The Slang of Sex

Research shows that men and women use different terms to describe their sexual anatomies and to describe different aspects of the sexual experiences and relationships.

Men, for instance, tend to use power sexual slang, or “dirty” and aggressive words when describing sex (such as “f___ing”) and/or their partner’s bodies. Women not only discuss sex less frequently than men do, but they also tend to use cute sexual slang, or euphemisms when they talk about sex (such as “making love”), and/or  describe body parts (such as using the term “va-ja-jay.”).

Given these differences, it’s important for couples to develop a common sexual vocabulary that is unique and personal to them, especially to find idioms for genitalia, sexual rituals, and routines. By cocreating and jointly sharing these expressions, couples create a unique relational culture within their sexual relationships.

In your relationship, has your sexual communication been subverted because you do not use the same sexual slang as your partner does? In your sexual communication, do you and your partner share the same meanings? What would you like to change about your sexual communication?

Photo Credit: auzigog (flickr.com)

 

Still

Though unspoken, they both knew that after 38 years of marriage their time together would soon draw to an end. Despite the valiant war she waged the cancer had overtaken every aspect of her being and we all knew she would not be with us when the morning came. We moved her into the family room as she requested, so she could be among her children and grandchildren, not tucked far away from them in a corner bedroom.

My father knelt beside her. Thinking he was simply bathing her (a task I myself had performed every day over the course of that week), I began to tidy up the nearby kitchen. He raised her left hand and kissed her wedding band. He began to bathe her hand, her arm, her shoulder. He stroked her hair, over and over. She was much calmer, and her breathing that had been so labored in the previous minutes seemed to become less difficult. She turned her face toward him…they were only inches apart from one another.

They did not speak. Their gaze locked onto one another. His hand lingered over her shoulder, then moved toward her chest. Through her entire illness, I had never seen her shed one tear, until now. His hand did not move. I could only imagine what each of them was thinking.

Were they remembering, were they longing? Yearning? Were they aching in anticipation of separation?

Was he trying to memorize her? She, him?

It suddenly dawned on me what was taking place just a few feet away from me. I hurriedly left the room, allowing them to be alone for the last time.

To the casual observer, the scene unfolding may have appeared to a be a sponge bath from a loving caregiver for his dying wife. But it was so much more than that.

What I was witnessing was a most tender act of love making.

Photo Credit: Man met bril (Flikr.com)

Love Him or Leave Him?

Hey Dr. Welch,

I need some relationship advice for a friend, I hope you can help!

My friend is almost 29 and she’s been married for about four years—-and she’s ready to call it quits on the marriage. She feels like no matter what she does, she can’t make him happy, she feels like she gives and gives to him but gets nothing in return. She told me she’s done trying, and so she’s emotionally checked out of the marriage. Recently, he’s noticed that she’s withdrawing and now HE’S trying really hard.

She said that she still loves him, but it’s not the love she was expecting to feel towards him so it’s really confusing to her. She wants the marriage to work but she doesn’t know if going to counseling is worth it because she doesn’t have any feelings of love for him anymore. 

The other issue is that she works with older women who are encouraging her to leave him. They’ve basically told her that she has one foot out the door so she might as well leave and put herself first.

What can I say to encourage her to stick with it and work through this rough patch? I greatly appreciate your time and thoughts!

This is such a common relationship problem. The good news: THIS MARRIAGE IS NOT OVER! Your friend is one confused gal. And no wonder! There’s a lot of background noise crap that’s making it tough for her to focus on the real issues and her real feelings. And even BETTER good news: Both aren’t ready to check out of the marriage at the same time! One partner is still fighting to keep the marriage. 

Lesson 1 from this: Never, EVER listen to the Hens who are dissatisfied with their own relationships/marriages. People enjoy other peoples’ misery, and if you give them enough time or attention they’ll eventually entangle you into their miserable miserableness. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re considering breaking off a relationship or going down the divorce path, be sure to surround yourself with people who have nothing but your best interests at heart—yours and your partner’s.

Lesson 2 from this: Your friend isn’t falling out of love with her husband. How do I know? She gave you a couple of huge hints when she told you she just doesn’t “feel” love toward him anymore and that she doesn’t have the “feelings” of love. The good news is–she shouldn’t have the same “feelings” of love she had when she married him four years ago.  Love transitions over time from the all-consuming, passionate, gotta-have-it fiery hot feelings to a calm, steady, mature love. If she wanted to leave, believe me, she’d be out the door. She needs to understand the difference between her initial drive-thru kind of love (passionate love) and what she’s feeling now (emotionally mature love)…and that this emotionally mature love is waaaaay better. She just needs to give it the time and attention it needs to take root.

When you talk to her again, remind her that while some people are telling her that’s she’s got one foot out of the door so she might as well leave, she’s also still got one foot in the marriage…so she might as well stick around and try to make it work. Counseling is a great option for this couple, as is a get-away marriage retreat where they focus on nothing but themselves and their relationship. 

This is one marriage that can be–and probably should be–saved!

dr. w 

Photo Credit: meia_lua (flickr.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Intimacy Phobia: What is Your Score?

“Our fear of intimacy…inspires ingenious ways of avoiding it.”

Intimacy requires that we unmask ourselves and become vulnerable and risk rejection. Because of this, many people fear intimacy.

Do you find that you’re afraid to establish and maintain close relationships with other people, or that you put up walls or barriers that prevent people from getting too emotionally close to you?

Have you ever found yourself having many friendships–but avoiding one close personal relationship with someone?

Do you ever become over involved in work or use work as an excuse not to hang out with others? Have you ever thought to yourself, “Wow, it’s been ________ days and other than work/class, I haven’t really had any contact with anyone.” ?

If you answered yes to more than two of these questions, you may have a fear of intimacy.

But what exactly is it that people are afraid of? Fear of intimacy comes in many forms and can manifest itself in any of the following ways:

  • Fear of failure: What if this relationship doesn’t work out?
  • Fear of being vulnerable: Is it worth subjecting myself to hurt and emotional pain?
  • Fear of rejection: I’ve been rejected before, I can’t go through that again.
  • Fear of being smothered in the relationship: What if I lose my identity?
  • Fear of sex? What if he/she disapproves of my body?
  • Fear of losing someone we love: What happens if I fall in love and he/she breaks up with me?
  • Fear of abandonment: What if he/she leaves me alone?
  • Fear of being “found out”: He/she will find out who I really am and won’t love me anymore. No one can possibly love me because of all of my flaws

Are you afraid to be intimately close with another person? Take the intimacy phobia quiz here to find out your intimacy score. Be sure to save your results and to share them with your partner!

© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2/e). Boston: Pearson Education

Photo Credit: e v e n (flickr.com)

Buh-Bye Body Image Worries, Hullo Orgasms!

When you become preoccupied with the appearance of your body outside of the bedroom, these worries and concerns ultimately end up in the bedroom.

Because for women sexual arousal and response require attention and focus, when you focus on how your body looks—rather than what you’re experiencing and feeling—you are less able to let your guard down and fully enjoy sexual pleasure and sexually pleasing your partner.

For a great relationship—and great sex—redefine what sex is all about!

Replace each of these with something positive
about YOURself.


  • Get real! Sexy is as sexy does! You define what body type is sexy and appealing to your partner, not media images! Your partner probably wouldn’t be in bed (or on the kitchen table) with you in the first place if he or she didn’t see something about you that was appealing.
  • Let it happen! You can’t force great sex, especially if you’re overly concerned about how you look during the act. Just let sex happen. Focus on what feels good and all the different sensations going on in your body.
  • Let go! Hang on to your partner, but get rid of all of those inhibitions by giving yourself to ENJOY SEX. When you truly let go, it’s tough to think about what your thighs must look like in a particular position (trust me, your partner isn’t looking, either).
  • Connect, communicate, and trust! When you focus on emotionally connecting and communicating during sex, you feel safe and secure—and you’ll realize that the shape of your body has nothing to do with these other feelings.
  • Be adventurous! Explore, explore, explore! Come up for air, and explore some more! This attitude shifts the focus to each other’s bodies, and in doing so, you begin to see how FUN sex really can be…and that it’s not all about looks.
How healthy is your body image? Find out here! Be sure to email me your results, or come back here and share them!
Source:  See Family Life Now (Welch, 2010), pg. 218. 

Photo Credit: Flickr.com

Are You Capable of Intimacy? Take Your Intimacy Quiz!

Although intimacy is thought to be an inborn, innate drive and that all of us need intimacy in order to survive, some people are just better at giving and receiving intimacy than others are.

This is because, just as with your love map, your intimacy map develops as a result of your relational life experiences. In other words, who you are as a relational, intimate person is the result of every relationship you’ve ever had in your life—from your parents, to your friends in grade school, to your high school peers and buddies, to your college friends, to every positive and negative hook up or sexual relationship you’ve ever had.

Your intimacy map has been created over time. This is why intimacy doesn’t always come easily to everyone—and why it’s essential that your love partner knows as much about your relational background as you are comfortable sharing.

In fact, most of the time establishing and maintaining a close personal relationship with another person requires a lot of hard work. With this in mind, it’s important to remember that if you find yourself having to work at your relationship, it doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong or that you’ve chosen the wrong partner.

If you desire someone to openly, honestly, and completely share with you, you have to be willing to be open and honest about your needs and desires. This is the only way the seeds of intimacy will have a chance to flourish and thrive!

Do you get it?

Hectic lifestyles support and promote hectic relationships!

In the drive for “the car, the condo, and our version of success,” we are what Brad Pitt calls a society of desperate and lonely people. He refers to this feeling of meaninglessness as a sense of weakness, an inability, an incapacity.

An incapacity for what? Relating? Belonging? Emotionally bonding? Human connection?

As you take that step that brings you to reveal, share, and disclose your innermost personal thoughts and feelings, as you lower the barriers and allow someone to really know you, you begin the process of intimacy.

Are you capable of giving and receiving intimacy?  Take the quiz hereto find out how emotionally intimate you are. Is your relationship intimacy solid, or do you have some trouble spots?

© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2/e). Boston: Pearson Education.

Photo Credit: Hamed Masoumi (flickr.com)

When You Say Intimacy, I Think of…..Create Your Intimacy Pie

What does it mean to have an “intimate” relationship? And what do you think the one factor is that seems to deepen your intimacy experiences with your partner more than anything else? Can you pinpoint intimacy components in your relationship? Do you know if your intimacy map is similar to your love partner’s?

Because intimacy is so vital to the health and longevity of relationships, researchers have been studying what “intimacy” is for years. Of course, everyone’s definitions of intimacy are different, because just like your love map and sex script, your intimacy map is built over time…as your experiences change, so does your meaning of intimacy.

Are you ready to build your intimacy map? Put the Snuggie on, crank up your Pandora, and settle in…this is a lengthy one, but oh so very well worth the effort you put into it!

Think of 10 things that you would consider vital to developing and maintaining intimacy with your lover.

I’ll help get you started, here’s what researchers have identified as key components of intimacy. You can choose from these, you can tweek them, you can add more:

  • Self-disclosure: The voluntary sharing of something personal or private.
  • Humor: Helps to keep things in perspective, and in doing so, brings couples closer together.
  • Affection: Expressing and showing feelings of love and tenderness.
  • Sex: Being able to communicate sexual needs, wants, and desires, fulfilling the partner’s sexual needs, wants, and desires.
  • Cohesion: Each partner’s sense of the level of commitment in the relationship.
  • Trust: The level of confidence, belief, faith, and hope held for the lover partner.
  • Compatibility: The sense of comfort each partner feels when they are together; how well the couple relates to each other, how well they work together, how well they play together.
  • Conflict resolution: How couples manage inevitable conflicts and differences of opinion.
  • Spirituality: Shared religious beliefs are known to intensify intimacy between partners.
  • Respect: The level of value and admiration for each other; how well each partner shows consideration of the other.
  • Personal validation: The reinforcement that the partner is worthy of love, devotion, and affection.
  • Emotional (nonverbal) communication: The ability of each partner to “decode” their lover’s nonverbal/emotional cues; as intimacy deepens, couples become more skilled at this.
  • Love: Feelings of connectedness, being bonded to one another, an intense emotional connection.
  • Friendship: Liking each other, hanging out with each other.
  • Desirability: Longing to be in the presence of the other in times of absence.
  • Intellectual: Connecting on intellectual levels.
  • Jealousy: Envious, perhaps resentful, when someone or something takes the attention of your lover away from you.
  • Identity: Being able to maintain separate, unique identities; to not lose individuality in the identity of the couple.
  • Expressiveness: Freely allowing the partner to share and disclose their most personal thoughts and feelings.

Now the tough part!  Click hereto build your intimacy map! If you need instructions, go to ** at the bottom of this page.

Each partner should create an intimacy chart. Be sure to share your charts with each other!

Why is all of this so important? Why is it so important to share your results with your partner?

Because if ANY component from your intimacy map is missing in your relationship, your satisfaction as a couple will be greatly diminished!

On the other hand, if you work to discover—from the very beginning of your relationship—what factors of intimacy are important to one another and how you each experience intimacy in different ways, then you have removed tremendous barriers to achieving a great relationship!

**INSTRUCTIONS:

1.Click on “pie”

2.Click on “data” (upper right hand corner marked by red arrow)

3.Title your graph (I titled mine “My Intimacy Map”)

4.Select the number of pie slices—how many components comprise “intimacy” to you? (I have 10 in my chart)

5.Label each pie slice (“Trust,” “Respect,” etc)

6.Assign a value for each (how important is each one to you? For example, is “Trust” 20% of your intimacy map? 30%? You determine the value for each component.)

7.Click on “preview” (upper right hand tab)

8.Click on “print” (upper right hand tab)

© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2 ed). Boston: Pearson Publishing

Photo Credit: “Intimacies” by Ferran (flickr.com)

Everybody’s Searchin’ for Intimacy

We are relational creatures—we need to be with other people. Even Aristotle once observed that people who don’t want to be emotionally connected to others are either “a beast or a god.”

Yep–everybody’s searchin’ for intimacy. Everybody’s hurtin’ for intimacy.

 

The word intimacy comes from the Latin word intimus, which means inner or internal, to come from within a person. In my field of family studies, we use the term to refer to an emotional closeness, mutual trust, and comfortable levels of self-disclosure shared between love partners.

And intimacy doesn’t just benefit you as a couple and your relationship. Unlike any other aspect of a love and/or sexual relationship, intimacy meets your crucial individual psychological needs…it actually promotes your own well-being and psychological health.

Through frequent, intimate communication in which your talks include personal sharing, listening, and understanding, your individual psychological needs are met by way of your relationship with your partner! As you self-disclose and share, and as your partner responds positively to your disclosures, your emotional bond to each other is strengthened and deepened—and so is your love for one another.

Developing intimacy is a process, and because it’s a process it means that it will change over time—not might, not maybe, not probably, not possibly.

Intimacy. Will. Change. Over. Time.

<Insert Realistic Relationship Expectation Here>

The intimacy you have today will not—should not (!!!)—be the same 5 years from now or 10 or 20 years from now. Just as your love matures and changes over time, so will your intimacy levels.

As you get to know your partner better, you begin to self-disclose your thoughts and feelingsThis leads to greater sharing of personal vulnerabilities and fears and hopes and dreams and wishesWhich even further deepens your levels of trustWhich gives you the freedom to share even more and moreWhich ultimately creates your own unique, private relational culture.

And that, my friends, is what divorce/affair proofs your relationship!

Oh, creating and maintaining this intimacy culture is tough work, there’s no doubt about that! This is why, when kids come on the scene—and  we’re so busy tending to their needs and driving them over half of hell’s acre to get them where they need to be—most relationships experience a huge dip in relationship satisfaction.

But your relationship doesn’t have to be “average.” You don’t have to experience that nose-dive, OMG-are-we-ever-going-to-pull-out-of-this unhappiness.

It takes work, though. Are you ready to commit to what it takes?

Start by filling out this intimacy inventory. Each partner fills this out on his/her own time…once this is done, get together (away from LIFE!!) in a quiet setting and discuss your answers with each other.

Save your responses, because over the next several weeks we’re going to build on this information and then begin to weave it into what you already know about marriage scripts, love maps, and sex scripts!

And…there’s a surprise twist at the end. You don’t want to miss it!

Photo Credit: “Affection” by Colby Cash (flickr.com)

Couple Challenge: Your Intimacy Needs

All forms of intimacy develop over time, and keeping that intimacy once it’s developed requires nurturing attention to the relationship. Print this off and fill in your answers to the questions, have your partner do the same.
Get together in a quiet setting and talk about your answers together.
When we are emotionally close, I feel _____________________________.
I would describe our intellectual closeness as ___________________________.
As far as intimacy in our relationship is concerned, I am most satisfied when ________________________________________________________.
I am least comfortable about our relationship when ______________
_______________________________________________________.
When you express your emotions and feelings, it makes me __________
______________________________________________________________.
When you express physical closeness, it makes me _______________
____________________________________________________________.
Spiritual closeness is ______________________________________________.
When I experience intimacy with you, I feel ____________________________.
When I am with you, my individuality is _________________________________.
Some people resist intimacy. This makes me think _____________________
__________________________________________________________________.
When I reveal my innermost thoughts, feelings, emotions, and fears to you, I expect __________________________________________________.
When you reveal your innermost thoughts, feelings, emotions, and fears to me, it makes me __________________________________________________.
Intimately relating with you might carry a risk of rejection. The possibility of being rejected by you makes me feel ________________________________.
In general, I am trusting of others. This makes me ______________________.
In general, I am not trusting of others. This makes me ____________________.
If I were to sum up the role of intimacy in my life, I would say it is
__________________________________________.
© Kelly J. Welch, Family Life Now (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education.

Photo Credit: Mag3737 (flickr.com)

Cover of the Rolling Stone: Intimacy

Brad Pitt: I know all these things are supposed to seem important to us—the car, the condo, our version of success—but if that’s the case, why is the general feeling out there reflecting more impotence and isolation and desperation and loneliness?

If you ask me, I say toss all this—we gotta find something else. Because all I know is that at this point in time, we are heading for a dead-end, a numbing of the soul, a complete atrophy of the [human] being. And I don’t want that.

Rolling Stone: So if we’re heading toward this kind of…dead-end in society what do you think should happen?

Brad Pitt: Hey man, I don’t have those answers yet. [My] emphasis now is on success and personal gain. I’m sitting in [success and wealth], and I’m telling you, that’s not it. I’m the guy who’s got everything. I know.

But I’m telling you, once you’ve got everything, then you’re just left with yourself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it doesn’t help you sleep any better, and you don’t wake up any better because of it.