The Slang of Sex

Research shows that men and women use different terms to describe their sexual anatomies and to describe different aspects of the sexual experiences and relationships.

Men, for instance, tend to use power sexual slang, or “dirty” and aggressive words when describing sex (such as “f___ing”) and/or their partner’s bodies. Women not only discuss sex less frequently than men do, but they also tend to use cute sexual slang, or euphemisms when they talk about sex (such as “making love”), and/or  describe body parts (such as using the term “va-ja-jay.”).

Given these differences, it’s important for couples to develop a common sexual vocabulary that is unique and personal to them, especially to find idioms for genitalia, sexual rituals, and routines. By cocreating and jointly sharing these expressions, couples create a unique relational culture within their sexual relationships.

In your relationship, has your sexual communication been subverted because you do not use the same sexual slang as your partner does? In your sexual communication, do you and your partner share the same meanings? What would you like to change about your sexual communication?

Photo Credit: auzigog (flickr.com)

 

Why Is He Always So Analytical?

It’s been said before that the “Y” sex chromosome came about because since the beginning of time, men have been questioning, “Y do we always have to talk about this $#%! relationship?!”

In an earlier post I talked about women’s genderlects, and how most women are taught from an early age to communicate in certain ways with others. So engrained are these behaviors, researchers say that understanding and caring is the context in which women frame nearly every conversation that they have. In short, the underlying message in women’s conversation is connecting with others—and they do this by talking (a lot).

But what about guys? Are boys, like girls, socialized from young ages to stick to certain communication “rules?” Do guys have an underlying genderlect?

Researchers think so!

When men engage in conversations—with family, friends, intimate partners, or lovers—their underlying genderlect appears to be:

  • Problem Solving: From a young age, boys are taught to be independent, and because of this, they often solve problems on their own. While girls are taught to “talk things through” if they have an issue with a friend, boys are often taught to look at the situation “logically.”
  • Advice Giving: Because men are tuned in to problem solving, when someone shares a problem or a concern, men often immediately jump to offering advice or a solution.

Thinking, analyzing, intellectual understanding, facts, logic—this is the way men experience their relationships. It’s the way they assess the status of all of the friendships and interpersonal relationships.

This is probably why your guy is so quick to offer advice or a solution when you share a problem with him.

It may also be why you sometimes feel as though he seems so distant or insensitive, and why he doesn’t want to talk about his feelings or what’s troubling him.

Newer research even suggests that men’s communication behaviors are established well before birth. According to some genetic studies, male and female brains are structured differently—wired differently—because of the influences of testosterone (the masculinizing sex hormone) during the prenatal period. These biological differences cause men to process information and communication messages in different ways.

This new research might also help to explain why guys, when confronted with a problem, will oftentimes make jokes or change the subject.

This isn’t to say that men don’t have an emotional connection to their family, friends, intimate partners, or lovers—it just means that they do not express these emotions in the same ways that women do.

So, let’s say you come to your guy and describe a problem to him. Because your genderlect is connecting, talking, understanding, and caring, you expect him to respond the same way you would.

When he comes to you and describes a situation (like a problem at work or in class), he expects that you will give him advice and help him solve the problem, because that’s what he would do for you.

Do you see the problem? When he offers advice and you’re expecting understanding, you feel that your feelings are invalidated or that he’s trivializing your problems.

When you offer sympathy and understanding and he’s expecting advice and a solution to the problem, he feels that you’re putting him down.

You may feel that his joke-telling is making fun of your situation. He may feel that your comforting is treating him like a child.

Now’s the time to toss out absolutely EVERYthing you’ve ever heard about or learned about communication (unless you’ve taken my class…cuz that’s the right stuff!).

Here’s the deal: it’s not the words that are the source of lover’s spats (or full-blown arguing).

For you to have ah-mah-zing communication with your partner, you need to stop listening to the words being spoken.

Big. Huge.Important.

Yep, you heard read me right. Stop listening to the words.

Come back next week and I’ll show you what to tune into in your intimate relationships, so you can have the kind of couple communication that very few couples are able to achieve.

Can you think of specific instances where your feelings were hurt because you felt that your guy wasn’t “listening” to you? If you look at the situation again with his genderlect in mind, does this change your perception of his response to you?

Photo Credit: flickr.com

Why Does She Talk So Much?

Do women talk more than men?

As we grow up from infancy to adulthood, we’re taught how to be a “boy” or a “girl,” or a “man” or a “woman” in a lot of different ways. Each day we are bombarded with messages from society—from parents to teachers to friends to the media—that send very clear-cut gender cues, or the “correct” ways we’re supposed to act and think and feel.

And communication is no exception—boys learn how to communicate one way, girls learn how to communicate another way.

According to one researcher, men and women are taught so differently about how to communicate (and in what they focus on when they talk) that it’s as if they understand communication messages in entirely different ways!

In other words—you may think you are clearly expressing yourself, and you just may be….but that doesn’t mean that she’s hearing the intended content of your messages!

Is it any wonder that these different genderlects lead to so many problems, misunderstandings, tensions—and all out shouting matches—between couples?!?

Don’t give up just yet! Once you know how and why women communicate the way they do, you’ll be better able to adjust your communication styles—and responses!—so that tensions and arguments are minimized and intimacy flourishes.

You see, in any type of communication, there’s the message (the actual words spoken), and the underlying message (there’s a ridiculously long research term for this…we’ll just call it the genderlect).

As girls grow up, they’re taught to be the caretakers and keepers of relationships. If there’s a problem with a friend or a relationship, girls are encouraged to “Talk it out.” “Sit down and just hear each other out.” “Just listen and it will all work out.”

In essence, girls are taught throughout their entire lives to:

·Talk about “it”: Whatever “it” happens to be—like being angry about something that happened at work two months ago, or seeing a new pair of shoes that are super cute, or thinking out loud about what she should do next, or asking how your day went.

·Connect: Women are often referred to as “kin keepers” because they hold relationships and families together. They’re taught from a very young age that keeping each other connected in the relationship is their responsibility. This is why they talk, talk, talk, talk, talk—to ensure that everything’s okay and on track with you as a couple.

·Understand and care: Women’s primary means of communication is showing sympathy, understanding, and care. When someone (you, a friend, a family member) is hurting, this shows that they are being 100% supportive (even in situations where it may not make sense to be that involved or caring).

Talking, connecting, understanding, caring—this is the way women experience their relationships. It’s the way they assess the status of all of their friendships and intimate relationships.

<This is probably why gals can’t go to the restroom without a circle of friends!>

It’s crucial that men understand that women have different genderlects than they do: When your gal is upset or has had a bad day or she just wants to talk about nothing in particular, she expects you to respond to her the same way that she would respond to you.

She expects you to respond in a caring, understanding, and connected way. She expects you to listen to every word she’s saying (as long as it takes), because that’s the response that she would give to you or to anyone else that she cares about.

This isn’t to say that you don’t care—it just means that you express your love and care for her in different ways than she expresses it for you.

And that’s why it’s so important that she understands your genderlect.

Stop by in a couple of days and I’ll talk about men’s genderlects, and how couples can best merge their differing communication cultures.

Your thoughts?  Do you think that gender differences are what make guy/gal communication so difficult? Or do you think that there might be something else at play?

Photo Credit: Feuillu (flickr.com)

You CAN Have a Great Marriage and Parent at the Same Time: Realistic Expectations

Even though for most people bringing home a baby is a joyful experience, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of stressors that come right along with her—the happy nature of the event doesn’t even come close to minimizing the fact that a new person has been added to the family.

Family scientists—folks who study families so they can help families live and love to the best of their abilities—have found that children bring so much stress into a couple’s relationship that spouses experience a huge dip in their marital satisfaction (don’t go buy a gross of condoms just yet…there’s hope!).

If we drew an illustration of what happens to a couple’s marital happiness once kids enter the scene, it would look something like a U-shape.  High levels of marital satisfaction are usually present in the early stages of the marriage, dip to all-time low stages while we’re raising our kids, then gradually climb again as kids become more independent in adolescence. Once teens are launched into their young adult years (college), couples again regain the levels of happiness they had earlier in their marriages.

There is no question that the transition to parenthood is a challenging, often difficult, stage in the developmental course of a family. But the research offers good news: If parents hold realistic expectations going into parenting (and while they’re actively “doing” parenting), there is less stress on them and their relationship.

Everything That Comes with It

 

I admit it—I was the little girl who used to create Barbie doll wedding dresses out of toilet paper.  I was the little girl who pinned a pillow case “wedding veil” to her pony tail, and I was the little girl who, when asked by her ice skating instructor what she wanted to practice, said, “Let’s practice walking down the aisle!”

Falling in love.  Marriage.  Babies.  I had my entire life planned out by the time I was six years old.  Is it any wonder I had to have the wedding of the century (second only to Princess Diana, of course)?  My winter wedding day, complete with snow, was spectacular.  Perfect.  Flawless.  I was locked arm in arm with my dad, and the wedding planner was making sure my gown would make its magnificent statement (actually, in 1981 we didn’t have wedding planners….but I’m fairly certain he would have been a wedding planner if there were such a thing back then).

The music was just about to cue my entrance, and

It.  Happened.

As I tried to step toward the doors waiting to be opened by the wedding planner wannabe, my dad hesitated.  He wouldn’t budge.  At first I thought he was just trying to slow me down a bit (he had been, after all, telling me to be still and quiet down since I was about two years old).  In a panic, I looked at Dad and said, “Are you okay?”   He took a deep breath.

Oh. No.  I knew that sigh.  I knew that sigh always preceded a lecture, correction, admonishment.  Why now?  Didn’t he maybe kind of sort of think this might not be such a good time?  Couldn’t he have maybe kind of sort of told me what he wanted to say, oh, I don’t know, like a month before? Or at the rehearsal dinner?  Or the morning of the wedding?  The doors opened and I gave him an I’m-kind-of-busy-right-now-Dad-can-this-wait-oh-no-you’re-going-to-say-it-anyway-this-can’t-be-happening-everyone’s-looking-at-us look(s).

Gently, like loving daddies do, he drew me into his side and whispered in my ear, “When you take your first step down this aisle, you must do so as if the word ‘divorce’ does not exist–you must enter this marriage knowing that divorce is a possibility, but something that should be your very last resort.  Because after today, I can guarantee you that along with the happiness and joy you are feeling this very moment, this marriage will bring with it sorrow.  There will be heartbreak, there will be difficulties, there might even be tragedy.  Before you walk down the aisle, you must know in your heart that marriage–and everything that comes with it–is truly what you want.”

I would like to be able to say that I melted into his arms and thanked him over and over for his wisdom.  But, using my wedding bouquet to point toward the altar, all I could manage to get out was, “Ummmm….Okay.  Thanks.  Can we go now?”  And, like loving daddies do, he squeezed me, chuckled, and said, “I love you Chickie.  Let’s go get ‘em.”

Realistically speaking, none of us is equipped to tackle the “everything” that comes with intimate relationships and marriage.  We change.  We grow.  And we soon come to discover that the “everything” is actually quite different from what we expected.  In desperation, we consider divorce because the “everything” just hurts too much. It’s just too much work to make it right again.

But guess what–you can divorce proof your marriage.  You can have a marriage or an intimate relationship that doesn’t just survive, but one that thrives. You can experience a sex life that is almost never dull or boring.  You can be a terrific parent.  And you can leave your kids a legacy that no amount of money can ever buy….a foundation upon which they will someday build their own marriages and relationships.

About now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Here we go again, same-old-same-old tired marriage advice.”

Nope.  I won’t waste your time with that stuff, because it doesn’t work.

You see, the problem with existing books, TV talk show gurus, radio shows, and marriage or engagement weekend retreats is that they assume in their one-size-fits-all fixes that everyone defines “love,” “marriage,” or “sex” in the same way they do.  That’s why this stuff flops–almost always.

By writing with the notion that everyone follows the same pathway to marriage (first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes ______ pushing the baby carriage), books like The Love Dare and He’s Just Not That Into You reduce love, sex, and the “everything” of intimate relationships to something we do, instead of showing us how and why these experiences are a part of who we are.

Follow me through this blog. Spend some time with me and discover how, from the parent-child love bond, to friendships, to ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, or lovers, every past relationship writes your marriage scripts.

Come alongside and see how you can know–really, really know–who you are as a lover and who your intimate partner is.  Learn what it truly means to vow to “love” or to “honor” or to “care” for that person you’re thinking about marrying, or that person you’re already married to.  Hang out here for a few weeks, and you’ll discover how you can commit to the commitment….even when the “everything” makes it seemingly impossible to do so.

Kelly