Parenting and the Art of Balance


Do you have balance in your life?

I’ve been struggling with attaining it for years, and along the way I discovered something interesting — it doesn’t really exist, at least not  in the way I grew up understanding it …

Creating a Strong Foundational Balance

Finding balance between work, family and self can seem near impossible. As parents, it can often feel like we’re on a unicycle, constantly trying not to fall off while juggling work, kids, marriage, goals, etc.

But there’s a different type of balance that can be achieved. It’s called our Foundational Balance, and as the name implies it’s the foundation that we stand on while we’re juggling all aspects of our lives.

Our Foundational Balance is the very thing we need to be exceptional as opposed to acceptable. Exceptional parents, spouses, friends and professionals. And yet many of the parents I speak with feel they are just getting through each day, just getting by — instead of moving in a positive direction.

What is Your Foundational Balance?

Although it’s not  the same for everybody, your foundational balance consists basic things you need to excel in life. Here’s mine:

– Sleep
– Exercise
– Meditation/Spirituality/Religion
– Intimacy with my wife

As far as intimacy goes, I’m talking about more than sex (although I strongly advise you have it often). I define intimacy as quality time together — time to talk, date night, planning the future and helping solve each other’s problems.

Your Foundational Balance might include different things. Just remember, it’s not comprised of the things you must do each day. It is made up of the things that you need in order to function optimally.

You are Like a Car …

Think about the pistons in your car. They pump up and down — with great assistance from the motor oil you put in them. Now if I take the oil out of a car, will the pistons run? Yes. Will they pump? Yes. Will they eventually break down? Yes.

The pistons can accomplish their goal of pumping and getting you somewhere, at least least for a limited amount of time. But they are not going to be working efficiently.

They are not going to be anywhere near optimal.

You are the same. Without having a solid foundational balance — having your oil changed, your tires rotated, having enough gas and receiving timely tune-ups — you are going to run like a clunker!

And remember, you are not alone …

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Sex and the Daddy, Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, Tyler from Building Camelot kicked off a discussion about relationships and the importance of sexual fulfillment (that men crave) vs. emotional fulfillment (that women crave).

Tyler is a brave man to write about this. I have been wanting to touch upon this topic for months, but have been avoiding it. Alas, now there’s no turning back…

As Tyler points out, “if you both make it a priority and work on fulfilling each others needs at the same time, mutual fulfillment can be achieved. If you value your marriage, neither you nor your spouse can afford to sit around and wait to have your needs met.”

I totally agree. It’s not a question of whose needs should be satisfied first. And the problem isn’t necessarily a lack of desire to satisfy our partners.

The problem, at least for me, is not having the energy to do it.

Do I want to be more supportive? YES. But by the time we’re able to talk, after the kids are in bed, my wife is half in bed herself (to sleep unfortunately), and my brain is mush (hence the title of this blog).

Does my wife want to make love with me more? YES. But the truth is she’s exhausted and currently suffering from diabetes, migraines and a knee problem. My incessant talking about the subject doesn’t help much. Just call me Mr. Romance Killer (but hey, it’s not my fault she’s so cute).

To compound things, most of us husbands find sex to be a stress relief (I know I do). The more stressed I am, the less I’m able to be compassionate. The less I’m compassionate, the less likely my wife is going to feel fulfilled  (hence less sex).

The more stressed I feel, the more I seem to obsess on sexual thoughts (bare with me readers, I’m bearing my soul here).

I have trouble differentiating my need for sex with my need to be nurtured. I think that men and women are wired differently, and the male ability to admit to emotional needs is overshadowed by our need for a nice piece of ass.  But really, it’s the same thing we want, there’s just different ways of getting there.

And I wonder how much of that difference is imposed on us by society.

I’m from NY, where every street corner used to have a little candy stand with rows magazines depicting half-naked women on them. What is that saying to young boys AND to young girls? What have we been taught?

But underneath the top layer, it’s not really about sex. The predominance of sexual thoughts and feelings are merely a coping mechanism. It’s a way to distract myself from what’s really on my mind, like:

My wife’s health. She’s got diabetes and she struggles with her weight. I’m afraid of losing her.

I miss my kids all day, 5 days a week. I shouldn’t complain, I get to go home to them every night. But I miss them, and I’m missing out on their lives. They’re only going to be this age once. Sometimes I feel like a bystander.

I get so aggravated with myself about these thoughts, which expends energy. I’m walking around thinking about sex. I’m not being true to myself, I’m not taking a moment to center myself in a meditative moment. I’m harping on something that merely frustrates me even more!

I am dedicated to my wife and my boys. It’s one thing to fantasize, but having sex with anybody other than my wife would go against everything I stand for as a man, a husband and a father. When dads cheat, they don’t just cheat on their wives, they’re cheating on the whole family – and in doing so the foundation of the family is shattered.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying my wife and I are never intimate. For a couple with two kids, we somehow occasionally find the energy. Of course, then we pass out immediately, unless of course one of the kid’s SEX RADAR goes off. That’s always fun.

Has this happened to you? It’s 2 am. You’re both awake. Somehow, someway you both feel inclined to be intimate. It’s wonderful! Until one of the kiddies waltzes into the pitch black room (thank God it’s dark) and wants you to refill his Sigg bottle or wipe his butt after he poops!

Aggggggggggggggggggg! 

Geeze dude, couldn’t you wait like 20 more minutes to poop?

The question is, where did this thought process come from? When & why has this become a coping mechanism for me? And such a strong one?

And does it really matter? If I’m not acting on it, is it so bad? Well, if it’s causing me emotional pain then yes.

And remember, you are not alone…

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Sex and the Daddy

Tyler over at Building Camelot beat me to it.

He talked about sex, and what he had to say made me realize that I’ve been avoiding this topic for too long.

I’d like to highlight Tyler’s article in its entirety here. It touches on many good points about the dynamics of relationship, which is a great place to start…

What Comes First In Marriage? Sexual Or Emotional Fulfillment?

by TYLER on JANUARY 11, 2009

It’s like the age-old question “What came first? The chicken or the egg?” Does sexual fulfillment or emotional fulfillment come first in marriage? I was watching the Today show a few days ago and they were doing a segment on relationship resolutions and how to start off on the right foot for the new year. It was a panel discussion which focused on people who are in either committed or non-committed relationships and what steps they should take in the upcoming year to find happiness. 

When the discussion turned to those who are married, or at least in a committed relationship, one of the guests, Shannon Ethridge, author of The Sexually Confident Wife, said something that has been stuck in my head that I wanted to share and get your opinion. Fast forward to the 3:20 mark to Shannon’s part.

(Link to the msnbc video. Sorry, having trouble  imbedding)

Shannon mentions that at the beginning of each year she evaluates what she needs to do in the upcoming year to inspire her man (she’s been married for 17 years) to meet her emotional needs. I love that she uses the word inspire! It’s certainly a word that’s lost in many marriages these days especially if you have children or you’ve been married for any length of time.

She goes on to clarify that if a woman meets all of her mans sexual needs then he will fall all over himself to meet her emotional needs. I agree with her and here’s my question; does his sexual fulfillment or her emotional fulfillment come first in marriage? Does the wife make sure her husband has all of his sexual needs met first or does the man support his wife emotionally before his own needs?

In a good, healthy marriage I think the answer to the question is simple…it’s both. How can it be both? How can his needs be met at the same time as her needs? If you both make it a priority and work on fulfilling each others needs at the same time, mutual fulfillment can be achieved. If you value your marriage, neither you nor your spouse can afford to sit around and wait to have your needs met.

I doubt that I’m going out on a limb when I say that every man wants a wife who is confident and fulfills his sexual needs. On the flip side, I’m sure the same women want their man to be able to fulfill them emotionally. It’s just as important for men to support their wives emotionally as it is for women to leave their men sexually satisfied.

The one thing that I know I struggle with is recognizing, reacting and inspiring my wife’s emotional needs. I’m always selfishly thinking that she should satisfy my sexual needs first, but we should be working on mutual fulfillment.

What do you think? Drop me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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I hope you’ll take some time to visit Tyler at Building Camelot and read some of his other articles. He certainly has a lot to offer, especially to us dads out there.

And remember, you are not alone…

Related links:
Sex and the Daddy, Part 2