Having children makes one no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.

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Turn Up the Heat

Dr. Kevin Leman

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excerpt from Turn Up the Heat

Why is midlife the time that everyone talks about as a crisis? Could it be because that's the time when families are in transition? Although some families today have children later in life or adopt as older parents, many families with parents in midlife have children in high school, in college, getting married, or moving to their own homes. That changes family dynamics significantly.

For many women, whose lives have been so centered on their children, this is a time when they wonder what's next. I haven't thought in years about what I'd like to do, a wife thinks. I don't even know where to start. There can be uncertainty and yet joy in moving ahead on hobbies and such.

A husband also finds himself with more time on his hands now that there's less involvement with children (even if that involvement meant just showing up when and where his wife told him to). He has enough time to stop and think, Hey, this job isn't really what I'd like to do. It's a dead end for me. Then he takes a look downward and notices the flab settling like a spare tire around his middle. He's not quite as attractive as he used to be. . . .

Then the husband and wife look at each other and think, And, you know, my spouse isn't quite what I expected either. In fact, life isn't quite what I thought it would be. Such thoughts can lead to depression (I can't do or be anything right), affairs (I have to trade in my old wife model for a new one while I still have something left), and job switches (it has to be better at another company).

If the wife has become wrapped up in her children's lives, merely acquiescing to sex as a duty, her husband will feel that intensely and take her lack of pleasure as a failure on his part. And he'll be tempted to go elsewhere. The wife who may be involved in the sex act but doesn't have intimacy feels used, and sometimes without even realizing it, she begins to look elsewhere for her emotional fulfillment.

In short, the grass in someone else's lawn can start to look a lot greener. That's why you see a guy dump his wife to marry someone 20 years his junior.

A young mom has dreams that she and her husband will be among the most elite of society by their tenth year of marriage and have three kids by age 32. But the dream doesn't quite turn out the way she envisioned it. Her husband is still working, one level up, in the same job he had after-hours in college, and she's gone back to work full-time to help out with expenses. Because her schedule is so wildly busy now, she and her husband don't connect anymore.

One day a male co-worker comments, "Oh, I love your sweater." It's the first verbal affirmation she's heard about her looks in so long that she stands still and stares in shock. Within a week, the two are having a cup of coffee together in the employee cafeteria. They really hit it off. Fast-forward three months, and all of a sudden they're taking a day off work to secretly check into a motel.

How can such things happen? There are womanizers in the world who don't value marriage -- who say, "Yeah, that's my wife, but I have four girlfriends on the side." That's the thrill seeker who doesn't understand what marriage and commitment are. Then there are those who just "fall in love" -- or is it need?

During these years of adjustment -- when bodies are sagging and broadening, when life perspectives are adjusting -- it's extremely important for you as a married couple to work toward a satisfactory sex life for both of you. Sex and intimacy need to be an integral part of your life as a couple, driving you continually toward each other . . . rather than into someone else's arms.

Used by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, copyright © 2009. All rights to this material are reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without written permission from Baker Publishing Group. Visit Baker Publishing at www.BakerPublishingGroup.com.

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