It’s Just a Hallmark Holiday, Right?

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve grown to wonder something.

When exactly did love become a noun? Isn’t it supposed to be a verb? An action verb, at that? And if I’ve learned nothing in my years on this earth, I’ve also learned that there are two things that are not for wimps. Long termed relationships and aging. And sometimes I think aging might be easier because there’s really nothing that can be done about the passing of time except maybe make healthy choices to make that passage a bit easier.

Love, the lasting kind, takes a lot of work. It’s not all roses, hot bodies, and rampant sex despite how much I adore the books and movies that tout this message. Is some of that a part of it? Absolutely! Would they be so popular otherwise? I may not be a therapist, but here’s my take on the impact of these things:

  • Roses, candies, cards, and romantic gestures- They let your partner know that you’re thinking of them. That they’re a priority to you and that (especially if you’ve been together for longer periods of time) you aren’t taking their presence in your life for granted.
  • Hot bodies- Okay, so more often than not, this isn’t always your own or your partner’s, but rather the viewing of others for the purpose of fantasies (hopefully shared and communicated with one another to keep your relationship fresh and interesting). But if it is yours, even better! The message your sending is that you care to keep yourself in tip top shape so your partner can admire and enjoy your physique for years to come….and that you want to make sure you live a nice long life so that you can spend as much time with the people you love as humanly possible.
  • Rampant sex- So over time this may slow down from 3-5 times a day to several times a week/month. The thing about sex, though, is that it’s hugely important so that you maintain the physical and emotional connection with your partner. Listen, that hot and heavy, can’t-take-my-hands-off-of-you passion can be cyclical. But that doesn’t mean that shared comfort and vulnerability is anything to turn your nose at. That vulnerability and connection is a form of communication, too. It is a type of comfort, release, and a way of sharing your most intimate self.

Think for a second about a parent/child relationship.  When a child screws up, does a parent just walk away because it’s too hard? Do they quit caring? Do they find another child that might be “easier” to deal with? But isn’t that what we do all too often in relationships when the going gets tough?

How many times have you heard someone talk about a marriage and end with a shrug and “if it doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced?” Is that really giving a relationship a fair shake?

My heart has been aching for a few friends who’ve recently come to me, speaking about their relationships in terms of ending them. And don’t get me wrong… I’m well aware that there are plenty of things that can happen to permanently destroy a relationship. And I’ll always support my friends, regardless. But there’s so much damage done to a person’s spirit when relationships end and the connection, the trust, and the partnership are severed.

I’m lucky. My guy and I have been through ups and downs…22 years worth. Regardless of all that life has thrown at us, he’s always been my very best friend. When I’m hurting, he’s the first one to open his arms and ask if I need a hug. He cheers me on, and I do the same thing for him. He understands who I am and accepts me unconditionally, even when he doesn’t always agree with the decisions I make. But he’s always in my corner, cheering me on in the good times. Building me back up through my failures. He listens to me. Believes in my dreams. And I do the same for him.

And we talk. Even when it’s not the easiest conversation. Or when the truth hurts. We still talk. And when one of us screws up, we apologize and mean it. If one of us is still holding on to hurt or anger, we share that, too, until we’re finally able to let things go. There have been times when we’ve both fought with each other and for each other, though as we’ve grown together, the “with each other” doesn’t happen as much.

And for those of you who have wondered how he handles the racy stories I write? He grins and shrugs. Does he read them? Bits and pieces every now and then. The girl on girl action scene in Four One Night? Yeah…. LOL! His response? Low key, like him. He just nodded and said it was hot.

He’s the other part of my heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s work. Constant work. Worthwhile work. And the reward of him being such a core part of my life? Worth every sacrifice. I’ve told him that when I imagined my “dream man,” I never pictured him, but I thank God every day that he sent me everything I didn’t know I wanted and needed. Things I never dreamed of asking for past the superficial stuff.

Aren’t I lucky?

Now it’s your turn…. Share your thoughts on love. (By the way, you don’t have to agree with me or my thoughts. I’d still like to hear from you.)

If Love Is A Battlefield….

…is sex the weapon?

How many times have we all heard-

“Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?”

I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to dislike that statement now that I’m older and understand it better. Why, you ask? I’m about to tell you.

Sometimes I wonder how it is that we still don’t seem to have put this statement together with the historical idea of women as chattel. First, let me clarify, I’m not about to say that anyone should be in a rush to lose their virginity as it’s not really worth anything. Not. At. All. Most of you have followed me long enough that you know I find beauty in virtue and purity, just as I find beauty in sensual pleasures.

What I am saying is that the originating statement came from a time where virginity was just another bartering tool used to bring the highest price possible for selling off your daughter to improve the family’s social and financial standing….and is as old as time. Well, a time when women didn’t really have much say in how their own lives could/would be shaped. Personally I’m grateful not to be living in that time, but I wonder if we’re really so far removed from some of their ideologies, especially when it comes to sex. In fact, there are times when I research back on that time and wonder if they weren’t more progressive in their thinking after the initial marriage than we are today.

Here’s the thing, if you’ve still got your purity intact, to me, the gifting is in finding someone worthwhile to share that special moment with…who will help enrich the experience by their mere presence. The reality is, you only have your virginity once, so it should be special….a celebration of transition in life. Sharing it should happen with someone who appreciates the moment and you. If that means someone you love, someone you like a lot, or the person you intend on sharing the rest of your life with, great! It should not be the carrot dangled at the end of a stick a la “I’ll let you have my virginity if you ‘put a ring on it’.” Yes, I’m saying I don’t agree with the Beyoncé song. I just don’t think ultimatums are a good way to kick off a relationship.

Now you’re saying, “But Kitt, what about those of us who aren’t virgins?” Let’s be honest, there are more of you reading this blog than there are of the “chaste” variety. Am I right? 😉 Well, I’m so glad you asked…because it was something that happened a couple of weeks ago that prompted this whole post.

My dear friend, Ande Lyons, interviewed Drs. Chuck and Jo-Ann Bird aka The Love Birds, relationship counselors and clinical sexologists, on her Loving And Lasting radio show about how to keep your marriage/relationship sexually satisfying. One of the calls they took was from a woman who was starting a newer relationship. She’d discussed the fact that she was a firm believer in starting as she meant to continue. For her, that meant she discussed how important sex and intimacy was for her.

I thought what The Lovebirds said…”Good for her!” Begin as you mean to continue, right? She set her expectations early. She opened the lines of communication regarding sex immediately! Her candor regarding her desires was refreshing…and not usually the norm in many relationships.

Instead, what we usually see is more weaponization of sex. How many times have you heard or seen people trade sex for status and a certain type of lifestyle? These are the “I won’t date you unless you’re in a certain financial bracket or have a job I consider impressive enough to brag about to my friends.” We all know them. They value people by the size of their wallets, etc. Those are the obvious ones….and most of us agree that it’s not really a good place to expect any real happiness or intimacy. We feel for the poor sucker that gets caught in that honey trap (usually because they fail to see past the superficial).

Personally, if you are intrigued enough with a person to give dating the ol’ ‘college try’, I don’t see the issue with taking the rest of him/her for a test drive, too. Imagine what would happen if folks knew whether or not they were sexually compatible from the beginning. What if you discussed your likes and dislikes early? Might it not set the tone for sharing what’s working and not working for you in the bedroom in the future? Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable bringing up fantasies as the relationship progresses? Discussing different sexual avenues you’d like to explore together as the trust grows? In fact, August McLaughlin did a great post nailing on the head so many of the reasons why it’s okay to test the waters when she took on Steve Harvey’s book touting why women should wait 90 days before engaging.

Don’t get me wrong, there are sometimes valid reasons to wait. For example, if you know that  sex has a way of becoming a huge distraction from everything else for you, you might want to wait. Why? To give yourself an opportunity to really get to know the person you’re getting intimate with before you let yourself feast. What isn’t cool is if the reason you’re holding back is because you’re afraid he/she won’t respect you if you “put out.” This isn’t high school. If that is truly a concern you feel with the person you’re dating…he/she is probably not the right person for you. A truly decent person won’t judge you because you are honest with them and want to create a physical intimacy. Pardon my language, but only a$$holes tend to sit there, throwing stones (and we all know what they say about people in glass houses who do that).

Even more bothersome is when sex becomes weaponized once you’re actually in the relationship, but it happens all too often. In fact, I’ve even heard folks giving advice to do just that and wanted to scream! What am I talking about? Say your partner has done something that ticked you off. Instead of talking about it rationally and calmly, you decide to sleep in the other room. You want something done…. You offer sex as the reward if they do it, or threaten to withhold if they don’t.  This makes sex a threat and a weapon.

Why do we wield it this way when intimacy is so crucial to relationships? Although finances is a large cause of divorce, so is loss of intimacy. I talked to a gal pal a few months back who didn’t feel important in her relationship with her husband. One of the things that stood out to me was the fact that she said if he’d just touched her casually or kissed her for no reason other than he wanted to, she would know she mattered. Sex had become his weapon that he only brought out when he sensed that she was angry, he wanted to shut her up or escape true intimacy…at least that’s the way it felt to her. I know just as many women who use sex the same way she described.

The funny thing is she blames herself….because she allowed it to happen. Had those intimate discussions happened in the beginning, things might have been different. Had she set her expectations from the start…and allowed them to grow together in their passion and discovery, maybe she wouldn’t feel so unimportant.

Sex should be a tool to bring you closer together, not a weapon to hold over someone else. And if, by chance, you find yourself in this predicament….it’s not hopeless. That’s the other thing I loved about The Love Birds….they offered help for those who can’t fix it on their own. Relationships aren’t always easy, but they should be cherished.

Have you ever used sex as a weapon? What did you learn from doing so? Have you ever had sex used against you? How did it make you feel? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said? Share with me…. Whether you agree or don’t, I’d love to hear from you. I learn so much from what you guys share…and I love you all for it!