A couple came to me this week for their three-month check-in after seeing me regularly early in the year. With big smiles and loving glances at each other they said that one of the big changes for them was that they have instigated a monthly Date Day.
I am a big advocate of couples spending quality time together. Without it you lose connection, start feeling like house-mates rather than lovers, and sex becomes either a non-event or a Big Issue. I’ve written elsewhere about finding that connection in small ways throughout the day, and having chats together in the evenings. Those small connections are your ‘relationship vitamins’. But that alone is rarely enough, you need some longer, more interesting times together, so date nights are a great idea.
But…sometimes getting out in the evening can feel like more effort than it’s worth, particularly if you’ve got young children. You’re tired! So going out at the end of a long day (and week) can just add to the exhaustion (not to mention the expectation of having sex when you get home and by the time you’ve paid the babysitter and checked on the kids and got undressed and into bed…zzzz….)
The LoveLife Blog: guidance on mindful, bodyful, soulful loving!
Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote the acclaimed novel 'Love in the Time of Cholera'. Now I'd like to write about 'Love in the Time of COVID'.
It would be easy to say there are more important things to focus on right now, but what is more important at this time than love and relating? And what better time to bring this to the fore, than now, when we are isolating ourselves?
So many of my clients say that they don't have time to connect. They are either too busy, too stressed or exhausted - and their relationships and intimacy suffer as a consequence. With this crisis, we can't be busy (except for our wonderful health professionals who are working so hard to protect us). A client case from this week exemplifies this. They'd had to cancel their overseas wedding scheduled for next month. As sad as this was, there was also a feeling of time and space, time to stop being so incredibly rushed and overwhelmed. Time to refresh and rejuvenate. Time to let their souls catch up. read more...
From my column in Body+Soul
Question: I was wondering if you could help me reconnect with my husband as we’re both super stressed from this bushfire season. We live on the South Coast of NSW and our house has been extremely close to the bushfires – over the summer we’ve been evacuated a few times. We’ve been in a state of high stress for a couple of months now, and it’s taken a big toll on our relationship. It feels like my husband has switched to survival mode and can’t or won’t switch back, so there’s no room for emotional or physical intimacy. Is this normal? What can I do? read more...
The neurotransmitter dopamine makes us feel good and positive and upbeat. When we have healthy levels of dopamine we have a positive outlook on life and have energy and motivation - and a better sex drive!
When dopamine levels are low we feel sluggish and down, the world is grey and everything is an effort - including sex.
To increase your sexual desire you need to do things that increase your dopamine levels. read more...
From my column in Body+Soul
Question: "I’ve recently discovered my husband is having an affair. But I’m not upset about it – I’m glad. Glad because I haven’t fancied my husband for years, and this affair means the pressure to have sex has ended. Our love life was good at the start. Three children later though, and the chemistry just isn’t there.
Why don’t I leave him? I like our life together. He makes me laugh, he’s kind, and brilliant with our kids. We live in a nice house and have a buzzing social life. I don’t see why I need to end a perfectly good marriage just because I don’t find him sexually attractive. And I’m not prepared to wreck all our lives for the sake of his bit on the side.
I do feel uneasy though. I’m worried that he might admit his affair (and I’d have no idea how to react), or even worse, fall in love and want to leave the marriage himself. So, what’s my best move here – do I keep looking the other way? Or do I talk to him and work out a new ‘arrangement’ that keeps our marriage solid but our sex lives separate?"
If you want to be healthy you know there are some basic things you need – like regular exercise and the right amount of vitamins and minerals. Without these, you’re not going to be in great shape.
It’s the same with relating well, there are some basic things you need every day to stay loved-up and connected. Let’s call these ‘vitamins for your relationship’. These practices will help keep your Couple Bubble strong. Without them you’re going to be pretty wobbly as a couple.
Here are the two key ‘relationship vitamins’ that I believe are vital, and that I prescribe for all my clients: one that you ‘take’ four times a day and one that you ‘take’ once a day.
1: Mini Couple Bubble Top-Ups
The first type of vitamin is what I call Mini Couple Bubble Top-Ups. These are focused, brief connections when you meet and part. Usually these are at four critical points of the day: when you wake up, when you part in the morning, when you greet in the evening and when you go to sleep. (Obviously those times are different if you’re both at home or are shift workers, but the same principle applies.)
At these times you need to make sure you have a quality connection, even if it’s only for a few seconds. To do this you:
Our brain is such an interesting thing. It stores away memories and impressions, and then when we are met with a similar situation, it immediately goes ‘oh that old thing’ and presents a pre-formed idea based on the past. Which means it’s easy to get complacent in our experiencing of life, including our experience of our partner.
When we first meet there is so much newness and excitement – our brain is bedazzled by our new object of interest, we find this person fascinating. Our brain is engaged and releasing lots of dopamine and the endorphins and oxytocin are flowing in our body. It feels sooo goood! Often this is fuelled by pre-existing beliefs around ‘happy ever after’ and ‘finding one’s soul mate’, which enhance the interest and positive feelings.
But, over time, that person is no longer new. They become a bit ‘same old same old’. Our brain gets used to them, we no longer see them as new and interesting, and often this is exacerbated by beliefs around sex and love getting boring with time, and maybe memories of our own parents’ complacent marriages mixed in. We go into automatic mode with our partner, with our impressions and expectations of them. We get bored and boring, in all aspects of our relationship, including sexually, we become a slave to our preconditioning.
So often I hear my clients say that they still love their partner but are no longer in love. Often this is given as the reason for wanting to end an otherwise good relationship. These clients always make this claim with some despondency and with a sense of finality, as though once it’s gone it’s gone.
This is understandable, as it’s a common belief that there is the exciting, passionate ‘in love’ honeymoon period and then there is dreary ‘loving’ companionship ever after. But is this fact or myth? Is loss of ‘in love-ness’ inevitable or can we keep it going? read more...
The fairy tales got it wrong. Two do not become one and live happily ever after. Two halves do not make a whole. Rather, two complete people come together and form a third entity, their coupledom. You, me and us. Not just us.
'Two becoming one' is co-dependence. Two becoming three - two self-reliant individuals and a strong bond as a couple - that's what gives security and freedom in life.
I was in session with a couple recently, looking at some challenging aspects of their relationship, when one of them said: ‘I guess you have to wade through your shit to get the insights to make change…’ and I responded with: ‘You’re not wading through it, you’re composting it!’.
They loved the analogy! And it’s a good one. We’ve all got our shit – defences, traumas, fears, confusions, resentments - that has accumulated over our history. If you don’t deal with it, it ferments and turns bad. But if you do deal with it, you are composting it, turning it into fertilizer for new growth. read more...
- #306: Sex as Embodied Mindfulness Practice
- #305: So Many Ways to Eat, So Many Ways to…
- #304: Date Night or Date Day?
- #303: Teenage Love-Making
- #302: Turning Sex Lives Upside-Down - It’s My Life’s Work!
- #301: Don't Spend a Fortune on Toys - There’s A Sex Store in Your Pantry!
- #300: Do You PIV or VEP When You Have Sex?
- #299: Take Your Penis for a Walk!
- #298: It's Time to Let Our Souls Catch-Up
- #297: Become a Sensual Explorer
- #296: Q&A: My Wife Won't Pleasure Herself in Front of Me
- #295: Subtle Shifts to Great Sex
- #294: Q&A: My Husband Can't Keep an Erection, and He Smokes Lots of Marajuana
- #293: Love in the Time of COVID-19
- #292: Q&A: My Partner Doesn't Climax from Oral Sex and I'm Worried
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