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July 2009

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Tara Kachaturoff
Editor | Partners in Life Couples News

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Ask Our Coaches:
Is our romance gone forever?

"Has our relationship changed forever, or
do sexual feelings come back again?"

This column answers questions submitted by our readers. Submit your questions to 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,

My husband and I have been married for four and a half years. We conceived our first child soon after we got married and the second one came along 15 months later. Before the kids came, we had a good romantic life -- after the kids arrived, practically none.

We love each other and are very invested and committed in our relationship to each other and our kids. We even go out on dates once a week and try to go out, just the two of us, during the week too, but our sexual/sensual relationship no longer exists.

I think this is because we are too tired and busy with baby duty most days and nights. So it doesn't leave much room for those wonderful romantic feelings we once had. Honestly, since I had my kids, I have no more libido.

Even if you put the most attractive person in front of me, I would have no sexual desires. What do you make of that? Has our relationship changed forever, or do sexual feelings come back again? What can I do? What can we do?

Susan from Sacramento

Liz responds ...

First of all, I want to applaud you and your husband for being committed to your relationship and your children. Taking care of your sensual relationship is healthy and also provides the balance you need to be effective in managing your other obligations.

This is a situation that occurs often in marriages and it can be managed and overcome. There could be various physical and psychological reasons for decreased libido. Typically, there is a loss of libido after childbirth. Many women will have decreased hormone levels, and fatigue comes with the new responsibilities of caring for children.

There are a variety of ways to increase libido, it's just a matter of finding out what will work for you. One of the simplest things that couples can do is to find new ways of stimulation. This could be in the form of enhancement gels, using relaxation techniques, or hormone therapy.

Women have also increased their libido with the use of verbal stimulation. Talk with your husband and explore using words that arouse you. This can be a fun activity for one of your date nights. Another suggestion would be to talk with your doctor to rule out any medical issues and consider working with a sex therapist.

Of course, these are just suggestions and you will want to experiment with only those things that you and your husband are comfortable with. However, give yourself permission to do some things that are different and exciting to you!

Liz Reed| | 817.992.0150

Randy responds ...

Many couples experience this same dilemma.  The romance does not need to be gone if you love each other, but to rekindle it takes some unromantic work (i.e. learning to understand and deal with the underlying issues).

First, we have the issue of expectations.  The fairy tale picture of marriage that many people have does not match the reality of daily life with work and kids.  You must bring your expectations into line with reality.

Second is simple boredom.  This naturally occurs after a few years of being with one person.  The solution is to find things to do together that are exciting and different; I call this "breaking the rules."

Third is a complex psychological issue called the "incest prohibition."  Simply stated - as a young child you learned that it was prohibited to have sex with your parents.  Now that you have become parents yourselves, this subconscious prohibition transfers over and a part of you feels it is wrong to have sex with your partner.  An excellent book on this subject is Karen Horney's "Feminine Psychology."

Fourth, we have the issue of "libido."  The bottom line is that you don't need to have libido to have sex.  All you need is a desire to please your husband.  And if you don't have that, then all bets are off.  A good reference here is Marie Robinson's "The Power of Sexual Surrender."

Finally, our culture creates a lot of taboos against sex, and against many sexual activates and fantasies.  This sexual inhibition is more prevalent in women, but is not restricted to them.  The solution is being more experimental and open to new adventures, as well as understanding the meaning of sexual fantasies.  I recommend reading Nancy Friday's book "Men in Love."  Therapy or relationship coaching is usually the most helpful.

Randy Hurlburt | | 858.455.0799

Rick and Jo respond ...

This is an experience shared by many couples with young children. We appreciate your commitment to your relationship and the frustration you experience when things you try don't seem to work. Here are 3 exercises designed to restore love and romance:

Exercise #1: Sit down together after the kids' bed-time. Write down all the ways you have both allowed the kids, work and life in general to take you out of your relationship. Then re-commit to making your relationship the most important thing in your lives. Next, write down the attitudes, behaviors and actions you will both commence to honor each other and your relationship.

Exercise #2: Write down all the ways your partner currently gives you pleasure. Remember the pleasing things each of you did in the past, when romance was present, that you are no longer doing for each other. Share these items and ask each other if you have missed anything.

Next, write down something you would love your partner to do that would bring you pleasure -- something that you have never asked for. Swap your lists and read what the other has written. Then make requests for what you want from this exercise. Concentrate on nurturing each other emotionally and physically. Create ways that you can do this and make sure the kids understand the new priorities and the new boundaries you have created.

Exercise #3: Every day, make a practice of kissing each other, while maintaining contact for at least one minute - no matter how pre-occupied or busy you are.

Rick and Jo Harrison | | +61.3.5420.7366

Murray responds ...

Susan, you are describing a fairly common problem. It is not unusual that sexual feelings are submerged during early child-rearing. However, there is a way you are talking about sexuality that may be important to reexamine.

You, like many people, describe sexual feeling passively -- that sexual feelings happen to you. However, sexual feeling is often created by what we do, by smallest of moves we make, whether conscious or unconscious.

I presume that you and your husband continue to feel good about each other and put much effort into raising your children and creating a home. Consider how much energy you put in to being good parents. How does that compare with the effort toward creating more romantic and sexy moments? It is great to go out regularly, however, this too, can become routinized.

Consider how you relate to each other while out or while at home during the week. Do you quietly flirt, create sexual tensions, or touch your partner in a way that would surprise your partner and maybe you?

We may put much energy into this when first dating. Can you or your partner create some experience of newness, of positive tension and surprise that may eventually or even immediately create a sense of new kinds of sexual feelings for each other? It is possible.

Murray Dabby | | 404.633.3282

Dr. Jackie responds ...

The fact that you and your husband love each other and are very invested and committed in your relationship to each other and your kids is very good news! Know that sex and intimacy can flourish in your relationship and are NOT dependent on time or energy!

While going out on a date every week is an important part of supporting and maintaining your connection as partners, it is NOT enough. Think about a beautiful garden; the flowers are in full bloom and growing profusely! Someone routinely tends this garden. S/he removes the weeds as soon as they poke their heads out of the ground; waters and feeds the plants, and cultivates the soil... routinely.

Imagine what the condition of the garden might be if s/he only went out to the garden once a week to pick the flowers to be enjoyed over the weekend. Committed, joyful, lasting relationships require the same attention and intention on an on-going basis; not just once a week.

Every day you and your husband must plan to connect for just a moment at four critical times of the day. Every day; for a moment, four times a day. Throughout the week there are specific little things you can do for and say to each other; special loving behaviors that will remind each of you that you are cherished and loved; that you matter to the other.

This is the rich soil in which intimacy and sexual energy grow more deeply every day. Happy gardening!

Jackie Black, Ph.D. | | 760.346.9795

Susan responds ...

I hear how frustrated you are. Before I could offer any feedback from a coaching perspective, I would recommend getting things checked from a medical perspective just to make sure everything is balanced, as that can have a strong impact on your libido. Once you have that information, it will be easier to determine the most appropriate and effective action steps for you and your husband.

Susan Ortolano | | 818.232.3186

Katherin responds ...

Yes, having young children can dampen the romantic bliss you once shared. If you're really serious about making your marriage better, here are some ideas to not only bring back those romantic feelings but also to take it up a notch.

  • Change your priorities where your husband and marriage come BEFORE the kids. Its good for you both and it makes the kids feel safer.
  • Forget the dates. You probably just talk about the kids or the bills. Instead go away for the weekend to a couple's retreat, especially a Tantra retreat. Learn to connect on a deeper level. The kids may whine but they really aren't afraid of you leaving. Kids just need to know you're coming back.
  • Get counseling or relationship coaching. Go now for ideas to keep your marriage healthy.
  • Get help around the house. Hiring a teenager is an inexpensive way to get chores done. Go to the local high school office and ask for names of helpers and babysitters.
  • Take vitamins and natural health tinctures to improve your libido. Yes they do exist and they work - just check with your doctor first. And practice extreme self care - not just 10 minutes a day for yourself.
  • Give your husband what he needs to feel loved and be willing to ask for what you need. Not sure? Read the book, "The Five Love Languages", together.
  • Spend quality time snuggled close with your husband. Bring back the "pillow talk." Share your dreams with your husband and imagine the perfect life together. Remember why you first fell in love with each other.
  • No excuses. Make your marriage a priority. It may not be easy, but it's worth the effort, for you, your husband and your kids.

Katherin Scott | | 425.681.2620

Feature Article:
Commitment: What it is and why it's important

This month, RCI coach Michelle E. Vasquez, discusses commitment - what it is, why it's important, the challenges, and why some people just can't do it.

Tara Kachaturoff
Editor, Relationship Coaching Institute

Tara: What is commitment and why is it so important to a relationship?

Michelle: The American Heritage Dictionary defines commitment as, "the state of being bound emotionally or intellectually to a course of action or to another person or persons." In a relationship, a commitment is a promise you make to another person to continue to be with that person.

The traditional wedding vows sum up commitment quite thoroughly: "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, in joy and in sorrow." Commitment is a promise to stick around and work through difficulties.

Commitment is important because it means the couple can breathe easy knowing their relationship will last. The couple can trust in the fact that they are going to be with each other "come hell or high water." If you don't have this promise of commitment, you have anxiety and worry. A firm commitment means you can relax and trust your partner will be there tomorrow and the day after that.

Commitment gives the couple a set of standards and values to live by. It announces to the world around them that they have decided to be with each other for the long-haul. Committed couples don't think, "If this doesn't work, we'll just get a divorce." They hold their relationship as sacred and permanent. They are confident that their relationship is here to stay. Their friends and family see the relationship in the same way.

When commitment is a "given," the couple can move on to the tasks of daily living. They no longer have to ask whether their relationship will last; it's just understood that it will. This is so important.

Think about this: let's say that commitment is a survival need for couples, just like food, water, clothing, and shelter are survival needs. Then once that need is met, couples can move on to deal with everyday tasks.

They don't have to worry about whether their mate will still be there when they come home. They can rest easy and focus on work, taking care of children, and other daily tasks. A couple in a committed relationship is calmer and happier, just knowing that basic survival need is met.

Tara: What are examples of three challenges that couples face when it comes to commitment and what can be done to overcome these?

Michelle: Tara, if there is a lack of trust, the challenges can be limitless! Narrowing it down to three? Here's what I think:

#1 One party is hesitant to commit

This is a tough spot for the couple, since one may feel more strongly than the other does about their status as a couple. The one who hesitates may have doubts or serious concerns. Maybe past hurts are getting in the way of committing to the new relationship. Maybe there are concerns about the other person! Of course, if one person has serious concerns about the other, then it would be best if they slow down and ask why they are together in the first place.

#2 One or both commit too fast

This could be a disaster if they haven't taken the time to understand each other and figure out whether they are even compatible. They may be letting their hormones think for them. This kind of relationship is doomed to failure, since chemistry alone cannot sustain a long-term relationship. If one person is committing too fast, that could be the end of the relationship. Committing too fast can be a sign of neediness.

#3 Both parties hesitate to commit themselves to each other

In this case, the couple may stand a chance. Commitment is not something to be entered into lightly. This couple may be scared because of past hurts. It's also possible that they are both thinkers. They want to take it slow and learn about each other before they pledge their loyalty. They would benefit from some workshops about relationships, working with a coach to determine their compatibility, and doing some pre-commitment planning together.

Tara: How does commitment change or modify the longer we're in a relationship with someone?

Michelle: Oh, it can be beautiful! Ask happy couples who have been married for 40 or 50 years about commitment. They may have married in their teens and are now in their 60's or 70's. When they got married, everyone expected them to stay married. It was "just the way things are done."

They will tell you they went through some really tough times, but they stuck together. They will have some wonderful stories of laughter and tears. They can still hold hands and look at each other with loving eyes. They feel a sense of security knowing that they are together and are committed to staying together.

You don't have to be in a committed relationship for 50 years to understand this. Commitment is a mindset. If you decide you are with your mate no matter what, you feel secure and relaxed. Thoughts of "what if" and "if only" don't enter your mind (or if they do, they are fleeting thoughts). You have chosen to love the person you are committed to.

I believe that this mindset of commitment feeds on itself, nurturing its growth. It doesn't mean it's always easy; add a lack of commitment to the difficulties every couple faces and you get a lot of anxiety and fear in that relationship.

Tara: Why can't some people ever commit to someone?

Michelle: I've given this some extensive thought over the years I've worked with couples and singles. For example, some women have told me that men just cannot commit. Interestingly, I've met men who, for whatever reason, were with one woman for years, but wouldn't marry her, then began another relationship and married the new woman within a year or less.

I think that when it's right, people commit easily and with their whole hearts. When it's not, they can live in an uneasy, in-between state for years. If two people are not a good match, commitment will be difficult. When a couple's values and beliefs mesh, it's much easier for them to commit.

When people don't understand what their requirements are for a successful relationship, they keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole. They think that if they work harder on their relationship, it will work out. Unfortunately, they are unaware that they started out with a relationship that was incompatible. They ignored red flags. They got together based on limited compatibilities. In this case, it will not work, and they will be miserable.

Tara: What are some creative ways couples can express their commitment to each other?

Michelle: Couples can do it up big or keep it simple. A combination of both is fun. I read about a man (believe it or not) who enjoyed his wedding so much he decided that he and his wife would repeat their vows on every anniversary in a new and exotic location. They've been married in different wedding traditions and religions, and I think even a ship captain married them one year.

I think the simplest way to express commitment to your partner would be to express words of gratitude to each other daily. Noticing the little things is so very important that if you do nothing else, I would urge you to do this. Here are a few examples:

· Thank you for taking out the trash
· I love how you take the time to look good when we go out
· I appreciate the way you keep our home clean and organized
· You are such an attentive father
· I love it when you hold the door for me

When you focus on the small everyday things, you will get more of it. You know that when you focus on the negative, things get worse, right? When you focus on what you like, that stuff grows.

Copyright © 2009 by Michelle E. Vásquez. All rights reserved in all media.

Michelle VasquezMichelle E. Vásquez, MS, LPC, is an RCI Relationship Coach who helps singles and couples attract the life they want and create the relationships that bring them joy. She specializes in working with couples who are experiencing relationship difficulties as well as with singles who want to find the love of their life. Bilingual. | 714.717.5744

Bonus Article:
Great Getaways for Couples

by Katherin Scott

A weekend is not a vacation. (I'm stealing that from an ad campaign.) Even when you're not working, you're working. The lawn says: Mow me! The bathtub says: Scrub me! If you have kids...well, you love 'em, who doesn't -- but who wouldn't like a break? So get away! You, and everyone who has to be around you, will be glad you did.

Here are some great getaway ideas for couples.

1. Rough it. Go hiking! Go camping! Get so far away you can't even hear anyone but you. Swim in a natural lake; snuggle next to a campfire. Feel the stress just fall away.

2. Sleep somewhere else. You don't need to do anything. Just get yourself a room in a local bed and breakfast, hotel, or cabin, and enjoy having someone else make the bed for a change. Turn off your phone, get in the bath, and order room service. Ahhhh.....

3. House swap. Swapping houses is a great, affordable option for long or short getaways. Get to know another city or country while in the personal comfort of "your" own home. A number of online companies can help you arrange the deal.

4. Go wine-tasting. Napa Valley is the country's most famous wine-tasting region, but you can find excellent vineyards all over the country. Make yourself a little two- or three-day tour. Enjoy the wine, the food, and each other.

5. Go on a "specialty" tour. What's your interest? The Civil War? Lighthouses? Baseball? Make a tour out of it. I know one couple who spent a summer visiting baseball stadiums and camping. Most of us don't have a whole summer to give away, but you can take a long weekend visiting your sites of interest.

6. Go on a chocoholic tour. Is there anything more delicious, relaxing, romantic, out-of-this-world than chocolate mousse? No. No discussion! If you're a chocoholic, i.e. a reasonable person, you'll want to devote a weekend to touring your local (or far-off) establishments in search of the best chocolate desserts. You won't even remember your worries (job, house, kids) after that.

7. Travel. The best getaway is actually getting away. Go to Europe and visit cathedrals. Go to Hawaii and check out volcanoes. Visit China. Just go!

8. Stay home. This one requires discipline, but I know at least one couple who's pulled it off. Where you live is bound to have lovely local attractions you've never visited, especially if you live in a city. Set yourself a budget and make yourself spend it. Go visit all your local attractions as if you'll never have a chance to see the place again.

9. Go kayaking. Kayaking companies now offer a convenient variety of tours. You can spend a day, a weekend, or a week kayaking, and they'll teach you how. You can stay in inns or camp. Check out the options. You'll never forget it.

10. Be crazy! What have you always wanted to do but never done? Go white-water rafting? Sky-dive? Snorkel? Have sex on the floor, not in the bed? Now is your time to try it! Take a vacation from your usual life.

Everyone needs a vacation now and then. Whether it's for a day, a weekend, or a month, take the time to get away. You'll enjoy home so much more when you come back.

Copyright ©2009 by Katherin Scott. All rights reserved in all media.

Katherin Scott, MA, is an internationally recognized authority on dating and attracting love. She coaches worldwide and regularly conducts seminars and workshops to help people empower themselves to find love and happiness. Katherin's newest book is, ABC's of Dating: Simple Strategies for Dating Success.

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Tara Kachaturoff | Editor, Couples News

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