Sex Talk

Many couples who form an intimate sexual relationship together and choose to be together can, sooner or later, become too embarrassed to talk about their sex-life. How does this happen?

An ongoing, satisfying sexual relationship needs good communication from the outset.  Unfortunately not many couples start off in this way, so later, when it is all going 'wrong', they find it impossible to talk it through.

When a couple gets together there is often a strong sexual desire driven by each separate self-fuelled libido and driven by the excitement of a fresh encounter. In time, the self-fuelled libido will quieten, leaving the natural chemistry of the couple and the strength of the attraction to fuel further sex.  If the attraction is not strong enough sex will become less frequent.

 Sometimes the sexual attraction was not strong between the couple in the first place but as they were content with the rest of the relationship, they ploughed on whilst never being satisfied with their sex-life. The couple may be secretive about their own masturbating, are avoiding sex with each other and are unable to talk about the lack of sex or what's going on.  Fast forward a few years and perhaps two children later and there is no physical bond between the couple.  They may or may not be in love with each other; they may or may not love each other.  But they are not attracted enough to each other to allow sex to happen and communication has never been honest enough to talk about it now.

The couples I see for counselling bring a variety of relationship issues and many of them revolve around sex or the lack of it.  What I often notice is the embarrassment around talking sex with each other and with me in the counselling room.  In order to protect each others feelings and to avoid conflict, the truth about their disappointment around their sex-life remains unspoken  - it has become too 'difficult' and too 'embarrassing' to talk sex.

In the arena of the sexual relationship, one negative comment or expression of dissatisfaction during sex can create feelings of rejection or not being good enough for the other. If one partner is made to feel dirty or bad for suggesting a particular sexual act he/she will be unlikely to find the courage to suggest it again. If one partner does not feel 'turned on' enough for sex or rejects the other without explanation, sexual communication soon breaks down to a silent embarrassment with plenty of resentment on both sides.

This is not a healthy couple situation and needs working through to avoid a break-down in the relationship.  By not addressing the issues around sex, unsurprisingly one or both partners may seek their sexual satisfaction elsewhere - whether from another or from Internet porn.

Good open communication is so valuable to all relationships on all levels.  When sex becomes an embarrassing subject for you and your partner it's time to get help to break through the barriers that are preventing you from potentially having the sex you want with the one you're with.

'Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex' - Hunter S Thompson

Love at a Distance

How do you maintain your couple relationship when you are geographically separated.  How do you sustain connection, closeness and trust in a long-distance relationship?

You may be apart through work commitments or to look after an elderly relative. You may live in separate homes.  You may travel extensively for work and spend several nights or weeks apart. You may be a young couple attending different Universities. How do you remain close when you are apart?

The obvious potential problem with these long-distance relationships is the risk of one or other of you being unfaithful.  The less obvious potential is for you to become detached in more ways than just distance.  The opportunity for connectedness is limited due to the amount of time you can spend together.

When life is so tightly time-tabled, and life together is minimal then that time together becomes important and potentially pressurised.

The couple can feel the pressure to have a good time; pressure to sort out domestic arrangements; pressure to talk about difficult subjects which cannot be dealt with over the phone; pressure to please and pressure to be pleased; pressure to prove to each other that the relationship is working; pressure to have great sex; pressure to be OK, to not be ill and to be generally cheerful for the duration.

All this pressure can ruin the little time you do have together because there is no room to just 'be' together.

When the daily contact and physical closeness is absent for much of the week it takes time to reconnect in a shared space.  Soon Sunday comes round again and there follows the pressure and sadness of parting, the sense of separation and for some, the sense of abandonment.

Not much of your life is shared.  The pattern is of coming and going - of flux.

It may be that the most time you spend together is on holiday, away from domesticity and work responsibilities.  Holidays may work very well as time to reconnect and remember why you are a couple but this time away may equally be blighted by bottled-up emotions and unresolved issues unspoken for months because of lack of time.  The lack of time inevitably creates the need to hurry-up; to fit it all in; to make it work.

If this is a familiar pattern, and your relationship is suffering, it is time to re-evaluate your chosen life-style and ask yourself questions about how real is the necessity to live in this way. Is there another way to structure your lives? How can you maximise just 'being' and 'connecting' when you do have time together?

'Absence sharpens love,
 presence strengthens it' - Thomas Fuller


Fear of truly Loving

If we have been stung by a bee, we may be wary of bees lest they sting us again and recreate the same pain.

Likewise to be hurt in love can make us wary about allowing ourselves to truly love again for fear of being hurt again.

A woman who is committed to her partner and has her partner cheat on her may feel so betrayed that she decides all men will hurt her; add to this perhaps a father who let her down in childhood and she is well on her way to never trusting a man again and never allowing herself to truly love again.

Equally if a young man is frequently lied to by his mother - perhaps she hides her drinking - when in later years his wife is caught using on-line chat rooms, the lying will be totally destructive to his trust of her and he may also decide all women are not to be trusted.

When the heart has been 'broken' it is difficult to throw caution to the wind and fall deeply in love once more - not impossible, but difficult. There is a fear of truly loving.

Humans learn from their experience and if something has hurt before (like the bee) they are resistant to opening themselves up to the possibility of repeating that experience.

This is a protective mechanism which would have served us well in a more primal setting to avoid complacency amongst the dangers of snakes, wolves and bears.  However, when we demonstrate caution in our relationships, we close ourselves off to truly loving and with that we also lose the possibility of ever having a deeply satisfying connection with the one that we love .

Bertrand Russell: Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

Sideways Anger

So you're angry about your colleague at work who got promotion before you and you're angry about your car breaking down and leaving you stranded; you're angry about your partner going out and having fun - you're also angry about being cut-up by that idiot driver this morning and you're shouting at the kids about minor things because they are annoying you and making you feel. . . angry.

Is your anger really about any of those things or is your anger misdirected and seeping out sideways.  In other words - what are you actually angry about?.

When people are 'cross' at home about their partner who hasn't cleared up after themselves; has just walked muddy footprints onto the freshly mopped floor; has their music up too loud; has squeezed the toothpaste tube from the top and left the lid off ...

What is this anger really about?

Usually there is something more serious bubbling inside - unresolved issues about your childhood; abandonment issues; hatred of your father; feeling unloved by your partner; having been made redundant - the possibilities are endless.

If you find yourself getting uncharacteristically or excessively angry with your children, your partner or your work colleagues, you are not happy

Your unresolved issues are polluting your life and ruining your relationships with those who love you.  As Freud said 'Unexpressed emotions will never die.  They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways' - Sigmund Freud.

These unresolved issues could do with being looked at, being spoken about, being explored and  processed to the point where you understand the root of your anger.  Only then will you stop being angry and refind your warmth and love for those around you.

Rather than just managing your anger with 'Anger management' tools, find out what is really making you angry. This is one of many things I am here to help you with.

At the core of all anger is a need that is not being fulfilled - Marshall B Rosenberg

How do we stop arguing?

Two people in a couple relationship will inevitably experience occasional conflict by way of disagreement or arguing.

Disagreeing with each other over household matters or chores; not reading off the same parenting page; upsetting each other with careless words or behaviours; jealousy or lack of trust.  There are so many ways of sparking conflict.  The relationship can become a battle of wills. Resentment can gradually build until the couple conflict becomes unacceptably intense for both partners and for everyone else around. 

Some degree of conflict is normal and should be seen that way. It is how you deal with that conflict together that affects the level of harmony in your relationship.

Due to our personal life experiences, we can find conflict very difficult to manage.  For some, conflict feels unbearable and for others arguing is surprisingly enjoyable - this usually indicates a familiarity with arguing.  

Raised voices, an aggressive manner and hearty disagreement can bring on an adrenaline response similar to that of being chased by a grizzly bear.  Fight, flight or freeze results.  Instead of finding a good time to calmly sit and rationally talk through the conflict, one or both of the couple will Fight - engage with the argument with volume and aggression;  Flight - walk out or run away from the perceived 'source of danger';  Freeze - become too terrified to speak or move.

How do we stop this arguing?  I see many couples who want to stop arguing but don't know how to.  They fear the end of their relationship as it has become an ugly, constant battleground. There are some simple tools which, when implemented consistently, can remove the ongoing conflicts from your relationship, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy each other and the relationship you have together. 

For help with this and other difficulties in your relationship I am here to guide you.

Raise your words, not voice, it is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.   Rumi, 13th Century Mystic poet