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So far Dave Marr has created 213 blog entries.

What’s Your Integrity Worth

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve talked about life’s difficulties. Today’s Letter discusses one of the most challenging things you’ll face over your lifetime. Maybe not the sharpest pain, but one that is “long and tough”.

It was 1987.  I was 26 years old.  I was living hand to mouth.  Parking downtown in a lot cost $3 in some far away location from where I worked.  Somehow I figured out how to avoid paying the $3.

….$3.

Here I was sneaking around an unattended gate arm for $3. What a loser. After doing this the day before and coming up again to steal another $3 from some schmo that owned the lot, I realized that I was worth more than $3. This was one of the most meaningful days of my life. My integrity might have a price, but it wasn’t $3. Probably more in the $10 range. Well, not $10, maybe $1000. I’d steal for a grand. No? Ok, maybe a million dollars. If you left a million dollars on the sidewalk, I’d knock your grandmother to the ground to get at it.  Hmmm, maybe not.

Another real life example comes from a friend. He was the lone accountant for a firm. One day he decided that he COULD take a couple of bucks from his employer, so he did. Then later, a little more. Then more. His integrity became a boiled frog. By the time his employer found out, it had climbed to $400,000. His integrity was on vacation and he rationalized it to himself because his employer was wealthy and his family was in need. Now, after 5 years in prison and the slow difficult climb back into the working world, he’s trying to get his family back. He’s hopeful that his ex-wife will forgive him someday. His relationship with kids has been restored, but he missed most of their teen years. Don’t think this guy is a bad guy. He’s a friend and a good, good guy…today  – after the fall. He’s learned. Heed this: Every man is subject to moral temptation – economic, sexual, internal. To think you’re the exception is naive.

Ok, you get my point.  I’m not a big fan of listening to how much integrity someone else has, but I thought I’d share this cornerstone of who I am given the spirit of these Letters. Money can never replace your integrity. The last thing you want to do is define yourself by foregoing a bit of integrity for a couple of bucks.

Stealing is kinda black and white and I’m sure most of you wouldn’t think twice about correcting a meal tab that mistakenly undercharged you for dinner. But a more subtle aspect of integrity is the exchange of value between you and your employer or between you and your customer. There is a good-better-best spectrum when going to work and expecting pay. Just as I learned to value my worth differently greater than the sum of my bank account, so too should you remove your salary from consideration when you show up for the day’s effort. There should only be one level of service from you because it’s in your best interest to provide it – all you got. Provide your employer and customer your very best attitude, your very best proactivity, your very best cooperation, your very best creativity regardless of what’s in it for you. Certainly your employer, competing employers, the marketplace, the world won’t undervalue you for long. Therefore, it’s not wise to pour out less than you can because you mistakenly think you’re worth more than you’re being paid. Integrity demands your best. Don’t place a limit on your integrity.

This leads to a larger point: I propose that integrity is a spiritual magnet. You bring your reputation and smell wherever you go – your reputation of character and your smell of fair dealing. This spiritual magnet will attract back to you over your lifetime a compounding of who you agree with God you’re going to be. Money, relationships, reputation, and many other critical factors eventually reflect back to you. You get what you give. Somewhere in your past you have had integrity modeled to you. If you haven’t evaluated this, pull out the model and evaluate it. Discuss it in your group. Kick it around and feel whether it needs a little more intentional effort on your part. Figure out who you are in the process of becoming relative to honesty, reputation, philosophy, giving, personal discipline, loving, faithfulness, effort, and all things integrous.

To your growing character,

Dave Marr

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By | September 29th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

“Never give in, never give in…” – Part 2

I’m hoping from last week’s letter that you gathered a little insight that might encourage more personal resolve in your life. In life you will encounter difficulty and ‘right-mindedness’ is essential to growing through that experience. I want to expand on each takeaway so that it becomes a little more real and less a bumper sticker slogan.

Takeaway 1: Keep your eyes on the horizon. Life gets increasingly complex the older you get because you increasingly buy into things that matter and thereby take on more ownership of your life. Therefore the idea that something is difficult arises because you care – you care about your marriage, you care about your children, you care about your lifestyle, you care about your reputation, lots of things. Difficulties arise because the vision you have of your life and the reality end up being different. That tight-chested feeling of frustration occurs when reality is significantly different than your expectations. This is God’s normal process of maturing you, weaning you from naivete, toughening up your resolve, helping you gain a critically important understanding of His world-view of loving your neighbor as yourself. None of this happens without the blessing of trials. So staying focused on the long-term horizon and accepting difficulty as a natural consequence of caring about life keeps a balanced perspective which thereby provides important context to your current decision-making.

Takeaway 2: Keep moving forward. Once difficulties do arise – economic problems from a job loss, marital problems from alignment issues, parental problems regarding health, children problems from that endless bag of worries – you are confronted with a spiritual question of how to respond. The more spiritually aware and mature you are the more you “respond” than “react”. Your character, that mental/spiritual/emotional structure you’ve been developing since day 1, will come into play. Adherence to principles, integrity, perseverance, resolving to understand and see it through, patience, humility and grace are all qualities of character that will be revealed and tested during times of difficulty. The desire to escape, to quit, to have a drink, to have an affair, to flip the bird at God is not unheard of. Therefore, looking at the horizon past your difficulties acknowledges that they are short term. But the key is to keep moving forward until answers begin to materialize. Know that these challenges will end and you’ll be stronger as a result.

Takeaway 3: Be optimistic. When facing difficulty, there is a difference between suffering in stoic silence which can increase your isolation in a sort of masochistic selfishness versus being resolved and keeping your own counsel so as to not invite high school drama about superficial challenges. Take a moment to be clear on my meaning there. The difference is in the internal debate between optimism and pessimism as worn on your countenance, your face. For example, projecting your energy as a Debbie Downer intends to invite sympathy and pity. Coming home from work after a long difficult day and shifting your projected energy to one of ‘woe is me’ so that you can justify consuming your wife’s positive energy is a character issue. The internal debate is how much positive energy do you have in your tank? Do you have a little more? And a little more? The idea here is to create new and positive patterns in your life, so being aware of the internal debate between producing energy and consuming energy is vital. To respond is to remain in charge of your psycho/spiritual/mental/emotional self and not devolve into selfish reactions. This is a character issue. Keep your eye long term, keep moving forward, and control the positive internal monologue.

Takeaway 4: Produce goodness. Everyone faces takeaways 1-3. Not everyone is equipped with the understanding about life’s difficulties, the presence of mind to respond versus react, and the awareness of the incomprehensible blessing of God’s Providence. Life’s journey is largely a journey from self-care to other-care. For whatever reason, most people are hand-to-mouth in spiritual energy and consume as much goodwill as is available. Conflict and high school drama is their life. Fear, shame, helplessness, excessive ego and competition are hallmarks of this consumption. However, there is abundance available. You should fear not, worry not. Ego can be shelved because you are not in a fight or flight situation. There is a better way. In a zero sum game when there is a finite pie to split amongst the contestants, then quick competition gains more. But life is not a zero sum game. Expand the pie. Create abundance. Lift others. Zig’s “If you help enough people get what they want, you’ll get what you want” applies. Love your neighbor as you love yourself is the essence of spiritual maturity. Your capacity to grow through difficulty expands your ability to produce goodness because you see mankind for what it is – in need of your positive energy.

To your spiritual abundance,

Dave Marr

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By | September 22nd, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

“Never give in, never give in…”

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Winston Churchill, 1941.

On a plaque in my office I have the pith of that quote – “Never, Never, Never, Give In”.  It has served me well these 25 years of self employment. I didn’t understand that philosophy in my twenties back when the smell of my freshly minted undergraduate diploma still tingeing the air. I began my career with little experience and less idea of the road ahead, only the certainty of the blue sky of greatness. And for a dozen sun-kissed years, my life was filled with blessings.

But into every life rain must fall. My personal bias is to believe completely that the path to joy and happiness is, as James describes it, through difficulty. I’ve referenced that belief here in these letters many times. Because that belief is foundational to life. Dr. M. Scott Peck’s opening line in The Road Less Traveled is “Life is difficult.” It goes on,  “This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.” 

My difficulties have been extremely small compared to many. They have been questions of business survival, nothing more. The marriage difficulties resulting from personal immaturity, role definition, languages of love, time balancing, and leadership were resolved in our late 30’s, so that extra energy could be more wisely used elsewhere. Raising children takes energy. Fortunately, we had only blessings there. In other words, a blessed life with only normal issues arising.

Because I have had my share of business difficulties, as a result I have a few takeaways that have served me well. Churchill captured perfectly in the same speech as above a mature principle that life teaches, “But we must learn to be equally good at what is short and sharp and what is long and tough”. There will be times when the Nazi’s are bombing London, Hurricane Irma winds are blowing, cancer is attacking a loved one, or the government machine is mindlessly grinding your way. But mostly life is a long pursuit of navigating circumstances, challenges interspersed with happiness and joy. Takeaway 1: Stay focused on the horizon.

That realization leads to the second takeaway, difficulty doesn’t define your character, it reveals it. A young man may not know what to do with his life. That is not uncommon. But it is to his character that he pursues movement rather than listless ennui. Direction and purpose will eventually come because the skill of navigation is easier to achieve than the engine of movement. Takeaway 2: Difficulty develops a God-blessed character of a man revealed in times that are long and tough – keep moving forward.

Takeaway 3 is about when life provides you the blessings of difficulty – smile. Not just on the outside, but on the inside. Be optimistic that in your custom-made difficulties you are blessed. Yes, this seems trite and like superficial advice, but it’s not. Everyone will be challenged. And real pain isn’t fun. Making the most of your time here on earth takes effort, so showing the world a smile keeps a positive perspective. And this leads to the last takeaway.

Mankind is divided into a spiritual spectrum of producers and consumers. The vast majority of people consume energy. They are filled with want, need, helplessness, conflict, fear, shame, negative competition, self satisfying ego, all varying degrees of consuming energy. Therefore, be a producer of well-being, maturity, grace, acceptance, help, positive cooperation/competition, and love. Difficulties are designed for you to distinguish in the pit of your resolve who you are in the act of becoming. Produce goodness, which starts in your maturing heart. This is part of the great commission in life.

If you are persevering now through some God-blessed difficulties – press on.

Dave Marr

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By | September 15th, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

The Baton

Sunday the 10th marks the 11th quick long year since my dad’s death. I wrote this Letter in honor of him and my father-in-law Steig. I love them and miss them both. Life is short gents, so please don’t let small things get in the way. Do you have someone you could honor while they’re still here? And as a father, be honorable.

To my Dad:

The sweat dripped from his brow as he scaled the hill. His muscles were fit but lean from the years of training. No longer carried by the meaty limbs of his youth that bounded with certainty among the rocky terrain, he picked his way with crafty precision with a mind toward efficiency sparing his remaining strength. The hill was a long one and the injuries of past events could be felt with every step. The many scrapes and scars stood out against his sinews as he pumped up the hill.

His breath was strong despite the slope, though his pace slowed a touch as his strength faded, the crest fast approaching. The race continued after his part was done; his job was nearing completion. The baton weighed more now than a short while ago, but he remembered when it weighed nothing at all. When the race started so long ago, the baton seemingly weighed nothing in actuality compared to what he thought it might. How he imagined the weight would cramp him and cause him to stumble. But in the end, he carried it well like so many before.

Looking up he could see the next runner waiting at the milestone, running in place with fresh legs, the sun anointing him with a golden glow around his head. Squinting, he couldn’t see the next runner’s expression backlit against the sun. However, as he neared, an eager smile appeared. He firmed his pace down the stretch so the handoff would be on his terms; where he could look into the next runner’s eyes as an equal, not as one who had spent his last to gain the final yard. He would carry the baton at a solid pace running along side for but a short while. Then with an easy manner pass the baton to the next runner wanting so much to encourage him, to explain the course, to describe what meaning can be derived from the race itself. But in the end, after a few paces where the untested energy of the new contestant begged to be released, he handed off the baton.

He kept pace for a couple of strides and caught the eyes for but a glance.  And what a glance. Optimistic and full of light, the new runner smiled with a wide grin and unknowing but heartfelt appreciation. With a slight wave of his hand that held the baton, the young runner eased his stride respectfully, but certainly. He moved smoothly away. The older runner, without baton, running no longer had meaning. But after such a long race, stopping didn’t seem right either. He carried on for a bit till the baton runner melted into the sun. At that point, when he could see the other runner wasn’t going to fall or drop the baton or need anything whatsoever, he slowed his pace to a walk. The race continued, but not for him. He had run to the best of his ability and now that he had passed the baton, it was time to rest. The baton ran ever towards the sun, but here, evening had already begun to set. It would be nighttime soon. Time to get off the hill and rest.

To grandpa and morfar with love.

To a successful passing of the baton,

Dave Marr

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By | September 8th, 2017|Personal, Relational, Spiritual|0 Comments

Business and Faith

I did not know what I wanted to do for a living when I was 24 or 25 or 26 or… when I was 35 when I started my company and only did so reluctantly. I couldn’t find another company that I agreed with in how they handled matters (compensation, integrity, my agenda*), so I was talked into starting my own company. The guy that talked me into it was going to be my 50/50 partner, but at the very end, he backed out. That scared me and I almost bagged on the whole thing. I had a wife, 3 children, a mortgage and all the responsibilities of life.  I wasn’t sure if I had it in me when it came to “go time”. I thought about it and decided that I could only fall so far.  But something else was manifesting in my life. For me, this is a subtle description and may sound strongly similar to a church message – I began to find faith.

My church experience with the use of the word “faith” has been in reference to one’s beliefs,  “I have my Faith” or the leap one takes when the outcome of an event is uncertain, “You gotta have faith” (i.e. believe it’s going to work out). Those two thoughts seem too passive to me. Those ideas have coincided with a slightly more victimizing idea “God will provide”. Maybe it’s my arrogance and ignorance (likely), but it seems to me that our purpose on this planet is neither to be independent of God’s influence nor solely dependent on it. Rather, I believe there is a dynamic element that requires our full and active participation, but also a realization that we can’t control (much of any) outcomes. Therefore, I began my company with the notion that I would put forth as much effort as I could to win the economic day, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the outcome. I would then assume that good or bad, the outcome was valuable for my development. Keep the end in mind.

So what has happened over the following 25 years to support or detract from that theory? In ‘98 the State of Colorado investigated a complaint that I was paying salespeople as independent contractors (1099). I was. They sued. I won. In ‘99, the IRS audited me due to a referral from the State of Colorado on the 1099 issue. I faced certain bankruptcy. My partners wanted to switch to W-2. This was an pressure-filled time. The outcome was seriously in doubt. The fork in the road to switch or not was fraught with painfully poor choices. But in the end, I decided that my wife loved me, my kids were healthy and loved me, I wasn’t facing a life or death choice just a future decision about car quality (in other words, it was a purely economic problem). And most importantly, I gave the outcome up to God (that sounds very churchy, but that’s all I had left in my bag). I was engaged, certainly, but focused more on my actions in the moment rather than worrying that reality was going to crush me. In other words, I remained light on worry.

Regarding the God prayer thing, I did engage every night in that quandary. Should my prayers be “Your Will be done” or “Hey Lord, please bless my desired outcome”?  In the end, I settled on “Um… God?  If you are taking into account my desires, I don’t want to be unclear here. I choose that my company succeed in this issue…Just so you know where I stand on this.  Amen.” Not super spiritual, but true nonetheless.

I told my partners (since I was majority shareholder) that we would live or die with the business model we had. Much to their immediate chagrin, we pressed on. They were much older than me, so they wouldn’t have time to recover if we lost. But, thank God, and I do, we won.  In fact, when we were sued on the same issue by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) a couple years later, we had the IRS victory to bolster us in yet another win. So the IRS victory was huge – huh, no kidding.

Is there a difference between “having faith” when the outcome of a big event is uncertain and “acting in faith” as I’ve tried to describe? I don’t know. For me it’s been about ownership vs victimization. Every aspect of my messages in these Letters to you is about full engagement in one’s life, particularly your mental/spiritual life and learning about what God might be saying to you through circumstances. As you put forth your effort as a salaried employee, commissioned sales, or entrepreneur, you will always act to some degree in faith that your efforts will be rewarded. I believe that the more you engage God in the equation without foregoing your own responsibility in the input, you’ll see a positive result. Moreover, this belief is like a muscle, it gets stronger as you commit to it and exercise it.

To your actions in faith,

Dave Marr

* Agenda: When working for some other guy, it’s his prime objective to make money.  Maybe not solely make money, but it’s usually number one on the list.  However, it’s not uncommon for that employer to have an attitude that is not inclusive of my goals as an employee. It’s their agenda or nothing. All good as long as everyone is clear. However, I don’t think that employers should consume employees (time, passion, etc.) or abuse employees in the pursuit of their agenda as I have seen often.

Dave Marr

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By | August 25th, 2017|Personal, Spiritual|0 Comments

Foggy Mirror

I saw a young man the other day eating at a restaurant. If I were his boss, although I wouldn’t fire him, I would definitely categorize him as “not” an up-and-comer. It was an embarrassing display of lack of self awareness. He was hunched over his food with the worst table presence I’ve seen in years. It was like he had only enough energy to stagger to his meal before he expired. Does posture matter? Do table manners matter? Being concerned as to what message is received by the world, is that selling out? Yes, yes, and no.

Is there any debate on the obvious that we humans live in a community of other humans who form opinions, not necessarily as condemnatory judgments, but in the normal course of self-navigation? For example, I am continuing to evolve, grow, form more mature opinions by revising old loosely held thoughts. I do this because that’s the way of it, being human. But also because I actively want to navigate my world for my life’s betterment. We judge the world on a subjective scale between beneficial through benign to detrimental. So I would “judge” a hard working young man at a bank as a potential employee differently than a tattooed man standing next to my car swinging a chain. Ok, that’s obvious. If I were to coincidentally interview them the following week, I’d recognize the bank employee as a positive and the apparent hooligan as a negative. But would I have needed to have seen them prior, out of context, to make that judgment?

No. And this is where the young can miss the point. The energetic hard worker that is self aware enough to project growing competence is more easily able to make that sale than the guy who tries to turn it on and off in his life. I am warming up to people having tattoos, but not much; I am not warming up to smoking. A slouch, literally and figuratively, doesn’t have the practice of a firm handshake, eye contact, clear voice, measured responses, and positive posture. It takes practice to coordinate those things so that they’re natural and not forced. It takes a whole lotta practice to listen all the way through something and then respond versus stop listening half way through so as to formulate a response. It takes practice to write an email that gets to the point. It takes practice to do well in the adult world. Continuous practice.

So if there’s an attitude issue: “Hey man, I’m good. I don’t need your approval”; or, “Duuuude”; or, and most likely, “Those things are not as important as my actual work ethic”. Yes, that last thought may be true, and this was one of my immature beliefs back in the day, but that misses the point. You won’t get the chance to prove your value at the next level if you don’t consider the whole package. Whether that value is the opening level of getting the job or the next level of promotion. Closed doors are silent data points. Value does matter more than appearances, but your personal projection is inherently tied into your perceived value.

This young man at the restaurant wasn’t practicing. No doubt nagged by his mom and dad to sit up straight, his post-adolescent thought was “I own my freedom”. True. But freedom is not without consequences. His freedom mindset cannot appreciate the accumulated opportunity costs inherent in bad posture. You can’t just fix that. It takes practice to be self aware enough to sit up straight and not act like an adolescent. What if that young man doesn’t want what I value. Instead what if he is a brilliant tattooed smoking programmer that can get a high paying job anywhere and flip the bird to my values. Fair enough. But all choices have short and long term consequences. Over the last 10,000 years, all societies have fine tuned the cause and effect on the subject of “fitting in”. And so I assert, it is mostly a matter of maturing awareness rather than a disagreement on values.

The reason you need an Ironmen group is to develop a forum where you can get honest feedback on what you’re projecting. Everyone has a “feel” to them, an incalculable amount of data that is summarized as such. What are you projecting?

To clearing the mirror,

Dave Marr

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By | August 11th, 2017|Personal|0 Comments

What is Divorce?

This 4-part writing riff started with a conversation I had with a guy who had divorced his wife, which, I surmised, was due to his inability to navigate the dynamic between he and his wife so that both of their cups were filled.  In his immaturity, he didn’t see a path forward to get his cup filled, so he ended the marriage. I believe, with no data to support my belief, that this is the underlying dynamic inherent in a large number of divorces. Immaturity, lack of vision, inability to get to a “I pour/you pour” relationship, calcified frustration, seeming insurmountable barrier to happiness, loss of hope, maybe bad behavior, divorce.

What is divorce really? When does divorce occur in the above sequence? Divorce occurs at the point when the flicker of hope for happiness has gone out. In the above guy’s scenario, he concluded in our conversation that it was his immaturity, lack of vision on how to get where he wanted to go, that led to the premature conclusion to pull the plug on his marriage. He lost hope that he could get his cup filled. Doesn’t that seem like it would be a common enough conclusion in a young man’s thinking?

Of course I’m not just talking about sex as the only thing a man needs to fill his cup. It is love he needs in the way he needs it, sex being just one way. I get my cup filled when Lis compliments me on these letters. I completely take notice when she comes alongside me and rubs my shoulders for no other reason than to just touch me. My cup is filled when I can see her respect and admiration of all my efforts and of who I am. Those actions on her part are among the multitude of nuances of our intimate relationship. Having a level 9/10 marriage frees up your energy away from frustration and allows you to grow elsewhere.

“That’s swell Dave on how awesome your marriage is, but you don’t understand. My wife is…” sick, injured, dealing with being abused, a shrew, cold, comes from a dysfunctional family, hormonally frigid, won’t engage with me, or some such thing.

Divorce occurs when hope dies. You can even stay legally married, but only be roommates, economic partners. Marriage is a spiritual endeavor. Each person seeks wholeness through relationship with the central hope that there is growth, progress. There is a reason why people who attend church tend to stay married more than those that don’t. By adding the notion that God exists and that difficulty is a part of life for spiritual reasons (James 1), then perseverance is a part of marriage. The mature quality of perseverance keeps hope aflame because of the imbedded assumption that there’s benefit awaiting on the other side of conflict.

Lis broke her back when we were 34. For 7 years we struggled with that issue. Our marriage wasn’t mutually satisfying, to say the least, because of her constant battle with pain. After dealing with the kids all day, there wasn’t much in her cup to pour out for me. I did contemplate the loss of hope at one point. And yet, and yet!, there was for us a belief that this issue was designed by God for our betterment. And so it was.

If your flame is flickering, it’s likely, so is your wife’s.

Loss of hope leads to spiritual divorce that oftentimes leads to legal divorce. The hope of what? More sex? On the younger side of maturity, it may look like that. But no. What the loss of hope really signifies is the loss of shared intimacy where both people care to balance the needs of the other by pouring out. It’s the complex intertwining of two lives in experiences, loves, energies, capacities, needs, priorities, and relationship.

God is a good marketer. Just like any good Madison Avenue marketing guru, he uses sex to draw you into a more complex transaction. If your marriage is a 7, then I would imagine you’re on your way to a 10. If it’s a 5, take hope, you’re on the front side of opportunity.

To your flame.

Dave Marr

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By | August 4th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Improving Sexual Intimacy Part 2

When a couple is getting ready for bed and it’s been a handful of days since last being together, the guy is in play. Of that, there is no doubt. What is a question, however, is whether it’s going to happen or not because the woman, unquestionably, has the final say. He’s looking for the subtle winks and nods that would indicate that tonight’s the night. When she’s lying there, after the rubbing encouragement has begun, she bestows her verdict on sex, “Sorry, not tonight.” At that point, the guy’s chest goes tight, his anger swells, and the recurring argument ensues.

Maybe I alone in the universe have experienced this scenario. It is easy, and would be unwise and incorrect, to conclude that she is in the wrong here, that she is wielding her choice as some sort of manipulative power play. No, she is being honest. Honesty being a desirable virtue when it works in his favor can’t be deemed verboten when it doesn’t. No, the honesty she is displaying is that the stars are not aligned in her world to come regularly and fully to the marital bed. And if that is a high priority, then it’s up to the man to figure out how to line the stars up.

Yet, there is no reason for there to be a question about whether sex is going to happen or not that night. There’s absolutely no reason for something so foundationally important as sexual intimacy to come down to the last second. To do so only sets up extreme disappointment and frustration if it’s not going to happen. So, 2 things should happen to avoid this kind of confrontation.

Sex should be scheduled regularly. There should be a discussion about sex. This can be uncomfortable, so it can be taken over many encounters. But eventually, among the many potential discoveries in this long conversation, an agreement on frequency should emerge. “Sunday nights – No, because I work out on Monday mornings; so Monday nights – yes. Wednesday nights – yes, unless we have group night, then it would be Thursday night. And then either Friday night or Saturday night depending.” This plan equates to about 10-12 nights per month. This agreement sets up expectations that are reasonable.

The 2nd thing that should happen is that if something changes, then as soon as it’s known that the regularly agreed upon schedule isn’t going to happen, then communication immediately should occur. It takes time for a guy to adjust. Post dinner, she assesses and decides that tonight’s not going to happen for 1 of a dozen reasons given her day. She should let him know asap. Not postponing that key little bit of info will help him adjust over the next few hours. Since a guy’s been thinking about it 2-3 times per hour since breakfast, his energy momentum needs a head’s up. And you know the inevitable “why” is going to come up, so she should provide her reasons and he should accept them as such. Arguing is pointless and overcoming argument is the whole point of this discussion. Then the next reasonable request will arise, “How about the alternative?”

You see, a guy prefers the fulsome embrace of love. However, he will accept accommodation if that’s available. And, barring that too, he’ll take the next best thing with her just providing pleasurable release. As relationships evolve, as communication improves, as each looks to fill the other’s cup, then the above fallback of expectations is reasonable. And if the above sequence does not occur? If the situation unfolds where he thinks they’re going to be together and she informs him that it’s not going to happen, so he suggests an alternative, and she says nuh-uh. Then something’s amiss. Her cup doesn’t have in it what he wants poured out. This little bit of data certainly will be a catalyst for conversation. And if the next opportunity on the agreed upon schedule is fulfilled, then the missed day is a one-off. That’s commonplace. However, if after a couple of months where the agreement was 10-12 days and it’s been more like 5-6, then reality is misaligned to the agreed upon expectations. Then the opportunity to go deeper into one another’s intimate psyche is presented. God has presented this format for you to learn yourself, to learn her, to learn what it takes for a couple to couple, to learn how marriages grow stronger through communication and safety, to learn how to manage your own emotions and seek higher ground, to learn how to pour out for the sheer pleasure of filling her cup and watching over time how she unfolds her well-being to you, and to watching your children thrive living under the roof of intimate happiness. Yes, improving sexual intimacy can do all that.

But there’s more.

To your harmonious path,

Dave Marr

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By | July 28th, 2017|Personal, Relational|0 Comments

Improving Sexual Intimacy

I received a bit of feedback on my Letter, Sex and Divorce. The essence was that the state of sexual harmony was a long-term concern. To that end, let me continue into the discussion with thoughts on how to develop the relationship away from the chasm that leads to divorce.

The stereotype is justified – Men have a fundamental requirement of sexual intimacy. It’s not just a desire, it’s a requirement. What gets lost with the early marital conflict is the reasonableness yet unending aspect of this requirement. Let me assert that it is reasonable to have sex 10-12 times per month and adventurous sex 1-2 times per month. This perspective of reasonableness does little to help the situation if a man is unable to articulate a harmonious vision of mutuality and can only express the desire for more sex. Merely quoting my assertion of reasonableness will do you no good.

A harmonious path must be the mindset – which means a man must have a vision of what harmony looks like for both participants, a commitment to the relationship, an openness toward understanding her needs and perspectives, yet maintain the resolve towards that vision in the face of conflict, and a willingness to make compromises along the way.

Let’s start with understanding. Below is not a comprehensive view towards a woman’s sexuality. It’s generic at best. A woman might not feel “sexual” for large portions of the month due to hormones. She might not think a sexual thought for days and days and not realize that a man might not think a sexual thought for dozens of seconds at a time. She might have been abused or been in a situation that made a deeply negative impression on her about men. That’s not something you just get over, rub some dirt on it. She may have negative thoughts about having to compete against a porn star’s body and aggressive style. She may not prefer the smell or the mess. A woman doesn’t turn on the juice like a man can. Her daily schedule of kids and work, meal prep and chores, may leave her empty of amorous energy. It may be as simple as having eaten too much dinner. Where a man is like a microwave, a woman is like a crockpot. Where she must get her ducks in a row in order to have meaningful sex, a man can have sex and in doing so gets his ducks in a row.

All the above leads to the understanding that sex is highly psychological, more so than a man’s. This idea that a woman can bring herself to the marital bed regularly and fully if something is amiss in her life is naïve at best. Here’s where a man must recognize that when there’s marital conflict around the quantity of making love and the quality of the engagement, the gap of perspectives is not permanent but a God intended opportunity to create intimacy. And because the man is the one that wants change, he must take responsibility to evolve things to bring about harmonious and therefore permanent change.

For example, when a man touches a woman, it sends a message. Does it send “I love you” or “I desire you”? Certainly, those ideas are correlated, desire and love, but a woman can feel objectified. If every time you touch her and it sends a sex message, then a woman man come to feel that that’s all you want her for. Now, if it’s been 4 days, then her perception may be largely accurate. But if sex were more regular, then you could normalize a loving touch without sexual intent. Or if touch were more normalized, then you might be able to have sex more regularly. Conflict starts in small ways and calcifies through miscommunication and frustration. If by your very act of expressing love she misinterprets it as your selfish need to get physical release, then it’s up to you to deal with her whole set of needs.

What are her needs that will lead to her feeling whole so that she can meet you along the harmonious path? First, you need to understand that there is a difference between intellectual understanding and visceral psychological understanding. You can’t just express yourself, have her understand, then expect that things will be immediately and permanently different. It doesn’t work that way. Verbal I love you’s and physical I love you’s don’t get you that far if she wants non-sexual quality time, some acts of service, and overall engagement. For example, if on the nights you don’t make love you get in bed while she’s brushing her hair and are snoring away by the time she gets to bed; whereas on sex nights you’re wide awake, then that sends the message bedtime isn’t about intimacy. Same subtle message on sex nights that after sex while she’s cleaning up, you turn over and are sound asleep when she returns – What’s the message? If giving her a bedtime back rub is only a ruse to explore her body, then touch is a taking and not a giving. If doing the dishes and cleaning up is considered by you to be foreplay and you expect a quid pro quo once the kids are in bed, then you’re sending the message that you don’t care about the house as much as she does. These messages are received – she is an object for your desire not an object of your desire.

What does she want? She wants to be safe. She wants to know that you want her, not just her body. She wants you to care about her desires and are willing to respect the fact that her rhythms are delicate, that she can be delicate. She wants you to lead in many ways. She wants you to figure her out, help her navigate life’s difficulties, and create an environment where her loving efforts are rewarded. If you do these things, you will get your harmonious sex life.

There’s more to this topic. Ha, yeah, there’s more. But we’ll have to take it next time.

To your fulfilled harmonious path,
Dave Marr

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By | July 21st, 2017|Personal|0 Comments