Portal opening

Ramblings about life . . .

What I share about my life is simply to help reinforce the understanding that it is possible to live with love and laughter, in between the tough times.

Life is what we make of it, no matter how harrowing. We accept and embody this with-in ourselves, thereby allowing the energy to manifest outwardly in our reality.

It starts with each one of us as an individual to form the collective consciousness.

Be the dream.

We honour the light and the life within you.

Please be aware - I upload other bloggers' posts and then delete after a month. This is my journey and others help me understand where I am, until they become irrelevant (a few posts excepted).

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Lazy Way to Stay in Love

From the blog of Reuniting - Healing with Sexual Relationships

The Lazy Way to Stay in Love - Discover the Magic of Bonding Behaviours

While waiting for a concert to begin at our local county fair, my husband and I checked out a reptile exhibit that included an animal trainer with a live alligator resting calmly on his lap. As we stroked the gator, I asked the trainer why it was so tame. “I pet it daily. If I didn’t, it would quickly be wild again, and wouldn’t allow this,” he explained.

I was surprised. Only months earlier I had begun to grasp the power of bonding behaviors (skin-to-skin contact, gentle stroking and so forth) to evoke the desire to bond without our having to do anything more.
I didn’t realize reptiles ever responded similarly.

Bonding behaviors, or attachment cues, are subconscious signals that can make emotional ties surprisingly effortless, once any initial defensiveness dissolves. (Bonding behaviors are also good medicine for easing defensiveness. Here’s a dramatic example: After three weeks of daily attachment cues an orphan with violent reactive attachment disorder finally bonded with his adoptive parents and began to form healthy peer relationships as well.)

These behaviors are effective because they are the way mammal infants attach to their caregivers. To survive, infants need regular contact with Mom’s mammaries until they are ready to be weaned. Bonding behaviors work by encouraging the release of neurochemicals (including oxytocin), which lower innate defensiveness, making a bond possible.
In short, these generous behaviors are the way we humans fall in love with our parents and children. Caregiver-infant signals include affectionate touch, grooming, soothing sounds, eye contact, and so forth.

In rare pair-bonding mammals like us, bonding cues serve a secondary function as well (known as an exaptation). They’re part of the reason we stay in love (on average) for long enough for both parents to attach to any kids. Honeymoon neurochemistry also plays a role, but it’s somewhat like a booster shot that wears off. In contrast, bonding behaviors can sustain bonds indefinitely.

In lovers, bonding behaviors look a bit different than they do between caregiver and infant, yet the parallels are evident. These potent behaviors include:

· smiling, with eye contact
· skin-to-skin contact
· providing a service or treat without being asked
· giving unsolicited approval, via smiles or compliments
· gazing into each other’s eyes
 · listening intently, and restating what you hear
· forgiving or overlooking an error or thoughtless remark, past or present
· preparing your partner something to eat
· synchronized breathing
· kissing with lips and tongues
· cradling, or gently rocking, your partner’s head and torso (works well on a couch, or pillows)
· holding, or spooning, each other in stillness
· wordless sounds of contentment and pleasure
· stroking with intent to comfort
· massaging with intent to comfort, especially feet, shoulders and head
· hugging with intent to comfort
· lying with your ear over your partner’s heart and listening to the heart beat
· touching and sucking of nipples/breasts
· gently placing your palm over your lover’s genitals with intent to comfort rather than arouse
· making time together at bedtime a priority
· gentle intercourse

There are some curious aspects to bonding behaviors. First, in order to sustain the sparkle in a relationship these behaviors need to occur daily, or almost daily—just as the alligator trainer observed. Second, they need not occur for long, or be particularly effortful, but they must be genuinely selfless. Even holding each other in stillness at the end of a long, busy day can be enough to send each other the subconscious signal that your bond is rewarding. Third, there’s evidence that the more you use bonding behaviors, the more sensitive your brain becomes to the neurochemicals that help you feel relaxed and loving.

Fourth, some items on the list above may sound like foreplay, but in one important sense they are not. Foreplay is geared toward building sexual tension and climax—which sets off a subtle cycle of neurochemical changes (and sometimes unwelcome perception shifts) before the brain returns to equilibrium. In contrast, bonding behaviors are geared toward relaxation. They work best when they soothe an old part of the primitive brain known as the amygdala.

The amygdala’s job is to keep our guard up, unless it is reassured regularly with these subconscious signals. To be sure, it also relaxes temporarily during and immediately after a passionate encounter. After all, fertilization is our genes’ top priority. However, regular, non-goal oriented contact seems to be more effective as a bonding behavior. This suggests that loving foreplay preceding a wonderful orgasm is great…but can send mixed messages. Perhaps these contradictory subconscious signals account for the “attraction-repulsion” phenomenon lovers often notice after their initial honeymoon high wanes.

In any case, nurturing touch not only creates a space of comfort and safety. It can also be surprisingly ecstatic, as a friend shared:
Though it was after 11 PM, we cuddled. For about two hours. Ecstatic cuddling. I had experiences last night that I do not have immediate words for. Rich, deep, full. Subtle. Powerful. Moving. Meaningful. Pointing to greater connection with all life. We were in connection. In the same wave, as she put it, like a flock of birds wheeling in the sky as if with one mind.
Whether or not you experience ecstasy, bonding behaviors are a practical means of restoring and sustaining the harmonious sparkle in a relationship…even with an alligator. Combine them with gentle lovemaking with lots of periods of relaxation (and a minimum of sexual satiety signals via orgasm), and you may find that you can sustain the harmony in your relationship with surprising ease.

Maybe those rare “swans” (couples who effortlessly stay together harmoniously) are largely made, not born. Certainly, I now carefully ponder news stories like this one about a couple married happily for over 80 years. The journalist reported that, “The couple never went to bed without a kiss and cuddle.”

Hmmm…cause or effect?

A husband’s insights about bonding behaviors:
My wife and I just had guests for three weeks, and kissing, cuddling, complimenting each other, making love, etc, took a back seat. Now, it’s like we’re partial strangers (again), and it has been something of an eye-opener for me to recognise what is cause and what is effect. If I hadn’t been aware of the theoretical importance of bonding behaviours, and their likely result, I would have tended to think, as I have in the past, that our cuddling had dried up because we’d temporarily ‘gone off’ each other, rather than the other way around. This wouldn’t have been particularly worrying. We’ve been married for ages, and we’ve had loads of ups and downs. In fact, I used to believe ups and downs were inevitable in marriage; and that the only way round them was to wait for the bottom to occur, and enjoy the passage to the top again. Now, I’m not so sure, since it‘s become clear to me that ‘going off’ one another is the result, rather than the cause, of a dearth of cuddling.

Lack of cuddling eventually leads to lack of desire to cuddle, whether through laziness, habit, resentment or indifference. Cuddling (all bonding behaviours included) causes the desire for more cuddles. It is a beneficent biofeedback machine, just as the absence of bonding behaviours seems to be the opposite. Everyone will be familiar with young lovers not seeming able to get near enough to each other. Well, we’ve experienced the same, repeatedly, as a result of initially scheduling bonding behaviour and watching it snowball.

If serial cuddling doesn’t come naturally (i.e., a couple isn’t an inseparable pair of young lovers) it seems absolutely critical to schedule bonding behaviours. It’s as critical as an exercise regime, should a person have decided they like the outcome of exercise. In this case, assuming a couple likes the idea of feeling as close and as in love as parent and child or star crossed teenagers, time and effort have to be employed.

Actually, it’s hardly any effort at all. The effort is in remembering to do it, and in overcoming any underlying resentment that might make that ‘remembering’ more difficult. Initially, the bonding behaviour need only be one activity a day; and that activity needn’t last longer than a minute, though it could, of course, last a lot longer. I think it needs to last at least as long as a minute, as, in our experience, that’s enough to start the snowballing effect. Bonding behaviours then become automatic and seem to replicate themselves in abundance. It’s not so much that they become a habit, like brushing teeth; they are more like a drink that we develop a liking, and then a recurring thirst, for, not because of the obvious beneficial effect, both short and long term, but because the taste becomes inherently irresistible.
This is from a post by a father expecting his third child. He and his wife began experimenting with bonding behaviors a few weeks earlier. (She wasn't feeling up to intercourse.)
This is not an easy time in most relationships. However, we seem to be getting closer right now, both mentally and physically. Communication has improved, and Mrs. Skeptic has been more open with me about her thoughts and ideas.

I asked Mrs. Skeptic if things have improved, and she gave me a rather straight forward answer. She told me: "Our relationship is much better, which is why I am reluctant to end our 'experiment'...maybe we should stick with the status quo." She added that I have been "nicer", less moody, and helped out more, among other things.

I am mature enough to know that it is my job to help out, especially considering her condition, regardless of how things are going. I also know that it takes effort to maintain a relationship, especially when things are challenging. But it somehow makes it more exciting to think that we are working on a common goal. I have also lost at least 5 lbs. recently and I feel a lot better. I should be "nicer" regardless, but all of this is making being "nicer" more fun, at least when I am not feeling too anxious, stressed out, or insecure.

I am also excited about laying the framework for our post-procreating life. So, it looks like we our plan is to continue indefinitely for the moment. Some have suggested that this website is not really about abstaining, but instead about not setting the goal of having more O's. Given our circumstances, I am not sure there is much of a difference (at least for us at the moment) between not trying to have an O and trying not to have an O. We have certainly been much closer physically lately, but we have not engaged in any conduct which would lead to an O. Mrs. Skeptic feels very poorly overall, and any attempts at Karezza are going to have to wait until well after li'l Skeptic comes into the world.

As long as I feel close to Mrs. Skeptic and our relationship is improving, I think I am going to try to ride this out as long as I can. It is satisfying that Mrs. Skeptic has been more vocal and direct with me. I want to improve our relationship, which seems to be happening. But my wife's physical condition means that the near future means more kissing, affection, cuddling and arousal, but no O's unless I MB. The practical reality may be that abstaining is a goal for us right now.


Dorothy said...

Absolutely right on target for my relationship. When we moved here, working 7 days a week to exhaustion led to NO non sexual contact from my husband, including kissing. If contact was initiated that was the expectation. I tried to change things up but only one goal was ever in his mind so I gave up. We lost intimate connection and here we are years later.
Good article, thank you. Good to know I have a a real foundation behind those feelings and not that I'm unreasonable!

Dorothy said...

After I read your next message, now I feel like the whole tangled mess is my issue....doesn't any of the way any relationship goes belong to the other person? Doesn't it take two? I am confused. I have no control over what he does, be it work 7 days a week, to not kissing me when I was the one who initiated it. He shocked me when he told me he didn't like kissing when I asked him why he didn't do it anymore, I certainly do!! I know I am in this relationship to learn something and I figure it's to teach me what I DON'T want anymore, ie discernment as to what is right for me instead of tolerance for what is present. He's got his own stuff to learn.

One of these days I will understand this relationship stuff, life stuff and hopefully will be able to see what you see, be where you are.

Meanwhile, I will keep on working at it.....with a long way to go no doubt.

Karen-Pallas said...

The only answer I can give is to use my own experience, Dorothy.
I know that I could never never understand where any of this was my part, no matter how often it was explained to me...until one day I had an AHA moment and finally 'got' it on.
Basically we have hundreds of unknown thought forms running around in the background. So as much as I wanted to believe that I wanted a certain kind of loving and lifestyle it was merely a surface thought without substance and underneath there was a counter thought going on saying it was impossible. It was this thought form that was persistent and was backed up by my emotions and so created my reality. Once this hidden programme and emotion was cleared everything automatically fell into place and I didn't have to struggle to keep reinforcing it with affirmations the idea of what I wanted...it simply happened because there was nothing to counteract what I was really feeling and thinking.
Of course your husband has his own stuff, but he can only give you as much as your mind construct allows him to.
So when my husband was NOT wanting the intimacy of cuddling and simply being with me, I did not realise that underneath my idea of what I wanted was another programme running that said it was impossible. Brainwashing into believing that this is how it is and it cannot change.
Sometimes it takes a while to see this, as we clear away the debris of the programming that has been instilled within us.
I am not sure what else to say to you, Dorothy, except hang in there, sweetheart...it does get better.

Dorothy said...

You explained it very well. Got it now. Thank you.