Is Confession Good For the Soul?

Before this goes any further, let me qualify that question.

–I’m not talking about religion or conversations in the booth with your priest.

–And I’m not only talking about your soul.

I’m talking about confession on a more interpersonal level.  Relationships.  Deceit.  Guilt.  Confession.  Truth.

Mostly romantic relationships, but it can really be any relationship.

Guilt has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember.  Even before my OCD was diagnosed, and long after, part of my ritual to expel guilt was that I needed a confessor. My mom usually fulfilled this role, even though most often the guilt du jour had nothing to do with her.  Often my confessions were embarrassing and tedious, to both me and my chosen confessor, and were more often then not unnecessary, as my guilt was more a product of my OCD than anything I had actually done wrong.  Though my OCD is now better controlled, there are still times of high stress where I feel a formless guilt and a compulsion to “confess” something to the most important people in my life.

However, the majority of people experience guilt normally, in response to appropriate things, and in varying degrees.  What they do in response to that guilt is as individual a thing as the guilt itself.  Especially when the guilt involves a close romantic partner or spouse.  Relationships are complicated and successful relationships and lasting romantic connection take work.  When asked, most people would likely agree (at least out loud) that honesty is the best policy, although some of those people would likely also tell you there is such a thing as too much honesty.  I’m guessing there are many people, men and women, that would admit having told a “white lie” now and then, to spare their partner’s feelings.

 

Do you think I’ve gained weight?

Does my hair look thinner to you?

What do you think of my mother?

Sure, honey, dinner was good.

Yeah, I got off…

 

While I do agree with the use of tact and sensitivity, I am personally not a fan of the “white lie.”  I don’t lie to my husband, even about little things.  You may not believe me, and that’s okay, but I think I already demonstrated that I have a pretty overactive conscience with regards to some people.  That’s just me.  I don’t know if it’s the norm or not, or how many people do tell white lies to their spouse with little ill-effect on their conscience, and I am making no judgments.

What I am curious about are the big things?  Lies about our past…hiding money…cheating…

Any secrets or lies that would seriously damage a relationship, or at the very least, hurt you or your spouse emotionally if they ever came out.

There seem to be two main school of thought regarding secrets, lies, and whether or not to confess.  Some people feel that confessing, telling the truth, clearing the air, is the only right thing to do.  If you love someone, you don’t hide things from them or lie to them.  Period.

Then there is the school of thought that confession is actually a selfish act, done more to assuage the guilt of the “confessee” than out of any desire or need to right a wrong.  That there is no point in hurting the wronged party more by confessing, when nothing can actually be gained from truth coming out.  For example, you cheated on your spouse.  It was a mistake, a one time thing, you feel horrible, and you know it will never happen again.  What will confessing do but hurt your spouse, your relationship?

(We won’t go into the school of thought that is “deny, deny, deny,” even when confronted with evidence.  I think people that do that are operating with a questionable moral compass to begin with.  That’s all about self preservation, and guilt doesn’t much factor into it.)

Personally, I always advocate honesty, but if there was going to be criteria on “when to tell the truth,” I’d say the deciding factor should be the answer to one question.

Would the relationship change significantly, would feelings or actions of either party be different if the were the truth known?  

After all, how can a relationship be secure, be real, if both parties are not operating with all the facts ? Would your girlfriend leave you if she knew you cheated?  Would your husband forgive you if he knew you went off the pill even after he said he wanted no more children?

Anyway, I am curious to know what you guys think.  Consider this sort of an informal reader poll…

To tell or not to tell…

Talk to the Queen.

 

honesty

 

 

 

Fancy a Roll in ze Hay? Sex and Marriage

What is a sexless marriage?

The US National Health and Social Life Survey in 1994 (Laumann et al. 1994) found that 2 percent of the married respondents reported no sexual intimacy in the past year. The definition of a nonsexual marriage is often broadened to include those where sexual intimacy occurs less than ten times per year

Is sex that important?  Can a marriage be healthy without it?

Well, I’m not an expert about marriage…or sex…  But I am married and I love sex…( and besides, this is my blog, so I can talk about it if I wanna, so, Nyah.)   I’ve been with my husband for over eight years, and we’ve been married for a little over three.  We have a two year old daughter who is the major love of both of our lives, and we’re both totally cool with that.  We’ve had our share of difficulties– financial, family-related, and personal.  I think we have a very strong marriage.  We can talk about most anything.  I have a deep love for my husband and he is my best friend.

And I am still, um… a big hornball.  One of the things I like about my husband is how secure and laid-back he is; like how we can laugh about my obsession with Maynard or Noomi.  And there is some joking about how I am the man in our relationship because I am always dropping him not-too-subtle hints about sex and he often just laughs at my “crass” and unromantic overtures.

I happened on this article the other day about sexless marriages.  We’re definitely not in a “sexless” marriage.  Still, we’re older, busier, tired more often…  so we’re not doing it three times a day like when we first met.  The whole thing got me thinking a bit.  How many people do I know might be secretly dissatisfied with the amount of sex they’re having?  So I did a little bit of digging on the ever-handy InterWebz this morning, with my mind on a possible blog post.

It’s natural and completely normal for the animal sex of a new relationship to drop off. “The initial passion of any relationship changes after 18 months,” says Sallie Foley, MSW, director of the Center for Sexual Health at the University of Michigan (author of Modern Love and Sex and Love for Grownups.)

“It moves from the romantic and exciting to an attachment kind of loving, fondness.  That gotta have it, gotta have it feeling is gone.”

Even though some amount of drop off in sexual frequency can be expected, that doesn’t mean we don’t mourn it sometimes.  And there are instances where a “drop-off” turns into a “shut-out.”  There may be emotional or physical reasons behind why a marriage becomes “sexless.”

Some people feel that sex isn’t that big a deal, and that if you really love your partner, you can deal with having less sex than you may want.  In my opinion, this would depend on the situation– basically, the reasons for the lack of intimacy.

Because to me, intimacy is a super-important part of a marriage, and for me sex affords a very specific type of intimacy.  If it goes for more than a week or two, my dreams start to get markedly kinkier.  I get anxious and sometimes even cranky if I go for too long without sex with my husband.  Apparently I am not unusual in this regard.

“It’s a very healthy thing for a partnership, there’s no question about that…People who have sex tend to feel closer, more intimate.”

Does your sex life look like this?

Does your sex life look like this?

Or this...?

Or this…?

A relationship stripped of the intimacy and physical closeness which sex provides feels hollow: the person who is supposed to find you attractive, sexy and desirable doesn’t.

Let me reiterate that there are many reasons a marriage can become sexless, and it’s something you should discuss to see if it’s within your power as a couple to change the dynamic of your sexual relationship.  There are many avenues open to you, including but not limited to therapy.  But one simple piece of advice I’ve seen in more than one place is this:

“…There’s definitely a use it or lose it aspect to sex…You have to be committed to intimate time together. That doesn’t mean every single time you take off your clothes and have sex. But set aside time just for the two of you.”

Basically, having sex makes you want sex more.

I’ll leave you with this last thought.  Some people have the attitude of “what’s the big deal?”  Like if your spouse is a good  spouse in all other respects, who cares if there’s no sex?

If you communicate to your partner that you are unhappy and they seem ambivalent, that’s a problem.

There’s something very wrong with the picture if your partner is saying ‘I know you’re desperately unhappy but I don’t plan on doing anything about it and still expect you to be faithful’

sources:

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/are-you-spouses-or-just-roommates

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexless_marriage

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2251074/The-sexless-marriage-Should-leave-arent-getting-asks-FEMAIL-Sexpert-Tracey-Cox.html

Fight Fair: When the Love is Gone

When the Love is Gone…

Healing-a-broken-heart2

What’s Left?

Most of us have been there– a relationship that just didn’t work out.  Not just someone you dated once or twice, but a relationship that actually took off, but then for some reason, began to lose steam.  Or worse– crash and burn in a fiery conflagration of suspicion and hostility after some transgression or betrayal on the part of one or both parties.

And then what’s left?  Broken hearts, bitterness, tears… and an apparent disregard for the feelings of someone we once claimed to love.

When I went through this myself, back at then end of high school, beginning of college, I simply couldn’t fathom why I was being treated so badly.  The answer soon became apparent;  the lying, the flagrant disrespect for me, disregard for my feelings, and blatant hostility, even in the face of my tears.    This was the “man” who had once begged me in tears to come back to him.  Now he was threatening to cut his wrists in front of me.  The narcissism.  The manipulation.  The threats and name-calling.  I’m pretty sure my ex had sociopathic tendencies…

Obviously, not all exes are “psychos” (incidentally one of his favorite insults to hurl at me,) however, even perfectly normal people have the capacity to be emotionally brutal to their partners.  Something I used to say often, and which I believe is true for a great many people (but at least I was upfront about it) is that when I get hurt, I get angry.

It’s a defense mechanism.  However, often, the person on the receiving end of  verbal darts carelessly slung around in an argument are often innocent (subjectively speaking) of any wrong-doing—  at least, the type of wrong doing that would warrant such emotional warfare.

You’re such a psycho…

No one will ever put up with you…

Where has [it] gotten you? You have nothing going for you…

I understand striking out when you’re hurt.  I’ve even been known to throw a punch or two, back in my younger days.  But I learned a lot from my ex.  I hate to say it, but it’s true.

I learned how I never wanted to be treated again.  I learned what I wouldn’t put up with from someone.  I learned not to fight back using name-calling or worse…giving a liar a black eye.  I also learned that I didn’t like the person I had become as a result of being with my ex…  Insecure, and abusive in my own right.couples-fighting

But this post isn’t really about me or my ex.  It’s about how people treat one another.  Relationships are complicated, and blame goes both ways.  Maybe your partner has hurt you.  Maybe you are in the midst of a break-up, with no foreseeable hope of reconciliation.  But do you really want to hurt this person you once loved, or maybe even still love?  Silence can be a very damaging and passive-aggressive form of fighting…

But sometimes silence is your friend.  If you are losing control, and you know you might say something you can’t take back, keep your mouth shut.  Don’t just walk away, but tell your partner you need a few minutes to yourself and then walk away.  And if your partner tells you they need a moment, let them walk away.  You can save yourself and your partner a lot of hurt.  Even if you see no future with them, do you really need the stress of fighting with them?

Sometimes the problem is even more basic.  Some people just don’t care if they hurt someone else’s feelings.

I can’t stress it enough– when this is a repeated pattern, especially if it’s not in the heat of the moment (and thus not an issue of self control) this is a very clear sign.  I learned it myself, after too long being mistreated, waiting for apologies that never came.  When your partner no longer cares if they hurt you, it’s time to move on.

To everyone else…   fight fair.  If not for your partner’s sake, for your own.  Being nasty to your partner is not conducive to mending a relationship.  Don’t take the bait and give into trading insults.  Even if  things don’t work out, you will know you did the best you could and stood on higher ground.  Not to be better than them, but to be a better you.

 

 

“You Have One Zillion Friends”

Good friends are hard to find.  No matter what your Facebook friends list might say, we’re blessed with few people in our lives that fit all the criteria of a good friend.  My blogger friend, Crazy Train, raised a good point in a recent article.

…is your life so rich in friendship that you can afford the loss of a loved one or treasured friend over some small incident or word spoken in haste. If you can honestly say that your relationship with this person is too emotionally costly then possibly it is time to move on.

Good friends are hard to find…unless you’re Chuck Norris. [insert random Chuck Norris joke here]

I heartily agree.  In fact, it’s odd to me that the very fact that I am not more angry at a specific someone very close to me for something they did, or rather failed to do, has actually royally pissed off another specific someone in my life.  They don’t understand why I “forgive” the one person the slight that person B perceives.  There are several reasons for this, but the short version is that I choose my battles.  Some things are just not worth being angry over when you never know if the people in your life will be there from one day to the next…

Okay, enough of the sappy shit.   The point of all this is that I happened to mention to my blogger friend my feelings on a certain type of friend.

I call them my Friends In Small Doses.

We all have one or more of these friends.  When I describe them, you will know exactly who in your life this may refer to.

-They’re people who are at heart basically good, but they tend to be self-involved.

-They usually like to be the center of attention, and often find ways to draw the attention away from you and back to them.

-They are often sarcastic or unintentionally condescending (I’ve been told I can be condescending at times-  unintentionally, I assure you. 😀 ) and have been known to utter an “I told you so” on occasion.

-They tend not to take criticism, even constructive criticism, well.

-They often show up when they need a shoulder to cry on or someone to bitch to, but are unavailable when you may need a ride somewhere or a favor…yet they have redeeming moments when they see you through a traumatic event, or do something completely generous, or you go out with them and have a complete blast, and you remember why you love them.

In my experience, these are people you do want to stay in touch with, but after being around them for a bit, you find that you need to take a step back every once in a while.  Sometime for a few days, sometime for a few months.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes, especially in this age of social media (which is raging out of control- but that’s another post entirely.)  Just be aware of who you can trust, who you can’t.  Who you want to keep in your life and who is toxic.  And don’t be afraid to let the ones you love know it.

 

 

related: Why Don’t You Like Me Anymore?”  AlienRedQueen

Is Marriage Bullshit?

What is marriage?

I realize what a loaded question this is.  And on this, my third wedding anniversary, I coincidentally happened on a Penn and Teller: Bullshit episode on “Family Values.”  If you’re not familiar with Bullshit, it was a popular Showtime program running from 2003 to 2010, aimed at debunking pseudoscientific ideas, popular beliefs, and misconceptions.  Penn and Teller host the show, typically take an abrasively libertarian point of view, and there are usually people interviewed for the show from both sides of a given topic.

In the “Family Values” episode, the idea/institute of marriage comes under fire as impractical, restrictive and, according to one arguably misogynistic radio personality, entrapping to men, as he remarks, “[We] are paying for use of a vagina.”

One professor of History and Family Studies claims, “There is no such thing as a traditional family… the idea one man one woman, nuclear family […] that’s a pretty rare family form in history.”

Also mentioned is the fact that marriage historically was rarely about romantic love, but rather protecting family interests and assets.  Arranged marriages were common, as was the existence of lovers other than one’s spouse.

While it can (and has) been pointed out that Bullshit is usually fairly one-sided, with Penn voicing over interviews rather than allowing for actual back and forth debate with said interviewees, I found enough valid points to sort of dishearten me with the idea that romantic marriage is a fairly new (and often unsuccessful) endeavor.

I’ve always considered myself a romantic at heart, and although I try to be pragmatic, I want to believe in love.  That’s not to say that I think there is only one soul mate out there for any given person.  Were that the case, given the size of the world and the number of people in it, it would be highly improbable that so-called “true” soul mates would find one another in their lifetime.  Still, if you can find even one person you can trust, confide in, lean on, have fun with, and love, you are a lucky person.

So, considering my cognitively conflicting ideas of pragmatism and romance, I thought it over…very briefly…and decided to rephrase the question to myself.

What is marriage…to me?

In short, it doesn’t matter what the statistics say, what marriage has  historically meant, what other couples are doing, what “biology” says, or even what religions say about marriage.  At least not to me.  The only thing that matters to me are the values I’ve internalized, the values my husband and I agreed upon when we discussed what marriage meant to us, and what we want out of our relationship.  In my husband I have a friend and someone who knows my heart (and my body) well.  And hopefully we can pass along our values and ideas of love on to our daughter.

So…Nya!

Pffffttttttthhhh!

Being a Mom has Turned Me into a Total Wimp!

I was not born to be a mother.  I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a princess in a castle and marrying a prince.  I didn’t spend a lot of time cradling babydolls, and I didn’t play house all that often.  I had Barbies for awhile, but they were oversexed weirdos.  In fact, by the time I was about ten years old, my make believe games often had aspects that were distinctly weird.  When my cousin and I would hang out, we’d pretend we were a bickering old vagrant couple and we’d speak continuously in cockney English accents (it used to really flip my mother out). Continue reading

Time in a Bottle

(The story of a young couple trying to cope with the girl’s terminal illness)

I spark the bowl and inhale deeply, careful to leave some fresh green for her to burn. She likes that, and any good pothead knows that this is proper etiquette when sharing a bowl. She’s not in too much pain today, but smoking has become a habit now. Actually sort of a ritual, our ritual. I can’t actually share her physical pain, but I can share everything else with her, including the self-medication. One bowl in the morning when she wakes up, two if she’s in a lot of pain. One mid-morning. One before lunch. A bowl mid-afternoon, one mid-evening, one before bed. And in between whenever else she needs or wants one. Whatever she needs, whenever. Continue reading