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).
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.
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
Most people don’t know the answer to “How do you trust?” Last week’s post offered the definitions of betrayal and trust, and many ideas about the ways we betray others. It goes beyond simply having affairs. If you missed it you can read it here. It is a nice basis for this week’s Part II discussion.
There are times when we get to a place in a relationship when we really start seriously asking the question “Should I stay or should I go?”
How do you go about evaluating betrayal? First you might want to understand what it really means.
It is a major betrayal when someone does something that breaks a fundamental promise or violates a fundamental expectation and does so in a way that significantly hurts your peace of mind.–Mira Kirshenbaum*
And, an affair is not the only way we betray others.
Anxiety and love are connected. Logic, as we think of it in the Western sense, is often prized above love, when love is thought of as an emotion that lacks intellect. Yet love, which is comprised of all six innate identified emotions (recognized and verified via social science the world over): fear, anger, happiness, sadness, surprise, and shame, is exquisite in its logic of self protection. We are designed by evolution to seek connection for survival and much research on attachment theory has verified this. So what happens when our sense of attachment with our partner feels threatened and we start to feel anxious?
Perpetual issues permeate every relationship. A perpetual issue is essentially an unresolvable problem, kind of like having a bad back when you age. We learn to live with chronic conditions like this and to make the best of things in spite of them. BTW, did you realize that marriage allows you to have the special privilege of annoying one person in particular for the rest of your life? Uhmmm…and the other way around as well? By definition, when you enter a relationship, you have chosen a set of problems that you will deal with for the duration of that relationship. Here’s an example of what I mean by a perpetual issue, and a technique for managing it called a gentle start up.
How do you like to be loved? Does this seem like a strange question? Or perhaps an unusual question? Maybe you don’t know the answer. Would you like to find out? You would be surprised at the simple, but not so obvious answer, to this conundrum.
PAGE RUTLEDGE, LCSW, CHt | Anxiety Therapy
5006 Randall Parkway (close to UNCW)
Wilmington, NC 28403
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