Friday, June 28, 2013


A friend sent me a link to “My Virginity Mistake,” written by Jessica Ciencin Henriquez who explains her belief that making a purity pledge and remaining a virgin until she got married led to the ultimate demise of her marriage. The article evoked a whole range of emotions in me – sadness, pain, empathy, but also frustration, rage and indignation. It wasn’t that I was surprised by her revelations or perspective; it was that I have heard her story so many times before within the privacy of my coaching sessions. 

A large number of my clients are church leaders who were given the purity talks as teenagers and skidded into marriage having pushed the line as far as they could go while still remaining “technical virgins” (no penis-in-vagina action, but various levels of everything else). Keep in mind, they are in the minority – 88% of people who take purity pledges end up having intercourse before marriage. 

These people are therefore part of the dwindling 12% who “made it” to marriage, but instead of the bliss that they were promised, they battle with disappointment, resentment and drudgery in their sex lives. However, unlike Henriquez, they are committed to their marriages and desperately seeking places of refuge and help.

To me, this article was just another reminder that in the Church we have dropped the ball on how we handle sexuality. We screw it up from the cradle to the grave. We have covered genitals with special names because we cannot bear the medically correct terms. We have disciplined our toddlers when their hands stray into their pants and linger there too long. We have implicitly at best (explicitly at worst) told our teenagers they are trash if they get hot and heavy before they get married. We have dodged anything beyond the bare-bones basics of sexuality in our pre-marital courses. We don’t provide a safe place for newlyweds to even admit they are facing problems with intimacy, causing them to suffer through confusion, loneliness and isolation. We have acquiesced to the ethos of silent tolerance of women who are disinterested in sex and men who turn to porn for the thrill their marriage does not provide. We have actively participated in a culture that shuts down, shames and eviscerates people who fall sexually and need our help. We have turned a blind eye to the hurting in our churches, choosing instead to focus on programs that are less controversial and easier to justify to the board of elders. Instead admitting our own imperfections and inviting others into the safety of that communion, we have presented a portrait of a God who freely forgives (or at least overlooks) the sins we are comfortable with, but harshly judges the sins we find personally disturbing. 

In doing so we have lost sight of what we are called to do. We have stopped being the salt of the earth and started rubbing it in people’s wounds. This is our sin. 

And yet, this is also our opportunity. People desperately want health and wholeness. Parents want to have guidance on how to talk to their kids about masturbation, oral sex, condoms, porn and STIs. Young people need to know that if they stumble and fall before marriage, they are still valued in the eyes of God…that the blood of Jesus is more than a cheap laundry detergent that gets out the smell but not the stain of our sin. Newlyweds need to have a place to acknowledge that they couldn’t even have sex on their honeymoon because it just didn’t work. They must be provided with the freedom to talk to people who will not flinch at words like clitoris, penis, orgasm and semen. Couples deserve marriages where sex is more than just a duty – it is pleasurable, frequent and sought after. They need to have the freedom to struggle with something in their marriage – smack dab in the middle of imperfection – while still working toward the goal of holiness and restoration. 

This is why I love the Church. The Church is uniquely positioned (and called) to be what these people so desperately need. We have the community buildings. We have the small groups. We have the mentorship programs. We have the childcare. We have the pastors who are on call night and day for people who need them. We have volunteers who can facilitate teaching sessions. We have the very words of Jesus. And we have the God who actually came up with this whole idea of sex, put the proper plumbing in place and hard-wired it into our DNA. 

But do we have the courage? 

Will we step up to the plate; take a long, hard look at our faux-sacred status quo; and be willing to admit (and change) what honestly is not working? Can we repent of our institutionalized sin and break free of our bondage to it? Can we lay aside our ignorance, our shame and our fear when people like Henriquez need us? 

The Church must come to the table as a faith community, regardless of our specific denominational segregations, to share best practices – ideas that actually work and have higher success rates than 12%. And I believe we can do it. 

But we have to remember that while Jesus loves us, He came to seek and save that which was lost. He didn’t come to “put a ring on it.” 

ERYN-FAYE FRANS, Canada's Passion Coach ®

Monday, June 24, 2013


For years, I have been a fashion disaster. Any sense of style that I now possess is a direct result of the blood, sweat and tears of more savvy girlfriends helping me over the years. But despite their valiant attempts, I still feel like a dud. Accessories? They don’t even remotely hit my GAF (Give a Flip) Metre. I have a few sentimental pieces that I wear all the time. A diversity of colour? No thanks. I would rather throw on a white top (or grey in the winter) and call it good. Shoes? Ok. I really like heels. I had a horrendously broken bone this past year and couldn’t wear heels for months. I was seriously unhappy.

 But in an attempt to figure this whole fashion thing out, I have been reading a book called “I Have Nothing to Wear.” Even the idea of picking up a fashion book made my skin crawl but my sister swore it would change my life, and I agreed to read it out of love for her. Looks like it was written for me because it talks about the utter frustration of jumping from style to style, trying to keep up with the latest trends. When I read that part, I was hooked. I don’t have a clue what the latest trends are and I struggle with a lot of guilt because I secretly don’t care. (We’re back to the GAF Metre.)

In this book, the authors outline 6 different “styles” to which women gravitate. They are: Classic Girl, Preppy Girl, Fashionista Girl, Soccer Mom, Bohemian Girl and Surfer Chick. The idea is to identify and own your own style so that you feel most comfortable in your own skin every time you step out the house. Turns out, I have been getting advice from Fashionistas and Bohemians for years, when I am a Classic Girl. This was an ah-ha moment for me. I felt normal for the first time in my life. And that is where my bumblings in the world of fashion intersected with my professional life. 

For years, I have seen that there is a direct correlation between a woman who feels good within her own skin and her confidence as a lover. She doesn’t shrink into herself as often. She isn’t as concerned about how she looks. She is kinder with herself about her flaws. She isn’t as hesitant about getting naked. She knows who she is. 

To be clear, this doesn’t mean that these women fit into some crazy cultural standard of what “looking good” entails. They aren’t all size 0s. They don’t all wear makeup. They don’t all look like they stepped out of a magazine. And they certainly don’t like all the parts of their bodies. 

I met a woman once who was teeny-tiny and she asked me, “Do women struggle with body image in the bedroom? I weigh the same as I did in high school, but everything has shifted.” After I worked through my own fit of jealously about her weight, I was deeply moved by her vulnerability. Even the women who look spectacular on the outside carry their own shame. 

Women who feel comfortable in their own skin have not escaped body image issues completely, and they don’t fit some cultural stereotype. They are just real women who have learned what works for them. Through trial and error over the years, they have found their attractive selves. They have come to accept parts of their bodies that have shifted with age, they have made the changes that were possible to make, and they have found what makes them feel like a “10.” They like themselves, and their husbands have a deep appreciation for them as well. Because this kind of confidence isn’t limited to picking out clothes in the mall. It extends all the way to the bedroom. 

Here’s your Bedwork for the week: Find one outfit (in your closet OR use this as an excuse to go shopping) that makes you feel like a “10.” Wear it this week and then jot down in a journal how you felt. Make note of what it was about the outfit that made you feel like a “10” so that you can duplicate this experience. Need a bit of help in the fashion department? I highly recommend "I Have Nothing To Wear".

 Want more Bedwork? Check out my book The Essential Elements of Sex: 9 Secrets To A Lifetime of Intimacy. - See more at:

ERYN-FAYE FRANS, Canada's Passion Coach ®

Friday, June 21, 2013


Sometimes, I forget.

As we walk hand in hand, jumping over each crack in the sidewalk, while she tugs on my arm… “Sing Mommy! Sing!”

It’s just us today. A rare Mommy-Daughter outing, with no
 siblings to compete with distractions.

This is sunshine and happy and me with my Good-Parent hat on.

This is the ordinary kind of awesome.

This is normal.

We walk up to the counter at Burger King
(Great Parent would have talked her into Subway, but Good Parent heard she wanted “Fies” and aimed to deliver)

Anyway, we put in our less-than-optimally-nutritious, but yummy order AND I notice the looks.
For a minute, I’m thrown. I look around and wonder what’s going on.

Sometimes, I forget.

People are staring at us with big grins and smile-y eyes. The kind of looks reserved for fluffy bunnies and newborn kittens. Awwwww… One lady nudges the guy next to her and nods in our direction.
And it clicks. Of course. Now I remember.

All my children are winsome – uniquely beautiful in their own way. But none of the others get this kind of attention.

It’s not a bad thing. Although it does reinforce my little diva’s belief that she is the Centre of the Universe (thank heaven for a little brother on that count).

It’s not a bad thing, but it does remind me, that OUR normal, isn’t exactly… well… normal-normal.
OUR normal involves extra appointments in far away places with all sorts of “oligists” (and an excuse for Mommy-Daughter time, with, perhaps, a detour to Burger King).

OUR normal looks tiny and slightly wobbly, but is fiercely determined to open the heavy doors “by mine-self” (while we wait, and wait… and wait).

OUR normal smells just a little bit off (which is why I carry pull-ups for 40 lbs+ in my purse at all times).

OUR normal sounds like my almost 9-year-old singing “Skinn-a-ma-rink-y Dink-y Dink” at the top of her lungs, while sticking her hand down her pants (and an admiring public who think she’s adorable for it).

OUR normal includes a lot of extras – extra work and extra people and extra effort… and extra attention wherever we go.

it’s not a bad thing.

In fact,
Sometimes I forget.

I forget about Down Syndrome. I forget about the hassles and the heartbreaks and the headaches that inevitably come. And we just live our ordinary awesome, everyday plodding, bittersweet regular life.
Because, for us, this IS normal.


So here’s me,
and today I read a post by Sipping Lemonade (Dear Mom with a Prenatal Down Syndrome Diagnosis)
and I remembered the days, around age 1, when I didn’t think we’d find normal again.

And yet, here it is all day everyday. Not exactly normal-normal, but close enough.


Monday, June 17, 2013


Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:

Recently, I have been prepping for a TV interview on the topic of infidelity. In the process of my research, I came across a slightly alarming statistic. Of the men and women who confessed to having an affair, 71% of the men and 49% of the women said they did so because they were sexually bored. In fact, the boredom reason far out-paced other justifications such as business trips, high sex drive, close friendships with others and rekindling romance with an old flame. Boredom is a subtle threat that can lead a marriage into very turbulent waters.
For those of us who are in long-term relationships, it is very easy to get stuck in a rut. Sometimes routine is a wonderful thing – everyone gets his/her needs met with a minimum amount of effort. However, sometimes this rut creates a deep sense of dissatisfaction. In order to last the decades together, we need to become experts at recognizing 1) when we are in a rut and 2) how to get out of it.
Here is one rut I notice couples fall into frequently: the time they choose to have sex. They always have it on Sunday night after Game of Thrones (I mean, seriously, that show is hot!) or maybe they have a quickie after date night. Sometimes sex is reserved only for special occasions. It is the same, all the time.
So this week, your Bedwork is to change things up a bit by changing your regular routine for sex. Instead of having it at night, set your alarm clock for half an hour earlier in the morning. Perhaps you can kidnap your spouse at lunch and sneak away to a hotel. Perhaps if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can wake your spouse up too. Whatever you do, just do something different and breathe a bit of life into your routine.

ERYNFAYE FRANS, Canada's Passion Coach ®

Friday, June 14, 2013


He fixes things.

With power tools. And goofy jokes. And ice cream.

He fixes the little things – baseboards and light switches and toilet bowls. He fixes playhouse roofs and sticky doors and bookshelves. He putters and fusses and rearranges until every is running smoothly. He jumps on every squeak and creak and unnatural sound we’ve been content to overlook.

He worries about money.

Our money. His own money. The government’s money. “Bunch of crooks.”

He makes budgets and savings plans and investment suggestions. He uses coupons and goes without and is always up for a “great deal.” He buys things for us anyway. He passes me a handful of cash on his way out the door – “for groceries.”

He makes plans.

To improve. To expand. To make our life easier.

He draws it on napkins and scrap paper. Then measures and figures and makes supply lists. A new idea, or 10, carefully sketched to dimension – “just in case.”

And when you listen very close, you can hear just how much he loves us.

Because my Dad’s love is practical like that.

Thanks for everything Dad!
We love you!
Happy Father’s Day!

So here’s me, so grateful to the man who  taught me to appreciate the True Story, and the great deal, and ice cream (no matter the time of day or weather), and to look for a gentle, intelligent, silly, responsible, loving Dad for my own kids.


Monday, June 10, 2013


I have a terrible sense of direction. Even in familiar situations, I can get completely turned around. I can handle “Left” and “Right”, but if you try to tell me “East” or “West” it makes me laugh.

You may as well be speaking Mermish.

Once I picked a friend up from the train, got distracted talking, and turned the wrong way onto the highway. In my defense, it had been a long time since I’d seen him and we were having a Great Discussion. After 1 1/2 hours I realized that we should have been home by now; we had to turn around and didn’t get home until 3 hours later.

I’ve adapted. I am quick to ask for directions. I leave a little extra “getting lost” time when I go to a new place. I don’t panic, just calmly turn around again, and again, and again, until I finally get where I’m going. Or call Glen in tears, cursing the creators of GPS and the idiots at Mapquest, when I’m mostly just mad at myself.

We all have abilities AND disabilities. Some are more obvious than others, but everyone has both. There is no perfect human specimen (and if there was, who would want to be around such an obnoxious know-it-all?). We all try to maximize our strengths and struggle through our weaknesses. And often it is our struggles which form the Very Best Part of who we are. God likes to use our DISabilities most of all.

Our children are the same. We love them for Who They Are, not What They Can Do. In fact, their disabilities are part of their unique make up. And while we wish life were easier, we love even those parts too.

All our children have Special Needs.

L needs to be reminded to let things go, to take risks and to quit bugging her sister.

C needs help to regulate her emotions, to behave selflessly and to not let her sister bug her.

B takes longer to learn new things, has low muscle tone and a speech delay (aka – Down Syndrome).

S was born 3 months early, he has a rare genetic syndrome and a moderate hearing loss.

The truth is, we don’t know the extent of our new son’s special needs, but he does have them. We haven’t spoken about them to many people, because, to us, they are beside the point.

Oh, I know they will very much affect our lives. We have researched and continue to do so. He is doing AMAZINGLY WELL so far; his developmental assessments use words like “surprising” and “remarkable”, especially about his cognitive abilities. But he will have learning disabilities his whole life. He will take a longer to catch up in milestones. He may never be “just like everyone else.”

But so what?

He is our son and that is the most SPECIAL thing about him.


Friday, June 7, 2013


Here is my radio interview with Susan Knight of Calgary’s up!97.7 FM this week:
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago in a post, Eric and I recently had our anniversary. And, as is our tradition, we went out for dinner and had our State of Our Union talk. (You can find a run-down on how that works here.) This year, I asked him to take me on a “creative” dates. Make no mistake, we have plenty of dates, but I felt that we had fallen into a rut about what we did each week. I knew that Eric would be up for the task because he used to make extra money to pay for college by planning dates for other dudes who couldn’t figure out how to impress a woman. He can definitely get the job done.
He didn’t waste a lot of time planning our first date. Last week, he surprised me by showing up in the middle of the work day with concert tickets in hand to the Pitbull/Kesha concert. I was ecstatic. Now, I can take or leave Kesha, but I fell in love with Pitbull last year when my dance group did a hip-hop routine to one of his songs. Please don’t judge me.
If I am being completely honest, this is not a concert that Eric would have chosen. In fact, when he let a friend know what he had done, his buddy responded by saying, “You know the best part of Pitbull announcing his name at the beginning of every song? You know to change the channel.” Eric would tend to agree with his friend. Well, he likes the new Pitbull/Christina Aguilera song, but I certainly wouldn’t call him a fan.
However, sometimes in marriage, you have to choose a “Happy Camper Date.” For a lot of couples, just trying to decide what to do on their date causes conflict because they have different interests and tastes. This leads to frustration…and then dates taper off altogether.
Here’s how the “happy camper” date works: one week you go on a date and your husband gets to choose what he activity he wants the two of you to do. (He gets to pick the movie, the restaurant, the hockey game, etc.) You go on this date with a great attitude – you are the “happy camper” this week. However, the following week, it is his turn to be the happy camper and do whatever you would like to do without complaining. This experience gives us greater insight into what makes our spouse tick and it builds our common history together which, in turn, leads to a stronger marriage.
Here is your Bedwork for this week: Plan two “Happy Camper” dates for the next two months (unless you are an overachiever and want it to be for the next two weeks). Draw straws to see who has to be the happy camper first if you have to, but make sure you each have a chance. If you like the concept, make sure to plan this type of date once a month.

 ERYN-FAYE FRANS, Canada's Passion Coach ®

Monday, June 3, 2013


I’ve sat down to try to write this story many times and it was just too hard to go there again. But today is his birthday, so I gave it another shot.

June 3 008

For six months I carried your life inside me.

The year felt new in the most profound way that January. I waffled between dramatic excitement and disconcerted illness. I remember thinking, “How scary this must be for teenage moms… pregnancy feels like the plague.” I leaned heavily on that fierce desire for parenthood to get me through. You were so wanted.

We wrapped up one blue bootie and one pink, and sent them out to each of our parents. First child. First grandchild. First great-grandchild. You were already adored.

I wore denim overalls to the Victoria Day picnic, all the rage in maternity fashion in those days. But I felt beautiful, like the lyrics to “Natural Woman” suddenly made sense. Your Dad had more swagger in his step too, so I wasn’t the only one feeling the difference. You made us feel complete.

I felt something new that night. Something uncomfortable. Something alarming and outside the parameters of Baby Centre e-mails and our dog-eared copy of “What to Expect.” Although he looked right at me, I could HEAR the resident OB’s eyes rolling. He confidently diagnosed it as “bad Chinese food” and all but patted me on the head. After all, we were very young first-time parents, and the pain wasn’t even in the right place. He brushed off my past kidney problems and mollified us with a quick doppler exam. The steady wickety-wick of your heartbeat was beautiful. Nothing else mattered as long as you were okay. You were already the centre of our universe.

I’m not sure how we spent the next week or two. Most likely, packing up our little basement suite. Napping at my desk during lunch breaks. Planning furniture and paint colours and nursery themes with all the gravity of a proud new homeowner. Classic Beatrix Potter was in the lead.

When the nightmare hit, we were completely off guard. There was blood and pain and horrified looks on the faces of the nurses. There was good news – just a kidney problem. There was bad news – no one really understands what’s going on. The days and nights in the hospital should have been scary, but they weren’t really. I wielded my faith like a shield. I prayed with complete certainty. I basked in the prayers of others. You would be fine; there was no other option.

I had absolute confidence that this would one day be an interesting footnote in your baby book. I watched you suck your thumb on the hazy lights of the ultra-sound machine. I relished every kick and nudge.

My heart stopped when yours did. You were gone.

Sure, that traitorous muscle kept pumping blood through my veins like nothing was wrong, but my world, everything that made sense and held life together, simply ceased to be when the doppler fell silent. I can’t remember if I cried during the solemn scuffle of nurses and doctors and sad speeches and condolences. I know I waited for someone to say it was a mistake. I know I held your Dad’s hand. I know time passed for everyone else in that room but us. You really were gone.

For two weeks I carried your death inside me.

That time is mercifully clouded. Too broken to pray in words. Too hurt to care about my body. Too numb to feel alarmed about my kidney surgery. Too drugged to remember the ICU or the days that followed. Your Dad was so scared. Your Grandmas stayed and held us together.

They gave us pamphlets and advice and sent chaplains to talk to us. One was terrible. She said all the wrong things and made everything worse (Grandma Barb almost overcame her pacifist leanings when it came to this one… sending her away). The other woman was a Godsend. She was gentle and sad and understood how important you were.

It seemed strange and unnatural, to think of holding your tiny body and saying goodbye. But they were right. It was important. It was necessary. It was a gift. We counted your little fingers and your little toes and dressed you in the tiny premie clothing that was still much too large. Not every parent gets to hold their babies to say goodbye. You were beautiful.

For 14 years I have carried your life, and your death, inside me. They are sadly intertwined for me, the love and the loss, but I would not trade one to purge the other. I carry you with me, because the alternative is unthinkable.

There’s a little place in this mother-heart that is yours alone… where grief has softened, but remains… where maternal instinct lingers, unspent… where dreams are born of who you would-have-been, and who you-are-right-now, and what it will be like to hold you someday.

June 3 015Each year I remember you. Each year I pull out your little treasures and your sympathy cards and your tiny blue sweater and celebrate the most unusual birthday. Another year without you.

But also, another year closer to seeing you again.

My belief in an afterlife is no longer academic.

Not since you slipped there ahead of me.

So here’s to you, my firstborn…
Happy Birthday Noah William!
You are loved!