Balancing Closeness and Togetherness in Intimate Relationships

by Andrea Farnham, PhD cand.

Many couples seek counseling to increase intimacy and feelings of closeness and connection. Likewise, these couples often report difficulty in the area of sexual desire, in particular, tension due to differing levels of sexual desire. Interesting to note, scholars and therapists have acknowledged an erotic paradox that exists in the area of intimacy and sexual desire, such that, desire hinges on wanting something which centers around mystery, unfamiliarity, distance, dangerousness, and the unknown. Intimacy on the other hand, hinges on closeness, connection, trust, familiarity, safety, and knowing or being known. Therefore, the question begs to be asked, how do couples balance these two paradoxical aspects of sexual desire and intimacy? How can couples balance mystery with familiarity, danger with safety, and distance with closeness?


Finding Voice Through Boundaries

Problems often arise in relationships where boundaries do not exist. When partners struggle to set proper boundaries resentment, anger, and feeling taken advantage of often arise, leading partners to blame one another for such feelings. While one partner may have acted in a hurtful manner, we are each personally responsible for setting our own boundaries, which then help us decide what we will and will not tolerate from our partner.  

When there is a lack of healthy boundaries in relationships, choices are often made out of guilt, fear, or obligation. For example, saying “yes” and agreeing to something out of guilt or fear, when you really wanted to say “no”. Such exchanges only lead to further resentment. By not sharing our true thoughts, we disempower ourselves and quiet our voices. While the act of setting boundaries can be difficult, learning to do so can be an empowering experience, allowing us to regain our voice in the process.


When She Has the Stronger Drive

This article was written for my friend Shaunti Feldhahn's website - It is copied here but I recommend you also view it and the comments on her website. While there, sign up for her email list.  - Dr. Mike


When She Has The Stronger Sex Drive pt 1When She Has the Stronger Sex Drive; Part One.

By Dr. Michael Sytsma

Conflict over sexual desire and frequency is the most common sexual issue causing distress in couples today. The age-old stereotype, of course, is that the husband wants sex all the time but the wife isn’t interested. Increasingly, though, we hear from wives who are trying to figure out what it means when they are the high-desire spouse and the husband doesn’t seem to want it as often. These women want to know what on earth is going on and what to do.

Ladies, while you can’t change your husband, there is a path you can start down that can help remove the conflict related to sexual desire within your marriage – and bring hope for a great mutual connection.

But are you ready for the hard truth?  As with many worthwhile changes, the first stage begins with you.  So the focus of this Part One article is this:

Prepare Yourself Before Addressing it with Him

Conflict over sexual desire is often really difficult for couples to work through, especially since many don’t have the critical tools they need.  Since you must understand each other to make progress, the most important tool is good communication. So….how are you at that?  If you personally can’t talk about finances, in-laws, or parenting without getting defensive, shutting down, or blowing up, it is unlikely you will be able to talk about the emotional topic of sexual intimacy without doing the same. If you need to, first seek some help learning good, solid communication skills.

Next, prepare yourself to address this well. Keep in mind that beautiful flowers grow when we have provided the proper soil, nutrients, and moisture. Similarly, here are three critical steps you can work on to build a great environment for addressing this important topic with your husband.

Read the article here...

Thoughts on desire, sin, affairs and being deceived...

by Michael Sytsma, PhD, LPC, CST, CSAS, CPCS

Some thoughts on desire, sin, affairs and being deceived while reading the book of James...

About 70% of my therapy load involves post-affair couples. One, or both, of the spouses have had an affair and they are in my office, at least in part, to restore their marriage. As a result, I have heard hundreds of stories of how affairs develop. The more I hear, the more James 1:14-16 becomes real to me.


Preparing for Marriage

 by G. Corey Carlisle, MDiv, LMFT, CST

How exciting it is to find the person you desire to spend the rest of your life with, whose presence gives you butterflies and whose touch is utterly electrifying. You see the best in each other and can hardly wait to live happily ever after in each other’s love. Passion is high and this is a very thrilling season of life as you prepare for marriage.

Often the last thing we want to do during this time is to have a sober look at our relationship. We don’t want anything to rob us of our joy. However, if we let the intensity of this season get the best of us, we can rush ahead of wisdom and set ourselves up for many disappointments and regrets. Whether building a house or building a marriage, wisdom instructs us to count the cost before beginning (Luke 14:28).

Premarital counseling is a great way for you to count the cost as you prepare to build an intimate marriage. Through counseling you are able to explore the strength and the growth areas of your relationship. Do you have a solid foundation ready to endure the many storms of life and marriage? Are there issues that need to be addressed before walking down the aisle?