Monthly Archives: May 2018

When’s The Last Time You Laughed Together?

Some of you who read this blog regularly are in marriage crisis and are desperate for help. This may not be the blog post for you, because when you’re in crisis it can be difficult to smile around each other, much less share deep laughter. I have no desire to downplay what this feels like or the serious work you must do.

Many others who read this blog aren’t in crisis per se, but you are looking for ways to deepen, strengthen, and mature your relationship. You’re serious about moving your marriage from ho-hum to high-energy – or maybe it’s already there and you just want more ways to maintain it.

My advice to you: Laugh together more.

What laughter does for us

One of my favorite movie scenes from youth is the “I love to laugh” song in Mary Poppins. As the adults and children are overcome with laughter, they begin floating in air. The more they laugh, the higher they float. (I dare you to watch this clip without at least a grin.)

That scene is a perfect visualization of what laughter does for us. It lifts us up. Scientists will tell you: your laughter triggers your endorphins (your feel-good hormones) and reduces your stress hormones. It also helps you fight infection. All good, but you don’t even need to understand the biology to know that when we laugh, everything just feels better.

And the laugher is even richer when you share it with a partner. You have a shared history, you know each other’s triggers (the good kind), and you know how to play off of one another. When it happens, it’s magic. The only thing better is good sex! Or, good sex and laughter!

Making the most of it

So the question is, how do we laugh together more? How do we make the most of this magic elixir that makes us feel so good?

One way is to play together more. Dr. Stuart Brown, a renowned psychiatrist, author of the book PLAY and head of the National Institute for Play, defines playing as something done for its own sake. “It’s voluntary,” he says. “It’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”

Does that remind you of anything you’ve done with your spouse lately? If not, get with it! The more you play together, the more likely you’ll be laughing together. To inspire you, consider these types of playing behaviors as listed by Brown:

Body play: Have you ever jumped up and down just for the fun of it? That’s body play.

Object play: This is using any type of object for fun, such as tossing a ball or throwing Frisbees.

Social play: Think of rough-housing and team games.

Imaginative and pretend play: Ever done an escape room?

Storytelling/narrative play: This is seeing a play together, or just a great Netflix show, or maybe even listening to a story-based podcast.

Creative play: When’s the last time you built a sandcastle together?

What has made you laugh in the past?

Dr. Brown also encourages people to consider their “play history,” which is thinking about the ways they’ve experienced fun in the past. This is something that’s really helpful for me. I love thinking back over my life with John and remembering when we laughed best together. What were we doing? Who were we with? How did we feel?

How about you? Think of times when you’ve really enjoyed being with your spouse, laughing together, without any demands on one another. What dynamics were in play that you could replicate now? What keeps you from going there again?

A word of warning

Laughter and playing can be one of the richest rewards of marriage; but sometimes they can be used to cover up issues in our marriages needing to be surfaced and addressed. The key to noticing is balance. There is a time for laughter, but also a time for tears, and a time for deep, soulful sharing. Your marriage deserves all of these.

Much of this you can do on your own. But sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective, especially when you find your marriage is stuck in low gear. Our coaches have techniques they can share to help get started. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need – your marriage is worth it.

Call us or schedule an appointment

(972) 441-4432 or Send us a text at (214) 431-5764

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Snoring, Sex & Separate Bedrooms

One of the hottest topics I’ve addressed lately is sexless marriage – couples who for a variety of reasons rarely have sex, or have stopped having sex at all.

There are complex reasons this happens. But right now I’m going to address one of the less complex ones.

Snoring

It’s something some of us chuckle or complain about, or reference in an obscure way – especially if it’s the woman who snores. I actually know one couple who calls it night-giggling, since the term snoring sounds so unfeminine! But in all seriousness, a snoring partner can make peaceful slumber a faint memory. And night after night of missed sleep can wreak havoc in our daytimes.

The danger, as with all relationship issues, comes with ignoring it. If we don’t discuss something when it is simple – “Honey, your snoring is keeping me awake” – then it gradually becomes more complicated. When it’s not discussed, it doesn’t get addressed, and when it doesn’t get addressed, resentment builds. While snoring may not be the ultimate reason a couple splits up, I’ve known marriages that were shaken by ignoring the impact of this common issue.

Sleep, snoring and sex

We all know quality sleep time is important. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get quality sleep. Let’s be honest – many of us don’t get enough sleep of any sort, quality or otherwise! The National Sleep Foundation’s latest study reports that only 3 in 10 people report feeling well-rested after a night’s rest. Do the math and that means 70% of us don’t feel well-rested!

Is snoring a part of the problem? Absolutely it is. In fact, one study reported at least 67% of respondents said their partner snores. Among snorers, more than half said their snoring disturbs their partner’s sleep. And 31% of those surveyed said the snoring drives the other partner to sleep in a separate bedroom or to use earplugs. Snoring may even increase your partner’s blood pressure.

But what about the connection to sex? Most of us don’t need research to answer this, but it’s good to know: a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that, after controlling for factors such as smoking, weight, and other medical issues:

  • Men who snore a lot report less sexual satisfaction.
  • Men classified as heavy snorers were two times more likely to report low sexual satisfaction, compared to those who snore less.

And this is not just a male issue. I know plenty of couples where it is the wife who is the snorer.

The challenge: Don’t let snoring come between you

Now I know snoring can be a serious medical issue for some individuals. If you have a diagnosis of sleep apnea or another serious sleep disorder, it can actually be life-threatening, so take whatever steps you need to keep yourself safe.

But for most of us, dealing with snoring is a quality of life issue, not a health risk. Healthy couples use their beds for two things: sleep and sex. Don’t let snoring mess this up. I guarantee sleeping in separate bedrooms on a regular basis will affect your sex life. I’ve seen it happen time and again – an occasional slipping out to the other room becomes a regular habit, and before you know it, the sexual connection is gone.

Here are a few ways to handle snoring, as suggested by WebMD:

  • Change your sleep position. Use a wedge or body pillow to help you sleep on your side rather than your back. Some people even tape tennis balls to the back of their pajamas so they don’t roll over on their backs!
  • Address poor night-time habits. Working late and drinking too much alcohol before bedtime can degrade what doctors call your “sleep hygiene.”
  • Open your nasal passages. The more open they are, the more air you get, the less you snore. Take a hot shower before bed, or use a neti pot to clear your sinuses, or try nasal strips.
  • Reduce dust in your bedroom. Allergens and dust mites in your pillow can stuff up your nose at night, so throw your pillows in the dryer on the fluff cycle every couple of weeks. And when’s the last time you dusted that ceiling fan?
  • Get a sleep check-up. Talk to your doctor about your snoring. It could be that a CPAP device or other sleeping aid could completely resolve the problem.

And besides good sex, here’s another reason to stay in bed together: Women, you can save your man’s life! Studies have shown that men being treated for sleep apnea get better results from their treatment when their wives stay in bed with them.

Don’t get torpedoed

As with other marriage challenges, the real risk from the sleep-snoring-sex issue is whether it generates tension and resentment in your relationship. You have a choice: Talk about it now or try to clean it up later. Don’t be one of the couples that drifts along until something relatively simple such as snoring torpedoes your intimacy. We can help you discuss it in a healthy way, as well as point you to medical resources if needed.

Call us or schedule an appointment

(972) 441-4432 or Send us a text at (214) 431-5764

Learn More