Sex and Relationships During Stressful Times

“It was the best of times… NO… It was the worst of times”.

Keeping your relationship sexy and strong can be challenging during the best of times. Kids, work, day-to-day life – things get busy and relationships suffer. But what about during particularly tough periods? How do you keep things on the rails?

We’ve have had a tough fall. Not to get into the details, but I have a sports injury that has had a complicated recovery, meaning almost 6 weeks of me bing in a lot of pain and not super useful around the house (or the bedroom). Our oldest daughter recently broke her arm. While she is being much tougher with her injury than I am with mine, it still means she need s a lot of extra care.

All this to say… not a great fall. I’m near useless around the house and my wife is doing triple duty, between work, parenting, and house-stuff.

So, how do you make sure your relationship does not become yet another casualty of these difficult times?

We have learned a few things:

1. Remember, it’s a time-limited ordeal. Even though we’re not having tons of fun now, we are always reminding ourselves that things will get better. We just booked a fun, diving getaway for February, knowing that we’l all be healthy by then.

2. Give yourself a break. My wife makes sure that she still squeezes in some fun that is important to her. It might be a workout in the morning, a drink out with a friend one evening, or a quick date with her vibrator on a weekend afternoon. While the rest of us may be in pretty bad shape, we can make do for a couple hours without her.

For me, I can;t do much but I can do something – I’m not rock climbing or doing P90X but I can walk on the treadmill or bike lightly on a stationary bike. I think one of the tricks in dealing (physically and psychologically) with injury and sickness is to keep it in perspective.

3. Don’t let things spiral downward. While I may be feeling a little lousy, there is no need for me to wallow in it. After the kids go to bed, we have made a real effort to still connect. We try to send at lead 20 or 30 minutes chatting about things that are uplifting and fun. To be honest, sometimes I would probably prefer to just turn on the TV, but there is no excuse for me nit putting some effort into being good company – I’m injured not comatose.

4. Sex suffers but needn’t die. We’re not waking the neighbours with 5 alarm orgies these days, but we’re also not putting our sex lives completely on the shelves. Mutual masturbation, porn watching, or sharing fantasies are still good options to remind ourselves of the better things in life.

We’ll be back on our feet in no time… I’m pretty sure of it. But in the meantime, I am trying to let this keep us completely knocked out

The Human Sex Map

What the mind can imagine, the mind can eroticize. And there are no limits to what the mind can imagine.

So.. here’s a fun activity if you’re looking for a way to spend a few hours on a Saturday evening – alone, with a partner or with friends.

I came across the ‘human sex map’ recently (http://www.humansexmap.com). It is a listing, in cartographical form, of the range of sexual fantasies and kinks that exist. It runs from the very vanilla, to the pretty vanilla, to the pretty out there to the ‘I hardly knew it really existed’.

The way it is laid out is fascinating. Imagine a map of Europe. Each country is a ‘land’ – the land of mundane, the land of D&S, the island of uniform fetishes, etc. And them, within each of these countries, there are provinces listing the sub-kinks or activities – everything from dry humping, anal beads, spin the bottle, bukkake, to statue fetish.

And then the challenge – for each of the activities (and there are hundreds), colour-code your map into: (i) tried and liked; (ii) tried and didn’t like; (iii) would like to try; (iv) no interest.

I plan on trying it, first with my wife and then with a small group of friends. Could lead to some interesting discussions.

A Future We Want

Think of the best party you’ve ever been to. One that pulsed with energy and interest and, at the end, left you feeling that you really should go out more or hang out with that particular group of people more often. Now, think of the beginning of that party. I suspect that the tone for the night was set from the moment you walked in the door. There would have been an energy and charisma that gave a sense of promise and anticipation that was palpable.

After 5 years of deep, depressing and divisive recession, the party is about to start again for western economies – economic growth is restarting, employment is growing, debt/GDP ratios are shrinking. Western economies are finally trending upward.

We are at a golden moment, right now, to set the tone for the next decade’s party. The next great economy we need is one that delivers prosperity more equitably and more environmentally sustainably.

There are challenges. Barrack Obama is late in his term. He was the perfect personality to launch the country in a new direction, but his timing was awful. You cannot meaningfully launch in a new direction when you are needing to respond to a crisis. Obama became a mediocre manager the times required, rather than the inspirational change agent he could have been had the circumstances been different.

Moreover, despite no meaningful progress on climate change, the world has climate change fatigue. Al Gore generated significant political space for action, but he was too late in the economic cycle to make change. The last positive economic cycle was unprecedented in its length and wealth generation, but by the time Gore captured the public attention with climate change, investment patterns had been set – it was too late to redirect to a sustainable form of growth.

Now is the time to begin a path to a sustainable economy. We know wealth is coming, but we do not have it yet. It is at these very rare moments, that we have an opportunity to dream, time to plan and do not have to give up things we already have to get there. Lets seize this moment.

Bad Sex Needn’t Equate With Sexual Assault

How is sexual assault like the Hockey Hall of Fame?

I was on a road trip with some buddies over the summer. They really wanted to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Me, I’m not much of a sports fan so I was not keen. The fact that they were already pretty drunk was the icing on the cake. This afternoon had disaster written all over it. But, like a good friend, I agreed so off we went. The ensuing three hours were a disaster – acting like children on the subway, running around all the families at the Hockey Hall of Fame like idiots…. I hated it. My only reprieve was when I managed to lose them for 30 minutes and take in some of the exhibits.. which I find completely boring because I don’t even like hockey.

So what does this have to do with sexual assault? I am in no way trying to diminish the seriousness of sexual assault, but sometimes we agree to do something – against our better judgement or when our guard is down – and we regret it. Sometimes we are even pressured. But it is still our own fault.

I read an article in this weekend’s newspaper. It was an in-depth features piece about the growing concern over sexual assault on college campuses. The lead anecdote was a woman who had, over the past months been regularly getting drunk with a male friend and hooking up. That past weekend, they had done the same thing. After this last hook-up she reflected that she had not really been into the sex on the last occurrence. And she wondered – as did this author – was that sexual assault?

This worried me. That this situation can be considered sexual assault. She readily admitted that the guy did not force himself upon her; nor did he coerce her. She further said that she was 100% sure that if she had said she was not into it or if she’d asked him to stop that he would have. And this may be sexual assault!?!?!?

We all sometimes make decisions we regret.
– If I snort coke and feel badly about it the next day, whose at fault – me or my dealer?
– Sometimes we feel pressured or coerced into the choice. My dealer was really pushing the drugs on me – still my fault.
– Sometimes we are in a state where we are prone to bad decisions – my dealer sold me drugs when I was drunk – still my fault!

I have no doubt that this woman is sincere in saying that she regretted having had sex; and I am pretty sure that, in that situation, sex was a bad idea – for both of them. But it was a bad idea jointly made…. by two individuals who should take responsibility for their decisions. They decided, albeit with diminished faculties (they were drunk) to have sex. To call him a sexual assailant and her a victim of sexual assault – I call bullshit.

Kim Kardashian. She’s No Einstein — She’s Better!!

With Thanksgiving fast approaching and Kim Kardashian pouring champagne on her bare ass and breaking the internet, I pause and reflect.

I am thankful for Kim Kardashian and I am thankful for America. Kim Kardasian has proven, once again that America is the land of opportunity… the last true meritocracy.

Kim Kardashian is, to say the least, nothing special. Beauty: Pre-surgery, pre-makeup, pre-photoshop, pre-fashion consultants, pre-all-the-help… sure she’s attractive but no more than millions of other girls. She has taken a base level of attractiveness and transformed herself into the ideal of beauty. Intelligence: nope. Charisma; not much. Inherited Wealth/Born Into Opportunity: not much…. kind of C-minus celebrity family with some B-minus connections to fame… but mostly a typical suburban middle class upbringing. Inventiveness: not really.

Albert Einstein and Bill Gates were born with big fat brains. They did nothing to earn these.. they came out of the womb with a 160 IQ and, sure, they did amazing and admirable things with that intelligence but they had an innate ability that was set them up in ways that few others are set up.

Sam Walton – the Walmart guy – was born to hardworking parents. His father reinvented himself as a successful farm mortgage broker during the great depression and Sam himself was the youngest Eagle Scout in his homes state’s history. He was born into an ethos of hard work and practicality. That he founded a retailer that celebrates hard work, thriftiness and practicality – this is no surprise. This is, essentially, what he was born to do.

But Kim Kardashian. Kim Kardashian has played the cards she was dealt better than almost anyone I can think of. She was born with a pair of sixes… and through hard work and audacity she has parlayed that into a royal flush. And for this I admire her greatly. And I admire America for enabling it.

You butter me up… and then you throw me on a plate and take a bite

I don’y usually write parenting posts. And I especially don’t usually write posts that are the day-to-day goings on of my children. But this made me laugh…

Last night, after so-so parent teacher interview with my 10 year old daughter’s teachers I tried to have a heart to heart with her. I tried the “two stars and a wish” approach where you highlight two positives and then one thing to work on.

I said “it seems like your teachers think you are very bright and that you are very kind to the other kids, and (and then I wanted to get into ‘you have a hard time getting down to work because you are more interested in socializing than working’).

But before I could get that last part out, she cut me off: “Hold it! Hold it!. I know what you’re doing. You butter me up and then you throw me on the plate and take a bite!”

Brilliant!! Now wonder the kids are entertained by her.

Crossing The Line – When Its More Than Just Flirting

I like to flirt. Especially when it is someone I have a close and playful relationship with, I like to have some sexy flirtation in the relationship. It brings us closer, spices things up and opens up new activities and conversations we wouldn’t otherwise have.

My wife knows this and likes it; she feels this makes me interesting and attractive. And as a less flirty person, she develops more intimate relationships with friends through my flirtation.

But a big reason my wife likes my flirty ways is because she knows I know where the line is. But sometimes the line is a little grey. For what its worth, here are my guiding principles:

– I never touch someone in ways that I would be embarrassed or ashamed if my wife caught me doing them. For us, I will touch and cuddle with female friends to a degree that is intimate but not overtly sexual – eg. no problem with a hand on the ass, but not down the pants (at least not for a prolonged period).

– If the friend I am flirting with goes too far and responds to what they feel is a sexual advance, I back off. One evening, a friend who had a little too much to drink was lying with her head on my lap as the rest of us chatted. When I felt her hand start to massage my penis, I knew a line was bring crossed.

– I really enjoy sexual discussion with friends but I will not indulge in fantasies with female friends that suggest us having sex or being intimate. Even if I know these fantasies will not be acted on, for me this is too far. I make an exception for friends who are strictly e-friends. I little sexual fantasizing can be fun there and my wife is done with that.

– Finally, and most importantly, I check in with my wife often to make sure she doesn’t feel I am going to far. We have one friend in particular who is very flirtation and, for whatever reason, she and my wife don’t click. With her, I back off.

So, what are your lines? When is it just flirting and when is it more?