Having Sex vs Making Love: A Tale of Two Pizzas

You know the old yarn about how to woo a woman?  There’s a list of 90 different things from flowers to cooking for her to poetry, etc.  Then at the bottom it says how to woo a man…  You know, Show up naked… and bring pizza?  This came to mind the other night as I watched a sitcom where the characters were trying to explain the difference between making love and having sex to a couple of the other characters.  There were suggestions about cuddling and about “making love without even taking their clothes off” through eye contact, etc.

I finished the show and thought that it was really pretty sad.  A couple of the characters, who were all in their 30s, actually indicated that they’d never made love.  And I listened to the strange explanations of how the “experts” said to do it and I got the distinct impression they were not speaking of anything real, either. So what is the difference?  Are you in a relationship where there is true love being made or where sex is being had?  How you can you change it if you are?  Do you even want to change it?

An ex-girlfriend of mine used to say that no matter how bad it was, it was still better than no sex, right?  It’s like pizza.  Sometimes it’s incredible, other times it’s just meh, but hey, still pizza.  So let’s go with her analogy. frozenpizza

Having sex is much like grabbing a pizza.  You pull a frozen one out freezer, or a day old one out of the fridge, you warm it up a bit, throw it in the oven to get it all hot and enjoy.  It’s a 20-30 minute experience.  You feel good inside afterward, and everyone goes on with their lives or their day.  Many people are pretty indiscriminate about how often they have pizza, and even who they have it with.  Sometimes they grab a friend and enjoy one, sometimes they only eat it with their significant other.  But, it’s just a pizza. Not that big a deal.  Not gonna change your life.  Sometimes you have one that’s a bit spicy.  Sometimes it’s kinda boring.  And some people just get sick of it – same old cardboard-tasting $3.99 brand from Kroger, same toppings, same old flavor.  And they just aren’t into it anymore.

Sometimes you do something special and order a pizza for delivery, from Dominos or Papa John’s.  Then you might get some hot wings along with it, maybe you order two, and eat them both the same night.  That pizza can be great.  And you even throw some in the fridge and pull it out the next morning for a before work snack as well.  But, you can’t really order it that way all the time.  Takes too much effort and money, but it’s good for a change up now and then and beats the frozen pizza.

Making love involves creation.  You are making something.  Let’s go with pizza again.  Maybe you and your lover take the time to go to the store together – maybe you go to a special Italian deli.  Maybe you get some authentic Italian sauce.  You pick up true pepperonis, not just the Hormels in the Ziploc bag on the end of the aisle.  But you get it in a white package wrapped by the deli guy.  Then you go home and the two of you make the dough from scratch.  You work it neatly into the pizza tray.  You put the sauce on, maybe playfully dabbing your boyfriends’ nose with the sauce.  You put each of the pepperonis on by hand, you slice the peppers while she slices the mushrooms.  You get a good bottle of Cabernet Franc to compliment the pepperoni flavor.  You get the nice glasses down from the top shelf and wash them first, because, you know, dust.  You buy one of those special parmesan cheese graters and get the block of parmesan and grate it by hand.  You place your masterpiece lovingly in the oven and sip the wine out on the back patio watching the sunset while waiting for it to cook.  When it’s done, you serve at a linen table cloth table in the corner of the backyard with a cool breeze blowing.  The fresh cheese glistening in the sunset and the smell of warm bread all around.  This, O Grasshopper, this is Pizza.

pizza1I can see your eyes rolling right now.  So if I really want to make love I have to go to all the work to make the pizza like that?  It’s an analogy people, not a description of a date.  Stay with me.  Making love is all about creation.  It was ordained by the Creator, “Two become one.”  We literally use it to MAKE a human being.  So it is all about creation.  So when you are making love.  Create.  Create an experience for your lover.  Make it all about their senses, appealing to each.  Smell good, touch with gentleness, with firmness, with different textures and patterns.  Taste in a new way, in a different way. See her and allow her to see you in a beautiful, tender way.  Listen to each other breathe, study her breathing, watch for when it changes, keep doing what made it change.  Create an environment of openness, of love, of safety, of hope.  Then Be in that.  Make it last, take a long time to get there. That’s making love.

Again with the eye rolling.  It sounds like so much work.  Well, it is.  But it is work that is well worth it.  The dividends paid on the love making side are so much more valuable than the rewards from having sex.

A friend talks of a relationship he had with a girl where the only thing the girl wanted was to get off.  It took her a long time to get there every time and having sex became this job he had to do.  Needless to say, the relationship went nowhere.  If you’re approaching making love with a “when is this pizza getting delivered…” mentality, you’ll never get there.

The intimacy that comes from truly making love expands to many other areas of your relationship.  It’s really difficult to make love to someone and argue incessantly with them over stupid little things.  I know there’s this idea out there that there are some relationships where people are really good at “gettin it on” but not great at being friends.  Those people are having pretty wild pizzas, but they are not making their own with authentic Italian Herbs and Sauce.  And the end result is always a frustrating relationship.

I’ve unfortunately had abundant experience in the Frozen pizza market.  I think I went 20 years or so in a marriage without having a homemade Italian pizza.  I’d forgotten they existed.  I think I literally believed that there were only frozen pizza’s in the world.  Frozen microwave pizzas.  3-5 minutes.  Is it freakin done yet?

It took a divorce and a couple of follow on relationships to understand again that there was such a thing as making love.  I had to wait till my 40s to figure it out.  But I don’t want you to think that everytime you get naked you have to go to the Deli.  Sometimes a frozen pizza is a great tension breaker, sometimes you both just need to get rid of the stress and a microwave quickie is perfect for the moment.  You wink at each other after, because you know you’ll be back at the deli later.

One last thing.  You don’t take everyone to the Italian Deli.  You just take the one you love.  The one you know you want to be with.  The one who will create with you.  Create this indescribable, unknowable thing called love.

So to be clear, I’m not saying I’m any kind of an expert on this matter.  I just know what I’ve seen and experienced. But in some small way, I hope I was able to explain a bit of the differences between making love and just having sex.  And challenge you all to do more of the former and less of the latter.  Also, I do think it’s pretty cool that the next time someone wants to order pizza, you’ll smile knowingly.

Advertisements

Guard Your Heart

Almost immediately after the separation from my ex-wife I saw the verse in Proverbs 4:23 that I knew to be very important to my future.

“Guard your heart more than anything else,
because the source of your life flows from it.”
Proverbs 4:23 (God’s Word Translation)

Over the last few years I’ve thought about this verse regularly and have seen some success over the last 6 months in actually applying this to my dating life.  So as a warning — this is not a theological inductive study of this passage.  It’s just a simple walk through my experience with trying to apply it to my life.

GUard your heart

The first couple of relationships after the breakup of my marriage were very quick and emotional and full of poetry and song-writing and undying love and they were sort of a parabola of Start from nothing build to this huge emotional high and then dropped off into nothing again.  I think the longest was a month or six weeks and then there was the 21 day “relationship.”  I was clearly not guarding my heart here.  I was learning though.

By the time the third relationship came around, I took it slower — and by that I mean I didn’t tell her of my undying love for her until a month or two into the relationship.  I’ll pause for you all to finish laughing.

I’m a pretty emotional guy and I tend to have this all-in approach to relationships. This third relationship lasted much longer (almost two years), so there was success in the longevity, but I think I was still learning what it means to guard your heart.  I definitely ignored a lot of red flags and warning signs from friends and even directly from my girlfriend and kept trudging on with the “love conquers all” approach.  While highly romantic, the tendency with banking on love to get you through everything breaks down when only one is in love.  It’s not realistic. It’s not adult.  It’s a film-clip style romance that when battered by the winds of reality, breaks down.

So how am I learning to guard my heart?  I am using my brain as a gate keeper.  Some translations of this passage don’t even mention “heart” they just say “keep close watch on your thoughts…” or some derivative of this.  I am seeing the more women I date that it is easy to choose to fall in love.  If she’s beautiful to me, if she’s into me, if we can chat about anything, if she is affectionate, if she’s smart, if she treats me with respect, if she speaks kind words, if she’s fun, it’s not difficult for me to fall in love.  I’m a hopeless romantic.  I believe in love.  I believe that I will find someone who will be a best friend, a lover and someone to grow old with me right by my side.  I’m looking earnestly for that.  So when a woman comes by that hits that criteria, it’s easy to lose any kind of thought process, begin the poetry writing and the wooing and fall head over heels.

What I’m seeing here in the last six months is there are a lot of women out there with which this is possible.  I’m not saying I’ve been a playa over the last year or anything, just that I’ve had a lot of first dates and even several ongoing multiple date relationships that showed me that there are great women out there who are actually hitting all those criteria for me.  Yet, here I am, not in a relationship.  Why?  I think it’s because of heart-guarding.

But guarding my heart means choosing
very deliberately the woman I want to love.
Maybe you could argue that this is taking
some of the romance out of it.
This is undoubtedly true.

I’m working hard at seeing the big picture.  Two of the women I could have easily fallen for lived 45 minutes away from me.  One lives on the other side of the country.  Reason suggests that none of these conditions are optimal and they probably would eventually end in frustration for both of us.   To be clear, both 45 min away ladies ended our dating for that reason, but I didn’t fight it or argue.  I knew they were right and it was only a matter of time.  Another relationship ended after 4 dates because all of the criteria above was in place but she really just wanted a homebody.  I’m not that. I saw it quickly and ended it.

In addition over the last several months I’ve also met a lot of great women that have become good friends.  Every one of them would make someone a great wife.  They’re Godly women, they’re fun, they’re beautiful.  I think some of them would probably go out on a date with me (and some of them actually have), but I think this whole Guard Your Heart thing as also evolved into a place that some would call “being picky.”  I’ve actually been called that very frequently by several of my buddies.  But I think I’ve shown in the past that I have not made good decisions about who I fall in love with.  My ex-wife and even the 2 year relationship recently are good examples of this.  I dove in too quickly, didn’t understand what I was getting into and fell hopelessly in love with a woman who wouldn’t be a good fit for me long-term.  Both times.

Again — I could’ve worked really hard to make all of these relationships work.  Indeed, I wrote poetry for a couple of these ladies and felt some very strong attraction and infatuation with them.  But guarding my heart means choosing very deliberately the woman I want to love.  Maybe you could argue that this is taking some of the romance out of it.  This is undoubtedly true.  Everyone dreams of being swept off their feet and immersed in a whirlwind romance with a perfect woman.  I’ve had that experience.  It’s intoxicating.  It’s exhilarating.  It’s not love though it feels like it.  It’s passion. It’s infatuation.  It can develop into love, or it can fall apart in a spectacular fireworks show.

(Hint:  It’s most frequently the latter of those two options)

So when faced with an initial blast of feelings of passion and infatuation, what is my response?  Well, for me, it’s sitting down at my blog and working through it on paper.  It’s talking with a couple of key friends to get some coordinated wisdom.  It’s making sure I’m not wooing at warp speed.  I’m not calling her 4 times a day, I’m not talking to her for 2 hours every time we chat.  All of those things feed a fast and furious passionate rush to decision and to fall in love.

Here’s the scary thought for me.  I’m not sure if this is the right approach, but I do know that I’ve never lived like this before.  Every other girlfriend in the past 25-30 years I’ve fallen completely in love with before I really even knew them.  Including the ex-wife.  So maybe I’m trying to not expect different results from the same action any longer.  Maybe I am working hard to Guard My Heart now.

So here’s my challenge to you.  As you are seeking out your soulmate — are you careful about who you let tug on your heartstrings?  I see a lot of guys out there who are more than willing to jump at a woman who is kind to them or smiles their way or gives them any kind of attention.  I don’t think that is anywhere close to guarding your heart.  I definitely have been there and get why it happens, but I would caution you (and the ladies who have similar attention-desires).  Guard Your Heart.  Step slowly into that great ocean of love.  Step carefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Didn’t You Grow a Pair?

Talking to a new friend over the holidays.  During the conversation where I explained how I was alienated.  Over a period of years, I was excised from relationships with my parents and my brothers and their kids and my friends and quite literally found myself virtually alone upon the eventual separation.  She leaned in and asked, “Why didn’t you just grow a pair and tell her that you were going to see your niece and nephew, your family, your friends and that she should learn to deal with it.”

I think my response was typical of a lot of us confronted with this type of alienation from our families — which is a very common foreshadowing of the type of alienation we would get from our kids during and after the divorce.

Grow a pear

“It was so subtle and gradual, you don’t see it coming and wake up one day and realize how far removed from your family/friends you really are.  You then realize that ‘growing a pair’ means war with your spouse, weeks and months of shunning and contempt, and probably the end of your marriage.” I then said I learned a very very difficult lesson and would never put up with that in a future spouse.

“I think you would be surprised how quickly you could fall into that again,” she replied.

Surprisingly accurate.  I actually did indeed fall into a similar situation with a woman I dated for 2 years after the divorce.  It didn’t involve alienation or separation from my family or friends — those relationships were encouraged and it was very good from that perspective.  But I did indeed fall into a relationship where I hung on too long, I ignored really, really negative signs and I clung to a hopeless situation — I think mostly because I so desperately wanted to be loved, cared for, valued, etc.

It seems I still have a proclivity toward suspending my brain and going with my feelings or my needs and heart-desires.  No matter how stupid it looks or how much I’m warned.

This is not good.  2016 for me will be about thinking through future relationships.  Not in the way of over-analyzing everything (which probably not ironically, I find myself doing now…) but in being honest about where I am at relationally.  My goal is to go into the next long-term relationship with eyes wide-open. Head and heart both engaged.  Guarding my heart is a head exercise.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking my time in a new relationship.  My experience with falling head over heels in love quickly is not positive.  The ends completely do not justify the means.  The outcome is predicted by the initial fall.

So, in 2016, I’m taking a step toward thoughtful relationship building.  And growing a pair.

Serendipity

http://www.amazingoasis.org/2013/11/best-coin-ever-spent.html

If you haven’t seen the video about the impromptu concert in the park, you should.  I’ve linked it above.  Saw it on facebook this morning in the middle of a normal work day and found myself getting pretty emotional about it by the time it was over.  I’m not saying it’s going to have the same impact on you, but I spent some time thinking about why it hit me so hard.

I’ve written before here on this blog how I think it is so important to let yourself feel.  I spent over 20 years in a very difficult marriage with a spouse who alternated between completely ignoring me and screaming at me.  The end result of this was a person who was forced to hold back whatever he felt for fear of being ridiculed or shunned.  So over the last year since the separation and divorce, I’ve worked very hard to not let feelings go by unchecked.

Please understand, I’m not saying that we should be governed by our feelings or let them dictate our actions — in point of fact, that is exactly what the ex has repeatedly done and it has created a “walking on eggshells” situation with me and with the kids and her as well — though I’m not sure they are old enough to understand that.  What I am saying is that when you feel something, it’s usually an indicator of something in the subconscious mind that is needing to be understood.  I’m tearing up here, what in the world would cause me to tear up during a McDonald’s commercial?  Why does a concert in the park cause emotion?  Why am I so incredibly happy when my girlfriend comes to meet my friends for the first time?  

All of these emotions occurred suddenly and uncontrollably.  Which leads me to ask why and to investigate the root causes of them.  I think that is such a healthy approach.  The tendency for people in an alienated parent situation is to try to ignore the pain and push it away.  It se

Christmas at DTW

ems counterintuitive to most of us, but the embracing of the pain and the emotion actually helps us work through it better and often quicker as well.

So after this period of introspection, I think I understand why the concert in the park hit me hard.  In addition to the efforts to actually “feel” over the last year, I’ve also worked hard to see God’s intervention in my life, to take advantage of the beauty around me and to notice things that went unnoticed in the busy-ness of married with kids life.  It’s a characteristic in me that I’ve cultivated and hope to carry throughout the rest of my life, whether I’m a step-dad at some point or get reunited with my kids.  Noticing these serendipitous moments has become a mission of mine.  Like the picture from Detroit Metro Airport in November — Christmas kinda snuck up on me and it made me smile.  Seeing the tree in the concourse was a calm serendipity in the middle of a busy travel day.  It was noticed.

So in the midst of all the pain you are all dealing with this holiday season, Stop.  Embrace the sorrow and the sadness.  Cry a bit.  Feel.  Then also take time to notice the little glimpses of heaven that God is dropping in front of you every day.  The friend saying “I would love to see you for lunch.”  The Christmas wreath on the run-down apartment building.  The dad carrying his daughter on his shoulders to see the lights better.  Thank God for the beauty all around you and for where he is leading you right now.  In the midst of all the painful memories of Christmas gone, embrace Christmas now.

God Bless us everyone.

Jim

One Small part of my life

View in September 2013I was talking to my best friend the other day.  Actually, I think I told both of them this.  More about the 2nd of my best friends later — but the important part is this:  All of this pain and difficulty and frustration I have with my kids and being an alienated dad.  All of that is one small part of my life.  Of the 168 hours in a given week, I maybe spend 1-2 of them thinking about and processing through stuff with the kids.  Much of that is in writing or in conversations with friends and family.  Even then, I might spend a small portion of that conversation on the ex and the kids, but then we get on to other more interesting and happier topics.  

I’m telling you this, because I’m fairly certain if you are reading this site, you are in the middle of a similar battle for your children, or you may be a friend of mine.  In either case, I don’t want you to get the idea that you live, breathe, eat and sleep this life of alienation.  Yes, it’s constantly in the back of my mind and comes up at times when I don’t expect it.  Watching TV yesterday, I got a bit, uh, verklempt, when I saw a dad on CSI talking about his son and how close they were.  Just hearing the word Dad in a song can prove difficult at times.  So there is pain and its fairly close to top of mind.

But at the same time, I’ve got a ton of very positive things happening in my life right now.

  • I have a great job
  • I have good prospects for advancement and promotion there (and fairly soon, too).
  • I have a girlfriend.  There, I said it.  First time I’ve really used that word in 25 years.  But it’s true.  She’s an incredible breath of fresh air and wicked smart and, well, she really gets me.  In a way that I don’t know many other people do.  She has 4 kids, three of them younger and one teenager.  I’ve spent a bit of time with them, too, amid the chaos and happiness that is pre-school and elementary age kids’ existence.  The joy and contentment that I’ve experienced from that relationship has been so different from past experiences.  And so good for me.
  • I have a phenomenal church where I serve each Sunday on a team of greeters and ushers.  This weekend I helped with the 3-5th grade class.  44 whirling dervishes in one room with 8 adults and an hour of loud and action.  Great for my heart.  I honestly can say that each time I leave church, I have this inner contentedness and strength to face whatever comes my way each week.  It’s a beautiful thing.
  • I bought a new truck this past week.  It’s kind of silly to throw in a “thing” in the pile of all this relational stuff, but the truck is something I’ve wanted for 20 years and it’s finally something I can afford to get and incorporate into my life.
  • I’m working on purchasing some rental property to live in and rent out.  It’s a way to use my “rent” costs to actually bring in more money and plan for my future.
  • I’m getting out of debt and concentrating on what to do for that future.
  • I’m writing music, blog entries, poetry, etc.
  • I’m working out regularly and playing a lot of volleyball still.
  • I’m travelling both for business and to re-connect with old friends and family.

But honestly, I’m not “covering” over the pain with busy-ness.  I’m not trying to ignore the problem.  I’m doing something very consciously and deliberately.  I’m living my new life.  I’m becoming the man that God wants me to be — that man began to finally emerge from a dark cave late last summer and smelled the sweet fragrance of freedom and peace earlier in this year.

In spite of all the bad I hear from the kids and their mom about me, I’m going on with my life and living it the best way I know how.  I’m not saying I don’t struggle or feel beaten down at times.  I do.  Almost every week.  But it doesn’t last near as long as it used to, and I get off the couch or walk in from the patio and turn to write it down or talk to a brother or a friend.  Then I set down that milestone where I walked past it in the road and keep focused on what’s ahead.

I’m not bitter.  I’m not angry.   I’m sad.  I’m often disappointed.  But at the end of the day, what I am more than anything else is hopeful and steadfast.  I’m not looking back in defeat, I’m looking forward.  And I’m enjoying the journey I’m on.  With all of the pain, all of the hurt, all of the joys, the peace, the contentedness.  I don’t want to rush it to get out of it.  I want to emerge from this with wisdom, with experience and with honest integrity.

So, thanks for reading and praying for me, those friends who see this.  For those of you who are alienated and are struggling to stand up under it.  Know that there’s hope.  That you are not alone and that it gets better.  Maybe the alienation will get better, maybe not.  But YOU get better, regardless.

Jim

A Long Road

In the middle of the drama this week with my 18 year old, I got a text from her Grandpa (my exwife’s dad).  Having been through a divorce with her mom when my ex was in junior high and having been aggressively alienated from his kids by his ex-wife, he is intimately aware of how difficult the process is.  Keep in mind, this would be the very first time that I have heard from anyone on her side of the family since the separation, with the exception of a couple of hellos as they walked past.

English: The long and winding road
English: The long and winding road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I texted him back and thanked him for reaching out to me and told him he had been a great example to me over the years of how to reach out and love in spite of the negative that would be returned.  I said I realized it took 10 years or more for him to have a fairly decent relationship with his daughter (my ex) and that I knew it would likely take that long as well for me.

I broke into a cold sweat when he texted back:  “Be prepared for it to take a lifetime.  I’m serious.”

I spoke with him on the phone a bit this morning to try to get some advice on how to go forward with my daughter after the debacle at the hospital this week.  He apologized for not having any good strong advice.  Said the only time he really heard from his daughter was when there were money issues or medical situations, as he is a doctor.  He said that his ex and his kids have never accepted his 2nd wife (though they have been married 25+ years) or his daughter through that marriage and continue to speak derogatorily about and to them.

Sobering.

I think I began this blog as a way to channel my hurt and pain and anger into something constructive for other dads and moms struggling with alienation.  I thought it was going to be a fairly short time-frame in dealing with this — like 1-2 years or something.  Hadn’t planned on struggling like this the rest of my life.  But I’m beginning to think that is the reality.

That’s pretty hard to swallow, you know?  I’m torn between feelings of how unfair it is, how frustrated I am, how angry I am and how hurt I feel about being constantly and vehemently rejected.  It feels like I’m in Junior High again, only the bullies are meaner and crueler and you can’t get away from them.

It’s truly a long and winding road that I will be on forever to some degree.  There will be hillsides where I can see hope and peace and relationship in the distance and there will be dark valleys where I just feel desperate and lost.

I sat for a moment after the conversation with my ex father in law and thought.  Then I broke out the book of Psalms.  That book alone got me through the first month of separation.

Psalm 4:4-8

“In your anger, do not sin;
when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent… and trust in the Lord.

Many are asking “Who can show us any good?”
Let the Light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.

You have filled my heart with greater joy…
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Jim