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.

Marriage in trouble? Your health may be too.

There is plenty of evidence that a healthy marriage, one in which couples practice good communication, resolve conflict with relationship skills and create an atmosphere of warmth and positivity can have potential health benefits. Those may include, better heart health, lower mortality rates and lower rates of chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and surgeries. If this is true can it also be true that with a marriage in trouble, health problems may follow?

marriage in trouble
Is chronic martial stress leading you to health problems?

There is evidence that a marriage in trouble, one that carries with it chronic stress, may lead to health problems. Here are some of the potential health problems relating to chronic marital stress.

Depression

Continue reading Marriage in trouble? Your health may be too.

4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

With the start of a new year, naturally there is an opportunity to think about what changes you want to make and where you want to focus your energy in the coming days and weeks. Whether you are a seasoned couple, having spent many years together or a new couple still awash in the glow of infatuation setting intention for the year ahead will be a boon to your relationship. The work you do now will set the tone for the days ahead.

Here are 4 resolutions for your marriage to tackle in 2016.

resolutions for your marriage
Photo credit: Joao Paulo de Vasconcelos

Put your marriage on the front burner.

Too often intimate relationships, especially your marriage end up on the back burner, if it’s on the stove at all! Jobs, kids, hobbies, spiritual lives, personal free time, tend to come before “working on your marriage.” They shouldn’t! The health of your marriage is a driving factor in how successful you are at all the other ventures you tackle. How satisfying your personal relationships are tends to impact the rest of your life including your physical and mental health. While certainly not the only factor, when your emotional house is in order you free up space and energy to go after your goals and dreams with the support of your partner. Make sure your relationship gets its fair share of your time and energy by making a plan. Beyond the old “regular date night” save all, create a real concrete idea of ways you are going to make your marriage a priority. Try to avoid fuzzy goals like, “spend more time together” or “have more sex.” Instead try, spend 1 hour every evening together or kiss each other every day. Continue reading 4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

Sexless relationship help: Possible or should you move on?

There are so many reasons a couple might be looking for sexless relationship help.  Desire discrepancies, low sex drive, health issues, depression and many other factors contribute to how healthy your sex life feels.  If you find yourself in a sexless relationship or headed for marital problems, how do you know if you should stick it out and work on the relationship or if it’s time to move on?  While there is no out of the box solution to this problem there are a few things to look for when trying to answer this question.

sexless relationship
Stuck in a sexless relationship?

1. Do you and your partner have good communication skills?

Continue reading Sexless relationship help: Possible or should you move on?

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.

Marriage problems and technoference: How to ditch the device for better communication.

marriage problems
Put the phones down to connect with your partner

What does your cell phone have to do with marriage problems? Recently, several prominent news sources have presented surveys and research that point to the problem with cell phones and romantic relationships.  One survey reported that “70 percent of women said smartphones were interfering in their romantic relationship.” That’s a huge number of women! In NPR’s recent story  “technoference” was citied as a serious problem in relationships. Aside from the question of what you are actually doing on the device, the accessibility and pervasiveness of  the devices in our lives is causing several problems.  Cell phones are the worst kind of distraction, the convenience of access to all your email accounts, the camera, the social media accounts, not to mention the thousands of other apps you can fill your device with offer an endless stream of information. This coupled with the dings, ringtones and other alerts that make everyone in the room look at their phone in some sort of pavlovian response to a bell are bound to cause marriage problems.

There are certainly big questions to answer individually and culturally about the influence these devices have on our lives. Technology no doubt has it’s place in daily life.  If we can thoughtfully engage with it it can actually be used for good in the relationship.  Time savings is one instance that can benefit your romantic relationships.  If you are able to take care of a task like paying bills that may have in the past taken up precious evening time at the kitchen table you can use that time you’ve gained to connect with your spouse, but do you? The evidence seems pretty clear that by and large they are causing more marriage problems than they solve. In her research, Sarah Coyne, boiled it down to this, “What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship.” So where is the balance?  Obviously this question is best left to each couple to navigate, provided the right skills are there to actually have a win win outcome!

So here are a few tips for curbing the potential marriage problems caused by technoference… Continue reading Marriage problems and technoference: How to ditch the device for better communication.

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.

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?

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.

Sexless marriage? What are you to do?

Sex in a marriage can be a touchy subject, especially when you aren’t having much—or any at all.  According to a 2002 Newsweek article, 15 to 20% of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which is considered a sexless marriage. There are many things that could lead a couple to this situation. Daily stressors like kids, jobs and finances can make it difficult to connect, while decreased libido for hormonal reasons, depression, and a whole host of other day-to-day challenges can make sex the last thing on your list of priorities. So what do you do if intimacy is waning in your marriage? 

Here are a few simple steps you can take to invite more intimacy into your relationship:

Dress to impress. Put a little effort into your physical appearance at home. Do you put on your comfy, worn in Pjs as soon as you settle in for the night?  Think about what your partner finds physically attractive and put a little effort towards looking and feeling attractive.

Schedule It! When time slips away and you find yourselves letting intimacy fall off the radar, put it on the calendar.  Spontaneity has its place, and so does a well-planned roll in the hay.

sexlessmarriage

Increase Positivity. Keep negative comments (especially ones about physical appearance) out of the conversation. Express gratitude; the more positivity you create the greater the warmth and tenderness in your relationship.

Disconnect to Connect. Turn off the television, computer, Kindle, and iPad. Media in the evenings can be a real intimacy killer.  Instead, find an activity you can share; talk, listen to music, or go for a walk. Spending quality time together can help you reconnect.

Go to Bed Early (and together).  Rather than watching television until you are both tired wrecks, go to bed when you still have some energy left for you spouse.

Sleep Naked. Climbing into bed in your birthday suit shows you’re interested.  It also increases feelings of sexual desire.  In addition, skin-to-skin contact causes a release of Oxytocin, the love hormone!

People often differ in their preferences, both for the frequency with which they desire sexual activity and what it takes for them to feel aroused.  Avoid the sexless marriage trap by understanding what makes your partner tick.  Learning some communication basics, as well as some good tools for talking about sex, will go a long way towards keeping things running smoothly in the bedroom. 

The bottom line is a little bit of effort will go along way towards getting that spark back and welcoming more intimacy into your marriage!