sex, intimacy, marriage counseling.

Sex and Couples Therapy Are the Same

love, marriage, counseling.

Long Term Happiness

I attended my 2nd Crucible Marriage and Family Workshop this weekend. I have now completed 7 days of very intense training. The Crucible combines sex therapy and Couples Counseling.  One would think that these two therapies are the same, however, the field of psychology has always considered these to be two separate fields.   As a trained Couples Therapist, I have also been taught to see them as two different areas of expertise.  I no longer perceive this to be true.

Age and Intimacy are the Ingredients for Great Sex!

Maybe the separation of these two therapies has been based on the fact that we view long term relationship problems as issues of communication, distance, fighting and avoidance.  There is also the belief that inevitably our sex life diminishes because of length of partnership or marriage and our age.   Another reason is that many therapists are uncomfortable talking about sex.   This also allowed people in our field to not  broach the topic of sex at all, or certainly not intimately talking about the vagina, penis, oral sex, intercourse and more. Keeping the two topics of relationship separate has protected the therapist from having to deal with their own issues around sex.  It also kept them from having to deal with issues around gay sex , not having to talk about anal intercourse or dildos etc.  However, this was  doing our clients a disservice. David Schnarch one of the founders of the Crucible has proven over 30 years, that sex can become more frequent and more satisfying in our later years.  Sex in our sixties can be hotter than sex in our 20s.  Hot Sex has little to do with biological drive.  The hormones of  teenagers keeps them horny all the time, but that does not mean they know how to please their partners whether female or male.  Age and Intimacy are the ingredients for great sex.

Couples have a hard time talking about and negotiating intimate, hot, sloppy sex.  Heterosexual couples have a more difficult time talking about what they want, need and consider steamy, than gay and lesbian couples.

Good Sex Assumes Good/Great Communication.

The amount of sex we are having is the direct result and a reflection of rest of our relationship.  If we are not having good sex, we are having other problems.  If one partner wants sex and the other is consistently withholding, than their is probably a tremendous amount of anger in the relationship.  These two issues do need to be worked on together.  Marital and Sex Therapy need to become one.

The Word Crucible is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

1: a vessel of a very refractory material (as porcelain) used for melting and calcining a substance that requires a high degree of heat.

2: a severe test

3: a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development.

In order to change the dynamics of our relationship and sex life, we need to be willing to heat up our interactions, do intense self-reflection and confront the underlying issues that immobilize our relationships.  hense: the word Crucible.  What does heating up our interactions mean:  It means being honest with ourselves and each other about our blocks to sex and intimacy.  We need to put our relationships to the test, looking at what works and what doesn’t work

Two Books worth reading are:

Passionate Marriage: Keeping Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships Desire and Intimacy

Both books are written by David Schnarch, Ph.D

More on Sex and Intimacy

Randy Weled, MFT

polyamory, bisexuality, counseling, therapy

Jealousy and the Breath

This is the first of what will probably be a number of musings on the experience of jealousy, so, stay tuned ..(by Jeanna Eichenbaum)

I’ve spent much of the bulk of my free time the past few years thinking about polyamory. I think about it because it is a way of living and exploring that I have been experimenting with in my own life, and because about half of the clients in my psychotherapy practice identify as “poly” or “open” or something along that spectrum. If you think about polyamory for any stretch of time, you’re going to be forced to think about and consider some of its shadow material, most prominantly, of course, jealousy. As much as I read and learn about jealousy (and there’s some really good stuff out there, namely (from my perspective) writings from Thomas Moore, Kathy Labriola, and Deborah Anapol), when it hits me, it hits with the force of something hot and raw, and seems to have within it elements of pure, undigested and what can feel like undigestible experience. It feels, in a word, awful, at times close to unbearable.

And what can we do when hit by something that feels unbearable? Well, we can, first of all, remember to breathe. When we are under assault, one of the first things we seem to do is hold our breath, as we scan the situation and assess for threat. I imagine, from an evolutionary perspective, that this holding of one’s breath has some value, as a way of getting real quiet, and turning our attention outward, but like good meditators, in those situations, after assessing that there is no threat to actual physical safety, we might do better to turn our attention inward, and the breath is often a good anchor for that inward journey. Breathing distributes necessary nutrients that are present in oxygen throughout the body, and also removes carbon dioxide from the system, which keeps us in balance and helps avoid toxic buildup. Additionally, the process of breathing is a physical reminder that things come and go, air flows in and out, the belly rises and falls, things move through us, and when something unbearable comes along, we can start to feel that it will never move .. shift .. leave, so yes, please remember to breathe.

So, with the breath as an anchor, as a rope that ties us to our body as the elemental place of experience, as a place beyond thought, we can, perhaps, start to observe the thoughts and feelings that accompany the experience of jealousy. And, I want to do some of that exploring now, with you, as you read this. Looking at jealousy both more deeply, and more dispassionately.

What happens inside you as you experience the yucky mass of emotions and thoughts called jealousy? What happens in me are thoughts like, “I can’t believe this is happening”. “This isn’t what I want”. “That person (or persons) are going to take something that is mine, or something that I highly value”. The body sensations can be a tightening in the belly, clenching of fists and other muscles, shallow breathing, sweaty palms, rapid blinking of the eyes, a faraway look, in short, an activation of my ‘fight or flight’ system. Emotions might be anger, rage, fear, upset, fury, a desire to strike out and hurt others.

What are some of the physical sensations and emotions that happen in you? Can you spend some time observing, the next time you experience jealousy, with even just a little bit of curiosity, rather than getting completely swept up in the wave that is jealousy? This is all hard work, and any attempts you make to take a step back and look might be of help, if only to see that yes, this is one strong emotional state.