15
Dec


Martha Mahan’s husband of 39 years is, in her words, a “professional nagger.”

Fred had been nagging Martha for some time to put away the laundry rather than just taking it out of the dryer, folding it and leaving it in piles in the bedroom.

Recently, Mahan started a ritual. She wrapped the clothes in beautiful blue paper, tied it up with string, and placed her husband’s favorite Vienna Sausages in a can on top of the pile.

“To transcend all this nagging, you have to put yourself into a playful, humorous, creative mode,” says Mahan.

Fred still puts the laundry away himself, but he doesn’t seem to mind anymore.

What death and taxes are to life, nagging is to marriage. But it doesn’t have to be the bane of anyone’s existence. If the two of you learn how to laugh at and have fun with nagging, it will only make life sweeter.

One of the secrets of a long, successful marriage is being able to nag — or respond to nagging — playfully and lovingly, according to cognitive therapist Kathleen Burton.

In fact, a wife’s nagging can be good for her husband’s health, says a study from the University of Chicago. According to the study’s lead researcher, sociologist Ross Stolzenberg, men are conditioned in our culture not to think about their health. A wife plays a valuable role in this dynamic, at least on the health front.

Burton says the playful approach works only in a relatively loving and happy relationship. In the case where one nags compulsively or the other refuses to budge, the defenses are so strong for one or both that not even humor and creativity can break them down.

Even healthy relationships demand nagging with discretion. Here’s how to nag like a pro:

Don’t dish it if you can’t take it.
Before you tell your spouse to get out there and exercise, you had better be prepared to throw on your sweats and jump in the action yourself, says Burton.

Nag as a team.
Instead of nagging your spouse about walking the dog, suggest you do it together.

“Would you like some company when you walk the dog?

Confess your own sins.
Chances are you’ve procrastinated on a few occasions. Your nagging should acknowledge this fact: “I know I haven’t gotten to paying the bills as I said I would, but could you clean out the car so at least one of us does what we said?”

Present options.
Sometimes the task at hand is more important to the one doing the nagging than it is to the one being nagged. Acknowledge this by offering alternatives: “Maybe we ought to just break down and buy a doghouse rather than have you build one.”

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Category : Blog
17
Nov


Reader Question:

I used to have an active sex life, but lately I have no interest in sex with my girlfriend. Part of it may be because I feel criticized and unappreciated by her. She often compares me to ex-lovers. I’ve turned to magazines and fantasies to fulfill my needs. Is something wrong with me or what?

My Answer: Your question seems to be, “Since I’ve been feeling sexually pressured I’ve lost my desire for my partner. What should I do?”

This is a common experience. Of course it’s alarming. But it’s only confusing because, like many people, you assume that your sexual desire for someone should remain constant in the face of strong, repetitive, unpleasant emotions. This is simply unrealistic.

You mention many reasons to be turned off to your girlfriend: feeling criticized, unappreciated and compared to ex-lovers. I’m sure you feel angry, hurt, powerless and defensive.

Notice, however, that your sexuality has not turned off altogether: You still masturbate and fantasize about other women. It sounds as if you are functioning quite reasonably under the circumstances. You feel sexual, but you hesitate to connect sexually with a girlfriend with whom you don’t feel safe.

There is important information in this experience. When you stop desiring someone — or your body stops cooperating — there’s a reason. It’s a good sign that you’re sensitive enough to be so bothered by the hostility and lack of intimacy in this relationship. What should you do? First you need to decide if you want to try to repair the relationship. If you do, ask your girlfriend if she will do it with you. If she insists that the problem is all you, or demands that you fix it yourself, ask her again — urgently and without criticism. If she still won’t agree to work with you, the relationship is shot and it’s time to move on.

If she is interested in working on things with you, a couples counselor may be able to help. Go see one right away. Fortunately, there’s plenty two people can do without a counselor. Talk honestly about the kind of relationship you each want. Talk about what you need from each other. Talk about what gets in the way of giving that to each other.

For example, you can tell her that you love sex with her, and imagine having it, say, once a week or so. If this contrasts too drastically with what she wants, it’s time to separate. But if she’s interested in great sex about once a week, or you can imagine wanting sex more often when you’re feeling close, then you two can talk about how to create that. In your case, feeling accepted for exactly who you are and establishing friendly ways of talking to each other are important aspects of feeling sexually alive and available.

This kind of conversation is often difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. But grown-up relationships cannot thrive without such conversations. The only alternatives are an angry, drama-filled relationship, or a very quiet, lonely house.

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Category : Blog
27
Oct


Role-playing involves a special relationship to sexual fantasy. It requires that you consciously acknowledge your fantasy, and that you share that fantasy with a partner who consents to participate in it.

The simplest kind of role-playing involves a person pretending to be different than he or she typically is. A meek person may pretend to be demanding; a voracious person may pretend to be inhibited.

Some role-playing involves specific roles or even scripts: doctor/patient, queen/foreign prince, Barbra Streisand/Ross Perot. Couples can simply imagine themselves in these roles and speak a sentence or two about them. “You haven’t had a checkup in two years. I better examine your prostate.” Or they can get more involved, speaking in role for most of the sexual encounter. A few simple props such as an apron or baseball cap can make these games even more engaging.

Erotic role-playing requires certain psychological and relationship tools. You have to believe that you’re eligible to step outside the usual limits of your everyday personality. You have to not care how you look or sound. You have to transcend the idea that certain words, behaviors, or attitudes belong only to people who are “sexy.” You and your mate have to trust that you won’t be judged by each other.

Another challenge involves reentering real life after role-playing. The couple who can look at each other after playing mentor’s wife/apprentice and agree that “we can do anything we want, now let’s go make dinner” have an important tool for keeping their relationship exciting.

Role-playing contains no predictions about how people really wish to behave; in fact, the contrary is often true. Role-playing is a safe arena in which to live another life without any of its disadvantages.

Ultimately, erotic role-playing is a way to celebrate two of our most divine gifts: imagination and sexuality.

Tips:

  • If you’re not sure how your mate will handle your fantasies, ask about it when you’re not in bed.
  • If your role-play involves power games, decide on a word that means “I need to stop the game for a minute.”
  • Don’t assume you know what your mate really wants in life based on fantasies or role-play.

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Category : Blog
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