Getting the Sex you Want

Are we medicating the feminine nature out of women?

As women turn the tides of equality and become a force to be reckoned with, are we destroying what it means to be a woman in the name of equal treatment with men?

Julie Holland is a local psychiatrist and she is concerned about the growing trend of using pharmaceutical interventions to interrupt the natural ebb and flow of human emotional experience, especially in women.

Moody Bitches by Julie Holland

Her latest book, Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, the Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Crazy is going to change the way we think about ourselves and the drugs we take. I think everyone should read her NY Times article on this subject, Medicating Women’s Feelings

Wisdom of the ages – happy marriage, happy life

I love Ann Brenoff’s article for Huffington Post: 5 Questions I Wish Younger People Would Stop Asking Me because it’s a perfect example of the wisdom we gain as we grow older. Plus she points out how some of the things we worry about when we’re young are completely ridiculous. Because every life is filled with different experiences and different perspectives, I’d like to share my answers for these 5 questions:

1. What’s the secret to a long happy marriage?

First of all, what is definition of a long happy marriage? It varies from one couple to the next. Most believe a long happy marriage is sexual, emotional, social monogamy for life – neither partner wanting more or less than the other. I am not sure that is a realistic viewpoint. Marriage is rarely egalitarian in its needs or its wants. And longevity does not simply define success in a marriage either. if two people stay married for 40 years but barely talk to each other, or touch one another, is that a successful marriage, regardless of its long life?

The secret is finding what makes your marriage happy. Communication and negotiation around what makes both of you happy will bring lots of frustration but also growth and change along the way.

2. When will you retire?

As Ann so gracefully pointed out, this question has two answers: 1. Personal identity and 2. Fiscal ability

The world of today is not the same as it was a generation ago. The economy and health care system make retirement and aging an expensive journey. As our parents reach their twilight years and are unable to care for themselves, it falls on us, their children, to care for them while we raise our own children into adulthood.

Thankfully, research on the health of aging adults has found that those who remain physically and emotionally active remain healthier and happier longer. Thankfully, I love my work so I intend to keep doing what I love until I can’t. And when I can’t I will do something easier.

3. Do older people still have sex?

Yes yes yes! The benefits of sex far exceed reproduction. Physical health and emotional well-being are some of the benefits of an active sex life. However, sex doesn’t look the same in our 60s+ as it does in our 20s and 30s, but it doesn’t have to. Sustaining erotic intimacy in a relationship shouldnt require acrobatic positions or fully functioning anatomy. The joy of sex in our later years is about being in the moment, enjoying touch and loving our partner.

4. What have you done to slow the signs of aging?

The cosmetic industry spends billions of dollars every year telling us their latest creams, serums, vitamins, or machines will make us look and feel young again. The reality is nothing can completely reverse our genetic predisposition to sagging, wrinkled skin, or balding hairlines. As my body sags more and my skin wrinkles, the less I plan to worry about losing my youthful shape. Although there are days when I feel anxious about my loose neck and my wobbly arms, I feel younger in some ways than ever. I have more energy for my partner, and for my mission in life. My values and my focus in life have shifted to time with family and friends, and the ultimate pursuit of balance and peace of mind.

5. What’s on your bucket list?

Does anyone really have a bucket list? Amongst all the work, family obligations, social engagements, and self-care – who has the time and energy to work through a bucket list? A life well lived is not built on the cruise ships, international flights, TV appearances, and momentous achievements. On our death bed, we will reflect on the small, inconspicuous moments of every day life. The warm sunshine, the cool breezes, the smiles of passing strangers, the smooth pages of our favorite book, the gentle touch of our loved ones.

Guest Blog: Dr. Shaler on the importance of Thank You

At home, we don’t appreciate—we expect!

We say things like, “If you really love me, you would ______.” Expectations delivered in a bartering mode.

Where is the appreciation for our loved ones? Do you expect the garbage to go out and the dishes be put away? Why? Because it’s their “job”? Well, in life we get paid for doing a job, so how about paying them with a “thank you”? Everyone craves recognition for their efforts. I’m sure you do, too.

So, show a little appreciation. It’s a very easy habit to acquire.

Transform your relationship with your teenager.

Ever lived with teenagers? It’s pretty hard to motivate them, right? Or is it? The easiest way to engage a teen is to catch them doing something right. That means recognizing and rewarding the behavior you want to see more of. Saying “thank you” is an easy way to do that.

Tell them what you like about what they’re doing, thinking, and wearing. And skip all the criticism about what you don’t like.

Simply look and you’ll find many things each day worthy of acknowledgment. Try it for a month and watch their attitude (and your relationship with them) transform.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Once you make a point to acknowledge the contributions of your family and partner, remember: once is not enough. Each time they take the trash out, bring you your coffee, or extend themselves on your behalf, say those powerful words—”thank you”.

Know what to overlook.

There is another side to showing appreciation. It is as equally important as verbal recognition. Knowing what to compliment is one thing … but knowing what to overlook is also a way of showing love.

Ah! That’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?

William James once said: “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.”

He was right.

When things don’t go according to our expectations, we start pointing fingers. Tempers flare and nitpicking escalates.

A wise person takes a step back and looks at the whole picture. They put their needs and wants aside for a moment and make space to see the other person’s wants and needs, as well. They ask themselves: What is happening here? What do we truly want to happen?

Whether at home or at work, this is the time to focus on appreciation and then follow it with conscious problem-solving.

When you feel things getting tense, pause and reflect on a time you felt appreciated. More importantly, ask yourself when was the last time you actually found something to appreciate in another? This helps diffuse the anger, frustration, fear or hurt that you are feeling and allows you to refocus your energy on good communication.

Start with yourself.

Demanding to receive respect or appreciation when the other person is feeling deprived of it will only escalate the conflict. Whoever is most sane at the moment, in any relationship, is the one responsible for bringing that relationship back to positive connection. Let that “sane” person be you.

Appreciation is never wasted.

Find things to acknowledge. Notice what others do well. Catch them doing things right. Notice what others do for you. Offer your thanks. You’ll feel better.

And, very soon, it will come back to you. I promise.

Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, The Relationship Help Doctor, works with committed couples who know they love each other and want their once-great relationships back, stronger, closer and more intimate. She helps them with the insights and skills they need to create healthy relationships that support them to walk together united, through whatever life brings. www.forrelationshiphelp.com

Spring is coming! Grow and Renew Your Relationship in Fiji this Summer

Poolside in Fiji

As spring here in the Northeast of the U.S. fast approaches, I get so excited to see the trees and flowers come back to life. Even though it happens every year, somehow I am surprised every Spring. It is such a relief that the earth remembers how to grow and renew itself, especially after the dark days of winter.

Our relationships need rejuvenating, too, after these dark months, when we can fall into a routine and forget to appreciate what’s around us. I know I take for granted the love in my life, and I need to create a new vision for these longer, lighter days for my own personal growth and self-awareness, so that I can be brighter, less focused on my own problems and more helpful to others.

You can use this time of year for rejuvenation as well. It is easy – take the time to invest in and renew your relationship. I am putting the finishing touches on my couples intensive trip to Fiji and would love to have you and your partner join me. It’s going to be an amazing trip. Why wouldn’t you want to spend a week in a private bungalow overlooking the turquoise sea, or on a sparkling beach? I can be there to provide some fun, professional guidance in the mornings and you are on your own for the afternoons and evenings, and the hot nights! This will truly be the most sexy and romantic trip you have ever taken…

There is still space available for you and your partner to commit to intimacy and romance. Fiji is a magical place! Reserve your place in paradise and I will help you and your partner increase your relationship and communication skills and rejuvenate your relationship!

July 26 – August 1, 2015
Koro Sun Resort in Savusavu, Fiji

More details available here!

America is not the most sexually satisfied country

A recent survey by Alternet listing the 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world did not include the USA. As a sex therapist, I can honestly say I’m not surprised. I meet a lot of couples who are not getting the sex they want.

What factors contribute to these twelve countries making the list?

Open discussion and education around sex seems to be one of the leading reasons many of these countries are sexually satisfied. Additionally, socially progressive laws regarding same-sex relationships and sex work appear to be a common thread. On the other hand, more socially repressed countries such as India, Nigeria, and China made the list above the USA. Why? My guess is it’s a matter of tradition. In India, the home of Tantra, men tend to pay a lot of attention to foreplay and seduction. The data reveals that Nigerian men also take their time, having sex for 24 minutes on average. China’s population is integrating technology and sex toys into their sex lives more than any other country. I wonder if there’s a correlation between the strict gender roles and social traditions of marriage in these countries and how often they have sex? Is sex between married spouses a cultural expectation and do couples schedule in time for intimacy?

Why are Americans generally sexually not satisfied?

The puritanical culture that’s dominant in America puts a judgmental hush on healthy sexual exploration and expression. Instead of teaching our children about pleasure and safety, we teach our children to fear and avoid genitals. Many children grow up thinking their sexual organs and erogenous zones are dirty, untouchable areas. When they become teenagers and young adults, fall in love or give in to their raging hormones, they feel a lot of shame around sexual desire. Additionally, the puritanical American culture includes a lot of outspoken judgment against any sex beyond missionary under the sheets with the lights off. Slut-shaming is a prevalent and concerning issue that discourages sexual exploration in the pursuit of genuine pleasure and satisfaction.

But let’s not forget America’s increasing obsession with body image. Photoshopped and airbrushed models create an unattainable and dangerous standard of beauty that few women can realistically achieve. Body dissatisfaction impacts psychosocial health, including a person’s comfort with being exposed and vulnerable with a lover.

Why is sexual satisfaction important?

Sex is a major component in overall physical and emotional wellbeing. Sex has many health benefits including boosting the immune system, lowers blood pressure, pain relief, strengthens pelvic floor muscles, prevents prostate cancer, and eases stress. Additionally, couples who are sexually intimate are more likely to be emotionally intimate, strengthening the bonds in families. With divorce rates remaining steady at approximately 50% of marriages ending in divorce, shouldn’t we reconsider our attitudes towards sex?

I would love to hear your thoughts on why America didn’t make the list of The 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world.

If you’re ready to save your marriage and Get The Sex You Want, sign up for my upcoming teleclass, Sexual Repair: Three Ways to Heal and Grow Your Erotic Self. This three-week course will explore ways to repair and heal your erotic relationship through various challenges. Affairs and trauma often form obstacles to the erotic self and in this course participants will explore these struggles and the techniques you can use to find your erotic self again!

  • Discover ways to add more desire into your life and heal sexual dysfunction
  • Have you been betrayed by your partner and sex has become difficult or shutdown in your relationship? Learn three ways to bring it back and make it even better!
  • Most people have experienced some kind of physical or emotional trauma that has impacted their self esteem and sex life.
  • Learn the definition of trauma and how it affects your erotic self.
  • Learn how to get back into your body and heal from shame. You deserve to feel sexy again!

11 Marriage Mistakes That Lead To Divorce

I recently contributed to a collection of advice and insight from divorce experts regarding the top 11 mistakes married people make that lead to divorce.

The very first mistake: Putting sex on the back burner.

“Avoiding sex or giving up on it can start the slippery slope to infidelity or even divorce. Let’s face it: Without a good sex life, it’s easier to give up on a marriage. The state of your erotic relationship is like the canary in the coal mine; if it’s still alive, it’s still worth saving. Your sexual connection is a barometer for your intimate life. Having sex, whether you are ‘in the mood’ or not, is an important part of staying connected and feeling in love. Yes, you might be great companions or even best friends. And you can co-parent and pay the bills and run the business of your marriage or relationship together quite well. Some couples do that for years, and they tell all their friends and family about how well they manage their lives as a couple.

But without a sexual connection, without an erotic life, being good companions eventually will feel like just being roommates, and frankly, you could probably find a better roommate.” – Dr. Tammy Nelson, certified sex therapist

Before your marriage heads down the path to divorce, make sure you’re not committing any of these 11 Be-All-End-All Marriage Mistakes That Lead To Divorce

If you’d rather focus on the positive, check out these 5 Things Long-Lasting Couples Do Differently

Could energy work save your marriage?

In today’s world going to a therapist when your marriage is falling apart is like going to the Shaman or the healer in the old days when we lived in tribes, and the ancient elder held the key to lighting fires, making rain and resolving interpersonal conflicts.

Couple’s therapy can be stressful. Most of the time you show up in treatment because your relationship is falling apart or one of you is there to drop the other person off on the way out the door.

And yet there is a new type of therapy that might be more helpful. A more holistic, integrative approach that sees you and your partner more as whole people, with the potential to become even more whole, which means more integrity in your relationship and more sex.

According to the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology, the definition of energy psychology is “a family of integrative approaches to psychotherapy, coaching and healthcare treatment that work with the mind-body connection. These methods are helping people around the world experience rapid relief from trauma, stress, limiting beliefs and more.”

Read more about energy psychology in my blog on YourTango.com: Shamanism and Energy Work; Can It Save Your Marriage?

Fifty Shades of Feminism

50 Shades of Grey posterI was in Paris for the opening of the movie, Fifty Shades of Grey. There were over 2,000 advanced tickets sold for the opening night in Paris, and almost 5,000 tickets sold for the 2:00 p.m. show.

The movie opened to over $100 million in worldwide sales. Tickets will continue to sell out and men, women and couples of all ages will see this film for months and maybe even years to come.

As I walked through the underground Metro there are movie posters on the wall with Christian Grey holding Anastasia’s arms above her head and kissing her passionately. There is another of her biting her lip, seductively, waiting.

The words in French make it look romantic. But is the movie romantic? Is a movie about a man who abuses his power over a young woman supposed to be romantic? And why is it grabbing the heartstrings of so many viewers? Is this a reflection of women in our western culture giving up their power and a step back for feminism? Or is Fifty Shades a true modern-day fairy tale?

The risk of the movie, particularly for young girls or beginners who want to try some BDSM in their own relationship, is that power must be used with permission and with a safe word within a trusting partnership. This may not be clear in the film.

One of the reasons that the book has been such an overnight success is that it hits a combination of sweet spots in our history of feminism and erotic power, crucial to our role as women.

But do not underestimate or mistake our desire for ravishment by a strong man for weakness.

We are not giving up our power; we are taking back our power. We are coming into a time of real authority, recognizing our own internal strengths and finding real choices. We don’t want to give our power away to men. We want to open ourselves to a man who can handle it. We want sexual satisfaction and we will not settle for less.

Read the full article on Huffington Post: Fifty Shades of Feminism: Hot Sex and the New Fairy Tale

Sexual Repair: Create More Desire, Arousal, and Fun

Was your Valentine’s Day lackluster in the sex department? Would like to create more desire, arousal and fun in your sexual life? Then mark your calendar for 12pm EST April 7th, April 21st, and May 5th and register for Sexual Repair: Three ways to Heal and Grow Your Erotic Self

In this course,

Participants will learn ways to heal sexual dysfunction including premature ejaculation, orgasmic delay and lack of orgasm.
Participants will explore how to work on bringing excitement and eroticism into a long term relationship.
Participants will learn how rape, incest, bullying, coming out, reassignment, and harassment affect erotic behaviors and how to heal from them.
Participants will discover their own smaller traumas and ways they affect their erotic lives.
Participants will find out the difference between being a cheater and being cheated on, both online and in real life.
Participants will discover what mate guarding, ravishment and cuckolding have to do with healing from the betrayal of a cheating relationship.
Participants will focus on what heals sexual self esteem and how they can heal from shame, feel sexy and find erotic behaviors in bed with a partner or alone.

Register before April 1 to save $50!

Sexuality in Mormonism on HuffPost Live

There are a lot of rumors around sexuality and mormonism. In honor of Valentine’s Day last week, HuffPost Live decided to look into how sex and love intersect in the Mormon faith. They invited Kristin Hodson, co-author of Real Intimacy, to discuss sexual intimacy in Mormon marriage. She believes that including a sex-positive dialogue during spiritual development will encourage healthy sexuality and marriage.

Watch Kristin B. Hodson discuss sex in Mormonism on HuffPost Live

Kristin will be joining me as a guest instructor for Sex and Religion: How Beliefs and Values Shape Erotic Behaviors, a three-part teleclass beginning March 3rd. This course will examine religion and sex from many angles and will give an overview of the resources that are available for clinicians who want to go deeper into this challenging work with couples from all backgrounds.