Two friends have deemed me and my husband “professionals in sex”. One friend is a thirty-something, married-with-kids woman and the other is a single, twenty-something male. The comment struck me as interesting from both people for different reasons, and it made me contemplate the accuracy of the statement meant as a compliment, but taken with blushed humbleness. It definitely got me thinking, Are we professionals in the sex industry?
The question I posed on myself after contemplation of the compliment came across as stark, black and white and abrupt. And it begged me to answer. I think in the grandest sense of the term, ‘sex industry’, we are advocates for healthy, Christ-centered, married sex, but does that constitute us as sex professionals?
I was told once, “A professional is someone who gets paid for what they do”. We, by no means, get paid to have sex, at least not in monetary ways. We get paid in intimacy, time clocked in together, closeness with each other and intentional time spent together. Those for us are more than enough. Not to say we wouldn’t turn down making a buck from our experience, kindly see sidebar to donate to this awesome blog about sex that you like to read and wished your spouse would also read. Thank you in advance for your hard earned money not being washed down the drain on common porn but on a blog about the hope and well spring of life that grows from the marriage bed. A book deal with a legit literary agent would be a pretty killer way to get paid for all these bed bouncing skills, or perhaps even a Yahoo! Interview. Not sure if they pay, but the exposure would be sweet. But I digress, back to the question at hand; do we consider ourselves to be professionals? We have no alphabet of degrees boasting our sex professionalism, although that would be kinda cool. We are not naughty masseurs, psychologists, or sex therapists. Ahh…Meet the Fockers just sprang into my head. Good ole’ Babs as a sex therapist, so uncomfortable for her son yet so freeing for herself and Dustin Hoffman’s character; kind of sounds nice, to be so free about sex and intimacy in marriage without condemnation or squirmy feelings from other people.
So, what made my two friends, both opposite in life, location, and gender, decide that we, The Humble Rhoads’, are professionals in sex? I suppose it all boils down to proliferation, right? But the amount of days logged in doing something in order to be considered for a weighty title doesn’t mean too much without the list of degrees to back up the obsession with the topic. I mean, if we just spent 896 days scrutinizing over, learning about, and studying UFO activity (without the required degrees…are their required UFO studying degrees? Not sure, I bet NASA knows) we would be considered crazy hobbyists or conspiracy theorist. Yet, we are deemed “professional”.
I ended up researching professionalism, because this question and title were bugging me. What I found was pretty remarkable.
COMMON TRAITS OF A PROFESSIONAL
Put Customer Satisfaction First
Make Your Expertise Your Specialty
Do More than Expected
Do What You Say and Say What You Can Do
Follow Exceptional Guiding Principles
Praise Your Peers not Yourself
Share Your Knowledge
Say Thank You
Keep a Smile on Your Face and the Right Attitude in Your Heart
Alan Norton (2010, www.techrepublic.com, “10 Things that Define a True Professional”) had a lot to say about the business world but even more was said between the lines. How true these 10 Things are for intimacy and marriage too!
My customer is my husband and without being all Stepford-wifey it is my job to put him first. He does the same for me, which I think eventually evens us out at customer status. Instead of honing an Eye-for-an-eye retaliation mentality to right all the wrongs done to me, I instead, choose a Do-unto-others-as-I-would-want-done-to-me perspective. Others first, and in this case, my husband first.
Know our trade and keep current… we read voraciously. We read the Bible. We read psychology books and magazines. We read self-help books. And we read each other. Keeping current in an intimate relationship is not the same as keeping up with the latest trends and pop stars. We keep up with the current state of our relationship…our emotions, our well-being, our hurts and pains and loves. We keep current with each other’s bodies, knowing not just what ails us but what makes each person better too, sexual and non-sexual.
Do more than expected! Hard, yes, but not impossible. Doing more than expected is rewarding when done with love for both people. Going above and beyond that which is your comfy place may be extra help around the house, kids or bedroom. Be the cream, float to the top!
Say what you’ll do and DO IT! No one likes a Big Talker who doesn’t produce results worthy of the talk. It takes far more depth and strength and digging of ourselves to say what we will do and then act upon it. Anyone can say they do something but it takes a bigger person to actually prove it and not for proof’s sake either, but because it is important. Be a man or woman of your word, integrity is sexy!
Communicate effectively. Ahhh…communication, the good ole’ backbone to all human connection and relationships. Books, classes, articles, studies, pod casts, sermons and therapists have explored this basic human necessity over and over for years, decades, longer, because it is so fundamental to the betterment of relationships. Let me boil down all the studies, write ups, and presentations about communication for you;
Listen to yourself, Know yourself. Listen to your Partner, Know your Partner. Talk to each other with open hearts abounding in love, respect and honor.
One of the easiest set of rules to write and acknowledge yet one of the hardest to explore, really understand and act on. It is all worth it, crack this nut!
Follow exceptional guiding principles. Above reading self-help and psychology books, we read our Bible. Every Day! No exception. Read your Bible and learn how to understand its words, lessons and values. It’s all there, every answer to every question you will ever have. You just need to be receptive to God’s answer for your every question. That is the hard part.
Praise your peers not yourself. It may sound childish to praise your spouse, but it really isn’t. Praise is a basic psychological need to the human condition. We need to know we are accepted and loved by those we share our life with. Praising my spouse holds great value in the peace and well-being of my marriage. When I praise Nathaniel it is not done in a demeaning way, nor is it done in too little of a gesture, nor too big. Praise is like Goldilocks, we need to find what amount and type works ‘just right’ for our spouses.
Share my knowledge. Okay, here ya go Internet peeps! I share with you my sex life, my relationship, my marriage, all the ups and downs and in between. We share not because we are perfect, not because we think everyone should go on a crazy two year streak, nor is it because we are fame monsters. We share because God is great, He has taught us and we are overjoyed to share what God has done in our marriage.
Saying thank you is in the same vein as praise. Do it, be nice. Nice guys may finish last according to the world, but they’ll be standing at the finish line holding hands with a loving spouse who couldn’t care less about the race in the first place.
Keep a smile on your face and the right attitude in your heart…not fake and plastic but true and sincere. Find what you love about God, yourself and your spouse and focus on those things instead of whatever is negative, bad or wrong.* Focus on the good, fill yourself with love and walk in the light.
*We do not condone any cases of abuse. Situations where abuse has occurred/is occurring should be dealt with by a therapist, not a mommy blogger. Stay safe, love God, love yourself.
Charles Koch, Chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, defines success in five dimensions:
Vision: Determine where and how to create the greatest long term value.
Virtue and Talents: Help ensure those with the right values, skills and capabilities are in the correct position and develop them there.
Knowledge Process: Create, acquire, share and apply relevant knowledge; measure and track profitability.
Decision Rights: Ensure the right people are in the right roles with the right authority to make decisions and hold others accountable.
Incentives: Reward according to value created.
“When these dimensions are applied in an integrated, mutually reinforcing manner, they create continuous transformation and positive growth.” Charles Koch
Though this was written for organizations, corporations and businesses, Koch’s principles mirror principles of human relationships in general, be them platonic friendships or intimate marriages.
A vision Nathaniel and I share is to whole-heartedly follow Christ’s path for our lives, marriage and child rearing abilities. Following God’s specific path for us creates the greatest above all long-term value in our organization, our marriage.
While neither of us were hired to marry each other, we did work through a process of not only choosing each other as a couple but further deciding to stay together, live together, learn, work, and love together. We made sure we chose in each other the right person to co-head the company God put us in charge of.
Under God’s reign in our lives we do not need to create our relationship, it was created in Heaven by our higher power. But we must cultivate it by acquiring all we need to live purposefully and wonderfully on Earth together. We work to share our knowledge of God, our ups, downs and in between because sharing the graces and mercies of God is part of how more people go from being un-spiritually connected to plugged-in followers.
In our marriage we have learned how hard it is to hold ourselves accountable. It is like floating on a plastic pool toy in the middle of the shark infested and cold Pacific Ocean. So, we abandoned that sinking ship and jumped on to God’s mighty vessel where we learned how to hold each other accountable with kindness, respect, adoration and love. Some days this is a tightrope with seemingly no net. It is slippery up there, but it is possible to walk across unscathed…with practice.
Reward in our marriage looks like this:
I hate emptying out the dishwasher, he is fine with it, so I fill it and he empties it.
He has a hard time getting into home repairs, so I do not nag him to death until he does it. Instead I praise him when he does.
I cook, he cleans up.
He cooks, I clean up.
Our reward is give and take with the emphasis on “GIVE”.
So, it turns out we are professionals in the sex industry, we just happen to be on the much less talked about, “taboo” side of it. Advocates of love, intimacy, and healthy married sex who are not afraid to talk openly because we are unashamed to use and discuss God’s gift to married couples…Sex!
Turns out my friends were right! Let me introduce ourselves, if we have not yet met…We are Mr. and Mrs. Rhoads, Sex Professionals!