From the Editors
We’re a bit late getting the eNews out this month…lots of things happening here with two new online courses going live in the next few weeks. The courses are an adaptation of the SmartLoving insights for a secular environment. That means that you’ll be able to share your SmartLoving experience with friends and family who aren’t Catholic or who you think might find the Catholic content distracting. We’ll have more news for you next month, so keep an eye out for the updates.
Francine & Byron
PS If you live in Australia, don’t forget to register for the Stronger Relationships Trial. You can use the government subsidy for a number of SmartLoving Courses.
By Francine& Byron Pirola
When Desires Don’t Match
When couples marry they rightly expect that there will be a willing participation in a shared life together across a range of activities including sexual intimacy, intimate conversation and parenting for example. But what happens when there is a difference in the desire for the amount or style of one or more of these activities?
It’s called a ‘Desire Discrepancy’ and it happens in every marriage. For example Desire Discrepancy can occur in our social life; when one spouse is an introvert and the other an extrovert, there will inevitably be disagreements over how often to socialise together. While the extrovert can seek his or her socialisation fix without the introverted spouse, it can pose risks to the relationship if it develops into a frequent habit and causes him or her to neglect the marriage. When the Desire Discrepancy falls in the areas of sexual intimacy, this can cause significant tension in a marriage as, unlike socialising, our marriage vows explicitly prohibit either spouse fulfilling this desire outside the marriage.
Importantly, whenever there is a Desire Discrepancy for a particular shared activity between us, there will be an imbalance of power; the one with the lower desire holds the power over the one with the higher desire. As a generalisation, women tend hold the power in the couple’s physical intimacy whereas men hold the power when it comes to intimate conversation. This is not intentional; it is simply the natural consequence of biologically driven sexual differences. Men have more testosterone and so have a steadier sex drive while women have a brain structure that supports the verbalisation of emotional experience.
Of course our marriage vows don’t just ask us to love each other to the level we desire; they call us to total self-giving. In practice this means loving the other the way they most desire to be loved, on their terms. This type of loving is not only good for the other it is also good for us as it takes us outside our own limitations and stretches us. This is what marriage does; it makes us grow, grow both together and individually.
We call this SmartLoving, loving the other the way they most experience love rather than the way we instinctually express love. It is true, generous loving. It is intentional loving. And importantly, over time it effectively manages Desire Discrepancies which, left unaddressed, undermine a marriage.
Being able and willing to meet the emotional and sexual needs of our spouse bonds us together and builds intimacy and affection. Equally, its absence does the opposite; and mostly it all happens without the conscious awareness of what’s going on.
The good news is it only takes one to start the process. You can choose to actively meet your spouse’s needs rather than stubbornly waiting for the other to change. The thing is, when our needs are being met by the other we naturally become more generous towards them and so the initiator can create a virtuous circle.
So be the first to act in love and selflessness and be the catalyst that begins the transformation of your marriage.
BreakThrough – Overcoming Relationship Gridlock
If you would like to host an event in their parish or would like further information, you can call our office on 02 9319 6280.
Going From Good to Better | Most marriage counselling and education focuses on conflict and incompatibility. It seeks to help couples find constructive ways of dealing with challenges in the relationship
Three Tips for Trust | Relationships thrive when trust is strong. But how do we build it in the first instance, and then recover it if we’ve lost it? Here are three tips to help you build trust and hold on to it.
When Desires Don’t Match | When couples marry they rightly expect that there will be a willing participation in a shared life together across a range of activities including sexual intimacy, intimate conversation and parenting for example. But what happens when there is a difference in the desire for the amount or style of one or more of these activities?
The Rules of Engagement | Yes, I know, I’ve only been engaged for two weeks. Two weeks and four days, actually, and yes, I am counting.
A Marriage to Remember | In 2009, at the age of 61, she was told that she had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
My Partner Hates My Job! | Finding a balance between work and relationships is a challenge for everyone, but what if you and your partner disagree on what the balance is?
What Temperament Are You? | The temperaments are a key to unlocking the mystery of ourselves, those we love and those whom we exist with at work and at rest
Tune in to Wollongong’s weekly Catholic radio show, The Journey on Pulse 94.1FM every Sunday from 11am, to hear a variety of Catholic speakers including Fran & Byron Pirola.
Or, listen to their individual 2 minute podcasts for their bite sized pieces of weekly wisdom.
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SmartLoving @ Home
A series of DIY sessions you can use at home or in a small group. For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can download the file at the time of purchase and use the material on your computer, mobile device or make a print copy.
Grateful | When gratitude is present in a marriage, the couple’s good humour and welcoming generosity make their homes places of hospitality and warmth for all their visitors.
Responsible Honesty | It’s more than not telling lies; in marriage it requires an willingness to share deeply and vulnerably.
Sexuality as Gift | Learning to appreciate our sexuality and build the sexual atmosphere between us.
The Ambitious Couple | What is the role of ambition in marriage?
Hear Me Know Me | It is often said that we cannot love what we do not know.