It doesn’t trouble me that most of us imitate our parents and repeat the same mistakes or good behaviors that we saw as children. What does bother me is that most of us don’t know that that is what we do even though it often gets us into trouble. The good news is that once we begin to notice what we do, we can actually change or stop those behaviors that we (or our partner/family/associates) dislike.
The fact that we imitate our parent(s), their beliefs, their behaviors, their attitudes, even the ones we dislliked as kids, is true and troubling but we are not locked in to those beliefs, behaviors and attitudes. We can change them and, in most situations, we need to, to find our true selves.
This is where therapy comes in. It can teach us to become more aware of what we do, why we do iot and the power that comes from knowing we can change how we think and how we act when we want to, when it is in our best interests and the best interests of those we care about.
Change is possible though it takes hard work. Realizing that what we have done and do can be painful and there is remorse but change can also be refreshing and rewarding.
We can become the person we want to be and who our significant other wants us to be. And it feels good to know we are moving in that direction.
Everyone has negative thoughts that come up out of nowhere. The best of us realize that these are negative thoughts that almost always have no reality or evidence to back them up. These thoughts are often catastrophic predictions of something that frightens us. Without thinking, we may go into fight or flight mode or get angry or hostile. Sadly, even those of us who think we are aware, fall victim to these negative thoughts. The good news is that once we identify the negative thought, we can challenge it, demand proof or evidence and when it comes up lacking, dismiss the predicted catastrophe and we do not have to fall into dismay. The challenge is to stay aware that if our mood suddenly changes to the “dark” side, there is a reason for that change and the reason is almost always a sneaky, subtle negative thought that we have reacted to. When we can find the negative thought and destroy its credibility, we stand stronger and the important people around us can cheer. We have just made their and our lives much more comfortable.
Marriage and #MeToo (Marriage and Sexual Beliefs that need to change) - Equality is Important, in the workplace and in the home.
Behind the millions-loud movement, there’s a quiet fringe of women not comfortable posting the hashtag—because to out their perpetrator would be to out their husband.
After the half-hearted foreplay, but before the lousy sex—that’s when the argument happened. It was nearly midnight on a Tuesday and Jess T. was just getting home from work. “I was going for a promotion and putting in really long hours at the office,” says the 33-year-old from San Francisco, California. “I felt so exhausted, I crawled into bed without even washing off my makeup. As I laid down next to my husband, who I thought was asleep, he started rubbing my thighs, pulling up my shirt—I knew.” For the next minute she debated two things: Should she take off her mascara after all? Should she have sex? No. No.
At first, her husband of four years tried to sway her by softly whispering in her ear (“I’ll make you feel so good”), but when she reaffirmed she wasn’t in the mood, his tone hardened. “He told me that he has needs as a man and that if I didn’t fulfill them he wasn’t going to be able to concentrate at work the next day,” Jess says. “As a woman, I’ve been socialized to put other people’s happiness before my own. I guess I feel responsible for their emotional wellbeing, and so I ended up consenting. Not because I wanted to or found it enjoyable, but because I felt I had to. It’s a very unsexy threesome—me, my husband, and the guilt.”
Been there, done that, says Marni Z., 35, from Phoenix, Arizona. “If I’m tired or just not into it, my husband will sigh with disgust, grab his pillow, and sleep on the couch,” says Marni, who has been married for eight years. “Or he’ll expect things from me—like coming to bed naked—and get irritated when I don’t comply. Sometimes I just numb myself into having sex so I don’t have his cloud of anger hanging over me.”
If domestic labor is a woman’s second shift, the gray-zone, on-demand sex sessions that they feel obligated to have with their partners is the third. After interviewing couples across the country, one studypublished in The Journal of Marriage and Familyfound that many husbandsexpect their wives to perform sexually, and cited additional research that this causes women “to become disconnected from their own sexual desires” and experience feelings of resentment. Many participants in the study were only compliant to “reduce marital conflict…and to help a spouse feel better about himself.”
It’s something that Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a psychotherapist who specializes in sex therapy, has certainly seen play out. “When people get married, their views on sex tend to shift a bit,” he says. “Some men feel that they now have constant access to sex, while women take on an obligation that they have to be sexual even when they don’t want to be.”
It’s not that married women are docile damsels of the domestic kingdom. They’re strong enough to set boundaries—and often do—but that doesn’t prevent men from plying, prodding, and pushing them. One studyout of the University of Nebraska in 2005 found that men used comments like “you would have sex if you loved me” to gain sexual access to women. While separate researchfound that men relied on verbal tactics of repeated requests until women gave in to sex. The pushy, supposed primal instincts of men are deeply threaded into our sheets—and our scummy sexual culture.
And that, perhaps, is the more dispiriting reason why wedded sex has such an antique flavor: Marriage may be the last frontier where the belief that sex is mandatory still somewhat rings true, and where consent has been flattened and pushed to the edge. While a single woman’s right to say no to sex is championed and society-approved (damn, right!), once you’re married, it becomes all about saying yes. In fact, in order to decline sex, women in long-term relationships have been socialized to believe that they need an excuse: I have a headache. I’m not feeling well. I’m on my period. They aren’t allowed to opt out of sex because, you know, they just don’t feel like it (damn, wrong!). “I’m lusty, I like sex,” Jess says. “I just don’t like that I always have to like sex.”
In fact, when Jess went searching online for advice on how to deal with the bang-it-out sex sessions her husband sometimes pressured her into, she found “a blog post from a psychologist that told me I should have sex anyway because I would eventually get turned on—not true, by the way, I just got mad. And then a first-person article from a woman who never said no to her husband when he asked for sex for an entire year. The author painted herself like a goddess with an 24/7 vagina. Everything I read just made me feel that, as a married woman, I was no longer the sole boss of my body.”
“I’m lusty, I like sex. I just don’t like that I always have to like sex.”
Muddying the situation more: Unlike when you’re just dating, when you’re married there’s no ghosting, submarining, or sending screenshots of your shitty date to your friends. There are bills to pay and a dog that needs walking. “I was in a long-term relationship where, even when I wasn’t physically responsive, my partner would continue with sex and make sure his needs were met,” says Sarah W., 38, from New York City. “I was confused about what rights I had to sexual boundaries. We lived together, were engaged, shared finances.”
Sweet sex. Hot sex. Sucky sex. It all seemed like part of the marital knot.
But then came the shift. The ‘Cat Person’ story in The New Yorker went viral, and shortly after, a piece that detailed one woman’s account of a bad date with Aziz Ansari did, too. Suddenly the #MeToo movement had ballooned beyond sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, floating the idea that women should have the right to good sex and shouldn’t feel pressured to suffer through a sexual encounter they don't want or find pleasurable. Suddenly, there was a term for bad sex: bad sex. But this time, with context.
“Women started to have these soul-searching conversations that were really important,” says Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist in Los Angeles, California, and creator of The Passion Project, an online course for couples with mismatched sex drives. “I think it’s a woman’s obligation to be respectful of her partner’s desires and to take them into consideration. It’s her obligation to have conversations about her partner’s intimate needs. But it is absolutely not a woman’s obligation to have sex with her partner when she does not want to. Every woman gets to decide what she wants to do with her own body. Any advice to the contrary is really outdated.”
And out of the good-sex revolution has come better advice. For starters, the notion that sometimes rejection is involved in the sexual process, even when you’re married. “Initiating sex does take a lot of vulnerability,” Marin says. “That’s why in addition to sexual desires and needs, couples need to talk to each other about how to turn each other down gracefully. If you aren’t in the mood for sex, explain why, making it clear it doesn’t have anything to do with your partner—it helps show that you aren’t rejectingthem. Also, while it’s normal to feel sad if your partner isn’t interested in being intimate with you, it’s each partner’s responsibility to soothe their own hurt feelings.”
Kerner agrees. “Men feel rejected, women feel bullied, but what we’re missing is this emotional vulnerability that both partners feel,” he says. “Talking through those emotions and connecting to that underneath space can be really intimate and can help you get back on the same page sexually.”
In the post-Weinstein world, so much changed. And yet, so much hasn’t.
“I’m so glad that we’re having these conversations and that women feel empowered to demand good sex,” Jess says. “But I do wish the conversations around the movement didn’t just include coworkers, bosses, bad dates, and strangers on the street. Sometimes, for change to happen, these conversations need to include the people who we are most intimate with—even if those honest conversations start just with ourselves.”
So better sex for everyone? Yes to that—every time.
9 Things The Happiest Couples Do For Each Other Without Being Asked
Small gestures can have a big Impact
By Kelsey Borresen
In a healthy relationship, people tend to give love and support freely and frequently. They don’t wait for a special occasion to show their appreciation. They genuinely enjoy doing nice things for one another “just because” ? no prompting necessary.
We asked relationship experts to tell us what kinds of things, both big and small, happy couples do for each other without being asked. Here’s what they had to say:
1. They check in with each other. “Whether it’s a ‘hello’ text or call to ask, ‘How did it go?’ the happiest couples reach out. They call to say, ‘I’m running late,’ or ‘We just landed,’ or ‘Do you need me to stop at the store on my way home?’ The message: I’m thinking of you. The result: A feeling of being connected, being a key part of each other’s lives.” ? Winifred M. Reilly, marriage and family therapist and author of It Takes One to Tango
2. They give each other compliments. “This doesn’t have to be a lovey-dovey compliment about being the best wife in the world, but even an offhand remark recognizing someone’s contribution, like ‘great dinner!’ Although some couples do well without positive feedback, the majority of people like at least a little bit of verbal recognition for their contribution, and happy couples are free with positive feedback.” ? Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach
3. They surprise each other with a card, just because. “Giving your partner a card that says ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘Thank you for all you do’ is such a sweet gesture. It will make him or her feel special and it’s a great reminder to you as well of all you have to be grateful for. An added fun touch would be to leave the card somewhere your loved one will happen on it. My husband loves to leave cards for me in the refrigerator. I often leave his cards under his pillow.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua, marriage therapist and the co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels
4. They act generously, instead of keeping score. “Generosity is something freely given as a gift, with nothing expected in return. When a relationship feels secure, it is easy to want to offer more than your fair share of tasks or thoughtful gestures to show your love for your partner. Whether moving their clothes to the dryer for them or going on their favorite hike again, highly fulfilled couples tend to maintain great satisfaction from being thoughtful and generous toward their partner rather than scorekeeping.” ? Kari Carroll, couples therapist
5. They speak openly about their thoughts and feelings. “When partners feel that it’s like pulling teeth to get each other to divulge any thoughts or feelings, a relationship can feel very lonely. Happy couples may not communicate constantly on a deep level, but they do it frequently enough to feel that they really know one another.” ? Samantha Rodman
6. They surprise their partner with their favorite food. “We all know that food is nurturing and helps people feel connected. But when you go out of your way to bring home a special food you know they will love, it’s a wonderful way to put ‘I love you’ into action. If the favorite food is a meal that you make — rather than, say, a pint of Haagen Dazs — you’ll undoubtedly get even more points.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua
7. Or with a freshly washed car. “Regardless of whether you do the washing yourself or take the car to a car wash, when your partner sees their squeaky clean wheels on the street or in the driveway, he or she will likely be very grateful.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua
8. They’re in the habit of saying ‘thank you.’ “Despite the mundanity and complacency that can develop within a long-term partnership, a sure way to keep the fire alive and burning brightly is to watch your partner beam when you regularly notice and point out their contributions to your life. People want to be reminded they are of value to you, and secure couples understand that this should be frequent. Although you may assume your love to be understood, in reality, acknowledging your partner’s efforts and contributions consistently builds an even deeper connection.” ? Kari Carroll
9. And ‘I love you.’ “And they do it when it’s unprompted, unsolicited, and unexpected. In many relationships the ‘I love yous’ come more from one partner than the other. Typically one leads and the other follows. Too often I hear the excuse, ‘I don’t want to overuse it.’ In happy relationships, both partners initiate saying it and they mean it when then do.” ? Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men I
f your partner doesn’t do all of these things, don’t fret. Relationships are a work in progress, and if you’re not getting what you want out of it, you should ask. You aren’t a mind reader, so you can’t expect your partner to be one either.