More Sex and Less Happiness

Posted: 21 June 2014

Playboy BunniesIf you want a good insight into the state of a nation’s happiness keep an eye on sex and relationships. While health, education, defence and the economy are the standard priorities of most governments, beneath the surface of those rather generic pursuits are the hearts and desires of actual people, from the greatest to the least. On our business cards we may be teachers, plumbers or lawyers, but in the privacy of our own lives we are individuals who have varying degrees of success relating to other individuals. And my premise is that we are failing – absolutely abysmally – in our priorities and methodologies regarding sex and relationships.

As a first thought, witness the incredible rise of online dating. In Australia, a country with only 22 million people, the two most popular dating websites claim to each have 2 million members; allegedly 51% of the population has either tried online dating or would consider doing so. Alongside this search for love sits the rise of couples moving in together, and this is not necessarily as a pathway to marriage but increasingly with marriage not even considered a possible future reality. Directly corresponding to the rise of cohabitation is the fall of marriage rates, the two lines intersecting sometime in the 1980’s as they headed in their new directions. Perhaps it is little wonder that marriage is taken up less frequently when the example of good marriages continue falling. More than one third of marriages are ending in divorce and the figure rises to sixty per cent for second marriages. After the divorce, floods of individuals head back over to online dating sites to begin again the search for ‘someone special’.

And flowing through all of this is an era and society that has never been so carefree about sex. Any ‘consensual’ sexual action between two or more people is not only tolerated but – as is seen in the case of the vocal gay lobby – it is often applauded. A dating relationship without sex is almost deemed to be no relationship at all. Pornography has become an addiction and is estimated to be a $14 billion per year industry with 25% of all search engine requests being pornographic. Our free sexual appetite though is costing us dearly. Rates of sexually transmitted infections are skyrocketing (and even normalised in government health campaigns), while the use of antidepressants has doubled since the year 2000. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you willing to forgive?

Posted: 19 February 2013

As human beings we are an emotionally fragile bunch. That however is not a bad thing. Indeed, it is our emotional state that most readily separates us from the animal kingdom. We perceive love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness and fear, and we can deliver those positive or negative emotions to others in the way we act. These negative emotions when given or received, hurt, and can hurt very deeply. The old school yard response to bullies runs, ’sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me’. It may be a cute rhyme but it’s not true. What affects us most deeply is not the physical insults that come our way but those which offend us on a personal level. To have a trusted friend betray us hurts. To have a sibling insult another sibling hurts. These hurts are very real and they do not easily dissipate.

Society has some plan as to how to deal with physical insults. Courts and prisons are full of people who have caused physical hurt to another in some way. This is not the same with emotional hurt. Sometimes we will be initially unaware that our words and actions (or our response to those words) have offended another. Even those who are most careful may still at some point offend another person. There is no shortage of friendships and families that have broken down because deliberate or indeliberate offence has occurred. These delicate situations are not easy to resolve because all parties may, to some extent, have hurt another by their actions, choices or words. Recall the parable of the Prodigal son who offended his father by taking his inheritance to indulge in a wasted life. In time he returned truly sorry for his actions and his father forgave him but the one person who could not forgive was the older brother who had remained at home always faithful. In the end, by his anger, the older brother became as guilty as the younger. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I Decided Not to Move In With My Girlfriend

Posted: 2 May 2012

I have been going out with my girlfriend for almost three months and thankfully all is going very well. I was filling in a friend on this news the other day and at the end of the conversation the person asked me, with a face of anticipated excitement, “Will you be moving in together”? I was initially surprised by the question as I imagined it was obvious to most people I know where I would stand on such an issue. However I guess that it is no longer ‘obvious’ why a young dating couple would decide not to pack their bags and find a place together. Let me explain then why I have decided not to share a bed with my girlfriend.

Cohabitation prior to marriage is well and truly the most popular path for young couples. Just over 75% of couples now live together prior to marriage and for many of them it is something they slide into rather than necessarily consciously deciding upon. When he or she begins to spend more nights at the other person’s house than their own, eventually it seems natural to stop paying two lots of rent. Read the rest of this entry »

How well do you know your Family?

Posted: 11 January 2012

Welcome to 2012! Did you have a restful break from work…or did you have a break at all? Did you know that at the end of 2011, Australian workers have stockpiled 129.6 million days of annual leave! It matches the recent conversation I had with a man who admitted that he had not taken annual leave for three years even though he has a young family. His response as to why, was that he liked being at work and would not know what to do otherwise (I guess that if one had not taken a break for that long, one may forget what to do with the time).

This does make me wonder though, why we are not taking breaks. It is good that we like our work but why are we not going home? Could it be that it becomes easier to be at work than to engage with the family?

In our homes and amongst our families we also have work that must be done and it is not mowing the lawn or tidying the house. The real work is the work of building up a community, a place where love is received by each member of the family and a place where each member is able to give love. Read the rest of this entry »

Winning at the Dating Game

Posted: 27 November 2011

Dating someone is tricky business. It is a bit like playing poker, we do not want to reveal our cards too quickly, yet if we hold onto them for too long the correct moment can pass and the game might be lost. In both dating and poker there is always a risk factor involved. If you never sit down to play a game of poker it is absolutely guaranteed that you will never lose a game of poker, however, it also means you will never win a game of poker. Similarly if you never allow yourself to enter into a relationship with another person it is absolutely guaranteed that you will never be hurt by the other person, but of course it is also guaranteed you will never share in the joys of a relationship.

While there is always the risk of getting hurt in a relationship it is possible to live out a relationship in a way that both minimises the risk of hurt and increases the likelihood of discerning whether or not it is a relationship that might be a keeper. Everything really comes down to prudence, which in modern times has sadly been reduced to being overly cautious. However, prudence is the pivotal virtue which gives us the ability to know what actions are appropriate for us in a particular time and place. Prudence is very much ‘practical wisdom’ for daily living. Read the rest of this entry »

Not a faith of rules but of perfect love

Posted: 25 September 2011

For many of us – myself included – we can say easily and without much thought “I trust in God”, but in reality how many of us really do, and to what extent? There are some beautiful words from Christ in chapter seven of Saint Matthew’s Gospel:

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your son asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him.”

These are the very words of Christ, the Son of God and God Himself. They should fill us with great hope. If we cannot believe these words deep within our being, then there are no words we can believe. Admittedly, these words are not easy. Yes, they are easy when everything is going as we desire but when life turn sour or when our plans tend to differ from God’s, it is then that we face the temptation to turn and walk our own way. Essentially all sin and all vice is us deciding to walk our own way. It is us not trusting that God’s only desire is to provide for us out of His love. Read the rest of this entry »

Love, not Hate

Posted: 23 September 2011

It seems that everywhere I look there are people who are going out of their way to annoy me! People who insist on driving at 70km even though the limit is 90km. People who have personal phone conversations on the train. People who chew with their mouths open. The list could take up this entire column! There are situations, however, that are beyond ‘annoying’, situations that can affect us in serious ways.

I was recently speaking to some friends who run a franchise business and the franchise director is really making life very difficult for them, to an extent that it is affecting their ability to run their business. The director tells lies, is obnoxious and rude. More than just affecting business, though, when we encounter people like this it can adversely affect our happiness. We begin to boil on the inside, it consumes us at work and at home, we begin to hate the person and are led into personal sadness and depression. These sorts of situations will play out for all of us in different ways through our lives but how can we respond? Read the rest of this entry »

Bucks Parties: An Opportunity for Men to Step Up

Posted: 22 September 2011

My good friend (let’s call him Tom) got married recently and in preparation for this joyous occasion the customary buck’s party was organised.

We were informed that this particular event was to be held in two parts: The day events would include a round of golf, lunch and a game of bowling; the night event would include a selection of more ‘adult’ activities.

While golf and bowling are rather tame activities in and of themselves, they did involve Tom being dressed in a blonde wig, a frilly pink dress and being obliged to carry around a life size, blow up doll all day.

To add to the excitement, during the travel to the various destinations, the hired mini van had been well equipped with a number of sexualised games and activities for both the groom-to-be and his fellow travellers. Read the rest of this entry »