Tag Archive | Marriage

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

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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

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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

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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

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Common Reasons Why Couples Fight and How to Solve Them

Common Reasons Why Couples Fight and How to Solve Them

Whatever stage of relationship you are in there will be some conflict. Disagreements are not only normal but are a necessary part of the development of a healthy relationship. Without them there would be insufficient motivation to want to move on and strive for something better.

The reasons couples fight are many and varied but all have their beginnings in at least one of an individual’s fundamental needs not being met in some way. You might recall from a previous article that the five basic human needs are Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Social, and Security well-being.

Some of the reasons couples fight may therefore include; to break a routine, an endeavor to establish some sense of control, to minimize differences, to be understood or to be appreciated, a way of trying to cope with your partner’s moods and/or actions, or to be right and not be made wrong..

Alternatively fighting can be a vain attempt to get back to like it was at the beginning of your relationship. It can even be a way of holding onto or breaking up old connections, or to ‘balance the scales’ of justice, so to speak, and that’s really about ‘getting even’. Fighting can be a response to an attempt to define, develop or express a separate identity or even as an attempt to find new solutions to old problems.

Each reason is important and needs to be considered so that you can discover how and why you deal with conflict the way you do. Again and again as these basic needs are not being met, we are thrown into some old belief, thought or behavior pattern that may then lead us to deal with the conflict in an inappropriate way.

Sometimes it can be simply understood as ‘dancing the old dance’, just as we were taught when we were given our ‘script’ as very young children which, as discussed in another article, was most often a consequence of our observations of our parents or other significant people in our lives. This most likely happened because there weren’t any alternative strategies offered at the time for us to model our behavior on. So if we’re not given appropriate alternatives then we’ll just go ahead and do what is demonstrated to us.

To begin exploring your own reasons for fighting firstly take a look at the five human needs to see if these are being met in your own life. Once you’ve done that take a look at the list of reasons couples fight as discussed above and see if there are any that feel familiar to you. Consider them in light of the five needs and then contemplate how you might more appropriately get those needs met.

In my next article I’ll look a little closer at the “Rules for Fair Fighting”. Make sure you check it out.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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10 Secrets to Achieving Marital Harmony

10 Secrets to Achieving Marital Harmony

Marital harmony can be achieved in a variety of ways. Sometimes it is the little things that maintain the peace in a relationship and sometimes it is more monumental decisions that can either harm or help the harmony in the household. While agreement is not always possible, it is important for the couple to realize that even during arguments it’s possible to maintain harmony. As long as you understand that disagreements are only temporary the harmony in your marriage will remain throughout all types of trials and tribulations.

  • Being aware of your partner’s likes and dislikes is one way to achieve marital harmony. This awareness allows you to operate in a way that keeps your partner’s preferences in mind. If you know what your partner likes and doesn’t like you can take precautions to not engage in an activity that will hurt your partner. Additionally, your partner will respect your consideration of their feelings. This consideration is necessary for those who wish to achieve marital harmony.
  • Sharing in the decision-making process is also critical to achieving marital harmony. This is important for a couple of reasons. First it gives the couple the opportunity to work together to make a decision and second it helps to make them both feel involved in the process. Also, if one person takes the responsibility of making decisions without consulting their partner it can lead to resentment especially if the decision turns out to be a bad one.
  • Another secret to achieving marital harmony is to work to balance your career and home life. It is easy to get caught up in your job responsibilities and to begin to allow your job to take precedence in your relationship but working hard to ensure this doesn’t happen will be beneficial to your marriage. It’s important to realize that no job is more important than your relationship. There may be times that you need to work late or on weekends but try to keep these instances to a minimum. Also, strive to not bring home your work, either physically or mentally, and allow it to encroach on your marriage. It’s acceptable to share information about your day and vent about any problems you may have had for a little while but going on and on about your job will cause problems in your marriage.
  • Any marriage is bound to have its problems and disagreements but it’s important to not let that problem linger. When disagreements arise, try working out an amicable agreement but when this is not possible sometimes you just have to agree to disagree and move on with your marriage. Remember that each morning is a new day and strive to wake up having forgotten any arguments you may have had with your spouse on the previous day. If you made your best effort to resolve the problem and were unable to reach a resolution, just let it go and start the new day out harmoniously.
  • Agreeing on financial matters is also key to achieving marital harmony. Money is one of the issues that creates the most arguments in a marriage. If both partners are aware of their current financial situation and are willing to work together to establish a budget and stick to it, you will avoid discontent related to financial matters in the marriage.
  • Perhaps an important secret to achieving marital harmony that is often overlooked is knowing your partner very well and discussing major issues before getting married. For example if you have always wanted children, it’s best to find out your partners view on children before getting married. Differences of opinion in an area such as this can doom a marriage. However, if you make sure you marry someone who agrees with you about these critical issues you will avoid having problems arise later in the marriage as these subjects come up.
  • Keeping politics and other sensitive issues out of your marriage is also important to maintaining harmony. It’s acceptable to have opposing viewpoints on issues and debate your beliefs but allowing these issues to create a major rift it your marriage is not acceptable. Two people can exist harmoniously in a marriage while holding opposing viewpoints as long as they respect each other’s opinions.
  • Allowing each other some time to be alone can also help you achieve marital harmony. It’s important to spend time together and share interests but sometimes too much time together can be stifling. It is important for each partner to have interests or hobbies that they participate in without their spouse. This time away from each other helps to maintain harmony by giving each partner a sense of individuality.
  • Being respectful of your spouse is also very important to achieving marital harmony. Couples that treat themselves and each other with respect are able to maintain a sense of civility and accord even during disagreements. This feeling of respect will help the couple to remain harmonious even in the most trying situations.
  • One last secret to achieving marital harmony is to share household chores. A couple that divides up the responsibilities in the household and strives to help each other out whenever possible will have an easy time maintaining harmony. Failure to do this, however, can be very damaging to a relationship. If you have to go as far as drawing up a list of chores and who is responsible for them, go ahead and do that. A written document illustrating who does what around the house will make it clear if one person is overburdened.

It is important to not confuse harmony with agreement. Couples do not have to agree on every issue in order to have a sense of marital harmony. There are many factors that contribute to whether or not a marriage is harmonious. Some factors may be bigger than others, but they are all equally important in achieving marital harmony.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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5 Ways to Put Some Energy into Your Relationship

5 Ways to Put Some Energy into Your Relationship

Giving your mate gifts for no reason at all is a way to get your relationship back on track.  You may have lavished gifts on your partner early in the relationship but as the relationship progressed you may not have done so as frequently.  Small, meaningful gifts given just to make your partner happy will let them know that they are still always on your mind just as they were in the beginning of the relationship.

The simple act of holding hands can also add excitement back into a relationship.  This intimate gesture conveys a sense of security but it also lets your partner know that you want to be close to them at all times.  Many couples hold hands everywhere they go early in a relationship but don’t do so later on.  Try grabbing your partners hand as you are out running errands together.  They will be touched by the sentiment and will be happy to be sharing a sense of closeness with you again.

A kiss is still another way to bring the excitement back into your relationship.  You may have gotten into the habit of giving your mate a kiss on the cheek or a quick peck on the lips when you see them after a long day of work.  Trying kissing them with passion the next time you see them to catch them by surprise and really let you know not only how much you love them but how attractive you find them as well.

Having a common interest can also promote excitement in a relationship.  If there is an activity that you both enjoy doing, make it something that the two of you do together often.  For example if you both enjoy hiking make plans to go hiking every Saturday morning and each time you go out make it a little different by exploring a new location or setting new goals for yourselves.  This will give the two of you a chance to reconnect while enjoying each other’s company.  Having a ritualistic activity that you and your partner enjoy together creates closeness and intimacy that can help put the excitement back into your relationship.

Offering your partner a massage when they are worn out and tired can also bring the excitement back to your relationship.  A massage can be a very sensual and intimate experience.  Additionally offering a massage lets your partner know that you can see that they are stressed out and exhausted.  They will appreciate your putting them first in the relationship and this will help bring back the excitement in your relationship.

Over time a relationship may lose some of the excitement that it had in the very beginning.  While this may be troublesome it is also completely normal and also reversible.  Noticing the lack of excitement in your relationship is the first step to restoring that excitement.  It may take a little work but with a few simple actions you can be on your way to an exciting relationship.

So until next time – Relate with Love

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