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It’s the taboo subject nobody wants to talk about, but many think about it… a lot. What is it? Sex. 

Sex and marriage—the questions are endless. For the sake of time, I’ve boiled it down to 10 things every couple should know about sex.

Here we go…

1. The quality of your sex life often has more to do with what happens in your relationship outside the bedroom.

First and foremost, for you to keep your sex life going strong you must remember that foreplay begins long before you make your way to the bedroom. Look for ways to continually reconnect with each other throughout the day. Happy, stable couples have hundreds of ways they connect. Think about all of the creative ways you came up with to flirt when you were dating and do the ones that got you the best response. These types of activities create positive, warm feelings toward your spouse and in turn are building intimacy in your relationship. 

2. Anticipation and preparation stoke passion.

Typically, couples enjoy frequent sex in the early years of marriage, but once children come into the picture and the level of intensity increases at work, sex seems to get kicked to the curb. Consider this:

Passion = S2 I – Two sexual beings joined by intimacy 

Dr. Pat Love, in her book Hot Monogamy, makes this point. If you only have two sexual beings and no intimacy, you cannot have passion. Did you know, two-thirds of women have “sexy brains,” which means they don’t desire sex until they are in the midst of doing it? The majority of men have “sexy body brains,” meaning if their heart is beating they are interested in sex. Interestingly, men need two to three times more touching than women, and most men are touch-deprived. This is important information for couples who desire to increase passion and intimacy in their marriage. You have to do your homework. 

  • Know what arouses you—it can’t be a mystery. 
  • What is it that your spouse does that is such a turn on?   
  • What are three activities that make you feel close to each other?   
  • When do you feel closest and most connected to your spouse? 
  • When do you feel most loved? 

Tell your spouse the answers to these questions. This sets the stage for passion and intimacy to grow in your marriage. Communication is a huge part of great sex. Research shows that talking about sex during the first year of marriage is correlated with high marital satisfaction for men. Discussions after the first year are highly correlated with female satisfaction in marriage. As you talk and discover what brings closeness, guard it with a vengeance and practice it faithfully. Pat Love calls these activities “gateway activities” because they usually lead to opportunities for connectedness, increased intimacy, and lovemaking. Be courageous enough to love your spouse in the way he/she needs to be loved. Whether you are a “sexy body” brain or a “sexy brain” person, you might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

3. Talk about it.

Yup, I said it. Talk about your sex life, what you like, and what you don’t like. Are there things that make you uncomfortable? Are there things your spouse could do that might make it better? What brings you sexual fulfillment? How often would you like to make love?

4. There is no set amount of sex every couple should have in order to have a great sex life.

Obviously, it’s personal, but a lot of people want to know what is normal, so to speak. Keeping in mind, what is great for one couple may not be for another couple, research involving 2400 married couples that was published in 2015 found the more sex a couple had, the happier they were. So, the question for you as a couple to answer is, what is your magic number?

5. Teach your kids that your bedroom is your bedroom.

While this may sound totally unrealistic, you might be surprised how well it works once they get used to the idea. Think of your bedroom as your sanctuary. An escape from the craziness of the world and the place where you share meaningful intimate moments with the one you love.

6. Novelty Gets Your Attention

What changes do you need to make to keep sex fresh, fun, and adventuresome? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day gets old real fast. If you always approach sex in the same way, do the same things in the same place, you can find yourself feeling bored, unsatisfied and in a rut. Find different ways to delight your partner by doing the unexpected. 

7. Be intentional about keeping your energy and focus on your marriage.

The number one reason couples grow apart is they turn their interest and energy away from their relationship. Regardless of what your spouse is doing right now, you have to decide what kind of spouse you are going to be. Take responsibility for what you are doing that makes it difficult to have passion and an active sex life in your marriage. 

8. A little less talk.

Let me explain. Based on research by Drs. Steven Stosney and Pat Love, when women talk about their feelings, it is soothing to them. However, sharing feelings can make men physically uncomfortable or can cause them to withdraw. When men listen to women talk about their feelings, there is more blood flow to their muscles and they get fidgety. Women respond by thinking they are not listening, and things go downhill from there.

Here’s what Stosney and Love are not saying. They are not saying you shouldn’t ever talk about your feelings around issues in your marriage. They are saying, choose your time wisely. During your most intimate sexual moments, may not be the best time to talk. After lovemaking when you feel connected, men may want to talk more and women may need to talk less. The key is to meet somewhere in the middle.

9. Show physical affection without words.

Make physical nonsexual contact in an affectionate way. A hug, pat on the shoulder, tap on the behind, or squeeze of the hand can all say “I love you” without ever saying a word.

10. And, the super-secret sauce is… CONNECTION.

The more connected you feel to your spouse, the more you will enjoy sex with them. So many movies lead us to believe that sexual attraction, passion, and feeling close to your partner just happen when you are madly in love. The truth is, marriage has plenty of ups and downs, and sometimes heightened stress and anxiety can impact how we feel about our spouse and our energy level for sex. ✶You have to consistently make an effort to not let things creep into your marriage that will steal the passion, sexual intimacy, and closeness you desperately want from and with your spouse.✶

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Dear Husband,

I know right now it’s tough. Our routine, our schedules, our lives are different… changed by the COVID-19 quarantine. Some days are easy and some days are hard. Some days I struggle to like you… and some days you do something so unexpected and sweet that my heart swells with love and I realize just how lucky I am to have you in my life. Sometimes we are at each other’s throats because all the stress and tension is so high, and sometimes we are laughing until our stomachs hurt, watching Netflix and cuddling on the couch.

It’s a confusing time and our marriage is on an emotional rollercoaster. Every day a new story emerges and we’re dropping, our stomachs rising to our throats, fear engulfing us as we close our eyes and plunge down deeper. We could let this overtake us. Let it cause us to lash out at each other. Put up walls and social distance in the same room. But instead, why don’t we open our eyes and take a breath? 

Why don’t we talk about the fear, to eliminate its power? We could be honest about the struggles of each passing day. We could look each other in the eyes and listen intently to every word, with focused empathy, compassion and love. Why don’t we encourage one another to use this time for growth? To give ourselves grace and permission to create a new normal? Learn about each other and ourselves, our true characters and how we respond to challenges. 

Let’s lean toward each other, instead of away. Let’s connect like we never have before. Let’s always say good morning and good night with a kiss. Learn to let go of the little things that bug us and manage those tensions with patience. Let’s reminisce about the past and dream about the future. The anniversary trip we will take in a few years. Let’s go on date night-ins and be goofy together. Laugh at ourselves and find the bright side when all the things go wrong. 

We can’t forget that we’re on the same team. We can’t let the panic, fear and tension pull us apart. We have to be intentional about seeing each other, really, truly, SEEING each other and loving each other the very best we can, each and every day. And I know we can do it. We WILL do it. Our marriage will grow even stronger.  We’ve had so many twists and turns already, there’s no telling what will happen next. But I do know this. I will stay on this ride… Feel every thrill and every drop, as long as you’re by my side.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

In the March issue of The Atlantic, David Brooks writes a provocative and compelling article about the nuclear family and how he thinks it was a huge mistake.

He summarizes the changes in family structure over the past century, saying: “We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life to smaller detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familiar system that liberates the rich and ravages the working class and the poor.”

Brooks lists many cons of the nuclear family, including the absence of extended family to function as a safety net when challenges arise, the socializing force of having extended family close by and lack of resilience.

On the surface, one might conclude that he is onto something, which he may well be, but is the nuclear family really the problem or is there something else at play?

Scott Stanley, research professor at the University of Denver, questions whether the nuclear family is the real villain in Brooks’ article.

“Disconnection and isolation are his real targets,” writes Stanley. “To me, the nuclear family seems like a passenger along for the ride in a car leaving the scene of the crimes Brooks describes – when the car is driven by us. By us, I mean most of us, motivated for our desires for autonomy and freedom.” He continues, “A lot of the problems we see may be caused by what most people want – even if those things also have downsides for individuals and society.”

In another response, Kay Hymowitz, William E. Simon Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, examines the past and finds that scholars basically agree that the nuclear family household has been the “dominant form” in Western Europe and the United States since the dawn of the industrial era… the anomaly was the extended family, not the nuclear family.

“As demographics changed, the dominant family form did not,” writes Hymowitz. “Rising life expectancy and falling fertility starting in the latter half of the 19th century meant more surviving grandparents available for smaller numbers of couple households. But the share of households with extended families stayed more or less the same. It seems that people preferred the privacy and independence of the nuclear form – despite all its disadvantages.”

Bottom line, what Brooks seems to be espousing is that in order for children and adults to really thrive, we need to bring back the extended family – whether people are related or not.

Brooks suggests there are plenty of examples of those who have moved from nuclear families to forged families. He gave Common as an example, which is a real estate development company that operates more than 25 co-housing communities where young singles can live in separate sleeping spaces with shared communal areas.

The big question is, does this really address the problem Brooks’ narrative highlights – disconnection and isolation? There is nothing legally binding that keeps the people in these communities from coming and going. People move for various reasons – job transitions, marriage, divorce, etc., so it still doesn’t address the root problem.

In general, human beings are relational by nature and thrive on connectedness. Whatever our family form looks like, how do we create intentional community in a society that seems to have a strong bent toward isolation?

Regardless of your situation, you can deliberately and persistently build a tribe around you that will create the safety net extended families might fill. In the past, communities of faith often helped to fill this void and it is still true today for those who choose to be active in a community. Neighbors can also help create a safety net, but one has to be willing to establish and maintain relationships with those around them. School and work present opportunities as well for connection and networking to build your community.

Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have vast social capital, but chances are pretty great that others around you don’t. As a part of a larger community, we all have some responsibility to help others connect if we really are about helping people thrive.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on February 22, 2020.

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

We live in a day and time when parents feel like they run from one thing to the next seeking to give their children every opportunity to experience life to the fullest. Many people say there’s nothing wrong with that.

The reality is that children and their parents are experiencing high rates of disconnectedness. They are experiencing a lot of life, but at what cost?

One of the most powerful ways for families to create connection is by sharing regular and meaningful meals together, which offers a variety of benefits. Studies suggest that having meals together as a family at least four times a week has positive effects on child development and has been linked to a lower risk of obesity, substance abuse and eating disorders, and an increased chance of graduating from high school as well as better family relationships. 

Family meals also help to:

  • provide a sense of family unity and identity.
  • give children an opportunity to express themselves.
  • teach kids to wait their turn to speak.
  • let them hear many different perspectives.
  • show how to agree to disagree on certain topics. 
  • transmit family values and traditions from one generation to the next
  • teach good table manners and etiquette.

The American College of Pediatricians notes that the daily coming together around the family table:

  • Provides structure for the day, allowing children to feel more secure and safe by knowing what to expect. 
  • Helps parents monitor their children’s moods, behavior and activities, giving insight into the emotional well-being of their children.
  • Allows children to learn and appreciate social interactions, understand the importance of community and experience different ideas while under the guidance of their parents.

These times together as a family create a bond and shared memories that children carry with them long into adulthood. The key to the success of these gatherings is to make them technology-free zones – no televisions, tablets or cell phones allowed.

You may already know that family meals are a good thing, but maybe you’re just trying to figure out how to make it happen and what to do with the time you have together. Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be dinner, it could be breakfast, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. The goal is for everybody to be together and connect. Making the meal could be part of that or you could even grab something and bring it home.

If you are at a loss for how to get the conversation around the table going, here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  • Share. Have each person share their best/favorite moment from today or yesterday. Use this time to get updates on each other, friends, co-workers and family. 
  • Ask. What’s one thing you are excited about that is coming up? Who did you notice today and why did you notice them? Is there anything going on in your life or someone else’s life that we can help with? What is the best meal or dessert you’ve ever had?
  • Discuss. If sports are your thing, talk about the latest game or an upcoming championship such as the World Series, Super Bowl, World Cup or NBA playoffs. Find ways to talk about things each individual is interested in or would like to learn more about. Maybe it’s that dream vacation or road trip, birthday bash or even how you’d like to spend your time over the weekend.
  • Listen. During the conversations, make the effort to listen without interrupting. Whatever you do, don’t ask a question and then hijack the conversation. We can learn a lot when we’re not doing all the talking.

It might seem hard to believe that just having a meal together where you are connecting can be such a huge preventative factor for so many things, but it’s true. The key is to be intentional and keep it simple. 

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 9, 2019.

Ready to take a short connectedness quiz?

  1. Who is your child’s favorite teacher of all time?
  2. What is your spouse’s favorite thing to do in his/her spare time?
  3. What is your child’s favorite meal?
  4. Given the opportunity for a night out, how would your spouse prefer to spend the evening?
  5. What person outside the family has most influenced your child’s life?
  6. What household chore does your spouse dislike the most?
  7. What accomplishment is your child most proud of?
  8. If money were no object, what one thing would your spouse most want to purchase?
  9. Who is your child’s hero?
  10. What makes your spouse feel truly loved?

Now, go check out your answers to see how close you were to getting them right. The only way to know all the answers to these questions is through being truly connected to your family.

“From a cultural standpoint, the connections that people have with one another and through social networks have been shown to improve the mental, physical and spiritual health of individuals,” said Christopher Brown, anthropologist and president of the National Fatherhood Initiative. “There is something that happens physiologically when people are connected, which is why people do better when they are involved in healthy relationships with others.”

One of the most powerful relationships is between a parent and child. Studies show that parents are the first and most important teachers of children. Kids thrive when they can depend on a reliable parent when they need to talk, when they want input, when they need a hug, or want assurance that life will work out.

Research from the University of Michigan found that the connectedness that takes place during frequent meal times with the family was the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems, even better than time spent studying or in a faith setting.

Experts agree that:

  • Family dinner table conversation has been shown to increase children’s mental and verbal abilities;
  • Eating together promotes good communication, and strengthens family bonds and relationships;
  • Families who regularly eat together have more cohesion and unity; and
  • Family meals give children a sense of security.

Connections count every day of the year. If you didn’t do so well with the quiz above, this could be a great opportunity for you to re-evaluate how you connect in your home.

Click here to read the entire article, which was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 18, 2018.

Typical day in the life of a family: The alarm clock goes off. Parents wake up children. Chaos ensues as family members fight for the bathroom, get ready and eat breakfast to be out the door on time. You race to the car, prepare for battle with traffic, drop the kids off at school and head to work feeling like you have already lived an entire day.

After working all day, whether on a job or in school, it’s still not time to crash. Soccer, piano, dance, and a parent meeting are all on the agenda. Then it’s time to head home, eat dinner, do homework, take showers and crawl into bed. And you know that tomorrow’s routine will be pretty much the same.

Is this the story of your life? Do you ever wish you could stop the merry go round and get off – just for a short period of time? The truth is you can.

Sandy Calhoun realized her life was spinning out of control, and she decided to do something about it.

“This was even before we had children,” Calhoun said. “I realized my life was a train wreck. I was working crazy hours and the life was being sucked right out of me. At that point, I made the decision to get off the fast track. I quit my job that required extensive travel. I stopped worrying about the house being clean all the time and I didn’t worry about the laundry.”

Now that children are in the mix, Calhoun still has to be careful not to get back on the entrance ramp to the fast track.

“With two children involved in different activities, life can get crazy if we aren’t intentional about saying no to certain things,” Calhoun said. “It is easy to end up like ships passing in the night. We have said it is a priority to spend time together as a family and we are committed to making that happen. 

“We only get one shot at being with our girls. I am continually reminding myself not to sweat the small stuff. The girls don’t care if the house is perfect, they just want to spend time with us.”

As a family, do you need to take a time-out just to enjoy each other’s company? Turn off the iPhone, tablet and television and do something fun. If it has been a long time since you just hung out together, you might start with these things:

  • Make a meal together and eat as a family.

  • Go play at Goony Golf.

  • Take a picnic and games to play at the park.

  • Hike outdoors.

  • Ride bikes together.

  • Make a fire in the fire pit, make s’mores and eat them.

Studies show that family connectedness is essential to health and to human flourishing, and that strong families build strong communities. Over-committed families in too much of a hurry and parenting from a distance contribute to feelings of disconnectedness. In contrast, families who prioritize time together build strong bonds.

When you’re out and about, chances are good that you’ll see people walking around playing Pokémon Go on their phones. The best estimate is around 9.5 million people are leaving the comforts of home and braving the intense summer heat to play this game on a daily basis.

Some complain about the gaming app for various reasons – people coming on private property, those who are distracted and walk into crowded intersections, the driver who hit a parked police cruiser while trying to catch Pokémon, and those who are distracted at work. But, it seems there are some real positive outcomes for people, thanks to Pokémon Go.

For example, one mother encouraged her son to exercise for years, but to no avail. The first day he played the game, he walked 4 1/2 miles. Another mother shared this on her Facebook page:

“I finally introduced Ralphie to Pokémon Go tonight. She was right. This thing is AMAZING. After he caught his first one at the bakery, he was shrieking with excitement. MY AUTISTIC CHILD IS SOCIALIZING. Talking to people. Smiling at people. Verbalizing. Participating in pragmatic speech. With total strangers.”

Who knew that a game app would end up bringing so many benefits to people? Doctors have been trying for decades to convince people to stop being couch potatoes. Many parents have been trying to figure out ways to help their children engage with others. Neuroscientists have been saying that, in order for their brains to function best, people need to get outside, take in the fresh air and see the real world.

Those who play the game are talking about how many miles they walked, how many Pokémon they caught and the things they have seen that they had no idea existed until now. The app has the potential to bring about massive change in the areas of socialization, exercise and enjoying nearby surroundings.

An additional benefit is it doesn’t matter how old you are. Everybody can play, so it could be a great way for parents, grandparents and children or teens to play together. Make it a family outing. There truly is something engaging and energizing when you are interacting and playing with your children.

It’s also a great way to get a walk in without having officially exercise. Plus, it allows you to connect with your kids and do something they enjoy. The game also lends itself to visiting sites around town which allows everybody to learn something new.

Not surprisingly, research indicates families who play together experience greater emotional bonding and cohesion within the family, which leads to a higher level of connectedness between family members. This is a good thing, especially during the teen years when parents often find it difficult to connect with their teenager.

The adventures a family can have playing Pokémon Go are rife for creating great memories. If you aren’t sold yet, have your kids teach you how to play. The fun you have may surprise you.

If someone asked you about your family history, would you know how your great grandparents met or what life was like for them growing up?

Chris Cummings’ mom was diagnosed with early-onset dementia when she was 48. He saw firsthand how a family member’s memories can slip away and impact families.

“My mom struggled with multiple sclerosis for many years before the dementia started,” says Cummings. “I took on the role of caregiver to her at a very early age. When she passed away in 2012, even though I spent endless hours with her, I realized there was so much I didn’t know but wanted to know about my mom, yet it was too late.”

While visiting his grandmother, Shirley, Cummings asked how her parents had fallen in love. She had no idea, which seemed odd since she knew all the family history.

“That question caused her to call her sister to see if she knew the answer,” Cummings says. “She did not. Grandmother went on to ask her brother, who did know. Apparently, my great grandfather, Sidney, was on a trip in Texas headed home to Louisiana when his car broke down in Jasper. He didn’t have enough money to get his car fixed so he got a job at the local five-and-dime. A few days later, my great grandmother Minnie walked in the store. They met, fell in love and got married.”

By asking a simple question, Cummings discovered an important piece of family history. This sent Cummings, who actually has a law degree, down a path that ultimately led him to launch greetingStory. He had already created Pass it Down, a digital storytelling platform. He shared his latest idea with genealogy experts about reinventing the greeting card to help families preserve treasured memories the old-fashioned way.

“Experts in the field were intrigued because there is this huge technology gap in families,” Cummings shares. “While people have videos, they often don’t have the written stories that make up their family history. Our concept was to help people capture family memories one greeting card at a time. We also know that loneliness and isolation are huge issues for the aging population. We believed we could use the greetings cards to bring families together and reduce the loneliness and isolation.”

Cummings and his wife married in November 2015. The next month, they moved to Chattanooga because they heard it was a great place to start a business. They raised money to build the company and went through the GIGTANK 365 accelerator for startups. They actually entered Miller Lite’s Tap The Future contest to find the most innovative company in the country, and they finished in the top six applicants out of more than 15,000 companies. The couple first presented Pass It Down in front of FUBU CEO and Shark Tank investor Daymond John at the semifinals in Atlanta and won. Although they did not ultimately win the contest, they walked away with $22,000 and used it to create greetingStory.

“We hope the cards will be the easiest way to sit down with a loved one or friend and spark a conversation about their life stories and help them record their stories,” Cummings says. “I have had so many people tell me how emotional it is to see their grandfather’s signature or that seeing their grandmother’s handwriting brings back so many memories. There is something very special about handwriting a story that is different from recording a video.”

The creatively-designed cards encourage loved ones to share important information. These sample questions offer a glimpse of what you can expect from them:

  • What do you want to be remembered for?

  • When is a time in your life when you had to make a stand?

  • What is a great lesson your parents taught you?

If you’re interested in preserving your family history, you can purchase a box of the cards and return envelopes to mail personally. You can also purchase a subscription and send one, two or four greeting cards per month. When your family member answers the questions and mails the cards back to you, you will be actively preserving your family history one card at a time. In the process, you can spread joy and connectedness as you invite your loved ones to share their unique stories. Future generations will benefit from it as well.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on July 23, 2017.

What’s the secret to a happy life? Many might say that money is a big part of the equation. But intrigued with discovering the secrets to a meaningful and happy life, a group of Harvard researchers launched a study in 1938. Then, they followed 268 male Harvard undergraduates – for 75 years.

The unique Harvard Grant Study collected data on the men’s lives through surveys and interviews. They looked at all aspects, including relationships, politics and religion, coping strategies and alcohol use. What they found may surprise you.

Perhaps one of the biggest revelations was that love really does matter when it comes to living a fulfilled life.

In his book about the study, Triumphs of Experience, Harvard psychiatrist George Vaillant, study director from 1972 to 2004, writes: “There are two pillars of happiness. One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

The study’s most important finding? Relationships are the only things that matter in life. You could have a successful career, money and good physical health, but without supportive, loving relationships, you’d be unhappy. The ability to take in love is a great human skill.

Interestingly, Vaillant says that so many of the things people thought mattered when it comes to happiness don’t. For example, many believe money and social class are vital to success. These two things were at the bottom of the list.

Even our earliest relationships are important to long-term happiness, especially the mother-child relationship. Men who had a warm mother-child bond were less likely to develop dementia later in life. They were also more likely to have professional success.

Avoiding smoking and not abusing alcohol were by far the most important things to increase longevity. The study found that alcohol abuse was the greatest disruptor of health and happiness for the study’s subjects. Alcoholism was the leading cause of divorce among the 268 men and their wives. Plus, a strong correlation existed between alcohol abuse, neurosis and depression. Interestingly, the mental illness followed the alcohol abuse rather than preceding it.

Another interesting finding: More money, power and intelligence do not mean more happiness. Vaillant found that men with IQs between 110 and 115 were no more or less happy than men with IQs higher than 150. Furthermore, the only thing that really matters when it comes to achievement is contentment at work. Having a meaningful connection to our work is more important than achieving traditional success.

Additionally, Vaillant found that early success did not necessarily mean future success. Conversely, failure early in life did not necessarily mean ultimate failure. In fact, some who seemed they would not end up doing well actually became successful. Vaillant shares that the journey from immaturity to maturity is a sort of movement from narcissism to connection. Moreover, a big part of this shift has to do with the way challenges are handled.

In the end, it all comes back to relationships, connection and love. Are you on a pathway to happiness and a meaningful life or a dead-end road?

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 17, 2016.