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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Gender Differences in Defining Intimacy

I just did a review for my parenting blog on a book titled, "Raising Boys by Design". The authors, psychologists who have a special interest in boys and brain science make a strong case for the importance of differences in male and female brains, behavior, and development. It reminded me of the huge gender differences that keep men and women from understanding each other.

Couples usually relate to books describing the differences in love language. One of the hardest differences to get past is the difference between how men and women understand intimacy. In surveys that question what women want most in relationships, nine out of ten women say intimacy. Men rarely rate intimacy first. How can men and women understand each other's love language if they speak separate emotional languages?

When my husband and I first married, I would put cards and notes with loving messages in his lunch bag or on his pillow. One day he said to me, "Honey, don't keep giving me cards and notes. I know you love me. You don't have to do that."

Women, be willing to tell your guy what makes you feel loved and ask what you can do to make him feel loved. Pay attention. Guys, pay attention to what your gal responds to. Exits and entrances are important. Take time to greet each other with a hug and kiss. Look at him/her. Does he/she look nice? What is new or different? Notice! Then say something about it.

It takes time to become a good lover. How would you rate on a scale of one to ten? Make a goal to improve that number. What you give you are likely to get back!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hawaii the Ultimate Getaway

Our retreat has changed.

What Makes Hawaii a Perfect Retreat?

Just as the artist puts the last touches to a perfect painting, one imagines God created the Islands last. The ocean gave birth to these priceless gems to give meaning to the word, "Paradise". It would be difficult to find uptight stressed looking rude people on the Big Island. At Kona Coast Resort even the maintenance workers smile and wave when we pass by. Millions of people come to the islands every year to rest, play, and leave their worries behind.

As we stepped off the plane on Thursday, we felt the energy of the Iron Man race scheduled for Saturday. Two thousand one hundred sixty six registrants representing 48 states and 52 countries participated this year. Interestingly, many of them brought their families.

Since we were here two years ago, the Sheraton Hotel has turned its bar and huge open lounge into a beautiful dinner restaurant. The old lounge had been our secret retreat. The hotel is about two miles from our timeshare and we would bring our books and sit in easy chairs listening to the ocean splash against the building. Tables and chairs have replaced the couches and coffee tables. Now guests have discovered our wonderful retreat and it is no longer ours.

Restaurants close and new ones open. We discover old ones we had not found before Fresh fish and fresh fruit appear on nearly every menu. Yesterday we had a delicious seafood omelet at Smashers on the Bay. Everett and I soak up the peace and beauty of our week in Hawaii. We come home with renewed energy and appreciation of the many years we have loved each other.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Salads and Conflict

I solicited pictures of salads for my last blog post. Several of my friends responded. After I posted a picture I liked, my cousin sent a picture of a beautiful salad he had while visiting India. Darn! I liked his picture and I wanted to use it. In 58 years of marriage there must have been other conflicts triggered by salads.

Oh yes! I remember one. Not long after the shock of Everett's eating my left-over salad without asking, he began talking about the wonderful potato salad his mother made. Wanting to please him, I made a potato salad the next day. He didn't comment. The next night we invited some friends for dinner. Conversation turned to potato salad. "I haven't had potato salad for a long time", Everett said. Shocked, I said, "We had potato salad last night." "Oh," he responded, "Was that potato salad?" Being somewhat fragile back then, I think I felt hurt and probably angry, too. Our guest responded, "Everett, I'll make you a potato salad."

I learned Everett didn't like my potato salad because I put pickles and olives in it. When I got this information, I couldn't wait to see the salad our friend had promised. To my great delight she came with a "loaded" potato salad. Of course, he graciously thanked her and told her how good it was.

We resolved that conflict quickly. Everett always makes the potato salad. By the way, I like them, vinegar and all.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Identify Trigger Words and Actions

What Are Your Trigger Words?

Some trigger words are easier to identify than others. Common trigger words: "you always, you never, you should, you need to, I love you, but", cause problems in all relationships. The same words or actions can mean different things to different people. Pay attention to words and actions that instantly cause a reaction.

Trigger Actions

Action triggers lead to wonder and confusion. "What did I do to get such a negative reaction?" My husband and I had an issue over property rights. It took years for us to identify this source of conflict and begin to work on resolving it. Some trigger actions that resulted in an intense reaction from me: using my computer, comb, scissors, pencils, pens, and other personal items without asking permission; assuming everything I buy and own belonged to everyone in the family.

One weekend Everett and I went to a marriage retreat. The leader asked couples to write down something they didn't like about their partner. Everett wrote, "She is possessive." I was surprised because I am generous. It didn't take long to understand our conflict was about property rights.
I grew up in a family who believed in authoritarian parenting. My parents micro-managed my behavior and emotions. They were loving generous people who believed strongly in property rights. If you wanted to enter my bedroom, you were expected to knock. If you wanted to use my pencil, you needed to ask me to use it. So property rights became a huge part of my sense of self.

Everett is the next to the youngest of seven children. His parents had few rules. He signed his own report cards and controlled his own life. He never had a bedroom of his own. He slept with two older sisters, had no drawer or space of his own. He had no concept of property rights. During our first week of marriage I brought home a salad I hadn't finished eating at a restaurant. When I looked for my salad the next day, it was gone. I asked Everett, "What happened to my salad? He said, "I ate it." I said, "You ate it? You didn't ask me!" He looked puzzled. I didn't care if he ate it, but it was my salad. It took us years to identify the cause of this kind of conflict.

Look for the words and actions that trigger conflict. Then avoid them, clarify them and eventually get rid of them. I must admit this one still comes up sometimes. It helps to laugh at it when you understand it and good will abounds.