Intimacy Can Thrive - with Scheduling - 7/15/01
cmfce at his.com
Fri Jul 27 17:01:07 EDT 2001
subject: Intimacy Can Thrive - with Scheduling/Skills Maintenance - 7/15/01
from: Smart Marriages
I'm back and digging out. I know my e-mail box filled up while I was away
so you may need to resend anything that bounced back to you.
I know you want to know when/where the next Smart Marriages conference will
be. It's still NOT final....still have DC, San Diego, Anaheim, Phoenix in
the mix. You'll know as soon as I do. Dates look like July 9 - 16 BUT even
those dates are not FIRM.
I decided the article below is a great article to restart the newsletter -
nice and practical and sexy! (You're going to get quite a few articles in a
row as lots of good stuff has piled up in my absence. I'll try to pace it so
*your* mailboxes don't fill up.)
I also like this particular article because it gives me a jumping off point
to tell you that I'll be "away" again for a week starting August
2nd....practicing what I preach. I won't actually be going anywhere but
will be out of commission. I have 5 grandkids under 6 years of age and each
year I have a gramma week. I tell my two grown married sons to plan a
marriage vacation - to go off somewhere romantic and leave the kids with me.
My sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and I look forward to it all year.
I suggest all of us who are able to - should do this...it's great insurance
to help keep our kid's marriages romantic and thriving and to help make sure
we don't end up raising the grandkids fulltime after a divorce. I call it
preventive grandparenting. ;)
I'm sending two articles in this email - both are coverage of the recent
ACME conference in North Carolina. The first is about the Battens who work
with David and Claudia Arp at Marriage Alive. We'll have to have them do
this workshop at Smart Marriages 2002. This theme is also right in line w/
Doherty's latest book, "Take Back Your Marriage" which is doing very well
across the country and which was such a big hit at the Smart Marriages
Orlando conference. The second article is an overview piece on the marriage
INTIMACY CAN THRIVE - WITH SCHEDULING
Sunday, July 15, 2001
ANN DOSS HELMS, Staff Writer
I knew I was in the right place when I heard a woman lament,
"Our 6-year-old has figured out how to unlock the bedroom
For three years now, the folks at ACME - the Association for
Couples in Marriage Enrichment - have been urging me to
bring my husband to one of their marriage-building retreats and
write about our experience.
For three years I've been declining.
Very few men like to hear, "Let's talk about our marriage." Is
there a man alive who would like to go to a retreat, talk about
his marriage and have his wife share the experience with
readers in two states?
When ACME brought its international conference to Charlotte,
the invitation was again issued and again declined.
When I walked in Saturday morning, I made it clear my
husband was at home with our son - and I was choosing a
session on "How to Have Kids and a Sex Life, Too" because,
um, many readers would be interested.
Pam and Rich Batten, who work with a group called Marriage
Alive but whose real credentials were the four kids sharing
their room at the Adam's Mark, warmed up the group by asking
the couples which current movie title best describes their sex
life: "The Fast and the Furious," "What's the Worst that Could
Happen" or "The Mummy Returns," for instance.
There wasn't a show of hands, but "Dr. Doolittle 2" got the
Couples were quick to rattle off obstacles to a vigorous
parental love life: no energy, no privacy, no spontaneity, kids
banging on doors and barging in and noticing bedroom noises.
You've got to make time for sex, the Battens said. The first step
is just telling your spouse you're still interested, even when the
demands of parenting seem overwhelming.
Then, they said, look at your schedule and figure out what can
go to make time for each other.
Ten minutes a day of real talking, regular date nights and an
occasional weekend getaway go a long way toward restoring
the old zip.
Even 10-second hugs and kisses a couple of times a day can
make a difference, Rich said, though he reminded the husbands
they shouldn't consider that foreplay.
Of course, time is no good if you don't have energy. The
Battens offered some "energy saver suggestions," such as
showering together, enforcing kids' bedtime and learning to
give a massage. Rich said it may work to distract young
children with a favorite video and slip off for an afternoon
interlude - though one father reported having an inopportune
reaction to the theme from "The Lion King" after a few such
But the big idea was: Schedule sex.
"It doesn't seem very romantic," Pam acknowledged, "but as
Rich would say, scheduled sex is better than no sex."
Start by talking about how often you'd like to make love. You
don't have to pencil your plans onto the family calendar, along
with the soccer practices and doctor's appointments, but you do
need a system so one partner isn't left to take all the initiative,
the Battens said.
For instance, there's "the rotating system," which the Battens
say leaves a little room for spontaneity. Say a couple agrees on
sex twice a week. The wife has a three-day window in which
to initiate the act; then the husband must seize the opportunity
sometime in the next three days.
Now, if you'll excuse me, our son's going to stay with his
grandparents next week. I think I'll go home and help him pack.
And maybe do a little scheduling.
SKILLS EMPHASIZE MARITAL MAINTENANCE; APPROACH CALLS FOR MENDING A
RELATIONSHIP LONG BEFORE IT BREAKS
ANN DOSS HELMS
Charlotte Observer (NC)
A "Smart Marriages" conference last month pulled 1,500 researchers,
policymakers, authors and counselors to Orlando, Fla. This week, 500 are
expected in Charlotte to discuss marriage-building skills.
Countless experts offer to help married couples communicate, resolve
conflict, even have good sex.
So why are so many people trying to teach us how to do marriage?
Marriage-mending advice is as old as wedlock itself.
But this approach, in which marital satisfaction is treated as a skill
to be learned step by step, has surged in the last few years. Here's
why, according to proponents:
Research published in the '90s raised doubts about the effectiveness
of traditional marriage counseling.
The marriage-skills movement taps the expertise of clerics, academics,
psychologists and social-service professionals - and it includes
"When a couple is in serious conflict, they need skills. They don't
need serious head-shrinking," says Wayne Sotile, a psychologist who has
counseled couples for 25 years.
Society has swung toward a preventive approach to physical and mental
Just as it makes more sense to eat right and exercise than to rely on
surgery and medicine, it's smarter to do marriage education than try to
pull a relationship back from the brink of divorce, says Diane Sollee,
director of the Washington-based Coalition for Marriage, Family and
Couples Education, which hosted the Orlando conference.
Baby boomers, with their penchant for self-analysis, are dealing with
their own divorces and watching their children struggle with marriage.
"We want to live better," says counselor Beverly Rodgers of
"We don't want Ward and June Cleaver. We want something deeper."
In times of relative peace and prosperity, couples can focus on
In fact, that's part of the problem, says Sollee.
"We expect so much personal happiness," she says. "That's a big reason
for divorce, I think - we don't expect to be unhappy in our
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