Q: How can a couple resolve issues over the frequency of sex? My wife would be content making love once a month, which doesn't come close to satisfying me. Which one of us is "abnormal"?
Jim: The first thing to understand is that there's no such thing as "normal." Research shows that there's a wide range among couples as to the frequency of sex, and individuals can differ radically in terms of their sexual desires and interests. That's why many couples clash over the question of how often they "should" have sex.
Here are four points our counselors encourage you to remember in this area.
-- Every couple is different. Such subjects as gender, individual expectations, developmental maturity as a couple and cultural differences all have an impact.
-- Quality precedes quantity. This doesn't mean that either spouse has an excuse to avoid the bedroom. Instead, it's a call to excellence. Once intimate communication begins to grow and needs are satisfied, increased frequency usually isn't far behind.
-- There's a time to serve. Sadly, the realities of our broken world can leave one or both spouses needing special consideration. Sexual trauma, abuse, addiction, abortion and disease can affect our sexuality in profound ways. Recovery is often slow, requiring patience and understanding from both spouses. It's also important for a husband to understand and show sensitivity to his wife's reproductive cycle and other unique physiological needs.
-- Be intentional. Impulsive, spontaneous sex can be great, but it tends to fall by the wayside as jobs, mortgages and children enter the picture. If you give your spouse only the leftovers of your time and energy, neither of you will be sexually satisfied. Planning a time and place for intimacy seems anything but intimate, but the lack of negotiation can lead to lack of fulfillment.
Q: My kids are 5 and 7. We monitor what shows they watch on TV, but now it's the commercials that are undermining our efforts. If we turn the TV off during an ad, it just feeds their curiosity and leads to cries of, "Turn it back on!" What's the solution?
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Plugged In: I'm a firm believer in the digital video recorder, or DVR, an incredible piece of technology that can help families navigate media in several ways. For instance, it can help us record only family-friendly programming. With it, we can pause live or recorded TV to discuss something we've just seen, and turn it into a valuable teachable moment. Plus, it can help us fast-forward through commercials and other unnecessary TV moments such as, in my opinion, sports halftime shows. We're all busy people, so why waste time watching commercials and mind-numbing programming?
Unfortunately, even highly offensive ads can air during some "family friendly" shows or relatively innocuous sporting events. Who needs that? I suggest using a DVR to record everything your children might watch. Then train them -- even at ages 5 and 7 -- to fast-forward through the commercials. Show them how to do it. It won't take them long to catch on. Not only will your family members steer clear of sleazy and troublesome ads; they'll also turn a 30-minute viewing into a 22-minute endeavor. Who couldn't use the extra eight minutes?
As a side note, consider setting a rule in your home that requires your children to read for an hour to receive a "coupon" for 30 minutes of television viewing. That way, they'll get to watch TV occasionally, while getting twice as much exposure to worthwhile reading.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.