Unification News for April and May 2000
Editors; Kim K. B., Cathi Close and Larry Moffitt
A publication devoted to discovering life’s treasures!
Welcome to our brand new feature! We are excited and hopeful about this effort to extend ideas, resources, testimonies, stories and inspiration to our readers focusing on important topics which affect us all.
The theme of this first issue is LOVE and MARRIAGE. We, of course, realize that there is no end to what can be said or learned regarding this topic. However, our aim is to promote and encourage reflection, understanding and growth in our efforts to work toward Love in Marriage. It’s not an easy task for any couple and we can all benefit from support and encouragement in this worthy and essentially, divine endeavor.
Through this issue, we hope that you will find a bit of information which can help you personally or as a couple or maybe just something that will make you smile! As this newsletter develops we hope to hear from many of you on this and other subjects. The best way to learn is from each other! Our stories, our struggles and victories, our realizations, our practical efforts ... all of these are the gifts we have to give each other.... the gifts that can really make a difference in our lives. Please enjoy what we have to offer here and share with us as well!
To My Dear and Loving Husband
By Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) Published in 1678 in "The Tenth Muse"
If ever two were one, then surely we. If ever man were lov’d by wife, then thee; If ever wife was happy in a man, Compare with me ye women if you can. I prize thy love more than whole Mines of gold, Or all the riches that East doth hold. My love is such that Rivers cannot quench, Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense. Thy love is such I can no way repay, The heavens reward thee manifold I pray. Then while we live, in love let’s so persevere, That when we live no more, we may live ever.
Anne Bradstreet was born in England in approximately 1612, married Simon Bradstreet at the age of 16, and two years later, they, with her parents, came to the Massachusetts Bay colony with the John Winthrop party. Her father and her husband were later both Governors. She said that her poetry was composed under many handicaps—she was the mother of eight children, and she wrote in a time when, (in her words), women’s hands were better fitted to a needle than a pen.
Working Together toward Marriage Enrichment
by Cheryl Wetzstein
In Washington, D.C., six couples have been meeting almost every month as a marriage enrichment group, Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment (ACME). This grass-roots national group was founded around 25 years ago by a Quaker couple in North Carolina, who became weary of seeing so many divorced couples. ACME is designed to greatly reduce the chances of divorce and greatly multiply chances for a happy, loving, successful marriage.
Not every one of our D.C. couple's has made every meeting, but those that can come enjoy the exercises and the time spent together being a couple with other couples. Once, some of us held our meeting at a community pool on Adult Night and played water volleyball after the meeting. Another night, we played Foosball at one couple's home after the meeting. On a more serious note, the things we've learned in the exercises has helped improve virtually everyone's communication skills—which are tested at least once a year, and usually once a day.
Specifically, at the marriage enrichment meeting, which is held at a different couple's home each month and lasts as little as 2 hours, the couples gather and talk to each other in front of other couples in what is known as "public dialogue."
The beauty of this technique is that it allows husband and wife to talk to each other (about what happened that month, or their concerns, or their gratitude for something) in front of other couples. When the first couple is done, another couple talks to each other in front of the group.
When a couple does this, it demonstrates their personality and thinking and communication skills to the other couples. As the couples practice talking to each other in front of other couples, everyone "learns" about what works and what doesn't work in communication between husband and wife. There is no cross-counseling between couples, no advice given, and things that are talked about are not to be discussed outside the group (or really even within the group). It's all skill building between couples, learned by modeling.
The "public dialogue" can be long, with each couple talking. But sometimes only one couple wants to do it and this part of the evening is brief. (It's OK not to dialogue in front of the group.)
The couples then are given a marriage enrichment exercise (paper and pencils) and go to rooms by themselves to answer questions and discuss each other's answers. The exercises are simple but can be profound—ranging from answering questions about each other's likes and dislikes, to answering questions like "It makes me happy when you..." The exercises are also designed to get into all the tough marriage issues like intimacy, money, anger, time management, goals in life, etc.
After the couples have finished their exercises, they gather together and there's time again for "public dialogue." This is where couples talk with each other in front of the group about what they learned or realized in the exercise.
After time, the groups, which can meet for years and years, get to know each other and strengthen and bond as couples. I and my husband find the exercises to be stimulating, enlightening and enjoyable. We also find the experiences to be principled and positive—and a breath of fresh air.
The ACME model has husband and wife sitting together, knees touching, hands holding, looking in each other's eyes, focusing and talking and listening to each other "only" (not the kids, not the job, not the mission) for a lengthy period of time. It teaches couples how to respect each other, renew their affection for each other, solve problems, and talk to each other with dignity, love and even admiration.
Our hope is that more couples will gather together, even with friends
from their community, to form marriage enrichment groups (usually six couples). The motto says it all: "building better marriages, starting with our own."
Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment (A.C.M.E.)
A.C.M.E. is a network of persons working for better marriages. Founded in 1973 by Drs. David and Vera Mace, internationally known marriage and family specialists, A.C.M.E. helps couples develop strong, healthy marriage relationships.
A.C.M.E.’s aim is growth in marriage - to offer opportunities for couples to build on their strengths, and to equip them with skills and resources to develop a more satisfying relationship.
"The mission of the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment is to promote enrichment opportunities and resources that strengthen couple relationships and enhance personal growth, mutual fulfillment and family wellness."
Many of A.C.M.E.’s enrichment activities are conducted with small groups of couples. Activities include weekend retreats, on-going enrichment groups, skills-learning classes, workshops, conferences, seminars, and local chapter programs. These take place in living rooms, schools, retreat settings, churches, and conference centers. Also, for members a bi-monthy newsletter is included.
For more information; contact: The Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment 502 N. Broad St. PO Box 10596 Winston-Salem, NC 27108 (800) 634-8325 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Smart Marriages/Happy Families Conference gathers the experts to share the latest innovations in the field of marriage and family education and to discuss solutions to the dilemma of family breakdown. The conference welcomes counselors, therapists, clergy, family life educators, lay leaders, teachers, policy makers, journalists, AND the PUBLIC. Education through teaching preventative and marriage strengthening skills is emphasized as an alternative to therapy that is often too little, too late.
Check out the Smart Marriages/Happy Families website for helpful and practical information on the upcoming conference, extensive directory listings of excellent books and tapes covering every conceivable aspect of marriage and parenting, directory of programs, articles and information, programs for youth and school groups and much more. This website is an excellent resource for anyone seeking to improve their marriage and family dynamics.
The fourth annual Smart Marriages/Happy Families Conference will be held in Denver, Colorado, June 29 - July 2.
For more info contact: Coalition for Marriage Family and Couples Education 5310 Belt Rd. NW Washington, DC. 20015-1961 www.smartmarriages.com (202) 362-3332 Diane Sollee, Director
Thoughts, Ideas And Reflections on ... Love and Marriage.
Keeping the Balance and the Peace!
by Martin Kampitch
Linda and I are different in many ways. She takes a long time doing simple tasks and I usually breeze through things quite quickly sometimes doing more than one thing at a time. Of course she argues that she is more proficient than I since she "does everything correctly" as opposed to my "doing things hurriedly."
Sometimes we argue and defend our ways and sometimes we just shrug it off and laugh about it. So depending on our attitudes at the time, we can argue and complain or just see how each of us is different.
We have found that taking time to listen to each other and just spending sometime together is quite valuable. We have a home business and so we see each other a lot but it doesn't mean that we actually talk to each other. So...we make Monday our day. We usually drive out to some nice area along the water and take a walk and have lunch. We'll talk about different things and just the fact that we are in a different environment contributes to our experience together.
I am a very artistic person and Linda always tells me how she was taken off the honor roll because she got a C in Art. So when it comes to decorating the house she is not really into it...so instead of arguing about it I take responsibility for it. She may tag along but I initiate it and it works out. I think it's best to switch roles whenever possible for the sake of peace in the relationship. I don't think a man always has to behave as a man nor a woman behave as a woman...the objective is to make things work out for the best.
Linda and I appreciate each other a lot. We argue and disagree on somethings but in general we know how each of us is contributing to our family and when we "see" this it helps us to keep a perspective. One of the things it does is prevent each of us of taking each other for granted. I guess we’ve learned to become a team and depend on each other and somewhere along the way became good friends.
The physical structure of man is in a reciprocal relationship of left and right. This is because two halves are completely stuck together. Do you think it's good to have just high or just low? To make harmony is good. Centering on the horizon, fish live below, and mammals and birds live above. When a harmony of love is realized between the two opposite sexes, a circular movement is formed. If the two opposite sexes unite with love and bear fruit, God will come down and man will rise toward God, meeting at the center point. God will become the central point of the circle, allowing the circle to become a sphere. From this central point, God can reach out in all four directions. This point is where the harmony of love is realized, life begins, and mutuality starts. This is because there is a strength of love. Therefore, the power that activates and embraces everything in the universe is love. - Sun Myung Moon
I was always under the impression having been single till almost age 30 that married people have great love lives. Now eight years and four kids later I have had the painful realization that often married people's love lives are severely challenged. In fact I sometimes ask myself when and how the four young ones got created? But seriously, my husband Tony and I decided we would take control and institute date night.
We thought about hiring a baby sitter and breaking free for the night and going out dancing till the wee hours but we never had even the energy after feeding the kids to make it to the phone to call the baby sitter and further more it just isn't easy to find a teenager you trust so we came up with another plan.
Each Friday night we would go to the local video store and rent a movie. We would prepare a treat for just us grown ups, usually something we both liked like chocolate or ice cream or both and I would pop popcorn. We would get the kids in bed and then evening was ours. We would sit together downstairs and if the weather was cold make a fire and watch our movie.
It was so nice to have that special time just for us. I remember my six year old asking about why she couldn't join us so I said it was our special time alone then she asked why we needed time alone and I explained it was because we were sweethearts and that sweethearts need time alone. She kind of blushed but I could tell it made her very happy to know that her mommy and daddy loved each other and were sweethearts.
Date night has had its challenges like the birth of another baby. It's hard to explain to a wee babe that her mommy and daddy need to be without her for a period of time each week but soon enough she will be snoozing with her big sisters upstairs so we can see our movie again, just the two of us. Though most families lead very busy lives these days date night is a simple way to make very important time for couples to appreciate each other.
What’s Sex Got to Do With it??
by Pamela A. Moffatt
One thing to keep in mind as we age and the physical body deteriorates is that lovemaking also takes other forms of expression—sharing a meal, a laugh, a backrub, a song, a walk together, a cozy snuggle while reading poetry aloud and my husband's all time favorite—sleep ;>).
Maybe it's our age now, but we share a lot of physical, emotional, spiritual, mental intimacy that doesn't necessarily have orgasm as the goal. Which is not to say that that isn't wonderful, too, just that it is not so much a priority.
My conviction is that it is not a lack of orgasms that results in marriages falling apart. That is a symptom rather than a cause. Let us not forget the fall was a love problem not a sex problem. All the sexual parts worked fine, it was the relationships that went wrong.
What makes for intimacy is what makes for love - caring for the other person, being able to trust and fully share of yourself.
The restoration of love is what makes for the restoration of intimacy in the bedroom and outside of it. But there are so many things to restore. I believe it is through True Parents that marriage in all its complexity has been restored and blessed by God fully as it has never been before. There perhaps may be a residual Augustinean renunciation of the body that needs restoration, too. I think this is where Father is coming from in terms of being able to rejoice in and with your eternal spouse as a fully holy expression of God's love both physically and spiritually.
Ultimately what it boils down to is a connection through the mind and heart.
"As people get older, their loving mind gets bigger. As the distance increases, the love gets deeper. I don't know. Those who reach their 80s, like me, and are walking with a cane, have a narrower field of vision and will recognize only each other. Eventually they will not recognize their friends, but will feel they only have each other, and they will become closer and closer. Eventually, the next level is only two. How about at night? Should they sleep in their clothes, because they are old, or naked? [Naked.] Is that principled? [Yes.] Once they are naked, what can they do? [Absolute sex.] What is that? Absolute sex organ cannot move. How can we make absolute love without moving that organ? We will try to find the absolute kiss. Imagine what is the wonderful level of that true love? It is the true love kiss. If they kiss continually, they will get very tired and keep kissing until they die. When they combine into one, that is the terminal place of the couple's love. " Sung Myung Moon Chun Shim Ae Il Che Kwon—The Unified Realm Centered on Heavenly Mind and Love" Sunday, January 30, 2000
Showdown With God by an American wife
Without going into the grisly details of how my marriage began to deteriorate and become a relationship of hate rather than one of love like it should have been, I will say that the word "hate" is too polite to describe the way I felt about my husband. I loathed him. I was repelled by the way he looked, the way he smelled, the way he talked, the way he acted....I despised the very essence of him. I begged him to divorce me. I cursed God for the miserable life I was leading. Just before our seventh wedding anniversary we had our worst fight. The next day I went out of town for business. I was gone for three glorious weeks! On the flight home I ended up stranded overnight far from home. The airline put us up in a nice hotel and I had a private room. That night I told God I didn't want to go home. I cried and prayed, prayed and cried. But I felt God was telling me to go home and trust Him. I took a deep breath and prepared for the worst. After I returned back home things were lifeless. We hardly spoke to one another. Being deeply religious, I again took my situation before God. I prayed from my heart and told Him I wanted a divorce. I felt sorry that this marriage did not work out and it was my greatest grief. I was sure God would understand and sympathize with my situation.
I was crying as I went through my list of grievances against my spouse. I told God that I did not love this man and that I never could or would. I told God that "he" hated everything I loved. He hated my faith and even God himself! Immediately after I said these things I heard the voice of God say to me, "You promised you'd love my son."
It was like someone poured cold water on me! I was stunned! I screamed at God, "How can you call him your son! He hates you!" Again I heard the voice of God say, "You promised you'd love my son and he IS my son." There was no mistake about it, God was not taking my side. I was beside myself with confusion and disbelief. I cried and cried. I pleaded with God. I told God that it was impossible for me to ever love this man and to ask me to stay with him meant he was sentencing me to an eternity in hell. I asked God, "What if he never changes? What if he stays like this for ever?" God said to me," You promised you'd love my son, he is my son. If you leave him I will have no hope of ever reaching him. If you leave him he will accuse ME and use you as an excuse and proof that religious people are evil. Please stay with him." I sat there and cried till my eyes dried out and I cried without tears. The whole time thinking about what I thought God was asking me to give up. I thought, If I stay with him then I have to give up every thing I love. Not only here but in the spirit world. Surely when he dies he will go to hell! I will have to go to hell with him! I asked God if he wanted me to go to hell. I said what if it takes him 1 year to change, 10 years, 100 years or tens of thousands of years. There was no answer... I was spent. Finally, with great anger I raised my fist to God and shouted," OK, you win. Because you asked. For you, and only for you, I will stay with him. But I will never be happy." With that something slipped away from me....all my "conditions" for loving. I became ZERO. Truly, Zero. I felt dead and I mourned for many months. I stopped talking about anything that had to do with my life of faith. I kept reminding myself that "It was what God wanted." My husband and I stopped fighting. We sort of became friends. I can't say when, but over time we actually started to be happy together. I began to see all his great qualities. By our 14th wedding anniversary love was blooming! It has grown into the most beautiful love I've ever known... Truly, I think, hell would not be so bad if he were there with me and for him, heaven wouldn't be so bad if I were there with him. God has blessed us so much over the years. We have so much and we are truly happy.
When two people who love each other give and take in a reciprocal relationship, consoling each other when they are sad, sharing joy together when they are happy, helping each other when they have difficulties and going forward together before God, this indeed is married life on the foundation of God's love.
Well? What was the reason for us to get married? In order to go to heaven. Also, for the sake of humankind. Men should know that the women standing before them are God's daughters and the daughters of all humankind. Man is qualified to become a husband if he can love a woman as a woman loved by all humankind and as God loves her as His daughter. If he cannot, then he is not qualified to become a husband. This is true for women, too. You should not think that man is my husband. Before thinking of your husband as "my man," you should think of him as God's son and as a man representing all men.
The purpose of marriage is to unify the world of heart and to perfect the love of man and woman. Therefore, to say that you have married is to proclaim that you will prove this. If you have realized the perfection of love and the perfection of heart through married life, then we can say that you have realized the ideal of a family. If you have realized this, then at the time of death, without a doubt you will be able to go to heaven. - Sun Myung Moon
"Meant to Be" by Joyce and Barry Vissell
Reviewed by Kim K. B.
Joyce Vissell RN, MS and Barry Vissell, MD, have a wonderful new book published by Conari Press, called "Meant to Be" which has been available for purchase since Valentines Day, 2000.
The book is a compilation of 38 inspiring and touching true stories of couples who were led together by amazing twists of fate. Among them is the account of a pair of teenage lovers separated by World War Two and then their entire adult lifetime, only to rediscover each other in their old age. Other stories show odd circumstances that allowed an older couple to rekindle their love, and other stories that showed the events that brought couples together—including dreams, visions, intuition and in some cases a sense of childhood destiny.
One of the most amazing stories was a woman who had a daughter through the misfortune of rape. She went with her gut feeling to have the
child, against the advice of virtually everyone around her, and finally went to live with a relative in Holland to raise her. There she met a man whose wife had died in a car accident the day she was raped. This man had a daughter also. The unbelievable account of how they met and married requires a whole box of kleenex. (At least for me it did!)
The book reads in short vignettes reminiscent of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series, except the stories are a bit longer and go a bit deeper. For anyone who would like to be uplifted by stories of True Love, this is
the book for you, showing the marvelous way in which God has helped men and women find one another.
I was personally moved and amazed by the way God worked in peoples lives all over the world, regardless of their beliefs and background. These extremely moving accounts remained in my thoughts long after reading. This book begs for a sequel.
"The Shared Heart" by Joyce and Barry Vissell
Reviewed by Kim K. B.
Barry Vissell, MD; and Joyce Vissell, RN, MS are the authors of several books, including "The Shared Heart", published 1984, by Ramira Publishing. They are the founders of the Shared Heart Foundation located near Santa Cruz, California, a non profit foundation dedicated to relationship and family life as a spiritual journey. They have been counselors and teachers since the early seventies.
The Vissells wrote "The Shared Heart' as a testimony to their own spiritual journey as a married couple. They found certain principles as they shared their very real love for each other, and rode the roller coaster of marriage together. The book shares blocks or barriers they ran into and how they overcame them, finally realizing that they had learned certain principles which they wanted to share to help other couples, in turn with their marriages.
The book talks about courting, seeing the foibles of one's mate, childbirth, love making, death of a spouse and other down to earth topics. Through it all, the Vissells see centering ones motivations and actions upon God is the key to success in all aspects of living.
"The Shared Heart" has several quotes on the back which quickly sum up the spirit of the contents within. The first two are lifted directly from the book jacket.
"...Learning to love one other person completely, teaches you how to love all people. Learning to love all that is unlovable in your husband or wife, learning how to rise above the pettiness, disagreements, judgments, and human pre-occupations, establishes in you a love for all humanity."
"...Your mind will naturally seek the easiest person to be with, one with whom there is no struggle, no rough edges to work out, one with whom it is easy and comfortable. But your heart, your true inner self, will seek the person who can best help you in your search for truth. The mind seeks an easy relationship. The heart seeks a spiritual partner."
Also, an excerpt from the foreword by Ram Dass says about "The Shared Heart": "If two people are truly drawn to living spirit, then all that they share: lovemaking, changing diapers, periods of tense unspeaking silence, shared appreciations and meditations—all become grist for the mill of awakening. They are grateful for all of it, including the uniqueness of their partner, just as he or she is. Barry and Joyce are two such people. Their personal account reminds us of the gratefulness that attends this subtle seeking. They plough through the hard and soft spaces of the journey with great inner strength, deep respect for reflective inner turning and the trembling hearts of true bhaktis."
Barry and Joyce Vissell met and married in the mid-sixties. At the writing of the book they were a very good looking couple in their mid-thirties. In a recent picture, 15 years later, they look remarkably the same—young looking, fit and bright.
The Vissells are from Jewish and Christian backgrounds, and embrace teachings from the Eastern masters. However, the themes are very universal—unselfish loving, serving and humility before the Greater Power. The two of them speak alternately in the first person section by section, honestly peeling back their thoughts, philosophies and experiences in dealing with different aspects of life.
"The Shared Heart" is a helpful book for any couple who would like further insight into how to deepen their relationship. Some meditation and prayer techniques and exercises are included which they use in their counseling work.
As an inspiring testimony to the power of love in a God centered marriage, this book is a must-read.
The Power of Two
by Susan Heitler, PhD $15.95 New Harbinger Publications, Inc. Excerpted from Chapter 13 - Making Your House a Loving Home. Reprinted with author’s permission.
Joy in being together, like a sense of joy at being alive, comes partly from temperament, partly from how you spend your days, and partly from attitude, which can be chosen.... You and your partner both have initial temperamental tendencies. Nonetheless, you each can moderate your temperament by deciding, say, to smile, not scowl, when you greet each other in the morning. You can express appreciation for the particularly tasty dinner your spouse has cooked rather than eating it without comment. You can wash the dishes feeling burdened and grumpy, or turn on the radio, sing aloud, and even put the suds aside for a moment and dance.
... One facet of loving is liking. Fortunately, what makes people likable needn’t remain a secret. We feel attracted toward people who emanate positive feelings. We desire to back away from people who emanate negative feelings. And we feel neutral toward people who give forth very little feeling.... A dominating personal style, habitual disagreement, commands, complaints, and irritability are unpleasant and erode the quality of a marriage.... By contrast, positivity draws us in. Communicating in a cheerful, optimistic and uncritical ways invites your partner to mirror back equally positive banter. The more positive appreciation and good humor you show your mate, the more of it you will receive in return. Your styles may differ. One of you may be a teaser, the other a toucher. One of you may bake cookies; the other may buy chocolates. Feeling loved, however, you will find yourself giving off more and more warm affection. This kind of positivity cycle heralds a happy home.
For a more loving relationship, therefore, conduct a personal inventory. When and how often are you critical, judgmental, grumpy or unpleasant? Any negative emanations are reason to reassess your contributions. How often do you emanate caring affection, willingness to do your share and more, compassionate understanding in difficult times, and joy?
...Appreciation can be especially meaningful when you notice the accomplishments that your partner particularly values or that he or she has put extra effort into for you ...How is appreciation expressed? First, it needs to be felt, allowed as a joy within you. Then it needs to be communicated. Words, though sometimes helpful and almost always welcome, are not essential. A playful grin, a warm smile, shared laughter, the meeting of eyes, an affectionate hug - these are the ultimate glue with power to hold the two of you together forever.
God, the best maker of all marriages Combine your hearts in one. -William Shakespeare
Marriage is the only known example of the happy meeting of the immovable object and the irresistible force. - Ogden Nash
I would give up al my genius, and all my books, if there were only some woman, somewhere, who cared whether or not I came home late for dinner. - Ivan Turgenev
Shoeshine in HOT-lanta
by Larry Moffit
I went to Atlanta last Monday.
I was finished with my business by 10:30 a.m. and then spent the entire rest of the day trying to get out of the airport as US Air canceled one flight after another (equipment problems). Refugees from those flights scurried over to Delta which was already overbooked from its own earlier cancellations. You know what they say, if you die and go to hell you still have to change planes in Atlanta. I ended up getting a 7:30 p.m. flight home and another hour to drive. Got home about 11:00 p.m., dog tired to the bone. I felt like I had been beaten with a stick.
However, I did get an unforgettable shoe shine in Atlanta from a beautiful blonde woman who shines at the Georgia World Congress Center.
I'm sitting in the shoe shine chair and she asks me my name. I tell her. She tells me her name is Dina. She looks up at me and says, "You have beautiful eyes."
I am told that men are astoundingly simple creatures. That's probably true. We talked about all kinds of innocuous things and I could feel the warmth of her hands and fingers even through the layers of my corporate, no-nonsense, saddle-thickness, high-gloss gun boat wingtips.
It's interesting and quite amazing how, for both good and bad, a definite spirit transmits from one being to another through a variety of channels. For example, if someone is standing 30 feet away, you can tell whether they are looking directly into your eyes or somewhere else close by, say, at your cheek or shoulder. That's because when two pairs of eyes meet head-on, invisible conversation takes place between them. We all know it happens, and we all experience it many times. Nobody can tell you exactly how or why this is the case, but some have figured out that the transmission is a spiritual communication.
So yes, she played me like a violin. And yes, she got a nice tip. It was what any of my messiahs would have called a great and terrible shoe shine.
So I get home and I'm sitting at the kitchen table with Take, telling her all about my shoeshine experience. Having spent much of my married life traveling, I long ago adopted the policy of giving my bride a full report at the end of each trip, especially as it concerns any dealings whatsoever with women...
This one little policy has, all by itself, helped simplify life incredibly. Just knowing I'm going to tell her everything has kept me out of serious trouble more than once. Adopting this strategy is the single smartest thing I've ever done.
Take asked, "When she said your eyes are beautiful, did you tell her that her’s are beautiful too?"
"What color were they?"
Unexpected question. "Uhhhhh...well...I don't know." Strange, but I didn't remember. In fact I don't even recall if I looked at her eyes in any kind of solid, meaningfully observational way."
"Then how do you know her eyes were beautiful?"
"HMO. Well, the rest of her was. I guess the whole point of that exchange had nothing to do with the actual quality of her eyes. I suppose her eyes were irrelevant and this was more about flirting."
She nodded. We drank some more tea, held hands, talked about the kids and work.
The report continued and I told her about eating extra spicy buffalo wings and drinking Starbuck’s coffee and the irony of watching a guy in the waiting area trying to kiss on his lady's ear while she was trying to ignore him as she read a romance novel that was probably at that very moment describing a guy nibbling a woman's ear. It was clear that the woman was tolerating, but not interested in, the actual real-life schlepping that was going on cheekside. She was much more into the fictional account. Truly, the pen is mightier than the tongue.
I was trying to work on my World Media Association talk about media ethics and also a sermon for church (about repentance, as I recall). I watched the couple. The man kept upping the ante, getting ever more aggressive on the ear lobes. I wondered if he was going to dive into her breastworks just as she got to the bodice-ripping part of her novel. Or maybe he would pull her down onto a mound of new-mown hay, still warm from the afternoon sun, infused with the scent of grassy musk born of mid-summer heat...just as she got to the part in her novel where...
Whoa, Larry, this way madness lies. This was life imitating life. I pulled myself back from the abyss and burrowed into my notes. Back to the uncrossing world of media ethics and repentance.
So what can we learn from all this, aside from there's no fool like an old fool? Well, for one thing it's a cautionary tale. It re-confirms the truth of what Jesus said about the dangers of dwelling on lust in one's heart. More important, however, it underscores the enormous value of having a trusted someone with whom you can talk.
Why Husbands and Wives Should Sleep Naked
by Kim B. April 2, 2000
Even though sexual love is meant to be one of the main keys to marital happiness, it is a topic that is not easily talked about even between married partners.
We all come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, various cultures and races, different sorts of upbringing and home life, and different life experiences. We have ancestral and lineage differences and problems, and all kinds of personality quirks we bring to the mix. Looking at all this is like dumping everything out of the toy box of a large family and saying, "OK, find the missing Monopoly piece!"
Every couple has their own private journey. How they learn to relate and communicate, how they foster their love, and how they relate sexually is of course, between them and God.
We can hear people like John Gray talk about Men being from Mars and Women being from Venus, we resonate with many of the points because they ring true. When these speakers highlight the things that will help married couples with their relationship and in particular their sex life, we perk up our ears, for who among us wouldn't like to experience a greater feeling of true love as well as greater physical and mental fulfillment?
These speakers and writers make us laugh because it's a little bit embarrassing, and yet most of us would like to be as at ease and as fulfilled as they say is possible. We ponder, what would love between man and woman be like if there was no baggage between us—if there was no "battle of the sexes"? How free, how uncomplicated, how beautiful?
Every couple has their own individual situation to deal with. People who get along all right and who have a modicum of respect for each other will have an easier time with intimacy than those who don't really like each other. There are as many levels of relationship as there are couples. In fact, the more I talk with people I realize that within many marriages there has been insensitivity, abuse and cruelty. Couples having trouble with dishonesty, violence, rage and severe disunity aren't going to experience any kind of marital fulfillment, least of all sexual, until they resolve the more basic problems of their relationship.
My husband and I have traveled a long road like many couples. When we were first married, we didn't see eye to eye, and actually had a lot of ideological "dialogues", hashing out our opinions. We had our share of fur flying disagreements over the years. However we stumbled into a friendship and once we could talk and really listen to each other, our love grew. Before that we didn't know how to be married, and many of our battles were rooted in miscommunication and unfulfilled or unreasonable expectations.
Recently the only real area of disparity between us was in the realm of sexuality. We experienced some of the things common to couples in their middle forties. A wife with hormonal imbalances who suffered from frequent exhaustion, and a husband who still basically had the same unflagging interest that he felt in his twenties. Our love life had been affectionate and warm over the years, but both of us knew that more was possible.
We decided to take the bull by the horns. (I couldn't resist writing that.) The first thing we tried was that we decided to sleep naked. It's amazing how much change resulted from just eliminating jammies from the scene. Of course, I waffled on that one a lot. It's inconvenient. I felt too vulnerable. I didn't want to freeze running to the bathroom. What if one of the kids needs something? What if there's an intruder. (Uh—excuse me, let me find my robe before you burgle us.) Or a fire. There were a million reasons to avoid it.
Also popular culture does nothing to prepare us for marital intimacy. Without even realizing it we can be influenced by myths perpetrated by movies and television. Plus plain old fear is a big problem. Women have an ancient fear of men. Men have fear of vulnerability.
Right after we embarked on the no jammies decision, we saw by chance, a television interview with Charles and Caroline Muir, who are world-reknowned teachers of an ancient, eastern practice called tantric, or sacred sex.. They said that about 4000 or 5000 years ago in India, tantric sex was developed as a method for married couples to learn how to experience sexual love centered on God. The idea was for the man and woman to experience their godly natures within the union. They also said the practice was started to help create love between couples of arranged marriage. It was said that a husband and wife who make love frequently will create a happy home, affecting the children and all aspects of life. It's interesting that marrying for love is a relatively new concept for the world. Previous to the last two centuries, marriages were made for lineage, for fortune, for dowries, for every other reason but love. How did married couples find happiness in those circumstances? Probably many didn't. But this particular culture sought a way to give young married people a chance to work out their love life in an effective way.
Couples who are at a loss as to how to make their relationship closer could find great benefit in applying some of the techniques. Some are really simple like just looking in each other's eyes, practicing kissing, holding each other without moving, and breathing in synchronization. I'm wondering if through just applying these techniques externally if couples whose relationship has gone cold might surprise themselves. How great if the spark of love can return or be generated for the first time by two people who are willing to try?
We rented a couple of videos on the topic. One is called, "The Art of Conscious Loving" in which the Muirs talk at length about the principles behind the practice.
One thing they stressed was that in the west we tend to think that making love means you have to finish with an orgasm. It puts a lot of pressure on one or both parties. Even to the extent that if it doesn't happen one or both parties apologize, or one or both feels let down or discouraged. "Well, that was a waste of time." To make time for intimacy with no "goal" in mind, can allow a couple to generate more love and more of a feeling of being relaxed and at home with each other. So called 'performance anxiety' can ruin the joy of just being with each other, here and now.
Another couple who also teach tantra, Kerry and Diane Riley, discussed tantra as being a vehicle to create love. Couples need to make time and take time for love making. They explained by practicing tantra in their eighteen years of marriage, how the joy of their love has only intensified. The love is created and fortified by conscious loving. When a couple is at home in each other's arms, the thunderclaps and lightening are inevitable.
One of the exercises that we especially liked was if a couple feels separated they can lie on the bed together, one of them nurturing and one of them receiving. One person is cradled almost like a child, while the other one comforts. The one being cradled talks and the one nurturing listens. The couple can trade places then and reverse the roles of nurturer and nurtured. This simple exercise allows both parties to give and receive love in an unthreatening way, and increases the sense of intimacy and warmth between lovers.
Sharing sexual love in this way becomes a vehicle for sharing greater love in all directions. Couples experiencing this kind of love at home send ripples of love outward, permeating society.
In the short time that Peter and I have been applying some of the principles of tantra into our love life, we have had a renaissance in our relationship. A shift in our focus has made all the difference. I wanted to pass along what helped us in case it might help someone else. After all, what we bind on earth we bind in heaven.
Like in the movie, "Ghost", when the Patrick Swayze character was about to ascend he said to the Demi Moore character something like; "It's all about love. The love you have—you take it with you."
(author's note: Tantra is something which some have attempted to sully in the same way that the sexual act itself has been sullied since the fall. Separating the wheat from the chaff is important if couples investigate this practice as a supplement to their marriage. Some of the websites, workshops, writings and videos have a mix of moral and immoral interpretations. In particular, as good as a lot of the advice may be, they have no understanding of the fall of man, nor do they necessarily confine tantric teachings to monogamous couples. Just like in any self help system, we might want to investigate these things in context with our religious beliefs.)
Marriage is somewhat like undertaking a Lego project without instructions. - Ammonia Ball Subramanian in Time
While watching the prairie dogs in the Arizona-Sonar Desert Museum near Tucson, I overhead a couple talking nearby. "Oh, look," said the wife. "Those two are going to mate. Well, at least he’s trying, but it looks like she doesn’t want to."
The man was passing just behind me when I heard him respond, "Sounds pretty normal to me."
When men do dishes, it’s called helping. When women do the dishes, it’s called life. - Anna Quindlen in The New York Times
In the midst of a hot debate about whether men or women make the larger sacrifice of their respective gender characteristics when they get married, to Steve’s surprise, Shelly agreed that men give up far more than women.
"You’re right," she said, "Men generally give up doing their cleaning, their cooking, their grocery shopping, their laundry."
My wife and I were reminiscing about our dating days when I mentioned that she used to have a "Coke-bottle figure." "Honey," she said, "I still have a Coke bottle figure, only now it’s two-liter!"
Soon after they were married, the young husband stopped wearing his wedding band. "Why don’t you ever wear your ring?" his new bride asked. "It cuts off my circulation," he replied. "I know," she said, "It’s supposed to."
From the mouths of babes:
WHAT’S THE PROPER AGE T0 GET MARRIED?
"Eighty-four, Because at that age, you don’t have to work anymore, and you can spend all your time loving each other in your bedroom." (Judy, 8)
"Once I’m done with kindergarten, I’m going to find me a wife" (Tom, 5)
THE GREAT DEBATE: IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
"It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them." (Lynette, 9)
"It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble." (Kenny, 7)
CONCERNING WHY LOVE HAPPENS BETWEEN TWO PARTICULAR PEOPLE
"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular." (Jan, 9)
"I think you get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful." (Harlan, 8)
ON WHAT FALLING IN LOVE IS LIKE
"Like an avalanche where you have to run for your life." (Roger, 9)
"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long." (Leo, 7)
ON THE ROLE OF GOOD LOOKS IN LOVE
"Beauty is skin deep. But how rich you are can last a long time." (Christine, 9)
CONCERNING WHY LOVERS OFTEN HOLD HANDS
"They want to make sure their rings don’t fall off because they paid good money for them." (Dave, 8)
HOW CAN YOU TELL IF TWO ADULTS EATING DINNER AT A RESTAURANT ARE IN LOVE?
"Lovers will just be staring at each other and their food will get cold. Other people care more about the food." (Brad, 8)
"It’s love if they order one of those desserts that are on fire. They like to order those because it’s just like how their hearts are on fire." (Christine, 9)
HOW TO MAKE LOVE ENDURE
"Spend most of your time loving instead of going to work." (Tom, 7)
"Be a good kisser. It might make your wife forget that you never take out the trash." (Randy, 8)
Upcoming Issues of PEARL:
Our goal through this publication is to cover topics which pertain to living life meaningfully. We’ve chosen six themes which will be rotated on a monthly basis. Within each theme many various ideas can be addressed and there are no end to the possibilities.
1) Love and Marriage 2) Family and Home 3) Faith and Fellowship 4) Learning and Wisdom 5) World and Nature 6) Life and Living
We want to hear from YOU! ... Useful information, helpful resources, book or movie reviews, personal testimonies, words of wisdom, poems ... even jokes!.... all are welcome. Please keep submissions to 700 words or less. A few specific topics we would like to cover in the near future are; meaningful family traditions, dealing with fear and guilt in faith, creating a balance in life, educating children, coping with grief , teaching sexual purity to teens, interfaith efforts and activities.
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