Japan is experiencing a phenomenon known as celibacy syndrome, but it isn’t the only country where people are preferring sex with a screen over real relationships.
Mature written content warning, reader discretion advised.Continue reading
Japan is experiencing a phenomenon known as celibacy syndrome, but it isn’t the only country where people are preferring sex with a screen over real relationships.
Mature written content warning, reader discretion advised.Continue reading
As time goes on, relationships get harder, and your heart becomes more unsure, is it ever okay to cheat on someone?
If you’ve clicked on this, you’ve done so for one of three main reasons:
Rest assured, number 1 is absolutely not the case. I even gave my wife a heads up that I was going to write this one so there wasn’t any alarm.
But you know, this is actually a real concern and a real pressure for a whole lot of people in the worlds of love and sex.
When I used to have Foxtel, there used to be entire blocks of TV programming dedicated to 3 or 4 different types of shows all about paternity and faithfulness checks. We’ve all seen the GIFs from the Maury Povich show where young men would get absolutely lit and burst out in the best prepared breakdance they knew how when the DNA test would come back and they would hear that “you are NOT the father!”. Usually the lady (but sometimes the roles are reversed on these types of shows, dunno why, probably stereotypes of infidelity) would be blaming this dude for the whole show about his women on the side and his various side hustles. Then when the truth came out that she was actually the cheater, it would be on for young and old.
Now this sort of stuff is fairly entertaining for a large variety of people, but when you’re the one worried about infidelity, whether someone else’s or your own, it takes on a whole different context.
People do cheat in shorter term relationships, but I think the real damage and the real concern is around cheating in long term relationships. A University of Chicago study which asks about affairs every year for the last 30 or so years has turned in that about 10% of people have cheated. That’s a lot of people.
So, is this ever justified? Is it ever okay to cheat on someone? While the answer should be obvious, I think it would be more pertinent to look at some of the reasons why people do what they do.
As I’ve written about before in When Nobody is Good Enough For You, I think one of the most difficult struggles in modern relationships is the amount of choice, or at least perceived choice, that is out there. On the topic of cheaters and adulterous affairs, one of the most infamous events in recent history occurred when “life is short, have an affair” website Ashley Madison was hit by a data breach. This threw multiple relationships and individuals into mass panic as they scrambled to try to cover up their activities via the website that were now exposed for all to see.
I’m not so sure if Ashley Madison could even be considered the main site that people would use for hooking up outside of their committed relationships. That may even just go to the social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. I mean, look at all those options out there, or at least perceived options. When people aren’t happy in their current relationship, all they have to do is scroll through their feed and see those seemingly available men and women that may accommodate them in ways their current partner isn’t.
Options are the greatest enemy of commitment. This is true in every area of our lives, but especially in our relationships with a partner. Whilst many are now turning to the idea of open relationships, ie. cheating with permission, the cheating options even in these types of relationships are still capable of eroding the initial commitment of the circle of people.
When we were doing our pre-marriage counselling before we got engaged, the goal was to identify areas of our relationship that we seemed to have strong disagreement on, or hadn’t yet talked about. During the sessions, you would then talk about any differences or oversights and make sure you were on the same page about an issue, or had discussed how you were going to handle disagreements around it. I’d recommend such a course to anyone thinking of tying the knot, or even after you have if you haven’t done something like that before.
I think everyone would be familiar with a variety of different conflict management and resolution styles in the corporate world, but often we’re not well equipped to handle conflict with rings on. Our society terms irreconcilable differences as the breaking point of relationships, where what has occurred is refused to be dealt with by one or both parties. It only takes one person in the relationship to decide they no longer want to try for the relationship to break down, or even for a secret (or public) affair to become a viable course of action.
All the more reason for us to get good at resolving conflict. If we don’t learn to resolve it, it will take us out. Fortunately, there are heaps of great resources out there for how to fight fair and to resolve those issues that seem to keep us apart.
I was looking at some of the statistics for reasons citing it being okay to cheat on someone, or at least for the thought being present. What was very interesting about an Australian study was that men and women equally responded with the same reasons in relatively the same percentages, with both genders citing emotional disconnection as by far the number one reason for an affair. Our stereotypes would probably try to tell us that men would be doing it for the physical pleasure, but it just goes to show that there is a level playing field in the human heart. We really do desire the same things.
But we don’t often say what those things are.
What are you struggling with in your relationship that no one knows about? It could be someone’s sexual addiction, a fight that just has no end, a mental illness that derails or dominates every conversation. It could be that thing that you just will never ask your partner for, whether it be physical or emotional. It could be that you have a dream that you’ve never fully expressed and you now harbour resentment towards your partner for their inability to make it happen.
People aren’t mind readers. We are grown men and women. We have to learn to get good at saying things out loud.
And especially with the person we’re connected to. I’ve watched time and time again where someone will just up and leave or suddenly announce they’re dating someone else because of something they’ve never told their partner. I heard an amazingly accurate quote from a marriage seminar that turns out to come from Stephen Covey in The Speed of Trust – “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behaviours”. We blame our partner for what we do see against what they don’t see.
We may be feeling like cheating is justified based on how we’re feeling inside, but we don’t make the same allowances for why the other person in our relationship may have acted a certain way. Something I’ve heard and read from counsellors and psychologists is that if you write down on paper what has happened as if it were a story book, it can really help see what’s real and what hasn’t been spoken yet.
A first century Jewish rabbi threw a spanner in the works when he began to talk about infidelity and it being okay to cheat on someone. He said that adultery was pretty commonly accepted as being wrong and destructive, but took it one step further and said that anyone who lusts after someone else has already committed adultery in their heart. He later would say that “porneia” is the destroyer of relationships.
You’ve probably seen the word pornography – this is the word it comes from. Porneia is a powerful word that isn’t just someone looking at pornography or explicity having an affair, but it’s actually marital unfaithfulness.
This highlights the real challenge of long term relationships, in that it is any unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant that is problematic.
We have our standard in our heads that cheating means abandoning our partners or having multiple women on the side or having that Ashley Madison account or hitting up all the hotties on Snap. And while those are forms of cheating, these definitions show us that cheating is a heart attitude before it ever translates into those bigger actions.
In my relationship, am I being faithful? Am I being the best husband I can be? Am I attentive to the needs and concerns of my wife? Or do I let myself wander, disregard what’s close to her heart, make it all about me?
That is the true moment when you and I are unfaithful. That is the great equalizer for all of us in loving relationships, that we are to be faithful in the big and the small.
So, is it ever okay to cheat on someone? I haven’t explicitly said it yet, but of course the answer is no. But you already knew that. That’s why I thought it would be more worthwhile to look at those factors behind cheating, and the higher standard that’s been put to us that faithfulness is a position and attitude of the heart before it is a laborious or blown out series of affairs and infidelity.
And hey, if you’re struggling with any of these things, you need to involve someone. Your partner for one. If you can’t work it out, maybe it’s time to involve a professional or a trusted mentor. Deal with it before it deals with you.
How about you? Do you think it’s ever okay to cheat on someone? How would you address these sorts of challenges in life long love?
Mother Teresa called feeling unloved and unwanted the greatest poverty. Whether with your spouse, partner, friends, anyone, or everyone, do you struggle to feel loved?
No matter how different we all are us people – in race, creed, faith, geography, history, whatever – we are all fundamentally the same in that we all want to feel like we are loved and wanted. There isn’t a single person out there who wakes up in the morning and says, “I can’t wait to feel like I don’t matter today”. We’re all looking for somewhere to belong and to find rest.
Oscar Wilde certainly wasn’t wrong when he said that a life without love is “like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead”. If you look around you, you’ll see that people will do all sorts of crazy things to try to find acceptance and love wherever they can find it. And when we can’t find out, we wither, we shrink, we die.
The struggle to feel loved is one that all of us are on the journey of. I’ve learned that there are so many factors involved in how loved we do or don’t feel. And it’s a terrible thing when you don’t feel loved in a marriage, a friendship, by God, or with any other person or group of people in your life. What can be done?
I thought I’d have a look at some of the factors involved in the struggle to feel loved, and what sort of things can so easily get in the way. At a high level, people in our lives either love us or they don’t. At a more detailed level, let’s have a look, as things may not really be as they seem. Here are some things that stop us from seeing the love in our lives, and reinforce the often incorrect view that we are unwanted and unloved. I would like to submit to you that nothing could be further from the truth.
The first thing that goes without saying that can make us feel unloved are the unloving actions of others. If you’ve been neglected, overlooked, trodden over, ignored, cut off, broken up with, or had someone be cruel or dismissive to you, you’re going to get the sense that you’re not loved. Dr David Augsburger in the book, Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard, said that “being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable”. When you’re not heard or received, it’s dreadful.
And perhaps the person or people who have hurt you the most truly don’t love you. Perhaps they genuinely have no sense of value for you. We see this all the time in the world of marriage and relationships, where people so frequently use and abuse people for their own gain, say and do awful things, then permanently leave. That can definitely leave scars that don’t heal easily.
The unfortunate reality is that we can do nothing about the actions of others. We can’t control what they will and won’t do. We can’t make a person stay, we can’t stop them from saying or doing what they will, any more than anyone could control us. All we can control is how we respond. John Maxwell says that
“life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it “. How will you react?
I think all of us have had times where our needs have gone unmet. Whether it’s by well intentioned or malcontented people, we can’t always deliver to others what they need, nor can they always deliver to us what we need or want. You’re in a real dire situation, however, when you have absolutely no source in your life for having your needs met.
And this is where we can get stuck. What do you do when you’re married to someone who isn’t fulfilling all your needs? What happens when you’re not getting what you need from the friends you have? What happens when you get disappointed or let down by that person? If you have no other source for need fulfillment in your life, you’re going to feel like the person in question doesn’t love you, or even that no one loves you, because you always feel like you’re going without. It must be their fault somehow.
I’ve learned in life that you have to go after what you need. When I was a child, it was up to others to make sure I was fed. Now that I’m in my 30s, imagine if I was still sitting at home alone complaining that no one loved me because no one was trying to feed me. I’m a grown man, it’s now up to me to go after the sustenance I need.
In the same way, do you know what you need? And do you know how to go get it? Doctors Tim Clinton and John Trent in The Quick-Reference Guide to Marriage & Family Counselling urge people to consider across multiple situations and seasons of life what any individual is capable of doing themselves. Whilst we could be a victim of things that are happening, they encourage proactively going after support, fulfillment, and a multitude of healthy relationships. That is something you have full control over. With multiple sources of input in your life, you are less likely to feel like the world is ending when you reach the limitations in one person or a particular group of people.
Doctor Gary Chapman famously wrote and put forward the notion of five love languages. His research which has been well received by the larger community suggests that people have a particular way of expressing love and of receiving love. He notes that we may not always be feeling loved because we’re expecting love in a certain way that other people may not be providing.
I have seen that we can very unhealthily apply this wisdom in a way that puts pressure on people and allows us to build contempt and resentment against others by expecting them to only ever speak in our language. The balance to our desire for what we want needs to be compared against whether or not a person is actually making an effort in the way that speaks the loudest to them.
Could you be in a struggle to feel loved by someone or a group of people simply because you’re obsessing over what they’re not doing, and failing to see what they are doing? The antidote is to live a life of gratitude for what you are being given, rather than bitterness over what isn’t. It’s amazing how much more obvious the love in your life becomes when you’re able to see it.
I’ll always remember a time when I was in a men’s mentoring group where our mentor got us all to close our eyes. He asked us to think about the worst experience we ever had in our life. The tone of the room became somber and somewhat depressing, and some of the guys even started crying. He then asked us to think about the happiest time in our lives. Smiles appeared all round, and some of the guys even started laughing. He then said, “Look at that, you completely changed the way you feel in a span of a few seconds. Why do you let your feelings lead your life?”.
Feelings reflect our perception of our life, and they don’t always align with what is actually true. We may feel like a person hates us or those people don’t love us, but it may simply not be true. It may just be the perception based on unmet needs or our expectations not matching how things are. Do you have an accurate perception of reality? If you’re ever not sure, write down what you wish someone was doing, and write down what they are doing. You may even discover that they’re already doing all the things you wished they were, just perhaps not the way you were expecting.
People are seasonal. Let me prove it to you with your own life. How many primary school friends did you see this week? How many people from high school? How about university? Your last church? Your old gym? Does that mean they don’t love you any more? Does that mean you don’t love them any more? Of course not – your seasons are now different.
And so, perhaps you’ve had a family member grow up and decide to move overseas for work. You may be tempted to think that means they don’t care for you anymore, but is that actually the case? Those friends you used to catch up with every week no longer see you because you’ve changed your weekly schedule. Does that mean you’re unloved? Of course not. You have a life, they have a life, we all have lives, and we all have things we are supposed to be doing with them that don’t always put us in the same place at the same time.
You can seriously damage your relationships when you expect them to be like a previous season, and especially if you start blaming people for that not being the case. But this is a failure to accept the reality of life that not everyone who comes into your life is going to stay, and everyone who does stay longer in life will maintain exactly the same relationship with you over longer periods of time. How you react to that reality is up to you.
Joyce Meyer rightly says that a negative mind will never build a positive life. You just can’t do it. When you expect that everyone in your life is working against you, when you obsess over that one moment of disappointment, when you stare at the rear-vision mirror instead of looking through the windscreen in front of you, you’re not going to enjoy your life, and you’re going to struggle with feeling loved in your relationships.
Once again, I think we need to focus on the truth. Does this person love me? Does this group care for my wellbeing? Am I looking for problems where they don’t exist?
This can be a tricky one. If you’ve lived your life expecting the worst, and especially when you’ve been proven right in that viewpoint more than once, this can be a hard habit to break. But if you don’t, nothing good will ever be able to compete with the view you have already decided on.
When you’re feeling unloved, you tend to push people away, isolate yourself, or dwell on the negative. A consequence of this can be that it makes it harder for people to love you successfully. This in turn can serve to reinforce your feeling that no one cares for you. This may lead you to decisions or behaviour that makes it even harder for people to reach your heart. This in turn…
Watch out for that cycle. Only you have the power to break it in your own life. Is there any reason a person may be or may have been finding it harder to demonstrate love for you? Is your husband closing off because you kept cutting him off? Is your wife unable to get through to you because you keep blaming her for things? Is that friend holding back from you because you always take their comments as negative? Is that group struggling to support you because you doubt every good thing they do?
Break the cycle.
Man, how many thousands of people are around you in your life? How many hundreds or thousands of people have you met? How many people have tried to be your friend? How many positive words have people spoken over your life? How many times have people come to see you, or tried? How many support groups and networks are around you, waiting for you to just say what’s going on in your life? How much stuff is your house filled with from birthdays, Christmases, graduations, celebrations, accolades and moments where someone has tried to express their gratitude that you’re alive? How many messages have come through your social media? How many cards have you got sitting around the house with encouragement from people?
You might not have all that you want, but have you looked around and seen just how much you have? Even if you don’t have the relationships you want, look at the potential that you’re surrounded with. Look at that brilliant woman or that strong man in your life who puts themselves in your world to the best of their ability. Look at all the people out there who open their homes and hearts to accept and hear you out. Look at all the tangible things that people have done for you that confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that you matter.
How wrong we are when we tell others or we tell ourselves that we’re not loved. We cry ourselves to sleep because we’re surrounded by thousands of people and hundreds of opportunities every week for connection and happiness, but don’t connect. It’s like going into Woolworths or Walmart and dying of starvation. The problem isn’t the lack of food, the problem is perhaps in how we partake in it.
You may have looked over your life and determined that no one loves you and that no one cares. I would urge you to look again. Allow yourself to receive the truth.
I’ve talked a lot about the love we have for one another, and the struggle to feel loved in our human relationships. But no matter how perfect and wonderful our human relationships can be, there are going to be times when people let us down. They just will. They’ll lose their patience, they’ll say the wrong thing, they’ll be unrepentant, they’ll be closed off, they’ll steamroll you, they’ll brush you aside, they’ll fail to live up to their end of the bargain. And to base your life on such shifting sand can leave you extremely vulnerable.
Build your house on the rock. See the love in your life that has been there from the very beginning, and the love that will never leave you. The love of God is unchanging and unending. We all have an opportunity to respond to that love. We can be dismissive or ungrateful of it, or we can open our hearts and let it in.
When the unshakeable love of God is your foundation for life, what people do and don’t do won’t matter as much. Yes, it’s still important to have healthy relationships with others. Yes, it’ll still hurt when people betray us or let us down. But the strongest way that life and love can be experienced, shown, and received, is from a platform of living in God’s love.
Then it doesn’t destroy my world so much when you don’t love me, or I can’t see how those people care for me, or I don’t know if anyone really cares. Because I know I am always cared for and always accepted. And from a foundation of acceptance, I am much more empowered to see how others have accepted me, and also negotiate the difficulty of when they don’t.
What will be the foundation of your life? Will it be the fallacy and the frailty of human effort? Or will it be knowing that you are always accepted in the heart and the plans of God?
I look around in life and in all the reading and talking I do with people around the world of relationships, and I see how truly distraught we can be in the struggle to feel loved. I hope that some of these observations help you negotiate your current relationships and help you see that you’re more loved than you realize – perhaps even more loved than you’ll ever truly know.
How about you? Do you struggle to feel loved? Have you felt that way before? What have you done in that boat?
Everyone wants a great sex life, but not everyone would describe their sex life as great. Here are 9 obstacles to sexual utopia.
Mature written content warning, reader discretion advised.
Sex is a massive part of a person’s life. Whether it’s the sex they have or the sex they don’t, so many of our decisions and much of our life satisfaction is centered around how we’re feeling in this department. You don’t have to look very far to see how pervasive sexual issues and identity are in our world today, especially given the current political climate, the renewed discussions around gender and identity, and the state of the entertainment industry.
It makes up one of the most powerful and influential mechanisms we have for relating to one another. It makes us feel good, it relieves stress, can increase connection between two people, it can help you lose weight, it can allow you to communicate and reveal your deepest feelings, and it is the foundation on which all of society is built – no sex, no human race. You are most likely the product of a sexual encounter, or at the very least a sexual release.
For all the good things about sex, there sure are a lot of obstacles to sexual utopia. We all dream of relationships where the sex is amazing, fulfilling, sufficiently frequent, and only ever a source of joy. The truth is that it’s an area many people are frustrated, confused, confined and isolated about.
I’ve always had a keen interest in the topic, and being a married man, even moreso than ever. But I think that’s true of all of us. No matter what stage of life we’re at – young and old, single and not, contemplating the state and health of our relationships and personal wellbeing – sex is something we are readily open to look at and seek out. I mean, just look at how massive the sex industry is, how intricately “sex sells” is still ingrained in current marketing methodology, or even how quickly you clicked on this link.
I’m no expert, and I have much more to learn, but my current travels have led me to some fascinating and helpful material on the topic that I thought was worth sharing and discussing. I think if anyone were to become a true expert on the topic, they wouldn’t be for long since sexual experience changes as much as two lives do, minute to minute, week to week, decade to decade. So, how do you have that great sex life? Here are 9 obstacles to sexual utopia.
I would be remiss to write a blog about the obstacles to sexual utopia without first acknowledging just how many medical issues out there impact your sex life. There are multiple conditions which can make sex painful, such as vaginismus in women or phimosis in men. There are multiple drugs that impact libido or sexual performance, such as antidepressents. Periods of illness and mental health difficulties can also influence your ability to have a good time in the bedroom.
Hats off to our GPs out there who are so well versed in helping people deal with issues such as these. I think if you’ve been having any difficulties whatsoever, or even just for a general checkup or questions, your doctor is a good first point of call. I know 10 minutes with a doctor greatly helped me personally.
It’s amazing that our society is so sexualised, while at the same time, having such a preference for singleness. More than ever, concepts such as monogamy are old fashioned and old hat, with so many diverse new forms of sexual expression and experimentation around. You can even be asexual now!
The problem is that it’s very hard to be sexually fulfilled in the right ways without a partner, and yet so many people push the search and openness for a partner far out of their own reach. Career, busyness, and temporary relationships take up the place of something substantial and truly sexually fulfilling. And so, the sexual component of one’s life is often addressed in emotionless, mechanical, and empty ways. A recent peer-reviewed study showed that pornography use is more accurately represented at at least 60% of all people, meaning that a majority of people are trying to feel loved by a screen that could never love them back. In Japan, some experts believe the birth rate is declining due to the increase in use of sex robots over real partners.
This is real, people. The more we keep idolizing the single life to people who clearly have sexual desires, the more we’re going to make ourselves more frustrated. Being good at having an orgasm and being good at having sex are two very different things. Whether it’s because nobody is good enough for you or you’re not ready for a relationship, it’s time to stop worshipping singleness and progress this area in a healthy way.
The Gottman Institute produces some fantastic material and I would recommend their work to anyone who’s looking to make their marriage relationship better than it already is. I’ve particularly enjoyed their CardDecks phone app which has some really good single line ideas for a whole variety of aspects of your relationship.
They also have a lot of material on sex and have many success stories to back up their content. Dr John Gottman says that great sex can be summed up by doing two things: staying friends (love is friendship on fire after all), and making it a priority. “They don’t leave sex as the last item on a long to-do list of things they need to do”, he words it.
It’s the same as anything in life – if you make it a priority, you’ll get to it, and you don’t make it a priority, you either won’t do it, or you’ll do it with the scraps of energy you have left from your life.
How often does the average couple have sex? This is a question that has multiple answers. Dr Kevin Leman, author of Sheet Music, says that couples should at least try for two to three times a week. In Wanting Sex Again, sex therapist Laurie Watson cites that their industry thinks about once per week is typical (although not necessarily recommended by her). Others have differing definitions but a common enough defiition of a sexless marriage could be defined as two times a month or less.
So, the jury is kind of out on that one.
Next question, and more relevant to you and your life – how many times should you have sex? Twice a week? More often? Less often? Okay, and is that intercourse, or getting handsy, or just spooning naked for a while?
And what makes your sexual encounter successful? When the man gets off? Or the woman? What if neither does? Or both do?
And how long does that take? If a guy has premature or the rarer delayed ejaculation, it could be two to sixty minutes before he’s calling for recovery time. And what if she never gets there, or gets there first?
The point is, normal and success do not really have a common definition. The only common definition of sexual utopia you’re going to be happy with is the one that you and your partner settle on. And that’s going to change over time, but more on that later.
In the early chapters of Laurie Watson’s book, she points out that half the problem is that only sex therapists like her truly get an accurate sense of what normal may look like, or what the trends may be. In the average relationship, you’re only going off the “sense” you get from other people, or what the media portrays as passionate, hot and heavy, successful sexual encounters and frequency. And so, you may be feeling pressure or naive ignorant self-righteousness based on a feeling that you’re just vibing from out there somehow.
Gotta be careful where you get your view of normal from, because it may suppress or depress one or both of you.
I think it’s amazing that our “progressive” society has such a negative view of marriage nowadays. We say, “oh there’s commitment there”, “there’s love there”, and there likely is.
But the same people and the same world will spend inordinate amounts of money on fitness trackers and wear them proudly to convey their commitment to their health. They’ll spend thousands on looking after the appearance of their cars to demonstrate their level of commitment to their vehicle and image. There are so many flaming hoops and legal commitments you need to make before a bank will even consider you for a home loan to buy a house.
And yet we’ll get all weird about the idea of committing to someone for life before getting in the bedroom, even though sex is meant to be one of the highest levels of expression a person can make. You wouldn’t get the most out of a home that you didn’t fully commit to. Likewise, I’m a firm believer you’re not going to get the most out of your sex life until you do like Beyonce wants you to do cause if you liked it then you shouldda put a ring on it.
If you don’t believe that the commitment of marriage makes a difference in a sexual relationship, why do so many more previously co-habiting couples suddenly drop the relationship later on? Commitment changes everything. It’s simply not the same thing before marriage.
And commitment isn’t a one-off affair. It’s a daily decision. Are you committed every day, or just in convenient times when you want something from your spouse?
Dr Kevin Leman and a number of other sexologists across various podcasts and resources highlight that a lot of sexual frustration can be resolved by simply being ready for the changes that are going to happen over the course of your sexual relationship.
Bodies change. The amount of sexual stimulation required changes. Vaginas stretch and penises need a lot more work to stay strong. The appearance of your partner will change over time as weight is added or lost, wrinkles form up, and life takes its toll, for better or worse.
More than the physical, your partner will change emotionally. She might not have wanted sex as much before, but her drive may increase and you’ll need to factor that in. He might start to want it less. The acrobatics may not be helping your partner feel so loved anymore and they just want to be close. Or further away.
Sexual utopia is definitely a moving target, and I think all of us need to be ready for it. What’s okay today might not be so okay tomorrow. Are you ready for when that happens?
In the same way Scrooge was haunted by memories of the past, so too our past sexual encounters or even non-sexual encounters may linger around while the two of you are in the bedroom.
It’s hard to be with your husband or wife when your ex is still in your head. Or the lack of support you’ve felt from your friends or family. Or the rejection you felt in that other relationship. Or what she said about the way you look. Or what he did about the way you felt.
I listened to a great podcast listing out all the ghosts that can float in during a sexual encounter, or may even be preventing one. And they said it well that we have a choice what to do when that happens – will we tolerate the ghosts, or will we deal with them before they ruin our sex lives? Only you have the answer.
Does she want me?
Does he love me?
Am I worthwhile?
Three of the biggest questions in the bedroom. You both want answers, and you’re both under a lot of pressure to find the answers, as well as to convey the answer to your partner with your body.
Whether it causes performance anxiety for men or a lack of libido for women, or vice versa, the challenge of sex is to answer the deepest questions of the heart in amidst all the other voices in life that have had things to say about those areas of your life.
One sex therapist said the trouble with these is that they can cause a snowballing effect in the relationship. As such, they need to be addressed as soon as they appear. You might need to swallow the pride and seek some help on a few of these issues, but it will definitely pay off in the long run.
Sexual rejection can have a profound impact on a person’s wellbeing, especially in a marriage relationship. It can make someone feel like their partner doesn’t want them or value them. You’re telling your partner that their needs aren’t important to you.
Remove the word “sex” from that previous paragraph, and you’ll have exactly what the marriage bed represents in physical form, which is an outworking of the attitudes you may hold towards your partner – negligence for the needs and desires of the one you say you love.
Scripture advises marrieds not to withhold (or deprive their partner) sexual relations, even for the most spiritual reason you can find. It’s not so someone can domineer and take whatever they want (and it shouldn’t be), it’s so that your attitude towards your partner isn’t doing the least you can do, but being generous with your life with the one you love.
And hey, I don’t blame some people. So many men especially but all sorts of people really complain about their partner withholding sex from them, but they in turn withhold love, safety, a listening ear, a coffee in the morning, a sense of value, the protection of their heart from their partner. And then they complain their partner has difficulty giving their body and being compliant when you haven’t considered his or her needs at all.
The power struggle that destroys so many sexual relationships is “what’s the least I can do for you?”. Instead, I love the attitude of the Shulamite woman and King Solomon in the Song of Songs. She says that she’s a garden that’s specially prepared for her husband, and wants the wind to blow through the garden and invite her lover in. She’s not talking what the minimal effort she can exert is, she’s open whenever he needs or wants it, enticing him to take and receive what he needs. He is generous with his words, his time, his body, and all he is. He’s not domineering or crass or demanding of his own rights (he knocks but doesn’t barge down the door), but is completely open to her. He even helps her see herself in a new light and gives her the confidence to stand up for her own sense of value.
I wonder if your husband or wife can say that you’ve done that for them.
You have what your partner needs. Whether it be sex, love, time, emotional support, whatever. The question is, do you have a withholding attitude towards your partner? Are you depriving them of what they need because of some reason that you think is more important? Your husband or wife needs sex to hear that they are valued by you. Your spouse needs your best support. They need your heart. They need your love. They need to see you regularly. They need you to not be behind a closed door all the time. Generously, not begrudgingly, not hesitantly, not “okay I guess if it’s really that bad let’s get it over with”.
You can’t control the generosity of your partner, but you can control your own. And it’s a heart attitude. What can I do for you? How can I serve you? With my body? How about my time? What do you need from me emotionally? The bedroom is just playing out what two hearts are really trying to find.
And then you find it. Sexual utopia. He is loved, and so is she, and they both know it oh so well.
This is obviously a very involved and layered topic. There are so many different opinions and other factors involved. Pornography use can help you get aroused but to someone who isn’t your spouse, so you’ve invited someone else to the bed at the expense of your partner. Sexual abuse can cause flashbacks and severely limit your comfort in the bedroom. Libido can go up and down like a yo-yo if you’re not giving it some proper consideration. Doing it by yourself at a time you could be doing it with your partner robs you of a shared experience.
I think finding sexual utopia is close to the heart of many of us, and hopefully you’ve found something in here that resonates that’s made you think, whether you agree or disagree.
How about you. What are some obstacles to sexual utopia you’ve found in your life or in your journey?
When things don’t go the way you hoped, breaking it off with someone seems to be the most viable option. Here are 7 things to consider before throwing your relationship away.
I’m writing this towards one of the most reflective times of the year – Christmas. Like birthdays and New Year’s Eve, it’s one of those repeated items of the calendar that make you think about this time last year. It’s one of those times you reconsider everything in your life – your work life, how close you are to achieving your dreams, the decisions you’ve made this year, and – yes, of course – your relationships. David McCandless did a study for a Ted Talk whereby he found that one of the most common times of the year to breakup is the two weeks leading up to and including Christmas. Continue reading
Have you already missed the best person for your life? Have you missed ‘the one”? Or is your soulmate still out there?
If you know me, you know I always take note when someone mentions a greater struggle taking place in their lives. I seem to have some sort of a fascination with the bigger reasons behind why people do things, and some people have learned not to mention certain things around me because I’m likely to ask a lot about it. I’m also interested in why people don’t do things. I really find it hard at times to shake certain comments people make long after I’ve finished conversing with them. I tend to feel people’s thoughts, their fears, their regrets deep within my heart.
Case and point, today I was reminded of a few people who had talked to me on the topic of whether or not they had already missed “The One”. No, not that Jet Li movie (although I still really enjoy that one) – the ever elusive soulmate. Does such a perfect person exist for each person in the world, and if so, is it possible that I may have already missed my chances with them?
I remember such a conversation where one of my friends was looking visually distraught. “What’s wrong?”, I asked. “Well”, she said, “my ex is getting married today, and I’m finding it really hard”. I was trying to be comforting and was saying how hard it is when you have to watch someone who broke things off with you enter into a new relationship. She said, “No, I was the one who broke it off with him, and now I’m sad he’s getting married to someone else”. Continue reading
It can be really hard to believe that it’s possible to have 12 close friends at the age of 30. And yet our wedding day proved to be a great celebration of friendship and what it takes to build and celebrate connections that last a lifetime.
Long time no post, huh? I know what you’re thinking. Matt’s married now so that means it’s time for him to disappear off the face of the planet and to never be heard from again. In truth, we did do that for a while on our honeymoon in The Land of The Long White Cloud (New Zealand), and it was great.
But alas, a far greater tragedy struck as this site was hacked before and/or during the wedding and/or during the honeymoon, meaning I have spent the last few weeks trying to regain access to my site. This post of course marks the successful recovery of the site and the ability to log in as usual. Continue reading
It’s a time of preparing for a lifetime of eternal bliss, sexual fulfillment and everything always being perfect and wonderful… right? Here are 6 books I’m super glad I read before I got engaged.
And one I’m even more glad I read while engaged.
Last night I wrote a post about the questions I get asked the most about writing online. In it I wrote a small snippet about the importance of being honest, in which I wrote two different paragraphs about the engagement season to illustrate the difference when you’re being open about yourself. Thinking about it today, I was thinking that there really is a lot more I could write about the final months leading up to The Big Day. The bestowing of The One Ring to Rule Them All. The end of my old mancave life as I know it.
Oh, and I also wrote about the importance of writing consistently, so this is probably me making up for a few weeks that I’ve skipped over on the regular content! Continue reading
Whether it’s the inability to find someone worthwhile, or feeling stuck in a relationship – what do you do when nobody is good enough for you?
This one comes to you on the other side of some exciting personal news. I’ve recently gotten engaged in the last week or so, and Walking The Shoreline has had over 400,000 visitors! I am truly humbled by all the visitors I’ve had over the last few years, as well as all the messages I get from all across the world of how a few simple words from me have fostered some thought and even some life changing decisions. One of my absolute favourite sorts of messages and conversations have been about how people have seen their marriages and relationships turn around for the better. I love hearing any of those sorts of stories, so make sure you drop me a line on my Facebook page! Continue reading
The African proverb says, “If you want to travel fast, go alone; if you want to travel far, go together”. A growing majority of single and married people are choosing the former. Are you too busy for a relationship?
I think one of the most common statements I hear when people discuss the topic of relationships, or anything really, is how busy they are. Any time I’m in an elevator somewhere, the small talk conversation is always obsessive about the level of busy-ness. “So so busy, I don’t even know how we’ll get it done”. “Busy, but good busy”. “It’s good to have lots to do”. And while I believe in living a full life, I think it’s interesting how our preoccupation with busy replaces our pursuit of other things in life.
When it comes to someone’s love life, not just their work environment, the obsession with being busy is almost the go-to line. Many people when asked about why they don’t have a man or a woman yet respond with, “Hey, I’m just too busy for a relationship”. “I’m too busy loving myself to love someone else”. “I have too much on and don’t have to meet or court anyone”.
I’ve seen and known and continue to hear of people who break off or undervalue their current relationships because of how busy their calendar has become. Wives and husbands sit at home waiting for their partner during what is supposedly free time but have to deal with such a full calendar where their spouse has no longer made room for them. Perhaps that’s how their whole relationship has been from the start.
Can you be too busy for a relationship? I think you can. It always makes wonder, is this really the right path to take?
I guess this is the real question I ask anyone who says they’re really busy, including myself. When I see a busy schedule I think, man, where has all my time gone? And it’s definitely worthwhile finding out.
When you say you’re busy, what do you really mean? Do you mean you literally had something on every second of every day? Do you mean that you’re out of energy from the things you have already done that week and don’t have enough energy for anything else? Do you mean that you want to keep your plans free in case something comes up?
Busy can mean so many things, but I guess we just want to make sure when we are busy, that it’s doing the right things.
You could be busy planning a big meeting. You could be busy completing an assignment or preparing for a big presentation. You could be busy checking your investment portfolio or managing your properties.
You could also be busy loving your wife or husband. You could also be physically and emotionally blocked out to anything and anyone else in order to spend time with your girlfriend or boyfriend. You could be busy putting yourself out there, meeting people, dating or courting or “catching up” with this guy you’re not really sure about, or this girl that you’ve wanted to get to know better.
A BBC article on the topic highlighted that a lot of people are less busy than they actually are. It’s usually more a feeling of pressure from being always potentially available, or always being able to jump online and finish off a few more tasks in the agenda. They also put it down to attaining one’s identity from a full time commitment over what you’re actually doing in that time. In other words, it’s an issue of priority.
I heard this illustrated really well in a relationship seminar once. The speaker said, “Who wants to come hang out with me after this?”. A few people put up their hands, but most hands remained down as everyone thought about what they wanted to do after the seminar. He then asked, “What if I gave you $500 to hang out with me after this?”. Everyone’s hand promptly went up. He asked us, “What changed? It’s the same time together. But your priority and sense of value about the time changed.”.
Really brilliant and sobering illustration, I thought.
What would it take for you to prioritize time with your wife? What would it take for your husband to get those few hours he’s been asking for? What would it take for you to make space for love to grow and develop in your life? Would they need to give you $500? Would you need to get a full Bitcoin wallet for it to be worth your while? Would you need to get acclaim and Likes and Loves and comments from the world in order for it to be worthwhile to you?
If you love this person, if you want to love a person, they have to be a priority. Granted you need to live your own life and make room for own goals, careers, hobbies and interests. But if you’re serious about having this person in your life and ensuring they know that they know that they have a special place in your heart, your calendar and your activity needs to reflect that.
It’s always funny to me listening to a 19 year old saying “man I’m just too busy for a girlfriend or boyfriend right now, I’m at uni 16 hours a week, I’m working 20 hours a week, and I just have no time for it”. Then what happens? They reach 24, and they’re twice as busy, and still don’t have room or time. Then they turn 30, and they’re like man I’d love a relationship I just don’t have capacity for it with my career and yoga and Saturday morning climbing team and Thursday squash and Monday drinks and Sunday afternoon Netflix sesh and meal prep and bed time by 7:30pm.
I wonder why we view love and work as mutually exclusive. This is not an attitude that exists even 30 years ago. Everyone knew you could date in uni and do great in your studies. It was completely normal for people to actually be better because they had someone with them supporting through those earlier adult years preparing them for life. There was also no real conflict once you started working, especially as the average marriage age was about 8-9 years younger than it is now (in Australia anyway).
Nowadays we’re like “wow look at me I have an assignment I need to take home how can I possibly have anyone in my life while I’m doing my assignment?”. When did we suddenly feel trapped or held back if someone else was around while we were trying to get ahead in life?
Forbes published a controversial article citing a number of studies on this whole idea of career vs. love, and actually found that people get paid more, are more relaxed, feel more supported in high stress positions, and have higher levels of satisfaction when they are in a loving relationship compared to their single counterparts. This isn’t to diminish the value of single people, but it does demolish this weird idea that we got from someone somewhere (I’m still not entirely sure who or where or who thought it was right) that having someone else in your life is just going to slow you down and hold you back from being who you want to be. The research simply doesn’t back this claim up.
I think something else that really smashes people as they get older if they’ve bought into this lie is when they realize that the dating pool has thoroughly diminished while they had their head down bum up working so hard and pushing love out of their life for so long. Moreover, the longer you leave it, the longer it’ll take to get there.
If you haven’t started dating yet, how many people do you think you’ll need to date before you find someone you want to commit to? They say the average person has three to five “great loves” in their life. So let’s say you end up wanting to get married to number 4. If you started “looking and being available” at 20, and it took you 3-4 years to work through those first 3, you’re now 24 and about to start dating Mr Man Of Your Dreams, or Lady Lovely. How long will you date? Maybe a year? Maybe 2? Now you’re 26. Engaged? Engaged for how long? 6 months? A year? Wedding at 27?
Okay, so when will you arrive at that destination if you start making time for love at 25? At 30? At 35?
No, I’m not trying to prophesy over you that you’re going to have a stretched out dating process. But I am just pointing out that these things usually take more time than we acknowledge, and if you’re too busy for it now, just be aware that you may be pushing the time out to an age that you didn’t really want to be when your relational goals started being achieved.
Would that be a bad thing or a good thing? Maybe it’s not bad at all. That’d be up to you. I’m just submitting the thought for your consideration. Unless you’re going from “just met” to “happily ever after” in the span of 3 days, and you’re perfectly okay with getting married or finding love at 46 (you might be), you should factor in that there’s going to be a big time investment getting that area of your life worked out. If you start later, you’ll also probably finish later.
Be open to date nights during the week. Be open to breakfast before uni, chill out sessions around study time, late dinner out after working late. Your partner isn’t going to leave you because you had to have dinner later than 6pm, or you had some other goals in life. Generations of people for millenia have been able to do both, and have even been better for it. No reason for our generation to be any different.
“I feel like I haven’t seen you this week”.
“What are you talking about?”, I said. “We’re together right now and I’ve seen you 3 or 4 nights this week?”.
“Yes, but we’re on our way out to an event.”, The Lady said. “A few days ago, there were a lot of people around. That other night there was someone along with us. It hasn’t just been us”.
We had this conversation a month or two ago where The Lady and I were both in a particularly busy and emotionally draining week. Each of us had a number of commitments and social events on, as well as some extra external pressures on our emotions, and this particular week we were feeling it. Well, perhaps less so me, but I think I realized in that moment that if she felt this way, then it was my responsibility to do something about it. Usually a week like that every now and again is okay for us – we usually have at least one or two times a week where it’s only us most weeks so it usually balances out – but this week in particular the needs were greater. So that night, where one of my commitments was a bit less busy, I participated for a shorter amount of time than usual there, and arranged to leave a bit earlier so I could come back and we could spend some alone time together. It was simple and didn’t take too long, but the few hours that night were what we needed to get on the same page and for both of us to feel valued and seen.
You and your partner are a team. Or your potential partner. If one of you is feeling it, if there’s no room for you to make special, dedicated one on one time for someone in your life, you need to do something about it.
I could have done nothing about it, but I would have been sowing seeds of frustration and neglect into our relationship – something that no man or woman should ever allow to be planted or start growing in a loving relationship.
I think too many times we can have a steamroller attitude towards people. My plans my agenda my dreams. Come on woman, keep up. Come on Mister Man, stop being such a little girl and being so needy. Come on Future Spouse, be willing to be Priority Item Number 13 out of 27 items this month.
We don’t think it’s acceptable when someone lowers our priority and overlooks us. I wonder why we think it’s acceptable at times to have the same attitude towards our partner or future partner.
If you know me, you love I love the TV show The Office. There’s a really true to life moment where in the marriage of two of the characters, the strain on their togetherness is too great, largely driven by the huge time commitments the husband was making away from the family. His boss is talking to him one day about a new initiative, and the husband declines. The boss says to him, “Well, I gotta tell you, Jim, a lot of guys in my circle? They wouldn’t even change their golf schedule to shore up their marriage let alone their professional goals.”
If you love them, if you want to love them, if you want to love them, priorities. We need to be less busy to make room when required. The significant other in our lives needs our presence and not just our presents.
Valid concern. I think all of us have things that we would really love to see accomplished in our lives. As someone who is quite driven myself, I definitely relate to the concern that adding an extra person to your life may alter your ability to achieve your goals.
But I think that the right way to look at it is to think about the power of partnership. When building a building, imagine if one brick thought that it was the be all and end all of the building’s construction. With just this one brick, you don’t need anything else. Imagine how stupid we would consider that brick.
And yet we have the same attitude when we think of ourselves as all that is needed to achieve greatness in life. Your part is important, but imagine how much more important and powerful it would be when coupled with someone else’s part. Or a community of people with parts. Now you’re talking serious power and reach and influence.
Look at you and your accomplishments, Mr One Brick. Look at the mighty empire you’re building on your one lonely brick. Look how much support your one brick in isolation of others can bring. Look at your hectic, obsessive busyness and how you feel like you’re too busy for a relationship, for your friends, for people, because you’re so busy building your empire of one.
Imagine if you realized the power of two.
I think we need to get over the notion that it’s all about us. That’s really what it comes down to, I think. Just me myself and I. Got nobody that I can depend on. Don’t want anyone else slowing me down.
Unfortunately that’s an attitude that needs to be consciously addressed at some point, because living that way and approaching life with that level of self obsession, you’re always going to be too busy. You’ll never have… more accurately, you’ll never make the time required to foster loving and lasting relationship with someone.
If you’re okay with that, then continue as you have. But I would submit to you if love is an important thing in your heart, if you know inside yourself that marriage is on the cards and something you don’t see yourself finishing life without, if you have a lot of love to give, then don’t be afraid to make room to give it.
And if you’re in a relationship, man, even moreso. Too many neglecting wives and husbands in our world today. Too many partners who have seen their own priorities as so much more important than their loved ones. Your husband is coming across as “too needy” in your own mind, your wife is withering away under your care, and you’re just full steam ahead doing whatever the heck you want to be doing. Be the kind of husband or the kind of wife who builds the life of their spouse and fully embraces the power of together.
The one word summary of what we’re talking about here is a simple one to hear but a difficult one to arrive at: balance. All things in their rightful place. A life that is “too busy” is usually just out of balance. For whatever reason. You’ve gotten into autopilot, you’ve been too obsessed with your own things, you have been hurt and you’re unwilling to make time or place for someone else. Whatever it is.
To live a life of love, you need balance. You need to know your priorities. You need to be willing to make adjustments when your lives change.
If you’re too busy now, consider reflecting on when you won’t be so busy any more. I think you’ll find within yourself that you currently have no plans to change that, unless you decide to change that today.
What do you think? Can you be too busy for a relationship? What would you do (or what have you done) in that boat?
Life is too short to keep love to yourself. Here are 7 reasons why you should just tell him (or her).
“Matt, why is this one not targeted at guys telling them to communicate their love?”. Well, it is. It’s about all of us really. The phrasing here, “Tell Him”, refers to a classic duet between Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand which seems to be a frequent summary of some of the greatest advice in the realms of love I’ve ever heard. Whilst a dialogue between a younger woman seeking counsel from an older woman about a man she loves, it really does tackle one of the greatest struggles that exists in the realm of relationships on both sides of the fence – the communication of love.
In the song, a younger woman conveys the struggle of many young men and women. Being scared and being afraid to show your care. What if there’s someone else? What if I’m wasting my time? What if what if what if?
It can be really hard to tell someone that you love them. There can be overwhelming fear and uncertainty when even considering the idea. When you’re single, how do you know what to do in order to build a relationship or let someone know you care? How can you be sure whether or not they will respond positively or run screaming the other way? How much game do you need to employ in order to catch the one your heart desires? Continue reading