Here is a three part series on how to improve your relationship with three Gottman Method Couples Therapy ideas based on actual empirical research.
A simple concept, yet one that many partners often forget. When you express an interest in your partner's life, whether it be their experiences throughout the day, or remember something that is bothering them and check up on it - it reminds them that you care. The connection between you and your partner is a foundational component to a happy and successful relationship. Genuinely caring about your partner is a huge component.
How can you express interest? It's not rocket science! -But it is all in the communication.
This idea of turning toward your partner or away from them is part of a larger concept called "bids for attention." These bids are calls into the relationship from one partner when they need something - it is a person saying, "pay attention to me, I need you." When you fail to act or help in some way, it can prove disastrous for your relationship. Couples who are considered 'masters' of their relationship (and thus more likely to be successful and have longer, happier relationships) turn toward, and express interest, in their partners 86% of the time when requested. Of those who are 'disasters' or less likely to have a successful relationship, only turn toward and express interest in their partners 33% of the time when requested.
Give it a try, you'll be pleasantly surprised! It will draw you both closer and you will feel a deeper connection almost right away.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - a brilliant, and amazing woman. Someone who is fighting to significantly dismantle the patriarchy and advance feminist ideals. Or at least, some of them. In her book, We Should All Be Feminists (pictured, right) she discusses many elements of gender equality, including sexuality for women. And I love every word. Except this one small passage...
We police girls. We praise girls for virginity but we don't praise boys for virginity (and it makes me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out, since the loss of virginity is a process that usually involves two people of opposite genders). (pg. 32)
Does it though?
I know a lot of people who "lose" their virginity and have never had sex with someone of a different gender identity. So how does that work for them? Are they still 'virgins?' I know I am overthinking this one - but I also know that heterosexism and heterocentrist thought is dominant not only in western cultures, but also across the globe. This quote is an example of that - completely focused on heterosexual ideals of sexuality and expression. The assumption in this quote is that a penis needs to enter a vagina for it to be considered "sex" and for virginity to be "lost." This is simply not true.
"Virginity" is a construct - one that has been placed upon human beings by a heteropatriarchal society that aims to devalue sexual expression and repress everyone who is not a white cisgender male who identifies as heterosexual. Why is this concept of "virginity" so important? Why do we care if someone has had sex before? How does not having sex before a government contract and spoken word moment in front of friends and family make someone a better person or somehow morally acceptable? It doesn't. Virignity isn't something that is lost, or gained, or held, or protected. Virginity is a construct that was created to hold people back and shame them.
We should free ourselves from this idea. Focus more on intimacy and sharing of yourself, instead of the physical acts of sex. The physical nature of sex is not the true act of sex - the connection with a partner, and the enjoyment of your body and it's abilities are what true sex is, not simply the insertion of one body part into another. And, just a final thought - you can't lose an idea. You can only decide it isn't true anymore.
"The greatest gift that you can give to others
There is a new name for an old foe - "SAFE-T." It stands for 'Sexual Attraction Fluidity Exploration in Therapy.' Despite the name, it is anything but an exploration of sexual fluidity. Instead, this is a so-called therapy aims to subvert same-gender sexual attractions and promote a heterosexual identity through shame, harm, mistreatment, and unethical "counseling/therapeutic" techniques. This was previously called "Conversion" or "Reparative" therapy - because there was something to fix, or repair, right?
Even as I write this, I have a hard time even calling this a type of therapy. The rage - it's real, folks.
Why is "SAFE-T" or "Conversion" therapy bad? Three main reasons...
Click here for a list of national association's (medical, psychological, research, etc.) and organization's policy and position statements on conversion therapy.
Now, let's talk about the ridiculous nature and absurdity that is the phrase given to this type of practice. I am not sure who came up with this new turn-of-phrase, but I can't help but think they were doing their best to turn up their nose at legit psychotherapy practice.
Key components of affirmative therapy, like safety, sexual exploration, fluidity, exploration, all are parts of a sex positive and health therapy process for accepting a person's sexual identity. By using terms such as these in this heinous practice is inexcusable. It's as though these 'practitioners' are attempting to state they are open, accepting and willing to support someone through an exploratory process of sexual development - however with the end goal being heterosexual cisgender identities.
Being of a sexual or gender identity minority, anywhere on the LGBPQT+ spectrum is already exceptionally difficult in this heterocentric world and society. It doesn't need to be made harder with anti-science, pseudo intellectual turn of phrase torture. It is already a terrifying process to discover and come to accept who you are - if you or anyone you know is questioning or exploring their identities, encourage them to seek a supportive affirmative therapist, preferably someone who is certified or has lots of experience. Living life authentically and from a genuine place is infinitely better than conforming to expectations.
When was the last time you asked your partner all the sex questions?
Some of you may be thinking - why do I want to know all the answers? Because it's important, that's why! I see clients and students who are consistently hesitant to talk about sex even with those who they are having the sex with!
Here are some BASIC sex questions you may want to consider asking someone whom you are having sex with regularly:
These questions get at some main concerns, quickly - 1) safety, 2) pleasure, 3) affect/connection. These are some of the most important components of expressing sexuality that leads to better sex. Everyone should attempt to be safe, have a pleasurable time, with someone that they connect (even if briefly) to. Sex is better this way!
Notice - I didn't ask about how many partners a person has had. I also didn't ask about how they identify in terms of their sexual orientation, etc. I didn't propose these questions on purpose - what do they have to do with your attraction to that person, or your decision as to whether you could have sex with them? If you answered that question with a, 'because, I don't know if I could have sex with someone who has...' then you may want to take a look in the mirror and check that bias.
Have any of you asked these questions, know the answers? I'd be curious to see how it turned out for you! #AskThemTonight!
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