Keeping Passion Alive

Keeping Passion Alive

I’ve often been described as a very passionate man, whether that comes to my work, my relationships, basically anything I do—provided of course that I care about it. I really care about the quality of Emily’s sex life. I cared about that for my previous partner as well. That sort of passion is something that always came easily for me, and the idea of men could be selfish in the bedroom was something I actually had to be introduced to later as an adult. That was down to my father, and some critical decisions he made in regards to my sexual education. Dad isn’t a particularly open man, at least, he can’t really do that directly, but what he did have was a sexuality section is his library and when I came of age he mentioned that he had books on the subject, and that I was free to read them. It didn’t escape my notice that of the five books he had on the art of sex, four of them were dedicated to a woman’s pleasure and only one to his own. That sort of set the stage for me with regards to expectations of what is meant to happen in the bedroom. In many very old and primitive cultures the inability to please a woman was seen as catastrophic enough to prevent conception itself. As for me, even before I started my reading, I didn’t see the point without making an emotional connection, and I assumed, quite correctly I might add, that the quality of each encounter would be directly related to the emotional purpose of it. I’m setting this scene up not to pat myself on the back or brag, but to give context to my perspective of a plight affecting many marriages. For many, some time after marriage, whether that’s years or immediately, there seems to be some sort of lost magic, and further still many couples defeatedly accept this fate as an expectation long before they tie the knot. What to do about that exactly requires explaining some deeper held meanings of what marriage is, so we’ll be taking the long way round.

Esther Perel calls this problem a lack of desire, the flame going out, and in her view this can only be solved by creating some sort of distance in the relationship. Apparently many people view the flame dying down as a necessary stage of marriage. I think that may have been the most shocking thing about reading Mating In Captivity. I wondered why that was such an accepted presupposition, the thought never even occurred to me that sexual desire would naturally wane over the course of a relationship, hell, I consider that a sign of a relationship that’s starting to fail. If anything, I consider the separation of sexual health from marital health to be an issue all on its own and it’s rare that I see the former fall apart without the latter following suit. Clearly though, there’s a problem with fires going out. I think I could even accept Esther’s position more readily, if I assume that the relationships she’s talking about are built on a foundation of pure Eros, or what we refer to as romantic love and lately even lust. To me, this would be akin to lighting the flame of a relationship, having no fuel available but pine straw. At the very beginning of Mating in Captivity, Esther talks about how there are actually couples that have no trouble keeping that flame alive, but she talks about them like they’re weirdos, and she certainly points out their rarity. Esther makes no further mention of these people, and is quick to point out her material isn’t directed at them. I have to assume this lack of ability to explain the perspective is borne out of the fact that she isn’t one of those weirdos. Well, Emily and I are those weirdos, and perhaps that’s some perspective I can and ought to give.

Perhaps if we kindled relationships with better types of fuel than pine straw we wouldn’t accept it as fate that fires would dwindle and extinguish over time. Have you ever tried to keep a fire going with nothing but kindling? It’s something to give a shot, even to just capture the symbolism with experience. You’ll find yourself expending energy, rushing around in a never ending panic to keep the fire fed. Any interruption, no matter how needful, and the fire dies down if not outright expends its fuel. Plato describes a situation wherein lovers are also friends. In Plato’s view this transforms Eros into something more substantial than romantic lust and keeps the passion of a romantic relationship perpetually fed. Eros and philia are transformed by one another, and feed one another, creating a positive feedback loop that endures time and hardship. This lines up a little more closely with my experience. Not to undermine the importance of Eros however, I find when that flame dies down the marriage soon follows. Perhaps it’s a mistake to view those things as separate. Those fires are one in the same. We do not replace Eros with philia, one modifies the other. We can even find some pointers towards this in biology. When you have sexual relations you release oxytocin. This neurotransmitter is responsible for a lot of things but the two we’re interested in at the moment is pair-bonding and trust. Mothers release a ton of the stuff when they give birth, and when they nurse. In fact, any stimulation of the nipples of women seems to release it. Oxytocin also regulates uterine contractions, it’s what’s in Petocin, and it’s why women close to term are encouraged to have regular sex (as it releases oxytocin and helps move labor along). Oh yeah, did I mention it promotes pair-bonding and trust?

Trust has been fingered as a key predictor of divorce by Dr. John Gottman. In his book What Makes Love Last: How To Build Trust and Avoid Betrayalreviewed here—Dr. Gottman lays out his case and his research, showing that low levels of trust are a highly predictive indicator of a doomed relationship. He also goes over the behaviors outside of sex that build trust and behaviors that erode it. Extremes of either seem to be self-reinforcing. So let’s put that together a bit. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter released during sex that influences trust and pair-bonding. Low trust is a strongly predictive indicator of relationship failure. Behaviors outside of sex influence trust levels higher or lower. High enough trust begets itself, damaged trust begets mistrust. The idea that a romantic relationship reinforced by a genuine connection outside of its sexuality is stronger than one based purely on Eros is supported by modern scientific literature. Plato figured this out a long time ago. Relationships that merge Eros and philia feed each other sustainably and are the most durable.

If you’ve followed this far, you may be thinking I’m making the argument that the die is cast, that relationships started in the wrong way are doomed to failure and that there’s no helping it. You’re either doing things the way I did or you’re screwed. Nah. What I’m saying is that you have to be more than your spouses provider, or nanny, or babysitter, or any other major marital function you can think of. All of those functions after all are merely temporary, or at the very least, replaceable. Sexual satisfaction is likewise replaceable. A good marriage however, isn’t, it provides a critical function that I think is well summed up by a quote from Dr. Jordan Peterson in one of his recorded lectures. He says on marriage…well actually I was going to put a quote here but he’s damn wordy, but the expressiveness is useful, so I’m just going to leave a clip here.
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It’s often extolled in the virtuous theater of social media that a friend is someone who will support you but a true friend is someone who will tell you you’re screwing up and it’s your fault. This is a sentiment I agree with but in my experience no matter how much people talk about wanting one, most people can’t handle having a so-called true friend. I don’t think that’s an inherent flaw, I think that’s why we take marriage vows. This is the aged oak that is lit by the kindling of Eros. Oak burns hot, and it burns long, hot enough and long enough that you need not constantly rush about to refuel it the way you have to in a relationship built on pine straw. In this sort of fire, you may actually take a moment to enjoy the light it gives and the warmth it radiates before you have to give it more fuel. You may be in one of those pine straw relationships, and you may believe everything is fine, and hey maybe it is, but don’t be surprised when you find out just how much upkeep you’ve been doing on that fire when something else interrupts you; hardship, children, a new job that requires relocation, longer hours at work. I’ve been through all those things with Emily, and it was never the sex that kept us together, good as it is.

Now, that was the long way round to get to it, but I think all those details are important, because it is for those qualities of my marriage that I do not have to think about keeping our fire stoked—that is something that happens mostly on its own. Yes, there’s some effort involved here and there, the small reminders of physical affection, the occasional date night, and other romantic gestures, but it’s not something we fight with or struggle with. It’s what makes us those weirdos where the flame doesn’t just die on its own unless we create some sort of contrived distance between us or other strategy for tricking ourselves into being sexually attracted to each other again. I never fell into the trap of thinking of my wife as only a mother or only a caregiver or as adopting any other sort of single identity that reduces her sexual or romantic value to me because our relationship is deeper than her utility—which by the way, are the situations Esther Perel deals with in her book. If you want to call that ‘keeping distance’ you go right ahead, I call that proper togetherness. I call that knowing without a doubt, that come praise or criticism, the things Emily says to me and about me are coming from a position of my long term well being.

Hey, maybe that does actually make us weirdos. Maybe you take a look at the words I’ve written and say you couldn’t live your life that way. Totally valid. I can tell you one thing though, I don’t mind being in the position of looking at people who can’t seem to make the time for intimacy, or are in a marriage of utility, and can’t seem to wrap their heads around where all the magic and love has gone, and thinking that they’re the weirdos. I don’t mind that situation being alien to us. If that situation isn’t alien to you, perhaps it’s time to be a weirdo.

The Fantasy List

The Fantasy List

Communicating about sex isn’t always easy. Emily and I come from different backgrounds, had different levels of sexual experience when we met, and we have vastly different communication skills and styles. Given how unique individual lives are, I imagine there are more couples like us than not. Then you have the mind-reader syndrome, where couples that have been together a while start assuming their minds are being read.

“We’ve been together X years you should know this about me by now!”, a common refrain.

Sure, there were things Emily and I learned about each other through osmosis. You are going to learn things about your spouse simply by being with them, but as I like to remind Emily, there was a time before I met her and before she met me. That little fact seems so easy to forget after the years pile on. Not only do you become unable to imagine a future without them, you become unable to imagine anything without them, including your past, and you can forget that there was a life before your spouse.

So at 8 years into the marriage, having known each other for 11, we decided to get down and seriously talk about sex. I was starting to feel a bit caged, not for a lack of some other fancy woman that I imagined existed somewhere but because I didn’t feel free to express all of my sexual desires within’ the marriage. Emily isn’t the greatest at opening up, and I was her first and remain her only sexual partner. She had no prior experience to compare ‘us’ to so everything seemed normal, it was all she had. Not to put all the blame on her, I avoided communicating certain things because I had tastes outside of what I thought she’d consider acceptable. Guilty as charged in the sandbagging department.

I suggested an exercise, where we write down all of our sexual fantasies and preferences (at a 10,000 foot level) where we couldn’t observe each other and then swap sheets at the same time. We were to mark off the ones the relationship was fulfilling, and also mark any we felt were fantasy only as they’d wreck the marriage. My list had 28 items, hers had 8. A few things about this stuck out to me. One, I had suspected that she lacked the sexual vocabulary and experience to really consider her own wants. Due to me being her one and only, everything we did was so normal it escaped her notice. Two, she was absolutely flabbergasted at the number of things I had on my list, and more still at how few of them had check marks.

I remarked to her as I read her sheet. “I thought you were also into….” and she’d respond “That felt so normal I didn’t consider that a preference”. We eventually got her list up to 13 and finally it seemed to describe her, and all of her boxes had check marks. More than half of mine did not. Emily actually shed a tear or two, I encouraged her not to, to no avail. I actually wasn’t all that upset about the check mark count, I had realized long before the exercise that It was my job to communicate these things and I hadn’t done so. Emily however, had misplaced feelings of dereliction of duty, especially in light of the fact that a lot of those empty check boxes struck her as a lot of fun. We went over the list, willing to try, not willing to try, marking them as we went, and much to my astonishment, most of them she was willing to try, even the ones regarding exhibitionism (I thought there was no way in hell).

And the rest was history, so they say. I regret waiting until so far into ours to figure out how to get all my sexual skeletons into the open and out of the closet, even in my own marriage. I’m not advocating a specific method, the one we used is very us, but if it sounds like it would work for you by all means crib it, but I wanted to remind you all today that sexuality is something you need to figure out how to talk about and discuss openly, even if you need a few mental tricks to get you there. How scary is a ‘no’ to something you’re already not doing anyway?

Until next time.

Featured Photo by Jay on Unsplash

Saving On Groceries – Thrift Traps

Saving On Groceries – Thrift Traps

Now this is something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while, I just had a hard time finding the right impetus to motivate me to actually put it to keyboard. The blog has been a lot of sexy times lately, which mirrors the home front, and I figured what better way to break that up than with some good old fashioned grocery shopping.

Grocery shopping never seems to get easier does it? You add more mouths to feed, more tastes to cater to, your own changing diet and cravings, and then you have the food budget to consider. You coupon cut, you get a membership at the wholesale store and for some reason that food bill just never seems to go down. Well, I can help you with that, because you’re playing the wrong game. Saving money on groceries isn’t about math, it’s about mindset. Like many of us I spent some of my early working days in a grocery store. Unlike many of us, I stayed there long after I should have moved on; I paid attention and I learned some industry tricks. Here are some traps you may be falling into.

Ad-Chasing:

I’m going to use an absurd but true example from my own childhood to illustrate why this is wrong. Coupons do this in a directly targeted way that we’ll get into later.

One day my mother came home with 10 packages of 48 count creme cookies. We all stared at her like she was weird. We wondered how we were going to even eat all those. We hardly ever ate cookies at all and when we did they were baked in the home. They were generic too. Some sort of ultra sweet shortbread with cookie creme in the middle. Oreo’s are like crack, the originals. I don’t care much for the double stuffed or other versions where the proportions are thrown out of whack, personal taste I know. Point is, we wouldn’t have been wondering what to do if she came home with those. But these, we didn’t eat these, we couldn’t even remember the last time they were in the house. Dad got annoyed, and rightfully so, we weren’t doing well financially, we never were.

“How much did those cost?” He questioned.

Mom didn’t answer the question, she responded by indicating how much money she had saved. For her part, she genuinely thought that made it all better. She was too busy doing the math on only one side of the equation.

You do not save money by buying things you don’t normally buy just because they are on sale. It is a trap I have seen thousands of customers fall into. It’s a trap my wife falls into with some regularity. It’s an effective trick I helped pull on thousands of people. The deals are often not even that good. It’s not like when the store did a loss-leader on chicken breasts or something. That’s something most people already spend money on and we’re going to get to that in a minute. This is when we stick impulse buys in front of your face at like 10%-15% off and you happily oblige. People who never buy soda will buy that soda. People who haven’t had cheese-its in 2 years will buy those cheese-its. Oh yeah, it’s usually junk food too.

Anytime you see something like that and you are tempted I want you to stop and recite this to yourself.

“Milk never goes on sale”

You know why it never goes on sale? Because you need it, it expires quickly, and you use it. You never have to discount milk because people never stop buying it and they don’t need to be reminded of its existence. Ditto for eggs. In other words, it doesn’t go on sale because people never need to be tricked into buying it. You know what does go on sale? Cheese.

Ads are constructed around this principle. They’re designed to get you to buy things you normally don’t because they’re on sale. Does it matter if you got that steak for 2 bucks off per pound when it still costs 5 dollars per pound more than the chicken you normally get? You didn’t save money, you spent it. Always watch the money going out, because nothing is coming in when you hit the register.

Buying in Bulk:

This one is going to be short and easy because it’s a psychological thing and you can all relate to it. Buying in bulk only increases your consumption. You may save money per item but your consumption of those items will increase. Anyone who has ever frivolously spent a tax return—that’s you right?—acknowledges this effect. The more you have the more you use. It’s a well known and well understood psychological trick and grocery stores have been using it for decades. You’re paying membership fees on top of that, which creates a pressure for you to shop. There are people who actually benefit from these arrangements, they were the target audience when these stores actually first opened. Small business owners that already go through enough of the things they buy in bulk that their membership works in their favor.

YOU on the other hand are pressuring yourself to go to the bulk store more to get more ‘mileage’ out of your membership card and at the end of the day, you are spending more money. Watch where the money is going, and stop overvaluing where it isn’t.

One more example of this effect. When you make a giant pot of spaghetti, or make a large pork roast, do you eat less or more than you typically eat in one setting. When you hit the buffet do you eat less or more? This effect doesn’t just apply to bulk shopping membership stores, it applies to the decisions about the meals we cook. It even rears its head when you decide to make meatloaf instead of burger patties (can you guess which one goes farther?).

Membership Rewards Programs:

Don’t, just don’t. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on this one, just avoid stores that do this. This is like the Ad-Chasing problem above except 10x more coercive because you categorically WON’T save any money on anything unless you participate in said Ad-Chasing. By the way, everything in the store is marked up to compensate.

Coupon cutting does the same exact thing. Membership rewards programs are just a newer form of it that also makes you a free data point for a gigantic database on buyers trends that the store keeps. You are not only not really saving any money, you are directly telling a giant database how best to exploit you. It was rare, but more frequent than it should be, that a customer would find out they were pregnant because their buying pattern matched pregnancy enough that they started getting baby coupons in the mail. Yikes!

Not Actually Having a Food Budget:

Last but certainly not least on the list. The food budget itself. Money is fungible, spent with plastic, and it’s easy to lose track of what we spent where. If you do not have a food budget, not actually sitting down and figuring out the difference between what you think you should be spending on food, what you should be spending on food, and what you are spending on food is costing you money, I guarantee it.

There’s a lot of busy, fancy apps that promise to help us with this, ignore them. I want you to pick a number for your food budget, take that money out of your bank or an ATM, physically take an envelope and write food on it with some sharpie, and I want you to put that money in the envelope. That is your food budget. When it runs out, it runs out. Your plastic isn’t allowed to save you. I guarantee your costs will come down. Oh, and takeout counts, that comes from the envelope too.

Okay Smarty Pants What do I do?

Here’s the number one knockout way to avoid falling prey to ad gimmicks and psychological tricks—the more insidious of which are outside the scope of this article, this is just an article about the ones you can do something about. It’s also the number one way to stay in your budget.

Okay, ready?

Make a meal plan, and stick to it.

I want you to take all the time you use ad-browsing and I want you to instead use that time to plan your meals, down to the portions. This is going to do two things that short circuit all of these gimmicks, and you may even find it easier to take some weight off as a pleasant side effect.

Thing number one, you are going to control what you buy. You can make it by the month or by the week, I recommend by the week. If one of your meals happens to go on sale, sweet, you’ve actually saved money, congratulations. If the ad-break happens before that particular meals day you can swap days that week, have taco Thursday instead of taco Tuesday, but your ad-chasing days are over, that is also going to save you money, you’re welcome.

Thing number two, you are also going to control how much you buy. You are going to stop making giant pots of rice that you go through too quickly when you only needed 6 ounces of cooked rice. You’re going to do the same thing with potatoes, noodles, and anything else we can be tempted to throw into a giant pot that could feed us 4x over but will only feed us twice. You’re also going to stop buying too many boxes of mac and cheese and then eating too much of that because it’s so damn tasty, comforting, and easy. I know I know, guilty as charged. Your food bill will actually come down for once.

Here’s the last hurdle though, and this is less of a hurdle and more of a conscious choice you need to make, and it’s one of the reasons food bills never seem to come down. When we save money in the food budget we tend to re-appropriate it immediately to food reward. This is when we buy ourselves steaks or seafood or whatever your reward food is. The fancy cheese, the more expensive bottle of wine (that’s food right?), or even some takeout we normally don’t have. These rewards can be psychologically comforting and rewarding and you need to make the conscious decision on whether shrinking your food budget is worth going without them. If not, here’s another challenge, implement the changes above to have more reward steak. Now that’s a motivator if I’ve ever heard one.

She Needs to Feel Sexy

I used a word as strong as need intentionally. We’ll get to that in a second.

So I was reading through some posts on Ashley Danielle’s page and she had something up about picking a sexy dress out for Vegas. As she was communicating her desire to feel sexy—which in itself is the emotion of feeling sexually desirable—I recalled moments when my wife expressed the same thing.

The thing I remembered in particular was when Emily was having body image issues after our third child. Yes, some things happened to her body that she felt were less attractive, but she was focusing on those to the point she couldn’t see the beautiful woman that she still is. My attempts to convince her otherwise weren’t working. In our case we did something a bit drastic, risky, but something I was real confident about. Emily is a stunning woman, pregnancy battle scars included, and she was not only succumbing to a negative internal image but her photoshop detector wasn’t working properly either. She couldn’t really perceive the laughably harsh soft filtering on pictures of models and insta. I just happened to be learning photoshop at the time.

So I did two things. One, and this is admittedly extreme, I got her to throw her image out to the harsh judgement of the internet, something I assured her would be positive despite its reputation, and I was right. The next thing I did was take a picture of her, and photoshopped it until it looked like what I was seeing through my husband goggles. For some reason, that maneuver really punched through, though the first thing also did its job very well. Emily started to feel confident and sexy again.

I think that’s an emotional need that often isn’t treated as seriously as say, the need to be loved. There’s a little insecurity in accepting praise at face value from your spouse. How can your wife be assured that you aren’t just trying to avoid the couch after all? By seeking the honest validation of strangers she can be assured that your praise is not a white lie. A little black dress is more than an outfit, it’s a reminder with each noticed sideways glance that your desire for her may be based on something more tangible than just aiming to please, it will let her accept the idea that you actually desire her, the way a stranger might. I guarantee you, that will make her feel better about her body, and it will turn her on. She needs to feel sexy because she wants to know you want her. Deny yourself the benefits at your own peril.

That Time My Brother Hated My Wife

So this is a thing I don’t often speak of, but it’s pretty darn relevant to this blog. What do you do when a family member dislikes your spouse? Depends on what kind of family you have, ultimately. I consider what happened between my brother and I to be about as good as that could have gone. I don’t think there’s a method or trick or rule that’s going to solve this problem for everyone that experiences it so I’m just going to share the story as is and my feelings about it and let you make up your own mind from there.

James and I always had a very different experience with women as we grew up. I’m not sure if it’s because of luck or because he’s more attractive or because we were aiming different. Perhaps I was more naive. I was under the strong belief that it wasn’t worth wasting my time on temporary pair bonds. I was in it to get married and have children from the word go. There were girls I found highly attractive in middle school, but I didn’t want to be with them, there’s no way that was going to last. I kept that opinion until my Jr. year or so of high school. I started looking for mates, not girlfriends. Turns out that was a little early to get started too, at least with that stated goal. Looking back that seems obvious to me. James on the other hand was quite successful with the temporary pair bonding and didn’t seem to want for a longer term arrangement and especially not children.

James rarely approved of my girlfriends. The first was a strict, “you can do better” and he was right. In fact, those words ended that relationship. Actually at this point I feel I should point out that I’m not just the older of the two of us, I’m the eldest sibling. My brother’s opinions carry lots of weight, always have. Emily got a much better approval rating, which is to say that James didn’t voice disapproval until after the marriage. Here’s where things get interesting, and perhaps instructive. This story could end up being more useful to the people doing the disliking than the recipients.

The timelines on this are really fuzzy, so I’m going to try and just stick to the narrative order of events here. For instance, I can no longer remember if James first voiced his opinions before or after his nephew was born (One of the reasons for starting this blog was to get those things out before they were completely forgotten). I do however remember being physically in his presence when he broached the subject. He had lived out of town for a while at this point and was visiting for some reason. He waited until he was with me physically and we were alone to break it to me. That wasn’t too difficult, one of our favorite past times is taking long lonely walks together.

James told me that he was sure Emily was a good wife and didn’t mean to disparage our relationship—waiting until after the marriage was pretty good evidence of that I thought—but that he just couldn’t stand being around her and that he hated her. Hate has been a diluted word for some time and I knew at the time and from his tone of voice that what he really meant was strong dislike. He couldn’t stand her attitude and being around her was an exercise in restraint, which he demonstrated admirably.

I kinda felt sorry for James, not quite pity but sorry for him. I wasn’t angry, but I wanted him to like my wife. Who doesn’t want their brother to like their wife? Heck, who doesn’t want their friends to like their wife? I knew however, that the way he was telling me and the timing with which he broke it to me indicated that there wasn’t any use in trying to change his mind. Both of us obviously thought it was in everyone’s best interest not to relay that opinion to my wife, but that I should be mindful of it when arranging get-togethers and that sort of thing. For his part, James didn’t seem angry or resentful either, just solemn, almost like relaying a sad story from a newspaper. I’m not sure he knew what to do with those feelings. I was just going to give it time. I assured him sincerely that it wouldn’t affect our relationship.

That’s the thing about being brothers, we’re stuck with each other for a while. At least, we are in my family. Who else is going to keep you honest? Family has to be able to tell you things you don’t want to hear, it’s the test on whether you really care about someone. If you can’t disapprove of really bad decisions when it really matters, the way James did with my first shot at a relationship, when can you disapprove of them? Is your capacity to care about someone limited to brow beating them about how many calories are in that snickers bar or other social niceties? Well then you probably aren’t really looking out for them as well as you should, at least that’s how I view it. Actually yeah, a side bar on our particular family dynamic may be instructive here.

I’m well aware that not all families work that way, and I’ve noticed that the more broken a family is the more the individual members tend to subscribe to the idea that friends can be family. Stable and strong families like mine tend to subscribe to the blood is thicker than water mantra. I can’t say I’ve done any sort of study on that or anything, that’s just been my life experience. We do however have research on how real mom can make stepmom’s life hell just by existing. Worth thinking about. Seems a pretty obvious explanation to me really, absent a genuine family bond there’s no reason to value that relationship over a good friendship. I can guarantee you though, that families that get it right are experiencing a more powerful and more useful bond than any friendship could. I have plenty of both. Perhaps your family isn’t so close, you can break that cycle. Emily’s family has some problems, they backbite, have petty squabbles over inheritance, some even steal from the elders outright—I mean actual petit theft. These things are unheard of on my side. I told Emily that her family’s behavior ends with our home and our generation; she likes that idea.

My family is the only group of people I can count on to always have my best interests at heart whether they are praising me or knocking me down a few pegs because we’re stuck with each other until we die. That attitude tends to keep needless fights at bay and motives on the right course. They’re not going to spite me out of jealousy, but they can also be counted on not to be sycophants. There sure were fights though, not to get too deep into that but don’t think I’m trying to paint some idealistic picture of a family here. I’m just commenting on the nature of the bond itself. We have fights, and when we do it’s intense and bitter and feelings are really hurt. Those fights tend not to be needless and those criticisms almost always have truth buried in them, perhaps that makes them hurt more. The strength of those bonds let James and I keep our cool.

James didn’t disapprove of my relationship with Emily, he just couldn’t like her, but he could have disapproved, and I would have listened. That doesn’t mean I’d have left her, I didn’t drop my first girlfriend just like that, I gave that plenty of thought, but I’d question the motives of any non-family member for telling me such things out of the gate. I can count on my family to come from a position of looking out for me as their sincere motive. That means my spouse can be a source of disagreement between my brother and I without turning into a source of conflict. That’s why adding Emily to my family came with a ceremony and vows. Words of adoration and good sentiment aren’t good enough.

Patience ended up winning out and eventually James came to like Emily without any persuasion or brow beating from me. Time and exposure. He came to like certain qualities about her. Indeed, when James switched gears and started dating with marriage in mind he suddenly noticed qualities about Emily that lent themselves to such a relationship and was suddenly very appreciative of them. James simply couldn’t see them before because his goals were different. Ultimately, family thing aside, that’s why I was able to take his initial criticisms of Emily in stride. His outlook on relationships and their purpose was obviously different, and that was okay. He also didn’t turn his personal feelings in a mission to change me or Emily. He said his piece and left it alone.

Disagreements like this don’t always go so smoothly, but they can. Hope that’s helpful, or that you enjoyed the read at the very least.

Our Last Child – How We Knew

How many children is enough children? Now that’s a question that can cause a disagreement or two. When Emily and I met I wanted a very large family, she wanted just two children. Life has a funny way of flipping the script. After her second delivery—a painful ordeal that seemed so much worse than the first—I decided I didn’t want her to go through with that again. Emily decided she was hungry for another, go figure. I was happy to oblige of course, it was her body after all and who better than Emily to say what she could and couldn’t do again. So along came number three. Delivery was actually pretty easy as far as deliveries go and we were both feeling pretty good about that. It went so well in fact I recall Emily joking about how she could do a few more.

It didn’t take long however for the differences in raising our third child to assert themselves. Given our target audience, I feel the need to go into this next bit in some detail, a little “Explain it like I’m five”. If you deliver vaginally and everything goes great and perfect your doctor is going to put you on six weeks of no penetration. It only goes up from there. We were blessed with all three deliveries and we never got more than six weeks probation, but the third six weeks was by far the longest one for both of us. What seemed simple the first two times around required new rituals and assuring words the third time. We wanted each other terribly, it was agonizing. The first two weeks weren’t so bad, Emily didn’t even want to think about sex at that point, but even though she was hardly healed and was still having to wear pads for everyday bleeding, week three had started a marathon of unfulfilled longing. We worked on ways to express ourselves physically knowing that no release would come, and we still use those techniques today when we just can’t catch a moment. The days nevertheless drug on. This was just the earliest and first difference in a string of moments and realizations that would have us saying “Yes, this is enough”.

We hadn’t picked up on that first sign at this point in our story. In fact, Emily was already talking about having a fourth, this time seriously instead of hospital bed joking, and I was all about it too. We were still in the period where number three was sleeping most the time and feeding for the rest. As we talked through the requirements for number four though, I started to realize the numbers weren’t adding up. We’d need at least one vehicle upgraded to a larger size, and depending on the sex of the child we’d have to re-arrange the entire house and convert some living area into another bedroom or upgrade the house as well. We didn’t have the financial bandwidth for that. Emily still very wanted and fourth, but I was starting to think it wasn’t such a great idea, still, I was committed to providing her what she wanted.

The next phase is what rang both our alarm bells hard enough to change our minds. Number 3 started going through sleep regression, which happens at about the 4-6 month period, and our daughter, three at the time, started regressing in her potty training over the attention the new baby was getting. By the time our new infant was one year old I was saying things like “I want our bed back, I want my wife back”. For contrast, our firstborn had nursed and co-slept for eighteen months, and everyone was comfortable with it. We started openly discussing being done with children, and how we had our lives on pause for too long. Emily wanted to rejoin the work force, I wanted time to dedicate to progressing in my career. We’d taken so long getting to #3 that I was already violating one of the rules we’d agreed to about the number of children we’d have, or more importantly, when we’d have them. I didn’t want to be over 50 by the time all our children graduated high school, number three already put me over that age, albeit just, but that line had been crossed.

Now you may be thinking something along the lines of “Wow you guys were really ignoring the signs that you needed to be done”. You’d be correct. That’s why I’m writing this. We had indeed been ignoring not only the signs that we weren’t ready for another yet, but that we weren’t ready for another at all and I’m hoping, maybe naively, that we can spare another couple that experience. We actually continued a bit further stubbornly holding onto the idea that we could deal with another plus one, but after we’d started weening and sleep training earlier than we had any of the other children, we realized how dedicated we were to this being over, we realized how deeply we missed simple things like drinking together, or cuddling each other to sleep. The sleep training part of that ordeal is probably worth its own post. Actually, yeah, expect that later this week. The short of it is, we were able to reclaim our bed, and it felt amazing. That simple change brought us a significant amount of emotional energy that we’d been lacking. The crib is still in our bedroom, the baby still sleeps there, but just having that space to ourselves to hold each other, to cuddle, and not being kicked in the face or having to watch where my arms are going has been liberating in ways neither of us needed for the prior two children.

This phase of our lives just feels over, much the same way it began. All of our carefully thought out plans for starting our family blew by the wayside to the emotional feeling of simply being ready, and all our plans for having more were cancelled by emotional needs too. So if you’re looking to start a family, or you’re simply curious about what that phase of marriage looks like and how those decisions get made I hope sharing a little snippet of our story helps, even if that just means you know a few more questions to ask and some things to watch out for. Really, just trust your instincts, even if they change suddenly. There’s a reason there aren’t many guides out about this topic. Sure, you may know what to expect when you’re expecting, but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of manual to make the decision to start trying to expect or to stop, there’s just too many variables. So keep your ear to the ground, feel it out, and remember no one has done this in the exact same way that you have.

If you’ve already been through these decisions, or have more specific questions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section. Until next time.

Don’t Stop Dating

Your road through marriage can come with a lot of new identities: parent, spouse, Home Depot junkies, just to name a few. You’ll run a household together, manage finances together, become your own handymen and landscapers (even if you delegate those jobs you’ll have to have instructions and vision), raise children, reprimand teachers and other care givers when they step out of line, deal with in-laws, and handle end of life care for your parents.

You may not think, doing all of these things and dealing with the punches life throws at you, that you have the time or bandwidth to tend to the tasks that brought you together in the first place. You may vanish as regulars to your favorite bar or restaurant, your friends may see less of you, you may see less of each other. Some of this is bound to happen, you just aren’t getting out for dates as much when you’re say, sleep training an infant. But I implore you not to let ‘phases’ become new norms.

When there is a genuine need to put the nights out on the back burner, do so, you have a family to take care of, but don’t give up on dating forever. Love is not something that you achieve and then put in a trophy case, it requires constant reinforcement and reaffirmation and I find a lot of couples discard dating as soon as they tie the knot. They seem to think of dating as this courtship phase that has a hard end when they get married, they don’t recognize their dates as the series of love and trust deepening behaviors that got them to the marriage finish line in the first place. On that note, the act of marriage isn’t the finish line at all, it’s the starting line.

I think you could be reasonably confused about that. Society certainly is. Young couples overwhelmingly choose cohabitation over marriage as their preferred lifestyle. According to a study by Sharon Sassler at Cornell University, this largely comes from a fear of divorce. Sassler has further found that a good portion of these people are primarily worried over the emotional turmoil from the split.

So let’s simplify that thinking for a little bit just so when can put it in perspective and consider the implications. A significant group of young people, are living together for as long as they can, and having and raising children, instead of getting ‘married’ in order to avoid the psychological pain of splitting up. I am left wondering what the word marriage must mean to these couples. It wasn’t that long ago, from a historical perspective, that living together this way made you married, and I don’t mean de facto married, I don’t mean as good as married, I mean married married. Hell, there are still 15 states in the United States, 16 if you include D.C., that recognize some form of common law marriage. A lot of these have caveats but there are a few that don’t including Alabama, Colorado, D.C., Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.

Whatever causes this line of thinking, it’s clear there’s at least one thing going on. Marriage has become some sort of magical divider that separates us from our pre and post dating state, but having children does not. Sure, there’s not having to go through divorce, but the moment you split there’s going to be a custody fight and child support to pay. You’re not ‘getting away clean’ here, and you may end up just as in court as you would have been in a divorce. The evidence is clear, many of us are convinced that our entire emotional state regarding our relationship should change on our wedding day.

That’s rubbish.

Emphasizing your new identities as spouses and parents to the exclusion of your old identities as a romantic dating couple can cause you to become entirely consumed by these identities, and that often leads to long term unhappiness in your marriage. A wife consumed by her identity as a mother may have trouble with mustering the raw feelings of desire she needs for sex. A father consumed in his role as a provider may have trouble prioritizing the emotional needs of the rest of his family and ironically fail in that exact role. Either parent, consumed by their roles as such, my absorb themselves in their children to such a degree that their partner may feel unappreciated and unloved. Balance of our myriad identities matters. Maybe I could spend a lot more words trying to convince you of that, but I think Esther Perel does a much better job and I don’t wish to duplicate her research or experience. Just go read Mating In Captivity if you’re skeptical, then get back to me.

For the rest of us, remember that continuing your courtship behaviors helps you balance your new identities with your old ones. Emily and I recently had our tenth anniversary and we spent it doing something I think you may find interesting.

Emily and I dumped our kids off with relatives, and generally when we do that it’s so we can have some of the kinkier sex that would be too noisy and require too much assurances it wouldn’t be interrupted than we can manage when they’re in the house. That day however, we had a different goal in mind. We were going to just have a good old fashioned mall crawl. We arrived when the doors opened, and were immediately hit in the face with the smells of Cinnabon. We hadn’t had breakfast yet and Emily exclaimed something to the effect of, “that would be good”. Emphasis on the would. I chuckled a bit and corrected her. That’s going to be good.

Emily realized at that moment, it finally hit her after about an hour and a half, that she was free to act without children, that she could be a little selfish, that she could enjoy herself, she didn’t have to buy extra cinnamon rolls or share one with sugar craving piranhas, that, for the moment, for this day, we were just the 2 of us again. She got so happy she nearly cried, and we spent the next five hours or so going through makeup, clothes, video games, candles, and whatever the hell we felt like doing.

I explained the day to a coworker, 11 years married and he exclaimed, “Yeah, we spent our tenth pretty much the same way, we had a Home Depot date and spent most the day casually building the kitchen island we have now and it was fantastic”.

We certainly have dates more frequently than just our anniversary date, but we don’t get to do these things as often as I’d like, granted, perhaps should. We could strive to do our date nights a little more, tone it down on the sex and up on the sushi bar. I understand the concept of having superior obligations too, like bills and house maintenance, but take it from me, take it from my co-worker, it’s worth it. Don’t stop dating.

Book Review – She Comes First

Book Review – She Comes First

Last week we went a little outside our normal reading with Marriage, a History, a book that was more academic than our standard self-help fare. Today we veer off the road on the opposite side. She Comes First by Dr. Ian Kerner is definitely a self-help book, but it’s a very practically minded one. The stated goal of She Comes First is to help change cunnilingus from foreplay to ‘coreplay’ and to enhance your tongue game overall. This is definitely a book marketed at the fellas, but honestly girls, some of y’all could benefit from this book too. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Out the gate I identified with the Ian’s past, though I arrived at my situation differently. I developed a bit of a porn habit early in my life and it led to a bit of a PE problem (yes, it can do that). Ian and I both upped our tongue games to compensate, and we both learned to cope with and overcome our PE later. For those of you wondering, PE is premature-ejaculation—being ‘fast’ in other words. For both of us, cunnilingus allowed us to make up for that shortfall, and remained so much more than foreplay even after we’d overcome our issues. The reason for this is simple, when done well many women prefer this to penetration, and research supports that—research Ian shares in the book.

So if I was already doing this, why pick up the book? Well that’s where She Comes First gets really interesting for me. I mentioned in my review of Come As You Are that I was looking for a book I could give the many women in my life who revealed they didn’t know perhaps everything they ought to about their bodies. Yeah, this is the part I just mentioned about it being useful for girls too. See, for about the first 100 pages, She Comes First is so much more than a ‘lick-this, tongue-flick-that’ step-by-step manual, it’s a deep dive anatomy lesson into the entire clitoral complex and how it reacts and functions during the stages of arousal. In fact, I’d say Dr. Kerner does a superior job of laying these functions out in his cunnilingus how-to manual than Dr. Nagoski did in her book aimed towards women to feel good about how they already are (Ironic as her book comes with a glowing endorsement from Dr. Kerner), and that’s why my recommendation for that book was so tepid.

I read these two back-to-back, starting with She Comes First, and while I was reading Come As You Are I thought to myself how I would have preferred a mishmash of these two books than either individually for the purposes described above. Keep in mind, the goal here was to find a book I could feel comfortable recommending to women that had basic questions about their own bodies. There are parts of each of these books that does that job better than the other and I think that’s a shame. That’s not to knock She Comes First, quite the opposite as it’s not meant to be that kind of thing at all, but it is interesting to me how it nailed the anatomy lesson better than Come As You Are did. After those first 100 pages or so it started getting harder to get through the book, as I was no stranger to cunnilingus technique. This is the part of the book where it ties all of the anatomy lesson together so that you understand the reasoning behind the ‘do this, do that’ portion. If you are however new to cunnilingus or feel like sanity checking your technique, this portion of the book should hold your attention. The smoothly flowing prose definitely made it easier to get through for me.

So yeah, let’s talk about that last thing briefly. Ian’s text flows naturally and reads easily; you’ll be turning pages quickly as a result. That makes She Comes First an easier recommendation for people with tight schedules, you’ll get through it pretty quickly, especially if your focus is on that first anatomy part. Oh, speaking of, I can hear some of you saying this from here; “I already know the anatomy of the clitoris”. Alright, so I’m sure you can name 10 of the 18 parts of the clitoral complex. If you still think you’ve got nothing to learn, cheers mate, and I’m happy for you and your wife. To be fair, I think Ian makes a bit of a stretch to hit all 18, but I’m sure most of you are surprised there’s more than 4, and there’s convincingly more than 4.

I’m really going to take the piss out of the cover though, for the same reasons I did that for Come As You Are. I would really like this genre to start taking itself seriously. Emily and I don’t even use its title anymore, we just call it the papaya book. The imagery of the papaya and banana on the cover are about as subtle and cliche as a lead pipe to the face in a TV wrestling match—all it’s missing is Rick Flair saying “Woooo!”. How many of these books are we up to for the “better off with an E-reader” rating for the covers? I think it’s three. For the love of physical book reviewers and consumers everywhere can we get some less cringe, coffee shop friendly covers? Please? Consider me a bitter clinger when it comes to my physical pages.

So do I recommend this book? Without caveat yes. I think most of us have something to learn from it, it’s cheap and a quick read so the opportunity cost of reading it is low, and as for the specific techniques I find they closely mirror my own and in that context I can definitely say they’re effective. I also appreciate the reinforcement of the idea that cunnilingus is not simply a ‘prelude’ to a type of sex that ‘should’ happen. Cunnilingus can just -be- the sex and I’ve always found it awesomely satisfying to bring Emily to orgasm that way.

Screen Time for You and Your Kids

Screen Time for You and Your Kids

Photo by sandra dubosq on Unsplash

As our modern world hurtles headlong into the automation of everything, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to take our heads out of our screens. As professionals we may spend our time in screens as part of, or the main focus of, our job. We could be editing video, making Photoshop magic, keeping the internet working, interfacing with a car’s on-board computer, or writing a blog or book. When we need downtime, screens offer escape in the form of movies and video games, they offer to distract and babysit our children, and our phones keep us in constant contact with friends, relatives, and supervisors. As a result we spend over 8 hours a day on average in front of some sort of screen, and so do our children.

Many parents I know seem to have an inherent sense of the dangers of excessive screen time, however few seem to be on top of it. They can tell you how a child threw a tantrum after being pulled off a video game or a TV show but can’t seem to tell you how much screen time their kids are getting on a typical day. Just like we know how eating too many calories will make us gain weight but few of us actually count them properly, many parents also aren’t counting their screen time hours for themselves or their children. Children in particular are vulnerable to harm from screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends strict guidelines for all children under the age of six, with the guidelines becoming more stringent as age goes down. Excessive screen time can harm your children, and especially young children, in several ways: being linked with high rates of obesity—screen time is often sit time—behavioral disorders, and stunted learning.

I myself am a recovered video game addict, and I’ve experienced these things first hand. I spent the bulk of my 5th through 12th grade years addicted to video games. My grades suffered, I didn’t get enough sleep, my social life never got a chance to begin, and I even threw away a shot at post-secondary education. It wasn’t until life asserted itself to the point of eviction that I finally started a nearly decade long road to recovery.

I didn’t grow up with smart phones, they didn’t really enter the picture until after I graduated high school. The iPod was a new fascination in those days, and the iPhone wouldn’t hit until years later. I’m not sure where I’d be if I had access to things like smartphones back then. Many people are as absorbed in social media as I was to my games. You see them every day, ignoring their surroundings, stumbling into traffic, weaving on sidewalks, bumping shopping carts into bystanders, running their cars off the road. Social media and the constant ability to access it has dangers in store for adults and children alike in the form of sexual exploitation through revenge porn, cyber bullying, and pornographic exploitation of minors.

I could go on about the dangers of getting absorbed into video games, social media, TV, and other screen based time wasters. Here’s the thing, you probably could too. You might already be thinking about the stuff I missed in the last few paragraphs. As I said before, many of us know the risks, we just aren’t aware we’ve fallen into them or how to manage them. It’s easy to get frustrated at the very idea of managing this stuff for you or your kids. Social media seems nearly required of us, and for school children it’s sometimes actually required for assignments. Classrooms are getting ‘smart’ and your child may be sat in front of a screen for hours on end before they ever make it back home. The internet of things is upon us, and now our refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers are having full featured touchscreens built into them that you can even watch Netflix on. In a world such as this how could we even think to manage screen time for us or our children?

Fortunately, there are remedies. I gave a little hint at the beginning of this post. The context surrounding screen time matters. The current AAP guidelines for children I linked above are much different than the ‘no screens for children under 2’ blanket ban just a few years ago. Researchers have found that not only what’s on the screen matters, but what your environment is as well. Your work use of screens (for work purposes) isn’t a problem as long as you’re keeping it to work hours. Most of us inherently feel a difference between screen time spent for business or pleasure. Children also seem to know the difference, and as long as an adult is in the room co-watching and guiding consumption of the content, very young children can actually benefit from screen time. The exception seems to be children 18 months and younger, which the AAP recommends only being exposed to screens in the context of a video chat with another human being. Apart from the 18 month age group, high quality programming co-watched with an adult seems to be okay. Here are a few things you can do to help keep screens from becoming a problem.

Monitor your screen time–

Actually clock it. Treat it like watching calories. Record your patterns for a while, and the patterns for your children, and see how the numbers stack up. Make notes on whether the programming was work related or otherwise educational, or whether it was recreational.

Reduce very low quality content–

Video Games, pornography, and other forms of instant self-gratification content—Instagram anyone?—release large amounts of dopamine in your system that you can easily become dependent on. People heavily addicted to games like I was, or addicted to porn, can take up to 90 days to reset their dopamine levels back to normal. This shouldn’t be construed to be anti-games or anti-porn, there are many activities that can do this to you, but these two are shoved into our faces almost as hard as the screens themselves. In fact, Emily and I still regularly participate in these activities together, now that my addiction is under control, in an interactive manner I’d label as fulfilling. Closely monitor consumption of these types of entertainment if you allow them at all.

Co-watch–

Watching entertainment as a group, and turning it into an interactive and potentially even educational experience, can take otherwise low quality content and make it beneficial. Interact with the evening news—my grandfather and father preferred heckling for those—make fun of shot composition, keep a Michael Bay explosion counter in his films, and other activities that promote interaction between the people watching the content. Avoid just vegging out.

Engage Educators–

Talk to your child’s educators and make sure they are aware of the dangers of excessive screen time. Make sure they understand that even high-quality screen time is linked to health issues like obesity. Have them go over the electronic curriculum with you and object to low quality content when you see it. Make sure the educator, especially elementary level educators, aren’t using screen time as a pacification, and make sure your child has sufficient opportunities for physical activity at school. If your child’s educator is using screen time in ways you find unacceptable go over their head to the principal, contact other parents, and get the school board involved if you have to. If your school board is responsive that’s great, if they aren’t—as seems too common—make them listen with a ballot initiative if you have to.

Detox and Recover–

I know I know, that word is abused to death, but in this case it could be taken literally if you consider constantly elevated dopamine levels toxic—after my experiences I sure do. Pay a visit here and read some of the stories of people just like me that were awfully addicted to dopamine simulators. If you or your child are addicted to these mediums, don’t give up, get educated, and learn how to support them. Ripping the bandage off will be the hardest part, like the cry-it-out sleep training method, but there is light at the end of that tunnel for you and your kids.


Hopefully, managing screen time for you and your children won’t turn in to the struggle that it did for me. I hope you’ve found some useful information here if you do. As always, this blog is no substitute for professional help. If you need serious help, or can’t seem to get a handle on it, enlist the services of a qualified professional.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.

Book Review – Marriage, a History

Book Review – Marriage, a History

Here at After The Yes we like to focus on things that can help you prepare for and enjoy marriage—particularly so-called traditional marriage arrangements. Today we’re going to deviate from that content, but only slightly. Meet the book that gave me agonizing thoughts about using the word traditional in this blog. For the sake of my audience I stuck with the word traditional, it’s still an easy way to convey the image of a 1950s style marriage, which is essentially where mainstream marriages have their roots. Good communication means using the right words to communicate the desired meaning, and that includes words that are technically wrong. Fact is, a 1950s style marriage is one of the quickest blips in the history of marriage customs.

Marriage, a History is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read. It captured my attention from cover to cover, and I’m still going through all the sources in the appendix. It’s well written, easy to read, and while it’s a bit long it uses all of that length in a way that nearly feels abridged. So with all that said you may be thinking that this will be an easy and solid recommend right? Well no, solid yes, easy no. Whether or not I recommend you read this book comes with a heavy dose of caveats and asterisks.

Unlike the books we’ve reviewed so far at After The Yes, Marriage, a History isn’t written to immediately address some psychological, relationship, or sexual problem. This is a book of academic interest first and foremost. I do think this book offers a way to improve your marriage in unexpected ways though. By going through the history of marriage and seeing where certain traditions began, and why they were adopted or dropped, we can build a road map of a traditional marriage that makes sense in the present day and that will make sense down the road. This is especially useful for those of you who just agreed to get married but aren’t entirely sure what that life looks like for you.

Marriage, a History clocks in at 315 pages of main content, and that normally would be a days read for me. But the effective length of the book is enlarged by how densely packed the information on each page is, and the nearly 100 pages of citations that follow the main content. This brings us to the big recommendation caveat. If your time is limited, or you have more pressing issues to get through, this book is firmly in the project category—something you casually read over months rather than finish with gusto in days. The information in this book wouldn’t be immediately useful to relationships in trouble. It’s also not going to do anything about that sex life you’ve been wanting to improve or help you get a better job. There’s a lot of ways to improve as a person and to make your marriage better and this book isn’t meant to do those things.

What it can do is help you make your marriage yours, consider the traditions you’d like to incorporate from the ground up and build a system of shared work that gives you an edge in the modern economy while preserving your other desires of married life—like children and companionship. Like I said, especially useful for those of us starting anew or starting over. Yeah, that’s actually, that’s the biggest and firmest circumstance for recommending this book. If you are starting fresh, or starting again, get this book and get it now. Read it cover to cover, have your partner read it cover to cover. Take notes, challenge assertions, look up citations.

Marriage, a History can also help solve one of the biggest issues I see with new couples looking to get together forever, they have no clue what they want their marriage to look like in 15, 10, or even 5 years. They treat it as if they were just being extended roommates, and I largely blame that on our lack of relationship education—we actually used to teach this in public schools and we desperately need it as a society.

It’s also an easy recommendation for anyone who thinks factoids like: separate bedrooms in households didn’t arrive until the mid 20th century, there are cultures that consider sharing a meal tantamount to sexual intercourse, or progressive eugenicists of the early 20th century laying the groundwork for sex ed, are academically interesting enough to read about.

That’s really all there is to this review, if you’re settled enough to be curious by all means buy Marriage, a History today.

I am not a paid reviewer. My content comes from me and I was not solicited in any manner for this review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have a comment or a question? Is there a topic you’d like discussed? Let me know through my contact page.