Tag: marriage

Revving Up Intimacy in Your Relationship

 

One of the definitions of intimacy is a close familiarity or friendship, closeness. Intimacy is not simply about sex, although that can certainly help. But sex alone does not always lead to intimacy. There are several small but powerful things you can do to increase closeness between you and your partner.

Be communicative, talk to each other on a regular basis. Have conversations without agendas attached to them. Listen to your partner simply for listening sake. Practice opening up to each other without judgement or trying to solve a problem. When neither of you are trying to persuade or convince the other, it is easier to listen and communicate. These kinds of conversations do wonders for the relationship, it teaches you to enjoy talking simply for conversation’s sake. It builds on the friendship aspect of your relationship as well. Talk about whatever it is you feel like, a childhood memory, an idea you have for a movie, a book you just read and loved. Enjoy conversating with each other as if you were still getting to know each other.

Rather than planning grandiose get-a-ways, fold intimacy into the fabric of your day to day lives. For example, one day a week you dedicate spending time together at your favorite restaurant or cocktail bar. No friends, no family, and no kids, just the two of you. Or on Sunday afternoons you take a hike together, or ride bikes. The point is to do something enjoyable that gives you both time to let go and have fun together. Sure weekend get-a-ways and vacations are wonderful and build a temporary intimacy, but once they are over, it can leave you feeling empty emotionally. By doing little things more often you sustain the intimacy and build on it.

Laugh as often as you can, taking yourselves too seriously sabotages intimacy. Humor not only helps both of your moods, it also helps thwart off arguments. Laughter is healthy and a positive way to create intimacy because it makes both of you feel good! It diffuses differences and has a positive effect on your mind and body. Watch a comedy together, share funny incidentals that happened throughout your day. Research has shown that Couples who laugh together build stronger bonds and cope better with stresses and conflicts in their relationship.

Celebrate your history together, the good and bad memories that helped shape your relationship. Take time to appreciate all that you have been through and to remember those wonderful memories that warm your heart. Memories can be a hilarious source of humor, recalling those funny moments when you didn’t know each other well.

Get physical, not just in bed but in other nonsexual ways. When you’re sitting on the couch together watching a movie, snuggle in. Hold hands while you’re strolling the boulevard or walking the beach. Touch is a powerful tool for intimacy, make it part of your relationship. Take a couples yoga class, give each other massages.

And then of course there is sex! Pleasing your partner builds intimacy. Maybe try having a sex session in the middle of the day, be playful and let yourselves enjoy each other’s bodies. As I said earlier, sex alone is not the end all be all to intimacy, especially if the only time you feel close is in bed. Examine all the other wonderful ways you can explore and enjoy each other while you create that sweet closeness that is irreplaceable.


How to Keep Your Relationship Alive – Working from Home 

With more and more people working from home – tension can creep in, you may feel the spark in your relationship has fizzled as you struggle for space and alone time. Do you find you and your partner quarreling over minor concerns, or maybe just the sight of your partner is beginning to annoy you? When there’s too much imposed togetherness, this can happen.
Here are a few ideas to help you cope with cramped quarters and finding that sweet spot of balance in your work and personal relationship.

Keep the lines of communication open. Discuss your needs and work out a schedule that accommodates both of you. For example, you want to join a yoga class at 7 am, ask your partner to handle the kids while you attend every Monday and Wednesday, in the living room. The other days, he/she gets the space at a time that works for both of you. In other words, negotiate your space. We all need alone time; some need it more than others. When you talk about schedules, avoid being vague, it will help. Tell your partner exactly what you want, “I need time to work on my project alone for four hours a week.” No one is a mind reader, so be specific to avoid confusion and frustration.

Make having fun together a priority – Working side by side or in the same house doesn’t count as quality time together. Schedule time spent together doing things you enjoy, walking, dancing, bike riding, or even cooking together while music is playing on your phone. Rekindle on a regular basis, if schedules are tight, even every other week will work. Think of your time and energy as an investment in your relationship. Relationships need attention, like a bank account you can’t keep taking money out and expect to thrive. Imagine your life without your partner and be grateful for their gifts; remember to laugh together.

Give each other space – everyone needs that, maybe one of you needs it more than the other. It is the flip side of spending quality time together so honor it and get creative with alone time. Go for a drive, go to the store by yourself, take turns with letting each other have the place to themselves. All relationships, even great ones, revolve around space and togetherness, both are essential. If your partner says they need alone time, recognize that it has nothing to do with you. Part of giving each other space also means not phoning, not texting. When someone needs space, they need time to allow their minds to wander and imagine, texting interrupts that process and can make your partner feel as if they didn’t get the quality alone time they craved, which may cause resentment. No calls, no text, no interrupting the space time matrix.

Stay connected with friends – give them a call, plan a Zoom coffee or happy hour. Keep reaching out to people that you love and who are part of your life. They are precious to you, let your partner do the same when it comes to staying in touch with friends and family. A pandemic is a great time to rediscover letter writing or sending emails to those you miss, let them know you’re thinking of them. Continuing to have meaningful relationships outside of your primary one will allow you to feel as if there is more space in it.

Keep the romance alive, make house dates. Maybe dinner and a movie, or dinner and a lovemaking session. Or have a night where you reminisce and share memories. This pandemic won’t last forever, but your relationships can.


Stress & Strengthening Relationships

 

There is no time like the present to learn to manage change in a relationship. This year has been riddled with changes (social, economic, technological and personal) that have been challenging to say the least. All changes impact a relationship. Learning to go with the flow, and adjust when life happens, will help you be less fearful when change comes knocking on your door.

Relationships need a strong foundation from which to grow. If your relationship is already tumultuous, working through change can be tough. Building a base of trust in your relationship early on is the way to go. If this hasn’t happened, now is a perfect time to start. Talk issues and disagreements throughlisten to each otherbe kind, and remember love is powerful; it has the capacity to endure. And most important to building trust, is to mean what you say and say what you mean. Be honest, even if the truth is not what your partner wants to hear.

During stressful changes, a move, a new baby, a death in the family, a new job; lather on patience extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you extra thick. Go for a walk, have quiet time, reassure one another, and give each other space. Respect each other’s processing of change, don’t demand your partner respond to change the way you do. Each of you may want to talk about how or why you react the way you do, talk about the hurts, fears and insecurities that shape your reactions. This alone can help relieve a lot of the stress.

Stay physical with each other, and that doesn’t mean just having sex. Hold hands, snuggle, touch each other as a physical symbol that you are here, and you are ready to grow as a couple. Often change can produce resentment which can bleed into the bedroom. Allow yourself the pleasure of sharing one another’s bodies, let your guard down and re-connect. If you are both spiritual or religious, try praying and meditating together, do some yoga together. Share any inspirational gems that speak to you with your partner. Send kind texts, remind your partner that you love them. Life as a couple is sweeter when you know your partner has your back, that you are not alone and that your loved one is rooting for you in and outside of the relationship.

Do something familiar. It can be as simple as having coffee together in the morning. Find a thread of familiarity you both enjoy. Talk about funny memories, leap off the overly stressed, serious bandwagon and find time to get back to the essence of your relationship. Change will come; learning to deal with it together will make life richer while deepening your relationship and better prepared for the inevitable changes to come.

 

 

 

 


Let People Know You Love Them

The old saying, “actions speak louder than words,” holds true when it comes to expressing the love we feel for others. This behavior may come easy to you, or you may struggle with showing your love, & if that’s the case, you’re not alone.

Previous traumas, relationship experiences, & past patterns of how love was modeled to you as a child, all play a role in how you express love to those you care for. The good news is, by actively showing love, you’ll receive it back in ways you never expected.

Rather than focusing on how much you are loved, shift your awareness to how much you express love. It’s not to say that you neglect yourself. Instead, it’s like looking at the glass half full or half empty. Try looking at the ways people express their love to you.

  • Kind words
  • Patience when you’re frustrated
  • Listening when you’re happy or sad

In other words, they are there for you. Use these examples to express your love back to them, then try cultivating an appreciation for the little things instead of expecting grandiose gifts as a token of someone’s love. Not that presents are inherently loving or unloving; they’re merely objects, that over time, fade or lose their appeal. Sincere appreciation provides fond memories & strength.

Express your love. Let loved ones know you’re thinking about them, not just on special occasions.

  • Text, write a letter or send a card
  • Call simply to tell them you miss them or love them
  • Let them know you hope their day is going well

It’s thoughtful things like these that reassure the people you care about that you love them. If you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage

  • Buy a random card
  • Cook a dinner complete with candlelight
  • Take the kids for an afternoon so your partner can have some needed alone time

Take time to think of the needs of those you love. This doesn’t mean you can fulfill their every whim or desire. Show your concern for them without it being unhealthy, manipulative, or co-dependent.

Ask them about their day, their desires, their pain, their passions, & then sit back & listen. A big part of expressing love is listening to your beloved. Think of how you feel when you’re not heard. You may feel neglected, ignored, or even unimportant. These aren’t positive feelings that nurture a loving relationship. When you listen with your heart, you begin to understand more fully. Ask what you can do to help. More than likely, knowing that you’re there to support through active listening is enough.

If you have a concern or hurt feeling, express yourself. Bottling up your emotions will only lead to resentment, which won’t help. If you’re fearful about something, be honest, let go of your pride, & don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. When you’re transparent with your emotions, you’re showing the person you love that you trust them with your whole heart & it’s a powerful example that your loved one can reciprocate, letting go of pretenses & being real. This is fertile ground for growing love.
Let your loved one know when you miss them, whether it’s physical yearn or something more ethereal. Maybe one of you has been traveling for work, or you live apart from each other. Perhaps you miss laughing with them, or riding bikes together or having sex, let them know what it is you miss & not in an accusatory way. Simply say, I miss …

Tell people you love & you’re grateful for them. Whether they’re a sibling, a parent, or a lover, let them know you appreciate them & why.

 


How to Resolve Conflict Through Communication

_807Disagreement is a natural occurrence in life—we all have different opinions, ways of doing things, personalities, and communication styles. However, if one or more of the persons involved don’t communicate openly, or let emotions take over, a disagreement can easily turn into conflict.

Here are some suggestions for resolving conflicts in a respectful and productive way:

  1. Acknowledge the points the other person has made with which you agree; if you don’t agree, acknowledge you’ve heard their point of view. Simply knowing their viewpoint has been heard can go a long way in diffusing conflict. It is also helpful to reiterate in your own words what they said, which not only gives them an opportunity to elaborate on a point, but also to correct any misinterpretations.
  1. When you speak, it is best to keep what you say to your own point of view rather than telling someone how they feel, think, or act. Those are your interpretations of what you experience. Frame your point in a way that lets them know you are only speaking from what you see and feel, which allows them the opportunity to clarify the same situation from their point of view. It is also a chance for them to clear up any misunderstanding.

Look at the subtle but meaningful differences in these examples:

Example 1

“You make me feel unappreciated all the time.” vs. “I feel unappreciated when I hear you say _____.”

Example 2

“Can’t you see I was trying to help you?!” vs. “My intention was to help you. I understand now that is not how you experienced it.”

In both examples, the first response places blame on the other person, whereas the second response communicates your experience in the situation. Which would you rather hear said to you? Blame puts the other person immediately on the defensive and they will in turn block out anything you say, or worse, interpret any further messages as attacks.

  1. Be aware of extreme or emotion-full words (also known as nominalizations). Using words like “every time,” “never,” and “always” may result in the other person going on the offensive to prove you incorrect, thereby allowing them to ignore the point of your message. Also, take care that any emotion-full or more vivid forms of a word are true (e.g., sad versus devastated); if you’re exaggerating for emphasis, your message may lose credibility. Emotional language may trigger the other person to react on your emotion rather than on your message.
  1. Allow the possibility that people can surprise you. We all have the ability to learn, grow, evolve, and change. The longer or more closely you know someone, the harder it is not to jump to conclusions based on past experiences. As Eckhart Tolle said, “The moment you put a mental label on another human being, you can no longer truly relate to that person.” Although you can take note of someone’s patterns, try not to let your awareness keep you from having an open mind.

Emotional Infidelity – What is it? Is it in YOUR Life?

Many people think that infidelity is only sexual. The #1 form of infidelity is Emotional Infidelity. It usually stems out of feeling that something is missing in your relationship. You may feel disconnected from your partner. What is best is to talk to your partner about feeling disconnected. If you cannot talk to your partner than seek the help of a couples/marriage counselor.

How do you know if you are emotionally cheating?

  • Ask yourself: If my partner were sitting next to me would I be uncomfortable doing this? If your answer is yes, it is a clue for you.
  • You flirt with him/her.
  • Perhaps you dress in a way that might attract the person’s attention.
  • When something happens in your life you share it with her/him rather than your partner.
  • You feel excited when you see the person and look forward to seeing them more than you do your partner.
  • You have relationship fantasies about that person.
  • You find yourself sharing problems you are having at home with that person, rather than your partner.

I recall a man I worked with who was so proud that he had not had sex with his female work friend until after he and his wife had separated. He had been receiving emotional support from his work friend for over 1 year and this is what led to his wife leaving him. He had no idea that he had been emotionally unfaithful in his marriage. Nor did he get that he was cheating on his wife.

Emotional Infidelity is quite common and very difficult for couples to fully address on their own as often the partner that is cheating does not know he/she is cheating.


Marriage the Internet and Cheating?

  • Any similarity to you or someone you know is just that a similarity. So many people have similar stories

Sara awoke in the middle of the night wondering where Paul, her husband of 7 years was, as he was not in their bed. She thought he might be sick so she went downstairs looking for him and to her dismay found him chatting to another woman on an internet chat website. This was the low point of their marriage. Until this point she thought that they had a fulfilling, spiritually connected marriage and were honest with each other. Sara felt so betrayed, hurt and humiliated that she did not think she could ever trust him again. Paul reported that he felt confused and misunderstood. He did not understand why Sara was hurt, as he had not ‘cheated’ on her, he was just chatting. This is how they began couples counseling with me.

They both loved each other and wanted to regain the trust that for the moment was lost in their marriage. When a couple loves each other, and is willing to commit to working though their hurt feelings, they will heal, and can rekindle what they had before.

Sara and Paul needed to learn how to communicate what they wanted from each other more clearly, as well as heal this particular wound. Through our work together, they also learned what specific behaviors they were using to avoid each other, (we will call these behaviors Exits), and how to make and keep agreements. Once Paul learned how to close this particular Exit, i.e., chatting with other women on the Internet, Sara was able to notice how she watched T.V. at night as an Exit, i.e. a way of avoiding closeness with Paul.

Ultimately, Sara was able to forgive Paul and he was able to feel understood.

It is always nice to be able to watch and assist as a couple regains, trust and heals individual and relationship wounds as they rekindle their commitment to each other.


One Story of Infidelity

  • Any similarity to you or someone you know is just that a similarity. So many people have similar stories.

About two years ago I began working with a couple that began marriage counseling, believing that they would get a divorce. At the point they came to me, their relationship seemed to be based upon a bond of hostility. They consistently argued angrily as their main form of communication. Both said that they loved each other very much after 19 year of marriage; which let me know that there was hope for this couple.

What led them to reach out for my assistance was that the husband (we will call him Peter), confessed to his wife, (we will call her Robin), that he had been having an affair for over 16 months. At first Peter was only aware of feeling shame and Robin was only aware of feeling hurt and anger. Robin, as you can imagine, felt a gamut of emotions, rage, anger, hurt, shame, and confusion to name just a few. Peter, as we became more involved in the work, also began to feel a whirlwind of emotions, anger, confusion, resentment, hurt and shame.

As time passed and we worked on their communication, forgiveness and reconnecting, Peter began to feel quite resentful and impatient that Robin seemed unable to forgive him faster. Both Robin and Peter had the tendency to blame the other for the affair as well as anything that they did not like in the relationship. It took much hard work for them to reach the place where they could truly hear each other without wanting to prove that their version of the truth was correct for all. Once this occurred the couple began to move towards re-connecting and the work of regaining trust within their relationship.

As they moved forward, Robin and Peter began to laugh with each other in my presence as well as report back to me that they were having fun together again and having “hot” sex.

They both shared in a session that they now believed they could and would reach their goal of rebuilding their relationship. It took several more months of intensive marriage counseling for Peter and Robin to reach the place they are now. Robin no longer blames Peter for ‘the affair’. She understands her part in the weakening of the marriage and is willing to forgive Peter. She has also regained a high level of trust in him and for their marriage’s continued growth. Peter no longer feels shame and understands his motivations, actions and the consequences of them. They have come a long way from the couple that came to me thinking that they would get a divorce.

 


How do I get close without getting lost while in a committed relationship?

Ever wonder how to know if you are being intrusive? It is much easier to get when someone else is being intrusive. Sometimes that can be confusing as well.

When we are in a committed relationship our confusion with boundaries becomes most evident. It can be quite confusing. Is it okay if I tell my partner what I think? Will I be invading their space? How come I get upset when my partner tells me what he/she thinks? If I want something done a certain way am I invading my partner’s boundaries? These questions can go on and on. Understanding our own boundaries is quite complex and worth the effort.

I have noticed that all working relationships have some degree of haze surrounding the boundaries of the persons within it. Relationships are alive and the people in them often overlap in order to achieve comfortable levels of intimacy. Relationships take on a life of their own separate and apart from the I or the you.

The question many of us ask, is how can I tell if I am getting lost within the life of my relationship? And yet some of us do keep our sense of self and do not get lost in the forest of our relationship. While others forget to leave breadcrumbs when they go into a relationship and so they get lost.

What prevents us from maintaining our identity in a relationship? Perhaps we did not have a clear sense of self when we went into a relationship and so the relationship became whom we are. It is possible to lose your sense of self-while in relationship if you are trying to accommodate the other person.

It may be time for you to look for your I.

In all relationships there is some melding of identity. Understanding and knowing your own boundaries will allow you to know yourself and who your partner is with clarity.


Divorce ?

When we marry most of us believe it really is for the rest of our lives. We often create a combined life as well as individual life. It is the combined life however that usually has the priority in marriage. Separating from our life partner is painful; feelings of anger, abandonment and yes relief may also be present. There is no escaping your feelings, whatever they are.

I have seen some people avoid their feelings by dating constantly or drinking or drugging. I have seen others plummet into despair for periods of time. It is natural to miss the warmth, friendship, financial security, and sex you had or hoped you would have.

If you have children parenting becomes much more challenging as your role does change and the frequency that you will spend time with your children will change as well. Questions like when do I introduce my children to the person I am dating will arise and possibly cause you anxiety, as there is no ‘right’ answer, only better ones.

Divorce is often one of life’s most stressful experiences. I refer to divorce as a mini-death. In some ways it is more challenging than a ‘real’ death in that the person you have separated from, possibly feel abandoned by, is alive. If you have had children together you will be seeing your X for the rest of your life. This for many is re-wounding, especially if you are unable to forgive yourself and you’re X for the divorce. It is common for both parties to have feelings of failure regardless of who initiated the divorce.

On the positvite side, a divorce can be a time of discoving yourself again, creating new relationships, learning and growing. In order to move forward taking responsibility for your part in the divorce rather than blaming your X for it is paramount. As well as, allowing yourself to grieve your loss and honor your feelings. Then you will be in a space to grow into your new life, the one you will create out of joy. The life you used to dream about having when you were married and unhappy but always thought you could not create it.