The Good Wives


If love is the answer,

could you please

rephrase the question?

Lily Tomlin



When you’ve seen every hole and gnatty stain on each other’s favorite pajamas, how do you keep the romance going?  Author and TED talk speaker Esther Perel insists on our agency, our vitality and our complicity in making the best out of our long term relationships. From her book The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity:

Infidelity has a tenacity that marriage can only envy. So much so that it is the only sin that gets two commandments in the Bible, one for doing it and one just for thinking about it. Lovers today seek to bring under one roof desires that have forever had separate dwellings. Our expectations have gotten all out of hand. Our obsession with transparency, total disclosure and suffocating intimacy stanches desire — fire needs air!

All this before the stigma from choosing to stay in a compromised relationship?! Ayayay!

No better day than Valentine’s to practice compassion for villains and victims alike. They may not always be what they appear, for they are equal in the opportunity to use power to their advantage–overtly and otherwise. In the double standard of society, a man’s exposed dark side becomes a witch hunt for the woman who chooses to stand by him. And I don’t even want to know what price she’s had to pay long before we come around to shame her. Who’s the bully then?

When we focus on blame, we beg the question of what we lead ourselves (and teach our young) to believe. Can there really only be fifty shades of human behavior? Until we move to Mars, power and sex are tradable currencies and commodities on this planet. There is no shame in being a victim but there is also no dignity in incessantly playing the “Poor me, too!” card. There are gallant knights, ogres, wolves and monsters–sometimes all rolled into one person, at times not always male nor blatantly powerful, some more irresistible than others–lurking in the shadows of brightly lit offices, classrooms, cheerful houses, fancy restaurants and especially hotel rooms. The question “What would you say (or do) if someone you trust and respect takes advantage of you?” should be fair game at family gatherings.

Raised by parents who were both sole survivors of their families from Holocaust concentration camps, Dr. Perel learned to distinguish between two types of people: those who were alive and those who didn’t die. Her parents “understood the erotic as an antidote to death.”

There is no greater love than allowing people to choose what’s right for themselves–even between spouses. There is no greater love we can give ourselves than deciding to fashion a full and meaningful life despite difficult and unwanted experiences. That which we don’t allow to kill us, will buy us time to understand the gift it was meant to bring.  If there is one true power that nobody can ever take away from us, it is our talent for alchemy: to take the darkness of pain, hurt and suffering and allow it to push us towards the light of strength, power, wisdom and goodness as we move forward with our lives. This power is the one true guarantee of fairness in the world that we can always count on.

With or without pajamas, best to leave expectations of seeing everything in black and white to photography.

Click on “Leave a Comment” to share how you keep the bedroom fire burning. True love IS always with you! Kiss! Kiss!








Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a two hour photo shoot of up to three people:

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© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman




Best Books for Couples


Women marry men

hoping they will change.

Men marry women hoping they will not.

Albert Einstein


Yes, there are plenty of fish out there!  Yet bliss can be found with one–or with one at a time. 😉 Now, will someone please hand us some handy tools for navigating the dynamics of commitment?  In celebration of the end of this fabulous summer, some book recommendations for healthy relationships by Huffington Post’s Dr. Nikki Martinez:

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Things get lost in translation when we are not aware that people speak different languages in the ways we give and want to receive love. How do you and your partner differ?

Couple Skills by Matthew Mackay. How can you communicate with compassion while coping with differences and resolving conflict?

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay by Mira Kirshenbaum.  Should you stay or should you go?

The Relationship Cure by John Gottman. How do you strengthen relationships we tend to take for granted?

When The Past is Present by David Richo. How do you understand the different places where you and your spouse are coming from in navigating your relationship?

I Love You But I Don’t Trust You by Mira Kirshenbaum.  Be it daily dishonesties or a monumental betrayal, how can you heal and build trust again?

Love, Sex and Staying Warm by Neil Rosenthal.  How do you keep good old comfy relationships from going totally ho-hum?

47 Love Boosters for a Happy Marriage by Marko Petkovic. How do you connect and deepen your bond even when you’re both terribly busy?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to add your favorite(s) to this list. And may you be happy with however many fish you have–or don’t!







Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman


The Rose Bath

There must be a few things

that a hot bath can’t cure,

but I don’t know many of them.

Sylvia Plath


Whether someone’s bringing you Valentine flowers or you have to buy/grow them yourself, here are a few thoughts on true love by a favorite Buddhist, Pema Chodron:

People always say that that’s what they want: they want someone to love them unconditionally, and they want to love unconditionally. We think we’d be delighted to have an unconditional relationship, but that’s only as long as it’s on our own terms. Anyone who has been married or in a long-term relationship knows that challenges present themselves constantly. The challenges are to give in, to surrender our way of doing things, and not to split when we feel threatened. Basically, the challenge is to be genuine–to feel our pounding heart or shaking knees or whatever it is, and stick with it. In a nutshell, very few of us ever allow ourselves to be in a situation that doesn’t have at least a teensy-weensy little exit, a place where we can get out if we have to.

By living without “shoulds” we gradually discover our wakefulness and our confidence. Gradually, without any agenda except to be honest and kind, we assume responsibility for being here in this unpredictable world, in this unique moment, in this precious human body.

Every act counts. Every thought and emotion counts, too. This is all the path we have. Are we, at least, willing to catch ourselves spinning off and do that without embarrassment? Do we at least aspire to not consider ourselves a problem, but simply a pretty typical human being who could at that moment give him/herself a break and stop being so critical and compulsive?

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share how you might love (yourself) more easily this season of hearts. Make it memorable!







Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits

with  a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman

A Fork In The Road

If you are

going through hell,

keep going.

Winston Churchill


The other day, a woman asked me what I thought she should do about her marriage. She has felt sexually numb the last few years to the point of nausea when her husband is in the house–a bit of an inconvenience when two people have to work from home.  He thinks a trip to a sex therapist will “fix” her, for it is obvious to him that she is the problem. What man in his righteous mind will admit the possibility that his wife’s coldness, illness, or depression might be self-protection, the fruit of anger and built-up resentments?

But I’m getting carried away…

To be fair, who knows what really goes on behind closed doors? Does she really want to do something about her situation or does she just need to be heard? Is the problem she identifies the root of it all or a symptom of something else?

Discussing a problem with others helps us deal with it (eventually.) As consultant, it is tempting to say, “If I were you…” though much as we try, we can never really be them. While it’s easy to find similarities with our own experiences, any resemblance may be superficial and an analogy may not have legs.

Providing a range of scenarios and possible outcomes may be more useful than definitives that begin with “Do this” or “Don’t do that.” Time and thought are needed to weigh decisions against several dimensions and the personalities involved.

The first step in giving good advice is:

Do not give advice. Just listen.

Giving good advice need not necessarily mean solving a problem. It could be about making the situation easier to understand, shedding light and encouraging the exploration of different points of view.

Trust that they will arrive at the best answer for themselves in their own good time. Be comfortable with the silence and the not knowing. Affirm them with, “I can’t wait to find out what you decide!”

Every success and every failure changes states when perceived in the short versus the long term. While we might wish someone would simply rescue us when we’re feeling lost in the forest, this is the process we need to grow spine and courage, to find the light within us to illuminate the path, to make our own choice which fork in the road to take. No matter the journey, one great comfort is the certainty that all paths always, always lead us home to ourselves.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how indecision eventually led you to clarity.







Give the women you love the most unique gift of elegant and timeless portraits

with a Powerful Goddess portrait session Gift Certificate:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

Best Books for Brides

 Only two things are necessary to keep one’s wife happy.

First, let her think she’s having her own way.

Second, let her have it.

Lyndon B. Johnson


The beauty of George Clooney’s gorgeous new bride, Amal Alamuddin, reminds me so much of Powerful Goddess Cora Poage.  For those of us who have many years of “been there, done that,” what does it take to keep making your “happy ever after?”   Here’s a handy collection of books for couples, newly married or not:

I Need Your Love–Is that true?  by Byron Katie

Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted by Marcia Naomi Berger

The Art of War for Lovers by Connell Cowall

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz

Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray by Helen Fisher

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to add your favorite relationship book or advice for young brides.







© Sharon Birke

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Wife & Mother

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