Stay close in and out of the bedroom By Jennine Estes, MFT
Intimacy is an all-encompassing word, with sex merely being one aspect of it. Intimacy in your marriage takes more than just spicing up your sex life.
Intimacy is a vital substance in the healthiest of relationships, and its existence allows partners to share their physical and emotional selves with each other, openly and safely.
If you can find it in yourself to be more emotionally intimate in your relationship, both you and your loved one will definitely reap the rewards in the bedroom!
Here are the top ten ways to increase and maintain intimacy in your marriage:
•Compromise when in disagreement. When you and your partner aren’t seeing things eye-to-eye, take it upon yourselves to reach a happy medium that you can both agree on. Ask each other, “What would make us both happy?”
•Do the 30 minute focus. Spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day with your full attention focused on your partner. This could take place at the dinner table, in the family area/living room with the TV off, cuddled together in bed, etc. Eliminate interruptions, such as roommates, friends, and even children, so you can take the undivided time you need to discuss each other’s day and other personal, intimate topics.
•Plan a “date night.” Date nights help kindle romance and intimacy. Plan the evening together or surprise each other, get dressed up for one another, spend time focusing on each other, and laugh together.
•Empathize and validate. Everyone disagrees once in a while, but make sure when you are in disagreement, you show empathy, monitor your tone of voice, and validate your partner by letting them know you don’t think they are “crazy” for how they feel.
•Take mutual interest in one another. Showing interest and curiosity in their day or things that they like not only helps your partner feel important and special, but also motivates them to do the same with you! Imagine how great it feels when they listen intently to what you have to say. Make sure you do the same for them.
•Spend your free time doing things together. Surprise your partner with an activity that the two of you can enjoy together. Try hiking, picnics, board/card games, etc.
•Leave them love notes. Write things you admire about your partner on sticky notes and hide them in places where you know he or she will find them throughout the day.
•Focus on the positive. If you acknowledge and reinforce the things you appreciate about your partner instead of focusing on the negative, you’ll find they will eagerly repeat the desired behavior, instead of feeling dejected from belittlement.
•Show respect. By listening, avoiding critical language and minimizing your anger (intonation and context), you will show your partner that you have the utmost respect for their thoughts and feelings.
•Stop critical language. “You should …” “You must …” “You are too …” “You never …” “You always …” — each of these are examples of how we point our fingers at our partners while telling them they are not right. Give them a chance and let them carry things out the way they’d like to.
Changing the way you interact with your partner outside of the bedroom can make all the difference for how things go inside the bedroom.
By taking time to validate and appreciate your partner, treating them wth respect, and spending quality time together, you are increasing the chances that you’ll feel close and connected. A couple that is emotionally connected will have an easier time feeling physically connected. Intimacy in your marriage is an on-going process, never ignore it!
To learn more about the author, or to book an appointment with her, visit her website at estestherapy.com
By Allison Takeda, Senior Editor
Some 10 percent of tweens and teens have exchanged sexually suggestive photos via phone, the Internet, or other electronic media, according to a new study just published in the journal Pediatrics. But even more — up to 39 percent, according to a survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — have sent or received sexually suggestive messages, such as texts, e-mails, or IMs.
Sexting, the transmission of such messages and images, primarily between cell phones, is an increasing concern among parents — and though the study released today indicates it’s not as widespread a problem as we’d previously feared, such behavior can have serious consequences, not just for your child’s emotional well-being and privacy, but from a legal standpoint as well. If you have teens, you’re likely already on the lookout for red flags. But do you know what those flags are? Many sexually explicit messages aren’t actually that explicit — to parents, anyway. A lot of sexting is done in code, using acronyms and decoy words.
Here are just a few of the many (many!) examples of shorthand that teens and tweens use to sext:
1.53X = sex
2.8 = oral sex
3.Banana = penis
4.CD9 = code 9, parents are around
5.P911 = parent alert
6.CU46 = see you for sex
7.GNOC = get naked on cam
8.GYPO = get your pants off
9.IMEZYRU = I’m easy, are you?
10.IPN = I’m posting naked
11.ITS = intense text sex
12.IWSN = I want sex now
13.J/O = jerking off
14.Kitty = vagina
15.LH6 = let’s have sex
16.LHU = let’s hook up
17.NFS = need for sex
18.PRON = porn
19.TDTM = talk dirty to me
20.RUH = are you horny?
If you spot any of these messages on your child’s phone, don’t just get angry and take away his or her text privileges. Talk with your teen about why and with whom they’re exchanging such messages, and discuss the potential consequences of their actions. Then make a plan to check in with your child about his or her text habits in the future. You may also want to consider monitoring cell phone and computer use for further inappropriate behavior, and contacting the parents of the other child involved.
Read on about the dangers of sexting from Everyday Health’s medical director, Mallika Marshall, MD.
Sexual Addiction Is…
Sexual addiction is a dysfunctional preoccupation (meaning this specific preoccupation negatively affects their work, relationship, family, legal, health, and social situations) with sexual fantasy and behavior, often involving the obsessive and repetitive pursuit of non-intimate sexuality, pornography, compulsive masturbation, romantic intensity, and objectified partner sex. It is defined by:
• Loss of control over the pursuit of sex – Sex addicts consistently break promises made to themselves and others to curtail, shift, or eliminate certain sexual behaviors, and often continue to act out those behaviors in secret.
• Ignoring and/or denying the consequences caused by sexual acting out – Sex addicts continue to engage in problematic (for the particular individual) sexual behaviors despite negative consequences, often blaming the consequences on someone or something else. This can cause temporary or permanent harm to intimate relationships and family life, along with employment, school, legal, and physical and emotional health problems.
• Escalating patterns of problematic sexual behavior – Sex addicts, seeking to maintain or escalate the emotional and physical “high” of sexual acting out, will end up engaging in problematic sexual behaviors more frequently and/or for longer periods of time, and many will escalate to more intense sexual behaviors, some of which are illegal.
Unlike those who enjoy sex as personal exploration, recreation, or part of healthy intimacy, the sex addict’s focus is on using the excessive pursuit of sexual images and experiences to bolster an unstable emotional and internal world. Sexual fantasy, urges, and behaviors are used to prop up flagging moments of emotional self-stability, at the same time masking underlying social deficits, extensive histories of trauma, and personality challenges. In this way, sex addicts use sexual fantasy and behaviors to distract and dissociate from life stressors and challenges. Over time, the search for sexual intensity becomes a driving force and sole life focus. In this way, sex addicts lose opportunities to grow emotionally, becoming instead dependent on sexual fantasy, urges, and behaviors to self-regulate.
Most sex addicts describe a numbing rush of intensity when engaged in their obsessive pursuit of sex. By Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S
This trance-like “bubble” is actually a neurobiological state induced by the intense fantasies and actions that lead toward actual sex. In essence, sex addicts are hooked on the dissociative neurochemical high produced by their intense sexual fantasy life and that fantasy life’s related ritualistic behaviors. Ultimately, sex addicts find as much excitement in fantasizing about and searching for their next sexual encounter as in the sex act itself. As such, they can spend hours, sometimes even days, in this elevated state—high on the goal/idea of having sex—often without any physical contact. Minutes turn into hours and hours turn into days as the sexual addict secretly obsesses, plots, and carries out plans related to porn, strip clubs, massage parlors, sex-finder apps, prostitutes, affairs, and other potentially addictive sexual behaviors.
Sexual Addiction Is NOT…
The diagnosis of sexual addiction is not made simply because an individual engages in fetishistic or paraphilic sexual arousal/behavior, such as cross-dressing or BDSM. Such behaviors may lead the individual to keep sexual secrets, to feel shame or distress, and even to feel out of control, but they are not considered sexual addiction, per se. Nor are unwanted homosexual or bisexual arousal patterns and behaviors. Sexual addiction is not defined by what or whom an individual finds arousing—even if that arousal pattern is unwanted or ego-dystonic. Sexual addiction is instead defined by self- and other-objectified repetitive patterns of sexual urges, fantasy, and behavior utilized to self-medicate, dissociate, and/or stabilize emotional distress and other psychological triggers and conditions. Simply put, healthy people don’t consistently utilize sexual arousal as a means of feeling better when having a bad day. Sex addicts do, as sexual arousal is for them a primary emotional coping mechanism.
By Katherine Lee Hypoactive sexual desire disorder is the most common form of female sexual dysfunction. It’s defined as a chronic lack of interest in sexual activity that causes a woman distress — if a woman doesn’t view the lack of sexual interest as a problem, then it isn’t one.
Many physiological factors can dampen the libido’s fire. Menopause or a chronic medical condition can lead to physical changes that can affect a woman’s sex drive or lead to discomfort or decreased pleasure during sex.
And so can some drugs.
Drugs (and an Herb) That Affect Libido
Certain medications can interfere with the balance of hormones and transmission of chemical messengers in the brain, causing problems with libido and a woman’s ability to achieve orgasm. A few common medications can cause hypoactive sexual desire disorder. These include:
Antidepressants. Medications used to treat depression and anxiety symptoms are the most common drugs that can lead to hypoactive sexual desire disorder and other types of sexual dysfunction.
As an example, some commonly used antidepressants that can decrease sexual desire include fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). These drugs are SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), which means they work by making the “feel-good” hormone serotonin more available in the brain, thus improving mood. The problem: “Serotonin has a positive effect on mood but can have a negative effect on libido and orgasm,” says Jennifer Berman, MD, a urologist, a specialist in female sexual medicine, and the director of Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Los Angeles.
Birth control pills. As many as 30 percent to 40 percent of women who take birth control pills, such as Loestrin, can experience hypoactive sexual desire disorder, says Dr. Berman. “Birth control pills lower testosterone, which can lower libido,” says Berman.
Antihypertensives. Some medications commonly prescribed for high blood pressure like diuretics (such as furosemide or Lasix) and beta blockers (such as metoprolol) can lead to hypoactive sexual desire disorder. These drugs can dampen libido and cause difficulty reaching orgasm.
Chemotherapy, anti-cancer drugs. Drugs used to treat cancer are also associated with a reduced lack of sexual interest and hypoactive sexual desire disorder. For example, tamoxifen, a breast cancer drug, can lower estrogen levels, which can lower libido, says Berman. Cyclophosphamide, a chemotherapy drug, can cause vaginal dryness, reduced libido, and difficulty reaching orgasm.
Acne medications. Spironolactone is a drug that is usually prescribed to treat acne. It is also a diuretic that can be used to treat blood pressure or heart failure. It can have a negative effect on libido and lead to hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
Saw palmetto. This herbal remedy may lower testosterone and can play a role in hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
Women and Sexual Dysfunction: Replacing Medications
Women who experience hypoactive sexual desire disorder due to medications can try switching medications or finding alternative treatments. If the problem stems from oral contraceptives, the woman can consider switching to other forms of birth control such as an intrauterine device, says Berman.
If antidepressants are the cause, you may want to discuss with your doctor the possibility of reducing your dose or even consider looking for other causes of your mood disorder. (One often-overlooked cause of depression is hormonal imbalance, says Berman.) You can also consider switching to a more dopamine-driven drug, which is less likely to cause hypoactive sexual desire disorder.
As an alternative to hypertensive drugs that may cause hypoactive sexual desire disorder, you may want to consider calcium channel blockers or ACE inhibitors. “These drugs are less likely to have a negative impact on libido,” says Berman.
If you have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, discuss your options with your doctor. If medications are causing your hypoactive sexual desire disorder, you have options that can help you achieve a more satisfactory sex life.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Sexual Health Center.
By Lisa Esposito, HealthDay News WEDNESDAY, Nov. 2, 2011 (HealthDay News) — Some Boston parents might be in for a rude awakening: 13 percent of area high school students say they’ve received “sext” messages and one in 10 has either forwarded, sent or posted sexually suggestive, explicit or nude photos or videos of people they know by cellphone or online.
So found a study of more than 23,000 students, with the results scheduled to be presented Wednesday at the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Sexting can include overtones of bullying and coercion, and teens who are involved were more likely to report being psychologically distressed, depressed or even suicidal, according to the 2010 survey of 24 (of 26) high schools in Boston’s metro-west region.
Twice as many respondents who said they had sexted in the past year reported depressive symptoms, compared to teens who did not. Moreover, 13 percent of teen involved in sexting reported a suicide attempt during that period compared with 3 percent of non-sexting teens, according to the researchers at the Education Development Center in Newton, Mass.
That doesn’t mean that sexting leads to depression or increases suicide risk. “It’s a cross-sectional study — it shows an association but not a causal relationship,” explained lead researcher Shari Kessel Schneider. However, she added, “It’s important to know there’s a link between sexting and psychological distress. It’s something to be considered if you know of a youth who is involved in sexting.”
Of the high-school students, 10 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls said they had sent one of these images in the past year, while 6 percent of males and 4 percent of females had had such an image sent of themselves. The researchers also found that youths who did not self-identify as heterosexual — that is, they described themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual other or not sure — were more likely to be involved in sexting.
Other studies have examined sexting on a national basis, prompting parents to question how they can prevent their own children from posting — or posing for — these images. “I encourage parents to treat a kid’s cellphone as a computer: thinking of securing, protecting and limiting it,” said Marian Merritt, Internet safety advocate for Norton, part of Symantec Inc. As soon a child receives his or her first cell phone, “Set family rules. Age 12 is standard.”
“If that phone is a smartphone, password protect it,” she said. “It could prevent your child getting victimized” by someone else who picks it up and uses it. And to monitor your son’s or daughter’s use: “Check your online statement, to see if your child is sending a lot of photo messages.”
Parents need to take back control of the technology, she said, whether it’s by setting online time limits on the home wireless router or limiting access and privacy: “Charge the phone in the kitchen, some central location, so it’s not on their pillow, buzzing late at night with text messages.” Talk to your children, she said. “Don’t wait until they’re 16, that’s exactly the wrong way to do stuff. Start much earlier. Especially with boys, know how incredibly common it will be for them to receive a [sext] message. Ask them, ‘What would you do?’ What’s the right thing to do to protect the girl? Delete it?’ Try to make sure he shows empathy for the girl.”
Some adolescents will be more affected than others, Merritt said. “In general, with all the things on the Internet, it’s very hard to predict who will be impacted. Some kids are able to roll with it and there are others who can’t.” Justin Patchin, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, said his first advice to teens who receive a sext message is this: “You should delete it and not tell anybody. If it’s doesn’t get disseminated and distributed, it’s ended.”
He said he’s received flak for suggesting on the center’s website that kids don’t always need to go to adults when sexting involves a friend (or girlfriend or boyfriend), but he still believes, “If you tell adults, you’re throwing that person under a bus.” Once people in authority, such as teachers and principals, are made aware of sexting, legal reporting requirements come into play.
“Adults, it seems, are forced to respond to sexting in extreme ways — ways that have long-term, irreversible consequences,” he posted in February. “Until we can develop reasonable responses that do not potentially foreclose on the futures of all involved, we are wise to advise that students do not contact adults, unless the situation is appearing to get out of control. And I think teens know when it is out of control.” Patchin doesn’t discount that sexting can have serious ramifications. “You can look at high-profile examples, of people with severe psychological problems,” he said, referring to two publicized cases of young girls committing suicide where sexting was a factor.
In his center’s dealings with sexting, he said, “We’ve talked with frustrated, embarrassed, upset kids.”
Merritt cautioned against overreacting about the findings and said she would like to see more data, for instance, on how sexting relates to teens’ gender orientation. Kessler Schneider’s group does intend to do more studies in that area. For now, she said, the Boston findings should “draw attention to the link between sexting and mental health, which should be addressed by anti-bullying and health-promotion initiatives.”
Because the new study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.