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Why Aren’t We Having Sex?

Why Aren't We Having Sex? | Possible Causes

I recently hired an amazing Sex Therapist at my practice. She gave me a very interesting metaphor about why couples aren't having sex and it has stuck with me ever since. Not only is it very accurate, but it also gives a visual to explain the possible reasons beyond couples experiencing a very common and normal lull in their sex lives. Of course reasons can vary from trust issues to health related dysfunction. Sometimes circumstances such as having a new baby or struggling with infertility can throw everything off. Sometimes, we may just not know what we like sexually or are struggling with feeling sexually confident. There are moments, however, when the "reasons" for the lulls are not as easy to identify and often couples will enter therapy seeking the answer. See, a romantic relationship is often like a Layered Cake. Each layer builds off of each other and without one, the entire cake feels incomplete. The answer to "Why aren't we having sex?", can often involve a missing ingredient(s) somewhere within the layered cake. The first layer is the foundation, which is friendship. This could entail respect, kindness, fun, commonalities, trust and appreciation. The second layer is emotional connectedness that is more intimate than with a friendship. Maybe this entails emotional vulnerability, compassion and understanding. It can include feel seen, validated and reassured by your partner. The third layer is nonsexual physical intimacy. This can include flirtatious love taps, long kisses, hugs and overall affection. The top layer is sexual intimacy. This can include foreplay, erotic play and any type of sex play. Sometimes, couples nurture the layer that comes the easiest to them. These same couples may also focus too heavily on the lack of sex and be really uncertain as to why. As you can see, if you don't have a strong, respectful and engaging friendship that allows you to feel emotionally safe and non-sexually connected, it is challenging to feel motivated to have sex. When couples can focus less on sex when they are experiencing a lull and focus more on the other layers, sex often develops without much effort. Hence the creation of our Date Boxes that focus on the importance of the entire cake. What have you experienced in your relationship? Tell us about it!

How to Set Healthy Boundaries

How to Set Healthy Boundaries | 5 Tips

How to Set Healthy Boundaries | Healthy boundaries are crucial in a relationship, especially during the year of h*ll we have been all experiencing. With WFH, transitions, and constant stress, it is imperative that we learn to communicate our needs. We often fear asking for what we need because we don't want to hurt our partners. Often times, we also struggle with the idea of being perceived as selfish, so we just tuck away our desires and push through. Other times, we may not even know what we need and are too exhausted to even fathom more concepts. If we don't set boundaries, we burn out. We become exhausted and often shut down our partner's bids of connection. When we don't set healthy boundaries for ourselves, everything suffers, including our relationships. In addition to prioritizing your date nights and connection, it's equally important to work on yourself! How to set healthy boundaries:

Tip #1 Understand Your Own Needs

When you don't know what you need, it is pretty impossible to advocate for it. Try reflecting on what your top values are in life. Identify how your current life is set up and if you are denying of yourself of making these priorities. If you are, what needs do you have in order to make these values a priority? (Example, if you value alone time but your schedule is consistently jammed packed with work and social events, maybe this isn't the wisest way to set up your schedule). Decide what things need to be taken off your plate. Are there certain events or people that make you feel uncomfortable, but you force yourself to go and interact with anyway? Why? It is also helpful to explore why you feel you have these needs. Are they coming from a place of needing self care or possibly from a need to control or a need to feel accepted by others? This will be helpful in identifying whether or not your requests are coming from a healthy place.

Tip #2 Identify What Healthy Looks Like

Once you have identified your needs, it is important to understand what "healthy" means. "Healthy boundaries" can consist of anything that you are requesting that gives you the ability to decompress and take care of your mind/body/spirit. Some examples are: Requesting alone time every day, requesting time to exercise/meditate/pray/journal, kindly requesting space to process feelings during/after an argument). *Be cautious of demanding your partner to do something as a "boundary", (example, don't talk to your ex girlfriend, or you can't have more than 3 drinks when you're out with your friends), as these types of requests need to be mutually agreed upon and discussed in order to feel mutually respected and honored. Healthy boundaries within a partnership are very important to explore and these boundaries should be discussed together first. Because boundaries are often constructed from values, it is helpful to discuss together specifics around loyalty, fidelity, family/friend influences, sex, etc, to be sure you are both on the same page about what specific boundary and/or boundary violations you are agreeing to.

Tip #3 Exercise Bravery

It's important to exercise bravery as you are setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Maybe you struggle with the fear of coming across selfish or rude; maybe you struggle with the possibility of hurting your partner's feelings. Either way, be brave, be facing your insecurities and fears, and confronting the conversation. There is a healthy way to set boundaries without being hurtful. If your request(s) comes from a place of vulnerability and a de-escalated/non triggered stance, it is way more likely that they will hear you and respect why you are requesting this boundary. (Example, "I'm nervous to express this because I don't want to hurt you; but I have really been struggling with my own mental health lately and I realize what can be helpful for me is to have an hour or so alone every day to be with myself and work through some feelings. I'm happy to discuss more about my feelings with you once I have the space to process them; verses "I need space! Can you go to the office every Tuesday so I can be alone?")

Tip #4 Be Consistent

Consistency will help you recreate your new normal and help others be reminded of your boundary request(s).

Tip #5 Make Self Care a Priority

We will ALL benefit from this. The more you make yourself a priority, the more you are able to show up for others, especially your partner. You will less likely pick fights with them, play tit for tat, or blow up with resentment. Making self care a priority, means you make YOURSELF a priority. It means you may come first some days. If you treated yourself the same way you treated others you prioritize, what would your day look like? Making self care a priority is more than just working out because you don't want to gain weight; self care is about turning off your phone, not answer emails after a certain time, going for solo walks and catching yourself before you burnout. Self care is all about losing your to-do's and responsibilities and getting connected to the present moment with yourself.   What do you do to set healthy boundaries?

Why Can’t I Apologize?

Why Can't I Apologize? The Importance of Saying You're Sorry

Can't apologize? Don't know why it is challenging for you? I hear this compliant a lot in my practice and often times it can cause major implications between partners. Often, I hear my couples complain about their partner not being able to apologize at all, or without a "but" at the end of it. Couples struggle with reconciling conflict and resentment may start to build. First, it is important to understand what an apology is. An apology serves as healthy validation to your partner's feelings and their experience. It is an opportunity to take ownership of your behavior (whether or not it was intentional) and work on growing individually, as well as together. Sometimes, it can be challenging to do this when you don't agree with your partner's perspective and this is often when we find ourselves in a power struggle filled with content of who is "right or wrong." The reality is, both of you contributed to an ego driven dance when you are both feeling triggered. Both of you are valid for your feelings, even if your perceptions were skewed. It is important to not attack your partner with accusations when you're explaining your feelings, and if you can achieve this, most likely your partner will hear you with more compassion.

Either way, if you are struggling with apologizing, most likely it is due to:

  • Having a family history of not seeing or experiencing apologies or reconciliation after conflict (or not seeing conflict altogether).

  • Having low self esteem. This causes you to struggle with taking ownership, because you already feel guilt, shame or disappointment in yourself already.

  • Struggle with seeing your partner's perspective and don't feel you need to apologize because their perspective isn't right.

  • Think your partner is too sensitive and doesn't give you a lot of grace to make mistakes.

  • Feel attacked or criticized often.

  • Don't want to lose an argument.

  • Have a strong sense of "pride" or is "stubborn." (aka, this often means you are insecure about something being activated in the relationship that you don't want to acknowledge about yourself).

  • Aren't attune to your own emotions, thus it is challenging to see other people's emotional perspectives.

Generally speaking, these experiences often have an impact on whether or not you can apologize. If you find yourself asking, "Why can't I apologize?" that is a good indication you are willing to explore your own blocks and barriers. It is a great first step!
An apology isn't about admitting you were wrong; apologizing is about taking time to understand your partner's perspective and seeing yourself objectively. An apology is about validating your partner's feelings.
If you're wanting to learn how to apologize, it is best to work on your own insecurities and practice self love as often as possible. Practice mindfulness and self- awareness exercises, as well as dive into your past and learned behaviors. An apology is vulnerable, because it opens us up to being rejected, so maybe you and your partner can also work on building more security within the relationship. The better you become at finding your own humility, the better you will be able to sit with uncomfortable feelings between you and your partner and reconcile disagreements in a healthy way. *It is important to note, that an apology isn't always appropriate or needed. The point of this article is to scratch the surface of why it may be challenging for you to apologize if you have noticed yourself struggling with doing it, even when you know you want to. If you feel gaslighted often, find yourself not wanting to apologize because you feel manipulated or threatened in some way, then that may be an indication your relationship is toxic. Seek therapy to better understand your relationship and triggers.  

How to Make Sex Toys Less Intimidating

How to Make Sex Toys Less Intimidating

Learn How to Make Sex Toys Less Intimidating For the Individual or Couple Exploration | Sex in our culture is shifting tremendously. Although we are on the up swing of empowerment and sexual acceptance, I still see in my practice how timid couples can be expressing and/or identifying their sexual needs. As a culture, the idea of sexual empowerment is exciting, but we may be missing a few steps to get there by not addressing the potential intimidation of sex exploration for some. Sex toys and products may be something you've been interested in learning about but you are too uncomfortable with going there. Maybe you don't know your body enough, haven't broached the subject with your partner, and/or feel threatened by sex toys. If you find yourself nervous about exploring sex, sex toys or products, please know you are not alone. We are here to help! Many couples have a challenging time bridging the gap between intimacy and erotism for various reasons. Because sex has a lot of layers, meanings and feelings attached to it, we often don't know where to start. So if you feel as though there are mix messages about sex or sexuality, and you may not know where to start, here is a good place. Try these 8 things to help you (both) ease into the possibility of sex toys/products to deepen your sexual experience.

How to Make Sex Toys Less Intimidating | 8 Things to Try

  • Explore your own sexual desires, interests and curiosities.

    • Don't know where to start? Try the Red Light, Yellow Light, Green Light Exercise in our Intimacy Guide. A guide created with 62 questions and a sexual exploration excercise to help you deepen your understanding of yourselves and each other.
    • Often times we don't know what we like, but aren't willing to explore. By educating yourself, you may have a change of perspective.
    • Work on being more mentally willing to let go of control in the bedroom. This can even be during your own special time alone or with your partner. Besides... our brain is really the biggest sex organ of our body anyway.
  • Confront your fears.

    • Understand your fears and reflect on why you feel afraid of them. By confronting your fears,  you may find you aren't as overwhelmed by them. Or maybe, by confronting them you confirm your strong opinion of not wanting to try. (Either is acceptable!) But at least you have educated yourself before drawing a line in the sand.
  • Confront your assumptions about sex, sex toys and/or particular sexual acts.

    • What does using sex toys or products say about you/your partner? Are they negative? Why? Is there a positive way to see these things?
  • Exercise empowerment and the power of consent.

    • You have the right to say yes, no and not now any time. You are in charge of your own body. Practice self love, self acceptance and overall power of advocacy in your own pleasure and desires.
  • Have a conversation about sex, intimacy and eroticism with your partner.

  • Purchase a toy and try it out yourself first.

  • Reflect on how sex toys and sexual exploration can benefit you and your relationship.

    • Can sex toys/sex exploration bring the two of you closer? Can it help the two of you learn more about your sexual needs, likes/dislikes? What do you need from your partner in order to feel safe/comfortable? How can sex toys or an acceptance of your own sexual desires be beneficial to you?
  • Maybe find a fun nick name for sex toys/product/kinks and create a space of fun between the two of you.

  It is important to remember that sex toys and sexual exploration is becoming more popular. The actual act of purchasing a sex toy can actually boost your communication and emotional intimacy with your partner. When using a sex toy, both partners may not only learn more about themselves and their sexual arousal, but they may also learn how to communication during sex to enhance the attunement and connection during sex.

Sex Positive Exercises

Sex Positive Exercises | 5 Things to do to Embrace Sex in a Positive Way

Sex Positive Exercises : Why it's important to sustain the positivity in the bedroom Whether you are in a longterm relationship or just starting out, you know sex changes; it evolves, it slows down, it's hot, it's cold. Sex has moments of passion, lust, spontaneity and even discouragement. No matter what gender, color, age, sexual preferences or history, we all have cycles in our sexual connection to ourselves and each other from time to time. Sex positivity isn't about aspiring to be an Instagram sensation that seemingly has the "perfect" life, (which by the way, is not the case... no one has a perfect life).
Being sex positive is about empowerment, free choice, and acceptance.
When we are positive about our sex life and our sexual selves, we allow ourselves to be open to new experiences without guilt, shame, or obligation. When we take ownership of our sexual selves and when we explore our own inhibitions, we may uncover a lack of trust or insecurity that is something we need to take a look at. Sex doesn't have to look any sort of way. It doesn't have to be labeled as "good" or "bad," it doesn't have to be done a certain type of way or done a certain amount of times per week. Like anything we do in life, we just need to feel positive about it. We need to feel safe and open in order to enjoy the pleasures and connection sex can bring into our lives. Being positive about sex can inspire true desire and intimacy between you and your partner, no matter how long you have been together.

Here are 5 Sex Positive Exercises to help you both individually maintain a positive sexual sense of self, as well a positive mindset around sex and intimacy as a couple.

  • Talk about Sex.

    • Seems simple, but the more you talk about sex with partner, friends, community, etc, the more you may feel liberated of any stress, assumptions and/or pressures that you may be subconsciously holding onto. Talking about sex helps open the barriers of any sexual taboo(s) and helps to normalize them. Sex is a part of our lives, why not discuss it? The more confident you are with communicating about it, the more you'll feel empowered by your own experiences and feelings.
    • What about sex feels negative, pressuring or uncomfortable? What about sex do you enjoy? What about sex feels exciting? What about sex do you still want to explore and learn? Try our 62 question Intimacy Guide to reference more valuable questions.
  • Become aware of what sexual "baggage" you bring into the bedroom.

    • We all have baggage! And it doesn't imply something is wrong with you, but rather it acknowledges that sometimes we have obstacles in our life that hinder us from growing. Sometimes we may not even be aware of it. When we become more aware of our barriers, we can embrace personal empowerment by changing it. Maybe you have had sexual trauma; a very strict and/or religious upbringing about gender roles and sex in general; negative past sexual experiences; lack of trust in yourself or your partner; negative body image; etc, etc. Find a therapist that may support you through this process. It will definitely be rewarding in so many ways!
    • LET GO OF SHAME, EMBARRASSMENT OR GUILT. They don't serve you anymore and it's ruining your ability to feel fully connected to yourself and your partner intimately. If you don't know how, again, seek out a trained therapist for assistance.
  • Write down a list of things you are interested in exploring sexually.

    • The list can include things you have done, or things you've always wanted to do but haven't. This isn't a list you have to show anyone right away, but it can help with giving theses curiosities some well deserved attention. Maybe explore any negative assumptions or self talk that comes up for you as you write them down. What does it feel like to embrace these curiosities with positivity and excitement?
    • What do you need in order to feel comfortable, willing and safe during sex to explore these interests with your partner?
    • What fears do you have about exploring these interests?
    • What toys, fantasies or desires do you find arousing?
    • If you don't know, start researching or discussing more about what others may be into to get some ideas. Porn isn't always the best resource, but can be.
  • Discuss with your partner how they would ideally like you to "turn them down," without hurting their feelings or shaming them.

    • "Rejection" doesn't have to be negative. Actually, by having this conversation, it can be incredibly positive and empowering for both of you. Understanding your partner more can help bridge any gaps of hurt feelings from being rejected in the past. Sometimes our sexual chemistry doesn't line up and we don't have to feel guilty for that, we just need to honor each other with compassion. This conversation can help the two of you feel more empowered to say "no" to sex without the negativity associated to it. Since you do have a choice to consent to sex and you both have discussed this without hurt feelings, it is a WIN WIN.
  • Restructure your expectations of yourself sexually, as well as sex in general.

    • Are your expectations of sex realistic or causing you torment? Maybe list off your expectations of yourself sexually, as well as sex in your relationship and discuss them with your partner. Do they agree? Understanding what sex means to you can be incredibly helpful in achieving a more sex positive attitude, especially if you and your partner are on the same page or are working towards being on the same page.
    • Where do your expectations come from?
    • Embrace your body. Stop comparing yourself to others, societal pressures and social media accounts. What happens if you found acceptance and beauty in the skin that you were in? How different would sex be if you liked your body and didn't feel insecure in the bedroom?
What are some of your sex positive exercises? Share below!

How to Reconnect After Baby

How to Reconnect After Baby : 10 Things to Try

How to Reconnect After Baby | If you are a parent, you understand the heavy impact that it has on your alone time. Not to mention, your body (mommas), your sleep and unfortunately, at times, your relationship. The beauty that comes with being a parent is gratifying, but it also comes with a slew of sacrifices that you may not have prepared yourselves for. If after you have a baby and your relationship isn't an Instagram story board, YOU ARE NORMAL, it is ok! Being a modern parent is challenging with endless pressures and to-do's. The responsibilities are relentless and it takes a toll on everything, including your once tight connection. No matter how much you miss your partner, you may find yourselves so exhausted that you don't have the space or energy to connect. Especially during COVID, when work from home, loss of outlets and limited childcare makes you feel robotic 90% of the day. The mothers I speak to in my practice say they feel like they are just floating by, bombarded by the endless responsibilities. They're constantly stressed out. (PSSsst... I can attest to this, as I have had moments that seem unbearable as a working from home momma, too). Many moms that I support, crave intimacy with their partners, but don't know how to balance it all. Unfortunately, self care and intimacy are last on the totem pole and years may fly by leaving you pondering, "What happened to us?"  I remember the toll pregnancy and childbirth took on my body. How much it changed everything I ever knew and felt. I remember being so exhausted that I could barely think straight. For the first 22 months, my only purpose was to produce enough milk for my 4 lb premie to survive. (No pressure, right?) I would barely have enough energy to bathe sometimes, let alone connect with my husband, or check in with myself!  People say having a baby is hard, but... my experience, felt really hardEven after I went back to work and my body started to heal, I still remember being so disconnected from everything I once knew. I was trying so hard to morph back into my old life and I was failing at everything I attempted to do. Mom guilt consumed me most days and I remember constantly feeling alone, even with my partner by my side. Although I was lucky enough to have his support in the day-to-day juggling act, we couldn't help but admit to each other that this new beautiful addition to our family was indeed coming between us. Even after our baby turned two-years-old, we still find ourselves struggling with having five minutes of uninterrupted time to just talk. All of our attention is generally reserved for our toddler and despite loving her with all of our hearts, it's tough on our relationship sometimes! It's important to remember that the connection in all of our relationships have seasons that move in and out of challenges and disconnect. This isn't anyone's fault per say, but it is our responsibilities as partners to find the energy to prioritize our relationship and revive it again. So, if you're struggling with keeping it all together and not having the tools to revive your relationship, take a look at some of these tips  to reconnect after baby. We got you! Here are 10 things you can try to reconnect after baby:
  • Ask for Help

    • Practice trusting each other as a team and relying on one another for support. Especially when you feel like you are falling apart. This is will help the two of you feel reconnected as you settle into your new roles of partnership. Momma, if you feel isolate or depressed, seek support with a therapist and/or doctor.
  • Prioritize Self Care

    • It's something we hear regularly, yet forget to actively do. If you allow for 30 minutes to an hour every day to do something you want to do verses something you have to do, it'll make a huge difference with replenishing your tank. When you have more energy in your tank, you have more energy to connect with each other intentionally. Self care is doing anything that makes you feel refreshed and de-stressed.
  • Say "Thank you" and "I'm sorry" as often as appropriate

    • Now more than ever, you may not be "acting yourselves" and stress and exhaustion may subconsciously take over. Maybe you find yourself bickering more often and in the day-to-day moments, it's important to reset by validating each other's feelings. A simple "I'm sorry I bite your head off earlier," can clean the slate to avoid a build up of resentment. A simple, "thank you for breastfeeding our daughter," or "thank you for cleaning the bathroom," can really go a long way in feeling seen. 
  • Get back into regular date nights

    • If this seems impossible, ask yourselves what things need to happen to make this possible? Even if it is once per month. Do you need to hire help? Do you need to reserve energy for after baby goes to bed? Do you need to take advantage of a nice lunch break when the baby is taking a nap? Whatever it is, it doesn't have to look like it used to. It just has to be intentional.
  • Set Boundaries

    • Create house rules such as, "no TV on Tuesday nights," or "no phones in bed." These can help the two of you commit to little adjustments that help inspire connection in the times you both usually default to robotic mode. It's also important to communicate about co-sleeping and what you both feel is appropriate for your family and relationship. What are the pros and cons of co-sleeping with a baby/toddler? What are the benefits of having your room sacred to the two of you?
  • Don't try to do it all

    • Resentment will grow if one of you perceives you have to do it all. You now have a little baby to keep alive, so give yourselves some grace! Every day, set a list of to-do's, as well as a list of to-wants and let some to-do's fall through the cracks. Give yourselves permission to not be perfect, to not have everything in order. Fun fact: Your life will never be in order ever again! :P
  • Give Compliments

    • Don't forget to verbally express how attractive you find each other; how grateful you are of their abilities; how valuable they are to your family functioning. Compliments are so helpful with reviving the connection and helping the two of you feel appreciated. Our "You Make Everything Better Box" is filled with inspiration to help guide you both in the loving direction.
  • Communicate

    • Don't stop talking to each other! This is often a common couples mistake. Even if moments feel restricting, plan times throughout the day that you and your partner are available to discuss needs, to-do's, feelings. Making this time intentionally set in the calendar can help promote connectivity throughout the day as you feel as though you have an outlet for you and your partner to be on the same page.
  • Accept the Changes

    • Accept the losses of your pre-baby life. It is ok. It doesn't make you a bad parent. Grief is part of parenthood. You sacrifice a lot and your life changes and the only way to fully accept and embrace your new normal is to accept it. By accepting the changes of your new life, your new body, your new dynamic and role, you better adapt to accepting each other in the tough moments to come.
  • Ease into Intimacy Again

    • Physically intimacy can take some couples a long time to get back into. This is ok! When the moment feels appropriate, be sure to communicate about what you are willing to explore and what you're not willing to explore. Take it slow and focus on other areas of intimacy, rather than focusing on the act of sex itself. For new mommas, its advised to explore pelvic floor experts during your journey of healing, as being reacquainted with your vagina and pelvic floor muscles may take some time. If any form of sex takes a while to ease into, be sure to focus on affection and other types of intimacy to reconnect.
  How to Reconnect After Baby |  Are you a parent?  What did you do to help you and your parent reconnect?

The Benefits of Scheduling Sex

The Benefits of Scheduling Sex : How Putting Sex on the Calendar Will Revive Your Relationship

It's noon on Wednesday, time to get into bed, babe!

Sound sexy? Well, maybe not the sexiest thing you have ever heard, but hey, hear us out. With the year that we all endured, in addition to the year we are continuing to adjust to, our lives have become more complicated. Couples are fighting for office space in their small apartments, while parents are juggling constant childcare and full time jobs. Whatever the case you find yourselves in, it is probably accurate to assume that you've experienced a dry spell or your sex lives haven't been a huge priority. Sex doesn't have to look like porn. Nor does it have to look like a romcom movie with spontaneous explosions of sexual chemistry. If you've been in a longterm relationship, it is possible that these moments have probably faded, but that doesn't mean sex has to become stale and/or non-existent. As a relationship therapist,  I see predominately millennial couples and many of them do not have children. Yet with the luxury of an abundance of sleep and alone time, they still admit that they don't have a lot of sex.
"Maybe it's because I'm getting older." "I'm just not that interested." "When we do it, it's great. I'm just rarely in the mood."
Whatever the case, sex may not be as appealing because it isn't a priority. You may have skewed expectations around sex and chemistry, as well as a misconception about what desire looks like in longterm relationships. You may have settled for a stale sex life because it doesn't come easy, which sort of means you're being lazy about it. (And we aren't being judgy here... it's OK. We have been lazy, too!) In long term relationships, the novelty of sex is gone, which is why many people don't desire it. They know what to expect, so in turn, they don't prioritize it. This is why, it can be tremendously helpful to schedule sex because if nothing else, it inspires the prioritization of pleasure. We know times are challenging right now and that you may be spending more time with your partner than ever. We know not all the time spent together is quality or that the time spent is ideal, but we do know that you both would benefit from scheduled sex, as long as you both commit to making it a priority.  The benefits of scheduling sex are endless and just because you have sex on the calendar does not mean you can't have spontaneous sex throughout the week. If anything, by scheduling sex, it can actually promote more willingness for spontaneous sex, because the pressure is off. The concept of scheduling sex, is similar to having the motivation to go to the gym; sometimes you're not mentally wanting to go, but once you start moving your body, you're glad you did. So what are you waiting for?

The Benefits of Scheduling Sex can:

Revive your overall connection.

Increase anticipation and fun.

Help couples avoid dry spells.

Prioritizes your sexual health and relationship.

Promote sex positivity by changing mindsets from being overwhelmed to openness.

Decrease stress.

Be the appropriate time to introduce a sex toy or something different.

Be a relief! The decision is already made for you. So no more power struggle about who initiates and how. One less thing off your to-do list!

The benefits of scheduling sex gives the opportunity for both of you to get out of your heads and into the present moment because you both know what to expect. Even if you aren't in the mood, you have the willingness and time to be! With that said, we would suggest being flexible about the type of intimacy you two engage in because sometimes circumstances do get in the way. For example, if you got into a big argument the night before and things still feel a little fragile or one of you isn't feeling well, you can both give each other some grace by being flexible with what you do to get connected. If the circumstances aren't ideal, we would still suggest honoring your commitment to each other and enjoying quality time together. Maybe its a massage, oral sex, or a cuddle sesh. Tips: In addition to scheduling sex weekly, try also scheduling weekly date nights that are intentionally spent together. Doesn't have to be anything luxurious, but it should be meaningful. If the two of you know that you have sex scheduled the day after, or even if you have already had sex, it takes the sexpectations off the table and allows you both to focus on the other layers of intimacy and fun. Find a time every week that works for both of you. Be sure to discuss what time of day sex is preferred and make it a priority. No need to schedule an entire hour, but we would suggest it!

Common Mistakes Couples Make

Common Mistakes Couples Make and How to Avoid Them

Common Mistakes Couples Make | SO, you're in a relationship! Congrats, you've found love! But what happens when after a while, the ease of your connection seems to take a turn? Now all of a sudden,  you find yourselves struggling with finding things to talk about or initiating sex feels awkward. What happened? Many people in longterm relationships don't admit that keeping the spark alive can be challenging at times. The misconception is that love and relationships are black or white, good or bad, but the reality is we don't have much tolerance for stagnation or discomfort! You can be passionately in love with your partner and struggle with having the energy to have sex with them; you can like your partner but have nothing to talk about; you can want to be together but question where your spark has gone. Many of us don't have the tools and feel nervous about "what it means" when things start to fizzle or become more challenging. Couples often resort to arguments or shutting down, which only magnifies the disconnect. As a Relationship Therapist, I often hear the question:
"Why does communication, connection and sex become more challenging as time goes on? Shouldn't it be the opposite?"
Seems logical, that the longer you are with someone, the easier it should be to sustain the connection (or the more you feel security in the relationship to take risks). Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. That belief sets unrealistic expectations on our partners and our relationship, and can often leads us down a path of disappointment.

5 Common Mistakes Couples Make and How to Avoid Them:

  • #1 They Make Assumptions 
    • A common mistake couples make in their communication together is they often don't ask enough questions to clarify if their partner feels or thinks a certain way; they just make assumptions about it and focus on the story that is in their head.
    • This leads to a common disconnect and misunderstanding / can lead to resentment longterm.
    • How to avoid: Seek counseling if you struggle with communication. Preventative couples counseling is a new trend in my industry and the two of you can proactively learn how to effectively communicate before any significant damage has occurred.
    • Focus on asking more questions before you assume you know what your partner is thinking or feeling, ex: "Hey, can I get a gauge for where you are before I assume you're upset?"
    • Focus on curiosity. This will help in all of your relationships. 
    • Focus on empathy. Why might your partner be acting this way? 
    • Focus on giving partner the benefit of the doubt.
 
  • #2 They Stop Dating Each Other
    • A common mistake couples make is they eventually stop dating each other. Their lives become so intertwined that they only reserve special dates for anniversaries or special events.
    • Couples often take advantage of time spent together (like eating dinner) and don't make it intentional. If both of you have to eat dinner and happen to eat next to each other watching TV or scrolling through your phones, you are missing an opportunity for connection.
    • How to avoid: Dating isn't just about going to a new hip restaurant together. Dating is about curiosity, intimacy and quality time. Dating is about learning something new about each other and exploring different things together. Focus your "dates" on new experiences.
    • Focus on curiosity and ask tons of questions like you would on a first date. Make your partner feel seen.
    • Focus on igniting the romance regularly
    • Make it a priority to flirt with your partner daily
 
  • #3 They Let Resentment Build and Never Resolve It
    • Maybe something happened in your relationship that caused a break in trust but you haven't gotten the closure you need. Maybe a series of events have occurred and change hasn't happened. Either way, if you haven't been able to repair this together, it can linger and subconsciously affecting your relationship down the road.
    • A common mistake couples make is sweeping things under the rug and waiting until the perfect moment to bring it up. Or at least that is what they tell themselves... It is crucial for the two of you to learn how to have conflict, or at least have challenging conversations to eventually get to a common ground. Without it, you'll be sweeping so much under the rug that eventually it will leak out and expose the mess that has accumulated.
    • How to avoid: Seek counseling prior to an issue occurring in your relationship is ideal, but if that isn't your case, it may be helpful to seek it now. Learning how to communicate effectively with each other will be a crucial tool to have for the entirety of your relationship.
    • Focus on being honest with yourself and explore your expectations for change.
    • Focus on what it is that you would ideally like "closure" or a solution to look like.
 
  • #4 They Don't Individually Do Their Own "Work"
    • If you don't know what upsets you or how to calm yourself down, how do you expect your partner to?It is so important to commit to doing your own emotional, physical and mental work for the betterment of yourself, as well as your relationship.
    • A common mistake couples make is not knowing how to effectively apologize. Most often it's because they are struggling with their own shame and can't muster the courage to e
    • How to avoid: Learn how to understand yourself better through mindfulness, coaching and/or therapy.
    • Focus on understanding your own setbacks, insecurities and triggers, which will allow you both to communicate more effectively with humility and grace.
    • Be mindful of your projections and blame.
    • Focus on your autonomy in the relationship. It's important to prioritize your independence, too.
 
  • They Don't Push Outside of Their Comfort Zones
    • A common mistake couples make is staying stagnant and comfortable. Contentment isn't a bad thing, but not introducing experiences or conversations that activate discomfort is actually doing your relationship an disservice.
    • How to avoid: If you find yourself uncomfortable with something in your relationship, explore why. What do you need to help you feel more safe with letting down your guard?
    • If you're feeling unmotivated or too tired, maybe it's time to take something off your plate.
    • Focus pushing your own envelopes. (Try our date boxes for some inspiration on how!)
    Are you in a longterm relationship and have fallen into any of these mistakes? (It's ok, we have too!) Share your experience and what you do to maintain your relationship!
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How to Spice up the Romance

11 Easy Ways to Enhance the Romance and Increase Your Intimacy : How to Spice up the Romance and Why it's Important

How to spice up the romance is a question all of us in a longterm relationship have asked. Maybe you started your relationship off with a lot of romance or maybe you have felt it has been lacking since day one. Romance helps with enhancing intimacy and closeness; it can help both of you feel more appreciated, desired and thought of. Romance doesn't have to be something spectacular or take months to prep for. You just need some quality time, thoughtfulness and a little initiative to go outside of your comfort zone or routine. Romance just means being attentive to your partner's needs. Longterm relationships can get stale and often times we don't know how to sustain the connection we once had. (This is normal by the way!) Making romance a priority can be the very best thing to invest your time in, as it will rejuvenate your spark and enhance your closeness for longterm fulfillment. It'll help you get out of any rut and/or prevent a rut from happening. The beauty about romance is it doesn't have to be perfect, it can be something you incorporate at any stage of your relationship and it isn't as difficult as you may think that it is. Another benefit is that you can do these tips repeatedly and they will never get old! So if you find yourself in need of some inspiration or some support, here are some helpful ways to get you started!

How to Spice up the Romance #1: Ask your partner on a date (and plan one).

That simple. Even if you have been married for 10 years, it can be incredibly romantic to get an invitation to go on a date from your partner out of the blue. Try asking in a way that you would ask if we were first dating. Would you send flowers with a cute request? Would you text it with a fun emoji? Would you be face to face? Whatever you decide, don't over think it. This request does not have to be perfect or like anything from a movie. Again, just the simple and spontaneous request to go on a date is enough for any longterm partner to appreciate. When you make the plans, nostalgia is where it's at! Think of the first place you both kissed, went out for HH, or had your first anniversary. Something meaningful (even if it is a SUBWAY) is super romantic because it's intentionally thought out. Of course, trying something new could be a tangent to your date later. If you are struggling with finding places to go or things to do during COVID, you can still make any date night special. Try painting portraits of each other, (naked is optional!), or streaming a live concert. Have a dance party in your living room, or cozy up to a fire. Take turns playing your favorite songs from high school or reminisce with old photos together. Remember, romance is about quality time... not about where you go.

How to Spice up the Romance #2: Make a Gift

May sound cheesy, but something you can offer your partner that no one else in the world can, is a handmade gift from you. Recently, Aron made me a wooden bathtub tray and surprised me with candles, rose petals and a cup of tea one random day for no apparent reason. It was incredibly romantic and thoughtful. I will never forget how that moment made me feel. So think about what your partner enjoys doing, needs and/or would really appreciate and try making it yourself. Check out these easy DIY ideas for inspiration!

How to Spice up the Romance #3: Be Thoughtful

What does your partner enjoy but rarely indulge in? Do they need a new pair of jeans or their favorite dessert? What things do they struggle with? Is there something you can intentionally take off their plate? Being thoughtful in the day-to-day is incredibly romantic and helps strengthen the partnership. If your partner is usually the one that does things to show you they love you, maybe it's time you reciprocate with intention. Be more mindful of the little subtle things that can help them feel loved, seen and/or appreciated.

How to Spice up the Romance #4: Offer a Massage

The sexiest, most romantic gesture is to offer a massage without sex being the ultimate goal. This may lead to sex, but if you offer a massage, just for the sake of decompressing and supporting your partner, it will take any potential pressure off the moment. This isn't to say that you shouldn't offer a romantic massage with the intention of sex being the goal, just suggesting that a massage without sexpectations can really increase the intimacy in your relationship.

How to Spice up the Romance #5: Leave Notes

My grandparents used to leave notes around the house for each other and sometimes it was just to say hi, I love you. Since my grandpa has passed, I have one of the notes that he wrote her and the gesture of expressing himself in that way is incredibly meaningful even to this day. Although we live in a world with immediate technology at our finger tips, take an intentional moment to actually leave your partner a hand written note. Doesn't have to be a poem you created, (although that would be really sweet!), it just has to be something intentional like an inside joke, a suggestive hint, or a term of endearment.

How to Spice up the Romance #6: Make Special Surprises

One day plan to come home with flowers, your partner's favorite Starbuck's drink and/or their favorite food. Surprises don't have to come from a rom-com movie to be romantic or special. If you have a thought to do something you think they would appreciate, then just do it. Don't get stuck in your head about whether or not it is a good idea, or get caught up in your day you forget. Make it a priority. It doesn't have to be perfect or elaborate to get the romantic point across.

How to Spice up the Romance #7: Offer Giving Your Partner a Day of No Responsibilities

Being able to rely on your partner to "take care of the endless to-do's" is really quite sexy and romantic. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but since couples have been equally working in their careers more and more, the day-to-day can be very overwhelming. Set a day to offer to your partner a day of rest and you can be responsible for the groceries, cooking, light cleaning, and/or childcare.

How to Spice up the Romance #8: Plan a Staycation

If this is within your means, plan a staycation as often as possible. No friends, no family... just the two of you. Plan your meals ahead of time, take board games and turn off your notifications on your phone. Having intentional time to enjoy each other is romantic enough to revive any longterm relationship. Try including one of our date boxes on your trip! We have everything you need to unbox a sexy date night wherever you are!

How to Spice up the Romance #9: Be Seductive

Romance can also be very sexual and obvious. If it's been a while since the two of you have explored sexually or have gotten out of your sexual routines, it may be time to get out of your comfort zones. Come home wearing a sexy outfit underneath your work clothes, (or better yet, be wearing nothing but a sexy outfit when your partner comes home!) Send sexy texts and flirt with each other! *If you are both stuck in the house all the time due to WFH (work from home) since COVID, I'd suggest you schedule time apart every week to help spread out the togetherness. I would also suggest scheduling time every week for intentional time together, not just eating dinner together because you both have to eat. Also, if you are working from home together, you can still find moments for a quickie, and/or provocative texts. Try to enjoy the perks of working from home! :)

How to Spice up the Romance #10: Compliment

You may find your partner attractive, but rarely say it. Or, you may only say it in sexualized ways. Patting your partner on the butt doesn't always translate to, "you're so beautiful," so maybe instead of a love tap, next time try to whisper in their ear what you think of them. Compliments that come from a place of genuine appreciation and attraction can be incredibly romantic.

How to Spice up the Romance #11: Communicate!

This may not even be on your radar, but when two people really communicate about everything and anything, it's romantic. It's tapping into your chemistry and helping the two of you bond and connect in very intimate ways. If you aren't the best communicator, or you don't think to speak everything on your mind, that's ok, but it may be time to prioritize this part of your relationship. Trying preventative couples counseling is always a good option or exploring our digital subscription for communication prompts can be  just what you need! Either way, communicating regularly and vulnerably is very romantic and bonding.   Are you in a longterm relationship? How do you sustain the spark and romance? Please share your unique ways you build romance in your relationship!

What to do in Lockdown

What to do in Lockdown : Things to Try with Your Partner

What to do in lockdown can be a question you have been asking yourselves for months. It was a tough year to say the least and we still have uncertainties about the future. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to value our relationships and loving moments together. The Modern Love Box was created prior to the devastating 2020 year, to help busy couples reconnect and enhance their intimate times together; but now more than ever, we need intentional time together to break up the stay at home ruts of our lives. If you find yourselves arguing more or at least just connecting less, than it may be time to spice up the monotony. At one point in your relationship, you couldn't keep your hands off of each other; you were interested in what each other had to say. You were curious about each other's lives. Sometimes when we are forced to spend so much time together, or when stress has gotten the best of us, it's hard to have boundaries, alone time and/or energy to connect. The Modern Love Box can help!

What to do in Lockdown: #1 Communicate Intentionally

Try our Digital Subscription (first month is free!) Created by our Relationship Therapist at Modern Love Counseling, each month includes questions that help the two of you deepen your communication and help foster more emotional intimacy. On your next walk, dinner or date night in, take turns asking each other the questions and have fun being inspired to discuss topics you don't generally talk about. Enjoy getting curious about each other again!

What to do in Lockdown: #2 Set Boundaries in Your Schedules

If you are working from home, it is crucial to set up your work day as you would when you'd go into the office. Wake up, drink your coffee, take a shower, get ready; all before you even check your emails. Starting off your day with a good AM routine will really benefit your entire day. If you're both working from home, schedule times to have lunch together, or at least dinner. Create time to disconnect and go for a walk or have some alone time to take a bath. Just because we are working from home, does not mean we have to constantly be working when we are home! Boundaries are essential.

What to do in Lockdown: #3 Schedule Date Nights

Even if we can't go anywhere, we should still prioritize our date nights. Order from your favorite swanky restaurant, rent a movie or buy a game. Do something intentional that offers you both a break from the day-to-day stresses of life. Try streaming a virtual tour over a bottle of wine, go through old photos, or paint portraits of each other. If you'd like to be pushed out of your comfort zones, try one of our boxes that offer communication activities, a curated experience and products to help guide you to feeling closer.

What to do in Lockdown: #4 Be Silly

Kick it old school and bring back old card games you used to play in childhood. Dig up old board games, or even better, play hide and seek or have a dance party in your living room! Do something silly that helps your brains turn off and escape the uncertainties of life.

What to do in Lockdown: #5 Prioritize Self Care

This one may be hard if you feel your outlets have been taken away. The year 2020 has definitely taught us how to be resourceful and if we aren't able to go anywhere, it doesn't mean we can't actively take care of ourselves. If you generally go and get massages, take turns giving each other one. If you liked to go to the spa, buy some bath salts and essential oils and relax. Snuggle up with a nice book and disconnect from the world for a couple hours. Have children? Take turns watching the children to give each other every other weekend to devote to each other's self care. Struggling with your emotions? Contact a therapist to ensure your mental health is being tended to. Work out as often as possible to get your body moving. Do something daily that makes you happy and reinforces you don't have any responsibilities in that moment.

What to do in Lockdown: #6 Learn to Cook Something New

If you don't normally cook, or you cook all the time, make it a priority to learn how to cook something out of our comfort zone. Make it fun and introduce your pallet and skillset to something different. Check out these online Cooking Classes and next date night, whip up something new together!

What to do in Lockdown: #7 Try an online Yoga Class

Yoga isn't for everyone, but it's definitely worth trying. Yoga can help with slowing down your mind, getting your heart rate up and reseting emotionally. If you suffer from anxiety or tension from stress, give it a try. Couples yoga could also be a fun idea to try together, too!

What to do in Lockdown: #8 Declutter

A new year, a new "start." Maybe make a Sunday Funday with mimosas (or OJ) and declutter a closet, basement or drawer. It's emotionally gratifying to organize your space and why not do it together and have fun while doing it?

What to do in Lockdown: #9 Read

Now is the time to start reading! Reading is so healthy for your brain, easy on your spirit and really helps you get into a peaceful zone. If you have a habit of watching TV, try making one day a week for reading and TV free. See how it makes you feel.

What to do in Lockdown: #10 Redecorate or Take up on a Small House Project

Since we are spending so much time in our homes, now is the time to start making the spaces we share functional and comfortable. If your office is in the living room, maybe buy a bookcase to organize your paperwork and essentials. If you've been needing new light fixtures or curtains to make your room more cozy but have been putting off buying them... just do it. It'll make a huge difference.

What to do in Lockdown: #11 Take a Break from Podcasts, News and Social Media

This one tip will go a long way. We are not built to know what is happening more than a 10 mile radius around us; yet we are obsessed with knowing more than our brains and our hearts can process. Having too much information is part of our anxiety and right now, there is a lot going on in the world. It is time to give yourself permission to be a little ignorant at times and take some breaks from knowing every single thing in the media. By separating ourselves (a little bit) from the need to know everything, we actually give ourselves a space to be more present and less stressed out.

What to do in Lockdown: #12 Kiss and Cuddle More

Flirting is something all long term couples can be better at. We need to kiss more, cuddle often and stop taking life so seriously all of the time. If we get the luxury of being together more, we can practice taking more intentional time throughout the day to randomly give each other love taps and affection.

What to do in Lockdown: #13 Make Cards, Send Flowers, Leave Notes

Just because you are at home all the time, doesn't mean you can't step up the romance! Try leaving love notes around the house or send your partner flowers so you can see their face when they open the door. The little things are often the most meaningful. This can even be something you do for friends and family. Let someone you love know that you are thinking of them.

What to do in Lockdown: #14 Don't Isolate

Be sure you are talking to your partner, friends, family, therapist. During these times, it is important to have community and friendship. We know how hard it can be to discuss your feelings, but everyone is or has struggled recently, and we can all use a helping hand. Even if you can't see your family or friends in person, doesn't mean you can't spend time with them. Schedule monthly FaceTimes, continue doing your book club; enjoy virtual HH. It's not the same, but it beats being lonely.
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