Ready For Sex?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image28422205One popular dating advice website has published what it calls the “Sexual Readiness Checklist.” It is amazingly complex, reflective of the complex nature of intimate relations between people. At the core of the checklist are 31 different items for a young person to consider before getting intimate with their partner. As an example, one says, “I can handle being disappointed, confused, or upset, as can my partner…” I wonder if the readers of the checklist truly understand exactly how “disappointed, confused, or upset” they may end up being, if they truly understood what was about to happen to their person in any sexual encounter (save one, to be covered later).

The National Institute for Sexual Health published a landmark book several years ago. This group had previously studied the impact of early unplanned pregnancies and STIs on sexual health. This time they took an entirely different approach; they studied what sex itself does to the person. They published a book called Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children (Joe McIlhaney and Freda McKissic Bush, available in our bookstore) which reveals, as they put it, “startling new information on how sex affects our brains…we do know that sex can literally change a person’s brain, influencing the thought process and affecting future decisions.”

In other words, there is something so intense happening when two people engage in sex that it profoundly influences who we are from that point forward. When we consider possible disappointment, confusion, and upset, I do not know if anyone could be prepared for the potential relational problems that await the person who chooses poorly when it comes to sex.

Some of the most interesting research in the book deals with chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin. These chemicals bathe our brain during sexual intimacy and have a powerful influence on our relationships and behavior. Continue reading Ready For Sex?

Meet the Right Person?

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This idea our society promotes is pervasive – I’ve been married now for nearly 3 decades, and when I share the amazing fact that I am very happily married, the response is usually, “Well, you’re lucky you married the right person.”

I have to let you know something although it isn’t pretty. I did not marry the right person. My lovely wife for sure did not marry the right person! At least not in the sense that the world means “right.”

The general understanding of right person is that of there being a certain special someone with whom you can easily relate, and a long-term relationship will just naturally work out. So often, when people first step into a relationship it can seem that this is actually happening. Everyone wants to meet the right person.

In fact, while teaching a relationship seminar once, I had a young husband dreamily proclaim, “The worst day with Jenny is better than the best day alone.” So many of the young ladies in the class teared up, there were sweet sighs heard throughout the room. I was left momentarily in silence; do I tell him the truth?

Do I tell him that the day will come when the chemicals which cause him to feel strong affection, attachment, desire, and care will wear off? Do I shatter his dangerous wrong-headed idea that the intense feelings which he thinks is love is actually not love, and that the day will come when he will actually feel, anger, frustration, and even indifference toward his bride? Do I shock him by telling him that there will come a day when he will silently wish he was alone?

I ended up gently leading the whole class toward the truth that even if you married a person who seemed so right in the beginning, at some  point the feelings people call love will wear off. This is the point in a relationship where either you are prepared to actually love that person to keep the relationship strong, or you find yourself woefully unequipped – and the relationship fails.

So where do we find the right person? In a sense, you will not find them. But in another sense, you can strive to become the right person. A successful, long-term relationship requires maturity, courage, unselfishness, submission, and a willingness to suffer. That’s certainly not the way Hollywood portrays it! But it is the truth.

If you are to have a great long-term relationship, then you must discipline yourself to put others ahead of you. If you are still living at home with your family, start submitting to and serving them! Character is built day-by-day, block-by-block. Cook for your parents, clean the kitchen, do the laundry, change diapers, take care of your grandparents, serve your neighbors, and anything else that requires you to stop worshipping your own needs.

Stop pouting when things do not go your way. Learn to suffer and put the needs of others first. In my 27 years of a fantastic marriage, there were seasons when my bride did not have much to give. Due to childbirth, emotional struggles, and the demands of life – there were times when I had to lovingly serve her for days, weeks, or even months when she could do little for me.

And guess what? There were also times when I had very little to give. And she did the same for me – loving me for months on end and receiving virtually nothing in return.

That’s the way long-term love works. It is hard, it involves suffering, and in the long run – it brings joy and great comfort to life.

Want to find the right person? Start working on the person in the mirror. More to follow…

 

Shacking Up, Marriage, or What?

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image3292869The enchanting actress Diane Kruger of National Treasure fame put it this way:

“Without sounding pessimistic, I learned that I don’t believe in marriage. I believe in a commitment you make in your heart. There’s no paper that will make you stay.” (Glamour Magazine interview)

She expresses an understandable and widely held sentiment. A lot of people look at the failure of marriages around them and decide that maybe it’s time to try some other type of relational arrangement.

The question is; what really works? Can you, as Ms. Kruger implies, just trust your heart to guide you into a great, safe, fulfilling, and long-term relationship?

What this actress and many other folks in our society are recommending is cohabitation. This is also known as living together, shacking up, or other colloquialisms. Regardless of what you call it, we do not have to wonder – the statistics are in. Continue reading Shacking Up, Marriage, or What?