FOR COUPLES: The Secret of Love and Parenting

Kids can be challenging. But so can our adult love relationships. But are they the same relationship? In many ways they are, and what we learn from one kind of relationship, we can apply to the other. The common link is emotional intimacy and the big tug-o-war in every intimate relationship is the struggle between independence and union. While many people have heard of co-dependence, that pop psyche term that means no one can remember whose problem is whose, not many fully understand the feeling of a healthy inter-dependence.

Independence and union are the yin-yang of human connections. Being in union with another fills us up with feelings of security, confidence, and heals our loneliness. And sometimes being together can also feel more like suffocation and imprisonment. Independence can help us feel powerful, free, and proudly self-sufficient. But independence can also bring feelings of isolation, fear, and, with no cheer leader, insecurity.

Every intimate relationship is a live action game, it’s partners on the same team with (hopefully) a common goal. Like basketball, sometimes one partner runs with the ball and scores, and other times is happy to assist or play defense. You steer the parent/child team when you make a firm rule. Your child steers the team when his/her unadulterated insight blurted out at a family dinner, awes and amazes you, and you change your behavior based on it. In an adult relationship, you may choose to lead by instituting firm boundaries between work life, couple-hood, and family life. He leads when you all move to a new city for his job and know that the long-run win will be family harmony.

The biggest difference between parenting and adult love is the direction separation runs. When you meet a stranger and fall in love, your journey together is one where you continue to grow closer and closer to create deep intimacy. A mother/child relationship runs the opposite course. You begin, literally as one body. And your journey is a long, slow separation from womb to dorm room. Both kinds of relationships share this: on their journey together each partner’s needs for closeness and autonomy will wax and wane as emotional needs ride the waves of daily life stresses.

Some people might think that another huge difference is that kids can’t leave. They are wholly dependent on their parents. But I beg to differ. Although kids may be financially dependent on their parents, they can emotionally leave the relationship. They can check out if their well-timed calls for some  autonomy are not heeded. They can check out if they are given too much independence, and feel unprotected by their parents. Lovers can do the same thing. They may leave physically or emotionally.

So, how can we honor the struggle between our desires to be an individual and our desires to be a partner? The answer is always to talk about it. To have empathy for another’s autonomy and not “take it personally.” To voice our own needs for autonomy or closeness in a non-threatening way. The road to intimacy is a prickly path. We will often make mistakes in judgement, or act from a place of fear. But the other wonderful thing about all relationships is that they are alive and growing and there is always room for repair. And in that very process of repair, where we may use empathy and humor, we will feel in union again, that is, until the next time we feel smothered.

For more watch my youtube video on: Why IN-dependence is OUT

When to Disclose a Sexual Secret

Woman upsetBy: Duana C. Welch, Ph.D.

All of us have secrets. And sexual secrets may be the hardest to reveal. Whether it’s talking about a particular act you love or revealing that you have an STD, talking about sex too early can be problematic.

And, an STD is one of the trickiest secrets of all.  As “Cleo” wrote me, “I’ve got a sexually transmitted disease.  It’s not life threatening, but it’s not curable either.  I just began dating someone I really like.  I don’t want to scare “Mark” away, but I also don’t want him to feel I’ve kept a secret from him.   I’m so confused about timing.”

Share your Secret too soon, and you’re eliminating candidates who are worthwhile; present it too late, and they’re eliminating you.

What to do?

Hold off on the nookie until you’ve had The Talk:

In a survey I conducted, respondents’ top advice  was ix-nay on the ex-say until after Cleo told Mark about her STI.  It’s the right thing to do—and it’s the law.

In my survey, folks said abstinence-until-disclosure was their #1 strategy.  It worked:  Not one of them was dumped for disclosing their secret.  I suspect it might be related to their second most-common advice:

No telling until you actually know each other (non-Biblically):

Wait to reveal all until you know your partner well, feel a connection, and see that the relationship is trending serious or exclusive.

Timing disclosure to match the actual level of intimacy and commitment protects your emotions–and you’re worth protecting.  

Abundant science proves that having sex too soon tends to short-circuit men’s bonding apparatus.  But whether you’re male or female, telling everything too soon, even without sex first, can make folks head for the hills.  So wait until you’re both in love, or at least heading that way.

Put your best foot forward:

Why can’t you just tell all immediately?  Because as many experiments show, humans are judge-y.  Our judgments are unconscious and rapid, and we especially hang onto what we learn first and worst.  It’s basic to human thinking.

So if Mark knows Cleo is funny, kind, warm, and beautiful, he’s wowed.  But add just one negative adjective—“herpes-positive”—and he’s cowed.  And the sooner the secret adjective appears, the more damaging for her rep.  Mark simply does not know enough about her yet for the good to outweigh that (or perhaps any) one secret.

Ultimately, we seek someone whose truth melds with ours.  It’s important to share our secrets at a time and pace that work for us.  Because love isn’t just for those without a past.  And we’re all more than the secrets we keep.

Duana C. Welch, Ph.D., is the author of Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do, releasing on January 7, 2015.  You can get a free chapter and see more at



Are Love and Sexual Desire Two Different Things?

Sexy young couple kissing and playing in bed.Research from Concordia University, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine demonstrates that both love and sexual desire happen in the same two regions of the brain, the insula and the straitum. But there’s a fascinating divergence inside the straitum.

People who were asked to look at erotic photos of strangers lit up images of the straitum that signals pleasure, for things like sex and food. But when they looked at photos of their romantic partners, the dinner bell rang in another area of the straitum — the area linked to learned behavior and addictions that are paired with something pleasurable. In other words, love and sexual desire are two, progressive concepts. Love appears to be a formed habit that comes after repeated doses of sexual reward. Love, as it turns out, isn’t a whole lot different from a drug addiction. Think of the initial doses of, say heroin, as a pleasurable reward that is often followed by the addiction phase, where the addict isn’t so much looking for a high, as avoiding the bad feelings associated with eliminating the drug. Thus, people stay in love, long after the sexual high is reduced.

But is love necessary for good sex? According to a new study from Penn State, most women believe so.  In a series of interviews with straight women aged 20 to 68, most said love was necessary to get the most satisfaction in both sexual relationships and marriage. The researchers pointed to the negative messages in our culture that make women feel shame or guilt about stand-alone sexual relationships. But I think that further exploration is needed to look at the biological predispositions to bond that women, more than men, experience through sex. Oxytocin, the female bonding hormone, is excreted in large amounts during female orgasm.

Dismissing the desire for loving sex as only a gender biased, cultural convention, is missing out on half the picture.

Dr. Wendy Walsh Named Celebrity Spokesperson of The National Domestic Violence Hotline

ndvh_bubbleFor Immediate Release: Celebrities Gather to End Domestic Violence

OJ Simpson Prosecutor Marcia Clark, Academy Award Winner Marcia Gay Harden and The National Domestic Violence Hotline CEO, Katie Ray Jones, among women speaking at the “Women of Influence, Cocktail and Conversation” event in Santa Monica this Thursday, Nov.6th. At the event Dr. Wendy Walsh will be named celebrity spokesperson for The Hotline. A panel discussion will look at DV from OJ Simpson, to Chris Brown, to Ray Rice and the NFL’s recent donation to The Hotline.

Tickets and Media Inquires: Cameka Crawford, NDVH CCO, 

WHAT: Los Angeles, Women of Influence Cocktails and Conversation, (Party and panel discussion)

WHEN: Thursday, November 6th, 7:00 pm

WHERE:, 1453 14th Street, Santa Monica, CA, 90404

WHO:   Dr. Wendy Walsh, America’s Relationship Expert, Katie Ray-Jones, CEO, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Marcia Clark, Author and former OJ Simpson Prosecutor, Shannon Humphrey, President, LA Black Women’s Lawyer Association, Marcia Gay Harden, Activist and Academy Award Winning Actress, Kandee Lewis, Executive Director of the Positive Results Corporation, Leanna Greene, CEO, and many more.

SPONSORS: Retrouvé Luxury Skin Care, Lorimar Vineyard and Winery, Adam Corolla’s Mangria,, and Lawrence Adamo, Summit Financial.

TICKETS AND MEDIA INQUIRIES: Cameka Crawford, CCO, The National Domestic Violence Hotline




Russell Wilson Takes Manly Stand Against Domestic Violence

Russell Wilson Credit: Photograph by Peter YangThis month, Seattle Seahawks Quarterback Russell Wilson and his Why Not You Foundation took a big step to end relationship abuse by creating an online initiative called Pass the Peace. It’s a lot like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge except not so chilly.  Simply flash a peace sign and nominate two more people to do the same to raise awareness and support victims of domestic violence. Then Make your donation of $2 to the Hotline, and then Pass the Peace to two (or more!) of your friends. Be sure to share on your social networks using #WNYPassthePeace. Just text WNYPASSTHEPEACE to 41444 to make your pledge, or you can donate online!

As a nation, we’ll never solve the epidemic of intimate partner violence unless men stand up in solidarity with women. My deepest thanks goes to Russell Wilson and the many, many men who are changing the culture to protect all women.