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

 

 

 

Are You Competing In Your Relationship?

One of the cardinal rules of marriage is to recognize that you and your spouse are on the same team; at least you should be. Yes, we live in a world that is rife with competition. From the time we enter school, or an athletics team or land our first dream job, we are competing to prove that we are better than everyone else. In all spheres of life, “winning” invariably brings us recognition. It validates our efforts and affirms our worth. Then we get married and everything changes. Suddenly we find ourselves in a partnership where competition can be a real enemy and where we have to re-school ourselves with regards to putting someone else’s needs before our own; namely those of our spouse.

So how do two high-achieving, driven, ambitious partners play out their marriage without hurting each other in the process? And is competition always as lethal as it sounds? I believe that even before we begin to think about marriage; like in the earliest stages of our committed relationship, we have to begin to envision ourselves as a team where we the parties, basically have each others back.

Depending on how we were raised and on our earliest life experiences, competing for attention and feelings of self-worth may be akin to breathing. Many of us in the human-services  field recognize a distinct difference between the child who in her formative years was lavished by the attention of one or two primary adults, versus the child who was forced to clamor for attention at day-care. One appears more settled and secure and seems to have less of a point to prove, while the other may have perfected the art of screaming for attention to ensure his primary needs were met.

Many of us Psychologists believe that this behavior follows us well into our adolescent and adult years. While of course this is one generalization, it brings home the point that apart from our own natural instinct for survival, social conditions often force us to focus on our own needs first and having them met. Yes, to some extent this may be all well and good but very often it can be at cross-purposes with the higher, more selfless ideals of marriage.

If we truly understand marriage to be a supportive partnership hinged on collaboration and NOT competition, then there are perhaps some critical areas which we may need to pay attention to. The truth is, we very well might not be able to guard against competitiveness in marriage unless we can first recognize it in ourselves. The following lists are designed to help you assess whether your relationship with your spouse is competitive or collaborative.

COMPETES COLLABORATES
  • You believe you are always right and have no qualms about saying “I told you so”
  • You are big on emphasizing the things you do better than your spouse
  • You boast a lot to friends and family about your achievements while neglecting to mention your partner’s
  • Even in recreational activities and games, if you don’t win, you tend to sulk or pout
  • You panic if your partner excels at something you tend to do well or feel mildly resentful at his/her accomplishments
  • In your relationship you carry an air of superiority

 

  • You cheer your partner on when he/she excels at something
  • You see your partner’s achievements as an extension of your own
  • You see your relationship as a team and you strive for mutual support
  • You boast to friends and family about your spouse’s achievements
  • You value  your partner’s opinion and often seek his/her advice, especially before making critical decisions
  • You believe that you and your partner complement each other in terms of strengths and weaknesses

While I don’t necessarily believe that all competitiveness is intrinsically evil, I definitely don’t believe that marriage or a committed relationship is the place for it. Competitiveness in our relationships can alienate our partner from us and can succeed in driving a wedge between us. This can leave our relationship vulnerable and open to more friendly and supportive external influences which could be lethal; if you get my drift.

In a relationship where we feel celebrated and supported, we are motivated to rise above our daily challenges. This in fact empowers us to be our best self and redounds to the benefit of the relationship. Support should however be mutual and not lopsided. If your partner is the one competing with you, then don’t tolerate this. Lovingly confront your partner, encouraging him/her to take personal responsibility for change.

If you find yourself to be overtly competitive with your spouse and find it particularly hard to shake the habit, then this may be worth some personal reflection or deeper exploration with the help of a counselor. If you are ambitious and competitive on the job, you may also need to drop this attitude once you reach home, recognizing that your marriage should not be a hostile war-zone. Taking the time to discover how you, as a couple, can be best together is a vital part of building a strong collaborative partnership where each of you “wins”.

 

Have You Settled For Sexlessness?

According to sexperts, if your marriage is characterized by sex which occurs ten times a year or less, you are living in a sexless marriage. Some experts argue that if both members of a couple are content with this light-sex or low-sex trend, then there is really no issue. I disagree. An individual may be content or even happy to live without exercise, he/she may be happy with consuming loads of calories without eating healthy; this does not mean that this individual is making the best life-choice. Healthy eating and exercise undeniably improve the quality of life for us all. And if we fail to eat healthy, it will tell on us sooner or later.

In the same way in marriage, sexual expression is an indelible part of what defines the marriage. The idea of “two becoming one”, which is often repeated in marriage ceremonies, makes intuitive sense to most of us because it ratifies the significance of marriage as a sexual union. Marriage is not room-mating; it’s not just about sharing living spaces and bills with our best friend.

If either spouse or both are content with minimal or no sex, they are actually denying themselves a vital marriage “vitamin” which is guaranteed to strengthen and deepen their intimacy. It’s like deciding NOT to be your best self. Yes; how much times we have sex is not etched in tablets anywhere and we don’t have to get caught up in a keeping-up-with-the-Jonses’ routine in the sex department.  However, striving for an ideal of regular sexual connection can only benefit our marriages.

If sexlessness defines your marriage, you don’t have to settle for it with the belief that this is okay and no deal-breaker.  It’s time to stop robbing your marriage of its vitality. Hopefully, these tips may help.

Start the Conversation

Some may say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I say fix it before it becomes broken. This means making the discussion about sex a priority in your regular marriage dialogue. I’m sure that most of us discuss the bills, the need to change our vehicle, our bosses, and our kids. Well we also need to discuss our sex. Are we content with how much sex we’re having? Are we sufficiently connected sexually or is our relationship lacking? Do we relate like brother and sister instead of like lovers? Do we pay so much attention to being parents that we have forgotten what it is like to be sexual partners? When we think about sex with each other do we do an enthusiastic “Oh yes!” or a regretful “Oh no”?

Carve Out Time

Yes we all want great passionate, spontaneous sex but there is nothing wrong with planning a liaison especially when children are around. Carving out time is however not restricted to when we have sex but refers as well to the time we commit to the general relationship. Sex does not occur in a vacuum but reflects an ‘out-flow’ of the entire tone of the relationship. While some may say that sex sets the tone, things like communication, mutual validation or spousal-support are also critical measures of relationship health. Taking time to improve our relationship health all-round, is sure to redound to  the sexual  department.

Be a Sexual Person

For us women, there is a distinctly sexual -feeling we get when we don that sexy lingerie or have a make-over done. Thinking sexual  thoughts about  our spouse as well  as celebrating our own body by  pampering it a bit  is  a  great way to turn our sexy on. Once we’re in a place mentally where the sexual light is flashing green, then it’s a whole lot easier to initiate the act with our spouse. (Listening to that R and B classic “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye, may also help quite a bit).

Re-Invent Your Marriage

If sexlessness has defined your marriage to this point, re-inventing it will be no easy feat. Getting a different outcome means doing things differently. This will mean altering your mind-set and making the sexual expression of your marriage a priority.  Of course if there are unresolved issues in the relationship like un-confessed infidelity, pervasive anger or a serious lack of communication, then these issues will need to be dealt with before the issue of sexlessness can be fully resolved.

Viewing your marriage as an intertwined whole as opposed to a series of unrelated fragments, is critical to addressing the issue of low-sex. Where the issues go deep and may be connected to past abuse, then intervention by a counselor or therapist is advised.

Regular sex is like the “apple a day” of your marriage. You may not need to compete with a national average but keeping that sexual connection going is a sure-fire way to guard against the threat of both sexual and emotional infidelity. On top of this, it serves to distinguish your marriage as a relationship which is distinct and set apart from all others.  Is this not the reason you exchanged the vows in the first place?