Tag Archive | Sexual attraction

Voice to Voice or Skin to Skin: Ritual of Connection

I have always loved Nicole Kidman and her ability to portray so many different types of people. She is a lot like Penelope Cruz, another favorite of mine; in that neither are afraid of experimenting and both have been involved in productions from different countries. This week I was reading an article on the Huffington Post, where she was being interviewed about her marriage which is celebrating its twelth anniversary. She mentioned that she and Keith [Urban] do not text to talk to one another, because of all the misunderstandings that were obvious to them from the onset. As she went on, she noted that they have a phrase “Voice to Voice or Skin to Skin,” is their only way of communication with each other. I thought this sounded very sweet and touching and something I wanted to share with the couples that I work with.

I have been taking continuing education with the Gottman couples trainings and use this method when working with my couples. We talk about Turning Towards Each Other, rather than away from one another when communicating is taking place. Voice to voice, you may not look at each other (except as Nicole noted when they do Facetime) but you are clearly hearing and participating in that moment. Of course, it is possible to Stonewall (and be on your computer at the same time) but then your partner would pick up on this very easily. When you are texting to someone it is very anti-social and disrespectful of someone (this is me not the Gottman trainings talking). The person is not there on the other end at the exact moment that you send the text. You can’t feel them, hear them, see them (other than a photo), or even sense them. You can misinterpret them and I have found that it is easy for my client’s to be stalked by their partners in this way. Usually this is noted when they tell me that he “blew up my phone.” When I first heard this, I have to confess, I thought maybe their battery had died from too much usage on the phone. But kidding aside, this is not an intimate form of communication. It is a cop out, when it comes to communication.

If you want your relationship to last, you can’t take it for granted and so you must value this investment and continue to work on it. The most important thing I have found is building an “Emotional Connection,” with your partner because A. Women are turned on by this and aren’t likely to stray, B. You begin to know each other more deeply, which causes you to feel you can trust and depend on the other person, and C. You are developing a “We” instead of an “I.” The last one always gets my goat. If I hear one partner saying “I am going away this weekend for vacation,” I will say “Aren’t you taken your wife/husband?” naturally they will say “Well, yeah,” so I say then I think you meant to say “We are going away…” and talk to them about the importance of respect in a relationship.

Look at the difference between Nicole Kidman’s marriage to Tom and now to Keith. I went through my young adult years with the first two (I don’t know much about Keith Urban) and always remembered how sad and detached Nicole and Tom looked in photos. I don’t think I ever saw them smile – together. Sure, Tom always had that Hollywood smile whenever taking photos and he pushed it out there even when he was next to Nicole on the carpet (though it never seemed quite as authentic as his Risky Business or Top Gun smile). Nicole never once, that I recall, ever really had more then a grin on her face. It was because of this that I was not at all surprised when they got a divorce. Now, I don’t think I have seen one photo of her and Keith, where they don’t look like they’ve just had “Skin to Skin” right before they walked out onto the carpet. I’ve heard Keith Urban interviewed saying that he feels like she is still his girlfriend after twelve years. This tells me that they keep their relationship fresh and are invested in a quality relationship. I once read Nicole stating in an interview that she thought it was romantic to see a cemetery plot with the couple buried next to each other and imagining what a delightful marriage they must have had. It seems morbid in a way but it shows the depth that she was hoping for in a man. Someone she would be with until the end. I don’t think there will be any question whether these two will last forever.

What type of play are your creating in your relationship? How are you keeping the marriage alive or exciting? Maybe you aren’t worth millions and globetrotting around the world (though this makes it way more difficult than balancing a budget and raising a couple of kids), you actually have an easier opportunity to make your relationship last. What can you do for fun? Riding bikes as a family (or couple), hiking together, praying together, cooking together, taking a bath together (as a couple of course), etc… These are what we call Rituals of Connection (or Creating Shared Meaning), one of the “The Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work,” by Dr. Gottman. Rituals are those sacred moments in your family’s life that are created by the two of you for your relationship and for your kids. Having a motto such as “Voice to Voice or Skin to Skin” is a Ritual of Connection. It is an intimate boundary that this couple has created that they won’t steer away from because it has kept them together for twelve years.

Texting is not intimate and it was created for emergencies, not for relationships. There was a time when we did not have cellular technology, and even a time we didn’t have pagers (or telephones). We have taken advantage of texting and it has caused our world to become anti-social. People are out in the real world less and less and when they are there, they are on their phones. Another thing that gets my goat is seeing people at a natural park and they have their heads down, staring at their phones or are taking some darn “selfie” because they are not capable of “stopping to smell the roses.” Life is a challenge which you must undertake and if you make the choice to have someone by your side, respect them, love them, nourish them and for heaven sakes, communicate with them [LIVE]!

 

Stop and smell the roses,
taste the nectar of sweet.
Peel back the petals,
tickle your feet!

Take a walk amongst the flowers,
place blue bonnets in your hair,
Sing songs of he love’s me not,
two step with the air!

Stop and smell the roses,
Spend some time,
Tend to your bushes,
Pay no mind.

As you walk amongst the flowers,
peer down at your feet.
There’s no time to smell the roses
when you’re six feet deep. 

Hershe Moore

 

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Who will buy the cow when you give the milk for free?

 

Metaphors are very blunt and get to the point. Who will buy the cow when you give the milk for free? Why marry the woman when you are already having sex with her? This brilliant movie from Turkey “Kurt Seyit and Sura,” shows a young Russian girl smitten by an older dashing Turkish officer. He is from a wealthy family and works as a Lieutenant for the last Czar. She comes from a noble family. The empire is about to collapse when the two lovers meet. They fall in love and then when both of their lives are in danger, she runs off with the handsome man. Of course sex has already occurred and for years they continue to have a relationship but never marry. His father demanded he would not marry outside of the culture and now he has died. The man and woman struggle with their love. For years she begins to become a stronger woman and this becomes an issue for him. He is used to being in charge and not having people question his orders. Their relationship finally meets with an end. He is set up to marry a Turkish girl (whom he never beds until they wed) and within the week they are married. The young Russian girl is distraught, shocked and confused.  Why is it that after all these years, he marries a woman just like that? Why when she has been there for him, waited for him, ran his business for him, loved him, nurtured him, was he able to quickly change gears? This is the question that many women continue to ask themselves in today’s modern society. The story of Kurt  Seyit and Sura is based on a true story. It is the tale of so many women around the world.

Almost half of all marriages fail in today’s society. We get it all wrong. We think our historical characters were the ones who erred and we are much wiser. We believe in sex, birth control, drinking, drugs, everyone can vote and hold down jobs, we can make babies whether we are married or not, and we can marry and have relationships with whomever we want. Anything can happen in our current “Caligula,” type of society and yet, and yet, we have half of all marriages that fail – this obviously is not counting all the relationships that never marry and fail. It is not counting the countless interludes that never make it to a relationship. So what is more important is looking at couples who do succeed and never marry. It is more important to look at why this occurs.

How many of you know people who waited to have sex before they were married? What can you say about this relationship? How many of you know people who have married for over 50 years and you can, without a doubt, say that you would look up to these people for marital advice? What have you learned from these couples? I think it is equally important to talk to older women who are not married to find out their story and what they have realized as an aging woman about marriage and what lasts.

The TV series above would seem out of place in today’s society. We all have sex so why is this a problem? The male character above has loyalty to family, roots and traditions. Not too many people even know what their roots are anymore and so they are scattered and ungrounded. Knowing and being proud of your culture helps a person to have confidence, stability, security and a sense of boundaries. It is easy to respect someone who is loyal to their culture, religion and family. It is not easy when you are a young person who is out on their own for the first time and full of lust, passion and vitality that makes you believe you can conquer any obstacle that comes across your path. Young people practically beg for this to happen on an unconscious level. As a young person, misplacing values will easily lead you in the wrong direction. Sex is wonderful, it is fun, exciting, lustful, and yet it is the key to longevity when you hold it at bay. Having sex as a young woman, without the wedding, means that you are more than likely going to end up with children, more than one partner and alone in old age.

Look around you at single women, single mothers and single older women. Talk to them to find out their story. What do they wish they would have done differently, now that they know?

Most American audiences hated the TV Series above. They assumed the title meant that this was a Cinderella story and everyone would end up happily ever after. European films are not about happily ever after though, they are about writing great storylines, building characters and dealing with tragedy. The male character in this storyline was a Turk in Russia, working as a soldier for the Czar, he spends the rest of his life running and hiding because anyone connected with the Czar was killed. He goes to his native country after his family is murdered and tries to find some respite there. Unfortunately, this is the same time period when the British occupied Turkey, along with the Italians and a few other powers. It was the end of the Ottoman Empire as well. Most likely he was suffering from PTSD and what works for this male character, his defense mechanism or coping skill, is that he continues to play the Lieutenant. He expects everyone around him to follow him. He leads others in attempts to strengthen the Turkish in their attempts to fight against the British (they only mention British in this TV series). As I listened to Americans crying, getting angry, talking about having depression symptoms when they saw the end of this film, I kept this in mind. I was already half way through the series and had an inkling the title was just the beginning and not the ending. I too felt sad at hearing how the ending would turn out but then I continued watching anyway. This is my fourth Turkish TV series so I have gotten used to how they turn out.

Watching the second half as a psychotherapist, I saw how the writer carefully prepared the audience for the ending. We could already see that Seyit, the male character, was holding back from marriage. We could see that Sura, the female character, was going out of her way to do whatever she could to salvage what was left. She became desperate, overcompensating, strong-willed and independent. It is natural to assume that a man would respect you for these character traits and perhaps some would. However, many males prefer to continue having to take care of the girl and aren’t so enthralled to see her become a woman; especially when they are not even married. He wanted to continue seeing her as his fairytale princess who reminded him of the past. She was becoming a survivor, a woman she could be proud of and hoped he would too but he did not.

When it comes to relationships, you must set the rules from the beginning. You must do this before you give things away. You must see that these rules have been met before you go to the next stage. For every rule that you allow to be broken, you are saying “I don’t have much respect for myself.” Yes, absolutely it is a double standard – he can do but you can’t do. We can have a modern society all that we want but on an instinctual level we are going to go for what we know makes sense. We all like rules but when we break them we have disconnect and sabotage. When we follow rules that we know are right because it is natural to us at the gut level maybe I could say at the primitive level, life runs much more smoothly. So why do we make life so difficult for ourselves? We have a big ego!! 

 

 

 

For Men Who’s Partner has been Abused

Home life can be difficult when you can’t be with the one you love. The way you won’t to love them. I can’t seem to find anything written about this topic and it comes up quite a bit with couples and sometimes with my male clients in individual. It is difficult for the guy who’s partner has been sexually abused or even physically abused. Issues of Trust, Sex and Boundaries are often misinterpreted. Guys take it personally because they are assuming it is about them. It causes a lot of hurt and frustration with the partner that they love. Many times the guy will say to me “Why doesn’t she trust me?” or “Why won’t she have sex with me? I didn’t abuse her?” It is really difficult for both the survivor and the partner of the survivor. So how do you cope?

1. Patience – If your partner is in therapy, they are spending time working on themselves and trying to get through this trauma from childhood (or even as an adult) and, if your partner is in therapy, it would be good for the two of you to do couples work as well.

2. Confidence – If your partner has confided in you that they have been abused, know that however they are behaving around you in the bedroom or in other situations has to do with the pain they have experienced. It isn’t always because of a situation between the two of you. It also isn’t always because of the abuse. Ask questions.

3. Research – While there aren’t books written to help men cope, there are plenty of online articles and books available to survivors of abuse. One of the top books is called “The Courage To Heal.” I understand there is a chapter in there specifically for the partners but the whole book is talking about how to cope with this trauma.

4. Practice Conscious Sex – Sex with your partner is going to have limitations when your partner is an abuse survivor. Some women forego certain acts of sex. This is because it is too difficult – the memories. Talk with your partner about sex, with the understanding that this talk is not going to lead to sex. Talk to them about safe touch (what feels comfortable for them). Work together on how sex can be fun for both of you.

5. Touch her emotionally and you will have touched her physically – Women regard emotions much higher than touch. Hearing how she is valued, loved and respected will get you much further in the bedroom than just touching her because you want to. This has to be authentic and really mean something coming from you. There are way too many men out there (and you know who I mean) who are players and can say a lot of crap to get a woman in bed. This isn’t about being a player. This is about being a man, building a connection with the one you love.

Once you have done these things with your partner, you will find that over time, trust will begin to re-build for her and she will begin to feel safer and safer.

 

Note: Also take a look at some of the resources on my Couples page.

Miss Representation

This is a trailer for a very important documentary in regards to the way women are portrayed in the media and how this continues to push down and keep out women in power. It is very important that we as women and as men educate ourselves with films such as this when thinking of the way we raise our boys and girls.

When I grew up there were standards in the media and also certainly ways in which women were portrayed. However, while the past may have kept women in a certain role, it is much more difficult to deal with how women are viewed today on television.

We have to put a stop to the objectification of women in media. It will happen when you take a stand about how your own daughter and/or son views these programs on television and other forms of media (i.e., video games, rap music, movies, websites, etc…) you are the parent!

Almost every woman who comes into my office, whether she is an adolescent or an adult, have issues of concern about their bodies. Heterosexual males that I meet in my office – for the most part, do not even think about their physique.

The majority of the problems in relationships, however, or in finding the right one are really an issue of boundary setting and communication. As women, we tend to use our bodies as a bargaining chip in getting or keeping the right man. Men who have body image issues (rare) use it to pull away from the relationship or woman they are attracted to.

A good relationship between a man and woman is certainly going to begin with an attraction and chemistry, though what I view and what you view as attractive are different based on our personalities. Chemistry/pheromones have nothing to do with looks but the energy that keeps two people drawn to each other. Once you begin to talk to each other, this is the most powerful aspect of sealing the deal and continuing to build on something. The communication makes a difference in whether you will just have sex (based on the chemistry, attraction) or will have a long-term commitment. Boundary setting will determine how long that relationship will last and whether or not it will be happy or based on on-going compromising and selling yourself.

Parents Sex Lives and Children

Adults who had parents, who led less than extraordinary lives, when it comes to raising their children with ethics, often have poor relationships. If you saw your parents (one or both) fooling around, watching porn, unstable with women/men, generally this has an effect on how you view partners as well. Men or women whose parent was absent growing up presents a dilemma also. How can you know good choices to make with a partner when you weren’t given a good example growing up?

In my own blended family there are three girls (a fourth sister died). Our birth father was not there for us growing up. He was a player who married five or six times but he cheated on all of them.  I myself recall women in his house when I was there for visitation, who he was not married to. As an adult, he is still unable to admit to me what his mistakes were as a man. He will say “Well you know what I did to your mother,” which is denial in a backhanded way. All of us sisters, including the one who died had bad marriages and equally bad relationships. Only one of us has actually been married successfully a second time. Our birth dad was unavailable to all of us growing up and therefore our self-esteem, setting boundaries and asking for what we want has taken quite a toll on us emotionally. This is why I am a therapist – I can empathize with bad families. I am a good therapist because of the work I have done on myself. Experience alone is wasteful unless you have become a better person.

I have also worked with foster children for many years who have played the “Who’s your babies daddy?” game. In the inner city it is considered glamorous, in a strange sort of way, to have multiple children that you are taking no responsibility for. It shows you are a stud and guys make jokes about this. It is not funny when you see a young boy or girl struggling with their own self-esteem and following in a pattern of looking for sex for attention. It is the only way they know to get touched, even if it is inappropriate. Some touch is better than no touch at all. These kids fall prey to gangs, prostitution, drugs, crime, anything that will get them in some type of world that will pay attention to them. Many kids I worked with actually didn’t mind being behind bars. It was one safe place where they were more protected than on the streets. I could actually empathize with them. Three squares and a cot that you don’t have to sell yourself for each and every day. Someone setting boundaries with you. Going to school and not having to worry about getting on the bus. And the people who work at juvenile hall actually care about these kids. Good consistent attention and a safe haven.

Kids who have been sexually abused in families often have one or both parents who have also been sexually abused. If the parent did not have anyone to protect them growing up, how will they know what to do with their own child? Sure it sounds pretty easy but when you are a parent, you don’t come equipped with a social worker or psychotherapist license. You raise your children the way you were raised. Middle class parents tend to do the opposite in a desperate need to give their kids everything they didn’t have. They end up raising entitled children who have names like Snowden and that kid who was caught with the Taliban from Marin, CA. If rich people can’t seem to get it right, you can’t expect low-income families with severe post traumatic stress disorder, sometimes are on drugs or alcohol, to pay attention and get it right. If you don’t know how to clean a house, your house is going to be dirty.

It is not unusual then that I would have many clients who have horrible relationships. Who have partners who take advantage of them just like their parents did. This is why I prefer working with individuals. If they are coming to me, the chances are their relationship is on a one way street. Someone is giving way more than the other. There is no equality because they weren’t raised by parents who work together.  They were raised with parents who were making babies with everyone in town, watching porn, using substances, turning a blind eye to someone abusing their child, or were just not there.

This is the reason that I do a family history the second session. I tell people I want to see what dynamics they grew up with that they have brought into their adult world. People always get a kick out of this because as soon as I say that, they resonate with this immediately. I also tell them that studies show, 90% of relationship problems are unmet childhood needs. Once we go over what this is in the second session, it is not unusual to see this comparison in their own spouses/partners. It is sad when they finally get this and the knowledge is often accompanied by lots of tears. Yet an awakening is followed by a new path where you can have what you want going forward – or can you?

Yes and No. It really depends on how strong someone is. Having a childhood as I have described above takes many years of therapy, homework, workshops, groups, reading, exploring your own self and then of course taking care of your body. First you have to see the connection. Then you have to be willing to do the work. You have to be open to realizing you do have an ego and taking responsibility for all the choices you have made. Yes, the partner was an ass but you attracted this person into your life based on the mindset you had. Sometimes it even takes awhile for people to realize this person is not right for them. Until they do, they continue to be taken advantage of and not get their needs met.

I don’t mind working with people, even if it takes a long time, as long as they are making some discoveries along the way. If they are not, they generally back out of therapy to continue being in a relationship that is ruining their hopes of ever having happiness. This is not so bad for them either. When a person has been raised in such a horrible environment, sometimes this is more comfortable than separating from what is normal to them.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. by  Anaïs Nin

Many people are stuck in the bud. When you think of a flower or better yet a caterpillar, in a cocoon, imagine how soothing this is. You are tightly wrapped up, very protected and it is dark in there. Nightime is often soothing when you are able to sleep. You are busy pretending the day never happened. Blossoming, opening up the bud, shedding the cocoon, this is risky and scary. You might not be good at this new life.

Think of these things as you raise your children. What images are you showing them? What interpretations are you making or telling yourself won’t hurt them? How much information are you giving them that they really don’t need to know? Hence the well-coined acronym “TMI.” Kids are not dumb. In fact their instincts and psychic powers are much stronger when they are little – until someone tells them that it is stupid or they are crazy. When someone says they are unworthy and will never amount to anything. This is when they begin to fall apart, lose their confidence, toss common sense to the wind and ignore their ability to see the double entendre.

Your children know you are having an affair. They might not put it in adult terms but they know something is going on that is strange and not normal for a parent to do. They know you are using substances – because everyone knows this. Because you are a new person once you’ve used them. You are no longer the good, fun parent but the evil person they have to lock their door for. They sneak out to pee and see their parent on the computer watching porn. They come into the room when adults are talking and hear the conversation about what mommy or daddy should not have done. Kids are curious, they wander around houses, they accidentally stumble on things. The truth is there. Think about how you are living your life. Is it really in the best interests of your family?