Sunday, 8 July 2012

Menopause: leverage the drive for change

I’m growing into my shoes! Yes, truly, just like those Great Dane puppies with enormous paws, I’m growing into the promise of me and becoming something that is quite miraculous.

I no longer feel anxious at work – yes that took a long time. A symptom of peri menopause – the time in which the hormones run down and then stop – is anxiousness 

and depressionThe black dog walks only occasionally- on a lead and mostly under control ….


My brain works better – as Andreas said – you have the best academic credentials among us – WHY ARE YOU NOT SUCCESSFUL!!! Yea, yea, yea … menopause, menopause, menopause … and iron and B12 deficiencies…. and chronic lack of ambition and career management. All a thing of the past and that increment in cognitive capacity and tad more memory really, really helps!

I can dress up and look sophisticated and pretty – yes REALLY awesomely AWESOME!! I have the hair, the clothes, the shoes, the makeup and the confidence to do it!!! YES – Me, Me, Me!!

I can write a sex & relationship blog and have noted and esteemed bloggers praise and recommend my work. YES – I, Candice Wing, am a sex blogger with over 4000 hits to my site!!!     

..then there are the people I’ve met along the way who have freely shared their knowledge and who I am proud to call my friends. Truly EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE who I would never  have met except for the internet.

…AND perhaps because of the above, I’ve finally cracked the code of attracting men - REALLY, really nice men, successful professional men, are attracted to me!

The lesson from all of this? Menopause is a time of great change – of rabid desperation and great adjustment - leverage your disatisfaction with the status quo to create positive change and build a miracle out of the ashes of your life as it once was. Out of chaos create something REALLY, REALLY GOOD! 
There is light behind each petal as the sunset shines through this lovely rose from Ellis's garden

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Menopause & chemical free hair colour enhancement

Summary: Indian herbs are a wonderful way to hide silver highlights in dark hair. Silver hairs become copper coloured and hairs with faded dark pigment become darker and light up with reflected light! It’s WIN-WIN!!

One of the deteriorations in my looks that happened in the last couple of years is an overall reduction in the natural pigment of my hair coupled with loss of shine and bonus silver highlights and silver hairs that are dry and spiral into the air so as to be super prominent. NOT A GOOD LOOK!

Coincident with the pigment issue was a chorus of advice to CUT MY HAIR. I guess the advisors pictured a short elegant cut, wonderfully styled and beautifully coloured.  I’d of course make good use of a straightening iron to put in the right flatness and waves!   

Look around – you’ll see short, boring utilitarian cuts on 50+ ladies. That is all I can afford. Those lovely hairstyles are the result of paying lots of money very frequently to a stylist and taking the time to maintain the style at home. I’d rather be a greying lady with a bun than a “I’ve given up on looking sexy lady” with a short cut. NO. NO. NO.

Also, the chemicals involved in colouring hair would likely give me a nasty rash….

THERE IS ALWAYS A SOLUTION. This is what Awesome says. I started researching colouring hair naturally. There are heaps of methods, but I can only tell you of my <successful> journey so far!

I naturally have dark brown hair and wanted to at least get back to shiny dark brown hair.

I started with henna because it’s the easiest to buy. I purchased the best and freshest pure body art henna I could find (Premium quality indian henna powder from Ravi Imports in a silver foil 100 g pack) – at All India Foods Woolloongabba. Those guys are wholesalers, so I expected their goods to be freshest (and cheapest).

I mixed the henna with generic brand lemon juice to a soft paste – after about 1.5 days at room temperature I could see the orange dye seeping out and tried it on a washcloth and then on a sample of hair from my hair brush.

WARNING: Try any thing you use out first on a sample of hair rather than on all your hair!

WARNING: Commercial hair dyes combined with commercial herbal/chemical mixtures can cause nasty hair destroying reactions. Always check the ingredients and preferably use pure herbal mixtures, even if you have to mix them yourself.

Note: Don’t use henna for hair because it has less dye. Only use pure body art henna powder.

Note: You must see the orange dye coming out of the leaves. It will not colour the hair if it has not soaked out of the leaves.

I used 50 g henna plus 20 g amla for my long and somewhat thin hair. I cut it with 1/3 cup hair conditioner to get extra volume. The cost of the materials was therefore about a dollar.

NOTE: Henna stains material, so wear old clothes and use an old towel. Also, use gloves to make sure your hands don’t end up orange for days!

It was easier than I thought to apply the ground leaf “mud” to my hair. I hung my head with moistened hair over the bath. Henna is sticky so it clung to the hair. I pushed the mud in at the front, lifted the back third to access the middle and then covered the back bit from the back. Finally I covered the remaining long hair to the tips.  The sticky henna ensured I could arrange the hair on my head and easily encase it in a plastic shower cap and old towel. After that I did household tasks for 4 hours before washing it out in the shower using warm water only.

As indicated by my test, I ended up with orange highlights and red-brown hair which deepened in colour over the next few days. It looked heaps better than before and I noticed a lot of other ladies had achieved similar effects, probably with chemical dyes. Further dying intensified the colour and made my hair more red/orange. Now my task was to achieve a darker brown!

To darken my hair I’ve been doing the same as I did with the henna but using a combination of henna (red & conditioning), amla (conditioning), skikakai (cleansing) and brahmi (darkening). The henna is steeped separately with lemon juice and the others made up with warm water. They are all left to soak and extract the active ingredients for a couple of days, then mixed together with hair conditioner. I leave them on my hair for 30 minutes and do so twice a week instead of shampooing.

I seem to be achieving darker hair with more true red highlights! Nobody mentions cutting hair anymore!


First dying trial with henna mixture only - after (left) and before (right) - flash used to take photograph, note it's really hard to get true colours so I settled for same lighting conditions

Monday, 7 May 2012

Menopause and breasts

Menopause can bring substantial and startling changes in the breasts – so let me tell you a little of the story of me and my breasts. I tell it in the hope you can leverage the knowledge for your good or that of someone close to you.

When they first appeared I found them inconvenient – they split my nicest dresses at the arms, bounced and were painful. Sheesssh! Bras were uncomfortable and chaffed to the point of torture – why do people think seams rubbing on one of the most delicate areas of the body is a good idea????

Note: Some people, both men and women, have very sensitive breasts and nipples and some do not. Forcing someone to wear a rough material (or indeed a silky, sensual material) can be torture or at least elicit inappropriate sensations.

ANYWAY – for roughly the next 30 years I did not think much about my breasts except to ensure modesty and to make sure they did not hurt. I appreciated them for being small and pert as I did not need to wear a bra and generally they kept out of the way. It did not really occur to me that breasts could be attractive to men. Yes REALLY!

Then came incipient menopause. First my breasts lost some density. I was shocked, but tried to think positively. They were still pert, I could still wear my tailored blouses and actually as they gained a little swing, they looked bigger! BONUS! By now I realised men were REALLY attracted to breasts!

Then as my hormones finally stopped, my breasts suddenly slumped and slipped down my chest – since the change was so sudden it was more shocking. I am sure my nipples are 5 cm lower than they were. I can no longer wear many of my tops without a bra. I was DEVASTATED! Cue real grieving!

Note: It is truly alarming and there is real grieving when a part of your body changes/deteriorates so much. It is natural to grieve and feel desperate and sad and willing to do anything to get back what you have lost. Rather than do something irreversible in desperation - like with anything – it’s best to wait a while and work through your feelings.

So now I have a choice – wear very camouflaging top garments to hide my sagging breasts or wear a bra! Goodness – the struggle continues to find bras that will not chaff and which are comfortable. Added to the usual complaints, my less dense breast tissue does not hold the bra down so well, so inevitably the band slips up over a little of my lower breast tissue and as well crushes some of the tissue on the side of my breasts. This can be UNBEARABLE! <sigh>

…time has passed ….

Even though I may be uncomfortable when I choose to wear a bra, I’ve developed a much more positive attitude to my breasts as they are now. They are still soft and nice to touch and they still look great with the right undergarments. They even seem to be a little larger … and … best of all, Awesome still likes them just as much. Really, I’ve got nothing to complain about!

Note: Lovers and partners are really important in maintaining one’s self esteem and self-perception of attractiveness. Be patient and listen and also know when to short-circuit obsessive concern with body changes that are natural and, well, not so important in the big picture. Above all, if you find us attractive, we’ll be more likely to believe we are attractive! 

Two orchids of suprising beauty!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

In praise of friends with (social) benefits (again)

 The Love of My Life is not in town - apologies sent and accepted graciously – but still I am alone on a long weekend. Billy like the gallant soul-twin-knight he is came to my rescue to escort me to an iconic festival. He’s dating currently, so I was happy he had time for me!

Really – I am so thankful for Billy and need to mention again the importance of platonic friends.

So many older people are alone and particularly older men may have no-one to hug them and look after them. There is so much value in questioning and rejecting social norms that insist on alienation and social isolation.

Billy and I are maintaining a framework of social connection and support that should continue right into our golden years and which will not depend on being lucky enough to be in a happy marriage with a living partner (who also happens to be in town). 

Peace and happiness to all ... 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

(Sexual) innovation and menopause

My 40s were perhaps my most innovative sexually – I read widely about sexual practices and was always the one with the new ideas. I thought endlessly about different ways of having sex.

ANYWAY, one of the things I missed post menopause was the loss of the drive to discover and accomplish new things sexually. I no longer felt as driven to read articles on sexual technique and if we did the same thing time after time, I was very happy.

BUT…the other day I realised I was reading widely on relationship development and was dreaming about closeness and connection.

NOW … post menopause - I am driven to explore and innovate in the areas of intimacy and sensuality. I'd just not recognised my focus had changed!
A beautiful and unexpected flower - ornamental cardamon!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Innovation = great sex!

It just struck me that great sex at any age and particularly as one grows older is about the ability to innovate to overcome problems and find mutually satisfying solutions.

During the fertile years birth control is a salient problem, especially as one feels more driven to have sex during ovulation.  There are many methods to identify the days when pregnancy is a risk. I just measured my temperature and checked for fertile mucus.

Fertile mucus is sticky like egg white.  Sperm can live in the mucus for many days, so the fertile time begins when the fertile mucus appears. The fertile mucus disappears just after the egg is produced and the egg only lasts a day, so declare the fertile period finished 3 days after the fertile mucus disappears. Thus, one needs to be careful of pregnancy for only approximately 8 days out of each cycle.     

With some innovation one can have great sex during ovulation without unnatural birth control.  The key point in ovulation sex is that the sperm must not find an unbroken path of fertile mucus (produced by the lady, the sticky egg white like stuff) leading to the egg. Thus, unprotected penetrative sex during the fertile time is not a good idea as even with the withdrawal method, some semen may seep out into the vagina.

This leaves manual and oral sex, using sex toys and other innovate tactics . I won’t go into all the details, sufficient to say be careful where the semen lands and ends up. Clean up immediately before cuddling to make sure accidents do not happen. I have no objections to condoms, so my preference was to use them during ovulation and again clean up carefully.

I think cessation of sex as people become older may also be related to lack of innovation and lack of willingness to solve problems. One can have great sex even without an erect penis or a working vagina! Crumbs, sensual pleasure is possible without any sex (or libido) at all!  

Note: Dr Dan would like to say at this point that issues with sex are often related to other health problems and can be early warnings of things like heart disease. So please see your doctor if you have pain, malfunction or lack of libido issues which impede your ability to have sex or enjoy sex. Even a lack of interest can be a hormone issue. Many of these health conditions can be remedied cheaply and easily.

Really, all this lack-of-sex-suffering is mostly an inability to think (and work) outside the box! 

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Living in a world of couples ….

When I was younger I did not notice the world was filled with couples and that one’s social group tends to be determined in part by one’s relationship status.  

Within social occasions there seem to be niches tailored to the target group, so if everyone is partnered, it’s hard to fit in without a partner. For example, if you are going to a wedding – you need to bring someone of the opposite gender, except if you are gay and then the same gender is acceptable.

Another key issue for a lady with mostly male friends is that once the male friends get married, they tend to be wary of showing friendship to a lady, let alone a single lady!  

So how do you avoid looking like a lone predatory seabird sitting on a rock? How do you avoid unsettling every married woman (or man) in the room? FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS, THAT’S HOW! No, not that kind of benefit silly! I mean social benefits. You need a selection of socially acceptable people you can invite to partner you at weddings and other social events.

Awesome is very busy and often away on business, so I’ve cultivated a stable of male friends with social benefits. Billy may attend lectures and seminars if they are of interest to him. Ellis will attend social events and Nelson has specifically offered to attend weddings - after seeing my social plight at Ronaldo’s wedding.  FIXED!  

…..and as I write this I am reminded that the world of the older single is sooo different from the world of the married person. We should take this into account when arranging social functions so singles are not further socially isolated. 

Usually I don't photograph people - but on a recent trip to Moreton Bay I was struck by the beauty and meaning of the combination of people and landscape ... and as I look back at those photos I see the family groups, the pairs of friends and the lovers - and morose singles sitting alone ...  

Friday, 6 April 2012

No longer serving longer term goals, turning to new experiences …

Today I went to see a national league football match at the biggest stadium in Brisbane. It was AWESOME! This after a sports car club rally on a previous weekend! 


For most of my life I’ve planned and worked to make the family stronger. It takes at least 6 generations for a landed country family to do really well - six unbroken and quality links in a long chain. 

From a very young age I’ve endeavoured to lift my link above the income level at which families become richer rather than poorer - to provide a substantial foundation on which the next generation could build.

Then the disastrous marriage!  I’m by nature loyal and diligent – in this case losing rather than gaining attributes. It is too late to try again. There are no children. There is no future - only the now.

It’s taken many years of grieving to accept a necessary change in direction. Other branches of the family still have the chance to achieve greatness.  I’ve broken my particular side chain and there is nothing I can do except play the hand I have dealt myself as best I can. Hence, enjoy the now!


When Ronaldo and his wife offered two free passes to their corporate box, I leapt into action. Awesome is away and Billy is not into football so I bundled up old pal and colleague Ellis and off we went!

The photos don’t capture anything like the ambiance and excitement of the event. We took the free bus full of hopeful and happy fans to the venue – so much fun and excitement building!

My first glimpse of the playing field through the portal of a door to a corporate box was massively impressive! It looked so green and so close! 

The players were sooo fit and sooo graceful as they warmed up on the field. Aussie rules players are truly the best examples of Australian men! Most appeared over 6’4”! 

As we left the stadium, Ronaldo’s glamorous and very classy wife complimented my hair and new blouse! Can life in the “now” get any better? 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

The importance of dressing well for men!

I commented on Omega’s site and quickly received a comment on my comment, so thought I might rework it a bit and publish it here, so here goes ….  

Presentation is SO important for MEN and women! For example, when women are checking out men re – relationships, they pick up on social clues, some of which come from grooming and presentation.

I keep trying to work out why Billy is girlfriendless – he’s well off, smart, caring and very creative. He’s a wonderful writer and heaps better than me. He’s also extremely cute and my hero!  I expect his clothes just don’t give the right messages.  

I’d advise any man to dress stylishly and suitably for his build and activities with consideration for the social cues so provided.  However, when it comes to men’s clothes, I know little ….

NEVERTHELESS … the aim of this blog is to provide insights and advice based on my experience! So I will try …  

I’ve improved my wardrobe and presentation from a low base and I will try and draw some lessons for men.

Firstly, I must say it’s a journey – due to the need to build skill and resources, it takes time to gain your goals and those goals tend to shift. In fact, you may become aware of grooming matters you never thought existed or mattered.

Secondly, you need to be always scanning for ideas and opportunities to buy good stuff cheap, e.g. if you know what you need and can appear on the first day, sales and closing down sales provide massive opportunities for buying classy stuff cheap. Recently a classy menswear chain liquidated – even dinner suits were going cheap! I am so peeved Billy would not take a look and also that he’s resisted the preparation step of going around checking what’s available, at what price and what suits him.

Thirdly, vintage and secondhand can represent a chance to do something good for the environment, charity and yourself. I am always scanning outlets and even e-bay. Check out items carefully for faults and evidence of local vermin. I always wash my stuff carefully before bringing it into my wardrobe.

Fourthly, tailored looks great especially if you are a large man or non standard shape. If I was able to afford it I’d go overseas with Billy and get us both some tailored suits, work gear, shirts etc. Once you are there, in the right country tailoring is a cheap and sensible alternative to buying off the rack.

I’d like to note how important it is to try things on – buying online can be a bit of a trap without being able to see how things look on. Also, you may miss opportunities because some things can look plain on the hanger and nice on you. It’s fine just to set aside some time and go try stuff on. Often you may end up buying something and indeed, it may be a good tactic to aim at buying say a shirt, but try on a range of stuff for the experience. That way the shop gets something from all the effort to serve you.

And —oh— one of my friends dresses a lot from those adventure and outdoor stores. Oh goodness he looks good. He’s tall and athletic and the clothing just tends to set that off! On the strength of that I bought a pair of microfibre trousers and a shirt – I must say I looked like a girl park ranger rather than a film star (as he did), but they are handy for bike riding and hiking …

ANYWAY…good luck with the grooming and presentation! I believe with a little effort and luck we can look better rather than worse as we age!   
Talking of presentation ... this pink dahlia is so fabulous!! Do you see the Australian native bee?

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Menopause: from pretty to frumpy to elegant and classy

As hormones change, sun and gravity have their effect on our bodies, our appearance tends to change – some say deteriorate. Peri-menopause and the period around when my hormones finally stopped were for me times of rapid change and a lot of angst and upset. However, after a period of grieving I've tried to move on the best I can - with the support of the man in my life .

Neville said of his ex-partner whom he saw the other day after a long time – “She has not aged well…frumpy…puffy.” The lady is wealthy and available, but never seems to keep a boyfriend. It’s not just her looks that sabotage her relationships and anyway, there is a lot more she could do to attract and keep a nice man.

Another older man told me with tragic sadness of the lost great love of his life “I watched her change (from a very pretty, young woman)”.  He’d still be with her today if that was possible. He keeps telling me of her quick intellect, their compatibility, the way the chemistry between them never died and of course how stylist and elegant she was and how hard she worked to maintain her appearance. From what he says, she worked very hard to be a better person in all aspects of her life.

So here is the clue to maintain one’s attractiveness – working to be the best possible person one can be and aiming for classy and elegant. This cannot happen overnight and is more a journey than a destination.

Identifying areas of personal improvement, learning to be more professional, correcting toxic relationships and building accomplishment take a long time. One needs time to learn about make up and clothing, to change one’s style, to lose weight and become more fit and to purchase the make up, shoes, accessories and clothing required.   

My tactic has been too pick off key areas one at a time – make that change routine – and move onto the next area of improvement. Key strategies I’ve put in place include using oestrogen cream, vitamin A and vitamin E to stop my facial skin looking papery and wrinkly, using henna to colour my greying hair and changing my presentation to more classy and elegant by buying more suitable and better made clothing and footwear.

…and a note of caution …I don’t think heroic efforts to restore one’s appearance are necessary or key to maintaining the attention of one’s partner. At some stage it becomes an advantage to “age gracefully”. If appearance is so very important to him or her, you are just putting off the inevitable with radical cosmetic surgery etc. Sooner or later they will wander off after some pretty young thing – it would be better for you that they do this earlier while you have a better chance to find someone really nice who will last the distance.
New Hornibrook Bridge March 2012. A long bike ride to get to the other side - but possible through the support of a good and faithful companion.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Myth busters: women advise others to be unattractive to raise their own attractiveness rating

This one has been annoying me for some time….

I see wide acceptance in US blogs of the urban myth that women advise other women to dress / present themselves unattractively to raise their own comparative attractiveness to men. It goes something like this – a woman cunningly advises another woman her short hair cut etc is attractive and suitable for her, knowing the hair cut etc is not attractive to “men”. The first woman then appears comparatively more attractive.

There are sooo many holes in this belief you could drive a road train (freight truck with many trailers used in outback areas to transport all manner of goods) through it!!!!!

As usual, I write from the point of view of a mid life woman.

 Firstly, there is no acknowledgement of the reasons women compliment each other!  The main reasons are to start a positive conversation or reinforce the self-esteem of the other woman. There is no way a polite good-willed woman is going to tell another woman she is unattractive, too fat etc! We choose a positive aspect – say a nice blouse or hair colour we like and talk about that.

As I observe, women are largely community-minded, cooperative people who want to keep good relations with others and help other people be the best possible people they can. We don’t go around undermining other women.

Secondly, the context of the compliment is totally ignored. At work and in most social interactions we are seeking to be stylish, make the best of ourselves and above all be appropriately presented. It is not our goal to dress to attract men – especially in the work situation. Our compliments to other women reflect this context.

Note: most mid life women I know are married or not seeking a male partner. Why would dressing to attract men be top of our collective minds? We are not competing for men within our social group.

As an aside – older women dressing provocatively have been cited for sexual harassment by male colleagues. Also, as you age, certain provocative dress styles just ... look …well, even more inappropriate at work. We sometimes talk of what is appropriate or not. Our priority is to be professional and dress in a manner that is acceptable in the situation – looking sexually alluring is not a priority!!       

Thirdly, all these people who propagate the myth are assuming mostly heterosexual women know what heterosexual men find attractive. Apart from the obvious – e.g. low cut blouses and ample cleavage on young women – it’s all a bit of a mystery, especially when we suspect the males we really admire are past tarty public displays of legs and breasts when choosing that special someone for a life partner.    

I don’t think I have to say a PERSON cannot have any clear idea about what exactly a particular other PERSON will find sexually attractive! As Awesome said, some slobby  men want their partner to dress down to their level while other men want their partner to be elegant and classy.How can a third person know this?

Fourthly, by our 50s we have pretty well worked out there is no absolute standard for beauty and attractiveness and no longer feel driven to be fashion victims. We just want to keep our health and do the best we can with what we have got. We know we are so damn lucky compared to others and how the photos of models in magazines are highly airbrushed. Also, importantly, we know there is more to beauty than mere appearance! Do you really think we want to use our compliments to other women to reinforce some false standard and attack their self-esteem?

So, to sum up, women in my orbit are not interested in encouraging other women to be less attractive to men to ensure their own relative attractiveness is boosted. We have a vastly different agenda and speak and interact in a totally different context. If you want to find out what is attractive to men or a particular man, observe their reactions or ask them or him what you should wear or how to do your hair. It's very simple really. 

I am really blown away by pink sunsets and other natural atmospheric effects - but that is just me!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Unconditional love without conditions – a life limiting belief – LOSE IT

Note: In Clarissa and my opinion, addressing this belief is important to both maintaining the health of a functional relationship and also making the best of a dysfunctional relationship.  

In this post I speak from experience and try to create some advice for myself and other people. Please note I don’t have experience or qualifications in a relevant field, so you need to think things through yourself and decide on your own approach. If things blow up - you need to take responsibility! 
I suggest a new term “life limiting belief “. It’s similar to “self limiting belief”, but is a belief about life rather than oneself and one’s own capabilities.

The two co- related life limiting beliefs I address are:
1.      People naturally regulate their own behaviour.
2.      Marriage means unconditional love – you give everything and do everything for the spouse no matter what they do for you or for themselves.

I argue, if you really love someone you should help them become the best person they can possibly be and this may mean speaking out, working with them to achieve improvements or eventually withdrawing your support if your support is reinforcing their dysfunctional behaviour or seriously reducing their quality of your life. In some cases, when all other avenues are exhausted, you may need to threaten divorce.  However, I hope that a sensitive proactive approach will mean coercion is never needed.  

1.      People naturally regulate their own behaviour.

It may seem pretty obvious, but I took a long time to realize that many people don’t self-regulate – they need other people to motivate and even coerce them. Also, in general behaviour that is rewarded is reinforced. Hence, if your partner crosses a serious boundary or fails to make an equitable contribution, and you don’t call them on it and keep on rewarding them for the undesirable behaviour, they will continue to do it and even become worse.

Note: You need to be sensitive to the situation when addressing behaviour and demanding your standards are met. Some people are ill or for some reason cannot achieve a standard, e.g. a woman in menopause may not be able to keep up with both her job and housework or and may not be able to lose weight however much you threaten her. Also, someone who is clinically depressed cannot just ‘buck up’ and may need support to seek treatment.     

On the other hand, strong self-regulators respond very badly to attempts to tell them what to do and even worse to coercion. Of course they need to respect your boundaries, and most likely will because they know how affronted they are when someone crosses their boundaries – Billy is a strong self regulator and has laid down his boundaries firmly!! In these cases, when absolutely necessary, you need to make them aware of your needs and situation and make suggestions as to their behaviour based on firm evidence while firmly setting and defending your own boundaries.   

2.      Marriage means unconditional love – you give everything and do everything for the spouse not matter what they do for you or for themselves.

The first thing I did when considering the feasibility and desirability of unconditional love is wonder what God wanted. I’m not an expert theologian – so I put two thoughts in front of you – Does God love unconditionally? Would he create a structure where by someone could exploit and abuse someone for life? Would God create a situation whereby someone could develop and be rewarded for very bad and sinful habits? I think not! Perhaps people with expertise in this area could comment.

Given the above discussion on self-regulation and rewards reinforcing undesirable and dysfunctional behaviour, you can see how unconditional love can create serious issues for both parties.

Let me provide my example - my ex had to quit work due to illness. I should have suggested and possibly pressed him to seek medical help and then to make and implement a plan to rehabilitate and enter the workforce – at a level appropriate to his capabilities of course. Instead I thought he would organize himself and I worked harder, made more money and did all the housework even though he was at home all day. I spent so little time on myself my appearance suffered, I put on weight and I did not have the clothes and shoes I required to keep up my professional appearance. He on the other hand became fat, depressed, sicker, lazy and addicted to video games. He still complains about lack of help and support - so you can see misplaced "best efforts" and self sacrafise can be totally unappreciated!

As the partner with the greater capability and the stronger internal locus of control, I would argue it was my role to make him aware that he was not making the best of his life and that he needed to work and contribute if we were to make something of our lives together and reach our goals. If he put in insufficient effort while I was Miss Nice Mouse, I should have moved to harsher measures to kick him out of his complacency and spur him to action.  

Note: Exhaustively gather information and carefully formulate a strategy, including consideration of and control of risks (i.e. risks to them and you and any vulnerable others arising from the strategy or their response), before you bring up sensitive issues or try to force a dysfunctional partner to change. For example, if they are suffering from an illness, you should seek medical advice.  

So the summary – we should encourage our partner to be the best possible person they can be and as well police our own boundaries and have high expectations for the behaviour of all our family members.  If we believe in “unconditional love” and thus accept and reward laziness, irresponsibility and downright bad behaviour, the dysfunctionality will continue and likely get worse.  This is not the right thing to do and also it is unlikely God would think it a good idea!
Have high expectations and reach for the impossible - this dramatic flower grows tall and reaches for the sun against a clear blue Brisbane sky!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Advice for those in unhappy marriages...coming soon!

BJ commented on a previous post -  
Society, at least the highly Puritan/religious fundamentalist influenced one in the United States will go with the assumption that if you continue to be married you're happy. They'll decry the divorce statistics of how approximately 50% of all marriages end in divorce. But they omit the fact that the 50% who remain marriage a good portion of those people will never have a happy coupling with their spouse. And through finances, generational or religious guilt will not even consider divorce.

The only answer you will get is to get counseling. But many if not most will not have a sexless couple back smoking up the sheets or bear to be around their spouse. No one really speaks to couples like this if you can truly call them couples anymore. You're like the crazy Aunt locked up in the basement or the homeless person on the street you ignore. Or the soft-spoken introvert at a party. They're invisible.

Well exactly BJ! Here too in Australia. Clarissa is an expert on this being terminally married to a very poor match. I was contracted far too long to a very poor match!  

ANYWAY …Clarissa and I have been mulling over advice that could be provided to people living in these permanent incompatible relationships, so be ready to see some posts if we can get past the menopause/post menopause haze to write and edit them!

This hardy iris shows how to shine in the rain ...

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Lose the labels that are not helping you!

It seems to be a part of current culture to label and categorise things and people. Even pornography has a plethora of very specific genres!

Just as we are losing some of the class consciousness and racism in society, and equal employment opportunity seems to be catching on, we are inventing new labels to ‘explain’ why some people may be less successful at work and in relationships.  It goes something like this “I’m a <blah> and therefore never attract this <high class> type person”.   Or “I’m a <blah> and therefore I will never be successful”.

I’m not going to mention any of these labels because they annoy me at a very basic level. They represent limiting beliefs and acceptance of things that are not meant to be. They also represent dodgy thinking. One is where one is because of real reasons which can be addressed. Yes, there is a certain influence of random events, but we control what we think and how we react.

Don’t be persuaded to base your identity on a label that degrades or limits. Don’t make being a failure, loser or victim your point of difference. Don’t act and dress for failure. Take the journey – lose your negative and limiting labels and beliefs and be the best possible person you can be!
There’s no definition of a perfect body (or mind) – make the best of what you have got and call that wonderful and awesome!
Dramatic baby gumnuts, not faded flowers.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Should there not be a market for advice on how to manage a marriage based on irreconcilable differences?

I’ve been talking this over with Clarissa and we believe there is a huge gap in the market. There is heaps of advice on how to “mend” a broken marriage with the assumed goal of rebuilding a marriage-style relationship. Take for example Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life – it focuses advising men on improving attraction and therefore increasing the frequency of sex.

There are heaps of people who are married – who are not having sex, will never have sex, are not best friends and can barely tolerate each other. Their task is to eek out a purposeful and at least tolerable life often within difficult circumstances.

So let’s weed out those who face transient or solvable problems, such unemployment or illness, or indeed menopause – we are left with a hard core of people who have irreconcilable differences, yet experience such high barriers to divorce, that they feel they have no choice but to remain married. They know the relationship is permanently over. Who advises them?

A rose grows in hard ground, assailed by aphids - yet provides pleasing blooms that brighten a streetscape of neglected rental houses...

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Does divorce make you happier?

The press release for:

Does Divorce Make People Happy?
Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages
By Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley

Contains the following quote:

Why doesn't divorce typically make adults happier? The authors of the study suggest that while eliminating some stresses and sources of potential harm, divorce may create others as well. The decision to divorce sets in motion a large number of processes and events over which an individual has little control that are likely to deeply affect his or her emotional well-being. These include the response of one's spouse to divorce; the reactions of children; potential disappointments and aggravation in custody, child support, and visitation orders; new financial or health stresses for one or both parents; and new relationships or marriages.

What have I observed?  Some marriages are really, really horrible and thus anything is better! As one friend mentioned – “I would not have divorced if the situation was not so terribly awful”.  Curiously, in two marriages I know of, one party seemed to suffer more than the other and did not agree that divorce was necessary (this is consistent with the findings of the quoted study).

I believe some people have higher expectations and needs from marriage and thus they are more likely to be the unhappy party – e.g. a higher need for affection, friendship, intimacy, sex etc. Perhaps the other party has another focus, say work, and the marriage relationship contributes much less to their satisfaction with life.  

Loneliness and alienation, followed closely by leaving home and financial issues, appear to be the matters most likely to make the divorced people I meet unhappy.   

I met some really decent men when I was dating. They believed the right thing to do was divorce and then find a new partner. Before the divorce they thought it would be a very easy matter to find a new and wonderful relationship. While some people get happily settled quickly, others take years to settle into a new relationship. Hence, MASSIVE loneliness!   

Non-custodial divorced parents cannot even rely on their kids for company and affection as they may see their children for only a very small amount of time. There may be no more dropping them off to school, driving them places, helping them with homework or just seeing them around the house.

For a single man, used to living in a warm family home, a room in a boarding house or a flat can be cold, impersonal and lonely. Renting rooms is a cheap way to deal with financial challenges, but one may have to deal with surly fellow tenants and lack of security of tenure. Teenage students can deal with boarding houses much easier than middle-aged men still getting over a traumatic relationship and separation and grieving for a better life lost.   

Now I’ve also met some men looking to form a new relationship while married so they don’t have that awful “single” time and enjoy some comfort while they wait for the kids to grow up. On paper that looks like a good strategy – but they face huge challenges finding a good match because really suitable ladies simply won’t entertain such an arrangement.

So does divorce make you happier? Well for some people it does and for some not. It can remove one from truly awful and unhappy situations, but one also has to work really hard to re-establish happiness, it usually does not just happen! .  
Moving to that sweet spot in the light can be so hard, especially when surrounded by darkness ...

Saturday, 21 January 2012

One day I woke up and the black cloud had lifted

I’m sharing this to provide hope to ladies and their partners, just as someone did for me….

....the background …even for a positive thinker, menopause can be very wearing – it just seems like the nightmare goes on forever!  

I’ve only ever heard, second hand, one lady say the nightmare can go away – it’s such a pity positive stories are not shared!

Most people just grumble about the negative impacts or NOT TALK ABOUT IT! In privacy ladies whisper about the hot flushes, sleepless nights and their brains turning to mush.   

One lady, a stranger, told me quietly, that her friend woke up one day and was herself again – from one day to the next! 

I would not say my change for the better was overnight – but certainly over a matter of weeks I noticed an improvement in memory, cognition and energy. This coincided with a cessation of cyclical libido changes.

Now I am not back to my old dynamic, unstoppable, superwoman self, but I have HOPE and I can leverage the extra energy, cognitive capacity and memory to work towards my goals and it is making a noticeable DIFFERENCE.

Ladies – don’t give up! There is an end. Out of the blue you will wake up and know you can be capable, smart and attractive again! Hold onto that thought and keep praying!

Hugs :-)
One day there will be buds and then there will be sunshine ....

...and the lids on the buds will lift and there will be so many bright and wonderful opportunities!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Delayed divorce due to care for kids, not mid life crisis or leaving to chase younger fertile women

There is another reason why marriages break-up in mid-life and its not primarily because men dump their now older and infertile wives in favour of younger, fertile women!  

Andreas – a long term friend and mentor and also a discussion partner on relationship topics points out men often stay for the children, then leave once the children are old enough. This would tend to happen for couples aged between 40 and 60, depending on when the children were born and perhaps with a peak around 50ish. Hence, the man might leave just as the wife was menopausal or post menopause.  

I’ve had men confirm they are staying with their wives for the sake of the children – in some cases, the wife has not been able to care effectively for the children and the father is the primary care provider.  

So we have goodly numbers of men leaving their wives just as they are starting to age noticeably due to oestrogen reduction. It would be oh so easy to construe this as “mid life crisis” and “younger women” and to of course blame the man. As Andreas observes “the wife then finds the reason of a younger woman, to make herself feel better -- so she doesn't have to accept that she did nothing (to save the relationship during those long years he stayed around and tried to patch things up for the sake of the kids)”.

To quote Andreas: “It is very popular to blame the man for everything.  But in my very limited observations, I'm not sure this is particularly fair. The man gets nothing but grief at home and when he looks elsewhere, he is blamed for the break up.”  Now of course, this could cut both ways – but we are focusing here on debunking the myth that mature aged men leave their post menopause wives because they have lost their physical attractiveness (and fertility).

SO ….  if your marriage is good, a rocky menopause will test it, but with good management you should get through it successfully and retain your loving relationship. If your marriage sucks, then you have a choice between making extra efforts to save it or accepting that the time to break-up is approaching and it has nothing to do with looking older or even perhaps with menopause, but a lot to do with the relationship not meeting your or your spouse’s critical needs.

Note: menopause can amplify or add to conflict and unhappiness within a marriage and provide the final impetus to separate and divorce. You need to study and understand what is happening and if necessary seek medical help. Don’t assume a woman has the ability to “buck up” or deliver what seem like reasonable outcomes. She may need her partner’s support more than ever to get through a very challenging period of her life.    

Sometimes life sucks in many ways at once - like this solitary bee that insisted on selfishly stuffing his legs with pollen and nectar while showing me his magnificent behind.