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).
As therapist, here are six things I want you to know. Some could be considered general life truisms, but they are also things that will help you progress more quickly if you choose to enter therapy.
What better time than the start of a new year to make change that can positively affect the rest of your life? Let’s assume you have made that brave decision, and talk therapy is part of your plan. What do you expect when you are expecting talk therapy? If you want to know how I do it, read on.
People that have never experienced talk therapy often feel a tad apprehensive about getting started. There are lots of reasons. Some wonder if it will do any good at all, and others have the odd fear they won’t be able to ‘do it right.’ Some people simply don’t know how it proceeds or what is expected of them, and they are anxious about that. Still others believe they will receive all the instructions from the therapist about how to change and be on their way—with no real understanding of the courage, persistence, and work that real change takes. And some believe a pill is the answer.
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.
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?
Sarcasm is an odd issue to tackle. The reason is that it is highly contextual, often subtle, and totally ubiquitous. My title says “Sarcasm is contempt” but that is 100% dependent on the context in which it is being leveled. Here is an example:
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!
Ha! Bet you’re saying well that’s easy, since they act like one sometimes! But why you should treat your partner like a child has serious implications for building a better relationship with them. Sometimes communication patterns start that become detrimental. We forget how we came to be in a relationship with this person as we fall into our daily routines. By this, I mean we forget what drew us together in the first place. We go to work, schlep the kids around (if they are present), grocery shop, mop up the spills, do the laundry, take the dog to the vet, get the car inspected, pay the taxes, etc. The requirements of daily life can feel like such a slog at times!
Do you ever wonder why your arguments with your partner seem so circular? Like “Arrrggghhhh! We have had this discussion 10,000 times and it never turns out any different!” Would you like to learn how to open the door to peaceful resolution? It takes work to be present when you are angry or hurt, but wouldn’t you rather begin a conversation that opens communication rather than shutting it down with criticism?
If you could order up your love the way you order up your favorite Thai dish, would you specify mild, medium or spicy-set-my-tongue-on-fire hot? Mild or hot love, spicy or not, movies, news, social media, literature and pop culture imbue the idea of love with extremes. The easy example is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, where a couple of puppy love-sick kids are lead to die because of some warped parental loyalty values. Read more
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
Free parking at office