Doing Life Together

couple embraceIf you watch most television shows, you would think that the most important part of any relationship is sex! But when it comes to what matters most in a relationship, it’s not the sex. And if we focus  only on sex, the relationship won’t sustain.

Biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher, discovered that people who fall in love view sex as secondary to other factors defining their relationship.

And even though sex therapists will tell you that mismatches in sexual desires are the number one complaint they receive from couples, the complaint is often based in mismatches of intimacy needs.

Couples are looking for intimacy. Intimacy is less about 50 Shades of Gray and more about what happens outside the bedroom. Great sex grows from intimacy. And intimacy can grow great sex when two become one.

Intimacy is about being known and cared for by the other. I’ve heard intimacy defined as” in-to-me-see!” It’s that feeling that we are in sync with another emotionally, spiritually and physically. It’s being accepted and loved by another-emotionally exposed, but unconditionally loved.

Intimacy is something we all crave, both with God and another person. When you hold the hand of your partner or when he holds open a door, it’s not so much a sexual act as an intimate one. Intimate acts like touching elevate oxytocin levels and increase your feelings of attachment to another. Intimacy allows you to expose yourself and develop a closeness that culminates in sexual expression.

So while great sex is the media emphasis, most of us crave to be known by another in such a way that sex is just one more way to express our love. Without intimacy, sex is reduced to a physical act that might feel good at the moment but leaves you wanting something more. And that something more is the trust and intimacy of a committed relationship, ordained by God.










Sources:  W.D. Johnson, “What is the Difference Between Falling In Love and Physical Attraction?” December 13, 2013,

K.J. Prager, K. J., The Psychology of Intimacy. (New York: Guilford Press., 1995).

K.J. Prager, and D. Buhrmester, D, “Intimacy and Need Fulfillment in Couple Relationships,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 15 (1998): 435–469.

In honor of national dog day…

I feel blessed that I get to take my dog to work every day. Zoe, pictured here, is the comfort dog for the medical school in which I work. Every morning she greets the students and helps reduce their stress. And when they need a little reminder from home, she goes on walks and plays in the field. She’s obedient, hypoallergenic and doesn’t bark. She knows her job and does it well.

Dogs provide us with much more than companionship!

A  study by Dr. Barker (I am not kidding, that is his name) at Virginia Commonwealth University, published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management  found that dog owners who brought their pet to work, lowered their stress. And that stress stayed low throughout the day. In contrast, those pet owners whose dogs stayed home, not only increased their stress during the day, but doubled it by day’s end. It turns out that man’s best friend is a good stress reducer!

Some of the dogs in the study were noisy (imagine the routine barker), not so clean, and at times, destructive. So the idea of the quiet pup who sits by your side, lovingly gazing into your face, is not always reality. But some employers might institute the take your doggy to work day when they learn that workers felt more productive. And the people who came in contact with the dogs at work were more satisfied on the job.

So if an employer wants to increase productivity, workplace satisfaction and reduce stress, he or she might consider inviting Fido to join your morning coffee!

Read more:

BabyWhen Shakespeare asked,  “What’s in a name?” the answer is, more than you think.

Many years ago, I worked in a very poor school district and noticed a number of the children had unusual names. The most unusual was a girl we called Phamalie –at least that is what her name sounded like. But when I met her mom at an open house, the mom told me she didn’t name her child -the hospital did. Her name was spelled FEMALE.

The  mom couldn’t read and did not understand that the wrist band around her newborn was not her name. Sad, but a true story. By the way, FEMALE was a delightful child!

“Unusual” names are usually chosen, not assigned by a hospital. When Kim Kardashian named her baby “North” it was hard to imagine cuddling a tiny baby and calling her that name, but hey, to each her own.

And 2014’s list of unusual baby names is no exception. According to, a baby naming website, we had these names: Awesome, Savvy, Majestic, Wise, Handsome, Boss, Captain, Couture, Eliminate  and Halo! Yes, Eliminate–you don’t have to be a psychologist to wonder what the impact of that name may be someday!

So why do parents choose these less than traditional names?  Is there any fall out from having a name that reminds you of one direction or sounds more like an adjective?

One reason we see these unique names has to do with popular media and celebrity. In 2014 we saw a rise in the names Katniss (Hunger games), Hazel (The Fault in Our Stars) and Khaleesi (Game of Thrones).

But does calling your child, “North” or “Katniss” have any impact on their adjustment in life? From studies, children with very unusual names do worse academically and are less popular in school. Also, when they go to college, they have a higher flunk out rate. An bosses are not always impressed and may throw out their resumes.

Think about it, if you know nothing  about a person but his/her name, the name influences your initial impression. Certainly, getting to know a person can change your impression,  but why would you want to put an obstacle in the way? On the positive, you might easily remember the person because of the unique name.

If you choose an unusual name,  a team of researchers notes that the easier the name is to pronounce, the more positive you feel about that person. So “North” just might work.

While some studies suggest that the impact of an unusual name is only minimal, I would argue that naming your child sets the stage for how the world will see them and how they will cope with whatever the name brings. That could build resilience or problems.

When we named our kids, we thought about how those names could be made into teasing, nicknames, sound on a resume and be introduced to a school class. In the end, we decided to go more traditional to make it easier on the kids. It wasn’t about us, but about them!

anger2John left the meeting frustrated, angry and ready to quit. He returned to his office and fired off an angry email. For the moment, he felt better, he got his anger off his chest. But did this behavior really help?

Sarah returned from a friend’s wedding. She felt ignored and upset by a number of things that happened. She got on her Twitter account and started to rant. Next she posted an unflattering picture of the bride on Instagram. For the moment, Sarah felt she vented that anger.

In the world of social media, an angry rant, nasty comments and put downs are tempting because of the ease and anonymity people have. For some, the temptation seems hard to resist. But the more you rant in an anonymous voice, the angrier you become. And we often forget that once we hit SEND or POST, our comments are forever in cyberspace.

Decades ago, we encouraged people to get that anger out, but research has since proven this is a bad strategy. Venting only makes you more angry and the consequences are not usually favorable.

You may think you feel better sending/poster in anger—this is inaccurate. Studies show you are actually revving yourself up, not calming down. And purging your angry emotions can damage   your relationships.

John lost his promotion. His boss felt his angry response made him an unstable candidate for the job. Sarah’s friends hit SHARE and the rant cost Sarah a number of relationships. The bride refused to talk to her.

My advice:

1) Press pause before you hit send or post.

2) Save your rant as a draft and give yourself time to calm down.

3) Calm yourself down through distraction or self-soothing. Prayer works –talk it out with God.

4) Reread your e-vent after time has passed. Do you really want to send/post now?

5) Don’t post or send. Instead, think of ways to problem-solve and deal with negative feelings that won’t hurt you or your relationships. Talk it out with someone in person if you need to process.

6) Exercise grace. Life isn’t fair, anger happens but like Scripture says, be angry but don’t sin. In this case, be angry but don’t send!


For more help and anger strategies, Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgivness by Dr. Linda Mintlen