THE NEGATIVE SIDE OF HABITS

There is an old joke about a couple that are having problems in their marriage because of the husband's lack of sexual response toward his wife. He goes to see a therapist and their sexual life dramatically improves. He refuses to answer his wife's questions about what happened in the therapy sessions, but she notices that he always leaves the bedroom shortly before they make love. One night she sneaks out of the door behind him and carefully creeps down the darkened hallway where she sees her husband standing mumbling to himself. As she gets closer she sees that he is staring eyeball to eyeball at his own reflection in the mirror and as she gets closer she can still make out his mumbling and she hears him saying over and over, "she's not my wife, she's not my wife…"

Unfortunately, there is a grain of reality in that story which is why I suppose it seems funny to us. Several years ago cardiologists obtained a new device that allowed them to equip a heart patient with a miniature recorder for heart activities which can be worn for 24 hours at a time. This device made it possible for cardiologists to have for the first time a complete pattern of heart activities in a normal day's activity cycle. One of the questions pertained to whether or not sexual activity was too stressful for cardiac patients. What they found was that sexual activity was no more stressful than "a casual walk around the block" UNLESS it occurred with someone to whom the cardiac patient was not married. Then it could be stressful to the heart.

Is this evidence that the old adage that variety is the spice of life is actually true? Well, kind of. However, it is not evidence that marital infidelity improves sex lives. When we separate the various elements involved here, what we come up with is evidence that changes in behavioral patterns bring about more positive enjoyment of the activity, in this case, sexual activity.

Think of it like this. Any behavior pattern, no matter how complicated or simple, that is controlled by habit patterns does not require the individual to be "consciously" involved in the activity. That's why you can drive your car and think about hundreds of other things besides operating the vehicle. However, in some behaviors, like sexual behaviors, the point of the activity is enjoyment, and therefore to the extent that you are not consciously involved, then to that extent, you are not fully enjoying that activity. If a couple lives together and loves together for many, many years then it is very easy for this sensitive area of their interaction to become regulated by habit patterns. Any change in that pattern increases the probability of enjoyment for both partners.

If you can identify how the first approach is made, and what the usual response to that approach will be, and the next step… then you are locked into habit pattern which probably would benefit you if you changed it. One of my college professors once told me that marriages are not made in heaven, they come in kit form and you have to put them together by yourself. While that is probably very true, it is also true that they require a great deal of maintenance along the way. While habits will help a marriage in many, many areas, the sexual interaction is not one of those areas and I think that each of the partners should constantly be aware of that interaction and work to make it as positive and enjoyable for the other as they can. After all, both partners ultimately benefit from those efforts, don't they?

Now, fellows, there is a little spot underneath the knee…

Think about it