Want More And Better Sex? Get Married And Stay Married.

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

NudeCoupleIf you haven’t read the latest research about the sexual habits of American marrieds and singles, you are probably among the majority of people who have the belief that singles are having a lot more sex than folks who are married. Well guess what. They’re not.

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Schismo….what?

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

Anger is contagious and so is goodwill.

Flickr:  David Sim

Flickr: David Sim

Schismogenesis. It’s a term that you’re not likely to have heard very often, unless you’re studying esoteric words for a spelling bee that you’re planning to enter, or if you’re a graduate student or researcher in anthropology. It was coined in 1935 by Gregory Bateson, who was married to Margaret Mead, who were two of the most influential and highly regarded anthropologists of the twentieth century.

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Is Technoference Wrecking Your Love Life?

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

Tech-BrideGroomEven though you may not have ever heard the word, chances are, you’ve already figured out what it means. And chances also are that you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in the future. That’s because a preoccupation with electronic devices and data is undermining essential aspects of our lives particularly those that strengthen and enhance physical, emotional, and spiritual health and well being. These aspects tend to be the first things that get pre-empted in favor of our growing increase in dependence and preoccupation with electronic technology.

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How to Rebalance an Out-of-balanced Life

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 3 min read

pilatesLooking at the titles of the lead articles that are currently featured prominently on the front cover of a lot of popular magazines, it’s hard not to notice the proliferation of pieces that have to do with the importance of living a balanced life. These articles usually warn the reader of the dangers of imbalance and often provide suggestions for how to organize your time in ways that are designed to solve the problems caused by imbalances.

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Do You Dare to Pop This Question?

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 6 min read

LovingCoupleBe careful what you ask, you may get an answer.

After an evening of sharing the living room sofa together while they watched a romantic movie, Brandon turned to his partner Kim, to whom he’d been married for nearly thirty years and asked, “If you met me today, would you still want to marry me?”. As you might have guessed, this question was actually a bid for reassurance from Kim that she still found him attractive and desirable.

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Marriage Preparation

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

On the job training.

CoupleBenchThere probably aren’t many people who haven’t heard the words “marriages take a lot of work”. This is a good thing to be aware of prior to making a marital commitment. Knowing that that’s the way it is, minimizes the likelihood of feeling surprised or broad-sided when the inevitable breakdowns occur. But what is also a good thing to be aware of is what the work is that successful marriages require. And the best time to become aware of that is (you guessed it) before, not after you tie the knot. Unfortunately many couples wait until after they get married to become curious about the nature of the work that’s involved in making committed partnerships work. And many others don’t get curious or motivated enough to look into the question at all. Many couples make the decision in the thrall of infatuation and in that stage of the game, it usually seems inconceivable that anything could ever possibly interrupt the intensity of the overwhelming love that both partners feel towards each other.  So why bother?

Well, the answer to the “why bother?” question is simple. One reason is that feelings can and frequently do change, which doesn’t mean that when they do that you’ve made a mistake, but rather that the belief that you could never possibly feel any differently towards each other, could at some point prove to be false. Those who understand this tend to be more motivated to do some preparatory work in advance of the inevitable breakdowns that are all but inevitable in most marriages; “breakdowns” not in the sense of “break-ups”, but in the sense of interruptions of disruptions that challenge the integrity of the relationship and require interventions in order to re-stabilize things.

Great relationships don’t just happen; they are created, or rather, “co-created”. This process involves the cultivation of personal strengths, traits, and skills, as well as a system of good support. It may not take a village to grow a marriage, but it does take some outside help along the way. Few if any of us enter into committed partnerships fully developed and adequately skilled in the art of conscious relatedness. Most of the work and the learning is done on the job. The good news is that you don’t have to have had a great track record in the relationship department or in your personal family experience in order to develop the skills and character traits that enhance the likelihood of success in relationships. Most of us already possess adequate raw material, and through experience and effort, our inner resources expand and deepen.

In addition to the development of essential traits and skills, the third leg of the marriage triangle is the commitment itself. While this is the work of a lifetime, fortunately you don’t have to be fully accomplished in order to enter the game. “Ready” doesn’t mean that you’re fully confident and that you have no fears or concerns. If it did, no one would ever even begin the process. It means that you’re going into things with your eyes open and aware that for most of us, there’s a fair amount of learning that’s going to take place, and that learning, while valuable can at times, but not always, be uncomfortable. That’s because when we learn something new it’s sometimes because we’ve had to be wrong about the belief that that something new has replaced.

As for the “work” that marriage involves, that has to do with growing up and becoming an emotionally intelligent, integrated human being. The qualities that such a person possesses include compassion, patience, honesty, courage, commitment, responsibility, creativity, generosity and integrity, to name a few. These are the building blocks that are the foundation of the skills that relationships require. Examples of relationship skills have to do with communication (listening and speaking), co-operativeness (this is not about compliance, but about sharing responsibilities respectfully), self-care, and conflict management. Mastery of these and other skills usually doesn’t come prior to marriage, but with a clear intention and a commitment to learn and become more fully developed, they are cultivated in the course of marriage. Appreciating this makes it easier for each partner to be more forgiving of themselves and each other during times that are difficult or challenging.

While it may not be possible to anticipate all potential concerns, there are some questions that are relevant to nearly all marriages that are essential to the establishment of alignment and agreement regarding foundational matters. These issues don’t need to all be fully resolved prior to the marriage, but unless they are at least brought up and put on the table, it is likely that at a future point they will become a source of distress and disturbance to both partners. Examples of these issues are:

  1. Children: Is there an agreement about having children? When? How many? Who will take care of them? How long will mom or dad stay home? If there are problems with fertility, is adoption an option? If we have a change of heart about any of these questions, how do we negotiate our prior agreements?
  2. In-laws: What is our policy regarding family visits on holidays? How do we deal with aging or dependent parents?
  3. Work: How do we determine whose job dictates where we live? Are all promotions and raises in salary acceptable, even if they require more time away from the family?
  4. Money: What are our expectations of each other for financial contribution to the family? What is the maximum one person can spend without consent from the other? Do we want a budget?
  5. Friendships: Is it O.K. for each of us to have friends of the opposite sex? How much time is it O.K. for us to spend with our friends? How do we deal with it if one person feels neglected?
  6. Sexuality: How do we handle it if there are differences in rates of sexual desire? How open are each of us to different sexual techniques. Is there a willingness to seek professional help if there is a sexual problem? Is so when? How do we deal with it if one person wants to get help and the other doesn’t?
  7. Separateness and Togetherness: What would be the ideal amount of time spent together and apart for each of us?
  8. Privacy: What is our policy regarding communication about personal and marital concerns with other people?
  9. Love: What are our preferred ways of having love expressed?——————————————————————–

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Mind Over Matter

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

cardamine-pratensisCreative Commons License mindfulness via Compfight

“Mindfulness is not something that is only done in the meditation hall, it is also done in the kitchen, in the garden when we’re on the telephone, when we are driving a car, when we are doing the dishes.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness, a term that until fairly recently has not been very much in the current parlance has recently become a popular subject. There’s even a magazine, actually named Mindful that claims to “celebrate the basic human ability to be fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing.” And not long ago, Time magazine, an icon of mainstream American culture, featured a cover article on mindfulness. According to the article, all kinds of people, particularly celebrities, are engaging in this practice with surprising results. “Surprising” perhaps for those who haven’t been practicing mindfulness, but not for those who have been. What may be surprising for the latter group, is that mindfulness is not so much a form of meditation that one engages in with eyes closed and legs crossed on a zafu (pillow) once or twice a day for a set period of time, but it is actually a way of being in which we experience clear awareness of our moment to moment experience and are present with it in a way that is receptive, accepting, and non-judging. While to the uninitiated, this may seem simple, as anyone who has ever attempted to do this knows, simple isn’t necessarily easy.

The conditioned mind, that is, the kind of mind that human beings have, has a tendency to wander and jump from one object of attention to another, often within the space of milliseconds. Living, as we do, within a culture that subjects us all to a continuous flow of distractions and sensory stimulation, the tendency to experience a splintering of our attention is strong. When this happens we can feel fragmented, as though we’re incomplete, like something is missing, and it is. What’s missing is a sense of wholeness. Because we’re not fully present with our experience, we feel

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Mastering the Art of Relationship Yoga

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

YogaCreative Commons License Jean Henrique Wichinoski via Compfight

When you hear the word “Yoga”, it’s likely that words like stretching, exercise, practice, flexibility, bending, and twisting come to mind. That’s because the primary association that most Westerners have with yoga has to do with the “on the mat” or physical aspects of the practice of yoga or “Hatha Yoga”.

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Old Guys Rule!

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 4 min read

'cause if I share it with you, you'll have some too sciencesque via Compfight

Linda: You see them in the park pushing the grandkids on the swings, wearing infants in their front packs, with toddlers in backpacks, pushing strollers, and holding small hands walking the kids to school in the morning. These older gentlemen are reaping the rewards of the work done by the torch-bearing women of the 60’s and 70’s, and 80’s who struggled to blur gender roles.

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The Prices You Pay for Winning an Argument

By Linda & Charlie Bloom • 3 min read
British summer

.craig via Compfight

 One of the widely held beliefs that threaten relationships is the idea that being victorious in an argument is a good thing. That notion is based in part on the assumption that when it comes to arguments, there are only two possible outcomes: winning or losing. It’s a zero sum game and if you don’t come out on top, there’s only one other place that you can go. Given this mindset, it’s no surprise that so many people, finding themselves embroiled in a relationship conflict, go for the jugular and pull out the big guns. “Big guns” are inflated or amplified threats, insults, and various forms of character assassination. “You’re just like your mother!” “No wonder your last wife left you!” “You’re the most selfish person I’ve ever known!” “I can’t take this any more. I’m calling a lawyer tomorrow!” “I should have listened to my friends who warned me not to marry you!” And these are just the mild ones!

Then there are the more subtle forms of coercion and manipulation that are designed to discredit the other person’s position or to invalidate their concerns in order to defeat their efforts to defend themselves in the face of an attack.

There are an infinite variety of strategies for winning an argument, but there are only a few motives that drive the compulsion to win. The most prevalent one is the desire to avoid an anticipated humiliation, punishment, or loss of power by defeating the other person and thus affirming a dominant position in the relationship. When there is not a high level of mutual trust in the relationship, both partners are likely to feel a strong need to be concerned with the degree of power and control they possess, since they are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and domination. The build-up of interpersonal defenses and aggressive behaviors, is not an effective deterrent to attack, not does it ever repair damaged trust. On the contrary, it adds to the problem and often provokes further aggression.

Consequently, trying to “win” an argument by defeating the other person not only fails to address the underlying problem, but generally intensifies it. While one person may appear to win the battle, both of them lose the war. When it comes to committed relationships, when one person loses in the short run, they both lose in the long run. When someone loses or gives up in resignation, trust goes down and communication closes up. Even though the active fighting may end, the underlying issues have not been adequately addressed and the differences between both parties haven’t been adequately resolved.

When this is the case, the spirit of mutual support and co-operation is broken and both partners begins to see each other as an adversary rather than teammates. on the same team. When this occurs, vulnerability is replaced with defensiveness, interrupting the flow of honest communication, and each person becomes more concerned with personal protection than the establishment of a mutually satisfying outcome. This diminishes the feelings of good will that are necessary to re-establish trust and shared respect.

At this point both partners are operating from separate personal intentions that are misaligned, making the relationship feel adversarial rather than cooperative. Now, each person sees the other as someone they need protection from and/or need to defeat, rather than a source of support and comfort. Fear, rather than love has become the dominant motivator in the relationship on both sides. Even when one person seems to be more angry than frightened, in fact, both are possessed by fear, but may be enacting different protective strategies (such as aggression and withdrawal or intimidation and accommodation).

When arguments fail to identify or address the underlying issue that has been activated, there is no way that that information can be accessed when both partners are driven by the need to protect and defend.  When this occurs it is likely that the real concerns will become submerged and go underground in order to create a truce which is a temporary disarmament that is necessary in order to engage in the relations that are necessary to continue and sustain normal life.

“Normal life”, however, is not synonymous with a mutually fulfilling and loving relationship. It is merely one in which active conflict is temporarily absent or minimized and the obligations and responsibilities of daily living can be satisfied. While this may be preferable to having a relationship that is actively antagonistic and mutually destructive, it is a far cry from what most couples envision when they initially share their intention to create a committed partnership. It is also far less than what is possible when two people are able and willing to hold and honor a vision of an ever-growing, ever- deepening, connection that becomes more loving and fulfilling over time.

Differences are inevitable in all relationships. Conflict is optional. When we try to settle differences by winning the argument rather than seeking to find greater understanding from it, we deny ourselves the opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our partner and we miss the opportunity to engage in the practices that can make us a more skilled, loving, and responsible person.

While not all relationships are “made in heaven”, a lot more of them have the potential to become heavenly that we may think, if we are willing to challenge and interrupt embedded defensive patterns that may be doing us more harm than good. Perhaps it’s time to trade in the old clunker for a new model!

——————————————————————–

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Linda & Charlie Bloom are authors of 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married & Secrets of Great Marriages.
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