More sex, better sex/Stepfamily study/Pope reminds - 4/27/03

Smartmarriages ® cmfce at
Mon Apr 28 19:07:45 EDT 2003

subject: More sex, better sex/Stepfamily study/Pope reminds  - 4/27/03

from: Smart Marriages®


Dear Diane, 

I am doing an article for the L.A. Times on couples who have
survived sexless or sex-discrepant marriages - or individuals who have been
the sex-starved partner and managed to work through it.
Please ask them to contact me directly.
Kathy Kelleher 
kathykelleher at

 'Just do it' is main point of the author's unconventional approach

By Peter Jensen Sun Staff Originally published April 27, 2003

With apologies to a certain athletic footwear company, Michele Weiner-Davis
has three words of advice for married couples with an unsatisfying sex life:
Just do it.

That's not exactly conventional wisdom. Therapists usually like to talk
about feelings, relationship issues, lines of communication, and that sort
of touchy-feely stuff before they urge couples to concentrate on the

But Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage (Simon & Schuster,
2003), thinks mismatched sexual desire is probably the leading cause of
marital strife and not merely a symptom of a troubled relationship. And her
solution - to encourage couples to get a little more intimate, so to speak -
has put her at the vanguard of a popular new approach to couples therapy.

"Sometimes, it's better to get couples to address their physical needs
first. Just try being mad after great lovemaking," says Weiner-Davis, a
marriage therapist with a practice in suburban Chicago. "People ask me,
'Michele, are you saying that people should have sex if they are not in the
mood?' My definitive answer is - yes."

The Sex-Starved Marriage is just one of a slew of recent books addressing
the apparent satisfaction-gap in the marital bed. Studies suggest that
between one-quarter to one-third of married people find their sex life
unsatisfying, but it's not a number that seems to have gone dramatically up
or down in recent years.

Rather, the sudden interest in the topic seems to reflect a new willingness
to explore sex more freely - a kind of post-Oprah lack of inhibition in the
culture. And Weiner-Davis' central theme - that sex gets better when you do
it more often - may have struck a chord.

"The way I think about it is that women often don't have that built-in
desire they think they need to have for the sexual cycle to start," says
Shirley Glass, a Baltimore psychologist and author. "For women, desire isn't
necessarily the place to start. Desire can follow arousal."

Complicated feelings

Glass and others admit that sex usually isn't a problem for couples in the
first year of marriage when passions are high. But the flames of desire
dwindle over time, and for a variety of reasons.

First, of course, are physical changes - aging, childbirth, changes in
hormone levels, particularly testosterone, or medications like
antidepressants or birth control pills that can diminish desire. So, too,
can other factors like fatigue or stress.

But then, it can get complicated. A spouse who wants to have sex more often
may feel angry, betrayed or rejected when he or she is refused. The partner
with less interest may feel pressured or annoyed by the other person's
frequent advances.

The result is an escalation in the problem, a vicious circle of repeated
injuries and misunderstanding. Couples will argue over seemingly unrelated
matters, be short-tempered with their children, insensitive to their
partners, more open to infidelities.

"Having mismatched levels of sexual desire isn't the issue. Ultimately, the
issue is whether a couple is willing or unwilling to address that problem,"
says Weiner-Davis.

Weiner-Davis says her point of view is reinforced by the recent work of Dr.
Rosemary Basson, a British Columbian researcher and expert in human
sexuality who found that the urge to become sexual in women often follows,
rather than precedes, feeling aroused.

Dr. Valerie Davis Raskin, a Chicago-based psychiatrist, thinks that
conclusion has merit. And from her own practice, she has found that women
are more likely to experience a lower sexual drive than their husbands by a
4-to-1 margin.

"What often happens is that people get out of the habit of having sex," says
Raskin, author of Great Sex for Moms (Fireside, 2002). "More sex is what
leads to more sex. Having sex releases more of the chemicals that make you
want sex."

Agree to be affectionate

Still, Raskin and others realize their message could be misinterpreted. They
are not suggesting that a wife submit to her husband whenever he gets a
twinkle in his eye.

But they also don't want the decision to have sex to be entirely in the
hands of the person with the lowest sex drive. "Some women believe there's
something wrong with having sex simply because your partner wants it, and
that's a problem," Raskin says.

Glass, author of Not Just Friends (Simon & Schuster), which explores marital
infidelity, says it would be a mistake "to see Michele's work as going back
to the days when women had a 'wifely duty.' " Even in this post-feminist
period, women still have to have the option of saying no, she says.

"Sometimes, women are reluctant to begin any kind of sexual intimacy because
their partner will take it as a commitment to go all the way," says Glass.
"We need to get couples to agree to get affectionate, to snuggle and touch
and fondle. Sometimes that will lead to a full sexual experience and
sometimes it won't."

There is no ideal amount of sex in a marriage, she adds. There's only too
little when one or both partners are dissatisfied with its frequency.

Weiner-Davis says she's seen her approach work many times, including with
her own marriage. Often, when sexual problems are addressed, other marital
conflicts fade away. In her book's final chapter, she describes how her
husband, real estate developer Jim Davis, wanted to have sex more often and
how she didn't understand how hurt he was when she declined.

"I vowed to myself that I would do whatever I had to do to refocus my
energies and make sexuality a more significant priority in our lives - not
just for Jim, but for us," the 50-year-old mother of two grown children
writes. Once he saw that "I was devoted to bringing back the passion in our
lives," they could become more loving with each other.

"You'd think we'd just met each other," says Weiner-Davis, who has been
married 26 years. "I made a change and it produced wonderful results. Our
kids are always embarrassed."


The Five Steps Toward Better Married Sex

1. Don't stick your head in the sand. If you aren't happy with your sex
life, seek help. Read a book, talk to a doctor.

2. If you are the more highly sexed spouse, talk to your partner about the
f-word - feelings. Don't shut down and go into a cave or just get angry and
resentful. Anger and isolation aren't very good aphrodisiacs.

3. Tune into your spouse's turn-ons. Men may like videos and lingerie, but
their wives may be into something else entirely - like a little help around
the house. Maybe what she really needs is a chance to sleep in or for
someone else to fold the laundry.

4. If you are the less sexual person, consider having sex more often. You'll
feel more sexual pleasure and you'll get the spouse of your dreams in

5. Find the right resource to boost your sexuality if desire is still a
problem. There are sex therapists and treatments that can be effective.

- From Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage/A Couple's
Guide to Boosting Their Marriage Libido (Simon & Schuster 2003)

Copyright © 2003, The Baltimore Sun


Early sadness improves with time, study finds

By Marilyn Elias 
April 28, 2003 

Kids may become more depressed in the first few years they live with a
stepfather, but being a part of a stepfamily can significantly improve their
lives in the long run, suggests a national study reported over the weekend.

''Stepfamilies are kind of a mixed bag,'' says UCLA demographer Megan
Sweeney, who spoke at the Society for Research in Child Development in
Tampa. She compared 870 children living with mothers and stepdads with 1,700
living with divorced or single moms. All youngsters were in grades 7-12.

Research on stepchildren often mixes together kids whose mothers never
married the children's fathers with children whose parents divorced.

But divorce spawns its own issues, and children whose parents never married
are a growing, under-studied group, says psychologist James Bray, a
stepfamily expert at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

About 600,000 U.S. children are born each year to parents who never marry,
he says.

Sweeney's work is unusual, and helpful, Bray says, because it separates out
the kids of parents who never married. She looked at how they fared when
moms stayed unmarried, compared with marrying and forming stepfamilies.

Sweeney also looked at how children did if their moms stayed divorced or
created new stepfamilies.

Among key findings:

* Children's depression symptoms tend to increase for a few years after
stepfamilies are formed, but the longer they're in a stable family, the
fewer symptoms they have.

* Teens are more likely to have parents at home to supervise them if they
are living in stepfamilies rather than with single moms.

* Kids are much less likely to be living in poverty if they're stepchildren.
For example, 46% of children lived below the poverty line if their parents
never married and their mom stayed single, compared with 12% in
stepfamilies. Higher income often leads to better adjustment and life
prospects for children, Sweeney adds.

''Stepfamilies are not clearly a good or bad thing for kids' well-being. But
if the family remains stable, it gets better and better for them,'' she
says. An estimated half of stepfamilies break up through divorce, Bray says.

It's often difficult to form a stepfamily with adolescents, he adds.
''Parents are trying to bring everyone together and, especially during early
adolescence, kids are normally withdrawing, they pull back from the

Even teens in long-standing stepfamilies have more anxiety and behavior
problems than the average kid, Bray says. Stepparents may take kids' normal
adolescent sullen behavior personally and confront them about it, which
escalates conflict, he says.

The new findings ''do give hope,'' says Bray, ''and tell parents they just
need to hang in there.''

Nearly a quarter of U.S. children live in stepfamilies at some point,
according to federal surveys. An estimated 40 million kids now live in them,
Bray says. 


Tough Love 
One Simple Rule for Dating Someone's Teenage Daughter: There Are No Rules

By Laura Sessions Stepp
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 28, 2003

Teenage boys are lonely creatures when it comes to romance. Or if not
lonely, they're awfully perplexed.

Perhaps it has always been so. But you would think this generation might be
different. Today's young men have traveled coed since middle school, their
boy-girl groups -- not couples -- roaming hallways by day, movie theaters
and the Internet by night, swarming via cell phones. They trade lewd jokes
with girls. They confide feelings. They reveal an understanding of some
things about the opposite sex that is dead-on.

"I have a lot of friends who are girls," they'll say, confounding parents
who remember the stiff formality that once divided the sexes in junior high
and high school.

But ask them how to move from pal to partner, and their confidence fades
fast. Dating and other conventions that earlier generations of men once
followed are disappearing as girls, not guys, redefine what it means to be
in a relationship. And the new rules seem to change from girl to girl and
day to day.

In this chaos, it's hard for guys to know how to pursue love or, if they
find love, how to practice the qualities that sustain it: caring, honesty
and, above all, trust. At least that's what coupling experts say, those with
and without degrees.

"I've been in relationships," offers Andrew Buck, an 18-year-old with an
easy grin, big brown eyes and lots of friends among the 2,300 pupils at
Herndon High School. "In eighth grade I had a girlfriend a week, the same my
freshman and sophomore years. After a short time, it stops being romantic.
It becomes something else. I like it better at the beginning."

Two guys he's known for years, over at his house for Chinese food, nod in

"One reason I'm not in a relationship is I don't want to lose my
friendships," says Alex Taylor.

"Romance is hard," Erik Anderson agrees. "All we have to go by is the
movies. Or 'Joe Millionaire.' Or 'The Man Show.' "

To read the complete article, go to:

By Associated Press
April 24, 2003 

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope John Paul II, cracking down on what he considers
serious abuses in his flock, issued a stern reminder Thursday that divorced
Roman Catholics who remarry cannot receive communion.

The pontiff also warned Roman Catholics against taking communion in
non-Roman Catholic churches -- drawing immediate criticism from some
Protestant leaders for what they call a step backward in efforts to achieve
Christian unity.

John Paul's warnings were contained in an encyclical, a special letter
reserved for matters of extreme importance to the church.

"It is my hope that the present encyclical letter will effectively help to
banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice," the pope
wrote, going on to denounce abuses and confusion over "sound faith and
Catholic doctrine" concerning communion.

Although the pope has made better relations with other Christians a
cherished goal of his papacy, his alarm that some Roman Catholics may be
diluting their faith by pursuing those efforts irritated other Christians.

Domenico Tomassetto, a member of the ecumenical relations commission of the
Baptist, Waldensian and Methodist churches in Italy, said the encyclical
made "a definite cut to the entire ecumenical process." Protestants are a
tiny minority in Italy.

John Paul's crackdown regarding communion, while breaking no new ground,
also was likely to stir up anger in the United States and other countries
where divorced and remarried Catholics have been hoping that someday the
pope might reverse the ban on their taking communion.

Vatican teaching forbids divorce and considers Catholics who remarry after
divorce to be living in sin.

Although the pope did not specifically cite the plight of divorced
Catholics, experts said his intent was clear.

"That is what the Vatican is saying for years about the non-admission of
public sinners to the Eucharist whether they be divorced or Mafia or people
who are notorious criminals," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of America,
a Jesuit magazine.

The pope, who consistently has been conservative on doctrinal matters, said
Roman Catholics must examine their conscience to determine whether they have
sinned, but church law holds that those who "obstinately persist in manifest
grave sin" be denied communion.

He wrote that "in cases of outward conduct, which is seriously, clearly and
steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern
for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament,
cannot fail to feel directly involved."

John Paul also sought to tighten up practices in some communities where he
sees the line blurring between strict Church teaching and popular practices.

He reminded faithful that only priests can celebrate Mass, even in parishes
short of priests.

The pope also branded as "unthinkable" the practice of substituting
obligatory Sunday Mass with celebrations of prayer with other Christians or
participation in their liturgical services.

Roman Catholics, "while respecting the religious convictions of these
separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in
their celebrations," he said.

Roman Catholics maintain that they receive the body and blood of Christ in
communion, but many other Christians view communion as a symbolic
re-creation of the Last Supper.

Germany's Lutheran church said the pope's "strict" interpretations
underscored the rift among Christians. Berlin will host a major ecumenical
conference next month.

"It must soberly be recognized that a common view about ... communion does
not appear possible at this time," said Christof Vetter, a Lutheran church

German Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who heads the German Bishops Conference,
acknowledged there were "great obstacles" to closer Christian unity.

"The pope knows of the pain that Christians feel about this. But he pleads
urgently not to let hopes for the unity of the church dim because of this,"
the cardinal said.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the Anglican leader, welcomed what
he called the pope's reaffirmation of his "burning" desire for common
Eucharistic celebration, adding "we continue to work theologically on this."

The pontiff did say there were some special circumstances in which other
Christians could take communion from a Roman Catholic priest to meet the
need for "eternal salvation." Likewise, Roman Catholics could ask ministers
from other faiths with "valid" sacraments to give them communion, confession
or final rites.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
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