Sunday, October 31, 2010

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Attachment is a developmental phase that we never outgrow.

Our experiences with early attachment relationships to our parents become the foundation on which all future love relationships are built—both our ability to love others, and to allow others to love us in return.

There are different classifications of adult love relationships:

·     Secure attachment types: Like securely attached infants, secure adults have little difficulty seeking and maintaining closeness (physical, emotional, affectional) with another. They don’t fear being abandoned or losing their partner. They allow others to get close to them and depend on them. They experience enduring, happy, warm, trusting relationships.

·     Avoidant attachment types: Avoidant types feel as though they never find “real” love. They are uncomfortable when too emotionally or physically close to another person. They show discomfort with intimacy and are hesitant to trust others. They find it difficult to allow themselves to depend on others.

·     Anxious/ambivalent attachment types: Insecurity is the hallmark of this adult attachment type—it is not a matter of if a romantic partner leaves them, but when. With the constant fear or worry that the partner isn’t really in love with them, anxious/ambivalent adults cling to their partner and push for commitment. They may also withdraw and pull away before they get rejected.

What is your adult attachment style?  Take the quiz here! 

Now that you have an understanding of your attachment type, reflect on how this understanding of “love” affects your marriage or your intimate relationship.

In what ways does this help you to better understand and appreciate your love map? How does it help you to better understand and appreciate your spouse or fiancĂ©’s unique love map? 

Photo Credit: Northern Star (

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Is He Always So Analytical?

Mr. Fix It
Men's underlying genderlect is that of helping and
fixing the problem at hand.

It’s been said before that the “Y” sex chromosome came about because since the beginning of time, men have been questioning, “Y do we always have to talk about this $#%! relationship?!”

In an earlier post I talked about women’s genderlects, and how most women are taught from an early age to communicate in certain ways with others. So engrained are these behaviors, researchers say that understanding and caring is the context in which women frame nearly every conversation that they have. In short, the underlying message in women’s conversation is connecting with others—and they do this by talking (a lot).

But what about guys? Are boys, like girls, socialized from young ages to stick to certain communication “rules?” Do guys have an underlying genderlect?

Researchers think so!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Does She Talk So Much?

Photo courtesy of Cian

Do women talk more than men?

As we grow up from infancy to adulthood, we’re taught how to be a “boy” or a “girl,” or a “man” or a “woman” in a lot of different ways. Each day we are bombarded with messages from society—from parents to teachers to friends to the media—that send very clear-cut gender cues, or the “correct” ways we’re supposed to act and think and feel.

And communication is no exception—boys learn how to communicate one way, girls learn how to communicate another way.

According to one researcher, men and women are taught so differently about how to communicate (and in what they focus on when they talk) that it’s as if they understand communication messages in entirely different ways!

In other words—you may think you are clearly expressing yourself, and you just may be….but that doesn’t mean that she’s hearing the intended content of your messages!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Elusive G-Spot: The Holy Grail or [Holy] Crap?

You can’t pick up a women’s magazine (or even a men’s magazine, for that matter!) without finding tips on how to locate and stimulate a woman’s G-spot.

Reporting that the G-spot is the Holy Grail of sexual experiences, and reporting that finding the G-spot will give a woman the most powerful and explosive orgasms (evah!), pop culture continues to claim that every woman has a G-spot, and that it’s just a matter of practice, practice, practice to find it.


Real sex isn’t about explosive, perfectly timed orgasms (every time, no less). It’s not about two beautiful, perfect bodies performing in perfect, rhythmic sync.

Real sex isn’t about lingerie and striptease and lap dances and stripper poles and blow jobs and perfect hair and makeup (every night?!?). Real sex isn’t even always about pleasing your partner or him/her pleasing you.

Real sex is so. much. more. than our sex-saturated society and these well-intended books that my friend talked about portray.

Real sex means that sometimes you don’t feel like sex, and your partner understands. It means telling your partner what you want and what you need and your partner respecting those wants and needs.

Real sex means the “hot spots” are there because you put them there: Your partner is beautiful and sexy and sensual and delicious and hawt because that’s how you see him or her—and you treat him/her that way every day.

Real sex means being interrupted, perhaps even at the moment of orgasm, because your child just threw up in the bedroom next to yours or the UPS guy just pulled up in the driveway. And sometimes it means that you can’t get aroused because there are just too many bills to pay or there’s just too much work to do.

Real sex means reaching out to your partner out of anger or disappointment, exhilaration or desperation, loneliness or celebration. It means clinging helplessly to your partner because you just received word of your mother’s terminal illness, or because you just buried your child.

And with breast cancer, real sex means navigating around the tubes and innumerable stitches in her chest because the cancer wouldn’t let go. It means longing for, aching for, and memorizing your very ill wife’s body….because you just don’t know what will happen next.

Real sex—the hottest sex you’ll ever have in your life—isn’t about whatever secrets Victoria has to offer this season. No, no, no. Victoria herself doesn’t even know the secret to keep-you-up-all-night sex!

But breast cancer survivors and their co-survivors know…..They know that the emotional and spiritual connections to a lover is what makes it impossible to keep their hands off of each other.

They know what real sex is. 

And maybe that's just about the greatest gift that breast cancer gave me....and that I give to each of you. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Boxers or Briefs? Keeping Da Boyz Happy, Healthy, and Strong

The scrotum (or scrotal sac), an extension of a guy’s lower abdomen, is a pouch of skin that is rich in nerve endings and blood vessels (keep that in mind, gals, when you’re making love to him—the scrotum needs lovin’, too!).

You CAN Have a Great Marriage and Parent at the Same Time: Realistic Expectations

Even though for most people bringing home a baby is a joyful experience, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of stressors that come right along with her—the happy nature of the event doesn’t even come close to minimizing the fact that a new person has been added to the family.

Family scientists—folks who study families so they can help families live and love to the best of their abilities—have found that children bring so much stress into a couple’s relationship that spouses experience a huge dip in their marital satisfaction (don’t go buy a gross of condoms just yet...there’s hope!).

If we drew an illustration of what happens to a couple’s marital happiness once kids enter the scene, it would look something like this. High levels of marital satisfaction are usually present in the early stages of the marriage, dip to all-time low stages while we’re raising our kids, then gradually climb again as kids become more independent in adolescence. Once teens are launched into their young adult years (college), couples again regain the levels of happiness they had earlier in their marriages.

There is no question that the transition to parenthood is a challenging, often difficult, stage in the developmental course of a family. But the research offers good news: If parents hold realistic expectations going into parenting (and while they’re actively “doing” parenting), there is less stress on them and their relationship.

The Breast of the Story

Remember earlier I told you that research shows us that nearly 3 out of 4 marriages end in divorce when a woman becomes seriously ill? Other research might also help to explain why some marriages can’t survive the “worse” in those for-better-or-worse marriage vows.

I spent the better part of two years studying what happens to a woman’s body image and sexual response following a breast cancer diagnosis and/or a mastectomy. Like many other researchers before me, I found that breast cancer is intricately linked to body image in some way for most women (in 93 of the 110 women I studied).

When I did my PhD internship at a breast cancer center, I discovered that the breasts-are-sexuality-femininity connection for women is so significant that many women who needed a mastectomy yesterday to save their lives, refused to do so—primarily because they were so afraid that losing a breast (or breasts) meant that they would also lose their sexuality and femininity. Or their husband.

I vividly recall when one woman in her 30s looked at her husband in desperation and said, “Will you still love me if I’m not pretty?”

But losing a breast isn’t just about appearance and sex to women—it’s about a sense of being whole, about self-esteem, about body image….essentially, it’s about losing their identity.

(WARNING: You are about to see photographs of post-mastectomy women. Please do not read further if you believe these images will disturb you or cause uneasiness.

I include these images so that you can see the reality of breast cancer, and why recovering physically, mentally, and emotionally can be a very, very long process. I also include the images so that you can see why it’s so tough for marriages and sex to survive after an illness like this—and why teaching women to be sexual objects for their husbands can be potentially dangerous to their marriages.)

Lingerie, Stripping, & Poles: Oh My!

<Picking up from where we left off, the head-hunter and the lingerie>

About a week later, my husband and I went to dinner with a couple of good friends. We were planning a scuba diving trip together with them, and at some point the topic turned to what they should pack.

Me (to the gal): Well, according to [guy on my front porch], you better not bring any T-shirts to sleep in. Come to find out, we’ve been doing it wrong for nearly 30 years. We’re supposed to be doing a striptease and lap dance for our husbands every night.

The gal and her husband (almost in unison)Every night?

Me and Dave (almost in unison): Every night!

The guy (a pastor): How do they get anything else done?!

The gal: No wonder he works from home!

<side-splitting laughter, waiters wondering if they should cut us off, but realize we’re not drinking>

The gal: I guess that leaves you out, babe, because we can’t afford lingerie!

The guy: It just ends up on the floor anyway, I’ll save you the trouble……I’ll just go home and cut strategically placed holes in your T-shirts! You know, kind of like Charlie Brown’s Halloween costume?!

<Fast forward about 48 hours, Dave and I get a call from Pastor Guy, telling us his wife has been rushed to the hospital and she’s in emergency surgery. The doctors believe it is advanced ovarian cancer.>

In the hospital, we’re all at her bedside when the surgeon comes in to deliver the news that she did not have ovarian cancer, but instead that she had a very serious abdominal infection, from which she would recover.

There were shouts of joy and lots of tears!  Her husband, exhausted from no sleep and worry, slumped into the chair and put his face in his hands. My husband went over to him, knelt beside him, and put his arm around his shoulders.

“It’s gonna be okay, we’re here for whatever you need. You guys just take it easy and let us take care of everything.”

The pastor looked up, tears in his eyes, and said, “It’s not that, Dave. It’s not that.” He put his face back into his hands, trying to gain his composure.

The pastor's shoulders began to shake. Dave looked at me, totally confused as to what to do next. I just shrugged my shoulders in an I-don’t-know kind of way and used hand signals to gesture “hug him tighter.”

But just at the moment, the pastor let out the most hilarious belly laugh you’ve ever heard! With tears streaming down his face, laughing uncontrollably he said to his wife,

“Honey, it just dawned on me that I almost cut holes in your T-shirt the other night as a joke!  The T-shirt you wore as they rushed you to the hospital!!  Can you imagine the doctors’ and nurses’ faces?!? Can you imagine what I would have had to explain if you had nipple holes cut out in your T-shirt?!?”

We love these two to pieces. Like us, they’ve been through a lot in their 30+ year marriage. And like us, they saw the humor—and the potential dangers—in teaching young couples that stripping’s where it’s at.

I’d like to say that I was shocked at my friend saying that his wife gave him a strip tease and a lap dance every night. I’d like to say that I was shocked that they were teaching couples in their church that THAT’S what great sex and a great marriage is all about. 

To be fair to them, I’m not in their marriages, so I don’t know if that every-night-no-matter-what kind of sex works for them or not.

But I have a hunch they’re setting themselves—and everyone they’re teaching—up for huge disappointment. And maybe failure. 

That’s what happens when sex is reduced to an act (or lots of acts), instead of understanding how it’s intricately tied into your love map.

Come back tomorrow for The Breast of the Story.

Lingerie and the Head Hunter

A few years ago, a friend was excited to tell us that he and his wife started educating young couples in their church about sex and sexuality. The front-porch conversation went something like this….

Friend:  Yeah, I gotta tell ya, [my wife] and I are pretty popular in church since we started this program for young couples. Guys come up to me in church and give me that you-lucky-dog look. <chuckle, chuckle, wink, wink>

Me: Oh yeah? What program are you teaching?

Friend: There’s a new book out for Christian wives about being more sexual for their husbands. You know, like how to entice them and turn them on.

My husband: You need a book for that?

Me: What’s the [insert air quotes] program?

Friend: It’s really, really cool. Basically, these authors tell women that they should never, ever go to bed in a T-shirt, or anything that’s not sexy. Women should put on make up and do their hair every night.

Me: Every night?

Friend: Yeah, for sure. And she should never, ever go to bed until her husband does. She’s supposed to wait for him to come to bed, and then she’s supposed to undress in front of him, you know, do a strip show for him, and then get into her sexy lingerie. And then do her little sexy show for him. And then get into bed and give him a BJ. And then, you know, have a great time.

Me & Hubby (in near unison): Every night?

Friend: <peacockish with feathers fanned out> See why I’m so popular in church now?

Me: Where did these ideas come from?

Friend: Don’t you remember the story of the missionaries and they were both chased into the jungle by the tribal people and they caught him and killed him, and she hid in the jungle and survived the attack?

Me: Yeah, but what does this have to do with stripper poles in the bedroom?

Friend: These were her original ideas.

Me (trying to picture a stripper pole in a hut in the jungle): So let me get this straight. Was she running through the jungle in her lingerie? Cuz that would be crazy stuff right there. Was the jungle-running-escaping-from-head-hunters before or after her nightly strip tease?

My Husband: For his sake, I hope before, so he could stand up straight and make a run for it.

Me: Given the outcome…I’m guessing no on that one.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story!

Kelly  J

Boobless and....Well.....Still Boobless

This is a lengthy one, so grab your pumpkin spice latte and settle in.

There are a lot of studies out there that have looked at how stress and severe illnesses like breast cancer affect marriages or intimate relationships.

The news isn’t good. Of course, there are many factors that contribute to whether a marriage or an intimate relationship succeeds or fails in times like this (well, or even in times not like this), but a number of the studies show that the divorce rate during or after a serious illness is over 70 percent. Folks, that’s nearly 3 out of 4 marriages that tank after a health crisis.

If you know anything about me, you know that I hate divorce. Hate it.

I hate what it does to men and women. I hate what it does to kids. I hate what it does to society. I didn’t have divorced parents—but I have taught over 31,000 students and have spoken to college students across this country, and I know what they struggle with. And when I write the books, I read hundreds and hundreds of research articles about divorce. There’s no way to pretty it up. And I refuse to be politically correct about it.

<You’re probably wondering why I’m bringing this up now instead of talking about breast cancer.>

Here’s my point. If marriage really is about through-good-times-and-bad-and-in-sickness-and-in-health-and-when-life-is-stormy-and-when-it’s-quiet—WHY oh WHY do 70 percent of marriages fail in the bad times? 

Because this is what happens when we reduce love to something that we do, instead of experiencing it as a part of who we are. Are you starting to get me, where I’m coming from?

If you do love, you react certain ways when things happen. When you are love, nothing changes. You’re unmovable. You’re steadfast. Rock. Solid.

When I got my diagnosis, I literally couldn’t breathe—I couldn’t gasp in, I couldn’t breathe out. Everything came to a screeching halt. And that’s because no one in my family had ever survived it. I was petrified, and I had good reason to be.

But I had one thing that a lot of women don’t have: A husband who loved me right where I was.

Not the superficial bring-me-a-cup-of-coffee-or-rub-my-back-when-I-don’t-ask-for-it kind of love. But a kind of love that accepted and embraced my weaknesses. Rock. Solid. Love. 

One day Dave helped me into the bathroom (okay, you gotta admit that’s a different kind of love altogether). He made a phone call, a phone call he didn’t expect me to overhear. He called my doctor.

Boobless But Bolder

I am not quiet. At all. By any stretch of the imagination. You can always hear me coming. You always know I was there.

I used to try to be quieter. I used to try to be more demure, more reserved. I used to try to take life more seriously. I used to try to not laugh as often or as loud. I used to try to not laugh at things others didn’t necessarily see as funny.

I tried to conform to others’ standards of what it meant to be a “lady” and what it meant to be “beautiful.” Really—I did try.

And then I got sick. 

I’m not going to get all Pollyanna on you right now, because I’m going to debunk the urban legend that breast cancer is the best thing that can ever happen to a woman. Personally, I thought it sucked.

Why I Didn’t Wear Lipstick to My Mastectomies
(And Other Valuable Lessons I Was Supposed to Learn but Didn't)

Boobless But Not Broken

It’s Pinktober. That most wonderful time of the year, National Breast Cancer Awareness month. The time of year when you can’t find a roll of white toilet paper at Target, much less an orange M&M or an Oreo with white icing.

That time of year where people everywhere remind people everywhere else that 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer at some point in their lives.

To be perfectly pinkly correct, I thought it might be a good idea to take a little detour to share something with you about my life. But as I sit here and think about it, we’re not really going off course at all….because what I have to share with you is as much about love as it is anything else.

I’m the boobless girl behind the pink ribbons.

So Simple a Cave[woman] Can Do It? Parenting Like Cavemen

Did Fred & Wilma Flintstone and Barney & Betty Rubble know something about parenting that we don’t?  According to University of Notre Dame psychology professor, Darcia Narvaez, our ancestors knew a thing or two about raising happy, healthy kids.

Narvaez, who focuses her research on the importance of a child’s first three years as foundational to their overall personality and character development, recently released several new studies. Her research shows that there are certain parenting characteristics that foster mentally healthy, smart kids who show empathy, compassion, and morality.

“The way we raise our children today in this country is increasingly depriving them of the practices that lead to well-being and a moral sense,” says Narvaez.  She provides parents with six childrearing practices in the child’s first 0 to 6 years that lead to healthy attachment:

·      Lots of continuous responsive, caring touch—carrying, cuddling, holding, patting. This includes keeping Baby with Mom and Dad, not isolating the baby in her own room.

·      Prompt, patient responses to a baby’s cries—it’s impossible to spoil a baby the first several months of life, because babies aren’t biologically or cognitively capable of manipulating people or things in their environments.  It’s best to respond to a baby’s fusses, before they become fully upset. This prevents the release of toxic stress chemicals in the baby. As Narvaez says, “Warm, responsive caregiving keeps the infant’s brain clam in the years it’s forming its personality and responses to the world.”

·      Breastfeeding—ideally to the age of two (Narvaez suggests even longer). A child’s immune system isn’t fully developed until about age 6, and needs the healthy building blocks provided in breastmilk.

·      Other adult caregivers—grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends…babies enjoy novelty!

·      Playmates—of all ages!  Freeplay (not organized play) is the best. Narvaez’s research suggests that children who don’t play enough are more likely to develop ADHD.

·      Natural childbirth—Narvaez maintains that unmedicated childbirth provides mothers with hormone boosts, giving Mom extra energy to care for her baby.

Whether a parent adheres to all of these suggestions is purely an individual choice, and clearly, many of them aren’t conducive for the majority of moms who must work outside of the home.

But I think the heart of her message is what matters most:  “Kids who don’t get the emotional nurturing they need in early life tend to be more self-centered. They don’t have the available compassion-related emotions to the same degree as kids who were raised by warm, responsive families.”

Do you believe that children today have lower levels of compassion and morality?

Love as a Safe Haven

We love, because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

As a mom of four sons, it’s tough to find words to describe how I felt when I held each of them in my arms for the first time…especially with my first son, who was pretty beat up trying to make his way into this world.

Looking at his teeny little [very] bruised, [very] scratched face, his [very] wrinkled, pug-like forehead, and his [very elongated] cone head his daddy was sure would never get better, I looked at my baby and said, “You poor, pitiful little thing. Mommy’s gonna love you. Mommy’s gonna keep you safe.”

Oh, I loved each of my babies, no question about that. But it wasn’t a love I had ever before experienced. It was warm and tender and caring, yes. Yet there was something different about this love. Something very different.

My love for my new babies was protective. I was protective. Like never before, I felt this surge of she-bearness. This overwhelming desire to keep my babies from harm. This drive-push-urge to keep them safe. To shield them from whatever the world threw at them.

I nurtured my babies. I kept them safe. I protected them.

But my babies didn’t experience me as nurturing. As keeping them safe. As protecting them. They experienced me as love.

Little did I know, I was shaping their abilities to someday fall in love and to become parents. They love today because we first loved them 20+ years ago. 

You see, for most of us, the first love relationship we experience is the parent-child relationship. Born helpless with nothing more than survival reflexes, we are fully reliant upon our parents for every need.

It is this very dependency on others that propels us to form emotional bonds in which we give and receive love. And it is from the experiences of the earliest of all love relationships that our later-in-life love relationships take place. Researchers refer to this close, emotional tie in the early days/months/years as attachment.   

In what ways do you see God’s marvelous, matchless design woven throughout the attachment process?  In what ways does the mother-infant/father-infant love bond resemble the ways in which God loves us? 

What Kind of Lover Are You?

You’ve done a lot of homework this week, so now it’s time for a little fun!  Let’s find out what type of lover you are.

Canadian sociologist John Lee conceptualized love in a manner similar to the Greeks, and he came up with six different love styles. Take a look at these:

  • Eros: Passionate and Tantalizing. Eros refers to a type of sensual or sexual love. Erotic lovers are passionate and romantic and seek out passionately expressive lovers. They thrive on the tantalizing nature of gotta-have-it-baby love and sex. They have an “ideal mate” in their mind’s eye and believe there is only one “true love” in the world for them. Sexual activity usually occurs early on in the relationship, and the sex is hawt, passionate, exciting, and insatiable all at once. 
  • Ludus: Flirtatious and Fun. Ludus is a playful, flirtatious, carefree, and casual love. Ludus lovers don’t’ care as much about commitment as they do about playing the sport of love. Variety is the spice of life for ludic lovers, and the more partners, the better. Because ludic lovers don’t share intimacy, ludic lovers consider love to be fun and easy-going. When it comes to love, they are nonchalant and unconcerned about tomorrow.
  • Storge: Affectionate and Constant. This type of love develops over time, and engenders shared interests, trust, and acceptance. Storgic lovers are friends as well as lovers. They’re patient and consistent.
  • Manic: Frenzied and Chaotic. Jealousy, envy, protectiveness, and exclusivity (to the point of cutting off family and friends) are the hallmark traits of manic lovers. Manic love is frenzied, agitated, hectic, and chaotic. The highs are very high, the lows are very low—making the relationship very much a roller-coaster ride of emotions.
  • Pragma: Practical and Careful. Practicality and logic guide the pragmatic lover. If the “perfect mate” items on the pragmatic lover’s love map are fulfilled—suitability of education, family background, religious beliefs, and so on—the love candidate has a good chance of becoming a mate.
  • Agape: Selfless and Patient. Exemplified by Jesus, agape love is a selfless, enduring love. It is altruistic in nature, which means love partners promote the well-being of the other. It is an other-centered—not a me-centered—type of love. It is an unconditional, willful, I-love-you-because-I-choose-to kind of love. It does not demand immediate gratification of needs or wants, and it expects nothing in return. Inherent to agape love is patience, kindness, and permanence.

What type of lover are you?  What type of lover is your spouse? Find out here! 

Author! Author!

Each of us "loves" in certain established ways because past experiences influence present experiences. Who are the authors of your love map?

A critical step in creating a long-lasting, satisfying marriage is exploring the path that guided the development of your love behaviors and patterns. 

Create an instant snapshot of your family's love and relationship history by creating a genogram:

"Please pass the ham."

As recipes and cooking may be passed down from generation to generation, so too are the origins of our capacity to love and to be loved. These family influences ultimately shape our unique, personal love maps.

There is a story that surfaced several years ago about a newly married couple. It makes a strong point concerning the development of love behaviors and interaction patterns within families.

In preparation for their first big dinner with both sets of parents and grandparents, the new husband was puzzled as he watched his bride put the ham in the oven. He inquired of her, “Honey, why did you cut the ham in half and then put it in the pan?”

She replied, “Oh, I don’t know…I suppose because that’s how Mom always did it. It must help it cook faster or something.”

At dinner that evening, the bride asked her mother, “Mom, why do you cut the ham in half before you bake it?”

The mother, baffled by her daughter’s question, thoughtfully replied, “I suppose it’s because that’s always how my mom did it.”  All eyes in the room turned on the bride’s grandmother for an explanation.

The grandmother, quite amused, chuckled and said, “When I was first married I didn’t have a pan large enough for the ham to fit in—so I always cut it into two halves and just kept doing it that way. I guess I just got accustomed to making ham that way!”

As this story illustrates, more often than not we don’t give much thought to our behaviors. We do them simply because that’s how we’ve become accustomed to doing them. We do them because this is what we’ve been taught, because it’s what we’ve so often observed.

So it is with much of what makes up marriage, intimate relationships, and family life—we love others and allow others to love us the way we learned from the families that raised us. We communicate the ways we were taught to. We parent the way we were parented. We argue the ways we were taught to. We manage finances the way we were taught to. We express intimacy the way we were taught to. We cope with stress and crises the way we were taught to.

Experience by experience, your love map is written. And this becomes a part of who you are. It becomes your set of expectations, it becomes your marriage script.

Now, all is fine and dandy if we marry someone who was raised exactly like us. But this isn’t reality, is it?

Are there relationship patterns and behaviors that you want to repeat in your own interpersonal relationships? Are there things you wish to change?

"I thought you had the map?"

No two people in a relationship experience or express their love in exactly the same ways. And to complicate things even more, you can love the same person in different ways at different times. This is because as you grow from infancy through old age, your concept of "love" is under construction, continuously developing over time. Ultimately, you develop your own, unique "definition" of love.

Experience after experience—from the parent-child relationship, to friendships, to boyfriends and girlfriends (and ex's), to sexual hookups, to marriages that work and marriages that don't/didn't—you create a love map, or a playbook. This map is then internalized and made a part of you.   

Your love map is kind of like a mental blueprint. It's your one-of-a-kind image of what love is and isn't. Whether you realize it or not, you use this love map to help you determine who you want to date or to marry. You use it when you begin to question if you're "in love" with someone.

And just as important, you use the love map to determine if a relationship is over, because if elements in your love map are violated (such as trust or respect) or not fulfilled (like humor or sex), you eventually “fall out” of love.  

Because your love map is an integral part of who you are, it almost always directs each and every aspect of your intimate relationships. Your love map also drives the motives behind your relationship patterns and interactions.

For example, a wife could certainly do something for her husband, she can do an unexpected act of kindness like making a cup of coffee for him in the morning—but what if her love map is written in such a way that if she gives something to her partner, she expects something in return?  And what if he doesn’t know what’s written on her love map, that she expects something back?

The first important step in divorce-proofing a marriage is to identify your love map, and to have an understanding of your partner’s love map.    

Big. Huge. Important.

Are you ready to take your marriage to a level that few couples experience?

Create a love list:  Take a few minutes to jot down 10 key attributes that you consider central for a committed love relationship to thrive (such as, trust, respect, humor, support, sex, etc). 

Rank the order of importance of your chosen attributes, with 1 being the most important.

How does your list compare to your partner's?  Do each of you share identical lists with identical rankings? In what ways does this help you to better understand your partner?

"I have a weakness for, adore, worship, am devoted to, have a passion for, am fond of you!"

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38)

Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Friend. Teacher. Mentor. Author. Volunteer.  Like you, I have a number of roles that I carry out every day, and each role comes with expectations that almost always make it difficult (impossible?) to balance everything, to get everything done that really has to be done. Sometimes the Lord gets pushed to the end of my day...and, because of my fatigue and stress from the day's events, He sometimes gets the "worst" of me. He gets Martha--anxious, worried, harried, irritated, feverishly serving, aggravated Martha (Luke 10:38-42).     

After having just finished a couple of two huge projects, I was excited that I had some down time, and I began to ask the Lord what I should do next (I know, I know. Sit, Martha, sit).  Almost immediately, the above scripture came to mind. I read and re-read and re-read Jesus' greatest commandment to me--to love God with absolutely everything I am, with everything I have. My calling is to love God. Love Him. With everything.  All.  Holding nothing back. 

At first I thought the scripture was laid on my heart because I had been so busy.  Because of my neglect.  Because of too many Martha moments.  But as I allowed myself to settle in, to be quiet, to be still, I realized the Lord wanted me to focus on loving Him. To focus on what it means to love--God, my husband, my children, my family, my friends, my students--the way He calls me to love. The way He loves.     

Everything That Comes with It

I admit it---I was the little girl who used to create Barbie doll wedding dresses out of toilet paper.  I was the little girl who pinned a pillow case "wedding veil" to her pony tail, and I was the little girl who, when asked by her ice skating instructor what she wanted to practice, said, "Let's practice walking down the aisle!"  

Falling in love.  Marriage.  Babies.  I had my entire life planned out by the time I was six years old.  Is it any wonder I had to have the wedding of the century (second only to Princess Diana, of course)?  My winter wedding day, complete with snow, was spectacular.  Perfect.  Flawless.  I was locked arm in arm with my dad, and the wedding planner was making sure my gown would make its magnificent statement (actually, in 1981 we didn't have wedding planners....but I'm fairly certain he would have been a wedding planner if there were such a thing back then).

The music was just about to cue my entrance, and   <about here is where we would insert the sound effects of a needle screeching across a record>.

It.  Happened.