play, therapy, sex therapist, couples therapy

Couples Who Play Together, Stay Together.

I went for a run on the beach today and I enjoyed watching families getting together for some fun in the sun. They were kicking soccer balls, jumping in the water and building sand castles. There was a lightness of spirit- and it seemed as though the only goal was to play and enjoy the day.  I have to think that since it’s the 4th of July weekend people expect to get out and have some fun. But what about the rest of the year?

I notice many couples seem to have difficulty integrating play and fun into their relationships. This can be for a variety of reasons. They may feel like there is not enough time in the week for fun activities, or they have to deal with work or family demands, or they believe that fun events cost too much money.

It seems like couples have many excuses to avoid making the time to let loose and have fun. This could be because our society tends to dismiss play for adults. Play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure. The belief is that once we are adults then it’s time to get serious. Consequently, relationships can begin to feel stale and lifeless and couples may find themselves wondering what happened to the joy they once had. Where did the spark go? What happened to the energy we once had that created laughter and smiles?

It’s important for couples to recognize the need to have play time just like their kids do! We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up. Play brings joy. And it’s vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.  Although play may look a bit different for adults, it’s just as valuable. Play is about being in the moment and having fun. For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal. Play can mean exercise- like going for a Sunday ride on your bikes, or playing tennis together. It can also mean getting out in nature like the beach, forest or mountains.  It can be the times when you play games together, or the times when you let loose and wrestle with each other.  It’s allowing yourself to let go and get lost in the moment with your partner. It’s about valuing the joy and fun times as much as you value work and running the household.

If you find yourself thinking that play is a waste of time, know that it offers some serious benefits for both you and your partner. It will help bring that connection back and allow you to feel a deeper sense of joy in your relationship and your life.  So carve out some time each week to play with your partner!

Relationship, therapy, sex therapist, couples therapy

Signs of a Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationship

Many individuals and couples come into my office asking the question- Is my relationship healthy? They wonder if their behaviors and dynamics are normal or indicative of deeper issues or signs that they should not be together. While many couples argue, have tough times they go through or have difficulty getting all of their needs met, recognizing when the dynamics of your relationship are on the side of unhealthy is important so that you know when to take action.

Here is a guide to help couples decide if they are on the right track or need to make some adjustments to their relationship.

Signs of a Healthy Relationship

• You feel secure when you’re together or alone

• You can problem solve when the issues arise

• You inspire each other to live full lives and go after your dreams

• You often feel generous, giving and loving with each other

• You can accept your partner for who they are without judging them or insisting they change for you

• You are open and tell the truth to each other

• Problems and conflicts can occur between you and you can still handle your day

• You have a sense that your relationship is going well and you respect each other

• Most of the time you have good things to say about the relationship

• The relationship is close to or at the top of your priority list

• You can give each other feedback and suggestions when it’s in the best interest of both of you

Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

• You feel insecure and weak around each other or when separate

• You are unable to resolve differences together

• You stifle each others’ dreams and try to control or limit your partner

• You withdraw emotionally and physically from your partner

• You beg, nag or try to manipulate your partner into changing into who you think they should be

• You lie and hide important information from each other

• You suffer from low self-esteem as a result of what happens between you two

• You spend more time feeling hurt and feel badly about how you treat each other

• You find yourself complaining to others about the relationship

• Your relationship is at the bottom of your priority list

• You are defensive and not open to any sort of feedback because you take it as criticism

Individual or couple therapy is a good place to start to address your concerns in they fall in the unhealthy category.  You can get a deeper understanding of where the behaviors came from and make choices with this new insight.  Some couples realize that the problems are indicative of a deeper need to address personal issues on their own and to end the relationship. However other couples learn how to go about changing the negative behaviors into more functional, mature and healthy behaviors and create the relationship they truly desire. Please contact me today to see how I can help!

sex life, therapy, sex therapist, couples therapy

Getting the Spice Back in Your Sex Life

We all know that in the beginning of a relationship, there is typically more spark and sexual excitement in your sex life. But as time goes on, we move out of the infatuation stage and can sometimes feel more like roommates or best friends than lovers. I have listed some tools to help couples rekindle some of the passion that has been lost. By refocusing your efforts on your sexual relationship you can make big strides towards a closer and more intimate relationship.

Choose to make your sex life a priority

Most couples will complain that they don’t have time for sex. They may have busy careers, family obligations, and feel like the last thing on their mind after a hectic day is sex. I emphasize with couples that you have to plan ahead and carve out time for each other because when you already have so much jammed into your schedules, sex can be put on the back burner.

First, start by making small changes so that you can make time for sex. For example, try to put your kids to bed early so they aren’t a distraction. Also, don’t fall asleep on the couch watching a movie, but go to bed at the same time as your partner.

Remember to plan date nights and nights for sex. It may not sound spontaneous, but I find that if couples start planning for sex, it can actually be something they look forward to. Otherwise it can so easily be pushed aside.

Communicate about all concerns you have in the relationship

Any relationship problems you may be having need to be out on the table and dealt with so that they are not affecting your sex life. Any sexual energy you do have is dampened when you hold on to angry grudges at your partner for something they know nothing about.

Also, talk with your partner about what you’d like in the bedroom. Tell them what truly turns you on and what your most intimate desires are. Share with them what you like or what you want to try. You may find that your partner did not know some of this informa- tion, and may be thrilled to try something new or they may just be happy that they know how to please you better.

This can also be a time to mention what you don’t like. If there is something you don’t like, then be gentle about it and don’t criticize the behavior. Just let them know what they can do to really get you going. This is also a good time to ask them what they desire, because they may have been too shy to speak up in the past. Talking openly can make you closer to one another, and that’s likely to make sex more interesting for both of you.

Get creative with your sex life

It can be helpful to think of sex like a menu, where you pick and choose from a variety of different options. Your sexual experiences don’t have to be the same each time. Couples can experience a variety of interactions, so be creative and open. Couples can take turns deciding what the mood will be. Sometimes the night can have a romantic feel, and other times the couple may be interested in a more playful exchange.

Change up your routine by switching things like the time of day, location, position. Some couples are interested in dressing up, others may want to experiment with different roles, and some couples have unique fantasies that they want to play out. Try something you’ve never done. This can all invigorate your relationship.

Keep the intimacy going throughout the day

Allow yourself to think about sex and anticipate it. That will help your mind and body get ready for the interaction and look forward to it. For example, you can call each other on the phone and flirt. Send suggestive emails or texts. This creates energy between you two and keeps you connected.

It’s also important to take the time to show your partner physical attention during the day. Touch your partner, snuggle, hold hands. This will also make you feel more sexual, attractive, and connected.