As I meet with married couples young and old, to help them improve their sexual intimacy, I have become aware of something very clear. Most married couples wish they had learned what they learn in our sessions, before they ever got married to one another! I frequently hear from couples, “We should have done this years ago!” or “Wow, we really should have talked about that before marriage.”
I have noticed that some couples, depending on their value systems or home life, do not feel comfortable talking about sexual intimacy before marriage. Whether a couple chooses to be sexually intimate before or after marriage, most new couples are eager to have sex, but unsure how to talk about it. I can understand this, however, I feel there are tremendous benefits to having these conversations beforehand, rather than a honeymoon crash course where expectations can be annihilated and typically not for the better. It is good for couples to discuss what their expectations are for frequency of intimacy, history of any sexual trauma or sexual addictions and how that may impact intimacy, and thoughts regarding what is okay and not okay during intimacy. A counselor who has experience working with sexual intimacy can inform a new couple what the different stages of the sexual response cycle are and what types of things in the relationship or the individual may impede progress in the cycle. A session like this gives couples the language and breaks the ice to set the stage for many healthy and safe conversations about sex throughout their lives together.
So, next time you are stumped about a wedding gift, perhaps buy something that certainly won’t be on the registry. Buy the budding new couple one premarital counseling session to talk about intimacy. This is an atmosphere that feels more safe for couple’s to talk about these things, rather than trying to duck away from their parents or roommates somewhere.
When people find out I am a marriage therapist, I inevitably get asked two questions. 1) What is the number one reason people come in for marriage therapy? and 2) When do you know it’s time to see a marriage therapist? I could go on for several pages about the different reasons that couples come into therapy. However, my answer to the second question is pretty cut and dry. There is no such thing as starting marriage therapy too early. However, there can be a point where it is too late. Often times people only contact professional help after a catastrophic event has happened in their relationship. Too often one or both people involved are coming to therapy so they can have peace of mind that “they did everything to save the marriage.” The very sad truth is that the marriage could have been saved if the couple had come in at the first sign of difficulty. For those of you asking whether now is a good time to start therapy, let me ask: Are you H.A.P.P.Y. in your relationship?
5 common road blocks that could be keeping you and your partner from optimal intimacy!
Work life, parenting responsibilities, maintaining a home, dishes in the sink or a bedroom overcrowded with laundry, these are just a few examples of things that contribute to shaping our environment. Is there anything present or obstacles in your environment that could interfering with opportunities to create more intimacy. Environment can play a crucial role in our ability to focus and dedicate time to growing and nurturing intimacy in our home and relationships.
Are you tired of reading relationship books with a few tips and advice that may put a band aid on your marital discourse? Dr. Sue Johnson, author of Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations For A Lifetime Of Love, relationship researcher and expert, believes that the attachment bond individuals have with their partners is crucial for a happy, healthy relationship. Just as an infant feels close, attached, and loved when her mother gazes in her eyes, adults have the same need. We innately feel a desire to connect, be loved, depended on, and to feel safe. When the attachment is insecure with our spouse or partner, there is greater likelihood for disconnection, isolation, and distance. Hold Me Tight looks to address that attachment bond.
Wasatch Family Therapy is pleased to announce that we are, once again, offering a Hold Me Tight workshop. Based on Dr. Sue Johnson’s Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) approach. An approach in which empirical research shows that 70-75% of couples move from distress to recovery. The workshop will take readers through the following seven transforming conversations:
Recognizing Demon Dialogues
Finding the Raw Spots
Revisiting a Rocky Moment
Hold Me Tight
Bonding Through Sex and Touch
Keeping Your Love Alive
Join us, LaShawn Schultz CSW and Jameson Holman, for this eight-week course beginning Wednesday nights on October 1st in the Cottonwood Heights location from 6-8 p.m. Register now and find the emotional connection that can come as partners reach for one another, holding tight.
Have you ever been annoyed by certain habits or quirks of your partner that you once found endearing? Perhaps you were drawn to a man because you admired his work ethic, but then later came to see him as a workaholic. Or maybe you initially liked how a woman was dedicated to physical fitness, but eventually felt she was self-absorbed. This phenomenon, which experts refer to as a fatal attraction, can wreak havoc on relationships.
Julie Hanks had the opportunity to give her insight on this topic in a new Wall Street Journal article out today entitled, “How to Cope When You and Your Partner are Falling Out of Love.” She and other relationship experts discuss how to appropriately handle this fatal attraction in such ways as recognizing that every character trait has pros and cons, reflecting on what you do appreciate about your romantic partner, and considering how the other person brings balance to the relationship.
Finding out that your partner has been unfaithful has the potential to be one of the most devastating experiences a person can encounter in his/her life. A common and appropriate reaction, given the circumstances, is panic. There is generally nothing short of a roller coaster of emotions, and as a result, many couples do unintentional damage before they can seek help. This is to be expected as no one tells you what you should do in the immediate aftermath of an affair.
The main goal is to limit the destruction in the time between finding out and getting help. Here are some crisis control tips to follow until you can get some additional help:
Julie Hanks, LCSW and Wasatch Family Therapy mentioned in a recent Closer Weekly magazine discussing the recent developments with Michael Douglas and his estranged wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. It seems the two have been out and about together and Julie believes that may be good news.
This may come as a surprise to you, but sex begins long before you make it to the bedroom. Many people report needing to feel emotionally close to their partner before they get physically close to their partner. Sex can be the most vulnerable you become with another person and so you need to feel safe emotionally with your partner. What does emotional intimacy look like? I have heard many couples describe this as feeling “connected”. To become more emotionally intimate you can spend more quality time with your partner. Be open with each other. Share your thoughts and feelings with one another. Try talking about things that don’t revolve around the tasks of running a household. Share your fears, sorrows, dreams, and excitement for life. Play together. This could be as simple as laughing with one another or doing something new together. Make sure you spend quality alone time to develop emotional intimacy and build trust with your partner.
It is very common for couples to reach a point in their relationship where they start to feel more like roommates than lovers. One thing that we forget once we are past the romancing stage is that a relationship continues to take work. It is easy to get comfortable and settled with our partner to where we stop putting forth the effort to win each other over. Though there is a deep and secure love between you and your partner, when this happens, it can feel like the spark is gone, and we begin to mourn for that loss of passion.
Here are some ideas on how to get that spark back and rekindle the passion.
1. Regular dates
Having kids and busy work schedules can make it tough to find time for just the two of you. Don’t let yourselves fall into the same routines. Make sure you plan time for each other and put forth the effort to plan fun dates. Your relationship is just as important as your kids and work, and it requires some attention as well. Go on dates, and get that much needed couple time together.
2. Physical touch
It is always important to make time for intimacy through sex with your partner, but there is also a lot of power in physical contact. Holding hands, rubbing your spouse’s back, raking your fingers though his hair, lingering kisses, and long hugs are great ways to ignite some passion. Touching each other more often helps us feel closer to one another.
3. Find something you both love
Finding a hobby to share with your spouse is a great way to ignite a spark. Take a class, try something new, be adventurous… When you share experiences with your spouse that you both enjoy together, you will feel a stronger connection to one another.
4. Remember the passion
Sometimes just remembering what it is that first made us fall in love with our partners can help bring some of that passion back. Try making a list of all the reasons why you love your partner. Write them down, and read them to each other. Acknowledge the things that you appreciate about the other and may be taking for granted. Besides building up your partner and making them feel good, you will also recognize all that deep love that is already there.
If and when possible, go on getaways together. Even small road trips can be fun and great opportunities to talk and just focus on each other.
6. Make it a joint effort
It is not easy to rekindle the passion in your relationship if you are the only one working at it. You and your spouse need to help one another. Talk to each other and express that you are trying to make an effort to reignite the spark and that it is important to you, and hopefully you will be in on it together.