TOTAL LOVING--By "J"
The modern woman may spend her days happily running countries & corporations & citizens' committees, church socials & Camp Fire Girls' cookouts. She may win Pillsbury Bake Offs & Nobel prizes, but when she totters into bed at night, she still needs to be held close, to hear--& to say--the three little words that are the essence of her life: "I love you."
It's true that we can exist & even thrive temporarily without "I love you's", but only in the give-&-take of an "I love you" World can a woman find complete fulfillment.
The first step toward preparing yourself to love & be loved is a very simple one. Open your mind: You have the power within you to make your love life everything you want it to be.
Love isn't something that just happens to you, like being caught in a tornado or an earthquake, although it may feel like that sometimes! You are an active partner in love's birth, growth & character, even when you think you are behaving like a spineless, procrastinating fatalist. You are always choosing, regulating, determining, deciding & controlling your love life.
You pull off this amazing feat by using these five Keys to Happy Loving:
1. You choose the person you love.
2. You regulate the form the relationship will take (affair, living together, marriage & so forth).
3. You determine the atmosphere within the relationship.
4. You decide how much of yourself to give to the man of your choice.
5. You control your own mental & emotional flexibility & growth.
HOW TO FIND YOUR MR. RIGHT!
Nearly all lovers meet each other under run-of-the-mill circumstances: They live in the same neighborhood, go to the same schools, are introduced by mutual friends, get to know each other at church or meet at or through their work.
The trick to ferreting out a man worth loving is an unbelievably simple one: Forget about trying to tell instantly if each new man is a potential partner. For you can't spot a good prospect at twenty paces & know within minutes of talking to him or after one date, if he is right for you.
All of the studies show that most couples with enduring relationships were somewhat attracted to each other initially, but that very few felt it was love at first sight. In fact, many of the couples said their first emotion upon meeting their future mate was complete indifference!
It's important for you to understand that you never just wander into love. Learning this is the first Key to Happy Loving: "You choose the person you love." In this way, you control the odds for or against your own happiness.
If you are going to succeed at love, you can't afford to dodge your real reasons for choosing one man over another.
Even if the man you love combines the best qualities of Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds & Paul Newman, you can still benefit from a little self-analysis.
Why did you choose him? What were the physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual & moral qualities that made you feel he was Mr. Right? And are you sure he's a Mr. Right?
HOW TO TELL IF HE'S MR WRONG!
Everyone says you're so lucky. Imagine finding such a catch at your age. We all gave up on you when you passed thirty. Herb is such a nice man & steady, reliable. How could you help but be happy with him?
You agree. He's a wonderful person who will be a fine husband & father. You ignore the fact that he has no sense of humour & is a terrible tightwad whose very touch gives you the shivers.
We women have a genius for blocking out the negative features of a man we want. So let's be sure that you've picked yourself a Mr. Right. If he's a good man for you, he'll stand up quite splendidly to the following questions, so don't hedge in your answers. Be completely honest with yourself. After all, if you cheat, you'll be saying that you are afraid to look at him realistically. And you can't afford to kid yourself about the man you're picking to love.
"Is He a Wrong Number?" Quiz:
1) Is he a warm, affectionate person? If he is open & loving emotionally, you're way ahead in the love game. But if he believes emotions shouldn't be seen or heard, watch out. Cold men sometimes warm up under the patient tutelage of a loving, outgoing woman. But if he's been withdrawn & self-centered all his life, you better ask yourself if you will be able to withstand his chilly rebuffs to your cheerful comments, happy hugs & tender caresses. Living with an iceberg can give you emotional frostbite.
2. Does he have several really close friends? A man who has learned to enjoy & sustain intimate friendships is going to put this talent to work in his relationship with the woman he loves. Lucky you! However, if no one else likes him well enough to be his friend, shouldn't you wonder why you like him?
3. Do you quarrel frequently? Couples who quarrel constantly are crying out that they are not meeting each other's needs. Until you face & satisfactorily resolve the reasons for your fights, you shouldn't consider it a promising relationship.
However, a little bit of quarreling is good, for that means you're exposing your real selves to each other & resolving your differences rather than sweeping them under the carpet.
4. If the love relationship folded, would you still want to keep each other as friends? I hope so, because the best lovers are also best friends.
5. Do the two of you spend most of your time in bed? Terrific sex can dazzle & rattle your brain so much that you end up thinking Jack the Ripper is Cary Grant. Physical compatibility is important, but no woman should choose a man to love & cherish just because he makes her shiver & melt & go wild with passion.
Climb out of that bed & look at him from a vertical position. Is he cruel or kind? Generous or cheap? Controlling or flexible? Sloppy or neat? Responsible or irresponsible? A dreamer or down-to-earth? Would he still be as thrilling to you if either of you were sexually incapacitated for six months? You can turn an awkward lover into a good one without too much trouble, but training a man to be honest, tender etc., is a monumental task. Is he worth it?
6. Do you spend most of your time trying to stay out of his bed? Oh, oh. You can't turn pent-up revulsion into ardent sensuality. Either the chemistry is there or it isn't. You can't will it into existence. If you've given it a fair try & the thought of his lovemaking still makes you come down with a migraine headache, then your relationship is doomed.
7. Would you care for him just as much if his social standing changed? If he lost his job as president of the biggest bank in town, would you stick around because you couldn't bear to be parted from him or would you only do it because you wanted public opinion to rate you as noble?
Unless you could love him just as much broke & disgraced, then consider the possibility that you may be much more enchanted with his money or position than you are with him.
8. Do you both really listen to & care about how each other's day went? Does it usually turn out that 95 percent of the conversation is about his day? If so, do some hard thinking about whether he considers you an individual, or just a convenient, supportive female. And check your reaction to him. If your mind wanders when he describes his daily triumphs & frustrations, he's not your Mr. Right. You should care about his feelings & activities.
9. If a brighter, wittier, sexier, richer, more sensitive man knocked on your door tomorrow, would you still prefer your present lover? Unless your answer is a resounding "Yes!!!" then your Mr. Right is probably a wrong number.
Make an "Is He Right for Me?" Checklist
It makes good sense to assemble a composite picture of your ideal man. When I did this several years ago, I was staggered at what I found out. I was having trouble analyzing the pluses & minuses of a very exciting man. He was, I thought, everything I could ever want--terrific sense of humour, intelligent, sensitive, romantic, good sexual chemistry. Although we came from different backgrounds & religions, we shared a number of interests; he never bored me. Why didn't I want to marry him? What instinct was holding me back?
I spent a couple of weeks making out a list of character traits & qualities that were important to me in a man. When I measured my current "Mr. Perfect" against my checklist, the supposed love of my life scored very poorly in four areas that I realised were crucial to me: Principles, responsibility, ability to grow emotionally & supportiveness. My checklist forced me to see what my heart was ignoring: That he was not a man I could share the rest of my life with.
Here is my personal blueprint for love: Sense of humour, principled, intelligent, practical, quick thinker, sensitive, responsible, supportive, emotionally balanced (not too moody).
My checklist has saved me precious years, disillusionment & perhaps heartbreak, so I strongly urge you to make out your own "Is He Right For Me?" checklist. Yours may be very different from mine, but it should be, for you must tailor it to your needs.
WOMEN WHO HAVE DIFFICULTY WITH
Who are the women who have special trouble becoming Successful Lifetime Lovers? Let's start with one of the most common:
In storybooks, heroines never doubt that someday their Prince Charming will come; therefore they turn away all suitors, no matter how eligible or delightful. Snow White is always saving herself for that magic moment when Prince Charming will come riding up on his white horse to claim her. She is confident that the good fairies have her at the top of their gift list.
But any modern maiden who is fool enough to stand around waiting for the good fairies to produce her own personal, instantly recognisable Prince Charming is going to end up with severe eyestrain.
If you are absolutely convinced, like the princesses in the fairy tales, that there is a perfect man for you out there who will meet all of your qualifications, then you are mistaking a comfortable fantasy for painful reality.
You are afraid of love.
Why? Experts blame the inability to love successfully on your parents & their behaviour toward each other & toward you in your formative years. Happy, loving parents breed happy, loving children who go out & repeat the pattern. Unhappy, unloving parents breed unhappy, unloving children who are afraid to risk loving unless it's a sure thing.
The Possessive Lover
This is one of the most self-destructive of all love seekers.
The possessive lover systematically gets rid of everyone her man cares for--family, friends, even children. If her demands that he eliminate all intruders upon their twosome don't work, she makes herself so unpleasant to be around that those he loves release their ties to him to get away from her. And once she has him all to herself she supervises his every activity, questions how he spends every minute of his time away from her. She tells him what to think & feel, & says that these castrating acts are proof of her deep love for her man.
Don't you believe it. Real love frees people to be themselves & to grow emotionally & intellectually. Possessiveness turns both the possessor & her victim into crippled human beings incapable of loving or being loved.
The Female Chauvinist Pig
Women don't like to admit it, but there are probably just as many female chauvinist pigs as there are male chauvinist pigs.
Are you one?: Do you regard men as meal tickets? Do you think of all activities as either feminine or masculine (that is, sewing is feminine, repairing the car is masculine)?
Do you feel women should pretend to be fragile & "charmingly" helpless around men?
Do you feel it is all right for a woman to barter sex with her husband? ("I won't cooperate in bed tonight unless you take me out to dinner & the movies first.")
Uh-hmmm. You are a female chauvinist pig.
If you base your relationship on role playing & the bartering of emotions & acts that should be given freely & lovingly, you will also force him into role playing & manipulative games. The result will be a relationship of two uneasy business partners who are so busy protecting their own interests that they fail to establish bonds of loyalty, camaraderie & mutual goals.
The Militant Feminist
You don't have to pretend to be frail & empty-headed or fawn over men to win their admiration. On the other hand, stubbornly parading around acting needlessly aggressive about your feminist convictions & looking physically unattractive isn't going to put real love in your life either.
Even the most far-out, counterculture, or cosmopolitan man is old-fashioned in one respect. He wants the woman he loves to look like a woman & behave like a woman on those occasions when femininity is appropriate. You don't have to bind your feet, fill your brain with sawdust, always walk three paces behind him etc., but you should present a female image to him & the World.
The militant feminist fights a self-defeating battle when she declares war on the whole male sex for looking at & desiring women's bodies. Being sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex is too normal & deeply rooted a physical response to be appreciably altered by a few belligerent women.
The Female Sex Maniac
The typical female sex maniac compulsively bedhops for one of these two reasons: (a) She is unable to have orgasms, & so is obsessively searching for a miracle-worker male who will be able to give her the climaxes she craves. Or, (b) more commonly, she is on a fruitless quest for lasting male attention & approval.
How does the female sex maniac get that way? She probably grew up in a household devoid of love. Her parents were probably distant & hostile toward each other & unable to display much normal affection toward their daughter. Such an atmosphere would make any child feel that she wasn't worthy of admiration & love. It would also fail to teach her how to give love.
The doormat is the mousy little woman who says, "It's all quite all right" in her pleasantest voice when a pushy person rams her with a shopping cart & cuts in ahead of her in the supermarket checkout line. She is the woman who says, "Don't worry about it, it's all my fault" when a clumsy waiter spills a plate of spaghetti down the back of her brand-new dress. When the doormat is asked, "What do you think of Muhammad Ali?" (or the mayor or bussing, abortion, marijuana or plastic surgery), she always comes back with a worried, "What do you think?" After you've expressed your opinion, she always replies, "That's what I think, too."
The doormat doesn't understand why her love life is so disappointing. She tries so hard to please each man she goes with.
I've said it before, but for you doormats I think I better say it again: Good loving consists of two equals respecting & caring for each other. There cannot be one dictator & one emotional coward, each feeding the other's weaknesses.
The Superior Woman
Careerwise, life has never been better for the superior woman, but love & a happy, committed relationship with the right man are still aggravatingly difficult to achieve, for the more brilliant & successful the superior woman becomes, the fewer the men who are on her level.
Moreover, men still tend to become involved with women who aren't quite as smart or accomplished or highly educated as they are, & women are always seeking men who are more intelligent & successful than they are. It's the old story: Women marry up & men marry down.
The Late Bloomer
We don't all flower at the same time. If you are not succeeding at establishing a committed love relationship, it may be that you "have it all together" for your current stage of emotional development, but have not progressed to the point of being ready for a long-term commitment.
We all mature at different rates of speed & we crave different styles of living at different times in our lives. And so it is with loving. I don't regret being a slowpoke. I'm grateful that I matured slowly enough to understand what was happening to me & to appreciate each stage of my emotional growth for what it is: An indispensable chapter in a rich life that is going to become richer still.
The Jealous Woman
Jealousy is a powerful poison that can seep into & control your mind, emotions & body. Jealousy can smother love & destroy all pleasure in living.
The most common jealousy is that based on real cause. Symptoms are an overwhelming fear of losing your mate or lover, plummeting self-esteem, alternating sensations of self-pity & rage/hate & an overall feeling of hopelessness about altering the threatening situation. This form of jealousy isn't an expression of your love, but a panicky reaction to the possibility of your lover deserting you.
But the green-eyed monster can only attack you if you are insecure.
Determine why you are insecure. What are those awful jealous pangs trying to tell you? Usually it all boils down to the fact that, for one reason or another, you feel you are unlovable.
Jealous reactions are within your control. Learning to control them will make you proud of yourself, thus upping that fragile self-esteem even more--& this will make you a braver, stronger lover. That's right.--A more LOVEABLE lover.
Marriage is the most difficult of all human relationships to pull off successfully, so you must take stock of the heavy emotional price you will have to pay for failure.
You can't afford to dance merrily off to the wedding thinking, "Oh, well. If it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce." That's rather like saying, "If we don't like the home we dreamed of, designed, built with our joys & tears & made uniquely our own, we can always just invite the wrecking crew in to tear it down & then walk out through the rubble unscathed." It doesn't happen that way. Marriages that end in the divorce courts leave a lingering residue of pain & sorrow & anger & loneliness & bitterness. So put your all into your marriage!
CREATING A LOVE ENVIRONMENT
Determining the atmosphere within your home is a powerful weapon in your love arsenal--in fact, it is the third Key to Happy Loving. Remember?: "You determine the atmosphere within the relationship."
We are conditioned from earliest childhood to feel that we attract & hold the male of our choice by making an inviting nest for him. And that's absolutely right. Despite the inroads Women's Lib has been making on everyone's consciousness, not many men are going to end up with the responsibility of creating the home; this remains the woman's province in most relationships. While on the surface this may seem an unfair burden, in reality it works to your advantage, for you will be able to establish & control the atmosphere of the set on which most of your love life will be staged--your home--& the setting has a powerful effect on yours & your man's emotional behaviour.
By creating a place that a man is eager to come home to, a warm, happy sanctuary that reflects his tastes as well as your own, you are establishing a healthy climate that will encourage love to bloom.
A woman's pride in & love of her home can also be an unintentional troublemaker.
There are women who use their homes & apartments as weapons: "I'm not rejecting your invitation to make love, dear. As soon as I wash the windows, straighten the linen closet, polish the silver & clean the toilets, I'll be right with you." How sad. These women, uncertain of their own identities, pour their energies, hostilities & fears into housekeeping at the expense of dealing with their men. Why? Because it's an easy way to feel righteous without dealing with the real problem.
I sympathise with the compulsive cleaner as I lean in that direction myself. It bothers me when I see faucets that need shining, woodwork that needs scrubbing or a pan in the sink that should be scoured, but I've taught myself to blot out these unnerving sights when I need to. The opportunity to clean never goes away. A good man can.
While your whole environment should create a loving atmosphere, the two rooms that must receive your complete attention are the bedroom & the bathroom, for what goes on in these intimate rooms can make or break a relationship.
Couples must have privacy so that they can concentrate on keeping their emotional & physical ties in good shape. You can't say sexy things to each other, explain angers or coax a tense man into revealing his anxieties over a crowded, boisterous dinner table or to the accompaniment of blaring TV sets, jangling phones, grinding dishwashers & several pairs of overcurious eyes & ears. Nor should you necessarily wait until the household is in bed. Too many couples try to cram all their confidences, lovemaking & release of worries into that hurried few minutes after brushing their teeth & before turning off the lights to go to sleep.
Good lovemaking takes time. It's more than some perfunctory kisses & a few minutes of his penis in your vagina. You need to be able to touch & fondle, to whisper tender & exciting things to each other & to be able to cuddle afterward instead of doing what too many couples do: A quick in/out & "Where are my brown shoes?" & "What's the weather report?"
A charming Midwestern mother of five teenagers had a point of view to which I wholeheartedly subscribe: "Whenever possible I try to sustain an element of mystery & privacy about my body. This isn't prudery on my part, but a feeling that my husband keeps a more romanticised image of me if he isn't a regular observer of my toilet habits & more elementary hygiene measures. I never leave stained Kotex around for him to see or smell; I don't remove my makeup in his presence--or put it on--& I don't go to bed with my hair in rollers & cold cream on my face. I also like to dress separately when we are going out for a big evening so that his first glimpse of me is special. I think men are eager to admire the finished creation but don't relish witnessing the collecting of the ingredients & unglamorous assembly job...at least my husband feels that way. He loves to see me undress sometimes & I like to do that for him then, but mostly I dress & undress in my own little dressing room off our bedroom...which used to be a hall closet. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of the knowledge that my husband still feels I'm glamorous."
Another type of privacy that must be observed between couples is privacy with regard to possessions.
Don't rearrange all his drawers without his knowledge. Even a good-humored man will turn into a grouch when he reaches for socks & underwear & comes up with shirts & cuff links. (How would you like it if he came in & rearranged everything in your kitchen cupboards without consulting you?)
Even if he is a pack rat & all his drawers, cupboards & closets are piled high with junk, control that impulse to call in the trashman secretly & have it all hauled away. Neither of you must ever dispose of the other's possessions without consent.
By respecting your loved one's right to privacy, you bolster his belief that you are a person who can be trusted, which is extremely important to the peace of mind of you both.
Another major area in which you determine the atmosphere of the home is the food you serve. Don't force him to eat things he doesn't like. Comments like, "But cauliflower is cheap right now," or "Turnips are good for you" won't encourage him even to put his fork in. Instead, it's likely to turn your cozy, sensuous meals into a battle zone in which each of you is stubbornly defending your own armed camp. Face the fact that he is an adult with established tastes to which he is entitled. Don't try to change him with a high-pressure sales pitch. You love him, remember, so let him relax & enjoy foods that give him pleasure.
Keep the Atmosphere Open & Honest: Speak Up About Annoying Habits!
I've devoted a lot of space so far to telling you how to adjust to him, but it isn't a one-way street. If he has revolting or irritating habits that you don't feel you can live with, speak up! Or before you know it, your marriage will be turning sour.
Never underestimate the potential destructive power of those nit-picking habits. They bore away relentlessly at the foundation of your marriage.
One of the more serious areas of friction in many marriages is that men seem to have been brought up by doting mothers who followed one step behind them, picking up everything their sons dropped. This was fine as long as Mother was around to perform this endless chore. But we all get quite testy when our beloved cavemen expect us to scrounge around, under, behind & on top of the furniture for dirty underwear, crumpled newspapers, food plates, shoes, ashtrays, matches, peanut shells & the like. Getting men to change in this area is tedious work; a number of wives who have worked on it feel they haven't been wholly successful in training their husbands to be neat--they will always have to do some picking up behind their mate. But most agreed that speaking up had made a difference in getting improved behaviour.
Marriage & long-term relationships can be more than just tolerable for today's woman. Long-term loving can be made to be quite wonderful most of the time.
There's not much point in being a wife or a committed lover if you've come to feel that love means being miserable. So if your relationship isn't all you want it to be, let's see if the Lifetime Lovers can help you restore the enthusiasm you had the day you committed yourself to love, honour & cherish this man you were sure you wanted from that day forth.
Do They Fight?
The successful Lifetime Lovers either laughed or looked absolutely astonished when I inquired if they ever fought. They all have fought in the past, do now & expect to in the future! It's not that they like to fight, but they consider fighting an inescapable fact of life in an ongoing relationship, so they take it in stride, just as they do all the other mixed blessings of being together.
So erase any picture you may have in your mind of Lifetime Lovers serenely strolling hand in hand down a peaceful path of life. They are not blissfully immune to the crises & daily cares that plague you in your loving life.
This is comforting news. For it means that we might as well stop trying to knock ourselves out being perfect lovers. It can't be done. Instead, we must set a more realistic & pleasurable goal--that of being imperfect but loving & lovable partners who are able to roll with the punches.
It's such a lovely way to spend an evening--or afternoon--or morning--or anytime! Isn't it a shame that when so many couples plan their day they consider lovemaking their least important activity? It may be heresy, but if I had to choose between a sensuous interlude of sex & getting the grocery shopping done or attending that obligatory PTA meeting, I'd take the sensuous interlude every time! And so would most of the happy Lifetime Lovers.
Sex over a long period of time has its ups & downs, of course. It isn't always fiery passion & bells ringing. But the successful Lifetime Lovers experience very few sexual downers. Why? Because they feel that first-rate sex is vital to their relationship & so they work at keeping lovemaking fulfilling.
Yes, work. Taking sex for granted is about as intelligent as expecting your lights to turn on when you haven't paid the electric bill. No input, no magic lanterns & fireworks.
In a good love relationship, sex has its priority. It isn't endlessly shuffled aside to "Wait until it's more convenient." Neither is it used as a weapon, allowed to sink into Ho Hum sex or squeezed into a Beat the Clock game of "Come on, honey, wake up. The alarm is going off in a minute & I'll have to get up & get ready for work," or "I've got fifteen minutes before the guys pick me up for our golf game. How about it?"
Implicit in your commitment to your man was the promise to put him before all others. That is hard to do if he becomes sex crazed at the very moment the spaghetti is boiling over on the stove, the cat is pulling your prize African violet out of its pot & the meter reader is knocking on the back door.
Passion & domestic bedlam are not compatible. So to be relaxed enough to be receptive to spontaneous sex, you will have to become a high-caliber efficiency expert in your home & social life.
I've found it helpful, when everything seems to be getting too much to cope with, to sit down & think, "Now, if there was a sudden emergency, what of all the things I feel obligated to do this week, really has to be done?" I am usually delighted to realise that very little is actually necessary to my existence or my happiness. With that, I cancel all the time wasters.
Saying no to unnecessary time swallowers is just one way of freeing yourself to concentrate on your physical pleasure. Many of the Lifetime Lovers allow time for sex by organising their day in order of priorities. Every night the lovers make a list of items to be accomplished the next day & then rate them in the order of their importance. Then they do the most important things first each day, so that if sex raises its tempting head, they can adjust to accommodate spur-of-the-moment lovemaking.
Hard-working lovers achieve a similar result by making the most efficient use of their limited time: While the laundry is in the washer, start the casserole. They also turn some of the household duties over to their mates. Highly sexed men have been known to break all speed records for walking the dog, drying the dishes or tucking the youngsters into bed when visions of the women they love being highly aroused are dancing in their heads!
Keep him satiated with enough uninhibited lovemaking & he'll be too spent to make desperate passes at you while you're setting the table or organising the garage sale. Men who are sexually fulfilled most of the time aren't grabbers. It's the males who are frustrated because their wives keep them on starvation diets sexually who make hungry passes every chance they get.
Never, never, never endanger your Total Loving world by making any of these common mistakes:
1. Don't try to wheedle something out of your beloved by using sex as bait. You may look adorable--& loving--while you're cooing & conniving, & he may be temporarily enchanted by your wiles, but sex for barter is really a kind of amateur prostitution. Tender, beautiful, passionate emotions can't be put up for sale--or bought. Men search for, & remain steadfastly in love with, loving women, & emotionally & physically disconnect themselves from human calculators, once they get their number.
2. Don't keep sexual score. "We better make love at least three times a week or we're not normal." Ridiculous! You should make love because you think it's a wonderful idea at the time, not because of some crazy quota system you feel you're supposed to measure up to. The right amount of sex for you & your lover is the amount that keeps both of you physically & emotionally satisfied. Only you two can know how much love-making is "normal" for you.
3. Don't neglect feminine hygiene. He wants a sweet-smelling, clean sexual partner. Liberate yourself from unpleasant body odors such as bad breath, perspiration, & disagreeable vaginal odors.
4. Don't wear beat-up, frumpy nightgowns around him. Many of the Lifetime Loving men mentioned one reason their relationships have succeeded: Their women have always taken the trouble to look feminine & desirable in bed. The men said they had never gone through the unpleasant experience of bedding down with a female who slathered her face with cold cream, covered her head in rollers & draped her body in ugly, baggy gowns.
5. Don't engage in sex just because you think it's your duty. Turn yourself into a passionate woman!
6. Don't bring up worries while you're making love. Telling him about problems or complaints in the midst of a passionate moment will only give you a new worry: "Why doesn't he find me desirable anymore?"
7. Don't make disparaging comments about his sexual abilities. Sniping at him won't elevate his performance level, it'll just deflate his equipment.
8. Don't withhold sex to punish. Vengeance may be momentarily sweet, but love will turn very sour if you persist in turning sex into a tool to get even with a mate. Instead, go solve the real problem.
9. Don't resign yourself to living with a sexual affliction or problem just because you're too embarrassed to admit that you have one. Get it taken care of.
Perhaps the strongest sexual "don't" of all is: Don't let your sex life fall into the ho-hum rut! How long has it been since you experienced a night of passionate, breathtakingly beautiful lovemaking?--The kind that leaves you feeling warm & floating & secretly smiling & hugging the imprint of his body to yourself through the whole of the next day? You shouldn't have to take a memory course to come up with the answer.
By letting sexual intercourse deteriorate into a monotonous routine, you're slowly but surely short-circuiting the fragile male/female relationship.
PROBLEMS OF MARRIED LIFE:
Problem #1: Because the baby is growing inside her, the mother-to-be is quite naturally obsessed with every detail & stage of the pregnancy. But husbands look upon this preoccupation with pregnancy as emotional desertion.
Solution: This is very simple. Lavish extra love on your husband so that he knows that his emotional needs are still of paramount importance to you...& save blow-by-blow details of your morning sickness, backache, sleepiness, exhaustion & so forth, for your girlfriends' & mother's sympathetic ears. A somewhat edited account of your discomforts will elicit a more compassionate response from your husband than a steady stream of complaints.
Problem #2: Some pregnant women refuse intercourse for fear of "hurting the baby". This often causes the husband to resent the baby & convinces him that his wife no longer cares about his happiness.
Solution: Sex. You can make love throughout most of your pregnancy unless you have unusual physical complications & your doctor says no. And even an order not to engage in intercourse doesn't mean you can't satisfy your husband's sexual needs. You may not be able to use your vagina for a while, but you can still give him a great deal of pleasure & release with your mouth & hands. During a normal pregnancy very little will probably be forbidden to you by your doctor. If the traditional coital position of man on top becomes a bit uncomfortable or makes you worry that the weight of his body on yours could injure the baby, there are other positions that are quite delightful, such as woman on top, side by side or rear entry.
Lovemaking may seem revolting to you during the first three months of pregnancy if you are fighting nausea & exhaustion, but hang in there.
BIRTH TO SCHOOL AGE
Problem #1: The "tired-mother syndrome."
Solution: Get your husband involved in the care of the baby. Very few of the Lifetime Lover husbands were strangers to middle-of-night feedings, diaper changing & baby-sitting.
Dr. Lendon Smith, the famous baby doctor, acknowledging that fathers often feel left out after the arrival of a baby, advises that "that delightful age from two to eight months is the time to get a husband really involved with a baby's care. Babies that age smile & laugh & usually love to be cuddled. If a father can feed, change, bathe, & dress a baby & get smiled at, he usually gets `trapped' into really feeling he is useful."
Problem #2: Overabsorption in the children can destroy husband/wife intimacy. Men don't hold still for this anymore, so if you are married to an attractive man, you can't be an overly child-oriented woman--or you will soon have something else to orient yourself to if you continue to put him second in your affections--divorce.
Solution: Reorient yourself to the most important rule of marriage--love all your children equally, but place your husband first in your affections. You need to remind yourself every day that you began as a pair & will finish as a pair. Children are lovable but transient figures in a marriage. The Lifetime Lovers recommend that you find a good baby-sitter & go out on dates with your husband again. Once you get to know him, you'll love him!
Problem #3: Sex again. How you handle the resumption of sex after the birth can affect your sexual relationship for the rest of your married life. Why? Men have a very low tolerance for sexual deprivation. Only the thought that "after the baby is born, sexual relations will return to their normal passionate level" sustains your husband & keeps him from sampling other women. If you, therefore, are reluctant to resume relations after birth (although the doctor has OK'd it) or are not responsive during those first lovemaking attempts, he will regard this as a rejection of him on all levels of the relationship. This will lead to feelings of hostility, depression & inadequacy. Good-bye sex, good-bye love, good-bye husband.
Solution: Since you will know in advance when you can resume your sex life, plan to make that first night very special. Rest that afternoon, look your prettiest that evening. If possible, spend the night in a hotel or motel, so that the two of you can be completely private & carefree. Put all your concentration on rediscovering & fusing your sensuous selves. And once your sexual pilot light is ignited again, be careful not to let it burn out.
All couples have disagreements. What sets the Lifetime Lovers apart from ordinary lovers is how they disagree.
They don't nurse petty grievances for months. They air them, find a way to resolve them & move on to more important matters.
They don't make fake apologies.
They don't include "while we're on the subject" in their battling. ("I'm furious at you for staying out till four A.M. without calling to tell me where you were. And while we're on the subject, I'm mad at you for not putting the garbage cans away, because you didn't put gas in the car, because you rebuffed my sexual advances last week, & because you were too cheap & too lazy to take me out to a good restaurant Tuesday night. And while we're on the subject..."_
They don't say the unforgivable--the cruel barb that can never be successfully taken back later.
They don't try to use sex to defuse or resolve serious differences.
They don't bury hurts & angers, but bring them out in the open so that they can be disposed of.
What do the Lifetime Lovers do?
They (most of the time) concentrate on the real issue, not the minor irritation that triggered their fury.
They (eventually) say "I was wrong" & even mean it.
And, most important of all, they bring their disagreements to conclusions.
Two other crucial discoveries:
1. Each person's view is valued, & must be respected, solely because it is his or her view. It doesn't matter if the opinion is rational or irrational, good or bad, right or wrong. (This is a mind-boggling concept, so you will be forgiven if it takes you a while to understand & accept it.)
2. And they discovered that healthy fight habits give lovers a better understanding of each other's inner frustrations & vulnerabilities, which increases their intimacy & emotional growth.
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Editor's note: As Christians who know & love the Lord, we do not believe that all couples have to have "fights"! Of course, when you live & work with someone continually, differences of opinion--sometimes strong ones--are bound to arise. And when such differences come up, they need to be honestly expressed, patiently heard out & prayerfully resolved. But we certainly should not have to have "bitter battles" or violent uncontrolled arguments over things!--Amen?
"To have a few occasional personality clashes is understandable, but love never fails, & these should be healed through humility, love & the oil of His Spirit! If the machinery (your marriage) is well oiled with the Love of the Holy Spirit, it will operate smoothly & quietly without squeaking & screeching, run faster & more efficiently, wear well & last longer, & not wear out, burn up, get hot or explode with internal friction, which causes many breakdowns! Love, humility & prayer solve all problems! It never fails!"
Here are some helpful thoughts from God's Word on this subject of arguing, "fighting" & contentiously striving with one another:
Prov.15:18 "A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife."
Prov.26:21 "As coals are to burning coals, & wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife."
Prov.20:3 "It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling."
Prov.25:8 "Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame."
Ph.2:3 "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
2Ti.2:24 "And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient."
1Pe.3:8,9 "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one for another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing."
Eph.4:31,32 "Let all bitterness, & wrath, & anger, & clamour, & evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Col.3:13 "Forbearing one another, & forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye."
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HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR LIFETIME
LOVE IS IN TROUBLE
There are warning signs when a good relationship is starting to turn into a bad one. Are you experiencing any of these danger signals?
1. Your conversation is predominantly about possessions (or children).
2. You no longer eagerly anticipate coming home to each other every evening.
3. One of you has recently taken up a time-consuming sport or other interest that keeps you away from home during most of your leisure moments.
4. You rarely eat dinner & breakfast with each other.
5. You've stopped talking to each other during meals. ("Pass the salt" doesn't count as talk!)
6. One of you keeps picking quarrels just before bedtime.
7. You are becoming too polite to each other. (This is a strategy to avoid intimacy.)
8. Although you both are healthy, your sex life has waned in the last few months.
9. Either you or he is tuning out the other's gripes.
10. You never seem to be alone with each other anymore.
11. You don't care about your appearance at home with each other, but you spend hours prettying yourselves up when you go out to meet others.
A PORTRAIT OF THE WOMAN WHO IS A SUCCESSFUL LIFETIME LOVER
I asked the Lifetime Loving men, "What qualities do you admire most in your mate?" The answer that came up the most often was intelligence.--Not good homemaker or good mother, but intelligence! Man after man raved about his woman's ability to "get along in any situation," "her steadiness, her outspokenness," "her calmness in critical situations."
Here is a composite picture of the qualities of the ideal woman, drawn from the statements of the Lifetime Lover men:
1. "Keen intelligence"
2. "Capacity to love"
3. "Great sense of humour"
4. "Be sexually responsive"
5. "Good looks, good figure"
6. "A uniquely mature & well-rounded personality"
9. "Devotion" & "loyalty"
10. "Sensitivity to me & others"
11. "Ability to function well under a stress situation"
The lifetime Lovers also make most of the major decisions together. "I used to decide, but with the passing years we've decided together," said one husband, married for thirty-two years. "We make most major decisions together. My wife most often researches decisions first," said another man, married twenty-seven years.
A BLUEPRINT FOR LOVING HAPPILY EVER AFTER
In analyzing the Lifetime Lovers' ways of handling their love lives, I came to the conclusion that there are reasons why they have succeeded where so many others have failed:
1. They went through all five stages of courtship before marrying, which often took over a year:
a. Initial physical attraction.
b. A testing period in which they discovered they liked each other & shared common interests & attitudes.
c. A light-headed time of infatuation, where the future mate was idealised & romanticised.
d. A deepening of feeling that slowly became love.
e. Then commitment to each other.
2. They passed the "This Is Love" test:
a. You feel completely comfortable with him.
b. You feel his happiness is equally as important as your own.
c. You accept & like him "as is" & aren't secretly thinking of completely remodeling him after you have him hooked.
d. You know it is safe to entrust all of yourself to him.
e. You respect him.
f. You think his body is unique & wonderful.
g. You know that he likes, trusts & respects you.
h. You are able to tell him about all of your feelings of anger, hurt, anxiety & dissatisfaction.
i. There is a strong bond of physical chemistry between the two of you.
3. They bring their disagreements to conclusions.
4. They encourage each other to continue to grow as individuals.
The women described the ways they keep love alive in these phrases:
"Talk about it--don't bottle up hurts."
"Always keep a sense of humour."
"Work out your problems together--no secrets."
"Have plans for next year, every year, even if you don't get to do them."
"Remain attractive to each other mentally & physically."
"Treat each other with complete respect, loyalty, as one would treat a good friend."
"Tenderness, empathy & understanding--learn how & why spouse thinks."
"Allow the other one to enjoy life his or her way."
"Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex!"
"Remember to do nice things for each other."
"Have tolerance for each other's shortcomings."
"Never be too busy to listen."
"Give more than you take."
"We have always made it normal in the morning to get up together, & before leaving for work, to be held & kissed."
"Forgive & forget."
"Love & treat partner as one wishes to be treated."
The men had these suggestions:
"Never take love for granted; tell her repeatedly that you love her."
"Talk, don't sulk, no matter how sensitive the subject."
"Sex, sex, sex."
"Have a saving sense of humour."
"Discuss your sex drive & compatibility."
"Discuss your innermost feelings."
"Continue `dating' each other."
"Provide emotional support."
"Make important decisions together."
"Take pride in your mate."
"Be able to laugh together."
"Never hold back any secrets."
"Participate in activities together."
"Be true to each other."
"Be each other's best friend."
No wonder the Lifetime Lovers are so successful! If you are smart enough to follow their blueprint for loving & being loved, you too can know the happiness of loving happily ever after!