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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Marriage Sex and the Christian Marriage

I’ve been married for almost three years now, and finally, I no longer blush bright red when the word “sex” is mentioned out loud.
It’s more of a faint pink tinge.
Growing up, sex wasn’t talked about very much. Not at home, not with family, and certainly not in church! There, the very mention of the word would have turned ears to scarlet and had the deacons popping antacid pills. Sure, every year the youth group did a “True Love Waits” program, but we never got down to the real nitty-gritty. We dutifully signed cards and pledged to “wait for true love and marriage” - whatever that meant.
Many Christian youth today are in the same rapidly sinking boat. They have plenty of questions, but not enough people willing to give answers. Or worse, the wrong kind of people are giving the wrong kind of answers.
For those getting no answers, sex turns into "This Great Mystery." Lack of information inspires intrigue and sex becomes even more appealing. The lure of the unknown consumes the mind, and much like Eve, regret blooms after one taste of the forbidden fruit.
How many young men and women could have been protected if they had just been told that sex was not some guilty pleasure denied them, but rather, a part of God’s plan for their future marriage and well worth the wait? How many babies could have been saved if only these young girls had realized not just the negative consequences of sex outside marriage but the positive truth about sex within marriage?
Silence Outside Marriage, Confusion Within
After the wedding, one of the hardest things for young Christian couples to adjust to is the fact that sex is suddenly - okay! All the years of silence on the “forbidden topic,” all the years of feeling guilty for asking questions, all the years of wondering and dreaming, all the years of thinking sex as a "four letter word," suddenly diminish. Sex is expected, allowed, and not only that, but – gasp – it’s a part of God’s plan!
During their most formative years Christian teenagers, especially young girls, are often expected to push the topic of sex aside. The good girls are the ones that sign their pledge cards, sit on their hands when dying to ask questions, and polish their purity rings once a week.
However, I think those years are equally hard if not harder for young men. Those who remain pure during the trying years of hormone overload get married and suddenly expect to experience everything they’ve seen on TV, read in books, or heard in the locker room at school. And why wouldn’t they? It’s all they know.
Suddenly, we have two Christians who’ve done their best to remain pure but may be facing some challenges ahead. Because the mindset “sex is bad” has been drilled into the young woman’s mind for as long as she can remember, she finds it hard to relate to her husband physically. This creates tension between the newlywed couple. The woman creates a false sense of guilt in her head, and the young man develops insecurity – he misreads the situation and assumes something is wrong with him or thinks he is not appealing to his new wife. And what God has purposed for good between a husband and wife becomes distorted.
The couples who failed to protect their purity may be facing even greater challenges. Flashbacks from the past, unmet expectations, and recurring guilt plague this couple. Soon distance forms between the man and woman as their pasts begin to consume much of their emotional energy.
I firmly believe that nothing makes the Enemy happier than a loveless marriage. Which leaves only one option – fighting back. Stand up for your marriage. Give your concerns, your guilt, your insecurities, your fears and your past to God. If you remained pure until your wedding day yet still struggle with your emotions and mindsets, pour out your heart to God. Ask Him to change your way of thinking to a mindset that will be honoring and pleasing to both Him and your husband.
If you made a sexual mistake in your past, you can still move on. Confess to God, ask Him to forgive you, and make it right from here on out. It’s never too late for a fresh start. God is a God of second chances. You have no excuse as to why you can’t fight back and save your marriage from the Enemy’s grasp.
The Subtlety of the Serpent
If the above issues aren’t a problem for you, and you consider your marriage to be on track physically and emotionally, there are still many danger signs to watch for. The old adage “Sex Sells” is unfortunately all too true. Sex remains dominant everywhere you look. Movies, television shows, sitcoms, novels, websites, advertisements, commercials…even the “family” channels on TV promote filth in disguise. Characters in both television programs and books sleep together before they’re married and promote “casual sex.” These shows are often humorous on a superficial level (hence their draw!) but they fail to show the emotional, and usually physical, consequences of such flippant choices.
This is obviously an extremely dangerous situation, not only to our youth of today but to married couples everywhere. How can we save our spouse from temptation from such filth when it’s everywhere? How can we protect our eyes and ears when it seems sex is plastered all over any form of entertainment? Are we supposed to never see movies? Never turn on the television set? Never pick up a novel? Never venture outside of our house?
There are some precautions that are easy to take. For example:
1. Before seeing a movie in theaters, I always check out this website: www.kidsinmind.com. This site has a rating scale of 1-10 on sexuality, violence, and language. Not sure what number on the scale is suitable for you or your spouse? You can read on for a detailed account of each category. (2 religious profanity, 3 mild obscenities, 4 F-words, a woman wears a low-cut dress, etc.) This website archives movies back for literally decades if not older – so you can check out not only movies currently released in theater, but old rentals, as well!
2. Ladies, if you love reading romance novels but hate having to flip past the graphic love scenes – switch over to Christian Fiction. Christian fiction is a growing genre and provides readers with a clean version of the same romance, adventure and escape they seek. Visit my blog for a list of fantastic Christian authors of whom I am a fan: www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com.
3. Turn off the TV! Some shows are still worth watching but to be honest, not that many. Spend that quality time with your spouse, instead. Take the dog for a walk together. Pretend to be kids again and go play in the neighborhood park. Work together on a goal or project – update a room in the house, start your spring cleaning, cook a gourmet meal, etc.
There are ways to protect your mind and your spouse’s. Filth going in will eventually come out creating painful, lingering consequences. A wife doesn’t want to wonder if her husband is comparing her to the partially or completely naked woman he saw on the big screen last night. A husband doesn’t want to guess if his wife finds him as attractive as the buff, long-haired hero in the romance novel she devoured that afternoon.
Allowing these insecurities in your spouse is not pleasing to God. As an act of love for both your Heavenly Father and your husband/wife, watch what you put into your mind. You might think it doesn’t affect you, but it does. No one is immune to sin. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.
One of the enemy’s greatest tricks is that of subtlety. You give an inch, he’ll take a mile. But you can beat him at his own game – with a lot of prayer and altering of your entertainment habits.
Take these steps toward a healthier marriage today. Filter what you pour into your mind – it’ll eventually seep into your heart. Be sensitive to the emotional and physical needs of your spouse. And remember, within the constraints of marriage, sex is not a four letter word but a unique blessing from God. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…” James 1: 17.
This article was originally published on Crosswalk Marriage in March 2007.
Betsy Ann St. Amant resides in northern Louisiana with her hubby and newborn daughter. She has a bachelor's degree in Christian Communications from Louisiana Baptist University and is actively pursuing a career in inspirational writing. Look for her novel RETURN TO LOVE by Steeple Hill Love Inspired on shelves July 2009. You may contact Betsy at betsystamant@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do relationships harm your health?


Do relationships harm your health?
This is one of those questions we are conditioned to ignore. There is an unspoken and unwritten concept that all humans need to be in some form of close relationship with one other human being.
But is this true? There are well publicised cases of  loving couples where  the death of one follows very quickly by the death of the other, could not live without them etc.
Merely from observation I would suggest that there are many thousand  times more situations where one part of a partnership survives for many years after the death of a loved one, This is such a common occurrence that it is not reported or even thought about, yet any complex for elder people contains far more singletons than couples.
Why this should be is not clear, after all most people marry a person of at least similar age, plus or minus 5 years. This would lead to both passing away at similar  ages. The times when  most men  died  young, because of the physical and hazardous nature of their working lives, has past. Women do still live longer, according to the statistics but I am sure this is changing, in our modern world it is childbearing that is the most physically demanding and dangerous thing most "western" humans do. Obviously I am leaving out members of the security, and armed forces.
So why is this situation so common? One possibility that should be considered is that human relationships can be, in fact I suggest commonly are, stressful and it is stress that brings about a great deal of our emotional, mental and physical  poor health.  It should not be assumed that marital stress automatically leads to a physical illness but it does reduce our capacity to resist  infection and it does lead to a deterioration of the immune system, even if this diminution is temporary it is still reducing our well-being. So often in relationships, whether sexually involved or not, one person suffers from reduced self esteem,because of this relationship. The most common is mother and daughter relationships, so many women have suffered from poor self esteem because of their mothers, How many times have we heard a middle aged lady say they could never please their mother, they were never good enough, they just wanted mother to say they were proud of them. There are so many other causes of low self esteem and it affects both men and women of all and any age group.
Low self esteem leads to stress. This may sound like a wild generalisation but experience shows that if one member of a relationship suffers from very low esteem, then stress is generated. The partner of the one with low self worth gets stress by the constant unending need to take such care never to say or do anything that even vaguely can be construed as a criticism.  This is so hard to do on a continual basis as even a little  light hearted banter can be tuned into an emotional battle. Third party comments directed at a person with low self worth, gets brought home to their partner, who often has no idea what has been said or by who but is expected to pick up the emotional fall out. This again is stressful to both members of this partnership.
Money usually adds the biggest stress of the lot, or rather the lack of money. The old saying is that money is the  root of all evil, I am not so sure about the ALL in this but lack of money is certainly one of the biggest stress inducers in our life. This is made far worse for present generations by the constant stream of advertising we are subject to, these advertisements are always suggesting we should have such a thing; live like some celebrity, always we should be happier with some other possession, while we may know this is false, it is a fact that  the never ending bombardment eats away at out subconscious and we end up dissatisfied with what we have. This adds stress to any and every relationship. Whilst an individual can accommodate going without, the pressure of knowing a loved one is going without, due to your inability to buy something, that is a much harder and more stressful situation. Being in debt raises this to yet further levels of tension, fear and stress.
Expectation can be managed by an individual but managing the expectations of others is so much more difficult; ask any manager of a football team.
So why do so many couples form and why do so many last so long? It can not always be because one is so dominant the other is just along for a simpler ride through life. It must have some mutual benefit, not just stress for one and  the needs of the other. So what is it that binds couples to together? I must me love, that emotional bonding that is so hard to define. May be an element of one feeling  improved self esteem because  the other one is dependant on them, is involved but that would not sustain a relationship through hard times.  Love is the binding that keeps couples together but the question is do relationships damage our health? We accept the compromises that have to be made in order to keep the daily mechanics of a shared space working. This means just about everything, from having windows open as you sleep through such things as what and when you eat  and  what is on TV have to be  a compromise, which generally means neither person gets all they wish for, love is what stops this dissatisfaction becoming  a cause for separation. Health is different, in a loving relationship we may argue our case over what is on TV but neither party will set out to damage the health of the other. The risk of reduced health and well-being tends to come from the desire to prove our love; from an intention to show how much we care and from a need to make life better for our loved one. The end result is that some times a relationship is bad for your health, paradoxically  through your own desire to show your cement and strengthen that relationship.
Loneliness can also damage your mental health. Many people need relationships of some kind or other  to keep them functioning in the business of life. Others can be self contained and actually do not feel lonely in any circumstances.
It is worth thinking about what  you do to yourself and your partner.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Take positive steps to boost your marriage

Too often we underestimate the power
Of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
Look for Parade magazine inside this Sunday's Bowling Green Daily News
A listening ear, an honest compliment,
Or the smallest act of caring, all of which
Have the potential to turn a life around.
— Leo Buscaglia
On Saturday mornings, we love to go out for breakfast as a family. We have been doing this for years. Most times we meet my in-laws for breakfast, but sometimes it’s just us. I love me a good breakfast!
I can recall a breakfast with Kathy and the kids that gave me more than I bargained for!
Emily, our daughter, was around 6, and Erik, our son, was around 1. When we got to the restaurant, we had a little waiting time, but then we were seated. So far, so good. Let me add this tidbit of info before I go any further – both kids had been battling colds leading up to this day.
Anyway, we hadn’t been seated very long when Emily stated that she had to use the restroom. She didn’t have to go while we were in the lobby waiting – right by the restrooms! The table must act as a diuretic – go figure!
I have realized, during our years of marriage, that if something is going to happen, it is going to be when Kathy is not there. Well, Kathy took her to the restroom, and I was sitting at the table with my little buddy. All of the sudden, Erik let out a sneeze that seemed to shake the table!
Now, I can change diapers with the best of them. If the kids vomited, I could clean it up. My only weakness is what comes out of the nostrils! When that happens, my gag reflex goes into overdrive! And that is exactly what happened!
I did not know that a head that small could contain the amount of stuff that came out of his nose! It was as if he had swallowed a tennis shoe and the shoestrings were coming out of his nose!! Naturally, the people sitting around us just had to look! I can still see their faces when they caught a glimpse!
People covered their mouths, dropped their forks, pushed their plates back, all while I was trying not to gag, grabbing every napkin I could find so I could wipe away the ton of snot coming out his little nose, as well as trying to keep his hands out of it! Actually, I am feeling a little queasy just telling this story! I was fervently praying that Kathy would hurry and get back! Out of nowhere, a hand offers me a bunch of napkins, and the voice of a sweet little lady said “It’s OK, honey, I’ve been there.”
About that time, Kathy and Emily got back. Everyone else ordered breakfast – I had lost my appetite!
So often, couples who are dealing with problems go into attack mode, especially under stress, attacking each other. Instead of attacking each other, we can choose to take some positive steps.
First, admit and seek help with the problem. It’s OK to let our spouse know that we need help. It does not mean you are weak.
Second, communicate and listen to each other. It’s easy to isolate when we’re having difficulty, but it’s actually one of the worst things we can do. We need to open up and talk to each other.
Third, support and affirm each other. There was such a relief when that sweet lady offered her help and encouragement. As a couple, we need to support our spouse, not belittle them, during difficult times.
Next, develop a sense of trust. Our spouse needs to know that we have their back, and that we won’t stab it.
Finally, have a sense of play and humor. Humor acts as a stress diffuser so we don‘t take ourselves so seriously. Sometimes all you can do is look back and laugh.
By the way, I did ask Erik if he minded me sharing this story with you, and he gave his OK.
You’re a great sport, buddy! I love you!
— Dr. Rick Roepke is a certified cognitive behavioral therapist and a certified Christian marriage and family therapist with Christian Family Institute.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

3 Reasons Why Sleep Makes You a Better Leader

Sleep is apparently a little known secret to good leadership that is critical to high performance and well-being. It is not just for beauty rest; there are plenty of leadership and health reasons for getting a good night's sleep.
It has unfortunately become acceptable and even encouraged in our society to stay busy. Nature cycles, and human beings are a part of this nature. When we disrupt our natural sleep cycles in favor or getting more done, we actually become less effective. Typically, because we don't take time to reflect on what is purposeful and important to us, we often find ourselves doing things that are not really relevant to our own goals and dreams.
Did you think, "What goals and dreams?" Some of us have lost sight of what is truly important to us.
We become addicted to to-do lists without holding a clear endpoint goal in mind. This is energetically inefficient and draining. There's typically no passion in this, and thus it becomes hard work instead of enjoyable. It can also take much longer to do when we are not focused. Also, because our society tends to devalue self-nurturance, play, and creative relaxing pursuits, many people feel guilty or invalidated by those around them when they attempt to live with more balance and restoration.
Well, it takes courage and vision to create space in your life so that you can stay healthy in spirit, mind and body. It takes courage to listen to your heart above the noise of the many distractions vying for your attention and your money. And it will take courage and focused attention to slow down in the evening early enough to get your mind and body prepared to go to sleep at a decent hour. Here are three benefits to encourage you to consider how sleep can help you to become a better leader:
1. Improved memory - Sleep helps to integrate learning. Greater focus and concentration improves with a good night's sleep. Great leaders are learners. Burning out your brain is not going to inspire anyone.
2. Stress Reduction - Sleep restores the body and mind and helps to balance well-being. When we are too stressed, it may be more difficult to sleep at night, and this can become a vicious cycle. When we don't get enough sleep, it makes it more difficult to deal with stress. Great leaders demonstrate a healthy lifestyle, as well as building their business. What good is having money and a booming business if you die of a heart attack in the process?
3. Bodily healing and rejuvenation - Sleep reduces inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with heart attack, stroke, premature aging, diabetes and arthritis. A healthy leader can be more productive and miss less time at work. A healthy leader is more likely to also be a happy leader. And a passionate, happy leader more easily inspires others!
On average, at least seven hours of sleep is best for most people. If you have troubling falling asleep at night, here are a few tips:
1. Start to wind your mind down about 90 minutes before bedtime. Avoid stimulating entertainment or intense concentration/study too close to bedtime. Meditation/mindfulness can be helpful in getting your mind and body to relax and reduces stress.
2. Avoid drinking alcohol, ideally, at least three to four hours before bedtime. Alcohol can interfere with deep, satisfying sleep. Skip the 'night cap' if you want to feel refreshed in the morning.
3. Avoid eating late dinners - eat at least two to three hours before lying down to sleep. It can help you to manage your weight, as well.
Life is not a sprint; it is a long-distance journey. It is shortsighted to abuse your mind and body as in the long run stress and lack of sleep not only makes you less productive, it can accelerate the aging process and even contribute to such things as Alzheimer's disease. Be wise. Be courageous. Take good care of yourself and expand the vision for your life - with purpose.
Author's Bio: 
Valencia Ray, M.D. teaches business owners and corporate leaders how their amazing brain can actually hijack personal power -- not in the abstract, but in the context of integrating business and personal life. Dr. Ray, a board-certified eye surgeon and medical business owner for over 20 years before selling her practice, shares her own life changing process. By sharing her story, she helps others to expand their vision and learn that by living with purpose and confidence, it is possible to have a more integrated, healthier lifestyle – with less struggle, more inner peace and more abundance.
For more information and to contact her regarding dynamic, inspirational keynotes, trainings in collaborative leadership and team building, entrepreneurship and coaching programs, visit her website at http://www.ValenciaRay.com.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tips to Identify the Difference Between Love and Lust

As a psychiatrist, I’ve seen how intense sexual attraction is notorious for obliterating common sense and intuition in the most sensible people. Why? Lust is an altered state of consciousness programmed by the primal urge to procreate. Studies suggest that the brain in this phase is much like a brain on drugs. MRI scans illustrate that the same area lights up when an addict gets a fix of cocaine as when a person is experiencing the intense lust of physical attraction. Also in the early stage of a relationship, when the sex hormones are raging, lust is fueled by idealization and projection--you see what you hope someone will be or need them to be--rather than seeing the real person, flaws and all.
In my book “Guide to Intuitive Healing” I discuss the difference between lust and love as well as techniques to enhance sexual wellness. Pure lust is based solely on physical attraction and fantasy--it often dissipates when the “real person” surfaces. It’s the stage of wearing rose colored glasses when he or she “can do no wrong.” Being in love doesn’t exclude lust. In fact, lust can lead to love. However, real love, not based on idealization or projection, requires time to get to know each other. Here are some signs to watch for to differentiate pure lust from love.
SIGNS OF LUST
  • You’re totally focused on a person’s looks and body.
  • You’re interested in having sex, but not in having conversations.
  • You’d rather keep the relationship on a fantasy level, not discuss real feelings.
  • You want to leave soon after sex rather than cuddling or breakfast the next morning.
  • You are lovers, but not friends.
  • SIGNS OF LOVE
  • You want to spend quality time together other than sex.
  • You get lost in conversations and forget about the hours passing.
  • You want to honestly listen to each other’s feelings, make each other happy.
  • He or she motivates you to be a better person.
  • You want to get to meet his or her family and friends.
  • Another challenge of sexual attraction is learning to stay centered and listen to your gut in the early stages of being with someone. This isn’t easy in the midst of hormones surging, but it’s essential to make healthy relationship decisions. Here are some tips to help you keep your presence of mind when you’re attracted to someone. This needn’t pull the plug on passion, but it’ll make you more aware so you don’t go looking for trouble.
    FOUR NEGATIVE GUT FEELINGS ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS (from Guide to Intuitive Healing ) Watch for:
  • A little voice in your gut says “danger” or “beware.”
  • You have a sense of malaise, discomfort, or feeling drained after you’re together.
  • Your attraction feels destructive or dark.
  • You’re uncomfortable with how this person is treating you, but you’re afraid that if you mention it, you’ll push him or her away.
  • Over the years, I’ve spoken at women’s prisons and domestic violence centers. My talk, "How Listening to Your Gut Can Prevent Domestic Violence," focuses on showing women how to identify and act on their inner voice. The gut senses a potential for kindness and violence. Many women who'd been in abusive relationships admitted, "My gut initially told me something was wrong--but I ignored it." The pattern was consistent. They'd say, "I'd meet a man. At first he'd be charming, sexy, sweep me off my feet. The electricity between us was amazing. I'd write off the voice in my gut that said 'you better watch out' as fear of getting involved. When later the abuse began, I was already hooked." Some gut instincts though, are anything but subtle. On a first date, one woman landed in the hospital with an IV, retching from "psychosomatic" abdominal pain. But did that stop her from seeing the guy? No. From these women we gain a real-world lesson: no matter how irresistibly attractive someone appears, close attention to your gut will enable you to see beneath exteriors.
    It’s so much nicer to be involved with someone your gut likes. Then you’re not always guarding against a basic suspicion or incompatibility. You must also give yourself permission to listen to your gut when it says, “This person is healthy for you. You are going to make each other happy.” To be happy, take a risk, but also pay attention to the warning signs I presented. This allows you to wisely go for the fulfilling relationships you deserve.
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    About Judith Orloff
    Judith Orloff MD, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and intuition expert, is author of the New York Times Bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself From Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life (Three Rivers Press, 2011) Her other bestsellers are Positive Energy, Guide to Intuitive Healing, and Second Sight. Dr. Orloff synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition and energy medicine. She passionately believes that the future of medicine involves integrating all this wisdom to achieve emotional freedom and total wellness. www.drjudithorloff.com
    FREE MINI VIDEO CLASSES ON YOUTUBE FOR YOU!
    Please check out “Dr. Orloff’s Living Room Series” to find out more about the special method Dr. Orloff recommends to remember your dreams and other topics to build the power within. Stop by www.youtube.com/judithorloffmd anytime.

    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    some good reasons you should have sex everyday

    If you thought that the only benefit of sex was, well, pleasure, here's some news for you. Making love is good for adults. And making love regularly is even better.
    Not only does it help you sleep well, relieve stress and burn calories, there are also several other reasons why you need to have sex more often.


    Improves cardiovascular health A recent study says that men who have sex more than twice a week, have a lesser risk of getting a heart attack, than men who had sex less than once a month.
    Increases immunity Regular lovemaking increases the level of the immune-boosting antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), which in turn makes your body stronger against illnesses like the common cold and fever.
    Reduces stress Stressed out with work or family problems? Don't let it affect your performance in the bedroom. Not only will having sex improve your mood, but a study has also proven that folks, who indulge in regular bedroom activities can handle stress better and are happier people.
    Relieves pain If you're using a headache as an excuse to not make love, stop doing that. Have sex instead, because, when you're about to have an orgasm, the level of the hormone oxytocin increases by five times. This endorphin actually reduces aches and pains.
    Promotes longevity When one has an orgasm, a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone is released. This improves immunity, repairs tissue and keeps the skin healthy. Men, who have at least two orgasms a week, live longer than men who have sex just once every few weeks.
    Increases blood circulation Because your heart rate increases when you have sex, fresh blood is supplied to your organs and cells. While used blood is removed, the body also expels toxins and other materials that cause you to feel tired.
    You sleep better The sleep that you get just after you've made love will be much more relaxed. Getting a good night's sleep will make you feel alert and overall healthy.
    Improves overall fitness If you find going to the gym mundane or working out at home a task, here's another way to help you lose the flab and keep in shape. Regular sex will do wonders for your waistline. Half an hour of lovemaking burns more than 80 calories.
    Increases levels of Oestrogen and testosterone In men, the hormone testosterone is what makes them more passionate in the sack. Not only will it make you feel way better in bed, but it also improves your muscles and bones, keeps your heart healthy and keeps a check on your cholesterol. In women, on the other hand, the hormone oestrogen protects them against heart disease and also determines a woman's body scent.