Sexual health problems within a relationship are very complex to sort out. It helps to have a sort of matrix or template you can overlay on any particular issue. This may help you pinpoint the real issue of concern more accurately. The six principles of a healthy sexual relationships I offer here are meant to serve in that capacity. They are taken from Doug Braun-Harvey’s work from the Harvey Institute in San Diego, California (see resources below).
“I hate confrontation.”
That is what I hear at least once a day in my therapy practice. And it is usually from women. I wish I could give every woman who thinks this a short lesson on assertiveness, which is often what they mistake for confrontation or conflict. It does not mean you must alter a quiet demeanor, become bold and brassy, or the even worse expression— “a real ball breaker.” Why is assertiveness important? First you have to understand what assertiveness actually means.
Do you like cheeseburgers? Boy I do, but I also like a lot of other foods. I don’t want to eat the same thing everyday. The same idea applies when you end up with a therapist who relies on just one approach to help you. Some forms of therapy demand a sort of “workbook-stick-with-the-program” pre-packaged approach that can leave a client feeling oddly out of sync with the therapist. It feels forced. Or the person doesn’t feel like the therapist “gets it” even when they are kind and supportive. This can actually worsen your situation by making you feel as if you did something wrong. Don’t give up. There are actions you can take that will help.
Is Mind Reading Destructive?
There is a myth that says “If you love me, then you’ll know what I need.” This is called mind reading. Is mind reading destructive? Sometimes. When it is, it keeps you on the hook for a destructive, repetitive communication pattern. Here’s the skinny.
Your children are like so much wet cement according to Time Magazine, in that they are impressionable at an early age. Your words and actions make impressions that will ‘harden’ over time and guide their sense of identity. A large portion of our job as parents is to guide, shape and correct them. When shaping behaviors, it is important to guard how much you criticize vs praise those you love. The same thing applies to your partner. Is complaining your habit? So what is the magic ratio?
Lies come in two large categories. One is to save face and the other is manipulation. You could also call these categories white lies and strategic lies. I’m primarily interested in self-deception, which comes under the heading of saving face. Or maybe hiding, or disguising, your true face, into one you believe is acceptable. Read more
Money fights are a hot spot I am asked about frequently by couples. Money has a lot to do with power in relationships. Here’s an example.
What the heck is the sunk cost fallacy? We worry about things we’ve already lost. Humans have evolved to worry about scarcity. It is how we stayed alive. But now, it has evolved into the idea of always getting our money’s worth.
One thing I often hear about partners, spouses, and coworkers–indeed, even bosses, is that the person feels they “Should just know what I need” because the person with this particular narrative has been with them for umpteen days, months, or years. But have you said this to them? Ever? “Well, no, but they should just know!” In other words, you expect them to get out their crystal ball and engage in a bit of fortune telling.
I am so fascinated by why emotions have such a low value in our culture. People are simply not aware of the power their emotions exert over their behavior. They do not investigate them. They are not curious about emotion. And Brené Brown’s research has shown that people who do investigate their emotions have learned to do so in one of three ways. How I wish they were as curious as this little boy staring at his fish!
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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