Re-ignite your relationship this Valentine’s Day and beyond!

After some time, many couples come to me concerned that they have lost their excitement in the bedroom. Some couples cannot even be bothered to go through the motions, let alone have an exciting sex life

So how can a couple re-ignite their sex life?

Communication: The important factor that I always emphasize is to develop an effective and on-going communication routine. A suggestion is to commit to review your sex life (turn ons and offs, preferences, etc.) once a year. Why not make it a tradition each Valentine’s Day? You can even create a new date in your calendars just for this. This way, you will not risk getting deeper into unpleasant or ineffective habits, no one will get offended if their partner shares their new preferences, and you will have something new and exciting to look forward to each year. 

Expand Your Horizons: Couples should continually expand their horizons. You can do this by, for instance, watching or reading erotic material (not necessarily porn), attending a couple’s retreat, traveling to new or exotic places, or simply, by exploring new things together as well as creating common experiences. These will then be transferred into your sex life too.

Use Your Senses: Sex is a sensual, mutual experience, therefore, the more pleasant experiences a couple has together in general, the better and more harmonized their sex life will be. Couples can use the 5 senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, sound) to create pleasurable experiences with their partner. Read more about this HERE

The mistake many couples make...

The mistake many couples make is that they get too comfortable within the relationship and may assume something that worked before will still work. This is a huge mistake. When I say “develop an effective and on-going communication routine”, I mean to keep learning about their own bodies, as well as each other’s as they age together and share it with one another. Because not only will our bodies change over time, but also the external factors that might influence one’s sexual preferences will change as well. Overtime, if we work on it, our inhibitions lower and we have more skills to communicate with our partners in general, which help with having conversations about sex. 

Remember that a check-in routine should not only be effective but also be ongoing. This is important because you do not want to alarm or offend your partner. For example, if after 15 years of marriage, all of a sudden one person suggests something new, their partner might be alarmed as to why they are asking for this change now! Where did this come from and whether they have been faking everything else in the past years? 

If you are already in a long term relationship and have not done this so far, why not start this Valentine’s Day? The key is to start having non-judgmental and open communication with your partner.

This will start by being non-judgmental yourself

Just take whatever you hear as data. Remove yourself out of the information so you don’t start making meanings and interpreting their suggestions, preferences, etc. as a sign of them being a pervert or you being inadequate.

Listen with genuine interest and curiosity. Ask clarifying questions to truly learn about your partner. For example, if your partner comes to you and wants to share an erotic thought, instead of being threatened and accusing them of having changed, try to learn more about it.

This can help you to be a more skilled lover; your partner is giving you insider tips! Take it and use it! This is the start!  

Want more insider relationship tips? Sign up for Dr. Sara’s Newsletter. Would you like a to learn how to strengthen your relationship even further? Register for the upcoming couples course through GenConnect. 

Check out more resources with these articles: Dose of Love V-day Tips, Relationship Etiquette, Love Bytes

For a personal consultation with Dr. Sara, please contact here.

 

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Your Relationship Is a Garden and Intimacy Is the Water

Relationships are like gardens. They need focused care with attention to their nourishment, otherwise they may become overwhelmed. When we are caring for a garden (or for children or pets), we often practice thoughtfulness. Are we doing the same in our romantic relationships?

Take water for an example.

Water is necessary for any garden to thrive, but if you give it too much, it could lead to devastation. The ground may not be able to absorb all of that water, causing the roots, stems, and blooms to wilt and rot. So, instead of dumping a liter of water on at a time, we use watering cans with filters or a hose that adjusts the spray level. We move our potted plants under a shelter when heavy rains come. Too much or too little of any good ingredient actually ends up damaging rather than nurturing.

Communication in our relationships is just like watering a garden — we shouldn’t flood our partners with information, but rather, intentionally utilize a filter.

I don’t mean this to say that you should withhold important information from your partner. Rather, I mean that we must be mindful of how and when we share information. When we struggle or have bad news, do we share all of that for the first time in a large group of people? Often, no. We wait until we can privately tell the people who are close to us, and then perhaps we tell others.

Similarly, when we show affection, are we intensely affectionate one day and then withhold affection for several days? Perhaps we do, intentionally or not, but working in rhythm can help to reduce conflict or stress within your relationship. That’s because intensity doesn’t build trust in relationships — consistency does.

Intentionally choosing how to share information and practice intimacy with your partner can deepen your bond by increasing your trust and improving your communication. Intimacy is not talking all the time and sharing whatever comes to your mind without giving it a second thought.

Many couples believe that to be intimate is to share everything they feel or have in mind with their partner without using any filter; without thinking about their context or what their partner needs at that time. In other words, they “flood” their partner instead of mindfully nurturing them with every act and word.

A basic guideline for sharing is that no one involved should be hungry, angry, or tired. That’s because the intellectual part of your brain becomes compromised in each of these situations, making it harder to judge and discern information, as well as understand your own reactions. Let’s start from that baseline and build up our skills as we go along.

How do you define and practice intimacy? I’d love to hear from you — you can reach me on Instagram @Dr.SaraNasserzadeh.  




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5 Ways to Improve Your Relationships with Mindfulness

Have you ever stopped and truly focused on what is happening around you?

Just take a second and pause — where are you? Are you sitting, standing, or moving in some way? What is the environment around you like? How does your body feel? What can you hear, see, taste, smell? Which part of your body is more present? Are you comfortable?

In today’s world that pushes notifications and demands instant responses, we rarely give ourselves the space to simply stop and be.

The practice of mindfulness allows us to experience ourselves for who we are rather than focusing on what we are doing. Over time, this practice allows us to better respond to stimuli and stressors, manage our emotions, and communicate. In short, to better know ourselves. This, in turn, helps our relationships.

We can’t begin this mindfulness work in the bedroom or during a conflict, though. In order for those muscles to strengthen, we need to exercise them in times of relative peace. I’d like to share with you five ways — one for each sense — you can practice mindfulness in your daily life and within your relationships.

1. Sight

How often have you gotten part-way through your commute only to realize that you didn’t even notice a landmark as it passed? When we are used to seeing the same things every day, we stop looking for them or at them. To practice visual mindfulness, spend a set amount of time (5, 10, 30 minutes) focusing on one item or scene.

How is it shaped? What do its colors remind you of? Have you seen it before? What do you feel looking at that item? Being more visually in-touch with the world around us helps us to be more aware of the people around us, including how they’re non-verbally reacting to things happening around them.

Stereotypically, sight is the sense that we most often associate with attraction. When we watch movies, there’s often a meet-cute that is heavily influenced by the level of conventional attractiveness of the characters. But in our relationships, attraction is much more complicated.

If you’re in a long-term relationship, you may feel pretty confident that you know what your partner looks like — where they have body hair, where they have moles, or any scars that they have. But bodies are always changing, and as we get deeper into our relationships, we may pay less attention than we have in the past. Set a timer for 30 minutes and during that time, really look at your partner’s body. What has changed about it? What haven’t you noticed before? Take the time to not just look, but truly see.

2. Sound

Do you have sounds that you really dislike? Music that you love? A person’s voice that can always soothe you? As infants and children, we bond to certain sounds and voices, but as adults, we begin to selectively turn off or focus away from sounds happening around us.

To practice auditory mindfulness, place yourself in a moderately busy room and simply listen. What can you hear? People having conversations around you, cutlery on a plate, air conditioning, background music? Work to focus in on each of those sounds for 1-2 minutes, then bring your focus back to the larger space. Make sure to take mental note of how your mind responds to each of those noises — do you feel happy or concerned? Stressed or at peace?

Sound is also directly tied to our listening comprehension, or our ability to understand information that is being given to us verbally.

When your partner is communicating their needs to you, do you truly understand them? To bring this mindfulness practice into your relationship, ask your partner to tell you a story. Pay close attention, and at the end, summarize the story for them. Did you miss any key parts? Did you overlook something that, to them, was important?

You can also consider how you might bring these practices into the bedroom. Focus on how you communicate your desire or pleasure (or displeasure) to your partner. What sounds do you make? Do you enjoy talking “dirty” with your partner? Do you like to listen but not speak? Connecting with what brings you and your partner pleasure can help to strengthen your sexual communication, one fundamental component of relationship communication.

3. Taste

Some psychological studies have found that our perception of taste changes based upon our emotions or the context around us. Specifically, they found that experiencing positive emotions made food taste sweeter, and experiencing negative emotions made foods taste more sour (Noel, Dando 2015). What does your favorite food taste like? Next time you get ready to eat a meal, savor each bite. What are the textures and flavors? Can you identify each of the ingredients? Does the cooking style make a difference?

Sit down to a meal with your partner, ensuring that you each are eating the same foods. How do the items taste to each of you? How do you each react to hot, cold, sour, salty, sweet, creaminess? Which flavors excite each of you the most?

You may notice that you and your partner don’t identify your meal in the same way — and that’s okay. Our taste buds are all different. It’s important to pay attention to how similarly and differently you each describe the meal. Note those differences and consider how that perspective brings you together or makes each of you unique. Delight in the fact that you have a palette that is uniquely your own.

4. Smell

Some of us are more sensitive to scents than other people are — we may love perfumes or only use unscented body care products. Scent is a primal instinct, one that tells us who we feel a deep connection to and one that feels personal in a way that is unrivaled by the other senses.

Think about what your favorite scent is. What feelings does that scent evoque in you? What does it actually smell like? Does the smell “feel” warm, bring back a memory, or make you think of a person?

Your partner has a scent that is uniquely their own. What feelings does that scent bring to you? Next time you embrace, try to remember the feeling that the scent of their hair, their toothpaste, their lotion brings to you. Do you feel more relaxed when you smell those things? More tense? Excited?

5. Touch

Touch is, perhaps, the sense that we most often conflate with pleasure. Our skin is our largest organ, and the nerve endings that create the pathways underneath our skin help us feel temperature, pleasure, and pain.

A simple way to practice tactile mindfulness is to hold an object in your hands. Describe it to yourself. What does it feel like? What is its temperature, its weight, its texture? Does it have a variety of textures? What does that sensation make you think of?

There are a few different ways you could practice mindfulness of touch with your partner. You could do an exercise similar to the one for sight, feeling your partner’s body and noting how its different parts feel — what are its textures, weights, temperatures? How that feeling changes with a light touch compared to a firm touch? How does it feel when your partner touches you? What feelings do you feel?

Any of these senses can be further isolated by removing one of its counterparts — if you wanted to increase taste, you might wear a blindfold or if you wanted to increase your sense of touch you might wear earplugs.

As we enter the new year, consider how your senses can guide you in your life and relationships. If you practice any of these techniques, I’d love to hear from you — let me know on Instagram @Dr.SaraNasserzadeh.

If you want to learn more about the relationship between mindfulness and your sex life, you may find this CNN article that I recently contributed to to be an interesting read.





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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?

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