Posts Tagged ‘sex life’

Three stages of Relationship

April 12, 2013

This post is written by Joe Kort and re-printed here with permission. Imago Couples Therapy teaches partners that every relationship goes through stages. In this blog post, Imago therapist Joe Kort provides a tongue-in -cheek way to remember them! View a quick video of Joe Kort.

Couples Therapy Secret Stage #1—Call of the Wild

You see your partner-to-be across a crowded room, and the attraction is immediate. You want to be with each other; you can’t see enough of each other. The experience is a wild ride boosted by a pharmacy of natural chemicals flooding your system. Actually, you find yourself falling for familiar love: your partner reminds you of positive traits of your parents or whomever was important in raising you.

In this stage, you say:

“Something about you seems so familiar.”
“Have we met before?”
“Feels like I’ve always known you.”

Call of the Wild Alert:  People in couples counseling know that this stage won’t last. The call of the wild—a transient positive emotion designed to come to an end—lasts for between 6-18 months. Its purpose is to connect and bond two people, making them willing to stay together when things become more difficult in the relationship—as they inevitably will!

Couples Therapy Secret Stage #2 — Call of the Child

Where did our love go? Your partner’s charms are replaced by little differences that annoy you. Soon they aren’t so little. You hope to dispel them, or at least cope with them by arguing and defending yourself. But trying to change or “train” your partner won’t work. You consider couples counseling.  During this stage, unresolved issues from childhood resurrect. Couples project onto each other feelings from the times their parents acted poorly and disappointed them.

In this stage, you say:

  • “You’re so different! What happened to you?”
  • “If you loved me, you’d know what I need!”
  • “You tricked me. I was a fool to believe in you!”

Call of the Child Alert:  Every long-term couple goes through the call of the child. This stage is also supposed to happen and supposed to end, but lasts longer than the call of the wild. Even though the call of the child makes you feel like you’re with the wrong person, if this is happening, you are in fact with the right one.

Couples Therapy Secret Stage #3 – Call of the Mild

You value each other as you are, not as you might become. Even though you may wish that differences and disagreements would go away, you begin to understand that some will always be there—and you accept them. In this stage, ideally, you learn to give unconditionally, relate non-defensively, and relate with empathy and compassion.

In this stage, you say:

“I love you—warts and all!”
“We are different—and that’s okay!”

Call of the Mild Alert:  To revive the love of call of the wild and bring romance back into your relationship, your couples counselor might suggest you surprise your partner by doing the same things you did during the beginning of your relationship. That will remind you both of the old times when things were new and exciting—and let you feel how your love has endured.

A note about the author:

Dr. Joe Kort is a certified sex addiction therapist, certified Imago Relationship Therapist and a certified Sex Therapist providing mental health outpatient services for individuals and couples needing sex rehab as well as those struggling with depression and anxiety issues in the Rochester, Bloomfield, Birmingham and Novi areas. The Center for Relationship and Sexual Health – www.CRSH.com – provides this information written by its founder, Dr. Kort, in order to educate interested readers. (248) 399-7447

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Getting Your Sex Life Back In Gear

July 25, 2011

IMAGO Director, Tim Atkinson interviews YourTango.com Expert & Sexologist, Tammy Nelson for her thoughts.

Is it just a natural part of getting older together that our sex life is going the way of the Dodo?” asked Brenda and Simon. “We really care for each other, but on the rare times it happens, sex is pretty dull.

Tammy Nelson made quite a stir in 2008 with her book Getting the Sex You Want in which she applied Imago Relationship Therapy to restoring the love lives of couples like Simon and Brenda. “Sometimes couples wonder if their marriage is simply past its expiration date” she told me. “They are asking whether it’s time to trade in their partner for a new model.

Simon doesn’t want to be unfaithful, but makes up for lack of action in the bedroom with internet porn. That leaves Brenda worrying that it might not just be the sex that’s wrong, but that the whole relationship is fading away. “We don’t even really know how to talk about it” they shared with Tammy.

Not knowing how to talk about sex is extremely common in relationships, and Tammy’s response is to use Imago Relationship Therapy to get Brenda and Simon talking about the deeper things that really matter.

Step 1 – Talk about what it is you are missing in a positive way

Shortly before my last marriage ended, my wife would say to me things like “get some help with your sex technique.” Other days she might complain, “You don’t find me attractive anymore.” From Tammy I learned that these comments are painfully common, and are just as effective as saying nothing and silently seething. Instead, it’s important to find a way to share your concerns in a positive way. “I’m feeling distant from you” might be one way, or “I’m missing those wonderful times we had together.”

Step 2 – Talk about what sex means to you

“Usually at least one partner feels guilty and anxious about the lack of sex” explained Tammy “So it’s helpful to start connecting around sex in a way that looks at the deeper needs, rather than the physical details.” Tammy coached Simon and Brenda in a way of talking called the Imago Dialogue. She would ask each partner to share what sex means for them. One might say “Sex for me is about being emotionally connected”, and then the other would mirror that back, repeating what they heard. The mirroring process helps build connection, because each partner feels really heard. Mirroring becomes more important the deeper the conversations go.

Step 3 – Appreciate your partner

When couples talk about what is going wrong, things go more wrong. For example, men tend to avoid sex altogether if there is any suggestion of dysfunction. It’s easy in these conversations to shift the blame on other things, like too much stress at work. Soon discussions about sex get blocked, waiting for the external world to change. And it rarely does.

Instead, turn the conversation around. Tell your partner “One thing I really appreciate about you sexually is…” This will be even more effective if you can both use the mirroring process described in step 2. You can add “One thing I really like about our sex life is…”

Tammy encouraged Simon and Brenda to talk more about the whole sexual experience. “It’s not all about the finish line” she says “but finding the delight in each moment couples share together.”

Step 4 – The weekly sex date

I was quite taken aback when Tammy told me that her advice for a couple wanting to resuscitate their sex-life is to set aside a regular time for sex. “Same time, same day of the week, whether you feel like it or not.” she prescribed. “Even if you are angry or tired!”

I always thought that sex should be spontaneous, but Tammy changed that. “Marking a regular date in the calendar sets up some anticipation, and helps couples begin to look forward to it. Simon and Brenda were resistant, but willing to at least try it. They found, like many, it worked well for them for a few weeks, and started to get the sizzle back.” She explained.

But after about six weeks many couples hit a wall. That’s when it might be time for some good “nuts and bolts” type conversations about what happens in the bedroom, and maybe get a little specialist advice.

Step 5 – Get exciting

Now is the time to start using the Imago Dialogue to explore more about what you really want sexually. Stay in the positive, telling your partner “Something sexual I enjoyed in the past…” and then expand into what you would like more of in the future.

At this stage Tammy starts coaching couples to share fantasies. “These aren’t necessarily things that couples are really going to do” explains Tammy “it’s more important for their partner to understand what these fantasies mean to their partner emotionally.” Tammy calls it sexual empathy.

One example may be a partner who wants to be blindfolded, but her partner didn’t want to do this because he felt it was degrading to her. Through Imago Dialogue he learned that his partner felt that being blindfolded would free her from insecurity about her body, and enable her to be more fully engage in pure sensation. It became a new point of connection.

Tammy’s work is deeply rooted in Imago Relationship Therapy, where creating deeper connection is all important. She believes that eroticism is an important part of that connection, bringing a fresh energy into the relationship. As sex becomes a world of new adventure and discovery, Brenda and Simon can fall deeper in love than ever before.