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October 2011

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In this issue:





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Welcome!

This newsletter is designed especially for YOU if:

  • You have met someone and are wondering if s/he is the "Love of Your Life"
  • You are about to get married and want to co-create a fulfilling life partnership
  • You have a good relationship and want to make it great  

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  Ask Our Coaches:
No Sex in the City

"I need to have emotional and physical closeness to feel connected with her and our relationship."

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to Tara@relationshipcoachinginstitute.com who will forward them to our coaches all over the world. Each issue, we'll publish a few answers from our RCI coaches.


Dear Coaches,

I love my wife of 20 years. We're happy together. She's fun, loving, caring, a great mom and partner -- except for one thing -- no sex! She tells me she just doesn't feel like it any more. So after 8 months of excuses, I'm getting tired of it. I've tried to be understanding. She says there aren't any medical issues and there are no life-changing events or anything like that going on.

Our day-to-day life together is normal. I've suggested therapy and she says it has nothing to do with a mental issue and that it's just a decision on her part. She says there isn't anything wrong -- she just "chooses" not to have sex. That's it! I need to have emotional and physical closeness to feel connected with her and our relationship. I just don't feel that and now I'm beginning to feel angry. What's the best way to deal with this? Should I be in therapy? What about me and my needs in the relationship?

Scott


Denise responds …

Without realizing it your wife may have gone through hormonal changes that dissolved her sex drive. Many women who caretake their families all day lose their own sexuality. She may feel detached from her femininity. So for you to help her gently and lovingly connect to her soft, sensuous, feminine, sexuality you may want to first engage all her senses. This process actually engages the emotional and physical parts of her brain.

A woman's sense of smell, touch, taste, sound is heightened by as much as ten times that of a man and is needed to waken up nerve endings for stimulation. I would suggest you use cologne or fragrance that may remind her of a time when you were dating or a scent that she loves in the form of a candle. Non-sexual touch, especially foot and hand massages, performed with oils in a slow, sensual manner are critical for stimulation.

Look on the internet for information on reflexology. Play her favorite type of music throughout the house and often. Music and scent stimulate emotions that are associated with happier memories from the past. Be patient. This is a slow process. You are just trying to connect with her.

Denise Wade Ph.D. | www.sweetharmony.net | 1.215.913.7997


Tracy responds …

Like fidelity, sex is one of the fundamental things the marriage vows are all about. If one partner takes away such a foundational thing unilaterally, it's a deal-breaker, by definition.

What was the point in taking the marriage vows? Taking care of yourself is paramount. Seeing a therapist to deal with feelings of betrayal, anger and resentment may be a good course. It is perfectly natural to want a healthy sex life within your marriage, and is critical for your mental, physical and spiritual well-being.

I would recommend reading "The Sex-Starved Marriage" by Michelle Weiner-Davis. Spend time considering what your options are, according to your own moral framework. If need be, talk with a spiritual or religious leader to find understanding.

Finally, make time to create a life for yourself. Start a fitness program, join a cycling club, or take a class. Find out who you are and what you want for your life. This helps return feelings of self-reliance and power. Fill yourself beyond the brim with activities and pursuits that make you a man happy to be exactly who he is. Your wife will wonder what she is missing.

Tracy Corrigan | www.ftio.com


Mari responds …

My congratulations and sympathy to you. To have gone eight months in a marriage with no sex is quite an accomplishment. Marriage is a partnership. For one partner to decide, with no discussion, for no apparent reason to forego sex is unacceptable.

Although day-to-day life is normal, you're hurting inside for the loss of intimacy and closeness you first had. This lack of intimacy has certainly chipped away at the bond that helped hold your marriage together. However, there may be a number of reasons your wife no longer desires to have sex. It could very easily be a medical or physical problem, or it could be depression expressed in a lack of desire.

Ask yourself how much romance exists in your marriage. Some women often see sex as a chore and not as the wonderful bonding experience they first had. Romance your wife, take her to dinner, tell her how beautiful she is and cuddle with her without sex. Stroke her head, arms, neck. If none of this works, then by all means seek counseling for yourself. Find a coach or therapist to guide you through the next steps, which, unfortunately, may involve dissolution of your marriage.

Mari Lyles


Dr. Dar responds ...

Lack of sex and intimacy is a common issue in marriages. I suggest you find a way to meet in the middle which would require having a conversation with your wife. For example:

"Honey, I honor your desire for no sex in our marriage however, that does not work for me as you know. I need sexual connection and intimacy with you and in our marriage. I am committed to our marriage and to you but not to a completely sexless marriage.

I would like to know more about what it is about sex that you do not like/want/enjoy it? How can you and I find a solution that would work for both of us for the longevity and continued health of our relationship such that we both get our needs met? Would you try a once a month romance, sex, and intimacy date to start out with me where we have some special time together?"

Allow her time and space to respond. If you do not get resolution to this issue, do not wait to seek professional help with a therapist or a coach whether or not she will attend with you.

Dr. Dar Hawks | www.DrDar.com | 1.704.651.8568


Udall responds …

Scott, over the course of a relationship the emotional and sexual needs of both parties may change. You did not indicate the state of your sex life prior to your wife's decision; any unresolved issues in your marriage; your wife's age or whether she has actually seen a physician for her lack of interest in sex.

Your wife may not be conscious of and able to discern the reasons behind her choice. "Doesn't feel like it anymore..." can be brought on by physical, emotional or psychological issues that impact the sexual libido. Counseling could be beneficial in surfacing issues; however, one has to be willing.

Take care of your emotional and psychological well-being. Seek assistance from your minister, doctor, or counselor as you work through some tough decisions. Keep the lines of communication open with your wife.

Let her know how much you enjoy expressing your love to her sexually and ask if there is any form of sexual expression she still enjoys and is willing to participate. If sex is a requirement for you in a relationship and your wife is unwilling to work on the situation, you may have to consider a least favorite option-- ending the relationship.

Udall DeOleo | www.allaboutrelationships.us


Nina responds …

If you have clearly communicated to your wife that you need to have some kind of physical contact in order to feel closeness and connection with her, then she is not "choosing to not have sex" but is choosing to close you off from the relationship.

You say your relationship is very good yet your wife refuses to negotiate something very important to you. Either you have not communicated your true feelings (including your mounting anger) clearly and in the right way, or there may be other issues here that your wife has not communicated to you or that you are not hearing.

Play with the Communication Map that you can get from an RCI Couples Coach. It's a great tool to lovingly and respectfully uncover the real issues underlying her refusal to meet your needs.

If you haven't yet clearly addressed your unmet needs with her, it will help open the conversation so you can negotiate fairly. If you're still unable to resolve this issue your need could be met outside of the marriage, but you'd both need to fully agree for your marriage to be enhanced by it.

Nina Potter | ninapotter.relationshipcoach.org | 1.651.773.0732


Doris responds …

Since your wife said she is consciously choosing not to have sex, this is a perfect time to discover what needs this decision is meeting. Is there another area of life where she lacks control so she meets the need for certainty and control by saying no to sex?

You're clear you need to have emotional and physical closeness to feel connected. What does your wife need? You may be amazed when you explore differences regarding preferences of giving and receiving love. Since women often want to make love with their partner when they receive appreciation and affection but not when they're stressed or fatigued, many couples playfully explore how new ways of relaxing, de-stressing and cuddling lead to blissful bonding that includes sex.

Because of the way the female brain is hardwired, a safe, stress-free environment is essential to a woman's sexual arousal. If a man's physical touch conveys that he's sex-starved, erotic touch that would normally be a turn-on will annoy instead of arouse. Unconscious fear can arise, triggering a "no" response in order to feel in control. A relationship coach can help you discover the true issue so you can deepen trust and intimacy.

Doris Helge, Ph.D. | www.CoachingByDoris.com/relationshipresources | 1.360.748.4365


Feature Article:
7 Ways to Improve Your Relationship

by Dr. Darshana Hawks


Good relationships don't just happen. I've heard many of my clients state that, "If I have to work at it, then it's not the right relationship." This is not a true statement, any more than it's true that you don't have to work at good physical health through exercise, eating well, and stress reduction. Improvement is an ongoing journey in life, no matter which area of life you desire success.

I've discovered, in the 15 years that I've been coaching couples, 7 choices you can make that will not only improve your relationship, but can turn a failing relationship into a successful one.

Tip #1: Take Responsibility for Yourself

This is the most important choice you can make to improve your relationship. This means that you learn how to take responsibility for your own feelings and needs. This means that instead of trying to get your partner to make you feel happy and secure, you learn how to do this for yourself through your own thoughts and actions.

This means learning to treat yourself with kindness, caring, compassion, and acceptance instead of self-judgment. Self-judgment will always make you feel unhappy and insecure, no matter how wonderfully your partner is treating you. Owning your own needs is a responsible way to improve your relationship.

For example, instead of getting angry at your partner for your feelings of abandonment when he or she is late, preoccupied and not listening to you, not turned on sexually, and so on, you would explore your own feelings of abandonment and discover how you might be abandoning yourself.

When you learn how to take full, 100% responsibility for yourself, then you stop blaming your partner for your upsets. Since blaming one's partner for one's own unhappiness is the number one cause of relationship problems, learning how to take loving care of yourself is vital to a good relationship.

Blame is usually an indication that something is not aligned in yourself. Identifying what is missing for you outside of blaming your partner creates the space for you to make requests in a supportive way. Improve your relationship by owning your own needs, emotions, and requirements.

Tip #2: Kindness, Compassion, Acceptance

Treat others the way you want to be treated. This is the essence of a truly spiritual life and is a simple way to improve your relationship. We all yearn to be treated lovingly –-with kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance.

We need to treat ourselves this way, and we need to treat our partner and others this way. Relationships flourish when both people treat each other with kindness. While there are no guarantees, often treating another with kindness brings kindness in return.

If your partner is consistently angry, judgmental, uncaring and unkind, then you need to focus on what would be loving to yourself rather than reverting to anger, blame, judgment, withdrawal, resistance, or compliance. Kindness to others does not mean sacrificing yourself. Always remember that taking responsibility for yourself rather than blaming others is the most important thing you can do.

If you are consistently kind to yourself and your partner, and your partner is consistently angry, blaming, withdrawn and unavailable, then you either have to accept a distant relationship, or you need to leave the relationship. You cannot make your partner change -– you can only change yourself.

Tip #3: Learning Instead of Controlling

When conflict occurs, you always have two choices regarding how to handle the conflict: you can open to learning about yourself and your partner and discover the deeper issues of the conflict, or you can try to win, or at least not lose, through some form of controlling behavior.

We've all learned many overt and subtle ways of trying to control others into behaving the way we want: anger, blame, judgment, niceness, compliance, caretaking, resistance, withdrawal of love, explaining, teaching, defending, lying, denying, and so on. All the ways we try to control create even more conflict. Remembering to learn instead of control is a vital part of improving your relationship.

For example, most people have two major fears that become activated in relationships: the fear of abandonment –- of losing the other –- and the fear of engulfment –- of losing oneself. When these fears get activated, most people immediately protect themselves against these fears with their controlling behavior. But if you chose to learn about your fears instead of attempt to control your partner, your fear would eventually heal. This is how we grow emotionally and spiritually –- by learning instead of controlling.

Tip #4: Create Date Times

When people first fall in love, they make time for each other. Then, especially after getting married, they get busy. Relationships need time to thrive. It is vitally important to set aside specific times to be together –- to talk, play, make love. Intimacy cannot be maintained without time together.

Tip #5: Gratitude Instead of Complaints

Positive energy flows between two people when there is an "attitude of gratitude." Constant complaints creates a heavy, negative energy, which is not fun to be around. Practice being grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don't have. Complaints create stress, while gratitude creates inner peace, so gratitude creates not only emotional and relationship health, but physical health as well.

Tip #6: Fun and Play

We all know that "work without play makes Jack a dull boy." Work without play makes for dull relationships as well. Relationships flourish when people laugh together, play together, and when humor is a part of everyday life. Stop taking everything so seriously and learn to see the funny side of life. Intimacy flourishes when there is lightness of being, not when everything is heavy.

Tip #7: Service

A wonderful way of creating intimacy is to do service projects together. Giving to others fills the heart and creates deep satisfaction in the soul. Doing service moves you out of yourself and your own problems and supports a broader, more spiritual view of life. You will improve the lives of others while you improve your relationship.

If you and your partner agree to these 7 choices, you will be amazed at how much you can and will improve your relationship.

Copyright ©2011 by Dr. Dar, Ph.D. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Dr. Dar, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized Relationship Expert, Author, Speaker, and a Master RCI Licensed Relationship Coach for Singles and Couples. She coaches men and women who are: re-entering the dating scene to find love, moving in together, pre-married, newly-married, and couples in crisis, conflict, or who are experiencing communication problems. www.DrDar.com.

Bonus Article:
The 10 Signs that You're
Ready to Get Engaged

by Dr. Darshana Hawks


1. You both are openly talking about your future together.

Dreaming about your future is different from talking about how things will work in your life together. Talking about getting married is exciting, so is planning out how your lives will merge. Be sure to get clear about things like how you will handle the holidays, children, finances, merging your two homes, dealing with family and in-laws, etc. Getting engaged should be a mutual decision and choice to be discussed and planned jointly.

2. You feel completely comfortable with your partner.

Talking and sharing about everything openly without concern in your relationship is very important. Complete honesty without secrets is a must in a marriage. You must be able to share your deepest feelings, triggers, hang ups, faults, mistakes while feeling supported and loved without feeling guilt, shame, or neglect.

3. You feel completely safe in this relationship.

Being accepted and loved no matter what is a key to success in a marriage. Not feeling threatened in any way and knowing you are taken care of by your partner contributes to feeling safe.

4. You know that you and your relationship is a priority to and for each other.

Making each other and your relationship a priority takes effort and commitment. Lives get very busy with careers and children, so go ahead, schedule your date night for every week starting now making romance and intimacy a part of your weekly routine.

5. There is no pressure or pushing for a future - it just happens organically and naturally.

If you find yourself pushing for an engagement ring or commitment for marriage, be sure fear of losing your partner or some other external need or influence is not driving it. Allowing your relationship to develop organically while exploring the idea of marriage will bring your engagement date closer to you. Pressing for a date or ring will create delay and unnecessary pressure on your relationship.

6. You do not worry or experience any anxiety about your relationship.

Worrying about what your partner is or is not doing is an unhealthy activity. If this is a pattern in your relationship, maybe it is time to reconsider whether or not this is a healthy relationship for you or not.

7. No game playing or manipulation or control - you both are free with each other to be who you are.

Using manipulative language, lying, or involving others to get your partner to do or say something is very unhealthy. Instead learn how to ask for what you need and want, allow the space for finding a mutually acceptable solution, and stand in the space of authenticity.

8. You don't spend time convincing yourself, your friends, or family that this is the relationship for you.

There is no need to convince your friends and family that your partner is the "Bomb" as they will see that for themselves. If you are in an unhealthy relationship, your friends and family will let you know. Pay attention to what they say instead of defending your relationship. Friends and family love to interfere in relationship drama but you should still consider their opinions in your assessment of your relationship simply because they do care for your welfare and well-being.

9. You don't defend each other or your relationship with friends or family.

The reason you find yourself defending your partner is because you've been complaining about them behind their back. Find someone else, a professional relationship coach perhaps, to share your thoughts and concerns. This gives you an objective outside resource that will not interfere in your relationships with friends, family or your partner.

10. You truly accept and love each other for who you are.

Accepting each other's differences and for who you both are is the sweet spot of love. Maintain individuality while joining each other in the relationship for a sustainable relationship.

Instead of wondering if s/he will ever propose, which can cause unnecessary anxiety, impatience, and potential conflict in your relationship, why not just be sure. Have clarity, certainty and peace in knowing about your future with the one you love.

Copyright ©2011 by Dr. Dar, Ph.D. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.

Dr. Dar, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized Relationship Expert, Author, Speaker, and a Master RCI Licensed Relationship Coach for Singles and Couples. She coaches men and women who are: re-entering the dating scene to find love, moving in together, pre-married, newly-married, and couples in crisis, conflict, or who are experiencing communication problems. www.DrDar.com.



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