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Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” Genesis 18:12 (NKJV)

 

The controversial singer Miley Cyrus expressed at a TODAY show in 2013 that sex decrees or totally ends after age 40. “I heard when you turn 40, things start to go a little less sexual,” Cyrus told Lauer. “Probably around 40, around that time, I heard that’s when people don’t have sex anymore.”

On the contrary, as discussed on TODAY’s[i] trending segment in 2015, a study found that when couples pass their 50th wedding anniversary, they actually experienced a slight increase in their sex lives, and that couples married for 65 years reported more sex than those married for 50 years.

Researchers noted “that an individual married for 50 years will have somewhat less sex than an individual married for 65 years.” The study of 1,656 married men and women ages 57 to 87, was published in the January issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior. The data was collected from the 2005 – 2006 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, which was a comprehensive study of sexual attitudes and behavior among older Americans.

A survey conducted by the same show in 2014 found that just over one-third of people in their 50s, both married and single, reported having sex a few times a week or month. By comparison, 43 percent of 40-somethings said they had sex once a week. Nearly 25 percent of people in their 50s reported having no sex ever, compared to 17 percent of those in their 40s, according to the online survey of more than 1,400 adults, ages 45-69. But of the sex they’re having, 45 percent say they are quite satisfied with their sex lives, thank you very much.

What this research indicates is that sex between husbands and wives does not have to come to an end when the age of childbearing arrives but can continue to provide pleasure to both spouse for many more years to come. Even Sarah, Abraham’s wife, understood that.

 

Father God, help us to continue to enjoy sexual intimacy in our marriage because it keeps us emotionally and physically close to each other even into the golden years of our life.

[i] http://www.today.com/health/take-miley-married-sex-gets-better-longer-were-married-2D80510599?cid=eml_tes_20150226

What’s so great about your lover, fair lady? What’s so special about him that you beg for our help? Song of Songs 5:9 (MSG)

 

Yesterday we began a list of seven of the most important times when you need to give your spouse your full attention.

  1. When your spouse is “on stage.” That means whenever your spouse is “performing,” making a presentation, teaching, or leading a group. In other words, watch and pay attention at any activity where your spouse has prepared hard and needs your loving encouragement and applause. As Gary and Joy Lundberg[i] explain, “Your spouse needs to know that you are proud of her.” And don’t forget to tell them, “It was so fun to watch you tonight. I’m glad I could be there. I’m really proud of you.”
  2. When your spouse is ill. As adults we’re probably quite capable of taking care of ourselves, even when we’re ill. It is so comforting when you know your loved one cares about you enough to give you the attention you need. Sometimes all your spouse needs and wants is to be alone; you can make that possible by taking the kids or doing whatever will make their wish possible. Of course, you can also offer them something to eat or drink, a nice massage, or even just an ice pack. Some TLC will help the healing happen faster.
  3. When your spouse experiences a big disappointment. If your spouse just experienced a major let down, such as losing their job, the worst thing you can do is to criticize them for that. We all need to know we are loved and valued as much during the hard times as during the happy times. You may not be able to make it all better, but you can be there to listen and empathize.
  4. When your spouse gets good news. As important as it is to be with your spouse when they have a setback, it is also important to be there to celebrate when something goes well in their life. If they got a promotion, or a business venture paid off, or they completed their educational pursuits, celebrate with them. There may be some issues you’re dealing with; set them aside momentarily to focus on your spouse’s triumphs.

 

Father God, help me to give my spouse the love and attention they need today, and help me to build them up in some way every day.

[i] Ibid.

I am my lover’s and my lover is mine. He caresses the sweet-smelling flowers. Song of Songs 6:3 (MSG)

 

Gary and Joy Lundberg[i] believe your marriage requires your undivided attention. Many things distract us today – work, traffic, children, bills, etc., but nothing is more important than your marriage. There are also especial moments in life when you need to give your full attention to your spouse. Here are seven of those most important times:

  1. When you wake up in the morning. Let your spouse know from the moment you first wake up that they are important to you. Start with a kiss and words that let them know you’re blessed to wake up next to them. Then make the bed together; it’s a mutual reminder that you are both working together to make your home a pleasant place to be. Starting this ritual in the morning, in the bedroom, shows you care about each other and about your marriage. And kiss each other before you go your separate ways for the day.
  2. When you’re back together after a hard day’s work. Welcome your spouse with a warm, loving hug and a nice, 10-second kiss that tells them, “I’m glad to see you. . . I love you.” Thus type of reunion after being apart during the day will give you the energy to make the evening duties more enjoyable. When you help the kids with homework, put them to bed, help with house chores neither one of you will feel like all the responsibilities fall on your shoulders and you won’t be too tired for your spouse later on.
  3. When it’s your spouse’s birthday. Celebrate this annual event the way they enjoy most. Don’t let them wonder if you remember their special day; instead, begin early and make it fun all day. You can serve them breakfast in bed, take them out to lunch – just the two of you, or go out to dinner with the kids so they too will be part of the celebration. When your children watch how you celebrate as husband and wife, and as parents with you you’re teaching them lessons they will carry on into their own marriage.

 

Father God, help me to make my spouse feel special not just once a year, or occasionally, but every day. They are your gift to me; help me to express it to them, and to you.

[i] http://www.familyshare.com/7-important-times-to-give-full-attention-to-your-spouse

You keep beating your heads against brick walls. Everything within you protests against you. Isaiah 1:5 (MSG)

 

Jason Wachob and David Mazzapelle[i] suggest seven things a person can do to become more optimistic.  Yesterday we considered three of them.  The other four are:

  1. They surround themselves with upbeat people. It is true that birds of a feather flock together. If you surround yourself with people who are pessimists it can be draining. On the other hand, if you’re around optimists, it is very contagious and it can be positive. Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton said that, “Optimism is a happiness magnet.”
  2. They don’t listen to naysayers. Optimistic people don’t take the opinions of others too seriously when they don’t agree with them. What that means is that naysayers will tell you that you can’t achieve your goals.  As Mezzapelle says, “Don’t let it affect you. It’s their reality, not yours.”
  3. They forgive others. Optimists have an ability to forgive. As Mazzapelle explains, “The easiest way to forgive is to reflect on the fact that the past is the past.  Make peace with it so that it doesn’t spoil the present.”  As someone said, Forgiveness does not change your past, but it will more than likely change your future.
  4. They smile. Smiling creates a happy environment that attracts others to you and adds to your happiness. The good thing is that happiness, even in small doses, releases serotonin which is a hormone that contributes to the feeling of well-being.  In addition, smiling also has health benefits.  A study from the University of Kansas found that cracking a smile, even when you don’t feel like it, reduces the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.  Even forcing a smile – for instance by putting a pencil in your mouth sideways and holding it between your teeth, results in a positive feeling of wellbeing.

 

Father God, life is truly beautiful and there’s much to be thankful for.  Help me to maintain a positive, optimistic view of all I am and all I have so that my own feelings will be healing to me and to others around me.

[i] Ibid.

Delayed hope makes one sick at heart, but a fulfilled longing is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 (GW)

 

Optimists don’t just see the glass half full. They also make more money than pessimists, get fewer colds, have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and enjoy a longer life, writes Stephanie Vozza.[i]  Interestingly enough, children are born optimists but circumstances change and cynicism sets in; nevertheless, most of us would rather be optimists. David Mezzapelle, author of Contagious Optimism, says that while some people are naturally more optimistic, even somebody who is negative or pessimistic can control it and improve upon it.

Jason Wachob, cofounder and CEO of the healthy living website MindBodyGreen.com says optimism is something you need to practice every day. He and Mezzapelle share seven traits optimists share and the habits you can implement to become one, too:

  1. They express gratitude. Optimists are grateful even for the smallest things in life. For instance, it may be raining, but that’s what cleans the air and makes trees and flowers grow. Optimists also find good in hardships, obstacles, and failures, because they give you strength and resilience.
  2. They donate their time and energy. Whether it’s helping at the local soup kitchen or being available to people you know, optimists are used to and enjoy giving back to others. As Wachob says, “This helps you feel grateful for what you have; it’s a good place to start if you want to become more optimistic.”  Mezzapelle adds that, “the spirit of altruism can make you feel optimistic about your own life.”
  3. They’re interested in others. When people hear about the challenges others have faced and how they have managed to come ahead it gives them hope, and as Mezzapelle says, “hope is the foundation of optimism.” Wachob adds that even just reading inspirational stories can help. “There are so many amazing stories about amazing people who overcome incredible odds.”

 

Father God, helps us to look at things in a more positive light because there is so much good in life and because it will help us to have a better life.

[i] http://www.fastcompany.com/3042025/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/seven-habits-of-optimistic-people?lang=en&utm_campaign=10today&flab_cell_id=2&flab_experiment_id=19&uid=19455910&utm_content=article&utm_source=email&part=s1&utm_medium=10today.0211&position=3&china_variant=False

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. 1 John 4:11 (MSG)

 

  1. Be a little old-fashioned. Instead of being idealistic, ask yourself questions like: Is this person likely to be a good provider? Can they manage money? Are they likely to be a good parent? As Pillemer argues, this is important, “Because marriage is a financial arrangement in addition to a love one and one in which your economic future is entwined with somebody else’s.”
  2. Observe your partner while playing a game. Watching the other person’s reaction during play can be very revealing and “extremely diagnostic.” You get a chance to observe how someone behaves under stress, whether they’re honest, and how they handle defeat.
  3. Do a sense of humor check. Watch to see what makes your partner laugh. What jokes make them laugh and which ones they frown on. Do they have a hearty laugh or seem to suppress it. As small as it may seem, it’s a simple test of whether your world views align.
  4. Watch for the big warning signs. These wise-old seniors told Pillemer that one act of violence means you should get help and get out of the relationship. Is he/she critical of you, particularly in public? Do they put you down or devalue you?  Beware of contempt, where a partner is communicating in a way that is degrading, sarcastic, or excessively teasing, and uses “the vulnerability of marriage to be hurtful.”
  5. The “in-love feeling” is important. You have to have an overpowering, gut-level sense that this relationship is right for you and that your partner is the person with whom you want to be, is how the elders described it to Pillemer. He writes, “They say, look deep into yourself and see if you have this in-love feeling. If they had it, the relationships progressed pretty well. If they didn’t, looking back it was the key to a relationship being wrong.”

Look over these ten lessons from those who have been married for a lifetime and see if your relationship would pass the same test.

 

Father God, bless us that our love for each other may last a lifetime.

We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (MSG)

 

As Karl Pillemer[i] learned from his interviews of more than 700 Americans, ages 63 to 108, he learned from them about their views on love. Here are a few more of the lessons they shared.

  1. Physical attraction is important. Pillemer writes, “Everybody across all walks of life said the relationship begins with a physical attraction of some kind.” Of course that doesn’t mean you have to be movie-star handsome or beauty-pageant quality. Instead it means staying a healthy weight, looking as good as you can, dressing properly, and being clean and well-groomed. That’s especially helpful if you want to keep the sexual spark alive in a relationship.
  2. Beware of the strong, silent type. While a quietly strong personality may be appealing at first, you may not want to spend the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t communicate easily. What the elderly Americans in love recommend is that you talk, talk, and talk some more. Ask a lot of questions and provide lots of answers about family, finances, traditions, preferences, likes and dislikes. As Pillemer states, “Even the toughest old guys said you have to be able to convey your feelings and talk about important experiences, especially when there are difficulties in the relationship.  As one old fellow said colorfully, ‘Keep yapping at one another.’”
  3. Step outside your comfort zone. Don’t simply settle for the bare minimum or the routine. When you’re getting serious about someone, propose an activity that challenges both of you more than usual. Go camping, take a long car trip, or paint a room together because that’s when you get to know the real person and they see you as well. The dating period is that time you spend getting to know the other person as a possible life companion, which is why the same formula applies if you want to keep the spark alive in a long-term marriage.  A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found similar results, with couples more happy with their relationship after taking part in “exciting” activities.

 

Father God, help us to keep the fire of love and newness in our relationship all the days of our life together.

[i]Ibid.

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