“The dead Bedroom” Lacking Intimacy Sex and Connection – A Guide for Women

Navigating Changes in Sexual Intimacy in Marriage: A Guide for Women

Your Instagram profile: It may showcase youth, beauty, and vitality, but when it comes to lasting love, desire, connection, and sex, life’s lessons often diverge from the superficial. As individuals mature, their behaviours and beliefs about sex, connection, desire, and long-term commitment evolve. The misconception that men solely exist for sex is a myth that dissipates with age and experience.

Discussing men’s decision to abstain from sex within marriage might seem uncommon, yet it’s a crucial topic to address. Contrary to popular belief, many men choose to forgo sexual activity within their relationships. While aging may play a role in diminishing the importance of sex for men, it’s not the sole determinant.

Various factors contribute to the ebb and flow of sexual intimacy in relationships. Depression, medication, stress, health issues, long term addiction/alcohol use, extramarital affairs, waning desire for a partner, past guilt, feelings of failure in life, past sexual trauma, pornography consumption, pain during intercourse, and relationship dissatisfaction, both emotionally and physically, can all influence libido.

Many studies conducted by universities shed light on the prevalence of sexual inactivity among married couples, with significant percentages reporting periods of abstinence. As men age and relationships mature, pressures such as work stress, childcare responsibilities, and financial worries can affect their sexual desire. Prolonged sexual absence in older men may even lead to increased risks of erectile dysfunction and testicular atrophy.

Despite societal expectations, there isn’t a prescribed frequency for sexual activity in relationships. While studies suggest a correlation between once-a-week sex and greater relationship satisfaction, frequency alone doesn’t guarantee fulfillment.

An intriguing aspect of men’s sexual desire is its emotional underpinning. Men often express the need for emotional closeness with their partners before engaging in sexual intimacy. Feeling emotionally connected is paramount for them, serving as a gateway to vulnerability and genuine closeness. Therefore, consistent criticism may foster a lack of closeness and connection.

Recognising that men derive emotional connection and affirmation through sexual activity can provide insight into nurturing intimacy within the relationship. Initiating sex can be a powerful gesture of desire and affirmation for men. However, when advances are rebuffed, men can feel vulnerable and emotionally exposed, interpreting rejection as a rejection of their entire being.

When a man decides sex is no longer a priority, his partner may also feel exposed, rejected, and undesired. As women age and after having children, they may feel less desirable. Their partner’s disinterest in sex may solidify their belief that they are no longer desirable or desired, leading to emotional disconnection and potentially divorce.

Recent data reveals a rise in “grey divorce” among individuals over 50, with factors such as poor communication, lack of emotional support, lack of sexual connection, complacency, addiction/alcohol, excessive focus on career or material possessions, unresolved conflicts, infidelity, and the desire to explore contributing to marital breakdowns.

So, what can women do to navigate these shifts in sexual intimacy?

  1. Foster Open Communication: Initiate candid conversations about sexual needs and desires, allowing both partners to express feelings without judgment.
  2. Acknowledge External Factors: Recognise the influence of stress, mental/physical health issues, or medication on sexual desire. Support partners through challenges.
  3. Respect Boundaries: Understand and respect each other’s boundaries regarding sexual intimacy, prioritising consent and mutual understanding.
  4. Explore Alternatives: Embrace diverse forms of intimacy beyond sexual acts, strengthening emotional bonds through activities like cuddling or shared interests.
  5. Seek Professional Support: Consider seeking guidance from a relationship counsellor if challenges persist, obtaining insights and strategies to navigate intimacy issues effectively. BEFORE you become resentful

Self-care remains essential: Prioritise emotional well-being, validate feelings, and engage in self-care activities nurturing mental and emotional health.

The wrap up: navigating changes in sexual intimacy requires patience, empathy, and open communication. By understanding each other’s needs and actively working towards mutual satisfaction, couples can strengthen their bond beyond physical intimacy. Remember, worth and value extend beyond sexual intimacy; prioritising emotional connection and mutual respect is key to a lifelong fulfilling relationship.

Couple often wait until their relationship is in the “Accident Emergency” zone before they seek help. I strongly advocate for couples to be proactive and reach out to a Relationship specialist before their relationship gets hit by the bus!

Men: Sometimes you get focused on your performance in the bedroom, a word from the wise, most women are not watching your performance. They are feeling the person they love bond with them. Women want sex, but they want to feel a connection, it’s not all about the hot and heavy. The sex you see in porn is not the sex that will win over a heart and secure a relationship long term.

Resist competing with other men, if you feel like you have lost your mojo or edge in the bedroom, it may just be all in your head. Let’s talk about that…

Conversation openers-

  1. Can we have a conversation about the changes in our intimacy? I miss the closeness we shared when we were more sexually active.
  2. I’ve noticed a lack of sexual connection in our marriage, and it’s making me unhappy. Would you be open to attending therapy together so we can address this?
  3. I want to understand your perspective on our lack of sexual intimacy. Are there reasons behind it that I’m unaware of? Let’s talk about how we both feel without judgment.

Embracing the Adventure: Navigating the Journey of Growing Families

As a seasoned couple’s /family counsellor and a mother of three grown daughters, as well as a grandmother of eight wonderful grandchildren, I’ve been blessed with the privilege of witnessing the beautiful yet challenging journey of parenthood. From sleepless nights to joyous milestones, each step along the way has its own set of triumphs and tribulations. Today, I wish to share some insights gleaned from my experiences as a Counselling therapist, a daughter, wife, mother and grandmother with the hope of providing support and guidance to fellow mums and dads on this incredible adventure.

One aspect that often stands out in the journey of parenthood, particularly with the arrival of a second child, is the profound impact it can have on a couple’s relationship. The responsibilities multiply, and the stressors abound, leading to heightened tension and strain. From the exhaustion of caring for both a newborn and a toddler to the dwindling of one’s sex drive, the challenges can feel overwhelming at times.

I vividly recall the days when medical professionals would address me, as the mother, during appointments for our children, seemingly overlooking the presence of my husband in the room. It was a reflection of the societal norms of the time, where mothers were expected to bear the full responsibility of their child’s care, while fathers took on the role of provider. I am very happy to say, “my husband never missed a beat when we were having our babies” he come from a family of eleven children, he knew exactly who he needed to “be” and what he needed to “do” to be a team member of our family. Thank goodness because in the beginning I was anxious and afraid, I needed his emotional and physical support. Sadly, many of my friends back in the 80’s and 90’s did not have progressive husbands and they really struggled.

However, times have changed, and I’m heartened to see more dads actively involved in parenting duties, from attending medical appointments to taking on household tasks.

In today’s fast-paced world, where both parents often juggle careers and childcare responsibilities, the concept of family as a team effort has never been more relevant. Each member plays a vital role in the upbringing of children, and it’s essential to recognise and appreciate the contributions of both parents.

However, amidst the joys of parenthood, there are also numerous stressors that couples may encounter along the way. From shifts in identity to time constraints and financial worries, the journey of growing families can test even the strongest of bonds. Yet, with patience, communication, and mutual support, couples can navigate these challenges and emerge stronger together.

Here are ten common stressors that couples may face on their journey of growing families:

  1. Increased Responsibilities: Balancing the demands of caring for multiple children can lead to conflicts over parenting styles and division of responsibilities.
  2. Shift in Identity: The transition from a couple to a family of four can alter the dynamics of the relationship, requiring adjustments and compromises.
  3. Toddler Dynamics: The arrival of a new sibling can trigger jealousy and disruptions in routines, adding strain to the relationship.
  4. Diminished Sex Drive: The physical and emotional exhaustion of parenting can impact one’s libido, leading to intimacy issues within the relationship.
  5. Limited Time for Couple Activities: Finding time for quality time together becomes challenging amidst the demands of childcare and household chores.
  6. Waning Novelty: The novelty of parenthood may fade with the arrival of a second child, leading to feelings of fatigue and resentment.
  7. Time Constraints: Juggling childcare and work responsibilities leaves little time for personal pursuits or relaxation.
  8. Shifting Priorities: Balancing parental duties, work commitments, and personal interests can strain the relationship.
  9. Increased Organisational Burden: Managing schedules, appointments, and household tasks can lead to feelings of overwhelm and resentment.
  10. Financial Strain: The costs associated with raising children, from childcare expenses to education costs, can add stress to the relationship.

Despite these challenges, there are steps couples can take to strengthen their relationship and navigate this journey together:

  • Communication: Make time for open and honest conversations about your feelings and needs.
  • Prioritise Intimacy & Romance: Reconnect with your partner through small gestures of affection and kindness.
  • Support Each Other: Show appreciation for your partner’s contributions and offer assistance whenever possible. Note to dad… your partner’s body has gone through a war to give birth. You may need you to be more understanding, tender and nurturing toward her. There are a lot of chemical forces at play in a women’s body she may need your help- How to support your wife or partner after birth – Today’s Parent (todaysparent.com)
  • Seek Outside Help: Consider couples counselling or therapy to address underlying issues and develop coping strategies.
  • Adjust Expectations: Accept that parenthood is inherently chaotic and be flexible in your approach.
  • Learn about Yourself: Take time to reflect on your own habits and behaviours, and be willing to adapt and grow as needed. Learning the skill of Self-management is so important.

While the path of growing families may be challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. By facing these challenges together with patience, empathy, and mutual support, couples can emerge from this journey stronger and more connected than ever before. Remember, you are not alone in this adventure, and with love and dedication, you can weather any storm that comes your way.

Tip: If you have a kind and supportive extended family, ask for their help from time to time.

Self-Management and Navigating Anger in Relationships

Navigating Anger in Relationships:

Anger is a potent emotion that resonates deeply within many of us, characterised by a spectrum of feelings ranging from frustration to outright aggression. It operates on a spectrum from mild frustration to absolute fury, and the intensity with which we feel anger and how we act on it is very personal. Science is beginning to provide new explanations about the ways that personality, age, gender, culture and life experiences shape the way we feel this emotions.  These emotional responses often surface in reaction to perceived injustices, threats, or wrongdoing by others, presenting itself in various intensities, from mild annoyance to overwhelming rage. Physiologically, anger triggers noticeable changes such as increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.

Recognising anger as a fundamental human emotion is crucial, acknowledging that feeling angry is a natural response. While anger can serve as a means to express negative feelings or motivate problem-solving, the key lies in how individuals respond to and express their anger. Mishandling anger can lead to detrimental consequences, affecting both the individual experiencing it and those around them. As we have seen in the latest numbers 2024 in Australia 20 women 2 Children and 2 Men have been murdered by someone who is very close to them. This is tracking to be a 30% increase on 2023. The numbers recorded are for people who have been murdered due to mismanaged emotions, however there are many women and children who are hospitalised with terrible physical injuries and emotional scares that will impact them for life. Whilst most victims are women and children men are also victims of Domestic Abuse.

Remember: There is one letter that separates Anger from Danger…

Assessing Anger Issues in Relationships: A Personal Reflection

In relationships, chronic or intense anger can result in negative outcomes for both partners and their children. To assess whether anger management is an area of concern, individuals can reflect on the following questions:

  • Do I struggle to control my temper, especially in challenging situations?
  • Is staying calm difficult when faced with frustration or stress?
  • Do I find myself prone to anger outbursts, even over minor issues?
  • Am I frequently engaged in arguments with my partner?
  • Have instances of anger caused disruptions in my relationship or work?
  • Have I ever resorted to violence or threats in moments of anger?
  • Do others comment on my anger, expressing concern?
  • Do I find it challenging to calm down after becoming angry?

Affirmative responses may indicate the need for working on anger control with a therapist to ensure physical and emotional safety for all within the relationship and the family.

Recognising Warning Signs of Anger in Relationships

Identifying warning signs of escalating anger is crucial for managing it effectively within relationships. These signs can manifest physically and emotionally, providing cues that anger is intensifying. Physical signs may include shallow rapid breathing, muscle tension, common areas are tightness in the jaw, tightness across the shoulders, pressing your feet firmly into the floor and fist clenching. You may experience an increased heart rate, and sensations of heat.

Strategies and Techniques for Anger Management in Relationships

Learning SELF MANAGEMENT techniques is crucial

Once warning signs are recognised, employing effective anger management techniques becomes essential. Some strategies couples can explore include:

  • Set boundaries, taking time-out to gain clarity and prevent heated confrontations.
  • Practicing controlled breathing to diffuse anger and promote relaxation.
  • Encouraging positive self-talk to influence emotional outcomes.
  • Reframing situations to view them from a more positive perspective.
  • Engaging in distracting activities to redirect focus and reduce anger.

Preventing Excessive Anger in Relationships: Long-Term Strategies

Beyond managing anger in the moment, couples can adopt long-term strategies to address underlying causes of excessive anger, including:

  • Learning relaxation exercises to release physical tension and stress.
  • Incorporating regular physical exercise to regulate stress levels.
  • Taking breaks throughout the day to alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
  • Identifying triggers and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Enhancing communication skills to prevent heated exchanges.
  • Exploring creative outlets as constructive emotional outlets.
  • Seek help for any childhood trauma that may be affecting you in your adulthood
  • While the effectiveness of these techniques and strategies varies, finding the most suitable method is crucial for maintaining healthy relationships. Seeking professional help, such as counselling, is recommended if anger significantly impacts daily life.

Am I in an abusive relationship?

Mental health problems may have crept up on you and you may not have recognised the root of the problem!

Do you feel like you have lost yourself in your relationship?

Are you constantly questioning yourself and suffer low self-esteem?

When approaching day to day tasks are you second guessing yourself?

Are you lacking confidence?

Is fear or walking on egg shells a part of your day in your home environment?

Do you become anxious thinking about your partner returning home?

Has your partner’s behaviours negatively changed who you are and you now find yourself living life against your own values?

Gaslighting, is an abusive practice, instils distrust or even a belief in mental illness in its victims. The enduring ramifications of gaslighting encompass anxiety, depression, trauma, and diminished self-esteem.

Though some forms of abuse, like physical harm, are conspicuous, emotional abuse often hides in plain sight, eluding easy recognition. While apparent to outsiders, signs of emotional abuse may elude those ensnared within it.

Emotional and mental abuse manifests through controlling, isolating, or terrorising behaviours. This abuse encompasses statements, threats, or actions, often exhibiting a consistent pattern

Recognising these signs and contexts where emotional abuse thrives is pivotal in aiding victims in identifying their plight and seeking necessary assistance.

Control, a salient red flag in relationships, manifests through various behaviours such as issuing demands or orders, monitoring whereabouts, or exercising financial dominance.

Abusive individuals often employ tactics of shame induction, employing lectures, outbursts, lies, walkouts, and trivialising behaviours.

Blame, typically stemming from the abuser’s insecurities, manifests in jealousy, victim-playing, and instigation tactics.

Humiliation tactics include name-calling, sarcasm, harmful nicknames, public displays, patronising behaviour, insults on appearance, and infidelity.

Unpredictable behaviours serve to maintain control, ranging from mood swings to gaslighting tactics.

Isolation, another hallmark of abusive behaviour, includes forbidding social interactions, hiding belongings, or monopolising free time.

Coercive control, encompassing behaviours that instil fear, hurt, or restrict freedom, can manifest in various forms including physical violence, threats, insults, swearing, isolation, activity monitoring, financial control, sexual coercion, and autonomy removal.

Recognising signs of coercive control, such as assault, threats, humiliation, isolation, activity monitoring, financial control, sexual coercion, and autonomy removal, is crucial in offering support to victims.

Victims of coercive control should be empowered to seek help and resources, understanding that abuse is never acceptable in any relationship.

In a healthy relationship, both partners strive to uplift and support each other, aiding in personal growth and fulfillment. However, if the dynamics within your relationship are causing you distress, eroding your self-worth, or diminishing your sense of empowerment, it is essential to pause and reflect: “Am I in an abusive relationship?”

Seeking couples’ therapy

You never have to stay in a situation of abuse. You have the choice to leave or seek support from a therapist. A therapist will support and may recommend a pathway forward by co-ordinating other services.

If you want to salvage the relationship and your partner is committed to improvement, couple’s therapy may offer helpful options. However, couples therapy would only be beneficial after the perpetrator has participated in their own treatment, and the abuse has stopped.

“A person might have grown up in a traumatic and dangerous home,” “They may have seen coercion as an adaptive quality to achieve most of their needs. They, in turn, will use coercion unbeknownst to them. They may not feel it is coercive because it was what was modelled to them and what they always saw.” WE SAY NO MORE EXCUSES, FIX THE BEHAVIOUR… Or you will be responsible for generational trauma in your family, well beyond your years.

What are some of the Traits a Brave Courageous man would demonstrate?

What are the traits of a brave courageous man? Here are some common traits of a brave and courageous man across various aspects of life:

1.     Fatherhood:

  • Nurturing: He actively participates in the upbringing of his children, providing them with love, guidance, and support.
  • Protector: He prioritises the safety and well-being of his children, ensuring they feel secure and loved.
  • Role model: He sets a positive example for his children through his actions, integrity, and values.
  • Communicative: He maintains open and honest communication with his children, fostering trust and understanding.
  • Patient: He demonstrates patience and understanding, even in challenging situations, guiding his children with empathy and compassion.

2.     Husband/Boyfriend:

  • Respectful: He treats his partner with respect, valuing her opinions, feelings, and autonomy.
  • Supportive: He stands by his partner through thick and thin, offering emotional support and encouragement.
  • Communicative: He communicates openly and effectively with his partner, addressing issues and resolving conflicts constructively.
  • Loving: He expresses affection and appreciation for his partner, showing her that she is cherished and valued.
  • Equal partnership: He views his relationship as a partnership, sharing responsibilities and making decisions together.
  • Masculinity: He is strong and brave he will never use his masculinity to create fear in is partner.
  • Vulnerability: He shows his softer side sharing his feelings and seeking help, speaking up when life seems overwhelming.

3.     Professional Life:

  • Dedicated: He is committed to his work and strives for excellence in all his endeavours.
  • Courageous: He takes educated risks when necessary, stepping out of his comfort zone to achieve his goals and pursue opportunities for growth.
  • Integrity: He conducts himself with honesty, ethics, and professionalism, earning the trust and respect of his colleagues.
  • Leadership: He leads by example, inspiring and motivating others through his actions and vision.
  • Resilient: He adapts to challenges and setbacks, learning from failures and using them as opportunities for personal and professional development.

4.     Treatment of Women:

  • Equality: He treats women as equals, recognising and respecting their rights, capabilities, and contributions.
  • Empathy: He empathises with the experiences and perspectives of women, showing compassion and understanding.
  • Supportive: He advocates for women’s rights and empowerment, actively working to dismantle gender stereotypes and inequalities.
  • Consent: He respects women’s boundaries and autonomy, seeking consent in all interactions and relationships.
  • Sexualising: He would use self-management and not waste time scrolling porn sites. He is insightful and acknowledges the disrespect toward women. He knows this activity can be viewed as predatory and cheating.

5.     Anger/Emotion Management:

  • Self-awareness: He is aware of his emotions and triggers, taking proactive steps to manage them effectively.
  • Control: He exercises self-control and restraint, avoiding impulsive reactions and responding to situations calmly and rationally. He learns how to self-manage without using alcohol or substances to self-medicate and push down undealt with feelings and experiences. They seek help before their trauma’s bleed over their loved ones creating generational trauma.
  • Healthy outlets: He channels his emotions into constructive activities such as exercise, meditation, creative pursuits or counselling.
  • Seeking help: He is not afraid to seek support from loved ones or professionals if he struggles with managing his anger or emotions.

6.     Alcohol and Drugs:

  • Moderation: He practices moderation and responsible consumption when it comes to alcohol, avoiding excessive drinking. He knows a drunk man demonstrates an unmanaged unpredictable man.
  • Abstinence: He refrains from using drugs or substances that may impair his judgment, health or hinder his responsibilities as a man, husband or father.
  • Awareness: He educates himself about the risks and consequences of substance abuse, making informed decisions to prioritise his well-being and that of his loved ones.

7.     Money Management:

  • Financial responsibility: He manages his finances wisely, budgeting and saving for the future while living within his means.
  • Planning: He sets financial goals and develops strategies to achieve them, whether it’s saving for retirement, buying a home, or funding his children’s education.
  • Transparency: He communicates openly with his family about financial matters, involving them in decision-making and teaching them about money management.
  • Generosity: He is generous with his resources, but also mindful of balancing generosity with fiscal prudence and long-term financial stability.

Navigating Sexual Boundaries in Marriage: Understanding Consent and Recognising Abuse

In recent times, I’ve had an increasing number of conversations with women who are grappling with sexual abuse within their marriages. Many express feeling pressured into sexual acts they are uncomfortable with, a situation that should never be tolerated within a loving partnership.

Stories range from being woken up in the dead of night by a partner’s unwanted persistent advances to enduring public groping or inappropriate touching of personal body parts. Each tale underscores a critical point: in any relationship, the word “NO” must be respected unequivocally.

Marriage does not grant license to exploit a partner’s body for one’s own gratification. Yet, with the rise of pornography consumption among men, women are often coerced into performing acts they find distressing. Some comply out of fear of losing their spouse or disrupting their family unit.

The blurred lines between romantic intimacy and selfish sexual indulgence are alarming. If sexual activity occurs without consent, it constitutes sexual assault—a fact that cannot be overlooked.

Sexual violence within intimate partnerships, whether marriage or dating, is regrettably common. It serves as a tool of control and abuse, perpetuating cycles of domestic or familial violence. Unwanted kissing or touching, aggressive sexual behaviour, and reproductive coercion are just a few examples of such abuse.

The term “sexual misconduct” encompasses a spectrum of behaviours, including harassment, non-consensual contact, penetration, and exploitation. At the heart of this issue lies the fundamental concept of consent.

Consent is not a one-time transaction; it must be sought and given for each sexual encounter. It should be enthusiastic, voluntary, and free from coercion. Mere submission does not equate to consent, nor does past agreement imply ongoing permission.

The repercussions of sexual violence in a relationship are profound. Survivors often grapple with fear, shame, anxiety, and self-blame. They may experience sexual dysfunction, insomnia, or stress-related symptoms, compounding their emotional turmoil.

Moreover, survivors face additional hurdles, such as fear of retaliation, financial dependence, and concerns for the safety of loved ones (in particular their children). These barriers can hinder disclosure and recognition of the abuse as criminal behaviour.

Despite the challenges, speaking out about sexual violence is crucial. It validates survivors’ experiences and underscores the seriousness of the issue. By fostering open dialogue and promoting mutual respect, couples can cultivate healthier, more equitable relationships.

In conclusion, within the sanctity of marriage, consent is non-negotiable, and abuse in any form must be addressed. Let us strive to create partnerships built on trust, communication, and mutual respect, where every individual’s bodily autonomy is honoured and upheld.

Signs of sexual frustration:

Signs You’re Sexually Frustrated & 10 Ways to Cope (choosingtherapy.com)

I want Identity, Belonging, Sex, Eroticism, Safety and Mystery in my relationship

In the journey of love and companionship, we often find ourselves pondering questions that lead us to deeper understanding and growth. Why does the passion in our relationship sometimes wane, even when love remains strong? Why do we seek fulfillment in ways that may not align with our deepest desires?

It’s essential to acknowledge that good sex doesn’t always guarantee intimacy, and vice versa. We may find ourselves yearning for the forbidden, yet struggling to connect with what’s right in front of us. These complexities can lead to challenges in maintaining desire and connection over time.

In today’s fast-paced world, where roles are evolving and expectations are shifting, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. Women are speaking up about their needs, while men navigate the delicate balance of vulnerability and masculinity. This shift can sometimes leave us feeling adrift, struggling to find our place within our relationships.

As we strive for identity, belonging, and passion in our relationships, it’s crucial to recognize the importance of communication and understanding. Successful long-term relationships are built on mutual respect, open dialogue, and a commitment to growth. Yet, we may find ourselves facing obstacles that hinder our ability to connect deeply with our partners.

But what do we want? We are saying “Give me Identity, Belonging, Sex, Eroticism, Safety and Mystery” BUT there is no road map, and we are not communicating well. We as men and women have a strong need for security and adventure in the one relationship. We want novelty, mystery and adventure with our partner, we want passion.

If you’re experiencing challenges in your relationship, know that you’re not alone. Seeking support through couples counselling can provide valuable insights and strategies for overcoming these obstacles. It’s an opportunity to explore the dynamics of your relationship in a safe and supportive environment, guided by a trained professional.

Remember, relationships take work, patience, and dedication. By investing in your relationship and prioritising open communication and connection, you can navigate the ups and downs of love with strength and resilience.

If you’re ready to take the next step toward a more fulfilling relationship, couples counselling can offer the guidance and support you need to climb those stairs with strength and momentum.

After all, we’re all just making our way through life, and seeking help when needed is a sign of strength, not weakness.

The decision to separate or divorce should not be taken lightly

Approximately half of marriages conclude in divorce. However, the decision to separate remains emotionally challenging, burdened by feelings and responsibilities. While divorce is a valid choice, it necessitates careful contemplation, particularly when considering factors such as salvaging the relationship and navigating the complexities of official separation, especially with shared assets or children involved. When you decide to divorce and you have children, you not only choose to change your life, but you also choose to change your children’s childhood.

As a counsellor and Mediator I have guided numerous individuals through this challenging process, I emphasise the importance of asking essential questions before deciding to split. These questions are designed to foster self-reflection and open communication between partners.

One crucial consideration is the potential salvaging of the relationship. Before involving the partner, individuals are advised to reflect on their current needs and assess whether the relationship has the potential for positive change. Evaluate past problem-solving dynamics and identifying any “danger traits” like constant criticism, contempt, defensiveness, or stonewalling, which may indicate relationship deterioration.

Communication is key when expressing unhappiness and discussing the possibility of change. If both partners decide to work through their issues, individual and couples therapy could be a constructive next step.

Another vital question is whether both partners are on the same page regarding the separation. Recognising that relationship breakdowns are often non-linear processes, it’s important to have clear and decisive communication to ensure mutual understanding and potentially amicable proceedings.

The matter of parenting arrangements comes into focus next. I advise re-framing custody discussions into a focus on being the best parents for the children. Planning should prioritise the quality of time spent with the children rather than quantity, emphasising the children’s well-being in terms of living arrangements, schooling, and transportation.

Addressing housing concerns, it is important to maintain open communication, clear boundaries, and to look for pragmatic solutions. Couples may decide to continue living together temporarily or explore creative housing arrangements, such as rotating in and out of the family home, keeping the children in their family home. This is called “nesting.”

Financial considerations are pivotal, thorough assessment of joint and individual assets, including savings, property, pensions, investments, and businesses etc…. Seeking the advice of financial professionals is encouraged to ensure fair division, especially when children are involved.

Legal aspects of financial arrangements are discussed next, highlighting the option of obtaining a legally binding consent order if both parties agree on financial terms. This can prevent unnecessary legal complications and costs.

Finally, the importance of separating amicably is emphasised. Couples are reminded that legal battles are not the only option, they are long expensive and can be soul destroying. There are alternatives such as counselling, mediation, or collaborative family group counselling can offer less emotionally and financially draining solutions.

Handling the divorce process with dignity and respect for both partners and their wider network of loved ones can contribute to a less painful memory of the experience.

Note: If you do decide to divorce and you have children, you are divorcing your partner not your children. Your relationship did not fail because of your children, but the children may see the marriage break down as their fault. Children may benefit from speaking to a family counsellor.

Toxic Relationships… Should I stay, or should I go?

Unveiling the Shadows: Understanding Toxic Relationships, Emotional Abuse, and Financial Exploitation

Introduction:

In the realm of human relationships, the concept of toxicity is a dark cloud that can cast a long and pervasive shadow. Toxic relationships, often characterised by emotional abuse, have a profound impact on the mental and emotional well-being of individuals involved. This article aims to shed light on the dynamics of toxic relationships, the signs of emotional abuse, and the often-overlooked aspect of financial abuse, highlighting the importance of recognising and addressing these issues for a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Defining Toxic Relationships:

A toxic relationship can manifest in various forms, encompassing friendships, family ties, career relationships or romantic partnerships. At its core, a toxic relationship is one that consistently drains an individual’s emotional and financial resources, leaving them feeling depleted and emotionally battered. Such relationships often involve a power imbalance, control issues, manipulation, and, in some cases, financial exploitation.

Recognising Emotional Abuse:

Emotional abuse, a prevalent facet of toxic relationships, is often more subtle than its physical counterpart, making it challenging to identify. Some common signs of emotional abuse include constant criticism, isolation, manipulation, control issues, and verbal aggression.

These behaviours can leave lasting psychological scars, affecting the victim’s mental health and self-esteem.

Adding Financial Abuse to the Equation:

Financial abuse is another insidious aspect of toxic relationships that often goes unnoticed. This form of abuse involves controlling a partner’s financial resources, restricting access to money, or exploiting their financial vulnerabilities. Signs of financial abuse include controlling the household finances, preventing the victim from working, or using money as a tool for manipulation and control.

Impact on Mental Health:

The toll of toxic relationships on mental health is multifaceted, encompassing emotional and financial dimensions. Individuals subjected to emotional and financial abuse may experience anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and a pervasive sense of worthlessness. Recognising the interconnectedness of emotional and financial well-being is crucial for understanding the full impact of toxic relationships.

Breaking the Cycle:

Recognising and acknowledging the toxicity in a relationship is the first step towards healing. It is crucial to establish boundaries and communicate openly with the abuser, expressing the need for change or, in severe cases, ending the relationship. Seeking professional support, such as therapy or counselling, is essential in addressing both emotional and financial aspects of the abuse. Friends and family can also play a crucial role in providing a support system for those seeking to break free from the clutches of toxic relationships.

 

Types of Toxic Relationships:

To gain a comprehensive understanding of toxic relationships, it’s crucial to recognise that toxicity can permeate various aspects of our lives. Here are some common types of toxic relationships that individuals may encounter:

1.     Romantic Partnerships:

Toxic romantic relationships can involve emotional and/or financial abuse, manipulation, control issues, and power imbalances. Recognising these dynamics is essential for fostering healthier connections.

2.     Marital Relationships:

Husband-wife relationships can be susceptible to toxicity, encompassing emotional, verbal, or financial abuse. Identifying signs early on is crucial for the well-being of both partners.

3.     Parent-Child Relationships:

Toxic dynamics may exist between parents and adult children, involving control, manipulation, or financial exploitation. Establishing healthy boundaries is vital for maintaining a balanced and respectful connection.

4.     Sibling Relationships:

Sibling relationships can turn toxic due to competition, jealousy, or unresolved childhood issues. Acknowledging and addressing these challenges is essential for promoting a supportive environment.

5.     Friendships:

Toxic friendships may involve manipulation, constant criticism, or emotional neglect. Recognising and distancing yourself from such relationships is vital for personal growth and well-being.

6.     Workplace Relationships:

Toxic relationships at work can manifest through power struggles, office politics, or bullying. Creating a positive and supportive work environment requires addressing and resolving these issues.

7.     Extended Family Relationships:

Toxicity may exist in relationships with extended family members, leading to strained family dynamics. Setting boundaries and fostering open communication can contribute to a healthier family unit.

8.     Neighbourly Relationships:

Toxic relationships with neighbours can involve disputes, gossip, or boundary violations. Establishing clear communication and resolving conflicts can contribute to a more harmonious community.

9.     Professional Relationships:

Professional relationships, such as those with mentors or colleagues, can become toxic due to power imbalances or manipulative behaviours. Maintaining professional boundaries is essential for a healthy workplace.

10.  Friendship Circles:

Toxicity within social circles can lead to gossip, betrayal, or competition. Surrounding yourself with positive influences and addressing conflicts constructively is crucial for personal growth.

 

Note: A relationship dynamic can shift and become toxic after an affair, leading to a role reversal where the victim may, in turn, display abusive behaviours. Infidelity can have profound and lasting effects on a relationship, and the aftermath is complex and emotionally charged. Here’s how this transformation may occur:

Betrayal Trauma:

The partner who was cheated on may experience profound betrayal trauma. Feelings of hurt, anger, and insecurity can lead to emotional distress, impacting their ability to communicate and cope with the aftermath of the affair.

Role Reversal:

In some cases, the partner who was initially perceived as the victim may, over time, react to the emotional pain in a way that involves controlling or manipulative behaviours. This can result in a role reversal where the once-perceived victim becomes the aggressor.

Power Imbalance:

The emotional fallout from an affair can create a power imbalance in the relationship. The person who was cheated on may seek ways to regain control or assert dominance, revenge potentially resorting to emotionally abusive behaviours.

Emotional Scarring:

Infidelity can leave deep emotional scars on both partners. The person who was cheated on may struggle with trust issues, leading to attempts to control the other person’s actions or emotions, inadvertently turning into a source of emotional abuse.

5.     Cycle of Hurt:

The hurt partner may, consciously or unconsciously, engage in behaviours that inflict emotional pain on the other person, perpetuating a toxic cycle of hurt and retaliation.

It’s essential to note that this role reversal and toxic behaviour do not justify or excuse the initial act of infidelity. Both partners need to take responsibility for their actions and actively work towards healing and rebuilding trust if they choose to continue the relationship. Infidelity happens for many reasons however both partners if they want to stay together need to get to the root of the problem in their relationship to prevent it from happening again.

Conclusion:

Toxic relationships can take various forms and infiltrate different facets of our lives. Recognising the signs of toxicity, whether emotional or financial, is the first step toward creating environments where individuals can thrive. By fostering open communication, setting boundaries, and seeking support when needed, individuals can break free from the shadows of toxic relationships and embark on a journey towards healthier, more fulfilling connections. It is through awareness, understanding, and a commitment to personal growth that we can build environments where emotional and financial well-being flourishes.

Top 10 reasons couples may experience a decline in their sex life

Navigating discussions about intimacy and sex can be a delicate challenge for many couples. Numerous factors can contribute to couples finding themselves in a situation where intimacy has dwindled, such as trust issues post-affair, exhaustion, boredom, and conflicting parenting styles. Understanding the root cause of this shift is vital for couples seeking to rejuvenate their sex life.

Tip: The “silent treatment” is not uncommon when couples cease to have sex. It is one of the most destructive communication styles in a relationship. Stonewalling solves nothing and is a sign that one or both parties may have difficulty expressing their emotions.

Sex is unquestionably one of the most sensitive topics, and even those comfortable discussing personal matters might hesitate when addressing their sex life. This challenge is amplified for couples who have stopped being intimate. Often uncertain about the reasons behind their diminishing sexual connection, these couples may be reluctant to engage in a conversation about it, driven by the fear of potential revelations or the possibility of being replaced.

Tip: Struggles with self-confidence is more common in long term relationships, particularly when couples are not good at providing positive reinforcement.

To assist those hesitant to initiate this conversation, here is a “Top 10” The most common reasons couples find themselves in a sexual lull. By reviewing this list, you may gain insights into what might be affecting your own relationship. Armed with this awareness, I encourage you to open up a dialogue with your partner because maintaining silence about sexual matters only perpetuates the issue.

Note: Couples counselling provides a safe space for uncomfortable conversations.

Top 10 reasons couples experience a decline in their sex life:

1.     Fear of hearing undesirable truths, such as concerns about attractiveness or suspicions of infidelity.

2.     Transitioning into a business-like partnership, prioritising practical aspects over romance and sexuality.

3.     Exhaustion from the demands of work, parenting, and caregiving, leaving little energy for intimacy.

4.     Negative body image issues that hinder the desire to be vulnerable with a partner.

5.     Discomfort during sex, often associated with aging-related concerns like dryness and pain.

6.     Boredom resulting from a lack of novelty and routine in the sexual relationship.

7.     Lingering trust issues following an affair, impeding the willingness to be intimate.

8.     Poor hygiene and a lack of self-care, self-grooming may affect attraction; this issue makes for a very sensitive discuss.

9.     Unresolved anger between partners hindering emotional and physical intimacy.

10.  Conflicting parenting styles causing stress in the relationship and impacting couple time.

Addressing these underlying issues is crucial for couples to re-establish a fulfilling and meaningful sexual connection. Openly acknowledging and discussing these challenges allows couples to work towards creating a healthier and more satisfying intimate relationship.

Does a lack of sex cause relationship problems?

Psychologically, if two people are in a committed sexual relationship, going for long periods without sex can cause feelings of hurt or rejection and significantly decrease levels of intimacy and connectedness within the relationship, especially if this issue is ignored or not addressed between the partners.

What is a sexless marriage? A couple who has sex LESS than 10 times per years

It is possible to turn things around… DIPAC 5 Steps to a better more connected relationship over 30 days may be a good starting position: Couples Counselling Services Australia | DIPAC

Please remember DIPAC “Individual” sessions Walk and Talk Therapy, it is called “Eco Therapy” Just write “Ecotherapy” in the notes when you book online. If you are time poor and find it hard to get your walk in, this may be for you. Therapy does not need to be in an office or can be, it’s up to you.