Archives

Is This About You Or Is It More About Me?

Is This About You Or Is It More About Me?When your relationship begins to falter, and there will be times it will, you may want to find something or someone to blame. You may even be left wondering if this was something that you did or said or something that they did or said.

The answer to these questions is that it is equally about both of you. As I am towards you will impact on how you are towards me and the way you are towards me will impact on how I am towards you.

“Can couples counselling work when my partner won’t come to counselling with me?”

Based on the above assumption, the answer is “absolutely yes!” The reason is that if you change, then your partner will have to change too. Of course, this may not always be easy, but if you can sustain the change, no matter what, then something will happen.

And, as with most things, the best treatment is prevention. So long before you get to that point of no return talk often and honestly your partner to work through those small things before they get to be overwhelming and relationship destroying.

An exercise I often give to my couple’s clients is to make a list of the goals and objectives for you, as individuals, as well as for yourselves as a couple.

Better still, make a picture, a collage or a painting, of what your relationship would look like in terms of individual qualities, characteristics and interactions, your communication patterns, and as you would want each other to be for you in this relationship.

Be what you want the other to be.

Live it full-out for yourself and for each other. This won’t be an easy task. There may be some trade offs and some tough choices.

The first trade-off will be about time and how you use it. The truth of it is: it takes time to create a relationship that endures; time to be together and time to play, time to plan, and time to just BE.

The second trade-off is comfort. You may experience and have to work through unfamiliar thoughts and feelings as you change some of your behaviors and work to better understand yourself and what you can contribute to your relationship.

On the other hand; if you are willing to live full-out for you and your partner and keep in mind the goals you have set for yourselves and the picture you have created of yourselves as a couple you will find it: That I am confident to guarantee indisputably.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature

Ending a Relationship (Part One)

Ending a Relationship - Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship

Five Tough Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Relationship

In all relationships there comes a time when you will come to ask questions about whether it’s time to end it or not. The hardest question of all to answer is how can you know for sure when your relationship is just not working and it may be time to get out?

To help those of you, who think you might be at that point right now, let me see if I can make it a little easier for you.

There are five really tough questions that you can ask yourself to see how close you are to that point of no return. And, while you answer these questions you also need to remind yourself of what the real truth of the situation is.

Also as you answer these questions keep in mind the definitions I spoke about in an earlier article/blog of the five keys to an enduring relationship relating to our basic needs. If you remember, they were recognition of our emotional, physical, spiritual, social and security needs.

The answers must be based on your partner’s recognition of your needs in those areas, as well as your recognition of his or her needs in those areas, and the rights of both of you to have your needs met.

  1. Would you say you behave in a way that reflects that you are in love with your partner and if so, why? And, using those same keys is your partner in love with you and why do you say that?
  1. Knowing what you now know about your relationship, would you still get involved with the same person if you had to do it all over again and why?
  1. When comparing yourself to other people in relationships do you feel that you have been cheated or have settled for second best, and why?
  1. If you could break off your relationship or get a divorce from your partner right now without any inconvenience, legal costs or embarrassment and without any undue hardship on yourself or your children, would you do it? And then why have you answered that way?
  1. How bleak are your feelings about your relationship and just how negatively do you think about yourself and your partner?

You need however, to be very careful here because when you are in a negative place, in your personal lives, you can also get caught up in the negative aspects of your relationship and forget about all the good things. You can even begin to think that it is your relationship that is at fault when the truth is it is more about you as an individual rather than you as a couple.

Look out for part two in these series of article/blog entries to learn what to do with the results of this questionnaire. If you can’t wait till my next entry you can subscribe to my mailing list. Then you will receive the free e-book that this questionnaire comes from. It’s titled “Relationships – A Couple’s Journey”.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature

It’s a Hormone Thing

It's a Hormone Thing

Generally men are turned on sexually more easily than women. Men are also turned on more easily by sexual stimuli, including fantasy. And in addition nature also causes a build-up of sexual tension in a healthy male which will seek any means of release. This build-up of sexual tension actually begins again immediately after ejaculation. In the younger man this sexual tension can return quickly but with age it usually takes longer for this to happen.

Men not only turn on faster they can also complete the full sexual response sooner. Ejaculation can occur on penetration or even before. Male orgasm, however, is another matter – that takes longer and requires a man to learn to control ejaculation and to want to explore a fuller involvement of his total self.

Women are turned on more by appropriate conversation and touching within a relationship filled with emotional warmth and love. But, just as for a man, this response, and the accompanying sex drive levels, can vary from woman to woman and from time to time.

These different means of building sexual desire can be one reason why, particularly, a woman’s desire might be blocked if she feels distrust of her partner or anger towards him. This however is not isolated to women, men can also be put off if the conditions aren’t right but generally less so than for women.

While on average the male orgasm is not as strong as in the female, it is none-the-less a part of the experience for some men – those who are willing to take the time to allow the sexual tension to build up, and who love being with their partners, will also love the experience of surrendering to those strong sensations of ecstasy. For these men, the driver is their love for their partner and for the quality of their sex rather than the frequency.

Also men are generally not multi-orgasmic as are many women. Women take longer to reach the peak of excitation where for many, orgasm occurs. After orgasm, many women who remain high on the plateau stage can have second or even more orgasmic experiences if they wish.

There are also many women who have great difficulty achieving orgasm and some who never do, and perhaps never will.

For many women orgasm, however, is not what having sex is about. Rather it is about being emotionally and physically connected to another human being in as close a way as possible.

Some of the things that will influence how responsive a woman is to a man’s sexual approach are the physical environment the couple find themselves in. The environment must be conducive to love-making and all of her senses are employed in deciding this – color, temperature, sounds, aromas and the degree of privacy afforded them so she can feel safe in a place without interruption. The tone of the male voice and how he communicates with her and touches her, as already discussed, will also be a mood maker or breaker.

The lesson here is to ensure that you keep talking to each other about what you like and don’t like during sex and not just during the act but in all aspects of your relationship. For all you men reading this, your lesson is this: don’t be in a hurry to have sex. Give your woman time to feel like sex. When I’m working with a couple I generally suggest to the men that they should allow about twelve hours for a woman to work up to sex, so be super nice to her and she’ll reward you generously.

The lesson for you women reading this is: help your man out. Don’t make it a guessing competition about what you need – let him know exactly what you need to ensure that you will “feel like it” when the time is right.

Most of all for both of you: make it fun. Sex is a form of play – you can’t play when you’re upset or stressed. Get rid of all that and enjoy being together in this very special way with your whole heart, body and mind.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature

The Sex-Stress Barometer

The Sex-Stress Barometer

Many people, and maybe reasonably so, use their sexual relationship as a barometer of what is going on in the rest of their relationship. Consequently if the sex is great then some people conclude, though sometimes incorrectly, that the rest of their relationship must also be great. Similarly some people decide that if the sex is not working then nor is the rest of their relationship.

My belief is that even though how you are sexually may be an effective barometer it should never be considered the only way to assess the health of a relationship.

This is because there will be times in everyone’s life, because of stress or other factors, that their libido levels may drop, or even disappear altogether. They may simply be too tired to make sex good for themselves or for another, or their hormone levels are irregular, or even that there is some other physical condition, such as the development of prostate cancer, that prevents the person, physically or emotionally, from being fully present sexually.

These issues should always be considered with care and in the knowledge that with time and support, all of them can be worked through to revive the couple’s sexual relationship. Sometimes we have to just stop trying so hard and know that being intimate with someone is not just about the sexual act, and that it can be equally enjoyable to just be close physically to another, whether this is in bed, in the bath, or just by touching each other in a loving way as you brush past them.

The most important point to note in all of this is that sex should never be allowed to become boring or be used to push someone into something that they do not wish to do.

Therefore, it is important that you regularly explore new ways of connecting with each other, using all of your body and all of your senses, and by enjoying what the exploration of those things can generate for you.

It may also be important to note here as well, that your sexual attraction to another may be linked to your ‘script’. In this regard as your family and community reacts towards sex then this may also become your unconscious instruction and subsequent belief about sex. So if you are born into a family that sees sex as “dirty” or only for the purpose of reproduction then that may affect your belief about sex. Similarly if you have been sexually abused as a child then that may also impact on your belief about sex.

On the other hand if you were raised in a family that believed sex should be freely talked about and practiced, in an appropriate way, then that will also affect how you then respond to sex as you enter into adult relationships.

The most important thing to remember here is that as you grow personally, and start to modify, or even change, your ‘script’ beliefs about sex, it opens for you the possibility of seeing your partner in a new and different light, thereby creating an opportunity for every sexual experience to also be new and different.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature

Creating Great Conditions for Great Sex

Creating Great Conditions for Great Sex

Great sex is vital to the continuing development of all great relationships and vice-versa; having a great relationship will ensure that the sex is also great.

Men and women often think that sexual responses and satisfaction are reflexes that automatically leap into action once the right buttons are turned on or when the light is switched off.

In truth, sexual response is most likely to occur when we have taken the time to ensure that the ‘conditions’ for sex are just right. These conditions are about what increases our sexual interest and responsiveness.

Maybe I can describe this best by using the analogy of driving a car. When I drive my car, that is; if I want to get to my destination safe, well and happy, I’ll need certain conditions to be present. I do this automatically without thinking about it, most of the time.

For example, I sit in the front seat with my hands on the steering wheel, not in the back seat or in the trunk. I keep my eyes open; I drive on the correct side of the road, not through a muddy paddock or down a cliff. When it is raining I use the wipers, when its dark I switch on the headlights. I put my feet on the pedals, using the brake to stop and the accelerator to go ahead. I use my blinkers and ensure there is petrol and oil in the car and organize a regular service. If I neglect to do any of these things I would not expect to have a good driving experience. These, then, are my conditions for a great driving experience.

Similarly, you all have your own conditions for great sex and they may be different from those of your partner. Consequently, in your relationships, it is important for you to know yourselves well enough to know what those conditions for great sex are. And, just as importantly, you also need to be curious about what conditions make sex great for your partner.

We mostly know our own conditions for great sex because of our past experiences, positive and negative. To ensure we get our conditions for great sex met then, it is essential for us to let our partners know what things really turn us on and what things really turn us off. Some of you would like to believe that your partner should just know this. But guess what? They can’t unless you tell them.

It is important to regularly check this and then, with your partner or on your own, experiment with something that may be new, to see how that might also feel for you. This is what will keep the sex not just great but novel and exciting every time you come together. And of course ditto for your partner. They say; ‘variety is the spice of life’, and in great sex, especially over the many years of a relationship it is absolutely essential.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature

How to Fight Fair When You Disagree (Part Two)

A New Dance

How to Fight Fair When You Disagree - A New DanceIn my last article I wrote about some ideas I have about fighting fairly. Here are some more ideas for you.

One of my most important rules for fair fighting contains a strong resistance, even though it doesn’t always work, to defend myself, or to shut down completely.

I do this by taking whatever time I need to really, really understand as best I can what the other person is trying to say to me. Sometimes I have to put my own response aside for a moment and question the other person in the disagreement to ensure I really am as clear as I can be about what they are saying.

I also think about what it is I want or need from them and may even put this down on paper to clarify it for myself first in an attempt to prepare myself better for the conversation.

Finally I ask the other person if they are willing to take the time needed to hear me out as well before responding to what they think they are hearing.

I also strive to take full responsibility for my feelings and so try not to blame others for what is happening for me. I always try to keep in mind that it takes ‘two to tango’, so when considering how to communicate to the other what’s going on for me I try to use “I” statements rather than “You” statements”.

To put it simply, the difference between these two kinds of statements is this; “I” statements start with an “I” and “You” statements start with a “You”.

Consequently, if someone is constantly late, the message I want to get across to them is this; “I feel angry and annoyed when you are regularly late and you haven’t called me”. This is much better than saying, “You’re always late. You make me so angry!” One is about accepting my responsibility for my feelings and the other is about blaming another for what I’m feeling. And here’s another ‘NO-NO’- Be careful of using broad generalizations like:  ‘always’ or ‘never’. Be truthful about what is actually happening.

I also make a point when I am in conflict to attempt to be objective in hearing all sides of the argument. If I can hear all sides then I am more likely to be able to work with the other person to a better outcome.

And of course, humor, used appropriately, can be helpful too. Try and take a playful attitude towards developing the skill of emotional self-control in high conflict situations. If you are able to do this then it is more likely that the other person will relax and consequently get both of you to a better ending.

If you use all of these skills, conflict will not be as difficult to manage as it first might appear, and you might get to an even more satisfactory resolution, one that leads you both to a win/win outcome, rather than a win/lose or both lose.

Of course this is not always achievable, but if you both understand the importance of finding a good resolution to your conflicts then you can expect that your partner will help you here by being considerate of your feelings and thoughts and help you to explore them as you speak about what is bothering you.

This then opens up the possibility of finding a whole ‘new dance’, and a better way to resolve conflicts that steers you away from your old ways of doing it, laying the path for a more successful outcome, knowing that you can meet your needs in a more appropriate way.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature

How to Fight Fair When You Disagree (Part One)

A Fair Fight

Many books and articles have been written on the topic of how to get through these really difficult times in your relationship and about how to ‘fight’ our way through them in a fair way. This means that the outcome will only be found in consideration of our own contribution to the conflict as well as to the others.

The one thing that’s common to all of the approaches is that when something is not working for you in your relationship, it needs to be brought out into the open, and discussed. In this way, rather than getting caught up in some old ‘out-of-date’ way of attempting to get your needs met you may come up with something more helpful that might result in actually getting your needs met in an appropriate way.

The Rules for Fair Fighting

Hence my rules for fighting fair are firstly; when I feel stressed, I take whatever time I need to compose myself while attempting to find the most effective way to share what I need to say with the person I’m in conflict with. The thing is you can’t fight fair when you are full of emotion whether it is anger, sadness or disappointment.

I use all of the interpersonal skills that I have learned, taking time to listen to the other’s point of view with as open a mind as I can and using phrases, as is fitting, like “I hear you”, and “I get what you are saying”, without negating that with a “but” but rather expanding on it with an “and”.

One word I really try to avoid using, despite Charlie Harper’s partial success in “Two and a Half Men”, is “I understand”. The truth is I can never really understand another’s perspective. In actual fact the best I can do is hear it and acknowledge their experience of whatever is going on as their truth even if it doesn’t fit with mine.

So a typical response then might sound more like this: “I hear what you’re saying about what you think is happening and I think …(put in here your own view)… might be happening too!” This is a much softer way of adding your thoughts on a topic that doesn’t leave the other feeling like they’ve been backed into a corner. They can feel that they’ve been heard so are more likely then to hear clearly what you are trying to say.

Try out these strategies over the next little while and come back to discover some more of the strategies I use in my next article.

So until next time – Relate with Love

Relationship Remedy Signature