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Keeping Marriage Strong

Problems with Sexual Health

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Sex is an important part of a healthy, committed relationship. Unfortunately, there are a number of complications that can get in the way of a healthy sex life and interrupt the intimacy and passion you have with your partner. If you are having issues that are preventing you from having the sex life with your partner that you want and need – and that he or she wants and needs – you can discover ways to keep your passion alive. Even if your issues are constantly present or you are miserable and in pain and not really thinking about sex the way you would be if you felt fine, there are ways you can continue to have a healthy and mutually satisfying sex life.

When you’re in a committed relationship, it isn’t just about the pursuit of an orgasm. Sex is also about intimacy and connection and closeness and love. When you can’t have that intimacy, it’s much easier to feel disconnected from your partner in every way, not just sexually.

How to Support a Partner Who Is Having Sexual Health Problems

It takes both partners to work through these times. Be supportive when your partner is in pain, doesn’t feel sexy, feels like his or her insides have been twisted into carnival rides, or just can’t find the inspiration to be sensual or sexual. If you are suffering from a sexual health issue, try to put your woes aside and find other ways to let your partner know you’re still madly, hotly passionate about him or her.

If you have a partner struggling with a sexual health problem, don’t push or demand or pout about the necessary non-sex you’re having. That makes it easier for him or her to want to find ways (and believe me, there are many other ways) to make you feel good and to keep your sensuality and intimacy alive. Spend more time cuddling and caressing, kissing and fondling, teasing and flirting.

How to Be a Good Partner When You’re Having Sexual Health Issues

If you are struggling with a sexual health issue, from polycystic ovarian disease to prostate troubles, from post-menopausal lack of libido to impotence, try to find some way every day to let your partner know that even though you’d rather have your doctor remove everything from your lower body that is remotely sexual right now, your partner is still someone you are attracted to and find sexy. When you feel horrible, let your partner care for you. When he or she needs reassurance, be sure to provide it.

A loving relationship does not need sex to thrive, but it does need intimacy.

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Let's Talk

10 Tips for Better Intimacy

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

MomsGetReal Romance Series

Whether you and your partner are just getting started or you’ve married for 20 years, there are certain things that you can do to keep intimacy alive in your relationship. Disclaimer: I do not believe that doing nice things for someone you love means you are degrading yourself, but I also don’t believe someone who truly loves you will ever ask you do anything you wouldn’t willingly do. These tips are for couples who are in consensual, loving relationships.

1. Your partner doesn’t care if you have the perfect body. They just want you to show them in this little way that you want to be sexy for them. Surprise your partner and put on something sexy that you know he or she will find appealing.

2. Set an atmosphere that lets your partner know you’re in a romantic mood. Sometimes they like to have the guesswork taken out of it. Light some candles, put the satin sheets on the bed, get out the furry handcuffs – whatever it is that sets a mood for you and your partner.

3. Men and women can be insecure. Don’t criticize or make your partner feel inadequate. Let your partner when he or she makes you feel. When something occurs that curls your toes, say so. The best way to get what you want is to have open communication with your partner.

4. Sometimes, it’s ok to have sex even if you aren’t really in the mood (sex should always be consensual). Think of it this way: people who have sex two to three times a week are happiest, and there are actual health benefits to having sex. Sex can actually relieve headaches and tension and make you sleep better. And there is no better way to let your partner know that you truly care.

5. Every once in a while, pamper your partner. Give a massage, draw a bubble bath. Chill some champagne and bring in the strawberries and chocolate and feed your partner in bed. Make breakfast in bed. Do something to let the person you love so much know he or she is special.

6. Initiate sex. If you’re the one who always waits for partner to initiate, take a turn taking the lead. Everyone wants to know they are wanted. Tease your partner off and on throughout the day so that there’s no doubt what’s coming later. I guarantee you whatever is on TV won’t stand a chance.

7. Be passionate. For some people, it might be scary new territory, but putting some energy and enthusiasm into your lovemaking can drive partner wild.

8. No matter how the movies or TV depict it, most people aren’t looking for the quick roll between the sheets. You can drive your partner wild by just increasing the amount of physical contact you have all the time, which will in turn make you more intimate. Eye contact, hand holding, light caresses can all make a difference.

9. If you’ve been together for any length of time, sex might be feel a boring routine. Spice it up! Try a different location, a different position. Monogamy doesn’t have to mean monotony!

10. Tell your partner what turns you on. Share your fantasies. You don’t necessarily have to use words if moans will do – but learn how to communicate and guide to improve the experience for both of you.

How do you keep intimacy alive in your relationship?

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Let's Talk Resolving Conflict

Fight Nice

It’s inevitable: you’re in a relationship with another human being, you fight. You can’t avoid it, and in fact, if you’re in a relationship where everything is “perfect” and you never fight and life is like a fairy tale…it’s either the first week, or you’re not letting your “real” you show through.

I’m not cynical, and I believe in love. I just also believe that if two people have a committed, close relationship, they are occasionally going to butt heads – and that fighting is actually a healthy, normal part of a relationship.

It’s how you fight that matters, and it’s very easy to get into unhealthy patterns.

For everyone else, unhealthy patterns include doing things like giving the silent treatment, dredging up everything that has ever happened in the relationship over the last several years, or playing the passive-aggressive game. For fighting to be good for a relationship, it has to be healthy fighting.

You’re going to disagree with your partner, and you may even get angry and yell at each other. What you have to be able to do is stay focused on the issue you’re fighting about. Your argument should not become a personal attack. In fact, you really shouldn’t say anything about your partner. Instead of saying, “You always do this,” say, “This is important to me and I feel like it’s not a priority.”

If you’re the kind of person who needs time before you can discuss things rationally, that’s fair … but the silent treatment is not. You supposedly care for this person, so punishing them by not speaking when you’re angry isn’t a good way to handle your anger or frustration. Instead, explain it: “I really want to talk to you about this, but I have to have some time first to deal with my emotions and clear my head. I promise we can talk about it in a couple hours.”

No matter how angry you get, it’s really not fair to dredge up the past, especially if you’ve already gone there, hashed it out, and put it away. Bringing stuff up from the past is a relationship killer. Never be purposefully hurtful or derogatory.

When you’re done being angry, make up. Say sorry. You don’t have to be wrong to be sorry. You can be sorry because you feel bad that you fought. Compromise and listen. Don’t go to bed angry – and never fight in your bedroom. If you think you’re too angry to control what you’re going to say, take time to cool off first. Things said in the heat of the moment often lead to big regrets.