Archive | May 2013

Admiration v Lust

My husband is a very visual/artistic man and says that for him, for the vast majority of the time, looking at beautiful women in bikinis, lingerie, etc is the same as looking at a beautiful car or art picture. He enjoys it for it’s beauty and it has nothing to do with his love or desire for me, nor does he use it for sexual fulfillment.

As I step out to tackle this issue, I am fully aware that there are as many opinions on this matter as there are variables to consider in determining what is right. And honestly I believe that this is one of those topics where there is not one right answer for everyone. We all have different weaknesses and areas where we are more prone to sin, and I believe that two people could be looking at the same thing and one of them could be sinning while the other is not. Your heart before God is between you and Him, and I won’t attempt to determine for anyone whether or not admiring a beautiful person crosses over into lust. What I want to do is create a space to consider what we should be aware of with this issue.

To begin with we need to keep in mind that although there is much grey in this issue, there is no grey in the fact that God is clear that lust is sinful. For more information on this you can read our article on lust, but suffice it to say that if you are unable to look at beautiful people without developing a sexual desire for them then you need to figure out how to manage that. You are going to have to maintain sufficient boundaries to protect your heart.

The grey area is in whether or not you are able to look at people who are in situations that you associate with sex, and not lust after them. Men in a Calvin Klein underwear ad. Women in a Victoria Secret catalog. Nude sun bathers on the Mexican Riviera. Artistic paintings that portray intimate acts. I can not draw a line for anyone else in these situations because our weaknesses are different. Where one person sees nudity as being redeemed through Christ’s death on the cross where he removed our shame, another person has only ever seen nudity with a connection to sexual acts. How can we possibly establish a black and white rule that would apply to both people? That is why we need the Holy Spirit to lead us, because He knows us and will guide us in how to be self-controlled in our thought life.

So I do believe that the husband, in the case of the writer of the above question, could very well be able to look at beautiful women and admire her without becoming sexually desirous or covetous of her, but if in fact he sees an attractive woman in lingerie and admires her and then desires her, he needs to be accountable for that sin. In either case, an important factor is that his wife is uncomfortable with it. In order to be loving toward her, when he is with his wife and an attractive woman is near by in a bikini I think it would be respectful of him to keep his focus on his wife in these situations. I think it’s important for a couple to be able to communicate these sorts of things to one another and so it’s good that this man could express his perspective on it and perhaps at some point this writer will adjust her own perspective and there will be more unity between them. For now, though, it would be beneficial to their relationship for them to extend a lot of grace to one another.

We need to remember in all of this that nakedness, in and of itself, is not sinful. It’s the circumstances around how someone is or isn’t dressed that determine if it is sin or not, and because we live in a fallen world, we do need to be mindful of the fact that to see immodesty is a struggle for a lot of people. This is why I believe that a certain amount of awareness of the impact of  how we dress is important. Having said that, I also believe that the onus is not on us to manage another person’s sin for them. If a man or a woman looks beautiful and they dress well, people are going to notice and will choose where they allow their thoughts to go.

Another woman wrote us the following:

My husband continues to point out beautiful women that we see in public, on the internet and on TV.  I’ve told him that this hurts my feelings.  I am a beautiful woman and I’m happy with the way I look and he agrees.  He feels it’s better that I know that he his looking at other women, than keep it a secret.  He is very communicative about all things and that’s usually a blessing, but his commentaries on beautiful women bothers me.  Should I just get over it or tell him again to please stop?

This is another situation where not every solution will be appropriate for every couple. I have friends who are very expressive with their spouse about the attractive people they see and they are fine with that, but the fact remains that if this writer has told her husband not to mention the beautiful women he sees, he should be respectful of her wishes and keep those observations to himself.

So what is your opinion on this? How do you feel about your husband looking at beautiful women? Do you think it’s ever possible for him to look and not lust? Are you able to look at handsome men and admire them without lusting? I’m interested to hear your perspective.

original article

Throwback Thursdays: Shelley Lubben: A Porn Star Set Free

The story of Shelley Lubben has impacted me (and my spice sisters) in a profound way. Shelley is an ex-porn star who God saved from the industry and released as a missionary to be used of God to set women and men free from the effects of the pornography industry. She is a brilliant woman and very well spoken. Not only is she aware of so many aspects of the industry that most people are ignorant of, but she also can intelligently communicate the information to audiences and governmental authorities as she rallies to see girls in the industry set free and laws set to reduce the damage caused by pornography.

I want to share some of her story with you, but encourage you to view the video at her website of her sharing it herself. I have watched it several times because it is so impacting. Shelley Tells the Hardcore Truth. You will find the video listed on this page.

Warning: the video contains some descriptions of what she endured as a victim of the porn industry and is not suitable for children.

Shelley grew up in a home with a disconnect to her parents. She describes her father as a workaholic and her mother as one who loved to nag. They raised her in the church for her first 8 years and then relocated and the family stopped attending church together. When she was 9 years old she was sexually molested by a teenage boy and his sister and she didn’t have the security in her relationship with her parents to be able to go to them for support. As a teenager she acted out her pain and anger towards her parents by drinking, smoking and having sex. When she was 18 years old, her father kicked her out of the house which she describes as feeling that her whole identity and been taken away.

She became homeless and hungry at that point and after not eating for several days a man approached her and told her that there was a man down the street who thought she was pretty and that she would get thirty five dollars if she would have sex with him. At first she was shocked and was going to say no, but then she heard the enemy tell her that no one else cared about her, why should she care. And this was her door into the sex industry. Prostitution, Stripping and Pornography. Shelley began a life of prostitution, but when she started fearing for her life a friend suggested that she try porn because it was legal in California. Knowing that she could make a lot of money and expecting that it was just like prostitution she decided to do it and over time became deeper and deeper entrapped by the lies and pain of the industry. She contracted an incurable sexually transmitted disease which devastated her. Throughout her years working as a prostitute and porn star she had been crying out to God, but she never felt that He gave her any hope. She knew He was there and heard Him speak to her, but she had no way to see how He could help her.

When she contracted herpes she left the porn industry and decided to go back to prostitution, but ended up infecting a married couple with the disease. Shortly after, she met a guy at a bar who she developed a non-sexual friendship with and they would get high and study the bible together. He fell in love with her and wanted to marry her and take her out of the sex industry after he heard of all that she had endured. Although she didn’t love him, she felt the love he had for her and was uncontrollably drawn to him because of it.

When they went to get married it cost them thirty five dollars to get the license, the same amount that she had been paid to turn her first trick. At that moment the Lord confirmed in her spirit that this was His hand.

It took years of recovery for her to be set free, but she is now this amazing voice of hope and freedom to those trapped where she had been and she has been miraculously healed of herpes along with many other emotional and physical wounds caused by working so many years in the sex industry.

If your husband is struggling to break free from an addiction to pornography, if you have sons who need to understand what life is like for the women who are victims of the industry, consider watching this together with them. A great deal of helpful information can be found at Shelley’s website.

original article

True Orgasm

I have a question about climaxing. Considering I was not a Christian and I watched WAY too many movies growing up that did have sex in them (nothing porno, but definitely R rated), you see a lot of “YES YES YES” and then this calming down smile.

For me, I get immense pleasure, “yes yes yes” and then…. I am not sure. It feels REALLY good, but the after effects are nothing like what I have seen (of course, what IS like anything you see on TV?). What DOES an in real life orgasm look/feel like? I have always heard if you don’t know if you had one, you haven’t had one. Well, that just isn’t true if you don’t have a godly picture of what ONE IS. Does that make sense? I could totally be having one and not know that is what it is because my mind has a different image of what a true orgasm is (based on movies).

This question had my mind going in circles because really, what is a “Godly picture of an orgasm”?  I think whatever you do when climaxing with your husband is considered (in my book) a ‘Godly orgasm’.  Everyone has their own thing they may do when climaxing but our bodies are experiencing the same things and I think that is how you know if you have had an orgasm.  Unlike a man it is not so obvious on the outside when we climax but a woman should be able to tell if she has by her rapid breathing, increased heart rate, maybe some flushing, muscles throughout her body become rigid, secretions outside the vagina all followed by muscle contractions within the vagina that vary in length of time.   Those muscle contractions feel incredible and they are pretty difficult to overlook or mistake for something else.  ;)

Now, we all react differently on the outside with our facial expressions/body language.  Some of us may be extremely vocal.  The ‘When Harry Met Sally” scene where ‘Sally’ shows ‘Harry’ what she sounds like when she experiences an orgasm is an example of how loud we can get. Some are quiet as a mouse while they even hold their breath.  One woman may flare around in bed while another barely moves.  There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to have an orgasm.  I know that I, for one, may be extremely verbal and flare around one time and be quiet the next.  Is one way better than the other?  No, what I do may just depend on my mood or whether we have the potential of being heard.  I have heard some ask “Why do people say that they are coming when they are climaxing?  Isn’t that strange?”  It is not strange.  It is a way of expressing and enjoying yourself.  My husband can tell if I am climaxing without me being verbal about it but that doesn’t stop me from expressing myself.  Now that I think about it one of my favorite memories is when my child first rode his bike without his training wheels.  He was so excited to be riding without any assistance that he yelled “Mommy, I’m doing it!!!!”  Suddenly I began yelling “You’re doing it!!!” just as enthusiastically.  So why do we state the obvious?  Well, I guess we do it because it is fun.  It is a way to share joy with my loved one and isn’t that part of being ‘Godly’?

So, just as I stated at the beginning, I think that whatever you do is a ‘real orgasm’ and sometimes it will resemble what is depicted in the movies and sometimes it won’t.  Just enjoy yourself and do what comes naturally.  If your husband likes to hear sounds or see you so excited that you can’t contain yourself then let it all hang out.  Some women are not comfortable losing control but this is the one place where you can feel safe to do so.  It could make for some great memories for your husband and it may increase your arousal to.  If you would rather stay quiet and concentrate on the sensations that are going through your body then that’s great too.  It’s all good and all very real.

original article

Monday Mission: New sex surface

Your mission this week is to use a different surface than your bed for sex. It could still be in your bedroom, but consider other options, too. The bathroom counter. The kitchen table. The coffee table. An occasional chair. The stairs. Have fun!

The influence of body image on sexuality

Do you have a good body image? I haven’t really for most of my life. There have always been parts of me that I wished were different, but I would say in the last year or so I have come to the place were I really embrace how I am. The only thing I still didn’t like is that I was mildly, but uncomfortably overweight. I had an epiphany quite suddenly this past summer that involved the realization that perhaps I could actually do something to change this. So I made some minor, but effective changes and am well on my way to having a body that I feel better about. So I accepted the things that I could not change and started changing the things that I could.

As this relates to my sexual relationship with my husband, I really hated certain positions that showed the rolls on my belly and I felt like I wanted to give him something better to look at. Of course, he always loved and accepted me and he never said anything derogatory about my body, but he has also appreciated the effort I have made to get fit again. He is doing the same thing, working towards a more fit body and a healthier lifestyle.

Having lost a sizable amount of weight I definitely enjoy looking in the mirror more when we are having sex than I did before. I love running my hands over my thinner frame when we are intimate. Certain positions that were uncomfortable for me before are more erotic and passionate now. Sometimes when we are making love he will run his hands over my back and say “Man, you really have lost weight, haven’t you.” I love that I got victory in this area of my life that was pretty much out of control for quite some time.

What I am saying is that because this was important to me, having made the change has had a positive effect on our sex life, but it was just as important that I come to a place of accepting the parts of me that I could not change. I needed to embrace those things in order to walk confidently into my bedroom and be the sexy wife that I am now. God created me with certain physical features that are unchangeable (unless I was to get surgery of some kind to change it.) If I was still annoyed by my breast size and overly irritated by the shape of my nose, I believe that I wouldn’t be as free in all the areas of my life where I have seen freedom come, including my sexuality.

So I have happily found my way through this balancing act of learning to embrace who I am on every level and I feel better about myself than I ever have. Please know that I do not presume that the exact journey I have been on needs to happen for everyone in the same way it did for me. I needed to change the size of my body, but that may not be the thing God calls you to at this time, or at all for that matter. I do think, though, that all women need to come to a place where they love every part of themselves for it is then that we can be confident in who God has made us which will end up blessing everyone around us, including our husbands.

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Throwback Thursdays: Interview with Lauren Jordan, Sex therapist

Lauren Jordan, LCSW, CST is Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a Certified Sex Therapist (through AASECT). She has been providing therapy for individuals, couples, families and groups since 1986 in her Dallas, Texas private practice. Her website is www.BoostYourLowLibido.com. She can be emailed at lauren@BoostYourLowLibido.com, or contacted at the phone number below.

Lauren Jordan, LCSW, CST

7557 Rambler Road, Suite 612
Dallas, TX 75231
 214-692-6100 
 

 

General questions:

1. Explain why a woman or a couple would see a sex therapist instead of a regular marital therapist?

I wrote a blog called “I wish we had seen a Sex Therapist” earlier this year because I was hearing from many clients who expressed frustration that they had chosen to see a general Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) when they had a sexual concern like low libido, difficulty with arousal and orgasm, erectile dysfunction or early ejaculation.

They told me that they felt that they had wasted time, energy and money seeing therapists who seemed embarrassed even broaching sexual subjects. It is so difficult for anyone to go to therapy for a sexual issue, but if you get there and your therapist is literally blushing when you mention his erection problems, or your difficulty achieving orgasm, you will likely feel worse than you did originally! And that is precisely what these couples told me – they felt like they had already DONE a lot of therapy, and they were feeling cynical and even hopeless about tackling their problem. With education, this doesn’t have to happen to even one more couple!

Another problem with working with a MFT is that they have not had specialized training about sexual functioning, and sex therapy techniques. This means that even if they are comfortable dealing with the subject matter, they usually focus on resolving OTHER issues that may be contributing to your sexual problems, thinking that if these issues, such as communication problems, a lack of time together and connection, or conflict resolution skills are added, the sexual problems will JUST GO AWAY. What Sex Therapists know is that the data does not prove this to be true.

Yes, Sex Therapists do address other issues that may contribute to a woman’s low desire, or a man’s early ejaculation – but we know this is not enough without specific sex therapy techniques such as talking in very detailed ways about what happens in the bedroom, and in both partners’ minds and bodies; and then using carefully crafted exercises and interventions to remedy them.

Most of these clients told me that they had done so because the MFT was a provider on their insurance panel, so they had considerably less out of pocket expense. Most Certified Sex Therapists (CST) do not take insurance directly, because we are specialists in high demand – there are only a handful in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Ironically, a decision that was made to save money, ended up not only not doing so, but had an emotional and relational cost that was incredibly higher.

If you have a sexual problem, see a specialist – a Certified Sex Therapist. Seeing a Marriage and Family Therapist is like going to your Family Practice Physician when you have heart disease and need a Cardiologist.

2. We sometimes advise couples to seek help from a sex therapist, but find they are very apprehensive about going. Can you explain what a couple can expect on their first visit to see you?

So many women have told me that their physician gave them my card a year ago – and have had a tremendous struggle with actually making that first call. It takes a lot of courage to call a Sex Therapist! One reason for this is that people are not sure exactly what Sex Therapists do and do not do – and some think a CST is actually a Sex Surrogate, who has sex with her clients to help them resolve their sexual problems. Certified Sex Therapists do not have sex with clients – ever! It is highly unethical, just as it is with a Marriage and Family Therapist. We do not have you do sexual activities in our offices, whether you are there individually or with your partner.

Sex Therapy is a focused type of talk therapy. We talk about your concerns. In the first sessions, we do just that, in order to get a full idea of what your current life is like, and what you would like it to be like. I do give a lot of homework assignments, which may be writing assignments, or non-sexual touching assignments, and usually progress to more sexual kinds of touching assignments – all of which you do in the comfort and privacy of your own home. There is not one prescription of exercises, as they are designed specifically for you and your partner to help you overcome the challenges that you have.

Another reason that people may carry my card around for a year before contacting me is that our society is profoundly sex-negative. Yes, on the one hand we are inundated with sex on tv, advertising, etc. But unfortunately, most of us, especially women, were never given gentle guidance and information about our bodies (beyond menstruation and reproduction) sexual functioning. The silence can be deafening – we are left to think that if no one talks about it, it must be very bad! This is how sexual shame, which I discuss a lot of my site, and with my clients, is born. It doesn’t come out of nothing.

If you have shame about sex – it will be very vulnerable and embarrassing to call a Sex Therapist for help with a sexual issue. First, you will be breaking the code of silence, about not talking about sex, and second, you may feel that you should never HAVE a sexual problem! That is a double-whammy! People do have sexual problems – just like they have relationship problems, financial problems, parenting challenges, work & career problems, and on and on. Thinking that you are the only one, and that you shouldn’t have any issues with sex, just makes it harder to take steps to resolve the problem.

So your first visit to a Sex Therapist would include filling out paperwork, then discussing your concerns, and then leaving with some homework to do on your own, and bring back to the next session. That’s it. You should feel respected, understood, and that your therapist seems to be someone who can help you. If you don’t, you might consult another Sex Therapist, as it is always important to feel there is some “fit” with your therapist.

3. Can you give examples of homework exercises that you might give a couple?

Some of the written exercises ask couples to think about how they learned about sex, and what they learned about it, to help them understand how it affects them today. I also use questionnaires which help determine what factors (there are many) are getting in their way of desiring or enjoying sex.

A common touching exercise would be to take an hour and take turns being the giver and receiver of touch, without any touching of the genitals, buttocks or breasts. The couple is also told NOT to have any type of sex during or after the exercise. Often couples have either gotten into ruts with their sexual routines, or have so little time that they rush through foreplay, and don’t take the necessary time to get fully aroused. An exercise like this can help couples reconnect with touch, explore what types of touch they like to give and receive in an atmosphere free of pressure to perform.

4. Does it always work best for both spouses to come together, or is there ever a time where it is best to just work one on one with the wife or the husband?

I have certainly worked individually with people on sexual issues, and it can work to do so. In general, it helps to see the couple together to get both partners’ perspectives. It depends upon what their concerns are as far as whether it would be an option for them. Of course, some partners may never be willing to come in, so individual or group work is the only option.

5. We know you aren’t a “Christian” therapist, but do you have any experience seeing women who are struggling with feelings of shame and/or guilt in their marriage because of strict teachings from their parents growing up, or from the church?

A huge part of the work I do with both men and women involves addressing sexual shame and guilt generated from sex-negative teachings from parents, schools, and religious institutions. Some of the messages were direct, such as “all boys want is to get into your pants” and some were indirect as in never talking about sex in the family at all. Silence can be a profound message: this subject is so bad that we will not utter its name in our house.

I find that doing the women’s workshops and groups are a great way to reduce shame and guilt. Women tell me that they felt liberated to be in an environment where it could be talked about openly with other women who have struggled as they have. The “I’m not alone!” feeling is very healing.

6. Can you share your opinion on what role masturbation could play in marriage?

I know that a lot of folks think that masturbation is wrong. While I do not share that view, and will respect a client’s decision about whether to include self-stimulation in his or her program to resolve sexual problems, I do think it can have a positive role in a marriage.

First, masturbation is a wonderful training ground for learning your own body’s sexual arousal and response. Learning alone can take the pressure off because you aren’t worried that your partner will get tired, bored or frustrated, or take it personally if you don’t have an orgasm. For this reason, I will broach the possibility of using masturbation as a step in the process of couples therapy. Some women (I say women because men usually begin masturbating in adolescence, and it is the rare man who has never masturbated) can allow themselves to use masturbation in this limited way, knowing that the purpose is moving them towards a fulfilling sex life with their husbands. Some are never going to feel this is ok, and there are other ways of working on this. I would never insist that anyone try masturbating if they do not feel right about it.

For women who have low libidos, masturbating can actually help to increase their libidos, which is the opposite of what one might think. Women tell me, “with so little desire, I should direct what I have towards my husband!” Self-stimulation can help a woman learn what she wants from her partner, and can make sex more satisfying, so that she wants it more frequently. It also helps her to acknowledge the sexual part of herself.

Masturbation can also provide some satisfaction when your partner is ill, traveling, or just has a lower level of desire than you do. It doesn’t have to take away from the relationship – though it can if it is done excessively.

7. What therapy options are available for men and women? Do you have group therapy and individual options?

Besides doing the individual and couples sessions, I offer Women’s Groups and Workshops such as “When there’s no sex in your city: a workshop for women on sex, intimacy and desire” and “Orgasm 101”. I have done workshops live in my conference room (up to 30 people), and by phone conferencing so that women can call in from wherever they are. Discovering Your Sexual Self small groups for women meet in my office and are for 4-8 women, usually for a series of meetings over several months. All of these combine sex education, discussion and homework exercises to keep you moving towards your goals.

I also have an eBook called “No Room For Sex: How To Boost Your Low Libido” which is available only through my website at http://www.BoostYourLowLibido.com.

You can buy the book alone, or the book and two personal email consultations.

I have had women come in from other states to attend a workshop, and I am likely to begin traveling to other locations to do my workshops. So there are a number of options.

Specific sexual issues:

8. What are the top issues that you see most prevalent in your clients?

The most common complaint for women is Low Libido, and for men, it is Early Ejaculation and Erectile Dysfunction. I also see a lot of women who have never had an orgasm.

9. What are the biggest factors in low libido?

The biggest reasons for low libido in my opinion are: sexual shame and guilt, relationship issues such as general disconnection, fears of intimacy, or buried resentments; unrealistic expectations about sex and romance, negative body image, sexual trauma, and fatigue from being over-committed with responsibilities.

10. There are so many women who struggle with achieving consistent orgasms or orgasms at all. What medical conditions can effect a woman’s orgasmic function? For women for whom it is psychological, what do you suggest women do to overcome this mental block?

Medications such as SSRI anti-depressants (prozac, lexapro, Zoloft, paxil) can both decrease libido and make it more difficult or impossible to have an orgasm. Anti-seizure medications can also interfere with orgasmic ability, as can neurological disorders. Almost all of the factors that can interfere with desire can also limit or interfere with orgasmic potential. It is a huge list of factors – see my eBook for a complete description. The treatment is to determine which factors are getting in your way and work to resolve them.

11. We hear frequently from couples who are dealing with pornography, and its devastating effects on their marriage. Do you have experience counseling couples in this area? In your experience, is pornography addiction directly related to any sexual issues and dysfunctions?

I have seen a growing amount of pornography addiction in recent years. It can be devastating to a couple – as devastating as an actual affair. An addiction can be born out of the sexless marriage – especially if the low libido partner has refused to listen to the other partner’s needs and wishes, or is unwilling to do anything about it. I’m not saying this is right, just that it happens. A male who has a fear of intimacy, negative body image, buried resentments towards his wife, feels sexually inadequate,and/or performance anxiety may retreat into porn as an emotionally safer substitute.

12. Although our blog is targeted at married women, we have many male readers. Do you find that men are more reluctant to come in for therapy? Do you have any specific areas that you specialize in for men?

I think it is difficult, anxiety-provoking and embarrassing for men and women to enter sex therapy. Men can seem to have more motivation to break through this because of their generally higher sex drives. When the issue is her low libido, most men are willing to come in for couples sessions – possibly because they see the problem as hers, rather than his or theirs, and may feel less embarrassed. However, there is almost always a relational contribution to a partner’s low libido.

I work with men on sexual problems such as Early Ejaculation, Erectile Dysfunction, Low Libido, Lack of Orgasm, Sex Addiction or concern about a particular fantasy or Fetish. I think men have the additional barrier of thinking that seeking help is not “manly” and I am sure there are many men out there who would never consider sex therapy even if their problem is ruining their relationship. After the first session, often both men and women tell me that they feel a huge sense of relief after having the chance to talk openly about their concerns without being judged in a negative way. They say they feel hopeful about being able to solve their problem now.

We are so thankful for Lauren Jordan’s willingness to give us her professional perspective on these questions. They will certainly be a valuable resource for our readers and I am particularly hopeful that much of the mystery behind sex therapy has been removed.

original articles in this two part series are here and here

Taking Care of Yourself

How well do you take care of yourself from a social or emotional standpoint? I know that our husbands are our best friends but they do not need to be our only source for social interaction. I talked briefly about the positive effects friendship can provide in “Orgasm, Chocolate and Friends…Oh My!!!” I am now referring to having friends as a support system.

I was thinking about how important friendships are to children. Young children will even pal around with a pet, stuffed animal or have imaginary friends. In our teen years our friends have a big influence over the type of personality we develop. As we get married many women lose their identity. Sometimes we get ultra focused on pleasing our husband that we lose sight of the things we enjoyed before we were married. I am not saying that you should be hanging out in clubs with your girlfriends if that’s what you did with them prior to being married. You can easily connect with a friend on a short walk or over a cup of coffee. All you really need is one good friend. Quality is much more important than quantity. It is great to know that I have friends with whom I can laugh, cry, pray with, vent to or get advice from. My friends are some of my biggest fans as well as my toughest critics and I know it is because they love me unconditionally.

It is a known fact that friendships can lower blood pressure, heart rates, cholesterol and stress. Have you ever become so consumed in an activity with a friend that issues that had been hanging over your head suddenly took a back burner for a bit? It is a great feeling to be able to pray or laugh with a friend when times are tough.

In the past I have become so consumed with trying to be a good wife and a good mother that I lose my sense of self. While it’s true that I am a wife as well as a mother, I am also my own person. It is so important to have interests outside marriage. In the long run they enrich the quality of my marriage. Plus, my husband fell in love with that person so why would I ever want to get rid of her?

original article