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Times You Can Predict Your Sex May Decline

As I continually work with couples on improving their sex lives, one concern I hear frequently is, “Are we having the normal amount of sex?” They worry that if they are having less sex than they did at other points in the relationship, that maybe their sex life is getting worse. The reality is, the number of times you are your partner have sex, isn’t the most valuable information about whether or not you have a high-quality sex life. It is very natural for the quantity of sex to eb and flow throughout a lifetime together. Here are some perfectly normal times to see some changes in the frequency, and perhaps quality of your sex with your partner:

  1. Pregnancy: Though there are some changes in the body during pregnancy that can make sex more enjoyable for women, there are certainly some changes that do not. Some women report that fatigue and sickness during the first trimester of pregnancy, make them feel less sexual desire. Typically, women report the most enjoyable sex during their second trimester of pregnancy. During the third trimester, it is a fight for space in the female body! Additionally, after baby comes, there is no sex at all for at least 6 weeks.
  2. Death and Grieving: Some people report that when they are grieving the loss of a loving one, they feel less desire to be sexually intimate. That being said, some don’t feel that way at all. You shouldn’t feel weird or guilty if you still do have a desire for sex after the death of a loved one. All of these responses fall under the normal umbrella.
  3. Illness: Most people don’t feel like being sexually intimate when they are sick. When our bodies are fighting off illness, survival takes precedence over procreation. Luckily, illness usually only influences our sex lives for a week or so. However, when chronic illness is involved this can take a toll on a relationship. When a partner has cancer, or dementia, or kidney failure, sex becomes one of the last priorities, though sex can still be missed and longed for by both partners.
  4. Distance: This one is obvious… You can’t have sex when you are miles apart. Many couples have to spend time apart due to work, deployments, etc. In these cases, couples should have a plan for how they will maintain intimacy and connection during the time apart.
  5. Depression and Anxiety: Mental health issues can certainly influence sex. Specifically, anxiety and depression, somewhat highjack the mechanisms in the brain and nervous systems that influence our sexual reactivity and receptivity. With professional help and treatment of the illness, these concerns can be resolved or better managed, and couples can learn to have functioning sexual relationships.
  6. Stress and Fatigue: Stress also interferes with some of the biological mechanisms that influence sexual receptivity. When our bloodstream is raging with the stress hormone Cortisol, our nervous system is not typically apt to engage in sex. High levels of fatigue can also decrease desire. You may be noticing a pattern. There is an order of operations in the body; survival first, everything else after. Since sex is not essential for survival, but sleep is, the body will prioritize accordingly.

These certainly aren’t all the reason sex may struggle in a marriage. They are however, some of the big ones. Men and women all report times when sex wains. There are stereotypes that men always want to have sex and that women are always the ones turn men down. That’ s simply not true. Men and women,though different, have many sexual similarities. For help with your sexual relationship, schedule an appointment today.

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Can I Get a Side of Orgasm with That?

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O yes, we are talking about the big O. A little too big, if you ask me. As I sit with couples and discuss the tender issue of sex and the vulnerabilities it uncovers, I notice that a lot of people make a HUGE deal about orgasms. Now, I get it, orgasms are great! However, sometimes when couples make an orgasm the determining factor as to whether or not a sexual encounter was good or bad, they may discredit a lot of other good things that happen during sex.

The truth is, not everyone orgasms every time they have sex. This varies widely from individual to individual. Some people have orgasms frequently, hit or miss, or rarely at all. Some people are distressed by a lack of orgasm, and some are not. Some people are distressed by having an orgasm. Individual experiences and contexts influence what meaning we attach to things such as orgasm.

This being the reality, you can see how much pressure it can add to a sexual encounter to make orgasm the primary goal. While orgasms feel spectacular for most, connection is a good goal for sex. In fact, when someone is feeling pressure or anxiety about “making someone orgasm,” or, “I need to orgasm so my partner feels like a good enough lover,” it actually interferes with the mechanisms in the body that make orgasm the most likely. Ironic, right?

This is why I tell couples to think of orgasm as the side dish, and connection as the main dish. It is okay if you want to orgasm more and take healthy steps to work toward that with your partner. This is best achieved in a mind set of “if it happens great, but if not, we will keep practicing,” rather than a pass or fail mentality. My advice is to relax, communicate, focus on your love for your partner, and enjoy the sensations you feel.

To schedule an appointment with Kathleen Baxter, call Wasatch Family Therapy at 801-944-4555.

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Sex, Baseball and Pizza

canstockphoto9858582If you haven’t seen this ted talk, check it out:
https://www.youtube.com/embed/xF-CX9mAHPo
It’s all about the language we use, and how that language impacts our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors when it comes to sex.
We’ve heard the baseball metaphors.  First, second, and third base.  Home run.  Striking out.  Playing for the other team.  Al Vernacchio, who gave this ted talk points out that in baseball, you have two teams, one wins and one loses.  You have specific rules to follow, and you have very little control over the season schedule.  When there’s a game, players are expected to play.  In sex this creates an unhealthy dynamic.  Sexual relationships shouldn’t be about winning or losing, or about competition.  Sex shouldn’t occur due to pressure to “play”.  Sexual relationships should be about enjoying the activity together.  He suggests a new metaphor.
Getting pizza.   When you want pizza, it’s based on an inner desire rather than competition.  When you’re eating pizza, there are no winners or losers.  It’s about enjoying the experience.  In baseball there are rules.  The right ways and the wrong ways to play.  In pizza, there are no rules, you can eat it if you want to, if it satisfies your hunger, and it’s okay to enjoy some toppings, and not others.
By changing our metaphor, as Mr. Vernacchio explains, “we could…invite people to think about their own desires and make deliberate decisions about what they want, and talk about it with their partners…to look not at some external outcome, but for what feels satisfying”.
Who wants pizza?
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What To Do If Your Child Is Viewing Porn: Nightside Interview

What To Do If Your Child Is Viewing Porn: Nightside Interview

What to do when your child views pornI recently spoke with Ethan Millard and Alex Kirry of KSL’s NewsRadio Nightside Project about what parents can do if they discover that their child is viewing porn.

Pornography is a loaded topic: the easy accessibility of it combined with a curiosity about and interest in bodies and sexuality that children naturally have can lead to problems and questions. We’ve all heard the horror stories of how porn addiction can lead to broken families and destroyed lives. It’s quite a task to speak to your children about these issues and can be even more emotionally daunting if they’re already involved in it in some way. Here are some strategies for how to handle a situation in which your son or daughter is viewing pornography:

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Valentine’s SEX

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…and other holidays you feel pressure to make IT great!

There are a few holidays, you know which ones they are, that bring a chain of different thoughts.

“My anniversary is coming. I guess that means we should probably have sex.”

“Sweet, it’s my birthday. This means a party in the bed tonight!”

“It’s Valentine’s, does that mean that I should actually dress up for sex tonight?”

There is even a song titled Birthday Sex by the artist Jeremih. So, what is it that creates these expectations about holiday sex? Is it that we consider sex the ultimate gift and it seems fitting to give it on a holiday? Is it because in a situation where someone feels deprived of sex, that seems like a day you really shouldn’t deprive someone? Or is it that it is the ultimate celebration of your love for someone and that seems like a perfect day to celebrate? Who knows?

I am not here stating that it is neither good nor bad to have expectations about holiday sex. You and your partner can decide whether that is awesome or a problem. I thought it would be fun to consider some of the pros and cons.

CONS

  1. We usually also eat a lot of great food on these holidays and sex with a full stomach can be… interesting.
  2. Expectations can add stress and stress can be debilitating when it comes to sexual function.
  3. You can’t save your sexual relationship with your partner on a holiday every now and again. Spice is necessary more than 3 times a year.
  4. If you don’t have holiday sex and it is expected, it can lead to a lot of hurt, passive avoidance techniques, or anger.
  5. If sex is already a problem, the problem usually comes to a head when these expectations are unfulfilled and you can spend a perfectly good holiday fighting.

PROS

  1. If you conceive, you can guarantee you don’t have to share an anniversary or birthday with your kid.
  2. Going above and beyond on anything, sex included, can really make your partner feel wanted, seen and important.
  3. The pressure of expected holiday sex, keeps you on your toes and actively working on improving your sexual relationship.
  4. These holidays can create deep feelings of love, and perhaps create the desire to have sex in the first place.
  5. If you plan to have sex on these holidays, the kids are usually gone and sex can be more enjoyable.

Consider these points for yourselves. Wishing you a Valentine’s Day full of love and closeness for whomever or whatever you love!

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5 Common Road Blocks to Couple Intimacy

couple-listening-optimizedWant more intimacy in 2015?

5 common road blocks that could be keeping you and your partner from optimal intimacy!

Environment

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.

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5 Minute Relationship Fix: The “S” Word

5 minute relationship fix

Here is the most recent “5 Minute Relationship Fix” segment from the Todd & Erin Show, where I share quick tips to strengthen relationships in just five minutes!

This week, we’re tackling a topic that comes up over and over again: the “S” word. Yep, that’s right, we’re talking about sex!

Too often, women feel like sex is a chore, while men are often wanting sex to be spontaneous. Listen here for how planning sex can help you and your partner have a more fulfilling relationship!

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November Date Night: Reignite the Romance: Tips for Improving Your Sex Life

DATE: Fri. Nov. 15th

TIME: 7:00-9:00 p.m.

PRICE: $40.00 per couple (includes catered dinner for 2 by Texas Roadhouse Grill & dessert by Straws)

LOCATION: Wasatch Family Therapy (SL County Office)

7084 South 2033 East Suite 215

Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121

Bring your partner for a night of fun, food, and fantasy. November’s date night is dedicated to heating up the passion in your relationship and answering the “to personal to ask anyone but a therapist” questions.

Taught by Christine Holding, AMFT, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist

Limited to 15 couples

Reserve your seats now at Eventbrite http://www.wasatchdatenights.eventbrite.com/

Texas RoadhouseStraws Logo

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5 Tips to Improve Your Sex Life

Man & woman snuggling1. Get emotionally naked first

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.

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Ask A Therapist: I’m a 26-Year-Old Virgin with No Close Friends

Q: I’m 26 and very lonely, a virgin and I have no close friends. I’m socially awkward and it has affected me all my life. I’m so alone that I made a time limit in my journal that if I don’t make friends or have sex when I reach 30, I’ll kill myself. Crazy right? I even know it’s crazy. I’m a really nice girl, but quiet. What is wrong with me? I have no help what-so-ever around me. I don’t even know what to do anymore. I’ve tried making friends, but it’s so hard. I’m getting desperate, I’m so alone.

A: Thanks for writing in about your desperate need to connect with others. I hear that your overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are so painful that you have considered putting a time limit on your life. Ironically, putting a time limit on getting close to others will likely increase your anxiety level and create situations that will make it less likely that you’ll create close and successful relationships. Instead of giving yourself an ultimatum (“You get close to someone or else I’ll end your life”), I suggest that you work on seeking sources of emotional and relational support, on self nurturing, and on actively seeking relationship skills.

I strongly recommend that you seek a psychotherapist as soon as possible to get someone on your “team,” someone you can explore your pain with, ease your loneliness, and help you find the tools to connect with others.  Opening up to a therapist may feel very scary; however, therapy can be extremely helpful in resolving emotional blocks that are making it so difficult to get close to others, and help you develop emotional and relationship tools.  Your therapist will also assess for a mental illness that is contributing to the feelings of loneliness or isolation. If you need help to find a qualified therapist please click here. Group therapy may also be a helpful treatment option for you at some point. Groups are a wonderful place to explore your relationship patterns and to practice relationship skills in real time with the support of a therapist. Thank you again for writing in.

Please take good care of yourself.

Julie Hanks LCSW

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