful and abusive behaviors are most often unintentionally passed on from generation to generation, perpetuating cycles of addiction and abuse.” The stress and insanity of living with addiction attacks the immune system of every member of the family.


I can speak to this damage on two levels, first, as an advocate for children and children of alcoholics. According to the National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), “children of alcoholics experience greater physical and mental health problems and higher health care costs than children from non-alcoholic families.” NACoA reports that for children of alcoholics:


  • Inpatient admission rates for substance abuse are triple that of other children.
  • Inpatient admission rates for mental disorders are almost double that of other children.
  • Injuries are more than one-and-one-half times greater than those of other children.
  • The rate of total health care costs for children of alcoholics is 32 percent greater than children from non-alcoholic families.


Speaking on this from the second level, as an adult child of an alcoholic (ACOA) myself, I concur. I spent a lot of time in the doctor’s office as a child, and have had, over the years, some of the typical health and depression issues detailed in the groundbreaking report: The Health and Social Impact of Growing Up With Adverse Childhood Experiences, The Human and Economic Costs of the Status Quo by Dr. Robert Anda, MD, MS.  


I know that my immune system requires extra help in the form of supplements and self-care. And, I must be mindful of my addictions to toxic intensity and sugar.


Addictions succeed when they are making their addicts, and those around them, sicker. My addictions want to compromise my immune system by having me yield to rushing, over-committing, eating sugar, worrying, not being in the present. The result can be a bad cold, a bout of bronchitis, a sinus infection, or saying and doing things I will regret.  


The greatest defense against my immune-busting addictions is my own spiritual immune system – my internal Jiminy Cricket conscience/judgment – that tells me when I am headed away from healthy actions and toward unhealthy actions such as rushing, over-promising, and that urge to please people at almost any cost. My strongest weapons are two words: THANK YOU and NO.


When I am at my best, the thank you comes the first thing in the morning – thanking God for rest and the hope of a new day. Then I make a gratitude list for the blessings in my life. This is an immune booster of the highest order, generating joy, helping me plan my day, and helping to keep negativity away. (Negativity is another addiction that wants us dead.  If you are a child of chaos, you’re familiar with negativity, and know how seductive it is. To steer clear of negativity, it’s best to limit exposure to negative people and stay in gratitude.)


Gratitude helps me plan my day so I can use the NO to stay away from the unimportant but urgent time wasters and stress makers that can push me/my immune system toward overload, and away from health. 


These are important lessons for this adult child of chaos, who is grateful, today, to continue moving away from chaos and disease, and toward life and health.  

 

Carey Sipp's first book, The TurnAround Mom – How an Abuse and Addiction Survivor Stopped the Toxic Cycle for Her Family, and How You Can, Too, guides fellow “children of chaos” to create the kind of sane and loving home life that helps prevent next-generation addiction and abuse. Find Carey's book here.


Read more articles by Carey Sipp here.


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Jul 13

“We were at a local arts festival,” I explained to our friends, “and I found a booth with very contemporary rings.  It was just what I always wanted.”  


“And that is why we got engaged,” Phang added in jest.  “Because we found the right ring.”


Actually, we got engaged because it felt right.  We knew each other in high school, served on committees together in the community, worked out together at the gym and became a couple seven years ago.  Being together just felt good.  For the first few years we kept asking each other "…so you like this?” 


We are engaged.  We are planning to be together the rest of our lives.  At first, life was about me and my first life and Phang and his first life.  Now, life is about our being together in our second life.  Getting there, though, was a growth process for us both.


Being better in your second life means growing and changing your patterns.  We are aware of each other’s limitations and have learned to accept them.  We have learned to talk…even argue …about tough stuff and push each other’s buttons.  We have struggled with each other’s boundaries as if we are living out a sibling rivalry.  


I love being engaged to this man.  He loves planning a future with me.  We are parents, grandparents, friends and lovers.  And we are learning how to take care of each other daily.  He does mornings.  I do afternoons.  He gets the paper, makes the coffee, walks the dog and takes out the trash.  I get the mail, walk the dog and make dinner.  Planning a future is as much about what we are doing now as it is about what we will do later.  


It is different in this life.  First we talked about powers of attorney and health insurance.  Now we talk about long term care and advance directives.  So many of our discussions relate to planning a future that is starting at an age when we have grown children, grandchildren and grey hair.  Our legal status will change and there are many decisions to be made.


Friends ask when we will tie the knot.  We don’t really know that yet.  Right now, we are happy being engaged.  


My best advice to a couple in their second life is to be all there in the present and to make today the best day in your life.  The tastiest meal ever is the one before you now.  Relish every morsel.  


And, on some days, that really is enough. 


Susanne Katz is a GODR registered mediator and partner in Atlanta Elder Decisions, LLC. She is co-author of the book A Women's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce and writes about divorce and care giving in her Second Life columns on ShareWIK.com.  She co-mediates elder issues with Atlanta Elder Decisions and divorce mediation with Mt Vernon Counseling in Atlanta.  A former museum director and curator, Susanne's arts and living columns have appeared in many Atlanta publications.


 ©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Aug 06

One of life’s greatest transitions is the journey from being single to being a couple.  Becoming a couple involves two people agreeing to a mutually exclusive relationship.  We call this monogamy.  Polygamy is not legal -- that usually refers to one man with multiple wives, but it can also refer to a woman with multiple husbands.


According to Wikipedia, polygyny refers to a man with more than one wife.  Polyandry refers to a woman with more than one husband.  When there are multiple partners of both sexes, that is known as a group marriage.  In countries where polygamy is illegal, the practice is called bigamy.  The question has been asked…should the government be able to regulate marriage?


A logical question, as well, is… how might the government regulate divorce amongst multiple partners?  Let’s suppose a man is married to three wives and chooses to divorce wife two.  How are the assets to be divided?  And how will child custody and support be determined?  


With three wives, does a husband give each wife a third of the assets if they divorce?  It would be a forensic accountant’s dream to be hired to determine what were premarital assets and which assets where co-mingled during the marriage…or marriages.


Phang and I have discussed this.  “Why,” he jokes, “would you want to have three wives, when you have enough problems with one wife?”  


“Would you be more willing to stay with three wives at one time,” I ask, “versus being married to and divorced from one wife at a time?”


TV programs "Big Wives" and "Sister Wives" explored the issues addressed by polygamous families in Utah.  I am wondering how these folks could afford all their homes and all their children.  In the post recession era, I wonder if economics, rather than morals or legislation, will determine how many partners and how many marriages a person is willing to have.


Susanne Katz is a GODR registered mediator and partner in Atlanta Elder Decisions, LLC.  She is co-author of the book A  Women's Guide to Managing a Mid-Life Divorce and writes about divorce and care giving in her Second Life columns on ShareWIK.com.  She co-mediates elder issues with Atlanta Elder Decisions and divorce mediation with Mt. Vernon Counseling in Atlanta.  A former museum director and curator, Susanne's arts and living columns have appeared in many Atlanta publications.


 ©2012 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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