A Simple Thing Couples Can Do To Help To Enrich Their Sex Lives
There is a secret that we sex therapists know that generally folks don't know: horny, angry men are still horny. Horny, angry women don't experience having sexual desire--at least not toward the object of their anger.
This fascinating male/female difference has actually been proven in research. Angry wives withhold sex. But horny, angry men tend to be irritable and critical toward their partners, making wives even more irate. What a vicious circle. It stands to reason, then, that a major reason that so many couples experience diminishing sexual desire might be that their relationships need an attitude adjustment.
Giving Compliments: A Simple Technique to Change the Relationship Vibe
When couples come into my office for sexual or marital therapy, they often feel angry, helpless and hopeless about fixing their relationship. Things have deteriorated to the point where they are picking on each other. Or, if they aren't saying mean things, the silence between them feels cold as ice. And the anger over whatever the issue may be grows.
Usually, no matter how much they wish for things to improve, nothing either of them does seems to alter the negative tone between them. Often, sex has deteriorated to the point where it is non-existent, furthering feelings of abandonment, disconnection, hurt, rejection, and distrust. Even though they feel helpless and can't figure out what to do, fixing relationships is my business, and I do know what to do.
Ironically, even though I'm a sex therapist, one of my first interventions has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with words.
If you want to repair a troubled relationship, or cement loving feelings in a relationship which is already thriving, it would be hard to overemphasize the potential power of giving compliments. When you sincerely praise or admire your mate, even if you two are going through rough relationship seas, you create a little island of safety, warmth, and good feelings toward one another.
Remember How It Used To Be
Compliments are a huge part of the courting process. Starting out, each of you noticed the appealing qualities in the other. That is what attracted you to each other. Part of the wooing process was verbalizing your delight in the other person. You each said, out loud,-- how much you saw your beloved as "handsome", " pretty", "smart", "sexy", "talented," "funny," "hardworking," "ambitious," et cetera. You went on and on about how delighted you were to discover someone who was such a good dancer, so good at social events, so funny, so solid, or whatever. It delighted each of you to give and receive these compliments, made each of you feel the glow of appreciation and love.
The typical, established couple who comes in to see me for marital distress is very, very busy. Usually, the two people split the myriad day-to-day tasks, trying their best, working hard, and contributing something to the smooth running of their two lives. (Or three or four or more lives, if children are involved.) Each person can feel overworked and underappreciated. In ongoing relationships, unfortunately, compliments can be hard to find.
Giving sincere compliments to your partner in an established relationship shows the other person that you're not taking them for granted, that you notice the good things they do for the couple or the family, Or that you still find them physically and emotionally appealing.
So why do so many people find it difficult to give compliments to their partners, once the glow of new love has faded? In large part, the art of giving compliments is learned in our families. If you grew up getting compliments, it feels natural to give them. A woman who grew up hearing how pretty she looked when she dressed up to go to church every Sunday is likely to tell her husband how handsome he looks when he has on a suit and tie, But the person who grew up in a family where praise was withheld, lest the child develop "false pride" or a swelled head is likely to feel unnatural or uncomfortable saying flattering words.
Words turn out to be an important currency of love for women. As irrational as it may seem to men, women feel unloved and unnoticed if they do something to change or improve their looks and their partner ignores it. Men who love their partners tend to THINK nice things about the women in their life but never voice them. Thinking nice thoughts about your partner is all well and good, but when it comes to rebalancing relationship dynamics, thoughts are ineffective.
So when things are looking bad in your relationship, remember this: sometimes the word is more powerful than the deed!
When Esquire or Oprah need a unique insight about sex, love or marriage they often turn to Dr. Aline Zoldbrod (aka " Dr. Z"). The Boston- based relationships and sex expert has gained national recognition for developing her own original theories and innovative interventions to make sexual and relationship problems disappear. (February, 2007)