Filtering by Category: Relationships

Forgiveness

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Recently I have found myself thinking a lot about forgiveness. Partly because of articles I am writing about trauma and partly due to research I have been doing on culture and religion. Forgiveness is intertwined in most religions and indicates holding power.
There is this idea that in order to move forward, we must forgive. That with forgiveness we will find true happiness and freedom. I don't believe this is the case. I am not talking about disagreements or arguments that are had between couples or family members. It's those who have experienced trauma or abuse at the hands of others, individuals who walk into my clinic room, holding pain and suffering. Although the idea of forgiveness seems simple, it can be very emotionally loaded and complex, particularly for trauma survivors.
I understand, of course,  that if a person comes in and finds that the word “forgiveness” resonates, I do not discourage it. Forgiveness is highly personal and individual. You do not need to forgive so you can move on, instead move on in the right way for you.

Healthy relationships

@journey_to_wellness_ uses this lovely image to describe what a healthy relationship should look like. Learning about and valuing what is important to each other is paramount. Knowing and being able to express how you feel, your desires and thoughts facilitates openness which in turn leads to a deeper connection. Healthy relationships bring out the best in BOTH of yo

Equality for all

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I have saved so many posts by @theequalityinstitute with the aim of posting them, but I can never decide which one!! They are all vital and powerful. I decided to choose this one for today because I believe that there still much more work to do around debunking stigma around Feminism. Feminism is about equality for ALL womxn. Feminism needs to be intersectional. It is important to to know that intersectional feminism points out that there are multi-layered facets in life that womxn of all backgrounds face.
The whole purpose of intersectional feminism is to listen to different kinds of feminists, not just ones like yourself. In other words; if you don't stand for all womxns rights , you don't stand for any  

Listening skills

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Listening.
REALLY listening. 
We all want to be heard. REALLY heard. We often prioritise that over listening.  My favourite quote is; "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply". How often have you found yourself doing just that? Sitting and listening to what someone is saying, but really thinking about your; emotions or rebuttle - getting geared up to respond. I know I have! That's why with couples that I see, I focus on getting them to listen, REALLY listen. The best exercise I find for this (Couple Therapists if you have good ones too please let me know!) is simple paraphrasing! This exercise is so easy to use and translates to most issues or topics you may be struggling with.

 All you need to do is; one person be the speaker and the other the listener.
Speaker: Discusses how they are feeling or thinking. Listener:Use your own words to communicate what you understand the Speaker to be saying (paraphrase). Don’t just repeat what the Speaker has said. Listener:: Verify, clarify, or modify the Speaker’s paraphrased response. Speaker: Paraphrases what the Listener has said again.
This is intended to help the listener to know that the Speaker is aware of the Listener's perspective and has heard what they have said. Paraphrasing and restating also allows the Speaker to correct any misunderstanding on the part of the Listener.
Side note; when I was 19 I remember seeing a big poster, and it's always stuck with me. It said; We have two ears, two hands and one mouth-to talk less listen more and do most.

Do you know what consent is?

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Consent is described as: permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.Consent is a vital part of creating a culture and community in which everyone feels safe and comfortable to live in. 
Silence does not permit consent. It is clearly communicated, not negotiated.
An unconscious or intoxicated person under the influence of drugs or alcohol who is unable to knowingly consent cannot legally agree to sexual activity.
Past consent does not guarantee future consent.
A person has every right to change their mind at any point in time, because consent is ongoing.
Finally, even if you're in a long term marriage, consent is still vital. 

Craving Intimacy

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"Our souls crave intimacy"—Erwin Raphael McManus

Real intimacy is not found just by merging bodies in sex it is a process – not a thing. It takes place over time and there are many different types including: emotional, sexual and intellectual amongst others.

It's important to harbour and develop intimacy in relationships through self awareness and knowledge not to mention the all important communication! 

What is Dysperunia?

Dyspareunia is pain or discomfort in a woman’s labial, vaginal, or pelvic areas during or after sex.There are many different causes of dyspareunia, resulting in different levels and kinds of pain. One of the main reasons so many cases go untreated is because women feel uncomfortable talking to their GP about this very private issue. If you're worrying about having the conversation try imagine going home knowing that you have taken the first steps towards recovery and how good you'll feel. There are many forums and even Facebook groups  that can help support you. Remember that you are not alone. Contact a Sex Therapist like myself for further assistance.

Drury Therapy

Sexual Expression.

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New research finds that comfort with sexual communication is directly linked to sexual satisfaction. Alongside this: People who are more comfortable talking about sex are also more likely to do so while having sex, the researchers found. Expressing yourself sexually tends to be easier during sexual activity as guards and barriers tend to be lowered. After all, people who are uncomfortable asking their partners to wear a condom may be at higher risk of having unprotected sex and exposing themselves to sexually transmitted infections. Which would reduce the fear of pregnancy or STI's and increase an individual feeling relaxed....not to mention the all important intimacy! So try to communicate and express yourself honestly. This will lead to a happier sex life.

Differentiation

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So, what is differentiation? It's the opposite of symbiosis (connection as one - where codependency can arise...we will leave that to another day!)
Differentiation, the way we hold on to ourselves while staying connected to our partner. Differentiation requires the individual to be honest with themselves and partner, open to personal growth and the ability to express how they feel/think/desire while tolerating their partner doing the same. 
Differentiation facilitates authenticity and vulnerability, and resolving conflicts and accepting that you might not like each other at times!
Differentiation is something I talk to couples about from the beginning. It is interesting how often people become fearful of that change - within their partner or themselves- that holding integrity can create so much anxiety. In actual fact it can do quite the opposite! It can keep the passion alive, stop relationships becoming stale, break any repetitive cycle that's occurring with conflict (hostile/avoidance) and most importantly, ease re-traumatisation.

Here are some tips to get you started with differentiation:
1. During a conflict or difficulty, try doing something that is 180 degrees different than what you have tried. 
2. Question yourself: How are the current relationship issues made worse by you, your attitude, your way of looking at issues.
3. Confront yourself, not your partner. See how it feels and how you contribute to issues. 
4. Ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable with my partner expressing their views, emotions or thoughts? •
See how it feels asking yourself these questions. If your differenation is strong in the relationship, you should be comfortable handing these over to your partner!  

Intimacy Tasks

Increasing communication and intimacy:
To really focus on each other, 'soul gazing' is a technique that can help eliminate distractions and increase intimacy. To engage in soul gazing you can either sit and face each other on a bed or couch or alternatively lying on the bed facing each other. Hold eye contact for 3-5 minutes. (you are allowed to blink!) however do try not to talk. It can be awkward however with practice and time it will become easier. Try it for 5 minutes! It's all about taking time for each other, helping to build trust and ultimately gain a new level of intimacy

What is Consent?

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If you are unsure what defines consent here is an outline from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Centre: "Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or says "yes" to sexual activity with other persons. Consent is always freely given and all people in a sexual situation must feel that they are able to say "yes" or "no" or stop the sexual activity at any point." 1.When you’re engaging in sexual activity, consent is about communication. And it should happen EVERY time. 
2. consent for one activity, one time, does not mean giving consent for increased or recurring sexual contact.
3. Sexual assault can happen in marriages not just one night stands.
4. Finally remember you can withdraw consent if you no longer feel comfortable.

Remember sex without consent isn't sex.

Break Ups

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"If you love someone and you break up.."
When a relationship ends, it can be immensely heartbreaking. Negative emotions are often demonised and we are made to feel as though feeling sad, angry and hurt is not good for us. That's not the case. You are perfectly entitled to experience and go through these emotions. Talk to people:friends, family members, your therapist.
Whatever happened, remember you are loved, you are important, you are beautiful, keep that heart on your sleeve.

The Function of Relationships

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If we use relationships to make us wiser, kinder and more compassionate, we can actually change how they function. We can have the relationships and lives we've always dreamed of. Look after each others soul and personal growth. Committing to helping, supporting and loving each other. It is only when you are living through love and kindness with each other that your relationship will truly flourish. 

Intimacy

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Intimacy is at the heart of a strong relationship. Intimacy is about being able to be free, to be your authentic self with them. It's a deep emotional bond that is normally reserved for just one person. Ideally, sex in a loving relationship should come from a place of love and connection. The two are interconnected intimacy builds sex and sex builds intimacy. When one is struggling, the other is also.
If you and your partner are having difficulties couple therapy can really assist.

Low Desire in Women

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Loss of desire, also known as low libido. Can affect women at certain times of life.
There are many obvious times such as during pregnancy, after having a baby, during menopause. However some women experience most of the time. 
Low libido can have a range of physical or psychological causes, including:
*Stress
*Depression
*Excessive drug use or alcohol.
*Medication side effects
*Hormone issues (drop in testosterone)
*Relationship issues
And many more reasons. If you are struggling with low libido it is worth visiting your GP in the first instance. They can assess for any physiological aspects. If ruled out sex therapy can help assist you in reconnecting with your sexuality and help with any relational issues. 

Sex and Communication 1

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New research finds that comfort with sexual communication is directly linked to sexual satisfaction. Alongside this: People who are more comfortable talking about sex are also more likely to do so while having sex, the researchers found. Expressing yourself sexually tends to be easier during sexual activity as guards and barriers tend to be lowered. After all, people who are uncomfortable asking their partners to wear a condom may be at higher risk of having unprotected sex and exposing themselves to sexually transmitted infections. Which would reduce the fear of pregnancy or STI's and increase an individual feeling relaxed....not to mention the all important intimacy! So try to communicate and express yourself honestly. This will lead to a happier sex life 💗.

Uma Thurman

Reading the piece in the @nytimes with Uma Thurman today I was really struck by one of the final paragraphs.

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When you tell your child that they were harmed because another person likes them, you’re connecting pain with love. That not only normalizes being abused, but also abusing others.

This then perpetuates further into adult relationships and normalises cruelty and unkindness from partners. If love is patient, kind, understanding, and compassionate, then surely love is not cruel, mean and violent?


Sex and Communication 2

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Sex and communication: If you feeling awkward or exposed talking during sex, a good way to commence communicating is to try it before being in the act. You could start the conversation about something you've my have had a dream about, day dreaming about or a fantasy you've been thinking about trying. You could start by leaving a note or even a text. Putting yourself gently out there is a good way to start. It's dipping your toes rather than diving straight in! 

Sex and Communication

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Sex and communication: If your partner struggles with communicating with you during sex, some positive reinforcement might help. Telling your partner how amazing they are, good they look and how much you enjoy being with them. Comment on certain aspects that you do get genuine pleasure from. This also can be said after sex when your partner may even be caught off guard. Knowing that you think of them can really help boost confidence levels.