It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it.... making love and war in intimate relationships

Have you and your partner ever found yourselves in the situation where you both want the same thing - to have a passionate sex life, to be able to communicate deeply about issues that are important to you both, for example - but are unable to achieve this? It may be that you're focussing more on the destination than finding the right way to get there. It's a bit like planning a trip overseas by only focussing on the destinations you want to go and see, rather than spending time and energy working out the best route to take, the method of transport you'll use or booking the right accommodation! Often couples come for counselling aware that their sex life is not where they'd like it to be, or that fights feel like they're taking place on a battlefield (and sometimes the wounds inflicted are severe). It's so important to attend to the way we do relationship - not only what we want to have in our relationship.

David Schnarch, sex therapist and author of the best seller 'Passionate Marriage' says that passionate intimacy relies on each person being strong in their own sense of themselves, and that compromise is not necessarily the best way to go if you want the sparks to fly. According to Scharch, men are more likely to let the relationship suffer rather than lose their sense of self, while women are more inclined to sacrifice their sense of self in order to strengthen the relationship. The answer is somewhere in between - it's important to hold strongly to who you are, AND it's important to tolerate and make space for the differences that will inevitably show themselves when each partner is standing tall in her/his own identity. After all, that's where the attraction is, and what no doubt drew us to our partner in the first place!

Another renowned couples therapist and researcher, David Gottman, uses the humorous but powerful metaphor of the porcupine ('Porcupine sex'!) to talk about the importance of how we approach our partner for sexual intimacy. In essence, if you want her/his prickles to come down so that you don't get hurt when you try and come too close, you need to think carefully about your approach! Check out this hilarious youtube clip for more on this one! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zta4W5noiM&feature=channel_video_title This lighthearted anecdote contains a serious message though - it's SO important that we approach our partner, whether out of a desire to make love or a longing to connect deeply about an issue that needs working through - in a way that is respectful of their sensitivities, and doesn't cause them to feel compelled to use their defensive mechanisms to push you away (which can leave you feeling hurt and reluctant to give it another shot!).

 

Till next post, Vivienne

 

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