Meat Pies, Sex and Relationships

Posted on September 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

“Men don’t know how to be men. Many men fear that they are unsafe.”
~Aaron Bradfield

“To be a spiritually healthy person you have to be an emotionally healthy person.”
~Rob Furlong

What happens when you get 45 men in a room with a pastor and a counsellor to discuss sex and relationships over a meat pie and a can of coke?

Answer: a lot of education, connecting fellowship, and encouragement.

What follows are some of my thoughts from the notes taken from a Sex and Relationships “Real Men Pie Night.”

PORNOGRAPHY

Sex is sacred and pornography devalues what is sacrosanct.

The commonest problem men are dealing with is pornography, and, to a lesser extent, burnout – both physical and spiritual. Because pornography is so accessible these days – one mouse click away – more and more men (and more women for that matter) are becoming entrapped by pornography.

Among the many dangers involved in pornography is the pressure it places on men’s partners; women who feel under pressure to look like and perform like the porn stars.

It’s amazing how many Christian men struggle with pornography, but almost every one of them believes they are alone. It is the oldest lie of the devil to isolate us in such ways.

Interestingly, pornography is not so much about sex, as it’s much more to do with our own story – what we, as persons, have not recovered from. Dealing with our pasts – being honest about them with trusted others – helps to heal us.

Dealing with the problem of pornography probably best begins with therapy, and possibly group therapy. The best thing we can do, in our struggle with pornography, is to be open and honest with a trusted friend, and ask that friend to pray with us.

Openness and honesty are the keys.

The only real exception to complete openness and honesty is timing and wisdom with our wives in declaring our problems. Our wives are not to be burdened with being our accountability partners. A bit like Step 9 of AA’s 12-Step Program, where, amends is to be made, it defeats the purpose if our amends injures the person we want God to heal. We must pray for wisdom and discernment about the details. But we should tell them, somehow, we have a problem that we’re dealing with.

MEN’S AND WOMEN’S IDENTITIES

Just as the quote at top says, men have learned to lose confidence in their male identity. We may struggle with viewing ourselves as on the one hand, dangerous, but, on the other hand, soft. Our lack of male identity is often caused at a societal level, but it was learned and is reinforced all the more from our families of origin.

Men’s overriding psychology about their masculinity is about, “do I have what it takes?” Women’s overriding psychology about their femininity is about, “do you (my man) delight in me.”

If the man’s identity is to treasure his woman, that he makes her the object of his affection, he bridges the gap between him and her.

THE SEX RELATIONSHIP

It’s critically important for men to understand that their women need to be treated with the utmost respect. If a woman isn’t respected she may be characteristically reviled by the thought of sex. Men tend to not understand this and wonder why they have unfulfilling sexual relationships. The sexual relationship between a married couple is a good representation of the overall relationship. If the sex is good it probably means that the woman feels safe, cherished, and respected in the marriage.

A man cannot grow in intimacy with his wife unless he is prepared to devote his whole sexual life to her alone. He must be not just physically faithful, but mentally and spiritually faithful as well. Intimacy ignites passion as a slow but reliable flame.

Where there is a disparity between the libidos of a husband and his wife, where characteristically the husband’s sexual drive is higher, he may be able to engage sexually with her present in ways that she doesn’t need to be actively involved.

But wherever a wife is involved sexually the husband needs to pay caring attention to what leads up to the sexual event. Sex, at least for the woman, begins in the brain. Women are not interested in sex when the relationship is poor. It is up to men, and the onus is on us, to build intimacy with our wives.

Furthermore, it may be a stretch for a man to understand what it might be like to have a body that is sexually penetrated. A man finds it difficult to imagine how vulnerable a woman must be to allow a man to enter into her body. The sex act needs to be creative, not rushed, and not mechanical.

As men we need to treat our women as they should be treated: with the utmost respect.

Lastly, it is of real value for a woman to understand that a man feels rejected deeper down when he isn’t getting sex. But the first onus is on the man to ensure his wife is happy; that she is being loved and respected unconditionally.

© 2013 S. J. Wickham.

Acknowledgement: a special vote of thanks and gratitude for Pastors Rob Furlong and Aaron Bradfield, who were a beautifully complementary team as part of an expert panel providing the above wisdom, and to Pastor Anthony Palmieri for his “Pie Night” vision.

Why Many Women Don’t Think About Sex

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Uncategorized

Laverne wrote the following to me:

“I have never had thoughts that picture me making love with my husband – or anyone else for that matter. I imagine connection, fun and feelings of love but never making love. If it was left up to me sex would never be on the agenda, just because it would never occur to me to make love. I know when my husband would like to make love, and I enjoy it when I do make love, but it would never cross my mind if he didn’t initiate. I feel I am missing being aware and connected to a part of me. Surely a reasonably balanced and mostly connected human being should have some sort of sex drive. Your thoughts and insights would be really appreciated. Thank you.”

Laverne is not alone in her experience. I hear this same thing from many of my women clients.

However, many women do think about romance, which can lead to sex. Women tend to think more about the process of intimacy – of fun, connection, and sharing feelings of love – rather than about the result. In fact, for many women focusing on the result is a turnoff.

The fact that Laverne can enjoy sex when her husband initiates it indicates that there is nothing wrong with her sexuality. It’s just that it’s not separate from her feelings of love and connection. It doesn’t occur to her to make love because her sexuality mostly emerges from her emotional connection with her husband. Some women, but not all, do experience a biological push toward sex during their ovulation. But even then, for most women, it needs to be in the context of emotional intimacy.

And herein lies the major difference between men and women – testosterone. While some women have higher than normal testosterone levels, most don’t, which means that most women are not biologically driven regarding having sex. Not so for most men. Testosterone creates the biological sex drive in men, while love, intimacy and romance often lead to women feeling sexual.

It would be helpful for our relationships if we all could accept that women who don’t think about having sex are generally not imbalanced or disconnected from their bodies.

What would happen in relationships if both men and women accepted that men are often more biologically driven and women are often more emotionally driven? Perhaps this could lead to deep appreciation for each other. There is truly nothing wrong with men for generally being more biologically driven than women, and there is nothing wrong with women for generally being more emotionally driven then many men. (Of course, none of this is always true, as some women are more biologically driven than their man, and some men are more emotionally driven then their woman. And these differences can just as easily show up in same-sex relationships).

If Laverne stops judging herself for not thinking about sex, and values what she contributes to their relationship, then perhaps she can also value her husband for his biology and for being the one to initiate sex. If her husband completely embraces his biology, perhaps he can fully appreciate what Laverne brings to the relationship regarding fun, love and connection. And he might be more wiling to tap into his ability to be romantic once he accepts this as a vital part of their relationship. By valuing themselves and each other for what they each bring to their sexual relationship, their differences can be a blessing for them rather than creating conflict.

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Same Sex Couples and Child Custody

Posted on September 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

Many same-sex couples choose to start families by having or adopting children. In the event the relationship between partners ends, child custody must be determined as with heterosexual relationships. These situations can be complex especially when one parent is the child’s biological parent and the other is not. Each state has individual laws regarding same-sex adoption so it is important to know your state’s laws and the best way to protect your parental status in your same-sex relationship.

In order to protect your parental rights to a child, in a same-sex relationship, you should make sure you are a “legal parent.” A legal parent has a duty to provide for a child, the right to live with the child (full or part-time) and the right to make decisions on his/her behalf. In some states, same-sex couples are permitted to jointly adopt a child therefore they both become legal parents. In cases where one partner is the biological parent, the biological parent automatically becomes the parent. In lesbian partnerships, often one partner is the biological mother and carries the child, making her the legal parent. In gay men partnerships, one partner may be the sperm donor (the child carried by a surrogate) making him the biological or parent. Many states allow the non-biological same-sex partner to adopt the child through the second-parent or step-parent adoption process. The second-parent adoption process allows the same-sex partner to also claim the parent role.

When same-sex relationships end and children are involved, often the courts get involved to determine custody arrangements. If both parents are legally the parents, most courts will handle child custody in the same way they would with a heterosexual relationship. The non-biological parent, who has a legal relationship with the child, will have rights similar to those of a father in a heterosexual relationship. In some cases, the non-biological parent is awarded custody because it is in the best interest of the child. Problems with custody can arise if only one partner is a legal parent. Many courts will say that the non-legal parent has few if any rights to the child in the case of separation. In some cases, the courts have allowed the legal or biological parent to deny the non-legal parent contact with the child. Some more progressive courts will look beyond the legal parental status to examine the history and relationship formed between the child and partner, when determining child custody.

In a few states, same-sex partner adoption is prohibited. It may not be possible for a non-biological parent to gain full parental status. If you live in a state where you are not permitted to adopt your partner’s biological child, you should attempt to protect yourself and your parental role in the event of separation down the road. One way to do this is by establishing a parenting agreement. This agreement will not necessarily stand up in court, but may help you work with your partner in the case of separation. A parenting agreement usually establishes that although only one partner is the legal parent, you both consider yourself equal parents and assume the responsibilities associated with your parental roles. It should include that you intend to co-parent even if the relationship comes to an end. It would be advantageous to also include information about financial responsibility and visitation/custody agreements in case of separation. This parenting agreement can be used in court as ammunition to support a non-legal parent’s quest for child custody/visitation.

If you would like more information about your state’s laws and same-sex couple adoption, you should contact a family law attorney. An experienced family law attorney can inform you of your state’s laws on same-sex adoption and the best way to protect yourself in your same-sex parenting relationship.

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