Tag Archives: Love

FOR COUPLES: The Secret of Love and Parenting

loving familyKids 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

FOR SINGLES: Best Advice For Singles

Singles concept.Recently at a live event, I was asked for my best advice for singles. While some of the other panelists who were dating coaches and match-makers, offered wisdom about online dating, profile photos and pick up lines, I took a more philosophical approach. My best advice for singles is this:

Go out and create a happy, meaningful life for yourself. When a single person has reached a stage in their individual growth where they have built a purposeful, connected life with multiple secure attachments to friends and extended family, they have suddenly become an attractive mate. Longing for someone else to make you feel complete isn’t sexy. But having an authentic relationship with the world, with your community, with your family, and doing the exchange of care that is part of a good romantic relationship is the way to practice being a great mate.

Here are some ways to practice being a great mate:

• Drive close friends to the airport
• Help a single mother with anything from babysitting to home repairs
• Play Scrabble with an elderly person
• Call your mother
• If you call her too much, stop calling your mother
• Cook for friends
• Do some charity work
• Socialize with married people and families (marriage is contagious)
• Join a club, book group, wine tasting, gardening
• Mentor or tutor a younger person

And that’s my best advice for singles.

DR. WENDY WALSH IS AVAILABLE FOR TELEPHONE RELATIONSHIP COACHING. TO SCHEDULE, PLEASE CLICK HERE AND COMPLETE THE BOX ON THE LEFT. SHE’LL PERSONALLY RESPOND.

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WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LOVE AND SEX? GET 50% OF MY ONLINE WORKSHOP “THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HUMAN MATING” USE PROMO CODE “LOVE 50” CLICK HERE

 

FOR SINGLES: Is Marriage Becoming Extinct?

The shape of our families is constantly changing. People are marrying for the first time, and the divorce rate just keeps soaring, giving way to many single parent households. Single life is no longer a short rite of passage; it’s an important consumer demographic. For the first time in history (since the immigration of mostly male, early settlers), almost half of adult Americans are now unmarried. There’s even Singular Magazine, devoted to the lifestyles of those who have made a commitment to being single. It even includes ads for commitment rings to purchase for oneself.

But has love changed? Has committed love been replaced by a revolving door of dates? Is long-term monogamy even necessary for our species’ survival? The answers are complicated. Marriage may be changing, but it will never go out of style.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a fight going on right now in America to allow more people to be granted marital rights.

Marriage may not be going away, but its purpose has shifted. Historically, marriage was a place for women and children to have economic protection. It was a place where religious values could be taught and extended to the next generation, and a place where family fortunes could remain intact. More recently, marriage became a place for a relatively new invention: romantic love. But since dating and hooking up have morphed into America’s favorite pastime, full of hopeful highs and disappointing lows, even romantic love is losing its luster.

So why choose marriage today? Because it is an intellectual decision that leads to survival of the species. Anthropologists have always said that it was human’s sophisticated social structures, including the adoption of long-term monogamy, that help our species procreate and thrive.

Humans are the animals that require a huge amount of nurturing for our psychological and physical survival, more than virtually any other animal on earth. While most newborns are up on four legs and running with the herd just hours after birth, we Homo sapiens have a vulnerable in-arms (or stroller) phase that lasts almost four years. And it’s really, really hard to nurse and carry a baby while extracting resources from the environment. Just ask any single mother. Doable, yes, but very difficult. Remember the mission: to grow up healthy and create offspring that are also healthy and ready for careers and parenthood.

Family therapists know that dysfunctional family systems eventually fall out of evolution’s chain. Each generation has fewer and fewer offspring that survive through the next procreation, until the family line finally dies off. Apparently, neglectful parenting can create drunk drivers, criminals caught in crossfire, hermits, drug addicts, and narcissists too selfish for parenting — all people with lower chances of reproducing. But let me make one thing clear before I get inundated with e-mails about this: I am IN NO WAY SAYING that all single mothers create dysfunctional families. What I am saying is that every time one factor is removed from a system that has been selected through evolution, the chances for dysfunction increase. Plenty of single mothers are raising healthy kids with the help of extended family, surrogate male role models, and friendship villages that act as a de facto family. And this is part of our changing family structure.

Evolution has shown that our best chances for survival and for the survival of our offspring’s offspring is a team approach to raising humans. And the best team captains are people who have a biological interest in the child. And to create that, we need to sometimes put the notion of romantic love aside and make an intellectual decision to do what’s best for our genes, ahem, I mean kids.

Watch my youtube video: What is Slow Love?

FOR COUPLES: What Your Sleeping Position Says About Your Relationship

Black Couple SleepingAre you a spooner? An edge hugger? A toe toucher? New research shows that the sleeping position couples choose is directly related to their relationship satisfaction. The data on 1000 couples was collected at the Edinburgh Science Festival and the biggest finding was that the further a couple sleeps apart, the more unhappy their relationship.

As for slumber positions, the majority of couples reported sleeping on their backs with spooners running a close second. Next most common were back-to-back sleepers and only a mere 4% of couples sleep facing each other. But the most telling feature was how many inches apart they slept. Partners who have physical contact while they sleep reported the most positive feelings in their relationship, while those who slept thirty inches apart reported the least relationship satisfaction. Interesting to note that, other research shows that one in four American marriages sleep in separate beds.

It makes sense that uneasy alliances would be less likely to cuddle up after dark, but could a change in sleeping position actually improve a relationship? The answer depends on whether both partners want to change their relationship. If that is the case, it stands to reason that touch can be healing. The neurochemical effects of skin-to-skin contact in infants and children have been well documented. In fact the absence of touch can stunt the growth of babies. Touching and hugging can release oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding in humans.

Even though sleeping is quiet time, sometimes couples can encounter a lot of commotion throughout the night, such as if one’s partner snorts like a trumpet, or rolls to the other side with the covers. Regardless of any problem while sleeping with one another, our bodies get emotional nutrition through touch. If a couple is sleeping separately because of snoring or a medical condition, it would serve their relationship well to schedule extensive cuddle time, maybe while watching television. Another option to think about is to start the night together and have one partner leave when the snoring gets bad.

My advice? First have a talk and then have a touch. Even those with menopause hot flashes might benefit from a little nocturnal toe touching.

DR. WENDY WALSH IS AVAILABLE FOR TELEPHONE RELATIONSHIP COACHING. TO SCHEDULE, PLEASE CLICK HERE AND COMPLETE THE BOX ON THE LEFT. SHE’LL PERSONALLY RESPOND.

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WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT LOVE AND SEX? GET 50% OF MY ONLINE WORKSHOP “THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HUMAN MATING” USE PROMO CODE “LOVE 50” CLICK HERE

FOR WOMEN: Six Sexuality Facts That May Surprise MEN

Couple having sex - woman on topThe study of women’s sexuality is relatively new in the grand scale of research history, but now science is finding statistics about women’s sexuality that make most women say, “Duh.” Here are a few recent studies that might surprise some men:

1. Women tend to become aroused by erotica involving men, men and women, and just women, indicating a bisexual arousal pattern. This doesn’t mean women all behave in a bisexual manner. It simply means they can be turned on by both thoughts or images of both genders. This is different from most straight men who only become aroused by heterosexual erotica, and gay men who mostly become aroused by homosexual material.

2. Women’s brains can separate mental arousal from genital arousal. For instance, even if she is not mentally stimulated, a woman’s body can have a physiological reaction to sex. (Thus the confusion of some rape victims who experience a spontaneous orgasm during the trauma.) And women can sometimes be mentally aroused and have trouble becoming wet and wild down below.

3. Body image is connected to sexuality for women. Women who feel more positively about their own genitals find it easier to orgasm and are more likely to engage in sexual health promoting behaviors, such as having regular gynecological exams or performing self-examinations.

4. For women, physicality grows out of emotionality. Emotional availability activates their physical sexuality. Women are more apt to show up physically and sexually when their partner is emotionally present, while men tend more to just show up.

5. Women fear emotional infidelity more than physical infidelity and men fear the opposite. In one study women preferred that their husband see a prostitute once per week rather than have platonic, though intimate, lunches with a co-worker. This points to the fact that women fear a diversion of resources that might come with an emotional connection.

6. Women have less ability to have a stand alone physical relationship because their body releases oxytocin during orgasm. Oxytocin, the female bonding hormone, is also released during breastfeeding. For that reason women sometimes become bonded through sex even when they don’t mean to.

Watch my YOUTUBE Video on:

Five Sex Myths That Keep Women Single