Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Sex Therapist's Tips for Relationships

Written By: Dr. Stephanie Buehler, Director, The Buehler Institute

"Never fear, Dr. Buehler is here!  Some prime ideas for keeping cool when things are too hot (and not in a good way).

1.  Learn anger management.  I don't know why this isn't really taught as a subject in school.  Everyone needs to know how to prevent becoming a personal flame thrower.  Here are some tips from Mayo Clinic.  Learn them and use them.

2.  Learn to contain problems.  Unless something is really, truly urgent, it's often best to hold back on criticism, even if you intend to be helpful.  Repeat criticism becomes nagging.  When your partner does something, tuck it away to talk about later, when you are both calm.  In fact, this morning a client resolved to put such things on their phone, then review them at the end of the week to see what was needed for discussion.  So whatever clever thing you are going to fling at your partner, zip it, tuck it away, and bring it up later.  Chances are that with time it won't seem so important, and the two of you really can come up with a solution or resolve to do better.

3.  Accept conflict.  There is no such thing as a conflict-free relationship.  Trust me, when couples tell me that there is no conflict, if they get me alone, it all comes out in a vent, like steam.  Keeping peace is not a good goal.  You need to learn how to communicate assertively and resolve conflict, not just sweep it under the rug.

Here are some steps for rational conflict resolution:
  • Identify the problem.  You may be arguing about two different things. (Not that that's ever happened in my household, don't think it has.) 
  • Create several solutions.  Do not criticize them.  Write them down.   
  • Reflect on the solutions.  Do not talk yet.  Just look at the list and see if any of the solutions is more apt to satisfy both parties.
  • Discuss the solutions.  If things start to get heated, take a break.  (See tips on anger management, above.)  Keep the discussion focused on resolving the conflict.
  • Agree on a solution.  Not "the perfect solution."  A solution.
  • Try the solution to see how it works.
  • Re-evaluate and adjust as needed.  Go back to the list of solutions if the solution you chose really didn't work.  

4.  Stay on your side of the line.  Respect your partner's individual opinion.  No put downs.  People may not agree but they still love one another.  The idea isn't to have your partner prove their love by allowing themselves to be won over.  The idea is to create a win-win relationship, at least as much as humanly possible.

5.  Sex.  Have some.  Even if you aren't feeling quite in the mood, it is a good idea to put aside conflict and make love, not war.  It will make you feel closer and can make the problem solving easier.  If you really aren't up to making love, then at least try a hug or a little humor to show that even though you are upset, you still love your partner. 

If your relationship is filled with constant conflict, something else is going on:  poor communication, painful feelings and resentment, or inability to understand what the point is of having a relationship at all.  That's when it's time to contact a professional.  Life is too short, isn't it, to fight all the time?"
I thought this was too good not to pass along. We have therapists in our practice who specialize in couples counseling and relationship issues. So, if you want help working on any of the above recommendations, call us today at 240-274-5680 or send me an email to Visit for details.

Take Good Care,
Amy Hooper, LCSW-C, CEAP
Director, Another Look at Healing, LLC