Category Archives: romance

Sex After Infidelity

cheating-husbandAfter a confession or the discovery of sexual impropriety, a decision to stay together is going to be filled with challenges. One of the primary places where the effects of infidelity are likely to be experienced is the bedroom. How does a couple reclaim their sexual groove after one of them has cheated?

The Cheater
Waiting It Out: If you’re the guilty party it may be important to communicate that while you still want to connect sexually, you are willing to wait for as long as your partner needs, to feel emotionally ready to resume intimacy. This communicates genuine remorse and a willingness to be selfless; especially since your act of indiscretion will reek of selfishness.

Talking It Over: Understand that the period of waiting is likely to be punctuated by long questioning sessions which will pry for sexual details; it is likely that the victim of infidelity will be consumed by a need to know incidents and details of time and place. Curiosity may also be extended to the nature of sex acts participated in. This time can be made easier by not erecting further barriers with silence but by answering questions as honestly as possible.

Sensitivity In The Sack: Most likely, your partner will be consumed with thoughts of the other man or woman. It is imperative that you go slowly when the time for lovemaking comes or at least take the lead or cue from your partner who has been hurt. This sensitivity should include lots of verbal affirmations which are intimate and loving. Be sure to let your partner know why you married her, how much he is loved and how much you appreciate her staying in the relationship. Affirm your partner’s beauty or brawn and use loads of eye contact which confirm how truly sorry you are.

Maximising The Moments: Sex with your spouse after confessing an affair is likely to be more about emotional and spiritual re-bonding than about the quality of an orgasm. Use this time, nonetheless, to cement your reconnection by focusing on your spouse’s pleasure. The vulnerability that occurs, because everything is out in the open, can actually increase the intensity of passion.

The Cheated
Admit Your Pain: There is no greater disservice you can do to your marriage then to attempt to trivialize the impact of an affair. It is imperative that you articulate your disappointment and hurt. This may involve screaming, crying, throwing things, journaling, talking to a counselor or even moving out of the bedroom for a while. If you are to experience great sex again without feeling victimized, sharing the depth of your pain with your spouse is critical.

Focus On You: There is a huge temptation after being cheated on to blame yourself—your lack of attractiveness, lack of sexiness and the like. This is particularly true of women. It will take a Herculean effort at this time to reach inside yourself to find the worthwhile, sensual woman who deserves to be loved despite your spouse’s act of indiscretion. For husbands as well, images of your wife making love to another man can be disconcerting to say the least. It is critical, therefore, to disassociate yourself sexually from what your spouse did and to refuse to accept blame. It is also critical to pay attention to your own sexual health by getting tested for any STDs.

Resist The Temptation To Compare: Wondering if you are better in bed than your spouse’s lover is likely to be an obsessive thought but is actually counter-productive. Studies consistently show that many have affairs while still having great or adequate sex at home. The motivation for an affair usually has little to do with the quality of sex and tends more to be linked to life-challenges, transitions, depression, a weak moment or feelings of inadequacy. When these thoughts come, focus on how you can make your love life even better. Dwell on the fact that you and your partner have decided to stay together; this must mean something in terms of how you feel about each other.

For Both of You

Putting Sex in Perspective: After the confession of an affair, resuming sexual intimacy may be the last thing on your minds as a couple. Anger, bitterness, resentment and remorse are likely to be the dominant emotions and not sexual passion or desire. While communication about the affair and even counselling by a professional will be critical at this stage, resuming an exclusive sexuality in your relationship is also important. Sex, however, should not be used to cloak or cover the serious issues which may have contributed to the infidelity in the first place.

Redefine To Reconnect: If you, your marriage and your sex life are to survive this juncture, it is critical that you seek to redefine your marriage. This involves acceptance of the affair as an event of the past which cannot be altered. This process is, of course, a lot easier if the guilty partner cooperates in these efforts by developing new levels of openness and honesty. The result is likely to be improved communication and greater levels of intimacy, which are often precursors to a better sexual relationship.

Denise J Charles is Director & Counsellor/Coach at Better Blends Relationship Institute e mail

Why Women Cheat

couple-lying-in-bed1While there is still plenty of debate about who cheats most, it cannot be denied that women’s changing social and economic circumstances have perhaps widened the opportunity for cheating to occur. We rationalize that women become vulnerable to affairs because of loneliness and a lack of emotional intimacy with their partners. Women are our mothers, sisters and social nurturers so we feel uncomfortable blacklisting them in the same way we do men and often try to provide excuses. Examining some of the more unconventional reasons why this cheating occurs should, therefore, be instructive.

Sexual Independence
The idea that women cheat for emotional connection while men cheat for sex, is a common stereotype and perhaps misperception. The fact is that today, we live in a society which is far more self-focussed. We want more education, better jobs, healthier bodies and yes; better sex. Women are encouraged to go after what they want and to define their lives on their own terms. In the sex department, this has led to some women seeking out men who they believe will meet their sexual needs in a way not currently being met by their partner. Admittedly, some men aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be in the sex department. Men can often have a very scripted, formulaic approach to intercourse which can drive any woman looking for sexual creativity around the bend; you know the usual two minutes of breast fondling and two minutes of vaginal groping, before setting out for candy-land. This boring and predictable approach to sex can influence a woman to seek sexual diversity elsewhere especially if she feels that she does not have a voice in her relationship. She in essence uses the affair as a way to speak or claim what she wants sexually because unfortunately, this may be easier than opening up to an insensitive spouse.

Does every dissatisfied woman just get up one morning and decide to cheat? I think not. For the most part, women do tend to have a greater sense of being responsible for the health of their primary relationships. There are, however, also several factors which may cause a woman to divert from this trend. Her age, sense of financial security, and the extent to which she may feel that she has been cheated out of relational happiness and fulfillment can also influence her infidelity. On the other hand, a woman who is financially dependent on a man and feels closeted and controlled by him, may also cheat as a means of attempting to reclaim her personal space and autonomy. Such a woman has an affair to have “one up” on her partner. She is secretly doing something of which, for all intents and purposes, he is totally unaware and this can cause her to feel that she has a greater sense of control in her life. The affair may seem like the one thing over which her partner has little say and she pursues it to feel a sense of personal empowerment. A constant need for novel experiences or a need to recreate the thrill of a new romance can also lure a woman outside the boundaries of her relationship where she begins to feel that she is finally getting all that she deserves both emotionally and sexually.

She Wants More
Sometimes a woman steps out because she just wants more. There can be a deep sense of emotional or spiritual dissatisfaction which she experiences and which she is hoping that her intimate relationship will fulfill. When her primary relationship fails to heal her damaged emotional state, she opts for an affair hoping that such will do the trick. Very often she discovers that more sex, expensive gifts, more orgasms and loads of attention, does not accomplish this. She may have been scarred emotionally and is struggling with self-esteem issues. Her sexual relationships are therefore an attempt to make her feel more desired and valuable as a person. Because her core issues are never exposed, she can become trapped in a lifestyle of serial affairs.

As commonplace as cheating has become among both men and women, it continues to offend most of us.  Whatever the reasons given, it is a serious act of relationship dishonesty and disloyalty which is not to be excused. The desire for commitment and sexual exclusivity is a core need which many of us share. Unravelling the reasons why cheating occurs has to be the starting point towards relational healing.

Denise J Charles is Director & Counsellor/Coach at Better Blends Relationship Institute e mail

Why Men Cheat

Sex-Love-iconWhile the issue of infidelity spans both male and female behaviour, there can be no argument with the premise that a larger percentage of men cheat. The issue of female infidelity is admittedly a distinct creature deserving its own examination and I will give it individual attention in a subsequent article. When it comes to intimate relationships, however, men and cheating seem to fit almost like hand in glove. Admittedly, there should be no cookie-cutter approach to this cheating phenomenon. Mild statements like “men will be men” to the more anger-laced “all men are dogs”, point to a range of attitudes from belligerent acceptance to intense bitterness. Women, the world over, are not happy with this state of relationship-affairs; so while men continue to cheat, women also continue to ask why.

Bruised Egos
Although hesitant to admit this, some men cheat out of emotional neediness and an inability to handle negativity. The perpetuated image of the rational, logical, secure male is often based on fictitious social stereotypes. Because males from childhood are socialized to be less vocal about their feelings this results in an adult discomfort with articulating pain. When a man is faced with a challenge, instead of talking about it, he turns to what defines him, his sexuality, to seek comfort. When the source of this pain is perceived to be his wife, woman or home situation, he therefore looks for emotional solace in the arms of someone else who can give him the unconditional emotional support he craves. In literal terms this means finding a woman who will butter his ego and still give rip-roaring sex, while remaining silent about his flaws or mistakes. While sex becomes a natural outflow of this extra-marital emotional bonding, it was, however, never the primary motivator.

Sexual Greed
Then there are those who cheat because of an insatiable need for sexual variety. Such men believe in having their sexual needs met at all costs and will often assert, without apology, that their wives/women were unwilling or unable to keep them sexually satisfied. Their sexual complaints may include issues like a failure to perform oral sex, a refusal to perform anal sex, insufficient sexual episodes in the relationship, or even a lack of enthusiastic participation in various states of physical contortion.
For the wife who may be bending over backward to meet her spouse’s sexual needs but still finds herself the victim of infidelity, the issue is about more than just sexual quality. In fact, research confirms that a large percentage of cheaters continue to enjoy their sex lives at home; especially when such infidelity is a secret. Since male sex is often about the chase and the conquest, and not just the act of sex, some men cheat in an effort to re-create this preferred hunting scenario; in fact they often become serial cheaters who allow their lives to be overtaken by indiscipline.

Because They Can
Unfortunately, some men cheat because they are enabled by the women in their lives. Because women tend to be the nurturers in their relationships, this often influences them to take total responsibility for the health of the relationship. In this scenario, a man is absolved of his need to work just as hard as his wife, to keep their relationship thriving. The relationship then becomes lopsided and out of balance. There is no pressure therefore for a man to live out his vows or to practice relationship integrity. He knows that when it comes to the survival of the relationship, that his wife will be the one to make all the sacrifices. He knows that every time he slips and falls into the arms of another woman, he will be forgiven and welcomed back. The relationship may also be governed by financial or emotional dependence on the part of the woman. There can also be an unspoken but very real social expectation, which validates these philandering ways with an attitude which states that “men will be men”. Because he is not challenged to change, his cheating ways remain.

While these few reasons posed are not exhaustive by any means, they can provide a reference point for understanding why the men in our lives may cheat. The critical decision remains with the woman who must assess her own relationship and self-worth to determine whether or not she is willing to literally live with this continued state of affairs.

When Your Partner Holds a Bedroom Grudge

What happens to your sex life when your partner holds a bedroom grudge? Well, chances are you may not be getting the type of sex you desire or think you deserve. And what’s a ftr-stk60811cor.jpgbedroom grudge anyway? As its name suggests, a BG is played out when one partner either plays hard to get in the sack, fails to cooperate with new sexual requests or with experimentation, is emotionally absent during sex or point blank refuses to have sex with his/her partner.

In the context of our intimate relationships, grudges are perhaps pretty common. They represent expressed unforgiveness as a result of unresolved anger or failure to communicate on some critical issue. BG’s are of course no different. They can originate outside the bedroom, where some insensitivity shown is passed over to the sexual relationship or they can originate right in the sack, where a consistent failure to meet specific sexual needs coupled with poor communication on the issue, leads to this response. When we find our sex lives crippled by a BG what should our response be?

Well of course if there is little to no satisfactory sex happening, both you and your spouse are likely to be highly strung. Be that as it may, biting the bullet to confront the issue at stake, is your only recourse and hope for bringing healing.  Since meeting anger with anger is never a good idea, try defusing the situation by meeting your partner away from the volatile point of contact, (the bedroom or home). A neutral location like a coffee house, restaurant or park may be a good place to start the dialogue. Expose your vulnerability by honestly communicating your hurt and pain at the situation and communicate your willingness to see things changed. Use your eyes to communicate and assure your partner of how much you miss him/her. Use disarming “I statements” to own your own pain without projecting blame on your partner and further alienating him/her. Having penetrated this critical stage begin to ask some pointed questions and encourage your partner’s honesty, even if the answers are painful.

For example, you may ask:

1. What have I done to offend you?

2. What can I do to make our love-life better?

3. In what way am I a bad lover?

4. Can you forgive me for angering/ hurting/ offending you?

5. How can we improve our communication?

6. How can I better meet your sexual needs?

Of course these are suggested themes to your questions and should be tailored to suit your individual situation. The point is to create a context for loving confrontation and clear dialogue. When the BG is a direct consequence of the quality of the bedroom action, then mere words without active follow through will not do the trick. So what should you do in this instance?

Demonstrate a willingness to expand your sexual repertoire where necessary, hone your lovemaking skills, buy a good book about sexual technique, consult a detailed manual or watch an educational video which may help, and remember that practice makes perfect. Let your partner see that you are actively trying to improve. If it’s a medical issue like erectile dysfunction, painful intercourse or premature ejaculation, see your doctor. If your challenges are psychological; a counselor or terapist might help. If your partner really loves you, then perfecting your love dance should not be a harsh chore which you do alone. Rather, it should be a liveable, laughable experience in which you both share and learn.



Is Jealousy Destroying Your Relationship?

Let’s patop-10-ways-to-deal-with-jealousyint a familiar scenario. You’re out at a restaurant with your partner when you notice his eyes wandering to the beautiful lady across the room or perhaps his eyes rested a bit too long on the backside of the attractive waitress. Immediately, you become incensed at the audacity of the man and this spoils your date night for the rest of the evening. Is this spate of intense jealousy a reasonable response to the common practice of the wandering male eye? Is jealousy ever permitted or is it always an out-of-place emotion which can do more harm than good?

One rule of thumb which must define any committed relationship is a sense of integrity. When mutual integrity forms the basis of a relationship, then partners will not readily act in ways to jeopardize or compromise that union. Having said that, with human nature being as fickle as it is, the road towards relationship integrity can be a rocky one. It is definitely a journey and not a destination. In other words, no relationship is immediately perfect. The preferred quality of your relationship will not be ideal  from the get-go but will require hard work and constant dialogue throughout the course of your lives together. So how then should we deal with that green-eyed monster if it rears its ugly head?

Setting realistic parameters for all opposite sex interaction which will occur in the course of your relationship, is advised. This simply means deciding together what is or is not appropriate. Realistically, we will find other people attractive from time to time. Being in love does not make us blind. Acknowledging attractiveness with a cursory glance should be fine. Dwelling on someone else’s attributes in a prolonged way, out rightly flirting with them or even being physical or playful whether or not our partner is there, is, however, disrespectful to our primary relationship. This behavior should be confronted, discussed and hopefully discontinued. Discussing relationship expectations in this regard is therefore critical and partners must be clear and consistent about what they will not tolerate.

On the other hand, jealousy can also be an unreasonable response which stems from insecurity and or immaturity. Sometimes an individual’s idea of commitment means total ownership and control. Of course this is a flawed idea but it exists in several relationships nonetheless. Controlling who your partner speaks to or glances at, even when such behavior is not disrespectful in any way, can mean that there are deeper issues at stake. Fear of abandonment, or fear of rejection in one partner, can contribute to such behavior. Infidelity in a previous relationship can also influence the lens through which we see daily interaction between our partner and others. This must also be confronted and exposed if a relationship is to assume a sense of normalcy.

These extreme examples aside, we may experience a fleeting sense of jealousy occasionally in the course of our relationship; this is human, normal and to be expected. We are in a relationship because we desire exclusivity and at heart we do want to be the only girl or guy in the world, in our partner’s life. Having said that, being open about deep, recurring feelings of insecurity or confronting our partner if his/her actions make us feel disrespected in any way, is also vital to the life and health of our relationships.

Can This Relationship Be Saved?

An intimate relationship is not without its problems; follow the fortunes of Sean and Tricia to see how they cope with their relationship challenges; especially in the bedroom and beyond. These two short films explore the issues of communication, sex and the “other woman”. Produced by Better Blends Relationship Institute, Ultimate Prestige and Fresh Productions, these films were shot on location in beautiful Barbados.

Follow the links to watch and please feel free to comment




When You Are Not In a Sexual Groove

boredLet’s picture it. You come in from work feeling a bit tensed and tired. You undress and pop into the shower for a long steamy bath. You step out to dress hoping to unwind to a wonderful movie, magazine or book; you know, some good old me time. Then you sense it. You’re being watched by a pair of hungry eyes but really, the last thing on your mind is making love. So you look for that long snugly tee shirt, make sure you put on a pair of unsexy undies, hall out your dog-eared novel and pretend that you didn’t read those heated signals.

Let’s change the scenario. You and your spouse have not connected in a while and you have a bit of an itch which needs to be scratched. So you spend some extra time in the shower that night. You put on some of that new scented stuff you bought recently and pull out a little sexy number you haven’t slept in for a while. The kids are all tucked in and you give your man that sexy come hither look. He doesn’t need a second invitation but promises to be in, as soon as he completes that urgent, need-to-be-delivered-in-the-morning project on his computer. What begins as a bearable half hour wait begins to feel like two hours.  By the time he turns in, your mood is gone and you’re half asleep and angry at the same time.

What each of these scenarios reflects is the reality of mismatched timing and differences in desire; clearly a part of any marriage relationship. What should the response be when our spouse wants to get his groove on but we’re clearly not in the mood? What happens when the tables are turned and our amorous advances aren’t exactly met with immediate enthusiasm? The fact is that in a relationship, our sexual expectations will not always be met. Of course we have a number of response options to choose from when this happens; these responses include sulking, anger, withdrawal or understanding. Getting to a place of understanding may not, however, be always easy since we tend to link our sense of worth, acceptance and attractiveness to our sexual desirability. And the truth is that we don’t usually handle sexual rejection or insensitivity very well. We often take it very personally and if it occurs frequently, we can begin to wonder if our partner is cheating on us or no longer finds us attractive. These notions in our head, real or imagined, can introduce much tension into the relationship.

While unresolved issues, buried anger, hidden affairs, relationship neglect and a failure to communicate will most certainly be felt all the way in the bedroom, quite often, desire differences can be a consequence of other factors. Reaching a place of understanding when these differences occur will be critical to our ability to move our relationship forward. The following reflects some of the common reasons why we may not always connect sexually with our spouse.

1. Contrary to popular opinion, most men are not always sexual ever-ready batteries. Work-stress, financial difficulties and even testosterone levels can all affect a man’s desire for sex. Male depression can often be masked and because men are usually not raised to be emotionally expressive, they bury their feelings and can act out by sexually rejecting their spouse.

2. The female hormonal cycle plays a big part in a woman’s desire for sex. As nature would have it, a woman is horniest when she is most likely to get pregnant; which is usually mid-cycle. Outside of this, her desire for sex will fluctuate but can be positively influenced by her partner’s sensitivity to her emotional needs, the overall quality of their relationship and by how she feels about her sexual self.

3. Our misreading of signals on the sexual radar can also contribute to bedroom misses. Our tiredness or preoccupation with work issues can cause us to miss heated looks. A simple request for a back rub or neck massage, can be veiled expressions of sexual desire which men especially miss because many want direct hits like crotch-grabbing, which most of us women are not inclined to give. A simple request by a woman to talk, can also be a roundabout invitation to pleasure-land, since most of us want to also experience a strong emotional connection. Many men who dread communicating with their women, miss the opportunity to turn talk into great sex.

4. In the general scheme of things where meeting our partner’s sexual needs is concerned, selfishness is perhaps the greatest enemy. Being tuned in only to our own needs and concerns means that we care very little about our partner’s. So focusing on our tiredness, our bad day, our feelings, our sex drive or lack thereof, will cause us to deliberately ignore or see as unimportant, the body language of our partner which is screaming at us “make love to me”.

Ultimately, understanding why our sexual groove with our partner may be out of sync, is the first step in attempting to make it right. Carving out time to relax and reconnect in a non-pressured environment, is a great way to get our sexual groove back. Scheduling dates for sex also ensures that at least in those times, we and our partner are on the same page. Of course I am not suggesting that our sexual desires will always match our partner’s or vice versa. Knowing, however, that we each need to move away from an overt focus on ourselves is the first step in attempting to satisfy each other sexually. While a relationship is about a whole lot more than sex, prioritizing sexual intimacy, signals that both you and your partner understand what makes this relationship exclusive and distinct from all others and indicates your willingness to work at it.




Beauty Brains And Bad Relationships

beauty brains and bad relationshipsWhile discussing the Rihanna-Chris Brown debacle recently at my hair salon, one patron attempted to sum it up philosophically with these words; “the heart wants what the heart wants”. For those of you not in the know, Pop sensation Rihanna has apparently re-kindled her romantic relationship with the man who literally pulverized her face a couple years ago. Why would a beautiful, wealthy, seemingly intelligent woman do this? For many of us strong, independent ladies, this leaves a decided distaste in the mouth. It’s not that most of us don’t have anything better to do than follow the love lives of celebrities but it is the principle of the thing that strikes a chord.

This prompts the question at the core of our discussion. Why do women stay in bad relationships? This is a difficult question to answer without perhaps asking several others.  For example, why should following one’s heart be advocated, if such is ill-advised or even likely to get one maimed? Should we always chase after what our hearts seem to want even if such is not good for us? Is the course of true love always that difficult or have we been fed a big lie with respect to the nature of love?

Most of us females schooled on stories of love have grown accustomed to the idea that we must find an all-consuming passion, in order to be happy or fulfilled. While love is characterized by self-sacrifice, we have mistakenly believed that this means sacrificing ourselves and our common sense on the altar of stupidity; all in the name of love. And Hollywood has not exactly helped.

With the names of popular romantic chick-flicks like “Crazy Stupid Love” “Only You” and “Head Over Heels” we’ve been steadily fed the idea that relationships are born out of some heady, magical string of coincidences which often force women, because of love, to act against their better judgment. I am not denying the headiness of being in love or the overpowering connection we can feel for someone. I am, however, convinced that we women need to look at love as a more holistic emotion; it should be one of strength and not of weakness. Loving a man should not mean having to sacrifice love of self.

Women stay in less than favorable partnerships for a number of reasons including low self-esteem, financial dependency, and co-dependency. Issues like children and finance, though resolvable, are external reasons why some women decide to stay. Self-esteem and co-dependency point to unresolved internal issues which need more specific attention. A co-dependent relationship is fueled by both individuals’ unhealthy need of each other and this need is powerful glue which can bind a couple together. A man may need his woman to be weak and needy or she may be stronger and need an indecisive man to feel in control. Some females from conservative back grounds may crave a “bad boy” type which makes them feel rebellious, powerful and worldly.

Dependency on a man or on a romantic relationship for feelings of worth makes a woman vulnerable to the point where she may tolerate anything to maintain that relationship. Tolerating emotional abuse, physical abuse or infidelity is a cry for help. Unfortunately many women are not in a place to assess their own behavior and hence continue in that place of weakness indefinitely.

What must a woman do if she needs to grow past the place of being victim especially when she feels at home in this role?  She should look deep within herself, to honestly evaluate her own happiness. Unfortunately, many women in unfavorable relationships are in denial and are blinded to their own victimization.  They, nonetheless, can be helped if they are lovingly confronted by friends and family. Forcing a girlfriend in this position to ask herself some critical questions may not make us the most popular friend, but it is a true demonstration of being our sister’s keeper.

Making a decision to walk away from a toxic relationship is a personal one which must emerge from a place of strength and resolve. While Rihanna may claim to “love” Chris Brown, we must ask whether or not she is demonstrating sufficient self-love at this time. And of course there is room for forgiveness and redefining of a relationship but a woman must be very sure; especially when abuse has been involved. Love does not make us responsible for someone else’s weaknesses but should actually help us lead that one we claim to love into personal accountability.

Many of us love too much pizza or too much dessert or even too much romance. Being a sucker to the latter can actually get us roped into unhealthy dependencies. Making a decision to stand on our own two feet even if alone for a while, is perhaps the ultimate salute to the idea of maturing womanhood.

How to Grow Your Relationship

holding_new_plant_o4i8I have to admit that I am no green thumb. Plants under my care tend not to thrive. The truth is that whenever I have had a young plant, I usually begin with loads of enthusiasm which tends to peter off as time goes by. If we think about it, many of us treat our significant relationships or marriages like this; we begin with enthusiasm only to allow them to languish in neglect.

And a relationship is like plant. It’s a living, breathing thing which requires loads of attention if it is to grow and thrive. If, however, we pursue our relationships on automatic pilot instead of with thought or intention, then we run the risk of missing valuable “growth-moments”. When that plant becomes dry and withered because of a lack of water, sunlight or nourishing soil, then it will take some pruning, watering and overall care to get it back to a healthy state.

If our relationship is suffering with neglect and needs an injection of life and renewal, then the following  pointers should help us maximize growth.

  • Utilize confrontation wisely: If we are constantly unhappy with the up-turned toilet seat, or with our partner’s propensity to be a workaholic; if we are bored stiff with sex or hate the fact that we have virtually no romantic couple time; then now is the time to open our mouths wide and speak. Suffering in silence or being a relationship martyr is dis-empowering and self-destructive. Practicing the fine art of loving confrontation with disarming ‘I feel’ statements, as opposed to harsh accusations, can go a long way towards improving relational quality.
  • Take responsibility for your own happiness:  Ensuring relationship growth is a two-sided deal because both partners share equal responsibility. While one may be responsible for outright change, the other is equally responsible for facilitating that change. Admittedly, it is very easy to blame someone else for our own misery. It is, however, equally important to look within to see where we have let ourselves down. Very often we can internalize our life-disappointments and project this unhappiness unto our spouse. Taking responsibility for our own peace of mind may mean deliberately letting go of past hurts in our relationship or previous ones.
  • Practice self-love: As women we want to be loved and told that we are beautiful, sexy and desirable. Amazingly, some of us can’t stand the best bone in our own bodies. We are filled with self-loathing and self-rejection every time we stare at ourselves in the mirror. If we are unable to say to ourselves “girl you look fine”, then why on earth would we expect our man to tell us this. Low self-esteem and self-recrimination are tangible states of being which affect the way we carry ourselves. This negativity can be reversed through daily declarations which affirm that we are indeed beautiful.  If there is anything we do need to change, then we can actively pursue this while understanding that our worth is not tied to our looks.
  • Pursue dreams: Some of us have been taught that it is vain or even self-serving, to focus too much on ourselves. As a consequence, we usually place the needs of others before our own; ALL THE TIME. Of course I wholeheartedly believe that there is a juncture in our lives when this is entirely necessary. When we have babies and small children we learn about this all too well and this is perhaps as it should be. But there is nothing wrong with also pursuing what makes us happy or fulfilled; as long as it’s legal and no one is being hurt. Women, who constantly sacrifice their dreams and goals and never share such with their partners or children, run the risk of becoming angry and resentful. On the other hand, when we feel happy and fulfilled, we bring a positive energy to the relationship which is infectious.
  • Shed unrealistic expectations: Falling in love does not mean finding a perfect soul-mate who will meet our every emotional and sexual need; this is a myth. There can be a sense of purpose or even destiny in partnering with someone who does share our vision and values. No one, however, is perfect. We should therefore shed unrealistic expectations. These can include beliefs that our partner should anticipate our every need, read our minds even before we speak, know exactly what we mean when we do speak, be the perfect lover, kisser, gourmet chef, provider, leader, handyman, disciplinarian, planner and the list can go on. While there may be such men somewhere out there on Mars, I haven’t met many of them. Accept that neither one of you is perfect and determine to improve together.