Better marriage on your TO-DO list? Start in the bedroom.

Have you ever wished for a better marriage? If the answer is YES, then you are not alone! Marriage is for better and worse, it’s pretty easy to imagine what the better part will look like; hand in hand walks on the beach, a glass of wine after a tough day, Netflix and chill anyone? The part that is hard to imagine is the worse; the fights, the toxic talk mumbled under your breath while your partner does something annoying in the next room. Even more troubling is a lack of intimacy, lying and a breach of trust or infidelity. Many couples wait until the the eleventh hour to reach out for help. By that time the thought of a light hearted roll in the hay may seem like a galaxy far, far away.

Traditional couples counseling often focuses on other concerns first. How is the communication? Do you fight? What are the critical conflicts that surface again and again?

better marriageHow is your sex life may only enter the conversation (or be addressed in a significant way) later on down the line. Is that the right approach? A new breed of therapists are tackling these issues in a different order. In a recent New York Times article the author reported on and interesting new convergence of therapist focusing on sex first.

So, is figuring out the sex puzzle going to give you a better marriage?

Continue reading Better marriage on your TO-DO list? Start in the bedroom.

How to deal with jealousy in your marriage.

If you’ve been in a romantic relationship you have probably faced your own feelings of jealousy or been the recipient of accusations at one point or another. Even the strongest marriages might experience this uncomfortable feeling from time to time. So how do you deal with jealousy in your marriage?

A really important first step is to take some advice from this classic song…“before you accuse me, take a look at yourself!” If you find yourself experiencing jealousy it is important to first take stock of how your actions, behaviors or thoughts are contributing to the situation. Are you bringing old baggage or past familial experiences to bare in your current relationship. In cases of infidelity and jealousy both partners play a part and placing all the blame on one side of the scale is problematic. Once you have gained some understanding about your own thoughts and feelings it’s time to tackle the conversation with your partner.

deal with jealousy
Are jealousy and suspicion damaging your relationship? Photo credit: Geoff Stearns

Here is Dr. Hirsch’s 3 Step plan to deal with jealousy and get your relationship back on track:

Continue reading How to deal with jealousy in your marriage.

5 Habits of happy couples.

happy couples
Photo credit: Timothy Krause

5 habits happy couples practice.

1. Steer clear of toxic talk. If not careful, toxic talk can easily creep into daily chatter with your spouses.  One of the wonderful things a close relationship affords is lots of information about each other, the good and the ugly.  When you use the intimate information you have about each other to tease, mock or rail against your spouse you undermine the trust and safety critical for an intimate relationship. Happy couples steer clear of harsh words and share encouragement and positivity instead! Continue reading 5 Habits of happy couples.

Low sex drive? 4 myths and some new thinking about this very common problem.

low sex drive
Desire discrepancies (low sex drive) is the most common complaint women have about their sex lives.

Do you and your partner experience desire discrepancies?  That is do you often find one partner in the mood for sex and the other not? Do you have a low sex drive?  Desire discrepancies are one of the most common complaints related to intimacy in relationships. A sexless marriage is something many couples face. Is it possible that shifting the way we think about sex and desire would help more couples overcome this often painful problem. In her new book, Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski, PhD writes beautifully and compassionately about this idea and so much more. Here are 4 myths she busts in the wonderfully researched book about sex and desire.

Continue reading Low sex drive? 4 myths and some new thinking about this very common problem.

How to communicate with your spouse: On a date

We are going to be running a short series here on the Power of Two blog over the next few weeks.  Let’s call it a mini-course on how to communicate with your spouse.  Essentially it boils down to this, communication in marriage is essential and so many folks struggle with how to do it! When you stop communicating with a spouse or partner it’s a signal that something may be wrong, but what?  Why did you stop talking?  Or maybe you talk to each other all day, and at the same time never really share anything deeper than the surface anymore.  Remember when you were first dating, falling in love or getting married, did it ever feel like there wasn’t enough time in the day to talk to each other about life, dreams, ideas, art, music, books? Getting back to that level of conversation may take time, just like anything else though you just have to start somewhere.  Here an idea of where to start…

Ask good questions.

Sounds simple right? Learning to talk to each other again is a process and takes some time and practice. Taking the time to learn new skills is invaluable for any relationship. One of the core skills groups we teach Power of Two is talking and listening.  Talking about thoughts, feelings, ideas, wishes without falling into the crossover trap and listening to learn.  While these skills require effort and time to learn, there are simple steps you can take to start to turn things around today.

We are kicking off this series in honor of Valentine’s day. The theme of this post is how to communicate with your spouse, on a date. If you are one of the lucky ones who managed to secure a babysitter and get reservations at a romantic restaurant you may want to spend a little time thinking about how to intentionally reconnect to partner while you have the time carved out. Even if you plan to stay home and do something more low key, you can invite a deeper experience with a little thought ahead of time. Continue reading How to communicate with your spouse: On a date

Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.

A lot of good habits can suffer during stressful times.  Some people overeat, workout routines fall off the map, sleep is often affected. Sex is another piece of the relationship puzzle that gets put on the back burner when stress hits the fan.  Here are a few tips for how to avoid the sexless marriage trap and keep that lovin’ feeling alive even when stress, including holiday stress takes a hold on your life and relationship…

1. Sleep Naked.  Forego the holiday themed, fuzzy footy Pj’s and go to bed in your birthday suit.  Couples who sleep naked have more sex.  Sleeping naked removes one small barrier to getting busy.  In addition, physical touch and close contact increase oxytocin, the love hormone. Climbing into the sheets naked will encourage you to get closer to warm up on cold winter nights. Who knows you might get lucky!

have more sex
Slip into the sheets in your birthday suit.

3. Keep your bedroom a sanctuary.  When it comes to your bedroom, don’t dismiss the power of setting the mood. Too often the clutter of stressful times builds up in your bedroom. Laundry piling up, work to do, stacks of bills, papers or books waiting to be read, shopping bags full of gifts to be wrapped all contribute to the mental clutter aka intimacy killer.  Take some time to de-clutter your bedroom, take the tv out (or at least cover it up or put in in a cabinet) Letting the world in via television and devices can squeeze out special moments to connect with your spouse. Take the stacks of paper out, go through them if you can, if you can’t just put them somewhere else!  The last and probably most difficult task in the bedroom is to GET RID OF THE SMARTPHONE!! A recent article cited the statistic that “70 percent of women in a recent survey said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.”  Now certainly you don’t need to get rid of it all together, just leave it out of the bedroom!

have more sex
Don’t let clutter be a barrier to a roll in the hay.

Continue reading Want to have more sex during stressful times? Here are 5 things to try.

How to cultivate gratitude in your marriage this holiday season.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude”

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The holiday season and particularly Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to take stock in your marriage.  These few weeks from Thanksgiving to New Years can get really crazy, it’s also a wonderful time to cultivate gratitude in your marriage and make sure your relationship is getting a piece of the pie! Gratitude is more than just being thankful for something you have.  It is a state of being that can bring more love, positivity and peace and health into your life. Gratitude is an intentional act, gratitude in your marriage as in all things opens the door to deeper and more fulfilling relationship and holiday season.

gratitude in your marriage

Gratitude is the antidote to desire.  How is it that as a culture we have created the story that Thursday is the day to slow down, celebrate all that we already have and experience gratitude. Then comes black Friday where we are encouraged to hurry up, get to the store and compete with each other to satisfy our never ending need for things. Cultivating true gratitude will alleviate the need for the latest, greatest, cheapest goods and will allow love, respect and joy to be elevated in your marriage and beyond.

Here are a few ways to keep the focus on gratitude and kindness this holiday season… Continue reading How to cultivate gratitude in your marriage this holiday season.

Healthy Marriage. What does that look like?

What is a healthy marriage?  This is an important question to answer in light of all the information we see and read (including on this blog) about a “healthy marriage.”  Benefits touted often include, better physical health, less depression, better outcomes for children and so much more.  How wonderful these benefits are, so how can we know what a healthy marriage is and how to achieve that standard in our own lives?

healthy marriage

Research done on this topic (see Moore et al., 2004, and NHMRC website http://www.healthymarriageinfo.org) resulted in this list…

• commitment to each other over the long haul
• positive communication
• ability to resolve disagreements and handle conflicts nonviolently
• emotional and physical safety in interaction
• sexual and psychological fidelity
• mutual respect
• spending enjoyable time together
• providing emotional support and companionship
• parents’ mutual commitment to their children

Let’s take a look at these one by one… Continue reading Healthy Marriage. What does that look like?

Wondering how to make a relationship last?

Pay attention to the details.

When it comes to the causes of divorce there are the biggies…

Infidelity, physical emotional or otherwise.
Addiction and substance abuse.
Excessive anger or abuse.

And then there is the slow buildup of resentment, the everyday moments that turn from loving and attentive to bitter, angry, sour, mean or otherwise ignored. Over time these feelings can turn what was once a loving relationship into an unhappy disconnect that can lead couples to look for a way out. So here’s one way to start to turn things around today. Pay attention to the details!

Each day, moment after moment you have a choice about how to respond to and engage with your spouse or partner. Use each moment to make a change towards a more positive future. It is the compounding of these small moments that will make a relationship last.

make a relationship last

Here are a few steps you can take to stay focused on the moment in front of you and make it a positive one…

See your partner for who they are today. It is so easy to carry around with us the past hurts or failings of our loved ones.  Try to look past the fact that he didn’t pick up the dry cleaning last week, or the fact that she didn’t call when she said she would.  Instead try seeing your spouse for who they are today, right in front of you.  Give them the benefit of a new day to surprise you!

Forgive yourself and each other for slip-ups. Even the most skilled communicators and the most thoughtful people have bad days.  Try to take a more forgiving standpoint and say to yourself “oh he meant to say…” and look for what makes sense in what s/he said. Rather than reacting in an equally un-skilled way turn the conversation back in a positive direction.

Be a good listener. A marriage is hopefully a lasting pursuit.  Being in a relationship necessarily means you will be spending a good deal of time together.  It can be very easy to fall into the trap of not giving your full attention to a spouse or partner.  You may thing you’ve heard this story 10 times, or maybe you just get so accustomed to the day to day chatter.  Next time you are having a conversation stop, really listen to what is being shared.  You might be surprised at what you learn!

Express gratitude and appreciation for your partner. Couples who are struggling to make a relationship last will often share that they just don’t feel appreciated.  Days are busy, filled with work, social obligations, for some couples children. Remembering to appreciate your spouse if often left off the to do list.  Studies show that couples who continually express gratitude and appreciation for on another have deeper and more loving connections.  The good news is that you can increase the positivity today. Start with yourself, show genuine appreciation for your spouse and watch the love come back to you.

The bottom line is that small things add up.  They are the bricks that create a solid foundation.  Start paying attention to the details today and feel the warmth fill the room!

 

Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Communication in marriage is a really important part of keeping your sex life active and fulfilling.  In a recent survey put together by YourTango and Trojan 1,055 parents were asked about their sex life post kids. Respondents answered 35 questions about their sex life. The info graphic below sums up the results quite well. While some of the results were to be expected, parents are tired and have much less time than they did prior to having children. What was surprising is that 40% of respondents said their communication was better post kids. So many couples struggle with what ends up as a sexless marriage. Avoiding this outcome requires learning what role communication in marriage play in your post kids sex life?  Continue reading Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.