wise love words: laugh it up!

Check out this great article about how a little laughter can be a completely normal and perfectly acceptable reaction in many sexual situations.

Click HERE to all of my "wise love words" posts.

honey, dear, & sugar lips: nicknames can improve your relationship

I love nicknames- cutesy ones, stupid ones, sensible ones, and random ones. I love 'em all.

Although many of my fav nicknames make sense (for example- I call one of my best friends "Mitchem" because it's her last name and we call our dog Mr. Chubbs "Piggie," "Fats," and "Pork Chop" because he's a little on the hefty side), to me, random ones (or ones that people can't quickly figure out the meaning to or that makes no sense at all) are especially fun. For instance, another best friend of mine is named Brandy. But to me, her name is "Branda-Bologna." Does Brandy really like bologna? I have no idea. Is there a funny story involving me, Brandy, and some delicious bologna? Nope. I just like the way it sounds. I said it one day and it stuck.

When it comes to the wonderful relationship I have with Hus, I have plenty of nicknames in my let's-see-how-much-I-can-embarrass-my-husband-on-the-Internet basket. From Boog to Hus to Malarky to others that probably should be left unsaid, I have a lot of pet names for the man I love. In return, he has many for me as well like Sweets, a few other unmentionables & the ever so popular Babe. All in all, we love calling each other these affectionate little monikers. When Hus calls me by one of these names, I smile. They make me feel loved and special.

Researchers have found evidence to support the notion that cutesy nicknames (e.g., puddin-pie & love-dove) and other secret terms or phrases (e.g., you may say "we've got to get the oil changed in our car soon Hubby" when you want to leave a party without anyone else catching on) intensify romantic relationships. You may want to resist these mushy idioms, but using insider language with your smoochy-poo can enhance satisfaction, reduce conflict, and strengthen the bond that the two of you share. As stated by Jamie Turndoff, Ph.D. and New York City relationship therapist, "Using nicknames and made-up language is an easy way to inject positive communication into everyday life." And, being positive with your partner helps to maintain your relationship.

Next time your friends tease you about how you always call your partner sweet-cakes, tell them that you're doing it to enhance your relationship.

Related Love Lesson posts:
For more information about this topic, see these resources:

just for the love of it: top 10 aphrodisiacs to enhance your sex life

While research has not yet revealed any real aphrodisiacs (foods that cause people to have better sex) in the aisles of your local grocery store, there are foods that "enhance aspects of the sensory experience such as sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing- which in turn can increase sexual drive or libido, improve sexual performance, and/or result in greater sexual satisfaction."

So, it's not the actual food that's intensifying your sex life. Instead, these sexy eats are stimulating your senses which accentuate the sexual feelings that you have with your partner. Then, those enhanced feelings help to improve your sexual experience. Basically, food can put you in the mood. Regardless of the actual process, enjoying these delectable meals with your mate will likely enhance your sexual experience in one way or another; so eat up!

1. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is packed with phenylethylamine and serotonin, which can make you happy, thus enhancing your libido when you're in the mood for love. Chocolate covered strawberries are even better because of the C vitamins found in strawberries, which can enhance your libido, and the rich red color, which is the color of love.

2. Bananas
These fruits entice the senses because of their phallic shape and their combination of potassium and b vitamins which boost the production of sex hormones.

3. Pomegranate
Pomegranate's rich red color stimulates the eye while it's antioxidant-rich properties help to increase blood flow.

4. Saffron
Saffron contains a chemical called picrocrocin, which has been shown to increase an individual's sensitivity to touch. Also, it's ability to work as an anti-depressant can help you get in the mood.

5. Coconuts

A recent article by Ong and Tan (2007) described two classes of plant-based compounds that increase the activity of testosterone in animals. One class includes a series of short chained fatty acids including caproic, caprylic and heptanoic acid. These fatty compounds increase the activity of testosterone. And coconut is a particularly rich source.

6. Wine
Alcohol definitely lowers your inhibitions. But, know that after one glass of wine, your ability to perform under the sheets (i.e. be coordinated or maintain an erection) is significantly lowered. Go ahead and open a bottle of wine with your romantic meal, but try not to finish that bottle before bed.

7. Vanilla Ice Cream
The scent and flavor of vanilla is thought to increase feelings of lust. In addition, the phosphorus and calcium in the ice cream can build strong bones (necessary for sexual activity) and maximize your libido.

8. Pine Nuts

Pine nuts are said to stimulate the libido because they are rich in zinc, a key mineral for maintaining male potency. Like most nuts, they also offer protective cardiovascular benefits and are especially good sources of thiamin, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

9. Asparagus

This vegetable is filled with vitamin E which can boost your libido. Coupled with it's phallic shape, asparagus is a great food to get you going.

10. Honey

Want more information? See the following resources:

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too much information: a theory about how & why we self-disclose

Yesterday, I was at the grocery store with Hus and our twins when a woman came up to me and said, "Awww, they're so cute. How old are they?" I told her that they were three months and then she proceeded to tell me that she had 5 week old twin girls. We talked for a minute about the usual things that I talk about when I meet someone who also has multiples. Their names, how much they weighed at birth, how much they weigh now, whether they were in the NICU, yadda yadda yadda. But then, out of nowhere, this woman told me that her nipples were killing her from breast feeding and she asked me if they would get better over time. I was baffled. She didn't know me from Sam and there she was, talking to me about her cracked nipples. I told her that I didn't know and quickly changed the subject. About a minute later I started to move away from her trying to indicate that I was done with the conversation. She caught on and we parted ways. Hus and I continued to shop. On our way toward the check-out lanes, we stopped at the baby section to peruse the clearance racks. Gasp! There she was again. But this time I wasn't the victim of her inappropriate self-disclosing. Instead, she was talking to another random woman about her sex life while being pregnant with twins. "My belly got so big that the only way we could do it was..." Yikes! That was all I had to hear to make a break for it. Hus and I quickly ran to the front of the store.

There are a variety of communication and psychological theories used to explain how and why individuals self-disclose. Unfortunately, none of them are able to explain the type of inappropriate self-disclosure I experienced last week. Instead, most theories of self-disclosure focus on communicating information between two individuals who are involved in some sort of relationship with each other (i.e. friendship, romantic relationship, work relationship, etc). Altman and Taylor’s (1973) social penetration theory is one of the most prominent self-disclosure theories in academia.

Social penetration theory (Altman & Taylor, 1973) explains how self-disclosure plays an integral role in the development and deterioration of close relationships. At its most basic form, breadth and depth of disclosures, along with perceived relationship rewards and costs and amount of reciprocity, influence how fast or slow the penetration or depenetration process takes place. Specifically, social penetration theory claims that as a relationship progresses and as rewards within a relationship increase, communication exchange between two individuals also increases in both breadth and depth in order to subsequently increase feelings of intimacy and closeness within their relationship.

In social penetration theory, breadth can be explained in three ways. First, there are breadth categories, which involve the number of topics individuals reveal or discuss with their relationship partners. Second, breadth frequency is concerned with how often a certain topic is discussed. Lastly, there is breadth time, which refers to the amount of time one spends interacting with their relationship partner. Social penetration theory claims that the number of breadth categories may be high at the beginning of a relationship, yet as a relationship grows, breadth frequency increases within each breadth category. For example, when Alaina and Anderson first met, they may have discussed many different topics including their education, hobbies, and their families, indicating a high number of breadth categories. In this early stage of their relationship, the two may only reveal their siblings’ names and ages when discussing their families. However, as that relationship progresses, Alaina and Anderson may begin to discuss their families more frequently, indicating high breadth frequency within their “family” category.

Depth, on the other hand, refers to the intimacy of topics individuals discuss with their relationship partners. As relationships progress, individuals tend to discuss more intimate aspects of their lives and personalities with each other. For instance, on their first date, Alaina and Anderson may discuss very superficial topics such as where they grew up or what they studied in college, whereas once they have been in a relationship for 3 months, they may begin to share more personal aspects of their lives such as their political or religious beliefs.

Altman and Taylor (1973) further explain that interpersonal rewards and costs also influence the social penetration process. Interpersonal rewards and costs refer to the positive and negative aspects of a relationship. “The greater the ratio of rewards to costs, the more rapid the penetration process” (Altman & Taylor, 1973, p. 42). Additionally, the magnitude of rewards and costs must also be taken into consideration. For instance, Alaina may think that her new boyfriend is very funny and she likes the way he calls her every night (2 rewards), but she also is not physically attracted to him (1 cost). The penetration process in this relationship may be slowed down due to the importance (i.e. magnitude) that Alaina places on being physically attracted to her mate. Even though there are more rewards than costs, the magnitude of the one cost may prevail when determining how fast or slow the relationship develops. The beliefs that people have about potential rewards and costs in the future of their relationships can also affect the penetration process. Back to the previous example, if Alaina believes that she is never going to be physically attracted to her new boyfriend, and being physically attracted to her mate is very important to her, the penetration process will likely slow down or even stop.

Reciprocity of disclosures is another important aspect of the penetration process (Altman & Taylor, 1973). If one relationship partner discloses information and the other partner fails to reciprocate, the penetration process could be delayed. Likewise, the intimacy of reciprocity can also influence penetration. For example, even though Alaina and her friend Violet disclose the same amount of information about their families to each other, if the intimacy of their information is not at the same level of depth, the relationship may develop at a slow rate. Alaina may feel that Violet is not disclosing at the same intimacy level as her because she does not like her, which could lower Alaina’s motivation to interact with Violet.

When discussing the deterioration of relationships, Altman and Taylor (1973) hypothesize that this process is just as systematic as the process of relationship development. Depenetration, therefore, is hypothesized to occur in reverse of the penetration process. “Interpersonal exchange should proceed backwards from more to less intimate areas, should decrease in breadth and volume, and, as a result, the total cumulative wedge of exchange should shrink” (p. 174).

To sum, social penetration theory focuses on how communication, specifically the use of self-disclosure, affects relationship development and deterioration. Social penetration is a process, in that it moves from one stage to another. Breadth and depth of disclosures along with reciprocity and perceived relationship rewards and costs influence how fast or slow the penetration or depenetration process takes place.

So, if building a relationship is the main goal of self-disclosing, why do strangers, who usually have no intent of starting up a new relationship, sometimes self-disclose their deepest darkest secrets? Why did this woman feel the urge to tell me about her breast-feeding problems and another woman about her pregnancy sex life? The world may never know.

Related Love Lesson Posts:

  • Altman, I., & Taylor, D. A. (1973). Social penetration: The development of interpersonal relationships. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
  • Taylor, D. A., & Altman, I. (1987). Communication in interpersonal relationships: Social penetration processes. In M. E. Rolloff & G. R. Miller (Eds.), Interpersonal processes: New directions in communication research (pp. 257- 277). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Vangelisti, A., Caughlin, J., & Timmerman, L. (2001). Criteria for revealing family secrets. Communication Monographs, 68, 1-27.

book i love: sex comes first

One of my favorite fellow love bloggers, Wendy Strgar, recently wrote a book review for Sex Comes First: 15 Ways to Save Your Relationship Without Leaving the Bedroom. I was intrigued. So I bought the book on amazon. This is a great book!

Here's the description provided by the authors: "There’s a lot that gets in the way of a happy relationship—work, jealousy, and communication issues, just to name a few. However, one thing definitely brings a couple together: sex. Relationship experts Dr. Joel Block and Kimberly Dawn Neumann teach couples how to use sex to build and strengthen their relationship. This new approach shows couples how to use sexual intimacy to conquer obstacles outside the bedroom. The authors identify fifteen of the most common problems couples run into and offer their sexual solution to each one. Sex Comes First will leave everyone satisfied—in every way possible."

Click HERE to read Wendy's review and HERE to but the book online.

Click HERE to read about other "books i love"

wise love words: a mother's excess control hinders dad's role

Last week, I briefly wrote about how to avoid gatekeeping when parenting to minimize conflict in your relationship. Since then, many of you have emailed me expressing interest in this topic. Check out this article that takes a more in-depth look at this popular issue. When you're done reading that one, check out this one and this one to get some tips on how to avoid gatekeeping in your relationship.

Click HERE to all of my "wise love words" posts.

monday morning survey: emotional connection survey

In the beginning of most relationships, it's usually rather easy to develop a physical connection with someone. The attraction that you feel with this person, coupled with novelty of a new relationship and feelings of excitement, usually allow for some hot-n-heavy experiences. The difficult part comes when you try to create and maintain an emotional bond with your new partner.

Connecting with your significant other on an emotional level is vital to maintaining your relationship. Luckily, Dr. John Gottman has developed a survey to measure the emotional connection that you have with your partner. Click HERE to take his Emotional Connection Survey.

Click HERE to take another one of my "monday morning surveys."

new baby = new relationship problems

Being a parent is tough. Whether it's your first child or your seventh, it’s stressful. Believe me, I know- I have twins. With all of the diaper changing, holding, feeding, burping, rocking, shhhh-ing, and worrying that takes place in those first few months, your relationship with the person who created this tiny human being with you may begin to suffer. It is vital that you do not let this happen. I know, you now have this overwhelming desire to spend every-waking moment staring at, talking to, talking about, playing with, and caring for your new bundle of joy. And you should- to an extent. You still need to work on your relationship with your partner-in-crime, you know, the guy who got you into this mess in the first place.

Unfortunately, the ugly truth is that having kids can end relationships and ruin marriages. The stress from all of the new responsibilities and the hours and hours taken away from the alone time you once had with your partner can put a serious strain on even the healthiest of relationships. The best way to avoid the many issues that will most definitely arise is to not put your relationship with your significant other on the back burner. You’re going to have to figure out how to use both proverbial front burners- one for your baby and one for your partner.

Try out some of the suggestions below to maintain and maybe even intensify your relationship after a baby.

Take a Time-Out

I know it will be difficult, but try not to let your new little angel take up all of your time. Not only do you need time alone with yourself (which should be more than just your weekly shower), but you also need to continue to spend quality alone time with your partner. Whether this means that you put the baby in the other room and cuddle on the couch for an hour or recruit a family member to watch your offspring so you can have a romantic dinner for two, try to take a time out for you and your partner at least 1-2 times a week. Even a simple walk around the block without your child will help you continue to develop your bond. Your relationship will thank you down the road.

Avoid Gatekeeping

Gatekeeping is when one parent (usually mom) takes control of the care giving and household chores. She then (either consciously or unconsciously) limits dad’s involvement by preventing him from caring for their child (“It’s okay, I’ll do it”), criticizing how he cares for their child (“That’s not how you change a diaper”), or failing to encourage him. Try not to tell your partner how he should or should not care for his child; bite your tongue. He may not have the same knowledge about newborns as you, but he’s perfectly capable of figuring it out. Make sure that he knows how much you appreciate him and compliment him when he does something well. Studies have found that this will not only enable him to be more involved, but it will also decrease conflict in your relationship.


Humor has been shown to be a significant predictor of satisfaction in relationships (Bazzini et al., 2007; Ziv, 1988; Ziv & Gadish, 1989). Try not to take this new adventure so seriously; laugh about the mishaps you experience instead of worrying about them. Believe me, there will be a lot to "laugh" about in the coming weeks. From getting peed on by your little boy to spilling 3 ounces of pumped breast milk on the floor, there will be moments that will make you want to scream and cry; try laughing instead. In addition, laughter can easily break any tension that you and your partner may be experiencing. In fact, research has shown that jokes that facilitate your relationship or reduce tension are extremely effective in conflict situations (Campbell et al., 2008). Teasing and sarcasm, on the other hand, should be avoided during disagreements.

Mess with the Routine

Researchers have found evidence to support the idea that engaging in new, interesting, and exciting activities with your partner are very beneficial to your relationship (Aron et al., 2000). Routines are great (especially with a new baby), but always knowing what’s going to happen next can become monotonous and boring. To help avoid this problem, try to spice up your life every once in a while. To do this, you could go for a walk in the afternoon instead of the middle of the day or surprise your partner at work with lunch. You could also get a babysitter and go out on a unique date or cook a special meal together. Big or small, messing with your daily routine from time to time will help keep things interesting in your relationship.

Related Love Lesson Posts:

  • Aron, A., Norman, C. C., Aron, E. N., McKenna, C. & Heyman, R. E. (2000). Couple's shared participation in novel and arousing activities and experienced relationship quality.Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 273- 284.
  • Bazzini, D. G., Stack, E. R., Martincin, P. D., & Davis, C. P. (2007). The effects of reminiscing about laughter on relationship satisfaction. Motivation and Emotion, 31, 25- 34.
  • Campbell, L., Martin, R. A., & Ward, J. R. (2008). An observational study of humor while resolving conflict in dating couples. Personal Relationships, 15, 41-55.
  • Ziv, A. (1988). Humor's role in married life. Humor, 1, 223- 229.
  • Ziv, A., & Gadish, O. (1989). Humor in marital satisfaction. The Journal of Social Psychology, 129, 759- 768.

100th post giveaway: the results

For the last few weeks, I held a 100th post giveaway contest. Well, the results are in. And the lucky winner is... PANTS! There were a total of 270 jelly beans in the glass. Pants made the first and closest guess of 267.

Pants, all you have to do is send me an email (jenslovelessons@gmail.com) with your mailing address & shirt size. Then, the first Love Lessons t-shirt will be on it's way to your house!
For the rest of you, thanks for submitting your guesses. Check back frequently for more Love Lesson giveaways and contests.

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