Keeping intimacy alive


July 27th, 2020

Hello!

As a couples counsellor specializing in premarital counselling, I love talking about relationship resources and tools.  

Couple in Bed

In previous weeks in this relationship series of videos, I spoke about communication and about conflict resolution.  Please feel free to check those videos out if you haven’t already.  Today I will be talking how to keep the flame alive in your long-term relationship, especially once little ones arrive on the scene.  

In the coming weeks, I will also be doing videos on other key topics in relationships, including:

4/ Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend)

5/ Adult Attachment (Susan Johnson)

6/ Love Languages (Gary Chapman)

7/ How to manage the inevitable struggles in a relationship (John Gottman)

8/ Personality Differences (MBTI)

 

So, let’s talk about sex.  At first in a relationship, it can be sizzling.  And then maybe you find that it just simmers down and possibly then down to nothing.  Why is that?  

Please click on this link to see my vlog on keeping intimacy alive:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qu6MBgMYOi4

It could be because you both get so caught up in the day to day demands of life that time just gets away from you.  It could be that it has started to get monotonous and routine and so you’ve lost interest.  It could be that once you had kids, all the focus was on them and you never quite went back to the sex life you once had.

In Esther Perel’s book, “Mating in Captivity,” she explains that “Family life flourishes in an atmosphere of comfort and consistency.  Yet eroticism resides in unpredictability, spontaneity, and risk” (p.128).  So it’s not surprising then, that when you are providing a stable home environment for your children, the spontaneity that sex thrives on is zapped out of the picture.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Believe it or not, children not only thrive in an atmosphere of consistency, but they also thrive in an atmosphere where their parents are emotionally and physically connected.  

It is normal for initial passion to give way to a deeper, more meaningful love.  It is possible to have both a deeper respectful love AND keep the sizzle. 

Whatever the reasons are that the love life has dwindled, it doesn’t have to stay that way.  If you are intentional about keeping the love and affection alive in your relationship, you can do it!  

Whether or not you have children, it is so important to create space and room in your schedules to focus in on each other.  It doesn’t necessarily mean sex right away.  It can mean spending a date night once a week where you can just reconnect and talk – but be sure to talk about anything other than kids!  I have met so many couples who don’t even know what to talk about anymore if they can’t talk about kids.  For those couples, I love to recommend Gary Chapman’s book, “101 Conversation Starters for Couples.”

And guess what happens when you reconnect emotionally?  You also reconnect physically!  The two go hand in hand.  It is not uncommon for men to need the physical first in order to feel emotionally connected, and women to need the emotional first in order to feel ready physically.  Both sides need that nurturance. 

So, to summarize, schedule in and protect that couple time on a regular basis, and be sure to nurture both the emotional and the physical connection.     

Hope this was helpful.  Let me know if there are any other relationship videos that might be useful to you.

Be Well,

Melissa


No Comments »


Conflict Resolution Strategies


July 20th, 2020

Hi there!

As a couples counsellor specializing in premarital counselling, I love talking about relationship resources and tools.  

Last week I spoke about communication, specifically active listening.  Be sure to check out that vlog.  In this vlog, I will share some conflict resolution strategies, including taking a time-out, apologizing, and my favourite conflict resolution exercise that I use with my couples – The 10 Steps to Conflict Resolution.  It is part of the Prep-Enrich program that I use with my premarital couples.  

Couple Boxing Gloves

In the coming weeks, I will also be doing videos on other key topics in relationships, including:

3/ Intimacy and keeping the love alive (Esther Perel)

4/ Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend)

5/ Adult Attachment (Susan Johnson)

6/ Love Languages (Gary Chapman)

7/ How to manage the inevitable struggles in a relationship (John Gottman)

8/ Personality Differences (MBTI)

 

When I first decided to open my private practice, Prep-Enrich was the first training I did.  My husband and I were actually on vacation in Florida in September 2011 and he graciously agreed for me to take a day from our vacation to take this training.  I had written a few papers on premarital counselling prior to that, and really loved how useful and effective it is for couples. 

I love the idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  We do not tend to learn these relationship strategies in school or even at home, so I feel it is invaluable for any couples to really take the time to invest in their relationship in this way.  There are tools that couples can learn at any point in their relationship that can bring them closer, enrich their bond, and help them navigate the inevitable challenges that they will face.    

Click here to see my vlog on conflict resolution:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-C_04roQtUE&t=2s

If you ever want to get into a conflict with a loved one, just try hanging wallpaper together or do some kind of home renovation!

Last week, my dad came over to help me put wallpaper up in my dining room. We were arguing about how to hang that first crucial strip of wallpaper, and in the middle of that, I then had to go into an appointment.  It was actually my own therapy session that I had booked weeks ahead.  As much as it was an interruption to our wallpaper project, the timing ended up being a blessing in disguise, because it gave me a necessary emotional break.  

That time-out was an opportunity to process what was happening and reflect.  I returned much more calm and realized I was not exercising two important fruits of the spirit – patience and kindness.  So, I went back to my dad and apologized, and we finished the project in a much better emotional space.  By the end we got into a really good rhythm, and we felt so pleased with the new beautiful wall design.

So, if you ever feel that you get heated with a loved one try: 1/ taking a breath, 2/ taking a few moments away as a time-out to gain perspective and clarity, 3/ apologize if needed, 4/ forgive each other and 5/ move forward.  

If it is a larger issue or point of disagreement, try the 10 Steps to Conflict Resolution.  This is how I use it:  

1/ Decide on a good time and place to have a discussion about what you might have a difference of opinion on.  This is crucial so that you do not try to have an important conversation when one of you is in a rush, tired, hangry or distracted, etc.

2/ Figure out what the actual problem is and describe it in detail in one sentence.  Sometimes couples are fighting out two different things, so really take the time to define what the actual issue is.

3/ Describe how each of you contribute to the problem.  That’s right, it takes two to tango!

4/ List some ways that you both tried to resolve the issue in the past that did not work out well.  This helps to avoid repeating past mistakes.

5/ Step 5 is the crux of the exercise – brainstorming potential solutions to the problem.  No idea is outlandish, everything is on the table.  Just write them all down without thinking too much about it.

6/ Look at each of your brainstormed items and discuss the pros and cons of each.

7/ Decide on one (or two) best solution(s) to try.  I say it could be two, as sometimes one solution involves a second one.

8/ Figure out what each of you will do to work towards that solution.  Remember that whole it takes two thing?

9/ Arrange a follow-up meeting to discuss how the solution went.  Schedule in the date, time and location of the follow-up meeting during your initial brainstorming session.

10/ During your follow-up meeting, review your progress.  Congratulate each other on a job well done if you feel it went well.  If it did not go so well, then go back to the drawing board of the brainstormed items and decide on another plan of attack to the solution.  Work as  team to continue this process until you feel that a solution has been made.

Hope this was helpful.  Let me know if there are any other relationship videos that might be useful to you.

Be Well,

Melissa


No Comments »


Communication Exercise – Vlog Series on Relationships


July 13th, 2020

As a couples counsellor specializing in premarital counselling, I love talking about relationship resources and tools. 

Prep-Enrich

I was recently a guest on Dr. Talia’s podcast, called The Good Mood Podcast.  We spoke about various topics on relationships, and that inspired this relationship series vlog.  So in the coming weeks, I will be doing videos on key topics in relationships, including:

1/ Communication (Prep-Enrich)

2/ Conflict Resolution (Prep-Enrich)

3/ Intimacy and keeping the love alive (Esther Perel)

4/ Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend)

5/ Adult Attachment (Susan Johnson)

6/ Love Languages (Gary Chapman)

7/ How to manage the inevitable struggles in a relationship (John Gottman)

In this vlog, I will share my favourite communication exercise that I do with my couples – Active Listening.  It is part of the Prep-Enrich program that I use with my premarital couples.  

To see my vlog, click here:

https://youtu.be/tC_-RrTosCc

This is how I use this exercise with my couples:

1/ make sure each of you have a piece of paper and pen

2/ write down three things that you want more of or less of in your relationship

3/ take turns sharing each of your three items

4/ when sharing, make sure that you have a quiet space free of distractions.  Tv is off, phones on silent.  

5/ share without interruption

6/ the speaker talks as long as they need to in order to share their point

7/ be tuned into what the speaker is saying, be respectful, be engaged

8/ the speaker can use “I statements”, such as “I would feel loved and nurtured if we had more quality time together”

9/ when the speaker has finished sharing their point, the listener feeds back what they heard the person say.  For example, “So what I heard you saying was that you would appreciate more time together.  If we did that, you would feel good, more loved and nurtured.”

10/ check in with the speaker – “did I hear that right?”.  The speaker can then say that yes they were accurate in their summary, or no they missed one part, or no they misunderstood and so then to explain the point again

Hope this was helpful.  Let me know if there are any other relationship videos that might be useful to you.

Be Well,

Melissa


No Comments »


Summary of Self-Care Ideas


July 6th, 2020

Hello!

This is the last of my self-care video series, that was inspired by all of the things going on in the world today. With all the stress and uncertainty in our society, we could all use a little more self-care these days.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

Please feel free to check out my previous videos on self-care. Self-care series: 1/ box breathing 2/ progressive muscle relaxation 3/ grounding 4/ visualization 5/ Interview with Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Talia, on why self-care is important, self-care ideas, and the chemistry behind self-care.

This video summarizes some of my favourite self-care strategies

https://youtu.be/MA3vynzxVh4

In this video, I talk about yoga, colouring, mindful walking, mindful eating, photography, prayer/meditation, art, drawing, vision boards, walking barefoot in the sand (grounding), forest bathing/ hike in woods, mani/pedi/facial (spa time), massage, chiro, playing with my son, time with friends, baking, trying new vegan/plant-based/whole foods recipies, good healthy food, comfort foods, biking, the beach, being in nature, reading, regular consistent sleep, day trips, positive affirmations, limiting news, exercise including a punching bag, journalling, gratitude log, retreat, movies, appreciate beauty/art, relationship with God, listening to podcasts, watching Netflix (Netflix Party w friends), time with my dog, deep breathing, bubble baths, and utilizing support network.

Please feel free to let me know what some of your personal favourite self-care strategies are.

Be Well,

Melissa

 

 

 


No Comments »