How to choose the perfect gift

Image from Paul Stevenson

Image from Paul Stevenson

I’m sure the organised lot of you have already finished Christmas shopping. But often there’re one or two presents you’ve put off getting – and now Christmas is sneaking up. Usually its because we just don’t know what to get these people. Like what about your friend who “has everything”? Or your family member who “doesn’t want anything”?

So here is my last minute Christmas shopping hint for the difficult to buy for: work out what their love language is.

What’s a love language?

The Five Love Languages is a concept and a book by relationships counsellor Gary Chapman.

He expresses the idea that people give and receive love in 5 primary ways and that the dominant language for each person might be different. The best way to make a particular person feel loved (and after all that’s what Christmas gifts are about, right?) is to understand what that persons particular love language is and to communicate love in that love language. This may be difficult if our own love language is different to that of the person we’re wishing to give to.

So to help you out here is a summary of the love languages, how to recognise them, and how to shop for those in each:

1. Quality time

What it is: This person wants to spend time with you. And not just any time – time where you can connect, whether through conversation or doing something together.

Recognise: You’ll recognise this person by the way they make time for you. Do they ask you to meet them for coffee or dinner to catch up? Do they prefer to spend time alone with you rather then in a big group? Do they join you in activities you enjoy or ask you to join them? (e.g. gym buddies, running buddies, ask you to join them in pottery class, etc.)

Perfect Gift: Why not get them a voucher for dinner with you or to do an activity (this can be as simple as homemade, or as extravagant as go-karting – especially if go-karting isn’t your thing!). If it isn’t someone you’re particular close to, maybe you can give them a voucher to use with their spouse whilst you offer to babysit.

2. Words of Affirmation:

What it is: This love language is basically about hearing and receiving verbal compliments and affirmation. Spoken or written.

Recognise: You’ll recognise this person by the way they compliment you. How they express in words things they may be thinking about you. When they go out of their way to verbally affirm your actions or choices. (e.g. sending you a text message after a birthday party you organised saying what an amazing job you did.)

Perfect gift: To shop for this person, think about how you can verbally express what you think about this person. You can either choose a gift that compliments a skill you admire in them and then note it in the card. (e.g. you buy a do it yourself book for someone who is good with their hands around the house, and write a card which affirms their ability – “I was so impressed with the job you did painting the house – hope you enjoy many more projects with the help of this book!”) Or you can make them a present purely about affirmation – a home made photo album with messages, a journal of thoughts about that person, a box of 365 affirmations for that person to read one per day for the whole year (wonderful gift for a spouse and great exercise for you to appreciate them!).

3. Gifts:

What it is: This person loves to give and receive gifts, whether they be big material things, or small things that you’ve made. The key to gift giving for this person is that the gift has thought behind it.

Recognise: You’ll recognise this person by the gifts they give you and others. Do they always bring you a birthday present even when you have no party or no one else brings a gift? Do they bring back gifts from trips they go on? Do they give you something for no reason other than they saw it in a shop and thought you’d love it?

Perfect gift: This person will appreciate a homemade gift because of the effort involved in making it for them. But they’ll also appreciate a carefully chosen gift that shows you know something about them.

4. Physical Touch

What it is: These people feel most loved when they receive physical touch.

Recognise: You’ll know these people because they are the ones that give you the biggest hugs. If they’re your spouse, you’ll recognise they need to hold hands, touch you as they walk past you, or give kisses and hugs that seem to come out of no where.

Perfect gift: They will appreciate anything that shows you thought about them as long as it comes with a hug. If it’s for your spouse, you might want to give them a voucher for some alone time together, and arrange a baby sitter.

5. Acts of service

What it is: This person feels most loved when people do things for them.

Recognise: You’ll recognise this person by the acts of service they perform for others. Are they always cleaning, ironing, making lunches for their family? Do they volunteer to help you move?  When you’re sick or unable to keep up with chores do they come over and do some housework or offer to run your errands? Are they always fixing things around the house for you?

Perfect gift: They will appreciate acts of service in return. Offer them a homemade voucher for something they need or want done. Perhaps you can offer to clean their car, or run their errands. Or finish that sewing project you know they want done but never have the time to do. If you’re not sure what they need, just give them a blank voucher with the number hours you want to give them.

So…

I hope that’s helped! And if you have friends who might need a hand finishing their Christmas shopping, maybe they’d be grateful for these hints too…

Stay tuned for my next post about gift giving, coming soon…!

Question: What’s your love language? Are there other hints that you’d give about making people feel loved this Christmas? What creative gift ideas have you come up with in the past? You can comment by clicking here – I’d love to hear from you!

3 Books That Changed My Life

girl looking into sunsetIf you’ve read a few of my posts you may have noticed… I love books! I find nothing more therapeutic than sitting down with a good book and cup of tea. Which happens pretty much never. So instead I read when I can, how I can: on my phone as I pat my toddlers to sleep; in the car when I’m waiting for someone; in the evening while making dinner; or when I’m putting off cleaning the kitchen.

So how does this affect you? Well, when I come across something new and exciting and relevant, I’ll review it on this blog. ([see my previous book review]) But there are lots of great books I read before I started this blog. While I’m not going to review them all here, I do want to to tell you about a few.

The following three books literally changed my life – and I think they are a starting point for anyone.

CaptivatingCaptivating - by John and Stasi Eldredge 

This book gave me permission to be myself.

It articulated the deepest desires of my heart – desires I hadn’t even clearly identified before. In a culture saturated with false messages about what it means to be a woman, this book cut through all the lies to the absolute heart of femininity.

Warning: I am yet to meet someone who did not cry while reading this.

This book is for the ladies, but don’t despair gents, there is an equivalent for the men – Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. An absolute must read for every guy, every woman who wants to understand men, and every mother raising men. (And on that note, Captivating is a worthwhile read for men who want insight into the heart of a woman and fathers raising women.)

TOBforBeginnersTheology of the Body for Beginners – by Christopher West

The first book I read was Christopher West’s Theology of the Body Made Simple. There are many good introductory books to the Theology of the Body but this one by Christopher West is the one I read first, so this is the one that had the biggest impact on me.

Check my resources page for some suggestions – and unless you have some serious training in theology I would not recommend starting with the Pope John Paul II volume

This book explained to me who I am, what my purpose in life is, why I want what I want (relationship, marriage, children) and why I was so unhappy in previous relationships.

I read this book in one night and literally had a light bulb moment – when I realised I would never be the same. I made some serious decisions right there on the spot that have shaped my life ever since.

This book does a great job relating to and explaining our own feelings and desires for our lives instead of just telling us what we should be doing.

The Five Love Languages – by Gary Chapman 5LoveLangauges

An absolute must read for anyone who has any sort of relationship with anyone – whether you’re a child, parents, spouse or friend – you need to know about these 5 love languages.

I know people who’s marriage was saved because of this book. That’s how powerful it is.

It helps you understand how people express and feel love differently from you, and how if you’re expressing love in your language but they feel loved in another language something gets lost in translation.

It also teaches you how to speak the other languages to better communicate in relationships.

So, what about you?

I’d love to hear from you – what books have changed your life? Just leave a comment below. We’ll all be the better off for your sharing.

5 ways NFP improves your sex life

This week is Natural Family Planning Awareness Week. At least it is in the US. I’m not sure that here in Australia we’re aware enough of NFP to have a whole week dedicated to it. Maybe we need a NFP Awarness Awarness Week first…

Image from Leland Francisco

Image from Leland Francisco

Mums on Facebook

Anyway I thought it was an interesting coincidence that I happened to stumble upon a Facebook discussion by some local mothers about their sex lives. As a psychology graduate I’m fascinated by the information you can find about peoples private lives on Facebook. And thousands are spent on studies to find out the same stuff!

The conversation started with a mum who posted a link to a Huffington post article which talked about the sex lives of married couples. Apparently it was supposed to make married couples feel better about the frequency of intercourse.

It didn’t work.

The comments mostly went along the lines of “sex, what is sex?” “3 times a week? Try 3 times a month!” etc. Generally the comments were all about the lack of sex. And I’ve come across it a lot.

Couples on NFP

This contrasts sharply with conversations I’ve had with NFP couples. Rather than talking about a lack of sex, they’re more concerned with ensuring the number of days available for intercourse is as high as possible. (Couples not trying to get pregnant will abstain during fertile times). Quite a contrast to the women on Facebook who seem to have no problem abstaining for weeks at a time.

For a long time I’ve been hearing anecdotal evidence that couples who use NFP have more sex than couples who don’t. I’m not aware of any concrete study done in this area. But it did get me thinking about the reasons this might happen.

Why do couples who use NFP have more sex? 

Here are 5 reasons I think make a big difference:

  1. You think about sex all the time.

    The thing with NFP is, you need to chart everyday, therefore thinking about fertility daily, therefore thinking about sex daily.

  2. Your sex drive is unaffected by hormone tampering.

    I am amazed at how few people realise that a very common side effect of hormonal contraception such as the pill is a reduced libido in women. Sometimes this effect can be permanent even when you stop using contraceptives. With no hormone interference many women experience and increase in desire.

  3. You want what you don’t have.

    If you’re avoiding fertile times in order to postpone pregnancy the simple fact that some days are off limits increases your desire.

  4. You build a loving atmosphere.

    The whole NFP thing requires communication, requires respect for how each other’s bodies naturally work, requires putting the needs of the family above the primal urge for ‘sex now’, requires holding nothing back.

  5. You realise the power, beauty and importance of sexual intercourse for marriage.

    This is a big one, so I’ll expand…

So often I speak to women for whom sex is really at the bottom of the to do list. And fair enough if sex is just recreation or purely for pleasure.
But if you understand sexual intercourse as something that binds a married couple together, of course it’ll be a high priority. What’s more important? Getting the dishes done or building your marriage? (Of course sex isn’t the only way to work on your marriage but it sure is vital!)

So…

Where do you stand on the Natural Family Planning thing? If you’re married and not using it, I’d encourage you to try it out. Go to the Resources Page for more info.

Or do you have a friend who’s looking to be convinced to give it a go? Go ahead and share this with them.

How this one mindshift can change your life

Image from asenat29

Image from asenat29

I have some news for you. Yes you. You may not yet have discovered your true purpose in life.

You might be thinking “erm, well of course not. I’m not really sure I have one. Life is kinda…I dunno – is there any meaning to life?”

Or else you may be thinking, “I’m not sure I agree with you…I’m pretty set. I’ve got my job, I’ve discerned my vocation, I’m a wife, a husband, a parent, and child, a friend. I’ve got lots of purpose in my life!” That that may well be true. And so much of what we do and who we are in relationship with gives shape to our purpose.

What if?

But what if you haven’t found that vocation yet? What if you’re single and not sure you’re going to stay that way? What if your job sucks – what if your job sucks the life out of you? Do you still have a purpose?

What if things changed? What if the life you know and recognise slipped right from under your feet? Would you still have a purpose? What if your children are all grown up and your spouse has passed on and you are attending more funerals of friends then birthday parties? Do you still have a purpose?

Well yes!!

The thing is we all have a purpose in life. A single purpose that underpins everything else we do. Whether we are 5, 55 or 105. Whether we are single, married, celibate or just confused. We are all called to do something with our life.

We are called to make a gift of ourselves.

A gift of ourselves? As in put me in a box and tie a bow around it? Sounds a bit crazy. Well not quite.

What is a gift of self?

A gift of self is when we give ourself to another person in love. In this way we imitate God who is love. And love always gives.

We can make a complete gift of self in marriage where we gives ourselves completely to another person. But we can make a gift of ourselves in every moment by looking upon and treating others with love.

What is love? Love is wanting the good for another person. Practically this might mean simple acts of kindness: a smile, a hug, a coffee bought for our colleague on the way to work. It means giving of our time, our energy, our resources, our talents. It means choosing what is good for others.

How it will change your life?

1. You are never without purpose.

No matter where you are in life you are always called to make a gift of your self. This gives our lives purpose and meaning. Even if you’re stuck in a dead end job for a dead beat boss, there are still many opportunities for you to make a gift of self, even if the actual work you do isn’t fulfilling.

Even if you are experiencing crisis in your life, if the relationships you defined yourself by have changed, you are still called to make a gift of yourself.

Even if you think you have nothing to give. If you’re sick, bed bound, unable to be ‘of use’ to others – you are still a gift. Your life is a gift. And you can still offer it to those around you – even with something as simple as a smile.

2. You begin to understand your value as God’s creation.

Self esteem: it seems more and more people have less and less of it. Perhaps this is because you judge yourself by the standards of the world, where you should be judging yourself by the standards of God. After all, it’s God who created you. It’s God who knows your true value. It is God who loves you beyond anything you can imagine. Why look to TV, advertising, or even family and friends? Sure, sometimes they reflect to us what God wants us to know – but even family can get it so very wrong.

God made you. And he made you good enough to be ‘God’s gift to the world’!

3. It takes the focus off you.

You know the saying “it’s better to give than to receive”. Well it goes the same way for giving of yourself. The more you focus on making a gift of yourself, on loving others, the less you focus on what you’re receiving. And the less you think about yourself the happier you become.

So what do you think? Does this resonate with you? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Here’s one suggestion. Today, in the regular day-to-day happenings of your day, look for opportunities to make a gift of yourself. In the small things. What can you do?

Question: Come back here at the end of the day, having taken up the challenge… What did you do? What observable effect did it have on someone else? What impact did it have on you? You can comment by clicking here.

What my girly novels taught me about love

When I wrote this post I was eyeball deep in some heavy theology. Seeing as my brain was pretty much fried from all that reading, I put away my usual reading material for some easy fluffy chick lit. You know the kind: boy meets girl, love at first sight (even if they don’t realise it!!), cue obstacle, obstacle, obstacle. Against all odds they end up together and live happily ever after.

Sigh. If only life were that simple.

Image from Leland Francisco

Image from Leland Francisco

Patterns

But I am a firm believer that all our human expressions (songs, movies, books, tv shows) can teach us something about what it means to be human. And romantic novels are no exception. It was probably after my 4th or 5th novel that I realised a pattern. I had read a number of different authors so I was surprised to see them share the same pattern.

All the male characters had one thing in common (besides their devastatingly good looks – is there any novel where the guy just looks… well, you know… normal?) – they wanted nothing from the female heroine except for herself.

They loved her for being her.

Not for what she looked like. Not for what she could do for them. Not for how she cooked or how she took care of them. No matter what it cost them – moving large distances, losing their careers, ending friendships – they just wanted her. Because she, in herself, was worth it.

What’s the appeal?

It made me wonder about the wide appeal of these novels. Perhaps it’s the unconditional love displayed by these male characters. It tells us that deep in our human nature is the belief that we have worth. It tells us that we have a value simply for being ourselves, not just in what we can do for others. It tells us that we are worthy of love – the kind of love that asks for nothing back.

Perhaps this is the appeal of love stories – that selfless, ‘forever’ love exists. And we’re allowed to hope to find it. Perhaps that’s why we share inspirational stories of love on facebook (the wife who cares for her terminally ill husband; the husband who does not leave his wife after a horrific accident that leaves her incapable of taking care of herself; etc.).

You were made for amazing love

You’re longing for it. I am. We all are. Because this is the love we are created for. The truth is that selfless, forever kind of love does not just belong in books and movies and inspirational facebook links. This is the kind of love we should all experience in our everyday lives. We were made in the image of love, and it is love that we crave: real, authentic, I love you no matter what kind of love.

How do we find it?

The first step is to recognise that we deserve it. This can be the hardest part of all. When we recognise we deserve to be loved unconditionally, we turn to the One who always loves us unconditionally. Only then can we accept what love others may offer us. The love we find here on earth may not be perfect but it reflects perfection. We need to let God make up what is lacking.

So

Think about that the next time you read a seemingly fluffy love story. Why are you reading it? What’s going on in the story that you desire for yourself?

Question: What about men in real life? What does this mean for them? Is it an unfair standard for them to be expected to live up to? You can comment by clicking here.

Is it time to change our views of adultery and marriage?

A Huffington Post blog post by Lisa Haisha has sparked some discussion about monogamy and marriage. Lisa writes that seeing as recent studies show that 41 percent of spouses admit to infidelity (either physical or emotional) maybe we should ask, “Are we really supposed to be with just one person our whole life?” And if not, do we really have to get re-married five times? Are there other ways to view and do a marriage that will guarantee its success?

Image from Pascal

Image from Pascal

Just make it what you want it?

Lisa would like us to consider letting marriage evolve so that both partners simply agree on what their marriage will be: monogamous or not. She argues that this so called freedom to self define marriage is the “surest way to ensure a happy and healthy relationship.” But I’m not sure that it is.

What Lisa fails to grasp is the complexity of human psychology. The simple fact is that most of us can’t clearly define what we want. And often what we think we want is not what we need.

I’m sure you can remember times in your past you did what you thought you wanted, only to have it blow up in your face. Often it’s clear enough that your friends will be warning you of the pending disaster. (Like not being able to see you’re with the wrong guy)

Sometimes we need to trust that we don’t always know what’s best for us. And what may be best for us is not always easy. Monogamy in marriage may be difficult, sure. But the good in marriage can’t be reached just by adjusting the boundaries. (For the soccer inclined of you, have you ever tried moving out a goal post in a game of backyard soccer? How’d that go?)

Good stuff = Hard stuff

Most good things require effort and sacrifice. Just ask Mark Spitz who won 7 gold medals and set 7 new world records in the 1972 Olympics. But I’d suggest that marriage is a much higher good than a bunch of gold medals or sports records. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that a happy, fulfilling marriage is hard work. Even really hard work.

And over the course of marriage feelings will change. Desire for your spouse will fluctuate. But if you can work through this, what you’ve got is something precious. There’s no greater teacher of sacrifice and love than marriage. The lessons are not always easy – and can be painful – but the results are magnificent!

What can I actually do about it?

Firstly, you need to believe a long, happy, monogamous marriage is actually possible.

Lisa argues that long, happy, monogamous marriages are few and far between. That may be true but it also depends where you’re looking (let’s keep in mind here Lisa is a Hollywood life coach).

I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by many examples of just such marriages, proving to me that they are possible. Perhaps it’s time we looked to see what these couples are doing to make it work, rather then looking at all the couples who couldn’t make it work and deciding we need to redefine the boundaries so we don’t stuff up.

There are so many books written on the topic of successful marriage, and it’s not possible to cover the area in a blog post.

Engaged or want to be?

But I can recommend one way to start off on the right foot. If you’re engaged or thinking about getting engaged do a really good marriage preparation course – like SmartLoving Engaged. Not only are these courses fun, but what you’ll learn can literally make the difference between making it and breaking it.

Married?

If you’re already married or it’s been 5 years since you did any marriage preparation, experts recommend doing something to boost and enrich your marriage. You could do this on your own or, perhaps even better, go to a weekend away such as SmartLoving Marriage.

So

If you’re engaged or married, decide this week what it is you’ll do to make your married future great! And if you’re single, pick something hard to start doing this week that will get you in the habit of doing hard things to make good things happen in future relationships.

Question: What have you seen in a happy old married couple that you reckon is a reason they’re still happy together? You can comment by clicking here.

How Easter makes the impossible possible

I recently handed in a theology assignment on the theological methods of John Paul II. Don’t worry I wont bore you with the details here!  But a part of that assignment looked at the criticism theologians have laid out against John Paul II’s ‘Theology of the Body’.

Reading and researching these criticisms I found they boiled down to one thing: what John Paul II was proposing was just too hard! We are fallen human beings and we need a bit more lee way, right?

To them, (and anyone else despairing over the difficulties of authentic love) I say – don’t forget Sunday! Do not forget what has been achieved. For you. Or to quote Christopher West “Do not empty the cross of it’s power!”

Raising the Bar

When we look at Jesus’s words in relation to love and lust and marriage, so many times he seems to just be raising the bar. When the Pharisees point out that Moses allowed divorce, Jesus points out that it’s not the way it was in the beginning. When people feel pretty proud of themselves for not having cheated on their spouse, Jesus says, “well, if you even have a lustful thought you’ve already cheated!”

What’s going on?! Is Jesus just trying to set us up for failure?

The apostles certainly thought so. They decided it was probably better to not get married if it means you have to stay with the same woman your whole life! But that was before the cross, before the empty tomb.

The difference of Jesus’s death and resurrection

After Jesus death and resurrection, these same apostles marched gladly to their deaths and Peter (who denied even knowing Jesus three times) insisted on being crucified upside down. They gave up their bodies, their lives, to the one who gave it all.

We too can tap into the power of the resurrection, we too can give up our bodies, our lives, for love. Lay them down as a sacrifice for others. After all, no more can be give up then already has been – for you.

So…

So don’t despair! Pick up your cross (take on the struggle and challenge of living radically). And lay it down at the empty tomb on Sunday (recognise and experience the joy that comes from a life lived as it was meant to be). Don’t join the sad-sack theologians who complain that the higher calling is unattainable. Just live and love, knowing the freedom and capacity to do so has been bought for you by the love of God.

The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning [A Book Review]

I’ll be honest. I’m not always the biggest fan of NFP (Natural Family Planning). Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a fan of contraception either. It’s just that NFP is kind of like a computer. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need and your life is so much better for it, and sometimes it just kind of sucks.

sinners guide to nfp

An Exciting Find

So I was pretty excited when I read the blurb of ‘The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning’ by Simcha Fisher which amongst other things promises to ‘show what it’s really like to practice NFP’ and helps those who are asking…

“If NFP is so wonderful, why am I so miserable?”

Written with a witty sense of humour this book pretty much delivers what it promises: insight into real life NFP, practical ways NFP relates to your spiritual life, and pointers on how to get the most out of NFP. You’ll find questions answered that you didn’t know where to ask or were just too scared to ask at all.

Where the experience comes from

My only criticism would be that it’s a bit on the short side (only 127 pages). Yes, it’s a quick and easy read but sometimes it would be great to go into some of the issues a little deeper. However, keeping in mind Simcha is largely drawing from her own experience and of those she’s encountered, perhaps this is a task for someone with access to wider collective experiences, like a marriage counsellor. Any takers?

Reasons to read

NFP is not the magical solution to all your fertility questions. Like Simcha says ‘it’s the worst possible method, except for all the others’. So check out this book if:

  • like so many out there you have realised that contraception really, really sucks and have decided to give NFP a go
  • you are using NFP and have the overwhelming urge to burn your chart
  • you are using NFP and want to get the most out of it for your self and your marriage
  • you want to know more about fertility and God’s plan for you life
  • you’re grappling with the question of ‘how to be open to life’ and ‘what is a serious reason to postpone pregnancy’ (unless your hoping for a checklist because that you will not find here).
On a side note, if you are really struggling with NFP and finding that your ‘fertile days’ number in the teens, you might consider whether your chart is being managed well (by your practitioner) or whether you are using the right method for you. For more information click here.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. On top of it’s usefulness, I was literally laughing out loud a number of times through the book.

If there are any books you would like to see reviewed here please comment below or send me an email or Facebook message.

Question: I’d also love to hear your experience of NFP. Hate it? Love it? Found a way to make it less of a pain? You can comment by clicking here

The shortest summary of TOB ever!

Ok, so I’ll be honest. I don’t actually know if this is the shortest summary ever – I haven’t looked up every single summary of TOB to make sure. But it’s one blog post, which in TOB terms is very, very short.

So here goes, everything you need to know about TOB to know you want to know more…

 

Please keep in mind such a short summary of TOB is necessarily very simplistic, which TOB is anything but, so if you have any questions about a particular part you need to check out the original source.

What is TOB?

TOB stands for Theology of the Body. That’s the name given to a collection of talks (or more specifically, Wednesday audiences) given by Pope John Paul II between 1979 and 1984. (Actually JPII wrote the talks as a book first and when he told he wasn’t allowed to publish it he broke it up into talks (omitting some talks he thought might be too racey for a general audience) so if you’re reading the most up to date compilation it will include sections that were never publicly spoken).

It’s been named Theology of the Body because it shows how God is revealed through the human body.

What is TOB about?

The purpose of TOB is to explain the meaning and purpose of human sexuality and how to apply it in every day life.

In looking at the purpose and meaning of sexuality JPII examines:

  1. What we were created for – relationship with God and each other.
  2. What happens when sin enters the world – basically why we have so may problems with relationships with God and each other; and
  3. Why we dont need to settle for less than were were created for, even though sin has changed things. We can strive for true love and real joy! And with the help of Jesus, we can actually reach some measure of that love and joy this side of heaven.

JPII then looks at how we live this vision of love and sexuality as a celibate person, as a married couple, and specifically in relation to openness to life.

Whats the big fuss?

JPII asks us to look at our own experiences and those around us and compare it to what he’s presenting. This makes the whole thing incredibly accessible and incredibly powerful. Instead of giving us a list of dos and don’ts he asks us to look inside and see what it is we really want.

He asks us to look at our own experiences – If a stranger walked in on you in a shower block, would you cover up? Do you want to feel loved and looked upon with dignity? Do you ever feel used after sex? Do you think you should feel that way or is sex supposed to be more than that? Do you ever feel lonely? Do you wish you could share your life with someone?

The difference it makes

TOB explores some big ideas that will change the way you look at your life, like:

  1. You are made in the image of God who is love – this means you’re made to love
  2. You are made for relationship with God and others
  3. You are designed to make a gift of yourself to others
  4. We speak with our bodies, and so what we do with our bodies not only matters but communicates profoundly.

Is it a new teaching of the Church?

No. It’s not a new teaching, but it is a different way of understanding what the Church has always said. Church teaching grows and develops. This is one of those developments.

Check out more on TOB if you want:

  • answers to questions like  - “what am I created for”?
  • relationships that don’t end in tears, depression, and a bucket of ice cream
  • a marriage that lasts
  • friendships that are true and lasting
  • to understand your calling in life
  • to be a better wife, mother, husband or father
  • to understand single life
  • a sex life that’s fulfilling and free from worry

Where do I get more information?

Check out the resources page of this website.

So…

Next time someone asks, “What’s Theology of the Body anyway?” You can tell ‘em! Or just send them here. And I hope you find that past and future blog posts show just how beautiful and freeing this view of human sexuality really is.

Question: Are you content with how much you know about Theology of the Body? If not, what are you going to do about it? You can comment by clicking here.

Why you don’t know he’s bad for you

Most of us have either seen it or done it. The great girl who is going out with (to put it nicely) a guy who’s in need of some personal growth. “What does she see in him?” You ask. “She can do so much better!” “Why does she let him treat her like that?” Or that moment of enlightenment when the whole sorry event is finally over – “what was I thinking??!!”

Here are four reasons you may not see what everyone else does – he’s not good for you.

Image from Dave Bleasdale

Image from Dave Bleasdale

1. You’re having sex

Having sex with someone will make it difficult to see their faults. Even the writers of ‘Sex and the City’ know this one. This is because, during sex, a hormone called oxytocin is released. Oxytocin decreases a woman’s ability to think rationally, causes her to be forgetful and creates a strong attachment to her partner.

So oxytocin both prolongs your crappy relationship by making it harder to break up with someone you’ve attached to and blinds you to their true character, making it more difficult to see he’s no good for you.

Solution: Stop having sex. Clear your head. Get some distance. You need to assess this relationship without all the crazy chemicals. And if no more sex means he’s no longer interested – you’ve got your answer before you even started – he’s not good for you.

2. You think you have what you want 

Sometimes we want something so badly we convince ourselves that we’ve found it. And we’re too afraid of losing something that’s not right, preferring it to having nothing.

You might want to get married so badly you convince yourself he’s the one, and that those things bugging you about him are no big deal, that he’ll change, that he really does love you.

It’s not worth it. Chances are those doubts will not go away if you ever get him down the aisle (and that’s a big IF).

As scary as being single sounds, most would agree it’d be better to be single then in a destructive relationship. The fear of being single should not motivate you to settle for the wrong guy. You are worth so much more than that!

Solution: Get some perspective. Spend time working out what you really want. If it’s marriage, then think about what you’d like this marriage to look like. What kind of qualities do you want your husband to have? Write them down. Now compare this to your man. If he doesn’t measure up you know he’s not the one.

3. Formation 

Your choice of partner is influenced by so many factors you may not be aware of. A huge part of this is the way you were bought up.

My husband and I prepare couples for marriage using an excellent course from SmartLoving. One of the exercises couples do in this course looks at how the formation you received from your family interacts with the formation your partner received from his.

One of the areas is called “Compatible but Suboptimal Formation”. This is where your expectations and your partners match up because you grew up with the same expectation but this expectation is not good for you. For example, if both you and your partner grew up with a workaholic father, then both you and your partner may expect that work will always come first – but it’s not the best option for your relationship.

Solution: Take a good look at yourself, your upbringing – what factors are influencing your decisions when it comes to choosing a partner? Do you have some stuff to work through before you’re ready? If so, consider seeking professional help to work through it.

4. You’re in love

The ‘in love’ phase describes the early stages of a relationship where feelings of euphoria run high. During this time you have a hard time seeing the faults in your partner. Emotions are stronger then logic.

The problem with this is that this ‘in love’ period typically lasts about 2 years. After this you may not like what you see.

Solution: You may not be able to see it but it’s probably a pretty safe bet that your mum can, or your friends can. So check in with those who know you best and care about you. Maybe there’s something you’re not seeing. And if he does measure up, make sure your relationship can stand the ‘in love’ feeling fading. Check out The 5 love languages for some ways how.

If you’re still not sure about your guy, check out Chrystalina Evert’s Dump Him list.

So, if this is stuff you wish you’d heard or listened to earlier in your life, please share it.  Someone who needs to hear it – and is ready to – just might find the nudge they’re looking for.

Question: Have I left something out? What else gets in the way of seeing that someone’s not good for you? You can comment by clicking here.