Thrive in Your Relationship with the AARM Method

Think about a couple in your life whom you admire. What about their relationship do you appreciate? Do they advocate for each other, support each other, do they still seem to retain a physical harmony?

Couples that thrive practice a few key actions. Whether they’re simply passing through a room that their partner is in or they are sharing a space together, thriving couples acknowledge, appreciate, reassure, and mend. Those four actions can help to strengthen your relationship, too, and they’re easier practiced than you may think. You can practice them regularly so that when times of conflict arise, you’re AARMed with knowledge and skills.  

Acknowledge

Feeling invisible or unseen is a feeling that we may sometimes seek — perhaps when something embarrassing happens, for example — but often, we want to be seen. Acknowledgement is the practice of letting someone know that you are aware of them and that you are sharing a space together.

Whether you’re just coming home from work or you’re stepping into the kitchen to get something, say hello to your partner and make eye contact. If you’re able to have a moment of physical touch (a kiss, hug, or touch of the hand) then do. A quick backrub will do, too. This simple action takes only a few seconds but goes a long way to help people feel like they are being seen.

Appreciate

The longer we are in a relationship, the more likely we are to slowly stop appreciating the things our partner does. “Thank you” is a simple phrase that lets our partners know that their actions aren’t going unrecognized.

If your partner makes dinner, thank them sincerely — ”Thank you for making this meal. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this after your long day.”

Similarly, appreciate them for things that are characteristics rather than actions. Do you feel joyful when you hear your partner’s laugh? Let them know with a “I love your laugh. It makes me feel so warm inside when I hear it.”

Reassure

When conflict arises, what do we subtly or overtly communicate about how we think the conflict is going to move forward? During times of conflict, people often get so worked up that they leave their partner feeling like this is the end of their relationship — even when the conflict itself may be something minor.

People often struggle knowing how to proceed after a conflict. How do we move toward a place of resolution, rather than sitting in our negative feelings?

Reassurance is a critical phase of the AARM method. By letting our partner know that we are here for them and that we love them — regardless of the conflict or disconnect we’re experiencing — we can create a safer and more stable environment for conflict to be resolved. This reassurance helps to keep us away from festering feelings and helps us begin the mending process.

Mend

The last component is to mend. Couples who thrive don’t let problems fester or stagnate. Rather, they proactively seek out and implement solutions to them in a timely way.

That doesn’t mean that they’re immediately jumping to problem-solving, because individuals may need different amounts of time to process their feelings and come to conclusions. It does mean that thriving couples do not let conflict go unresolved in the long-term.

Reassure your partner that you will discuss the issue when you are both feeling calm and aren’t angry, hungry, or tired. The person who withdrew or took space away from the conflict should be the one to approach the other person to propose a time to talk. This creates an environment of reliability, building trust at an incredible level.

Ask yourself (and your partner) where the conflict stemmed from. What actions can be done to either change the action or to change its effect? As you look toward the future, how could this conflict be prevented? Is there a communication struggle happening? How does your partner deal with negative emotions and how do you? How can you help each other in those moments? What negative emotions are you even feeling? What would it look like for this issue to be resolved?

Remember that emotions will pass unless we ruminate over them for too long. So, if you know how to break the pattern and move from a state of agitated emotion to a more relaxed state (or help the other do so), you are less likely to move down the spiral to shape and retain negative feelings.

By answering these questions, you can begin to move toward a place of conflict resolution, rather than continuing to struggle with the same issues on a rotating basis.

How do you practice these techniques with your partner?

5 Things to Tickle Your Senses…on Valentines Day and Beyond!

My office is packed around Valentines Day. I get clients who feel pressured to act a certain way, do a certain gesture or buy a certain gift. I often hear the words anxious and disappointment. Why such despair on a day created to celebrate love? Love for a partner, love for oneself, love for our family or pets…

Here are some tips that do not involve buying, waiting in lines or having to call restaurant after restaurant to find a free table to reserve. Rather than striving for a night of a one-night-only gift, create meaningful memories to utilize in the future with your current or future relationships.

Smell: There is not one specific smell or scent that will take your Valentines Day (or relationship) to the heights. Sometimes something different (exactly what we’ve always had) is all we need! If you usually wear perfume, try to go all-natural, let your partner smell the real you. Or perhaps try on a scent that you love and let your partner share the experience with you. Natural oils and ointments can go a long way as well, whether used for massaging yourself, your loved one or just lighting a scented candle in the house. Whatever it is that you decide to do, just do it- without thinking about a particular outcome or expecting a favour in return. You might want to stay away from baby oils and powder as they will bring about parental intuition which usually does not have the strongest bond with your sexy self.

Touch: Our skin is our largest organ, and holds great powers when it comes to sensuality, sexuality, sharing and caressing. Why not explore new forms of touch or kissing? How about new fabrics, or your favourite fabrics. We all have that one favourite cozy blanket or soft silky sheets that we would like to spend more time with… Exploring new forms of pleasuring the skin, whether with a partner or solo, will give you tools to use in the future, not just on Valentines Day.

Let your imagination create a tasteful, considerate atmosphere rather than a commercially-driven one.

Sight: No new lingerie, no decorations, just your true self! Let yourself and/or your partner see the real you, fresh out of the shower, or just in your natural element. Natural does not mean messy or not groomed, it just means that you are yourself. Feel and show love for the body that makes your life on this planet possible. You might want to even take away sight all together with blindfolds, focus on everything else. In the absence of one sense, others will be heightened specially hearing. Try listening to sensational, erotic or thought provocative audios, with your significant other, share stories, fantasies, whispers of poems and more.

Hearing: Music is a beautiful opportunity to find the words, tunes and rhythms that will represent your feelings if you’re one to not write a poem from scratch or a romantic tune to play on your guitar. Find a song or lyrics that reflect how you feel towards a situation or a feeling, read them in your private time, to your partner or chosen friend.

Taste: There is plenty to taste on Valentines Day! A partners lips is the one mostly promoted but how about a mindful experience with a choice of food or drink. Taste is closely related to our other senses specially sight and smell. Try to see how you can eat and feel through each of these senses and the involvement of mixture of them.

Let your imagination create a tasteful, considerate atmosphere rather than a commercially-driven one. Where the first one will be a memory to go to and the second, a memory to escape from!

On Women’s March- January 21, 2017

It is important to get out and express yourself and to be a part of a larger movement for a greater good. However, acknowledge that every individual also needs to practice self-care to reassure their physical and mental well-being. This is not only necessary for you but also critical to magnify our message that women (and their supporters) are strong and will remain so. Each and every one of us are coming into this from our own place of operation and being. Here are my offerings as a social and mental health advocate:

We are stronger together!

1. Many of you traveled to take part in the march from elsewhere so you might not have immediate social support. join a group (if you don’t know of one, just get out there and form one right before the march starts), even a small one so that you have a support group around you for any unpredicted need.

2. Stick together in your smaller group while being a part of the bigger movement.

3. Within that small group reiterate your goals for this march, your role and your boundaries.

4. Take part with all your being and proud however, know your boundaries and monitor your emotions. You are voicing the unheard, therefore at times the power that comes over you might become a little too much to emotionally handle.

4- Drink water. Have something simple to nibble on if needed. Emotional times affect your blood pressure and sugar level.

With compassion and solidarity,

Dr. Sara

Sponsorship Opportunities for the upcoming WAS conference!

Dear Colleagues, I am delighted to let you know about the #sponsorship opportunities for the upcoming World Congress on Sexual Health in Prague (May, 2017). Please see attached and let us know of your interest, questions and more…If you are interested in a form of sponsorship that is not mentioned here please write to me to discuss. There is always a way to be a part of a great cause!

Sexology conference, Prague conference, Sexual health, WAS, World Association