YOUR MARITAL HEALTH/SEX AND PROBLEMS OF DAILY LIVING: INSTITUTIONAL INSANITY: THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF SEX

Well, as far as I’m concerned, we will never have sex again. You know why? Because we aren’t. I mean, we don’t exist. There’s no us. The insurance company says so. I wrote to them and they said we never were insured with them. I guess I have been sending bills to outer space for these last eight years, then. They are slowly driving me insane, but I could never get into a mental hospital. I either don’t exist or I don’t have insurance to cover it. One or the other.

INVISIBLE HUSBAND

Most institutions seem to be able to accomplish only with gross inefficency some of what they are designed to accomplish and with remarkable efficiency the exact opposite of what they are supposed to accomplish. Schools cause what some researches refer to as’ ‘pe-dogenic illness,” actual mental or physical health problems related to just being in school. Hospitals cause what are referred to as “iatrogenic” health problems, negative effects on health due to being in the hospital. Telephone companies struggle with “disconnections” even though they are supposed to help us connect, reach out and touch somebody. Car companies produce “lemons,” banks issue “false statements,” and most recently our national government reportedly has been dealing in what some politicians call “disinformation,” even though our entire democratic system is based on information.

The only strategy currently available to couples to cope with institutions is to reduce the number of them we deal with and to learn to play by the rules of the ones we must deal with. It may not sound at first as if keeping careful, accurate records has much to do with sex, but only by organizing your own files regarding the complexities of daily living will you be able to free yourself from distractions that can lessen sexual activity and enjoyment.

In the counseling program, couples were taught to do a monthly joint review. The stress of year-end or tax-time record organizations can overpower any sexual interest. The small-step approach helped the couples feel a sense of control over the endless record-keeping and required institutional-response requirements, and such control removed some of the pressure and distractability from their intimate relationship. One afternoon each month, both spouses readied themselves for the frustration of re-creating the past four weeks of activity. Sharing the responsibility reduced blame and guilt, and

the monthly adjustments eliminated year-end panic that resulted in family arguments, accusations, and feelings of carrying too much of the burden.

The couples also were taught to share all record-keeping responsibilities. At first, this task was awkward and led to arguments about whose style of organization was best. With practice and patience, the mutual approach took pressure off the marriage. It also lessened the fear of having to deal with such issues alone for the first time should something happen to the partner.

Unless you attend to and plan together for the never-ending institutional requirements of daily life, they will rob your marriage of the opportunity to relax and enjoy itself. A small-step, shared approach worked well for the thousand couples.

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