By Alecia Rice
Q: I’m a recently remarried, middle-aged woman. I have good communication with my husband, but I’m still shy about initiating intimacy. Do you have any tips? — Timid Desire
A: Dear Timid Desire,
This is something about which both men and women can feel vulnerable—regardless of age. Often the issue arises out of having difficulty getting the words out. When one is shy about verbalizing, we can often find workarounds that require little to no words.
It’s unreasonable to expect our spouses to read our minds. We need to come up with ways to communicate, so we don’t assume they know what we want. If one is having difficulty verbalizing, then try to do things like writing a note, sending a text, or leaving a voicemail. These are all more indirect ways to let them in on your desire to connect with them. A couple can make up “code words,” which have predetermined meanings, that don’t require a long request or explanation when uttered. Even shy people can find a way to say—or write—a word that clues their partner in on what they’re thinking about.
Try reserving a couple of special “symbols” that indicate your desire to connect such as a certain touch, wearing a negligee, lighting a candle, turning the bed down, or purposely playing a certain song. The most important thing is to find a way to communicate these signals to your spouse, so there’s no doubt in their mind as to what you mean, to make it easier for you both to meet in these intimate spaces. Once the symbols are agreed upon, there’ll be no doubt and you’ll both be on the same page.
Q: Christmas fills me with dread. There’s so much artificial pressure to do this and be that. I feel lost and overwhelmed by it all, as my history with the holiday doesn’t give me the warm fuzzies. How can I enjoy it more? — Resistant Elf
A: Dear Resistant Elf,
The holidays are a mixed bag for many people. Most don’t necessarily admit it because if they do they risk being labeled a “Grinch.” Many people may not respond in the same way that it seems everyone else does, and that’s ok. When we take into consideration the multitude of reasons that people feel less joy this time of year, it makes sense.
Consider those who lack funds and feel compelled to contribute gifts or food to the office party, those who are sick or have loved ones who are sick, others who are missing key family members who have transitioned, or the awkward pressure that the non-religious might feel to participate. Add to that those who suffer from depression, isolation, or food/alcohol addictions while surrounded by social events brimming over with the trap of enticing food and drink. We haven’t even addressed the pressure felt to spend, decorate, shop, bake, entertain, wrap and participate in all of the “traditions,” not to mention paying the credit card bills that arrive in the new year. There are layers and layers of concerns this time of year.
That said, one has the right to choose how to celebrate (or not), which requires a bit of discernment to define what’s important to keep or create, as well as what one wishes to release. I’d suggest making a list of the things about the holidays that light you up, make you feel connected, and don’t feel like a burden to follow through with. Decide to only participate in those things. One can start small and build on this each year if they wish.
Spoken or written boundaries can be set to quell expectations from others while offering guidance as to what one’s willing to experience (or not) regardless of what others think. We have the right to celebrate in a way that’s meaningful to us. This is doable, but it can initiate some challenges—especially when one has children and feels pressure from family members to do differently. Yet, what better way to instill what’s really important in one’s children than to raise them with the spirit of what the holiday really means to us.
Weeding out the high expectations of holiday joy and fulfillment can be beneficial, as it often serves as a set up for disappointment when the experience doesn’t match the fantasy. Replacing those with more grounded, meaningful thoughts of service to others who are lacking can bring returns that money just can’t buy, which really infuses the holiday with a sense of compassion, sharing, connection and community, which is ultimately what the spirit of the season represents.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at Ask Alecia on Facebook.