What is Intimacy and Relationship Coaching?

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What is Intimacy and Relationship Coaching?

Similar to life coaching, intimacy and relationship coaching is a process that aims to assist clients by helping them to work towards and achieve their personal and/or relationship goals. Unlike a general life coach who may assist their client with organizational skills or weight loss, a coach who focuses on intimacy and relationships typically specializes in the more intimate areas of familial relationships which could include passion, partnerships, and, yes, sex.

… passion, partnerships, and, yes, sex.

Why Would I Want to Work with an Intimacy and Relationship Coach?

A professional relationship coach is skilled in asking effective questions that can help their clients have a better understanding of their own relationship and/or sexual objectives.

Isn’t Intimacy and Relationship Coaching Really Just Therapy?

No. I would refer anyone who is dealing with serious repercussions from deep sexual trauma to seek counsel with a medical professional or licensed sex therapist.

Intimacy and relationship coaches are neither sexologists nor psychotherapists. Most coaching clients are healthy, successful people from all walks of life who are likely just a bit stuck or simply want to add new dimensions to their love lives or clarity in familial relationships and want the support of a coach to do so.

Therapy is analogous to a medical doctor trying to cure an “ailment” (from a pathological perspective), assuming the patient is in need of fixing (e.g., through psychotherapy or prescription drugs). On the other hand, my coaching assumes that clients are whole, resilient beings who are simply in need of informed, educational options and a supportive advocate.

Couldn’t I Just Talk to my Best Friend Instead of Hiring an Intimacy and Relationship Coach?

Of course, you can; but, best friends are seldom trained professionals in the same areas of intimate and/or sexual relationships as coaches. Rarely are best friends able to offer truly objective insights about your love and/or sex life. It isn’t unusual for friends to fear their honest opinions may hurt your feelings, or worse, jeopardize your friendship.  In a client-coach relationship, you as the client, are in charge. You set your own goals. You set the coaching session(s) agenda.  You make your own decisions. An authentic coach does not have any hidden agendas.

Speaking of Independence: Balancing Connectivity and Autonomy for Healthy Relationships

Recently an adult sexual health peer and I were talking about our marriages and she commented on how impressed she was by the boundaries that my spice and I have set in our relationship while being able to maintain our connection as a married couple for the past twenty-five years. Not only was I was greatly humbled by her admiration, but with the coming of America’s celebration of independence from England, it reminded me just how important it is for partners in a marriage or committed long-term relationship to have enough mental and spiritual room to live as individuals in order to strengthen their bond and connection with their chosen companions.

Partners need to allow one another room for individual and independent growth in order to have successful relationships.

Becoming independent men and women with a strong sense of self is crucial to the mental well-being of all adults. Science has proven that evolution has hardwired humans for constant growth. In fact, all living creatures must be in a continuous state of growth; otherwise, they stagnate and eventually wither away.

We aren’t built to live comfortably under someone else’s control. It would be suffocating and unbearable. Everyone needs a break from time to time. 

A co-dependent relationship is built on insecurity and need; the logical conclusion of which is complete instability. When both partners are continually seeking the approval of or acceptance from the other, they are ultimately handing over their own God-given endowment of free will to their partner. The dilemma that leads to the dysfunction of this type of relationship is that both partners because they are so needy of the other resort to manipulation and emotional blackmail to control each other. Unable to function in a healthy manner on their own, they seek and often demand whether overtly or covertly, completion or wholeness by taking what they need from their lover. When both partners are constantly placing these sorts of requirements on each other, one or both companions will eventually have nothing left to give.

A healthy relationship is built on mutual respect and genuine affection. When both partners are mature, capable adults they are able to choose to bring the best of themselves into the relationship for an engaged and meaningful connection. Rather than continually seeking that which they can take from their loved one, they are free to consider their own needs. Having their own needs fulfilled by their own merit encourages them to share with their chosen other sincerely and without pressure. Both partners are inspired towards self-fulfillment as well as towards mutual satisfaction.

The Freedom to Be “We”

So, how are two individuals who are adequately able to stand on their own two feet supposed to come together into the balance of a healthy partnership without losing that strong sense of self? How can we coordinate the seeming contradictions between healthy adult independence and a wholesome togetherness?

  1. Take full responsibility for yourself and your actions and expect your partner to do likewise.
  2. Allow your partner to form and maintain respectful, platonic friendships.
  3. Consent to giving one another time apart for separate hobbies/interests.
  4. Establish, respect, and maintain boundaries.
  5. Be honest and transparent with your chosen partner.
  6. Keep an open dialogue in order to foster mutual trust.
  7. Make informed crucial decisions together.

I find that there is something very gratifying in hearing from my spice that he doesn’t have to or need to be with me, but rather that he chooses every day to be with me. I love being his chosen.

Agree? Disagree? I’m eager to know your thoughts on the subject.

 

 

 

 

Why Aren’t We Having Sex Now? How to Stop Fighting About Sexual Frequency (Guest Post by Sylvia Smith via When Women Inspire)

Intimacy issues in a relationship can be uncomfortable to talk about. Not having sex? Learn how to communicate about sexual frequency effectively from relationship expert Sylvia Smith.

via Why Aren’t We Having Sex Now? How to Stop Fighting About Sexual Frequency (Guest Post) — When Women Inspire

What Will People Say?

Waaay back in the 80s, when I was but a teenager in high school, I declared to my mom, “When I grow up, I’m going to be Dr. Ruth [Westheimer].” My mom simply chuckled and offered a humoring “Okay, Hon.” But, I meant it. I really wanted to be like Dr. Ruth. Her diminutive build, kind face, perky personality, and infectious laughter made her, and her message of positive sexuality, truly accessible in a very loving and candid way that I found utterly engaging. I deeply admire her.

When I began college, I started taking psychology, sociology, and even icky ol’ biology classes in order to pave my way for my future as a clinical sex therapist. When my family figured out I wasn’t kidding around with what they had to that point considered my silly notion of becoming a sex therapist, they implored me to rethink my plans. “What will people say?” When I answered with a resounding, “I really don’t care,” they countered with firm objections that they did care what other people would think and say. They had reputations to protect and we had strongly conservative, religious family and friends that would “just die” if they knew I was actually pursuing a career in “sex!” So after much finagling, grief, and even mild threats, I changed my career trajectory. I was simply too young, too dependent, and too much of a people-pleaser to fight for my dream. I knew I had to be in a serving profession or I’d be miserable, so I compromised and became a high school English teacher. Which, to be fair, I absolutely loved doing; but, the closest I got to being “Dr. Ruth” was teaching Health as an elective.

Now, what seems like a thousand years later, I’m knocking on the age of 50s’ door, and running out of time to pursue my life’s dream. My spice and I have seven children, a menagerie of animals, a mortgage, bills, obligations, and all the other expensive and time-consuming stuff most grown-ups have acquired by this age. Now that I’m old, more independent, and too jaded to give a rat’s arse about what people think, I’m not fiscally in a position to pursue my life’s ambition. And, frankly, I’m more than a little pissed. With my parents’ pressure on me as a young person. And, with myself for falling for it all.

That admitted, I am doing everything I possible that I can to align myself realistically with my goal of working with people to advance their sexual intelligence, health, and pleasure as well as to help people build, nurture, and maintain healthy relationships. I became a certified life coach. I’ve taken, and continue to take, classes and courses, and receive certifications in relationships, communication, and adult sexuality and pleasure education. I’ve also lived a lifetime of experience as a teacher, mentor, and relationship confidante. I’ve been with my spice for thirty years and know a thing or ten or fifty about keeping a relationship alive and growing. So, thankfully, all hope is not lost.

Sadly, my mom is still afraid of what people might think if they know what I am doing even now, at this adult stage of my life. And, while I dearly love my mom and respect her desire for anonymity, I really don’t care about what people will think or say. What I do care about is what I will say; what I will think as I reflect back on my life and realize that I let the possibility of other people’s thoughts or words thwart my goals and stop me from achieving my life-long dreams. Because I’m the one who will be living with that regret.

What dreams or goals have you had die on the vine because of that question: “What will people say”? And, was it worth it?

Bedtime as “We” Time

If your partner’s in bed, you should be, too.

Okay, I’ll admit it. This is an adage that has taken years for me to begrudgingly accept. My spice is a morning person and I’m the proverbial night owl. For years my spice has practically begged me to come to bed when he does. But, I argue, once the kidlens are all tucked in for the night, it’s my best time to “get things done.” Can I get an Amen from the moms out there? I felt that his demand — and, yes, it felt like a demand — was unreasonable. Why should I force myself to sleep just because he does? I even resented his request — because that is what it really was, a request — because I felt like he was being childish. What? You can’t go to bed on your own, you big baby? Ugh!  That line of thinking just made matters worse because it caused resentment on both our parts. He felt slighted because he felt as if finishing up my Netflix binge was more important to me than spending time with him. And I felt resentful because I felt as though he was infringing on “my time.”

Research has shown time and time again that most relationships end because of loss of intimacy and connection.  Going to bed together can actually bring a sense of connection to both partners. Throw a little cuddling into the bedtime routine and both can actually reduce their stress levels. Researcher Jeffrey Larson found that “couples whose wake and sleep patterns were mismatched (e.g., an evening person married to a morning person) reported significantly less marital adjustment, more marital conflict, less time spent in serious conversation, less time spent in shared activities and less frequent sexual intercourse than matched couples.” In other words, healthy relationships need shared bed time.

Of course, today’s hectic schedules mixed with today’s late night techno hobbies make for a challenging bedtime routine. If you and your partner find it difficult to hit the hay together every night, it’s a good idea to try doing it a few nights every week. Since my spice is an early to bed kinda guy, I set an alarm on my phone at least three nights a week to check in with him about his bed time … and make a point to join him. And I’m here to tell you, it’s done wonders for our intimacy.

Instead of thinking of my late nights as “my time” that my husband was intruding on, I changed my perspective. Our shared bedtime becomes our shared “we” time. It’s been shown that when we take time to cuddle up with our lovers and have a quick chat before lights out, we tend to be more affectionate towards one another when the lights are on. In the privacy of our own bed, we tend to talk more about the little things that happened throughout our day, share our thoughts about the kids, share small accomplishments about our work. I’ve been frankly surprised to find out that it’s during these little chats that I often feel closest to him. I learn so much more about his otherwise hidden intimate thoughts and feelings during a quick cuddle sesh than I would glean without them. I believe it’s because we feel safer, more connected, when we’re quietly holding each other. Being naked (or practically naked) helps, too, because we feel more vulnerable, yet safer, together.

I encourage you and your spice to try to schedule a few nights of shared bedtime. I’d love to know how it works out for y’all, too!

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Resources:

“If Your Partner’s in Bed, You Should Be, Too,” Erin Leyba for Psychology Today

MORNING AND NIGHT COUPLES: THE EFFECT OF WAKE AND SLEEP PATTERNS ON MARITAL ADJUSTMENT

 

Secure Your Own Mask First

In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. … If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person. 

Ever wonder why we are asked to secure our own oxygen masks before assisting our children or companions? Of course, it makes perfect sense that if you only have 10-12 seconds of diminishing clarity before you pass out, you need to get oxygen and quickly. Clear logic dictates we must get oxygen into our own lungs; otherwise, we won’t be mentally alert and capable of properly caring for anyone who is vulnerable around us.

So why is this drill is repeated over and over on every single flight? Because oxygen is so important that it will lead to death if we are deprived of it for only a short time. And of course, a parent’s instinctual and immediate response is to save the life of their child first and foremost. In fact, almost any natural caregivers’ initial response is to assist those around them first … always intending to care for their own needs later; but the sad truth is that “later” never comes. That is why we need to be repeatedly reminded — especially in moments of crisis, when logic is most easily swept behind.

[T]he sad truth is that “later” never comes. 

That is why I’m using this tired metaphor to remind you, dear reader, of the real and imperative need for self-care. It is so crucial to a woman’s ability to be healthy and truly, clearly present for everything most important to her whether it be work, friends in need, family, her children, or anyone whom she holds dear.

Extreme self-care is an underpinning tenet for most life coaches and we impart that essential truth to our clientele. So please believe me when I tell you that you need singular “me” time to soothe and nurture You. I get it; you’re busy. And, if you’re a mom, your even busier. But there are always two or three Times in any relationship outside of self. There is a “Me” Time, a “We” Time, and if you have children or other dependents, there’s a “Family” Time. Absolutely each type of Time must be nurtured to maintain healthy relationships.

I get it; you’re busy.

The good news is that “Me” Time doesn’t have to be a vacation with Me, Myself, and I to the Riviera. It can be as simple as waking ten minutes before everyone else to sip a cup of coffee and pray or meditate for the day ahead. Or taking a warm twenty minute candle-lit bath before you fall into bed for the night. Just as long as you get your time alone, to yourself, will help; and no, locking the door when you have to pee doesn’t really count.

In this wonderful and wacky world, we cannot always expect friendly skies. Right now is a good time to remind yourself that you must get your own “oxygen mask on” first. Today is a great day to start preparing yourself for any turbulence ahead by getting in the habit of taking your oxygen.

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Just FYI, here’s an interesting video highlighting the sciencey reason we cannot live, or even function properly, without oxygen. Not graphic. A bit disconcerting, but good to know.