Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this Vlog deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

Today I am talking about rewards and punishments.

This may seem an unusual topic for sex and relationships.  However, I was talking about authority transfer based relationships recently with a friend about rewards and punishments and when I thought more about it, the topic applies to other relationships as well.

Rewards are the things that feel good to us.

Punishments are the things that don’t feel good to us.  If you want to shape behaviour, using both can work extremely well. One thing I have noticed working with people over the years is that often others make assumptions about what their partner or child will find rewarding or punishing.  If you get this wrong, you will not get the effect you are looking for.

Often parents send children to their room as a punishment.  However, usually, in a child’s room is all their favourite things – laptop, tablet, phone, toys, stuffed toys, etc.  So being sent to their room is actually a reward as they are being given time to go play on their own.

I advise couples to discuss what they find rewarding and punishing.  For example, one partner might find time and undivided attention to be the best way of showing them how much they are loved.  Another might want lots of presents.      I also advise couples to look at their expectations at the same time.  Making agreements about expectations, rewards and punishments can strengthen a relationship.

In authority transfer based relationships, spelling out rewards and punishments is common.

Again it is important to make sure that a punishment is truly a punishment and a reward truly a reward.   It is useful too look at what type of system works best for your person.  Some people modify behaviour best as a result of being rewarded when they do well. Others work best when they are punished for doing wrong.

It is important to remember that we can only truly control ourselves so truly to modify someone else’s behaviour does not have guaranteed results.  It is also essential to have consent from the person whose behaviour you are seeking to modify.

If you are interested in the history of behaviour modification, have a look at Pavlov’s work and BF Skinner’s work.

Thanks for joining me this week for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter and instagram @drbisbey. For a free 30 minute strategy session with me, go to https://the-intimacy-coach.com and head to the contact page and click the button that says Schedule Now!  I look forward to seeing you next week

 

Sex Spoken Here:  Overcoming Shame

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.

This week I am talking about overcoming shame.

Dr Brene Brown is a shame researcher.  One of my favourite quotes of hers is: ‘Loving ourselves through the process of owning our story is the bravest thing we’ll ever do’.  Shame is one of the most common issues that clients bring to me as a therapist and as a coach.  People come with shame about their desires, about their past sexual experiences.  They come with shame about their feelings for others and some come with shame and they cannot figure out where the shame has come from.

We experience shame when we cannot own something we have thought, felt, or done or some part of ourselves.

Guilt can be appropriate when we have done something we know is wrong and harmed ourselves and/or others.  It serves the purpose of getting us to look at the wrong and highlighting the wrong so that we can make amends, change our behaviour.  Shame is toxic.  It comes from conditioning via our upbringing, via our cultural group, via the overarching society.    This shame doesn’t serve a purpose.  It keeps us trapped and makes it impossible for us to live in fullness and authenticity.

The difference between shame and guilt: Shame is ‘I am bad/wrong’ and guilt is ‘My behaviour is bad/wrong’.

When we experience shame, it can last a long time.  It hides in our unconscious and we are not necessarily aware of it until it is triggered.  Our own thoughts can trigger the shame.   Toxic shame most often comes from lots of shame experiences we have as children.  We internalise these experiences and the shame spreads.

‘Shame is the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging’ Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW    Dr Brown goes on to say that shame needs ‘three things to grow exponentially in our lives: secrecy, silence, and judgement.  Shame cannot survive being spoken.  It cannot survive empathy.’

Sadly, our culture encourages shame around sex and sexuality.

Many of us grow up ashamed of our bodies, ashamed of any pleasure we can from our bodies, ashamed of our desires and ashamed of our attractions.    It starts when we first discover our bodies can bring us pleasure and our caregivers find us enjoying our bodies.  All too often, caregivers shame children for touching themselves.  Instead of telling a child that it is wonderful that they are enjoying their body but it would be better to do so in private, parents often become flustered and angry and ashamed and then shame the child.   We learn quickly what our parents, family members, and other trusted adults feel is ‘shameful’ and we internalise that shame.  We feel shame when no matter what we do to modify our desires or attractions, we still experience them.  Many religions instil lots of shame around sexual behaviour, desire and attraction.  They hand down strict rules about when sex is appropriate, what type of sex is appropriate and even when and if pleasure is permitted.    For example, in Judaism, sexual pleasure is permitted and appropriate when you have sex within marriage.  If you have sex outside of marriage, that is considered inappropriate and if you are part of a religious community and this is discovered, one of the tools people have to punish you is to shame you.

Some people never get past this shame and sex becomes an emotional mine field.

They find it impossible to relax and fully enjoy sex.  When they do enjoy sex, they feel ashamed afterwards as well.  Some people find it hard to maintain intimate relationships because of their shame.  They find it hard to be vulnerable with their partners.  Other people finds ways to decrease their shame or only experience shame when they engage in some activities.  They make compromises with themselves.  They ask for forgiveness from whatever higher power or God they pray to.

I was raised with lots of shame around sex, sexuality and desire.   As a result, most of my early sexual experiences caused a backlash of shame.  It took me a lot of personal work over many years before I could experience my desires and any sexual activity I engaged in fully, authentically and without shame.    My current spiritual beliefs see sex as a sacred act and as an act of worship.  Sexual energy is the life energy.  Integrating this energy into self, relationships and daily life is a goal that leads to further spiritual development and enlightenment.    The process to get from shame based sexuality to authentic sexuality without shame can be a long one but the rewards are incredible.

How do you overcome shame?

To do so, you must be willing to be vulnerable, to feel your emotions in full and to walk through them.    Start by grabbing a pen and notebook or iPad or your phone or laptop.  Where ever you can take notes, and dedicate a section to this practice – the practice of feeling your emotions in full, walking through them, integrating them.  Journalling is a good way to pay attention to these feelings.  Hence my suggestion to make a practice of writing about your feelings

To move past shame, you must be willing to change the way you are thinking.

When shame is triggered, you can replace these thoughts with accepting thoughts.  To do this, you must pay attention to your triggers, your thoughts and your feelings.

This is a practice and it takes time.  The more you do it, the better you will become at it until it positive and accepting thoughts will be second nature rather than the negative shaming ones.  For some people, it is easier to note thoughts than feelings.  For others, it is easier to note the triggers for feelings and more difficult to look at the thoughts.  Where ever you start in this process, it is important to note all three: triggers, thoughts, feelings and often to note a fourth column: behaviour.

If you start with triggers: Once you have achieved some success at recognising your triggers, move on to identifying the source of the shame.    Is it a thought that is triggering feelings of being unworthy and bad?  Is it an action?  Something someone else has said or done?

Is the thought or desire or action against your own principles?  If it is, think about whether the shame is really guilt and whether you should be modifying your behaviour.   If not, recognise that this shame is not based in reality.

The next step is to clearly express the shame and all the secrets, unexpressed and hidden thoughts and feelings that the shame covers up.

Shame thrives in the dark so if you shine the light of your sustained non-judgemental attention on the shame it will dissipate.

If you have a safe person to talk to, the next step is to express these things to someone who will listen without judgement and acknowledge you and all that you are saying.  A safe person is someone who won’t judge you, won’t interpret what you are saying, will prioritise the time and the space to listen to you and will hold this space for you for as long as you need it.    They will listen with empathy and their goal in doing so is to support you.  If you don’t have someone in your life who is safe to work on these things with, you might consider a therapist, counsellor, or coach as it is difficult to fully explore shame and get rid of it on your own.

Once you have exposed these secrets and hidden thoughts and desires to the light of day, notice how you are feeling.  If you are feeling lighter and more positive then you know you have just overcome an area of shame.  If you remain uncertain or upset it is likely that some part remains unexplored and/or that there are other connected feelings, thoughts or events that have been triggered by exploring the current material and not yet explored.   If you can identify one of these incidents, thoughts or feelings, you can give voice to it just at you did with the last secret you brought from the shadow to the light.    When you are feeling lighter or better in some way, it is a good place to stop.

Make it a point to get out of your head when you reach that good place to stop.  Go for a walk and notice the beauty around you, listen to some music, watch a movie, enjoy something delicious to eat.  Take your attention from your thoughts and bring it into your feelings, your senses, the world around you.

When you have examined and expressed these desires and gotten rid of the shame connected to them, the next step is to decide if you wish to experience them.  Once you have eliminated toxic shame around a desire or fantasy, you may find the drive to have the experience increases.

Janna had a fantasy about having sex with two men at the same time.  She had this fantasy for as long as she could remember but she had never told anyone about it because it caused her intense shame. She could hear her mother saying that girls who enjoy sex are sluts and that sex was only for reproduction and pleasing your husband.   Janna started seeing a sex coach to help her to move past her shame about her sexual desires.    After working directly on her shame, she was finally able to talk about this fantasy with her sex coach.   Talking about the fantasy no longer made Janna feel ashamed and in fact she felt excited when talking about the desire.   Janna now had the courage to talk with her husband about this fantasy.  She was initially worried about how he would react but she felt reassured when she saw his response to some erotica that contained stories about group sex and specifically two men sharing a woman.  One night Janna sat her husband down and told him all about her fantasy of having sex with two men at once.  George listened and as Janna talked he became more and more excited.  He found the idea so exciting that he grabbed her and silenced her by kissing her intensely.  They continued kissing and progressed to having passionate sex on the living room floor.

Janna and George talked more later that night and George suggested they start to look for a man to join them and fulfil Janna’s fantasy.  Excitement had now completely replaced shame.

Paul had fantasised about being spanked since he was a teenager.  He wasn’t sure why this fantasy caused him to feel shame but he was aware that it did.  It was his most powerful fantasy but every time he thought about it, the shame was so intense that he felt as though he were going to cry.    Paul and his boyfriend went to a birthday party for a friend and the birthday boy got a spanking at the party.  Michael noticed Paul’s reaction to the spanking and how turned on he was but when he brought it up to Paul, Paul shut the conversation down immediately.    Michael asked Paul to come to a coaching session with him to talk about their sexual fantasies so they could learn how to communicate better.  During the session, Paul finally talked about the shame he felt when he had these sexual desires.  When it was clear that Michael was not only not disgusted by him but was very turned on by him, the shame began to lift.    After some further work on their communication, they were able to agree to enact this fantasy and both reported having a great time.

Ridding yourself of shame does not mean that you will choose to enact the desires or fantasies that triggered the shame in the first place.  However, once you have rid yourself of the shame, you will be able to make a choice.

Being bold, being honest, being authentic are skills.  The more that you practice the more likely they will become strong skills and develop into positive habits.    If you are not able to get rid of the shame by working on your own or if the shame keeps returning, you are likely to experience better results if you work with a sex therapist or a sex coach.  Choose a therapist if you have a lot of issues in your past and know that you will need to examine these in depth.  Choose a coach if your focus is primarily on clearing up feelings and thoughts, learning new skills, becoming comfortable in the present and planning for the future.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://the-intimacy-coach.com/and click the button that says click here! on the contact page.

Please leave a review on iTunes and stitcher if you enjoy the show.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.  Today we will talk about the two myths that I believe cause the most problems for us in creating relationships that work and keeping them working long term.  Are we looking for happiness or joy?

‘Someday my prince will come’.  ‘And they all lived happily ever after’.

Many of us were raised with these fantasies, believing that happiness is connected to finding ‘the one who completes us’.    The cultural conditioning runs deep.  Even people who make alternative life choices can find themselves dreaming about living happily ever after or meeting that one person.

These fantasies cause more pain than they do pleasure.  Let’s start with the idea of living happily ever after.  The story goes that we work hard to find that right person and overcome obstacles to be together and then finally we reach the goal and get to live happily ever after.  The problems with this fairy tale are legion.  Life is not static.  People do not get to a place where they are happy in a relationship and then remain there without any work ,without any issues occurring, forever.  Things change.   Our relationships go through changes as we age, if we have children, when jobs change, when finances change and hopefully as we grow emotionally and spiritually.    If we believe that sustained happiness is the goal we are bound to fail.  This leads to dissatisfaction first, can lead to relationship breakdown and even depression.

Happiness is an emotional state that is based on external factors.

It is future based as well.  As a result, we have no control over the feeling.  Someone else or something that happens causes us to feel happy.  We have no agency when trying to find happiness.     Agency is our ability to act and/or to exert power.   When we have agency we are able to create changes internally but also in the world around us.

Joy is an emotional state that is internally based.

Joy can come in moments or it can be more stable. We can find joy even when external circumstances are tough.  It is often seen as  a more spiritual quality.    I remember waking up full of joy during a period where I was struggling financially.  I took joy in the nature around me.  For me joy and gratitude often go together.   Many people are so caught up in the drama of their lives and in reaching for that happily ever after that they fail to take joy in all that they have and all that they are each day.

I am already complete by myself.  I need no one to complete me.  I don’t have a ‘better half’ or an ‘other half’.  I am already whole.  When I am in relationship with someone, two whole people join together.  If that relationship ends, though I may grieve a great deal,  I am still whole.

Believing that you need someone else to complete you denies your full potential.  You are handing over your power to the mythical perfect partner.    You are giving away your agency again and waiting for someone to ‘give’ you happiness, to ‘cause you to feel happy’.  When you need someone else in order to feel productive, to feel good, you are setting yourself up for unhappiness and loss.  Being dependent upon someone else for your good feelings and in order to feel good about yourself is a sure road to relationship failure and can also lead to a loss of confidence and depression.  If the relationship ends, you are returning to your earlier state.  Half a person is a broken person.

Expecting someone to complete you, to be that one person who can create your happiness is giving someone far too much responsibility.

This builds a co-dependent relationship which is not a healthy basis for relationship.  Co-dependency in a relationship is marked by excessive need for the other person, problems with boundaries, problems with intimacy, imbalance in power leading to controlling behaviour, and high levels of drama.

Instead of a co-dependent relationship, we should seek an interdependent relationship.  In this relationship, the individuals are whole and emotionally healthy.  The partners rely upon each other and support each other.  Each party is deeply involved but they do not sacrifice themselves or compromise their values.

If we are not looking for someone to complete us we recognise that we can have relationships with more than one person.  For some people, this means multiple romantic relationships.  For other people, this means very intimate friendships that compliment one romantic partner.    We gain more support, more variety and as a result a richer life.

I learned in my graduate training how to stay in the present and I teach many clients how to do the same.  I practice this in daily life as this is hard to maintain in my personal life.  There is so much pressure in our culture to look back and look forward.  Being in the now is often seen as irresponsible and frivolous.  In my view, it is incredibly adult and demonstrates high levels of emotional intelligence and maturity.  It is the letting go of fear and anxiety and the acceptance of all that you are and all that is around you that allows us to be in the now.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://the-intimacy-coach.com/and click the button that says click here! on the contact page.

Please leave a review on iTunes and stitcher if you enjoy the show.

I look forward to seeing you next week.

Dr Bisbey has called in sick, so please enjoy again Risk Assesment Part 3.

Sex Spoken Here: Risk Assessment Part 3

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.  Today I am finishing my series about risk assessment in relationships.

We assess risk all the time.

Once we reach adulthood, we do most of our risk assessment without thinking.  When you are driving, you assess the risk of driving at a particular speed, of changing lanes, or driving in certain weather or traffic conditions.  We assess risk according to what we have learned about the risks inherent in any given situation.    We assess based on what we have learned from others, from books and other media, and from our own life experience.

All of us travel with baggage.

Some with just a carry on and others with whole steamer trunks.  The problem isn’t the baggage itself but rather the uninspected contents.  If you are unaware of your own patterns, your risk assessment will be faulty so you will make poorer choices.  For some this means choosing relationships that turn out to be abusive ones for others this means choosing partners who cheat and for some this means choosing relationship after relationship with people who abuse or are dependent upon substances.  We tend to choose what feels familiar to us.

I know my own patterns very well now as I have had lots of therapy, coaching and done other types of personal work.  It used to be that if I walked into a room of 300 people with only one alcoholic in the room, that would be the only person I was attracted to.  They would be the person that felt exciting, who smelled right to me.  Nowadays, I would be attracted to the people who have been clean and sober for more than 10 years, people who are adrenalin junkies and those who come from backgrounds where there was substance abuse but who have done their personal work.  I still like the edge but my pattern has changed because of the personal work I have done.  I recognise different qualities, different scents as attractive now.   The hardest thing for most of us is to admit we have made a mistake and this can get you injured or killed.

Gavin de Becker is an expert on security, threat assessment, and personal protection.  He wrote a book called The Gift of Fear that I highly recommend everyone read.  In this book, he talks about how far we as human beings have moved from our primal senses.  Fear is the body’s way of alerting us to danger.  Many people no longer pay attention to fear or to gut instincts in which they feel uncomfortable.   De Becker talks about how essential it is that we learn to reintegrate our primal senses as they will keep us safer and ignoring them may get us injured or killed.

Often people have an intense gut feeling and then talk themselves out of it.

You meet someone and you feel uncomfortable but you say to yourself ‘I’m being unfair’  or ‘I should give him a chance’.  It is amazing how often the gut instinct is correct.  I have interviewed many victims of sexual assault and rape over the years – some in therapy and others during my research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  A full 60% of them have admitted to having a feeling that someone was ‘not right’ or a situation was ‘not safe’ and ignoring the feeling.  This lead them to blame themselves for their own assaults or rapes.  Self-blame is not useful in this situation.  What is though is to learn how important it is to pay attention to your hunches and gut instincts.  They are often correct because they are based on a whole host of perceptions that happen on a less than conscious level.

Many of the people I have seen over the years have ignored countless warning signs in relationships.

Last week I spoke with Dr Sue Mandel about the red flags she talks about with her clients.  I use a system of red flags or warning signs to risk assess in any new relationship and I recommend that everyone do the same.  You may not choose the same warning signs that I do, but you should have a system of your own.

Many people are afraid to do this because they believe on some deep level that if they walk away from a potential relationship, another one may not come along.

These people are conforming to the scarcity principle that says there are not enough ‘good people’ in the world and so that you must grab anyone you think is a ‘good person’ or you will end up alone.  This is a myth.  There are plenty of people in the world with whom you can have a relationship.  It is better to find the right person or people than to enter a relationship with someone who is dangerous, abusive or degrading (or even just a relationship with a person who is wrong for you but might be fine for someone else).    Many people are afraid to be alone and this stops them from risk assessing.  It is better to be alone and alive and healthy than the alternative.

For me, a red flag or warning sign says: ‘Stop and think’ or ‘‘get some distance’

First warning: I feel frightened, deeply anxious or my gut tells me something is off.

This is the most important warning sign to pay attention to.  I don’t wait to interpret this and I don’t suggest you do either.  I simply get out of the situation.  If you feel something is off, it usually is.  Delay can put you in danger or difficulty so don’t delay.  This has saved my life more than once.

Don’t worry about how other people might think of you.  Don’t pass go.  Don’t collect £200 or $200, just get out of the situation.

See your fear as the gift that it is, the sign that tells you that you are in danger.  This one is especially important if you enjoy BDSM and power exchange and you are getting together with someone you don’t know well and don’t know much about.

And speaking of that: One part of risk assessment is to find out what you can about the person that you are entering a relationship with.  Observe their behaviour with you, with friends and family, with people in the restaurant.  Check out the stories they tell you.  Consider talking to x partners and friends.  Do a background check. Do your homework.  Do your due diligence.  If they aren’t comfortable with you doing that, think twice about the relationship.

Types of warning signs:

Many brief intense relationships that ended badly.

This might mean the person has difficulty managing their own intense emotions and expressing emotions appropriately.  It might mean they have overly high expectations of a partner.

Unwillingness to give you full contact details.

This is only a warning sign if this persists after you start properly dating each other.  At first or second meeting, in the information age, it is not unusual for people to want to hold back some of their details.

Remember to be aware of signs of catfishing.  If you are meeting people online, it is possible that the person is not who they say they are.  If things are not adding up, information makes no sense, you feel that someone is playing with you – pay attention to these feelings.

Extremely sensitive to anything that approaches criticism or to you if you have a different opinion from theirs.

People who have these issues can be volatile and often have lots of drama in their lives.

Stalking behaviours:

Shows up where you don’t expect them to be, texts many many times per day when you have just met, doesn’t observe boundaries you set, ‘surprises’ you at work or at home, is constantly following all your social media.  This can feel very flattering at first but will quickly feel uncomfortable and can become dangerous.

Must control every aspect of a date, conversation, meal.

When someone is immediately extremely controlling (without your consent), this is a sign of deeper issues.

 Demonstrations of intense jealousy when you haven’t known each other very long or of time you spend with friends, family, at work.

This highlights insecurity and the need to control and does not bode well for safe, happy, healthy relationships.

Empathy is essential to a good relationship.

Empathy is the ability to feel things from another’s point of view, to understand and share their feelings.  If a person cannot take the viewpoint of another, cannot see things from another’s vantage point it is unlikely that they will be able to share another’s feelings.    Some people can approximate empathy but don’t truly feel it.    People who don’t have empathy don’t consider how their actions might impact upon others and cannot put themselves in another’s shoes to see how the words they choose or the things they do might cause another to feel.

Black and white thinking:

People who cannot tolerate any ambivalence swing from positives to negatives.  They find it difficult to stay connected to someone positively if the person has done something that has caused them to be upset or feel angry.  You are either the most wonderful person on the planet or the devil incarnate.  They swing back and forth and it can be hard for others to know where they stand.  They have unrealistic expectations of others and project their own fantasy viewpoints on to others.

Inability to take responsibility and apologise.

This is a big warning sign.  People who cannot take responsibility for their actions and mistakes, thoughts and feelings, cannot learn and so don’t change.  They don’t apologise because they cannot see how any outcome is their responsibility.  They often also lack empathy so they cannot imagine how others feel.

Inability to control intense emotions.

People who cannot soothe themselves take out all of their feelings at full intensity on those around them.  They are often volatile, sometimes violent and require immediate and constant attention.

These are just a few of the warning signs.

 Risk assessment is about being observant, being conscious of your own biases, your own history and patterns, being able to separate your feelings from those of others and listening to your primal senses (and acting on them).

Risk assessment is an on-going process.  Once you are well versed and have practiced a lot, it becomes second nature.      If you do it well, your relationships will be filled with excitement and pleasure and be long lasting.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook..  Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.  For a free 30-minute discovery session with me, go to https://the-intimacy-coach.com and head to my contact page, click the where it says ‘click here’ for my calendar.   I look forward to seeing you next week.

From the archives, have another listen to: Sexless Relationships with Dr Zoe Shaw

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.  This week I revisit my interview with Dr Zoe Shaw.

Today I am starting my series on sexless relationships.

There are far more sexless long term relationships than you might imagine.  Here I am not referring to relationships that are sexless by choice.  These relationships become sexless for a wide variety of reasons and the impact on the overall relationship and the mental health of the people involved in the relationship is often intense.  Joining me today is Dr Zoe Shaw.  Dr. Zoe shaw is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship and Life coach, writer, speaker and radio talk show host. She helps struggling Superwoman ditch their stress, love their life And thrive in beautiful chaos by giving encouragement, tips, insight and skills to apply in all areas of their lives.

We started by talking about the fact that there are many more sexless relationships than people talked about.

Dr Zoe Shaw talked about the fact that often the reasons for the lack of sex have nothing to do with sex per se.  She spoke about the fact that often clients won’t mention sex unless the therapist or coach asks about sex directly.  We spoke about the fact that the biggest problem is that couples don’t talk about sex and don’t talk about the problems when there are problems.

We spoke about desire being an issue that is sometimes physically based and that it can be important to see a doctor to find out.  We spoke about deciding to go ahead and try sex even when desire isn’t there – skipping desire and moving straight to the arousal stage – and that often people will find that they really enjoy sex when they do this.  Zoe highlighted the fact that this still takes a conversation.

Dr Zoe Shaw mentioned that the person who says no often holds the power and that this can be abused.

We spoke about partners being afraid to reach out an initiate sex because they are concerned that they will be rejected.  We spoke about people sometimes feeling more comfortable talking to strangers where they feel they have nothing to lose.  Zoe also mentioned that if you are too emotionally intimate, feel like your partner is your best friend/brother/sister, the incest taboo can kick in and make desire for your partner difficult.  We spoke about how difficult conversations about vaginal pain and erectile dysfunction can be but that if you don’t talk about these things, the outcome for your relationship will be worse.  We spoke about how many couples never share their sexual desires and fantasies and how agreeing to do this can bring a new stage of excitement and discovery to your sexual relationship.

You can find Dr Zoe Shaw at

Website: http://www.drzoeshaw.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/drzoeshaw

Twitter: @drzoeshaw

Instagram @drzoeshaw

Or check out the Dr Zoe Show on iTunes or Sticher.

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

For a free 30-minute discovery session with me, go to https://www.the-intimacy-coach.com and click the button that says ‘click here’ on the Contact page.   Sign up for a session now so we can find a way to help you bring the sex back to your relationship. I look forward to seeing you next week.

Sex Spoken Here:  Relationship Resolutions

Welcome to my virtual therapy room!  I am Dr Lori Beth Bisbey and this is Sex Spoken Here. Remember that this podcast deals with adult themes so if you don’t have privacy you might wish to put on your headphones.  Happy New Year!  This week most people are making their New Year’s resolutions to try to get the year off to a great start.  Each year at this time, I like to make relationship resolutions.

When I work with couples, I spend time helping them to create a solid foundation to their relationship that includes clear routines and rituals.

Both routines and rituals help to create a solid rhythm for the relationship.  Rituals mark occasions in our relationships.  We use ritual to help create a safe and sacred space in which to celebrate or grieve.  Ritual provides us with ways to connect and reconnect.    Routines are equally helpful.  They provide a framework that keeps a relationship stable, helps people to be clear about roles and responsibilities and makes it easier for us to re-connect after conflict.

Traditional new year’s resolutions set out our intentions for the coming year.

Often they are focused around health and well-being.   The most common ones are losing x amount of weight, going to the gym (in order to lose x amount of weight and/or tone or build muscle), and quitting smoking and/or drinking.   People are more likely to follow through on their resolutions and keep them up if they frame them as goals and create action steps that lead to the goal instead of just intentions.

In long term relationships, reviewing agreements and commitments and talking about desires, wants and needs is important if your relationship is to stay successful and to grow with you.   Reviewing this annually means that you are much more likely to catch issues early and be able to resolve them than if you only review when a problem arises.

To make this easier, I created this framework for relationship resolutions.

Step 1:  Review your expectations

All relationships contain expectations.  Many times, these are unspoken and this is the source of many upsets and chronic conflicts.    In my work with people, I recommend examining expectations and making them clear and explicit.    Initially, this means that you have to look at your own expectations of your partner (or a potential partner).  To do this thoroughly, you have to look at expectations in relation to all areas of your life together.   For example: Expectations in relation to how your partner looks, takes care of themselves, looks after their health (including mental health), drug and alcohol use, diet (vegan? Meat eater?), time spent with you, time spent with family (yours, theirs), time spent with friends (yours, theirs), employment and finance, sex and intimacy, cooking, house cleaning and repairing, religion and spiritual, activities, holidays, children, future goals.   This is not my full list but should give you an idea of how detailed this activity can be.   For anyone interested in the full workbook, email me at mailto:drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com.

Step 2: Review your agreements

Review any agreements you have made.  Make sure highlight the ones you have kept and celebrate these.  The ones that have been broken should be examined and re-negotiated.  For anyone interested in the full workbook, email me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com .

Step 3:  Set your goals for your relationship for the year

Set goals for the mundane through to the extraordinary.

Examples of mundane goals:

Mary will do the ironing every week.

John will rinse dinner dishes and put them the dishwasher and wash all pots/pans each evening before bed.

Mary will walk the dog every morning.

John will walk the dog every evening.

Examples of enjoyable goals:

Mary and John will have sex at least twice per week.

Mary and John will take a weekend away every 8 weeks.

Examples of extraordinary goals:

We will go to a relationship retreat.

We will take a honeymoon trip.

We will attend a swingers club twice during the year.

We will go to relationship coaching or therapy.

When you set goals, note if they are long term, short term or full year long goals.  Be clear about who is doing what for each goal.  If it is a goal that requires both of you to do something in order to reach the goal, you will address each person’s responsibilities when looking at action steps.  Be clear how you will know the goal has been reached.  For a goal that has a number attached to it (like ‘Attend a burlesque show on two date nights’), it is easy to see how you will know the goal has been reached.   For a goal like ‘Create a brilliant sex life’, it is harder to tell if the goal has been reached unless you both define how you will know that you have reached the goal.  Think about how you will feel, what reaching the goal will look like, what will happen and/or be accomplished, what will it sound like.    Write a detailed description of what reaching the goal looks like. For anyone interested in the full workbook, email me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com .

Step 4: Set action steps for each goal.

When creating action steps, make sure the steps are manageable chunks.  For example: For the goal: ‘We will attend a swingers’ club twice during the year.’  ‘Book the tickets’ is a manageable step.   Listing no action steps would make the goal potentially unmanageable.   Make sure to be clear who is responsible for which action steps.    Be clear how you will know that the action step has been completed.  Make sure you order the steps well.  Some people like to make maps or flow charts.  For anyone interested in the full workbook, email me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com .

Step 5: How will you manage conflict or difficulty around the goal?

If you are having trouble making progress towards the goal, how will you manage this?  This is where you want to come up with how to deal with conflict, re-negotiate or if you will decide to abandon a goal.    You can also look at incentives here to make it easier to make progress towards the goal.

For anyone interested in the full workbook, email me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com .

Step 6: How will you celebrate reaching the goal?

If the goal was a mundane one, celebrating completing it is a great idea.  If you do all the chores you agreed to in the first quarter of the year, what will the reward be?  If you complete the whole year and do all the chores, what will the reward be then?  Make sure to spend some time talking about what you each find rewarding.  Look at tangibles (food, drink, shoes, video games, jewellery etc.), experiences (spa visits, holidays, sporting events, tickets to concerts etc.), somewhat intangibles (King/Queen for a day, a massage from your partner, special sexual favours from your partner).  For anyone interested in the full workbook, email me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com .

Some people find that it much easier to do this work with the help of a coach.  For others, the help of a coach becomes essential when they run into conflict.

Here are my tips about when you should prioritise getting some help:

  • When you have a conflict, there is violence

Violence in a relationship is not acceptable.  Professional help can teach you other ways to manage conflict that are safe and productive.

  • You cannot approach a topic without an argument

If you argue every time you approach a particular topic, it can be very hard to break this pattern without someone who is neutral to help change the cycle.   A relationship specialist can help you identify the pattern and teach you a variety of ways to manage conflict that avoid a cyclical argument that never reaches a conclusion.

  • When you have a conflict, it becomes personal.

Personal attacks cause trust and intimacy to decrease.  They make conflicts last longer and cut deeper.  Personal attacks are harder to forgive and good will disappears for longer so re-connecting is harder.

  • When you have a conflict, it becomes heated

Heated conflicts are harder to manage.  If you have skills to reduce the temperature, then professional input is probably not needed.  If you find reducing the temperature difficult or impossible, then you would benefit from professional help.

  • Conflicts don’t resolve.

Lots of couples have the same argument over and over again.  Some have the same issue arise no matter what the argument is.  This can make it hard to approach your partner to resolve a difference as people begin to dread the never-ending argument.    A relationship specialist can help you learn to let go of the past emotional charge and methods of arguing constructively.

Having a neutral third person who has expertise in sex, intimacy and relationships as well as communication and negotiation will make all of these tasks easier.   One of the most valuable outcomes from good relationship work is the acquisition of new skills which you can apply to all areas of your life.

Routines and rituals are often built out of our goals.

Relationship resolutions can be the start to building out a structure and foundation.  Structures are important because they reinforce the stability of the relationship when times are stressful.  They act as our touchstones so we can explore as we know we have stability and love in our relationship back home.  They make it possible to weather difficult patches in the relationship as they remind us that our partners have our backs, that there has been stability and can be again, that there is a strong foundation to return to.

Today I spoke about relationship resolutions, goals, intentions, action planning, expectations and agreements, routines and rituals.

If you were triggered or if this resonates with you, do email me at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com .

Thanks for joining me for Sex Spoken Here with Dr Lori Beth Bisbey. Write to me with suggestions for the show, questions you want answered at drbisbey@the-intimacy-coach.com, follow me on twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check out my YouTube channel: Dr Lori Beth Bisbey.

For a free 30-minute strategy session with me, go to https://the-intimacy-coach.com/and click the button that says Schedule Now! on the contact page. Please leave a review on iTunes and stitcher if you enjoy the show.  I look forward to seeing you next week.