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Monday
Apr162012

"Good Enough Sex"

Clothes fly off, you both fall into each others arms, everything is going hot and heavy, and then....Wait! That wasn't supposed to happen!  You can fill in the blank here, with everything from flaccid penises to unlubricated vaginas to bad breath to kids running into the room!  When we begin this sexual journey the expectation becomes getting to the destination--orgasm.  The problem occurs when being sexual and the act of sensuously enjoying each other's bodies always becomes the means to the end. 

Barry McCarthy, PhD and Michael Metz, PhD gave the field of sexology the notion of "Good Enough Sex" (Click here to see article).  They suggest that even the most healthy couples vary in the quality of sex experiences.  According to the article, 35-45% of sexual experiences are "Very Satisfying," 20-25% are rated "Good" for at least one partner, 15-20% are considered "Okay" or not remarkable, while 5-15% of sexual experiences in healthy couples are considered "Unsatisfying" or dysfunctional.  Further, they state that among this group of satisfied couples, intercourse does not happen up to 15% of the time.

So, the next time things don't go so well in the bedroom, think about how you can move forward.  Try an erotic play time without intercourse.  Since our experiences vary in quality, it seems logical to consider that we should aim for more variance in the type of experiences we share with each other.  Make sure you are talking about it, experimenting with each other, and laughing about it when it's appropriate.  Remember that in reality, sex is not always a perfect, mind-blowing experience!

Tuesday
Apr032012

Taking Responsibility

Adding to my last post about "getting out of the rut,"  one step in accomplishing this is to take responsibility.  What do you need to do to take responsibility in your life?  What do you have control over?  What do you have no control over?  The only thing you really have any control over is your own reaction to a situation or another person.  When we keep choosing not to take responsibility, it is often because it is what we learned and it worked for us at some point in our life.  Usually, though, it ends up being maladaptive, and not doing the job for us anymore.  So, how do we go about taking responsibility?

  •  Be honest with yourself.  Don't judge or blame, just acknowledge.  You don't deserve harsh judgement and you do deserve the ability to take some control of your life.
  • Be kind to yourself.  Honor that not taking responsibility was a way that worked for you, but now is the time to let it go and find a different coping skill.
  • Look at other options.  Many times we see ourselves in a situation with no way out.  Almost always, there are options.  Brainstorm with a person close to you or make a list of things you could try.  Write down everything you can think of, no matter how outrageous!  One of those ideas may lead you to the answer you need.
  •  Get back on the horse and try again.  Don't give up if the situation feels too tough or something you tried didn't work out so well.  You don't want to get back into that rut.
  • Fight apathy and paralysis.  Doing nothing keeps us immobilized and feeling dependent and helpless.
  •  Try mindfulness.  Be in the moment.  My favorite way is with a cup of coffee or tea.  Sit with the cup, trying to focus on your senses.  Feel the warmth of the cup, smell the aroma, look at the color of the liquid contrasted with the cup, taste the drink.  Engaging all of your senses is key.  If intrusive thoughts come in, acknowledge them without judgement and let them go.  You might visualize them blowing away in the wind or rolling away on a wave.  This exercise will help you keep from staying in the past or stressing about the future.

 If you continue to have trouble, seek a mental health provider who can help you find tools that will work for you.

When you blame others, you give up your power to change.  --Author Unknown

Thursday
Mar152012

Getting out of the rut...

I see many clients because their interactions with other people are making life difficult, or causing them a great deal of pain.  It's common that I see people who have had multiple problems occur--real issues that are wreaking havoc.  It seems that some people tend to attract such waves of discord, but the fact is that they don't desire life to be difficult or dysfunctional.  When trouble tends to follow you around, there are several things to consider:

 Are you replaying old family patterns?  Does the situation remind you of your childhood?  Many times we replay old family dramas with the hope that we may be able to "change history" or set something right after all these years.  Unfortunately, all we end up doing is repeating the same old behavior and getting the same old results.

  • Is there something about the situation that is filling a need? Perhaps unconsciously?  Sometimes there is a need that is being satisfied, so we keep repeating the behavior.  For instance, a person that continually appears to be a "victim" may be filling a need to be taken care of by others. Remember, this isn't a conscious process.
  • Do you find yourself getting caught up in the "blame game?"  Most of us don't do this consciously, but we tend to sabotage ourselves by not taking responsibility for our own failures OR successes.

 If this applies to you, it's time to take action and get out of the rut.  The first thing is to take responsibility for your healing, empowering yourself to move forward, instead of the same ol' stagnant place.  Ask yourself what do you have control over?  What do you have no control over?  Remember that when it comes to how you interact, the only thing you really have any control over is your own reaction.  If this rings true for you, stay tuned--more on this later!

Wednesday
Feb292012

Let's talk about sex, Baby!!

I often see couples in my office who have trouble bringing up the subject of sex to each other.  Even though the act of sex itself is such an intimate expression, we often avoid suggesting to our partners what feels good, what doesn't, what we would like more of, etc.  It's such a difficult topic to broach, so how do you ask for what you need in a way that your partner can hear you?  Here are a few ideas to get the conversation flowing:

  • Ask your partner when would be a good time to have a conversation about intimacy.  That way, you can both decide on a time when neither of you seems too tired, too hungry, or involved in your favorite TV show. You want your partner's undivided attention. 
  • Have talks about sex outside of the bedroom.  You want your time in the bedroom to be just for sleeping, enjoying each other, and lovemaking.  
  • Be careful with the words you choose.  Sometimes its best to use the actual words for body parts so that the other person can hear what you are saying without being offended or put off.  
  • Tell your partner the things you do like about your sex life.  It can be hard to hear a laundry list of complaints, especially when it comes to a very touchy subject.  An example might be: "I love when we kiss passionately during sex!  Can we try more of that in the future?" or "It's so exciting when you ______________, maybe we could mix it up a little and try _______________?"  
  • When you do have a complaint, talk about what would be a better way for you, not what your partner does wrong.  For instance, instead of saying, "the way you touch me is all wrong," try saying, "I love being touched softly, can we try that this time?  Here, let me show you...."  You get the idea.
  • Ask what your partner would like to see happen with your sex life, then listen!  It's okay to say, "I'm not sure if I can do __________, but I am willing to try ___________.

Sexuality and the way we experience each other changes constantly throughout our lifetime.  Life gets in the way of intimacy, so we have to keep in touch with each other about where we are at and the way we express ourselves sexually.  And a quick plug...check out the book Dr. Bennett and I wrote about communication and sex!  Click here.

 

Sunday
Feb122012

Romance Is in the air...Where?!

As I was looking for an idea for a Valentine's Day blog, an article about the most romantic cities in the U.S. as determined by Amazon caught my eye.  This seemed like a good place to start, so I read on.... Hmmm...#1, Knoxville, TN; #2, Alexandria, VA, very nice, but then, wait...WHAT?!! #3? Springfield, MO?! Seriously?! So I read on, dying to know what the criteria was that even put our town on the list.   Turns out the list was based on sales data of romantic novels, relationship books, romantic comedy movies, Barry White albums and sexual wellness aids.  See the article here.

Why in the world would Springfield be so romantic?  So I considered the criteria, and noticed that a few of the items were things that might be purchased mainly by women.  That brings me to the notion of female desire.  It turns out that women don't go down the same sexual path that men do. Apparently, men have a very linear, distinct way of experiencing sexual response, based on the work of the sexuality researchers, Masters and Johnson.  Recently, it has been argued that women aren't sharing the same experience--beginning from a more neutral place than men, women tend to have to make a conscious choice to even think about being sexual.  A woman may engage sexually due to a desire for emotional closeness and intimacy or she may react to advances from a partner.  There is an exception, however; women in new relationships or after a long separation from a partner may follow a more linear path typical of the male cycle.

So, how does this relate to the placing of our fair city on such an amorous list?  Perhaps if we are reading, watching, and listening to more intimate and sexually arousing material, we are thinking more in terms of connecting with our partners.  This allows us to get past that neutral place, making a conscious effort to choose to be intimate, leading to that romantic feeling.  Which may precipitate the desire for Barry White music....as well as "sexual wellness aids."  So, this Valentine's Day, before heading to a romantic destination for dinner, what about browsing the sex and relationship aisle of your local Barnes and Noble?  Who knows, Barry White may be playing in the background....