redredapples

sounding off on sex and sexuality with Denise J Charles

When Our Sex is Bad

How to tell him he's lousy in bed?

How to tell him he’s lousy in bed?

We all know that deep love and intimacy seal the deal when it comes to longevity and commitment in a relationship. We also know that relationships suffer from a number of negative issues including poor communication, inattention, infidelity, abuse, boredom and this list can go on. What happens, however, when the sex is really bad? Many individuals may not mind complaining about a cheating, abusive or disloyal spouse but how many of us want to complain about bad sex? On a good day, many of us adults who do have sex behave as if we don’t and even for those of us who do, admitting that we’re having problems in this area is akin to acknowledging some type of adult failure; or so we think.

I was made very aware of this sexual disconnect among adults only too recently. While promoting my book “How To Have Mind Blowing Sex Without Losing Your Brain” it was amusing to note the embarrassed stares, self-conscious giggles or incredulous glances away from the book’s title by a number of adults passing by. This of course included married couples. It was obvious that in spite of our society’s seeming openness about sex, many adults are still uncomfortable confronting their own sexuality. If some of us remain so deeply embarrassed by sex, how then do we navigate the turbulent waters of a sexual relationship where the sex is bad with a capital B? Do some of us even know what bad sex is? Are we even remotely in touch with our own sexual needs and desires? Are we informed by good sexuality education or are we still operating at the level of sexual myths and conjecture?

If we’re to specifically improve the quality of our sexual relationship and if we’re to enhance the overall quality of our relationship with our spouse, then honest communication about the state of our sex is imperative. One of the complexities of relationships is that although we can have a very loving partner who meets our needs in several ways, that individual can still be pretty lousy in the sack. When It comes down to it, however, when we’re in love and our heart is in the right place, great sex is not something we want to experience with someone else; we want to experience it with the one we have committed to. How then can we move our sex from bad to good?

1. Clarify what we want: knowing what we’re looking for in our sexual relationship is the first step on the journey towards ridding ourselves of bad sex. This means being in-tuned with our own bodies, including our sexual needs and preferences. If we’re holding residual shame and embarrassment about how our body looks, if we’ve never looked at our genitals and remain clueless about our own pleasure centres, then chances are, we’re in no position to articulate our desires. Being in-tuned sexually therefore involves acknowledging and accepting our sexuality. This can strengthen our sexual confidence and reduce the sense of trepidation which can keep us silent in the face of dissatisfaction.

2. Communicate clearly but sensitively: Acknowledging our own needs can embolden us to share what is necessary with our partner. Communication in this area should not be designed to humiliate, thereby fostering a sense of inadequacy. We want our guy to know that satisfying us is within his reach and that together, we can learn to enrich our sexual experience for the benefit of us both. If for example, the male partner is plagued with premature ejaculation, working together to overcome this challenge can enhance the quality of sex for both individuals. Communication should also seek to affirm the positive aspects of the relationship first, before zeroing in on the inadequacies. We should never seek to convey a sense of hopelessness.

3. Release Inhibitions: Sometimes our sex is bad because we’re too uptight; we haven’t learnt the fine art of surrendering to the moment. Our inhibitions and skewed expectations can keep us locked into a zone of performance-anxiety which makes our intimate time with our partner both stilted and burdensome. Understanding that our sexual success is not one-sided but demands our own participation and cooperation can be a significant step in the right direction. This can release the burden of responsibility we as women can sometimes place on our spouse to “give” us an orgasm and encourages us to “own” our sexual pleasure. A more participatory approach can add some much needed zest to our love life, opening it up to exciting experimentation, which in turn has the potential to improve its overall quality.

 

If Vaginas Could Talk They Would Never Shut Up

No I haven’t gone off my rockers. But I am quite taken by the idea of the Vagina Monologues: a series of reflective, dramatised, “speeches” which more or less trace the experiences and psychology of the vagina. These monologues express and reveal every nuance of a woman’s sexuality from pain and abuse, to surprise and divine pleasure.

As women we have come to associate our vagina with a representation of our sexuality. How we feel about sex and sexuality is significantly borne out in our comfort level with our vagina. Do we talk about it, touch it (outside of bathing), expose it, cover it up, know what it looks like, or even care what it looks like? Are we even in tuned to what the physical changes in our vagina may tell us about our sexual health?

The vagina is located deep within the pubic area so understandably, it tends to hold its fair share of mystery. Luckily, it has an entrance with a carefully placed pleasure centre, the clitoris, so even though “hidden” from view to some degree, we tend not to forget where it is. The challenge with the vagina as I see it, is not so much its logistics or location. It is more so the fact that it is another mouth, another entrance. And like the mouth, which houses the natural voice, the vagina also speaks. We just need to listen because it is never silent.

When as females we cross the bridge from childhood to womanhood, the vagina cries in bold red; it bleeds and there is pain and discomfort involved (more often than not). What is the vagina saying to us then? Could it be hinting at the fact that womanhood is inescapably a time of pain and that our lives will never be the same? When we experience that other “rite of passage”, our first sexual experience, again there is bleeding, mild discomfort, sharp pain or all of the above. If we took the time to listen to our vagina then, what could it possibly be saying? What could it be alerting us to?

Perhaps it is suggesting that pleasure is often a two-edged sword. It is great while it lasts but it does not come without a price or a risk. That is why a sexual relationship is so ultra-vulnerable. When we trust someone enough to give them our vagina we are in essence giving ourselves and by that same token we open up ourselves to the possibilities of both pleasure and pain. This can come in the form of acceptance or rejection, health and well-being or disease, true intimacy or abuse and yet all can be accompanied by the physical pleasures of the sex-act; a definite and often confusing double-whammy.

If we are in tuned to what our vagina is saying, on a regular day it can alert us to our reproductive health or status. From it we can gauge when we are ovulating, when there is infection, when there is need for a shower and happily when there is sexual arousal. Even our partners can benefit from paying closer attention to our vagina. While it is by no means the only point of sexual arousal, it is where we usually experience the orgasm and so should definitely not be ignored. The vagina can most definitely smile and laugh when its been made happy. In fact, it can scream the house down in absolute ecstasy!

Then there is child-birth. The vagina is perhaps stretched to its greatest capacity as it becomes the tunnel or vehicle to bear life. I think that those of us who have experienced childbirth, would easily agree that then it is perhaps shouting (or screaming)  at its loudest. It is at childbirth that we can become more in tuned with ourselves. For me, pain became merely a means to an end, a necessary part of the life-process that wouldn’t conquer me because I experienced it, endured it and lived to tell the tale; all with my bouncing baby to boot.

Amazingly, the vagina can seem like both enemy and friend. It will perhaps continue to hold a series of contradictions which reflect the complexity of life. For those who think that I am perhaps making a mountain out of a molehill and that it is just a body part, think again. The vagina is both the entrance to life (at conception) and it is the exit of life (at birth). It plays a significant part in our identity as women and this is as it should be. Is it any wonder that those who experience vaginal mutilation through female circumcision feel so lost and bereft, as if a part of them was stolen?

I encourage you to embrace the complexity of the vagina and learn from it. It is important that we pass this knowledge to our daughters so that they will not pass theirs around like the latest gadget or toy for the boys to try out.

There is no doubt about it. Our vagina is definitely talking; it never “shuts up”.  Let’s  practise the fine art of listening to it daily and count ourselves privileged to have one.

How Is Your Post-Valentine Relationship?

man-roses-mainOkay; so the yearly annual red roses hype has ended. The flowery words in cards of red and white have been stashed away by vendors until next year. Some of you may be out of pocket by a few bucks depending on how seriously you adhere to the Valentine’s Day tradition. Whatever the case, another special occasion for the expression of love has passed. So what’s next in your significant relationship?

Although a die-hard romantic who loves romantic gestures, I’m always inclined to think that the true state of a relationship is tested outside the marketing hype of any special holiday. Romance must not be viewed as an act or posture we assume because it’s popular or because it will hopefully get us some sex. It should also never be used to manipulate the one we claim to love. Am I purporting that we should get all cynical and boring and ditch the roses? Of course not! But what is our relationship really like the many mornings after Valentine’s has passed? Is romance just a seasonal thing with us? Do we really value our partner and do we let him/her know it?

Seasons and special days are important because they should allow us to creatively affirm our love. They should provide a context for our partner to feel special. Maintaining authentic expressions of love and appreciation outside of these times is, however, also imperative. If we’re to really make our relationships strong for the long haul, then we must engage in positive acts which demonstrate that our love is more than mere talk. In a classic case of putting our money where our mouth is, putting the love we feel into action should demand our willingness to spend our time, money and resourcefulness. For those who may think this is complicated or for those who may feel fresh out of ideas, the following tips provide some great tips for improving your relationship post-valentine’s and beyond.

  •  Cook your partner’s favorite meal and do a special decorative layout of such; this can be especially meaningful on a regular day when it’s totally unexpected
  • Do an at-home massage or spa treatment complete with scented candles and oils to create that setting which says that your loved one is truly special.
  • Send your partner to a classy spa for a full day of expert handling and relaxation.
  • Volunteer to babysit the kids so your wife can go shopping or simply hang out with the girls.
  • Pre-purchase tickets for your guy’s favorite game.
  • Buy your partner that special electronic toy or gadget which you know they’ve had their eyes on for the past couple of months.
  • Send flowers when there’s no special occasion.
  • Give your spouse the time to work on a special project or to pursue their passion by holding down the fort at home.
  • Take over a regular at-home chore for which your partner is primarily responsible.
  • Wash your partner’s car.
  • Surprise your partner with a new book from his/her favorite author.
  • Write your lover a letter or e mail which itemizes why and how much they are loved.
  • Send a special love-song request via the local radio station.
  • Buy your lover a bottle of their favorite wine and make some time to share it.
  • Massage your partner’s neck, shoulders and or feet after a tired day at the office; especially without being asked.
  • Make a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or blend a favorite cocktail or health-drink for your spouse.
  • Plan a surprise romantic getaway weekend or trip for you and your spouse.
  • Buy that sexy lingerie or those crotch-less panties you long go see your woman in and do all kinds of hot things to her to let her know just how much of an effect she’s having on you.
  • Arrange babysitting if necessary or get away from home and plan to get it on with your partner with a night of steamy, uninhibited lovemaking.

 

Surviving Infidelity

Surviving infidelityIn my experience as a counselor, I’ve come across a variety of cheaters and cheating styles. There are those who cheat with one-night stands where there is a one-off never-again-to-be-repeated episode (hopefully) of infidelity. There are those who have long-standing, deep emotional and sexual affairs, where very often the individual fancies himself/herself to be in-love with someone else. Then there are those no-sex affairs ; those close friendships and soul-ties which can prove lethal to the marriage or primary relationship even when they remain only at the emotional level. There is also serial infidelity, as in, sex with a different person every time even when trying to maintain the semblance of a primary relationship. Flirtatious infidelity, describes the behaviour of one partner which is inappropriate either through language, touching or looks, even when this never leads to sex; the problem here is that the affair is alive and well in the heart. Finally, there is cyber-sex or techno-sex; sex that is aided and abetted by the use of technology and or the internet.

If you’ve been cheated on, chances are you may not be interested in an intellectual or academic discussion of the thing. So much has already been said and analyzed as to why people cheat and many of us already understand that cheating occurs for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the cynics among us will say that as long as there are relationships, there will be cheating. As long as there are rules, boundaries or parameters for relationships, people will break and defy them; that’s just human nature. If this is at all true, how then does a victim of infidelity cope? How does such a person live with the reality of betrayal, especially since cheating is evidently here to stay?

Factors like relationship philosophy, personality, and even gender will to a large degree significantly influence the way we choose to respond. The following represents some of the options which victims may have at their disposal after an experience of infidelity. Please note that these do not refer to initial responses but to the ongoing or long-term way an individual chooses to handle being cheated on.

Going It Alone

Some decide that they want out of the relationship that has caused them so much pain. The hurt from the betrayal has lodged in such a deep place that a separation or divorce seems like the only viable option. For such an individual, infidelity has already sealed the deal on the question of loss. Since in their books their partner is already lost to them, walking away is just a formality.

Deciding to “go it alone” has the distinct advantage of giving individuals the option of starting over again in the future. It can also provide a vital space for clearing the head and soothing the emotions. The down-side can be seen when the decision is based on unresolved anger and bitterness.

While being alone is sometimes a good thing, it is seldom a permanent state. Failure to deal with the why and the how of the infidelity as well as failing to forgive can be lethal to the victim’s sense of self and can affect the “peace” of future relationships. At the same time, a decision to distance oneself from any romantic involvement and to take the time to reflect and regroup, can lead to an amazing experience of self-discovery, especially when victims grow to understand their own self-worth.

Infidelity in a pre-marital arrangement can and perhaps should halt or delay wedding plans. It provides a window of opportunity for the engaged couple to re-evaluate their choice of a life-partner before a serious covenant vow is made. Of course deciding to leave an already established marriage is serious business and should be well thought out from all angles before a separation or divorce is finalized.

Seeking Revenge

Deciding to do a “tit-for-tat” is perhaps one of the more common and understood responses to cheating. This can be a well thought out and premeditated response or it can occur almost inadvertently because the victim’s hurt causes him/her to more readily let their guard down with another. Those who themselves pursue an affair in response to being cheated on, have decided to maintain their primary relationship but seek to exact revenge for being hurt.

Such individuals are intensely angry and seek to salvage their own hurt by inflicting pain on the one who caused it to them. Some pursue an affair in an attempt to repair damaged self-esteem and to assure themselves that they are still desirable. While some will themselves keep their affair secret and allow it to function more as a psychological boost, others will deliberately engineer a discovery in order to inflict a similar wound on their partner.

More often than not, however, the satisfaction obtained from revenge is short lived, since it is built on a faulty notion that causing pain eases pain. The retention of anger and bitterness which motivates this behaviour means that the source of the first affair is never exposed and dealt with. Such a decision of revenge is likely therefore to be counter-productive and simply ensures that the cycle of pain and disappointment continues.

Staying Depressed

A decision to stay in a state of depression usually exposes a significant problem with low self-esteem. There are admittedly different types and levels of depression and this is not meant to trivialise the issue. It is obvious that an incident or incidents of cheating cuts at the core of a marriage or of an exclusive relationship. Because we look to others for love, acceptance and affirmation of our worth, we can misguidedly take on the opposite message when infidelity occurs. We can believe that we are undesirable and unlovable. Many women especially blame themselves when their spouses cheat and this can be debilitating to the psyche. Dwelling in self-pity encourages depression and a feeling of powerlessness. This can rob victims of the belief that they have the power to act on or change the challenging situation in which they find themselves. Victims find it easier instead to focus on their pain, to own it and to repeatedly re-live the details of the affair in their minds, until the effect is emotionally crippling. This response spells disaster for the future of the relationship.

Flying Free

In Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, the main character played by Kimberly Elise describes herself as being “mad as hell” after her husband turns her out of their house so that he can finally be with his other woman. Although she subsequently meets a very charming guy who turns out to be everything that her husband was not, she is unable to totally relax in this new love. Instead she discovers that she must process her anger, hurt and pain, articulate it to the one who hurt her and then choose to forgive. Her decision in fact “frees her” to love and live again.

Forgiveness is an act of ultimate self-empowerment. It reflects the choice to extend grace towards an individual who has done us wrong. This should not be interpreted as weakness or as an act of cowardice which condones what was done. Instead it reflects an inner resolve to be free from the hate, anger and bitterness which places the victim under the emotional power or control of their partner.

Forgiveness in fact places victims of infidelity in a psychological and spiritual space where they are better able to assess what happened to them and make the right choices. Forgiveness should never be rushed prematurely. Although it is an act of the will, it is a process and not an event. This means that it involves the articulation of anger and hurt and individuals must believe that they are “ready” to forgive, before they can actually attempt to do it.

Many individuals are unable to arrive at this place on their own but often need the intervention/assistance of a counselor, therapist, pastor or friend to help them through the process. Because women are socialized to articulate emotion, they tend to be more comfortable with the expression of anger and pain through sharing, crying and journaling. This often makes forgiveness an easier process for women than it appears to be for men. Men who have been cheated on are in fact more likely to hold on to anger and bitterness because they see expressing pain and hurt as a sign of weakness. This affects their ability to ever be free from the effects of the cheating and this baggage they take to subsequent relationships.

While forgiveness will not cause an automatic erasing of painful memories, it at least robs those memories of the power to control an individual’s pursuit of happiness or peace. If individuals are to survive infidelity and live to tell the tale, this means getting in touch with a well thought-out response which should be in their best interest. For those who choose to walk away, without forgiveness, all future relationships will suffer the effects of the infidelity. If both parties value the marriage and want to make it work again, then choosing the path of forgiveness is the better option.

Are You A Size Sexy?

 

Size Sexy

 

“Fat is not the Kryptonite of sex!” Rebecca Rosenblat, Sex Therapist.

Those of us who follow the adventures of Superman, understand the impact of Kryptonite on Clarke’s ability to be super and strong. But does “fat” have a similar impact on our sense of our sexual selves or on our partner’s ability to enjoy us? Unapologetically, I say it most certainly does; not, however, because of some intrinsic flaw in having a few pounds or curves. While “fat” may not actually affect our ability to be sexy, what we think about it often does.

While some men may have a well-known preference for thickness or for the prominence of certain assets, many of us women still go to great lengths to ensure that our body size matches those images which are usually fed to us via popular culture. As a result, our sexual confidence is affected. So does size really matter when it comes to our emotional and sexual health?  Honestly, I do believe that we should all strive to be our better selves. That often includes shedding some pounds, getting into an exercise regimen, becoming more toned, eating healthier meals and getting adequate rest. In an ideal world, this is where we would all love to be. Being our better self, however, also includes knowing who we are outside the definitions of media, family, friends or sexual partners.

Each human being is special and unique. As women, we need to feel comfortable with our own sense of style and with our expression of our sexuality. This is going to be very difficult to accomplish if we are constantly beating up ourselves because we don’t look like someone else’s version of sexiness. Yes, I’m entitled to feel great if I’ve accomplished a weight-loss target but should weight-loss define my happiness and sense of self? Of course there are women with metabolic, thyroid or other medical issues which may make weight-loss a challenge. But even for them, self-validation is important. While our bodies are our windows to the world, we are in many ways more than a body. There is personality, soul and spirit.

Losing weight to make you healthier or to feel more energized is actually great. Doing it to “fit in”, to appease or to keep your partner, is another thing altogether. If a woman needs to move from an eighteen, sixteen, or fourteen to a six, to feel that she has suddenly struck gold as an individual, it’s possible that her sense of validation is shallow and overtly dependent upon externals. Anything will shake the foundation of a woman who can only feel fabulous when her dress size conforms to common media stereotypes. And why do we even encourage the double-standard since our men are usually nowhere near perfect? This striving for an elusive perfection is what is damaging to our sexiness. It can also rob us of the body-confidence we need to really let go in the bedroom or where ever our sex is happening.

What attracts a man to a woman is not the number on her dress tag but her wonderful personality and sense of sexual self-confidence. This makes her riveting and unforgettable. No matter what size you are as a woman, it is important that you learn to engage your incredible sexual energy in positive ways. The following tips could provide that head-start:

  • Strip naked and look at yourself in a mirror. Decide what you like and affirm yourself; for example, “I love my butt”, or “I have great breasts”. If there are attributes that you would love to change, devise a realistic plan and timeline to make those changes a reality. If you’re totally happy with what you see, then more power to you.
  • Think about your core personality and of the things that you feel passionate about. Find ways to engage your passion and your dreams. When we are emotionally fulfilled because we are connected with our purpose, it shows up in our walk and our talk; instant sexiness!
  • Treat yourself to a “spa-day” even if done at home; a facial, manicure, pedicure, re-locking or perm can go a long way to boost how you feel about yourself. See these things, however, as enhancers and resist the temptation to be totally defined by them.
  • If you are in a committed relationship or marriage, discuss the concerns you may have about your body-image with your partner but “own” your body and the decisions that you make to improve it.
  • Do not accept emotional abuse from anyone on issues of weight-gain. Those who truly respect you will lovingly affirm you, despite what you look like. When advice is offered, it should be non-threatening, non-derisive and sensitively communicated.
  • Understand that sexiness is a state of mind. Learn to love yourself, warts and all, by affirming that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and by thinking positive, sexual thoughts. A woman who really loves herself is ready for some good loving.

Is Your Sex Abusive?

signs_of_an_abusive_relationship-290x160Very often when we think of sexual abuse, we imagine a young girl or boy being taken advantage of by an adult. Most of us get fairly riled up by the idea of an adult, who should know better, seeking sexual gratification through a child or adolescent. What many of us fail to recognize, however, and I’m going to mash toes here, is how abusive many of our sexual relationships are even within the context of marriage. Yes; commitment may be great, but it does not automatically “sanctify” every “type” of sex which may occur in such a relationship. And by “type” I’m not talking here about peripheral things like positions or oral sex. Many of us would be hesitant to admit that we have been victims, or even the perpetrators of abusive sex because very often we don’t recognize abuse even when it’s staring us straight in the face. So what exactly am I talking about?

Any sex that seeks to control, is negatively conditional, dehumanizes or ignores the choice of the other individual is abusive sex. Relationship sexual abuse is not exclusive to the unmarried, under-aged nor is it confined to rape. It occurs in all contexts. But we live in a peculiar society which teaches women, almost exclusively, that keeping their man, means submitting to his sexual advances every time, in spite of the status of the relationship. Of course women are free to do what they choose with their bodies. Nonetheless, within the context of any sexual relationship, even marriage, women must also be cognizant of when the sexual behaviour of their partner begins to cross certain lines.

Sex becomes abusive when a woman must perform sexually to receive money for groceries, bills, to ensure her children are looked after or for her general upkeep. Abusive sex is also indicated when sex is used to override every other relational concern. For instance, if a partner is repeatedly unfaithful, has contracted a sexually transmitted infection, is physically violent or even verbally abusive but refuses to change, seek help or to discuss these concerns and seeks only to maintain sex in the relationship, then such sex is abusive.

In the context of marriage, while Biblical teaching may advance “ownership” of each other’s bodies, it also speaks of the concept of mutual submission. Inherent in this teaching is the value of dialogue and compromise as higher order skills in any marriage relationship. This means that partners are free, whether male or female, to express how they truly feel on an issue and the implication of mutual submission is that such expressions should be met with an attitude of tolerance and negotiation. It does not suggest rail-roading over each other’s feelings to get what he/she wants even when that thing is perceived as the right to sex.

When women or men are objectified sexually, so that they are only acknowledged or valued for their sexual performance, then such individuals are also experiencing some level of sexual abuse. This type of sexual relationship in fact dehumanizes individuals, is extremely genital-focused and reduces the partner to nothing more than an object for sexual gratification. The individual is not valued for his/her core personality, preference or needs.

The problem with sexually abusive behaviour in a relational context is that many individuals have grown to accept such behaviour as the norm. In fact, many of the behaviours mentioned here would not even be perceived as abuse, especially in a marital context or for those in long-term relationships. Abuse, however, is any behaviour which seeks to treat another in a harmful or offensive way. While sex may be important for intimacy, it is not the only aspect of a relationship which requires attention. Honesty, integrity and mutual respect are of an even higher value because they have the power to define the entire relationship.

When spouses look out for the greater good of each other and of the relationship, then this can only enhance the quality of their sexual relationship. If an individual, however, feels powerless, threatened, victimized or dehumanized in the name of sex, then this may be a very dangerous relationship requiring rapid intervention or a quick exit. Ultimately, we must be empowered to make those choices which support our emotional and sexual safety and health.

 

When Sex Clouds The Issue

sex gets cloudyThere’s a belief going around in some circles about women and broken relationships. It’s commonly said that the only way for a woman to get over one man is to get underneath another one. There are some women who swear by this standard and will move quickly into another intimate relationship after their marriage or relationship fails. Whether or not you believe in using sex as a means of ridding yourself of a new man and cementing yourself with a new, there can be no question that sex can be relationship-defining.

While some proponents of casual sex will say that using sex to grease one’s ego, to make oneself feel good, or for recreational and relaxation purposes is no big deal, the research confirms otherwise. Sex has an inherent component which glues individuals together; regardless. In other words, we don’t just have sex and get away scot free; there are consequences to sexual joining, no matter our motivation.

The hormone Oxytocin plays a significant part in our sexual encounters. It fosters feelings of connection and belongingness when we hug, kiss, touch and orgasm with our partner. While this binding is an aspect of the built-in spirituality of sex, it does not need ideal relationship conditions to occur. There is nothing written in the fine-print of sex to suggest that sexual oneness or binding or connection, only occurs with marriage vows or when there is love in the relationship. It in fact occurs with all types of sexual encounters. This means that when we misuse sex to prove a point about our worth, value or desirability; when we seek out new sexual opportunities just for the fun of it, we may actually be doing more harm than good. We may be contributing to our own emotional confusion by connecting ourselves indiscriminately to someone else, while still being tied to a previous spouse or partner.

Premature sex can encourage a false sense of intimacy. Even when we think we’re simply being casual, the passion of sex can mess with our heads. It can mimic love through its intensity and this can cause us to gloss over the glaring flaws in the new individual we may be having sex with. The headiness of sex can also prevent us from facing our own neediness or low self-esteem. Sex alone can never be an adequate therapy for feelings of worthlessness. In fact, the individual who falls too quickly into sex after a break-up proves that she is unable to stand on her own two feet.

Because sex is what it is, it should never be used to test-drive a new man, particularly after a woman has been hurt. Sex too soon will cloud the issue of the pain and rejection a woman must deal with in her own heart; particularly if her previous relationship has been marred by infidelity or abuse. This type of replacement sex, especially if it’s ‘good’ will get the hormones going and will foster feelings of attachment. Such attachment, however, is premature and shallow and is hardly the foundation for a better relationship with someone new.

So what should we do in the face of a relationship’s demise?

Evaluate: Understanding why a relationship ended is a critical aspect of moving forward into emotional health. This involves knowing our relationship style in terms of whether we were too clingy, insecure, demanding or even the model partner who just got a raw deal. This is also a time for taking responsibility, if in any way we contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. This should allow us the capacity to change those aspects of ourselves which we may need to and is also critical for our personal growth.

Reconnect: Using the time when a marriage or relationship ends to reconnect with ourselves, to clarify our relationship values and to determine what is really important to us, should be far more important than indiscriminately jumping into another man’s bed.

 Treasure Transition: In the event that we are entirely the victim of a cheating or abusive partner, then our relationship transition period is a time to take fresh stock in determining what we will no longer tolerate from any man. It should also be a period of self-affirmation and even forgiveness. Taking bitterness and resentment forward will be harmful to any prospective relationship. This is why we need time to grieve what we had so that we can be healed of the effects of a painful relationship before moving on. Sex can cloud this issue and leave us exposed and vulnerable to further abuse.

While the desire for human connection and intimacy is understood, using sex as a short-cut to such is counterproductive. If at the time of a break-up, we forego this essential period of reflection, healing and growth, we could easily find ourselves smack dab in the middle of another bad relationship.

Denise J Charles is Director & Relationship Coach at Better Blends Relationship Institute e mail betterblends@gmail.com

Ten Tips For Rekindling the Sizzling

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If you and your spouse have been together for a while, chances are that you’ve been dealing with relationship boredom at some level. There is no way around it; sex can and does get boring, our relationships grow stale and we can settle into a sense of inevitability. The passing of years, however, need not spell the death of novelty or excitement in our relationships. With a little forethought, planning and ingenuity, we can learn to turn things around. The following ten tips represent some of the strategies we may use, to actively keep  ourselves and our marriages fresh and interesting.

  1. Preserve a sense of mystery in the relationship by not doing every single thing together; whether man or woman pursue your own interests, bring something back to the relationship that you can discuss with your spouse; something with which he or she is unfamiliar
  2. Occasionally reinvent yourself; a new wardrobe, a fresh hairstyle, a manicure and pedicure can add some pep to your steps causing you to exude confidence and an irresistible sexiness; having the exact same hairstyle, using the same fragrance or the same method of applying make-up as when you first met spells bore, bore, bore. The same goes for the guys; keeping yourself well-groomed and making sure your wardrobe is current, shows that you understand that your woman is visual too
  3. Develop a new skill or pursue a new course of study, learn a second language or pursue a new hobby, which confirms that you are all about developing you
  4. Keep some personal rituals private; intimacy does not mean you have to “do the bathroom business” while having a conversation about the kids or the mortgage
  5. Keep your date-nights diverse; going out regularly does not mean eating at the same restaurant for five years in a row; introduce each other to new cuisine, remembering that eating together is a terrific way to bond
  6. Do something spontaneous and adventurous together; (bungee jumping, hiking, paragliding?) something that may reveal a whole new side of you that your partner may be totally unaware of
  7. Switch up your sex life as regularly as your busy schedule will allow; try sex in a new location, a different position, with new trinkets (lingerie, feathers, candles, music, silk, mirrors), you get my drift
  8. Agree to fore-go sex for about a week or so or longer if you can handle it (the longer the better for this experiment); practice lots of teasing touching and hot glances during this time with zero sex; come together afterwards for a night of explosive passion guaranteed to wake up the neighbours; this can definitely add some freshness to the routine which sex may have become
  9. Call your spouse with a surprise suggestion/plan that knocks him or her for six; for example, “your bags are packed and we’re spending the night/weekend at a hotel”, “I’ve arranged baby-sitting and we’re going out tonight”, “I’ve booked a spa day for you just so you could unwind”; being thoughtful or showing that you have your partner’s best interests at heart, is a sure-fire way to inject some needed energy into a flagging relationship
  10. Travel together as much as possible; being tourists in a foreign location can affect the way you see each other and you get to experience new sights and sounds in a mutually fresh environment

Seven Days of Sex

kissing-in-bed-lg-newFor those of you who are fitness buffs, the idea of pushing your body to its limits with something like the Insanity fitness challenge may make loads of sense. Whether your goal is working on strength and endurance, bulking up your muscles or losing weight, today’s popular fitness routines test how much you really want what you think your body needs. If we were to transfer this line of thinking to our sex lives, it would be interesting to discover how many of us may be up to the challenge of improving our sex.

The Seven Days of Sex challenge began as an idea calculated to strengthen a couple’s level of intimacy. As most relationship experts will agree, while sex is incredibly important to many couples, the humdrum of life is often very good at interrupting the flow of passionate sex. With the reality of children, shared financial responsibilities, work-stress and the busyness of life, a couple’s love-life can literally become unglued at the seams. Some relationships can even suffer entirely from sexlessness or low-sex because physical intimacy is inadvertently placed on the back-burner. Instead of allowing our sex lives to languish on automatic pilot, the Seven Days of Sex challenge becomes a doable way of injecting some much needed fuel into our sputtering sexual engines.

What is it exactly? The challenge represents a couple’s commitment to literally having sex for seven straight days without interruption. There are no limits or restriction on time and place as that is entirely up to a couple’s creativity. The proponents of this well-known challenge advocate that it deepens intimacy, injects fun and spontaneity into the relationship, reduces tension and protects the relationship from negative external influences. Apart from making most men sheepishly happy, (my own husband had an instant excited glow when I suggested that we try it), it can also increase a woman’s sense of her own sexiness and desireability.

The challenge, since its inception, has evolved into a Lifetime Television reality show, a book, a course and a movement with loyal followers. Those couples who participate yearly either independently or as part of a marriage-group project, confirm that the experiment in some way has turned their relationship around. Are we suggesting that seven days of sex is some type of magical potion for all manner of relationship challenges? I think not. If a marriage is threatened by serious issues like emotional abuse, physical abuse, or infidelity, then seven straight days of sex will not solve anything.

At the same time, the fact that sex does not occur as an act in isolation, means that it can foster an environment where intimacy is likely to flourish. Oxytocin, known as the love hormone, is released during hugging, kissing and orgasm. Since oxytocin fosters feelings of belongingness and connection, then it can be assumed that seven straight days of sex will strengthen the couple-bond in a reasonably healthy relationship. Even where things are less than ideal, regularizing sex will invariably increase a couple’s appetite for more sex, thereby opening up the channels for greater levels of communication and deepened intimacy.
For those of you interested in maximizing your sex through this experiment, then pursuing this challenge to a successful end may require some strategic action on your part.

  1. Prioritize Sex: Mutually committing to the finish line once the challenge has started will require making sex a priority. This may mean synchronizing your bed times if this is not the norm, being more accessible to each other and diversifying when or where you have sex if this is needed.
  2. Don’t Feel Pressured: The presence or absence of sex can equally make a couple feel pressured to perform. While completing the challenge may be important, relaxing and letting the process flow naturally will be important for your overall sexual well-being at this time.
  3. Extend Fore-Play: Foreplay should begin long before your bodies touch. Sexualizing your entire relationship through hot, intimate phone-calls and thoughtful, romantic, gestures will make your coming together more sizzling, meaningful and effortless.
  4. Diversify to Delight: While some may view seven uninterrupted days of sex as serious business, it shouldn’t allow you to lose your sense of humour or your inventiveness. Whether you’re mastering a quickie, working on a lovemaking marathon or being adventurous in the outdoors, seven days of sex should also be a time of playful ingenuity. Ultimately, the effort embedded in the Seven Days of Sex Challenge in not just about having more sex for the sake of it. Its focus is on using the exclusivity of this sacred act, to deepen your marital commitment.

Sexual Honesty

Sexual Honesty

An Apple A Day: Bite sized tips on love, sex and relationships.

Question: My partner is lousy in bed. How can I let him know this without hurting his feelings?

Answer: follow link to You Tube Video, ( by clicking on Sexual Honesty above)  to hear how Relationship Coach Denise J Charles responds.

How to tell him he's lousy in bed?

How to tell him he’s lousy in bed?

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