Doing Life Together

A friend of mine was having coffee with me and mentioned something that took me aback. Someone we know is allowing her son’s girlfriend to live in the house with them and have sex under their roof. Neither of these “kids” are 21 and the family claims to be Christian. Honestly, I don’t understand!

But a piece in the Huffington Post brought the thinking to light. The “experts” say that your kids are going to have sex so you might as well let them do it in your home!”  And they go on to say that the “safest” place to have sex is in your home.

First of all, not all teens are having sex! And sex is safer because it is in your home? Hello, the same risks apply no matter where you are having sex. And why would any thinking parent want to encourage sexual activity in teens to begin with? Allowing them to have sex in your home is encouraging it no matter how you try to spin it. You are saying, you are mature enough to handle this relationship. This defies common sense. It’s like saying, my teen wants to try heroin so I will get it and help him use it in my home where he can be safe!

Part of the conversation in this piece is the idea that there is “no right age to begin allowing your child to have partners stay the night” (Psychologist  Suzanne Pearson). Well, Suzanne, some of us believe that the right age is irrelevant. Having sex is supposed to happen in the context of being married. My kids can spend the night with their partners when they marry them! This idea of sex outside of marriage if you are happy with the person, STI free or in a great relationship demeans the sanctity of marriage and relegates sex to a casual act, negating the emotional distress related to break up. Come to my office and listen to all the young adults who wished they hadn’t given themselves sexual to people they no longer date.

Just because a teen can prevent pregnancy and is STI free doesn’t mean that the emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of having sex go away. On the contrary, this is the part we don’t talk about. Yet, it is devastating to self-esteem, attachment and intimacy issues. Familiarize yourself with the neuroscience of attachment and the impact of the release of the bonding hormone Oxytocin!

Call me old fashion, but I still believe in teaching my children that sex is not a casual thing to be given away outside of marriage. It is not only psychologically devastating, but morally wrong. And you can teach this to your teens without clubbing them over the head with issues of right and wrong.

Refusing to have you kids have causal sex in your home is based on having a moral compass of right and wrong. Did God set it up this way to prevent our enjoyment? On the contrary, He created us and knows the complexity of our whole person. Waiting to have sex in marriage is protective not punitive!

Will some teens give in to temptation? Of course, but I would rather help them through their mistake, love them and encourage them to become celibate again–to wait and give themselves completely to the person who will make a lifelong commitment to them in marriage. Sex is to be treasured and is beautiful when expressed in the marriage bed.

16-year-olds do not have the brain development to make good decisions in this area of life. They are hormonally driven and think with their genitals not their brains. Their “instincts” are to have sex, but this is the time in life they are supposed to be learning to bridle their passions and develop self-control. So parents, do your job and help them develop self-control and bridle their passions and lust.

Sex at 16 is rarely love. It is about lust and attraction. No right thinking parent should encourage such behavior in their teen and certainly not make the family home a place to act out casual sex.


ID-100234581During an evening talk show  there were plenty of jokes about pornography. And as the host and celebrity guest settled down, it was evident, porn, in their opinions, is no big deal.  If fact, many of the tabloids and even a few respected marital therapists, will tell you that a little porn is fine and may even enhance your marriage? But is this true?

Absolutely not. Pornography use increases your risk of separation and divorce, decreases marital intimacy and sexual satisfaction. In addition, it increase your appetite for more graphic types of pornography and can cause you to lose interest in relational sex.

The impact on marriage is such that the spouse feels betrayed, rejected, hurt, abandoned, lonely, isolated and angry. And the one viewing porn is having lustful thoughts about someone other than his/her spouse.

Exposing yourself to pornography leads to a lack of trust, a belief that sex is confining in marriage, and a belief that promiscuity is natural, creating a cynicism about the role of love and affection in a marriage.

To my knowledge, there are no known studies or data to suggest that there are any benefits to pornography use. However, the reports of damage are many. The damage is not only to the viewer, but to the spouse and family as well. And pornography is usually addicting when continuously consumed.

In the end, porn usually destroys marriages. So if you are being tempted by porn, don’t go there. If you are using, get help and stop. Your marriage depends on it.

ID-100255107Money can’t buy you love but it sure can make love difficult. Especially if you are in a relationship and not managing your money well. When it comes to money, here are 5 tips to live in relationship harmony:

1) Decide how your credit cards will be used when you enter a relationship. One person can create lots of debt but the financially burden falls on both and can ruin credit. So look at your credit debt, decide on which cards to use and which ones to cut up. Then discuss what the rules of use will be in your relationship and stay accountable to each other for those rules.

2) Talk about ALL purchases, especially anything over $100. Don’t hide your finances and expect the relationship to go well. Be up front regarding need and want. Make decisions about buying as a couple.

3) Share your spending and buying strategies. Your habits have developed since childhood, but your partner doesn’t know how you think about money and spending unless you share that information. It’s best to talk strategy at the beginning of a relationship and develop a plan the two of you can agree upon. Look at your family spending habits and see where areas of incompatibility and compatibility seem to be.

4) Don’t make excuses or look for someone to bail you out when you overspend. Staying within the spending limits brings peace to a relationship. Ignoring the guidelines creates tension and bad will. If you blow it, have to plan to fix the issue. Be honest and fix the problem.

5) Figure out who handles money the best of the two of you and allow that person to be the overseer. If you are better at finances and allow your partner to be in control, resentment might build up. Better to talk about who runs finances the best and give that person the lead. When couples can honestly decide who handles money best and yield control to that person, conflict usually stays low.

This week, Janet Parshall had me on her radio show, In The Market, to talk about a topic the church and society have  a great deal of trouble discussing–depression. The phone lines were constantly lit up. People wanted and needed to talk. Emails were sent asking for help. With  1 out of 10 people struggling with depression, we need to keep talking about it.

The news of the recent suicides of Robin Williams and GRL lead singer, Simone Battle, brings depression into our daily conversations. Yet, most people are unaware of the many causes of depression. It is a complicated disorder that requires on-going attention and treatment.

Depression can be a result of other medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s, heart disease, sleep apnea, strokes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, hormonal imbalances, HIV and AIDS, cancer, autoimmune disorders , seizure disorders and chronic pain.

Depression is also associated with substance abuse and withdrawal from long- term use of many drugs like cocaine, sedatives, narcotics and steroids.

It is more common in people with a family history of mental illness, suggesting genetic involvement and inheirted traits. And people with depression have biological changes in their brains. Brain chemicals go out of balance and hormone changes can create depressive symptoms.

Traumatic life events such as childhood trauma, death, loss, financial pressures and stress that strains a person’s ability to cope all play a role as well. Certain personality traits make a person more susceptible to depression. Medication side-effects can cause depression.  For example, a common medication like Accutane used to treat acne has a side effect of depression in some people.

And while the causes of depression are complicated, treatment is available and effective. We know the signs–difficulty concentrating, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, loss of pleasure, overeating or appetite changes, sad, anxious or empty feelings, and thoughts of suicide.

If you struggle, don’t do so in silence. Tell your physician or a mental health professional and get the help you need.

And because so many people are affected by depression, let’s keep talking even when a celebrity isn’t in the news. People’s lives may depend on it.