Bride and Prejudice


Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

A second marriage is the triumph

of hope over experience.

Oscar Wilde



Here come the brides in June! Americans are still married to monogamy even as online dating provides ever widening options to make exploring our curiosities outside it easier. In 2016, a survey found that 48 percent of men and 31 percent of women said that their ideal relationship would be nonexclusive to some degree. Esther Perel‘s TED talk Rethinking Infidelity has racked up 7.5 million views on Youtube, making someone who preaches forgiveness a star.

As modern as we would like to believe our society to be, the stigma on affairs still provides prime fodder for tabloids and personal choices continue to cast a long shadow on professional lives.  Why do we feel entitled to judge other people’s (sex) lives and choices–as if we can know what they’re going through, as if we’ll ever have the chance to walk in their shoes?

Recognizing our innate desire to duplicate the devotion of parental love in our spouse, would you be capable of prioritizing your primary relationship if you were allowed adventures outside the marriage?  Would you rather have shallow relationships with many partners or do you want the pleasure of the long game and a shared history in getting to know someone deeply and profoundly? However you choose to make up your mind along the way, how can we remember that marriage is different for each participant? Because to speak frankly, what came first: marriage and monogamy or our very human nature that continually seeks novelty and variety?

More than separate checking accounts or the option to sleep in separate beds, the biggest challenge of a long term relationship is our tendency to believe we own our spouse even as we take them for granted. Relationship takes work and plenty of tending, an often tested commitment to see the best in the other while requiring us to dig deep into our ability to provide a safe space for each to grow in whatever way he/she requires as an evolving soul.

Everyone else outside such relationship must have more important things to do like mind their own business.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what marriage means to you.




Give the women you love the most unique gift

of elegant and timeless portraits with a

Powerful Goddess Gift Certificate

for a most memorable two hour photo shoot of up to three people!


Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman







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:

Buy Now Button with Credit Cards

© Sharon Birke

Managing Member, DoubleSmart LLC

201 697 1947

Glamour Portraits of the Goddess in Every Woman




Queen of Heart

Honesty is the key

to a relationship.

If you can fake that,

you’re in.

Richard Jeni


Esther Perel, sex and relationship therapist and author of Mating in Captivity, says we often confuse love as a state of enthusiasm. “To love” is a verb, and verbs are dynamic implying action, intention, and responsibility. If our ability to love ourselves well determines our success in loving another, what can these verbs mean for our relationships?

To Give.  Is it better to give what we believe the other person should have or what that person wants? True giving is being attuned to someone’s needs, to make that person feel special and that they matter. Assuming your partner is not a self-absorbed despot, giving from a place of confidence and generosity frees us from the chains of expecting acknowledgement or getting something in return. With this we allow ourselves the freedom to feel complete joy and empowered by a simple action. Giving when we’re at low points of our lives can also be therapeutic, too, lifting up our own spirits when we channel our energy towards seeking out those who need our help most. Of course, giving to ourselves first is essential to replenish the well.

To Receive. How do you respond to a compliment or a kindness?  If you feel obligated to respond in kind or wonder what that other person wants in return from you, take a moment to feel worthy and simply say “Thank you.”  Being a gracious receiver is a gift in itself.  Allowing others to give to us lets them feel good about themselves, too.

To Take.  Women can learn a few things from male assertiveness and entitlement.  Assertiveness is what we need to land jobs, get a better deal in negotiations, and evolve our (sexual) relationships. Since only you know what pleases you best, share that knowledge with your partner. We save ourselves a whole lot of grief when we surrender to the reality that mind reading is not a very common talent.

To Refuse. From the kitchen, the boardroom and the bedroom, women do things to please others that they don’t necessarily want to do and end up not liking themselves for it. Say no without closing possibilities by giving options and alternatives. If establishing boundaries is essential for a healthy relationship, should it be a stretch to say “I feel free to be speak my mind around him?”

To Play.  Playing lets you be creative and dream together, circumventing the hardships of reality. The ability to laugh and play strengthens a couple’s bond, especially amidst the incessant demands of parenting. Being silly, mischievous and unpredictable is a big factor in keeping your sex life fun. The freedom to be unselfconscious around someone is empowering. When you feel like you’re in a stalemate, think of ways to create happy memories and new adventures together. Great for couples, but even more necessary around moody teens. I grew up hearing “The family that prays together, stays together.” As a mom, I now realize “The family that plays together, stays together” is big.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (top left) to share what the sweetest  Valentine verb means to you!







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

Taking Chances

To keep your marriage brimming with love,

whenever you’re wrong, admit it;

whenever you’re right, shut up.

Ogden Nash


Honey and I just got back from our very first honeymoon A.C. (after children) in Puerto Rico–sandy beaches, salsa dancing, and casinos that remind us of how lucky we’ve been betting on each other a lifetime ago and luckier still that we have learned to reshuffle our hand to make the most of the cards life dealt us since.

Like this Powerful Goddess, I did wear white. Not so much to conjure the days of innocence, but for the simple reason that white complements a good tan best. 😉

Lucky we did not swear NOT to talk about the kids during our time alone–impossible with Puerto Ricans who are big on family culture. Seeing young couples with toddlers and their oversized strollers did make us sigh with relief that we can travel far lighter lately.

We flew home in time for the second marriage of my husband’s college buddy. Having witnessed the dissolution of his first, we were thrilled to see him taking another chance with a woman who brings out his playful side. We sat among the witnesses, silently thankful that our own marriage has endured, shuddering at the thought of possibly having uttered the word “obey” at my own wedding?!!!

Esther Perel says all of us do marry a second or third time, though some of us do so with the same person in our personal evolutions. Her TED Talk on The Secret to Desire in a Long-term Relationship asks “Can we want what we already have (for toooo long)?” Now there’s a question where “I do” is a most meaningful answer.

Click on “Leave a Comment” (above left) to share how you have been lucky to bet on the same person a second or third time. A toast to the courageous!







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

%d bloggers like this: