All posts by Kim Bowen

Differences in Sexual Desire

For marriages in crisis, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every situation is unique, because every couple and every person is unique. That’s why our work at The Marriage Place is highly customized, designed to help every husband and wife address their issues in a way that suits their unique relationship.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t answers.

In fact, there are specific answers, in the form of helpful practices and perspectives that can be applied in any marriage. These practices and perspectives make things better, period. You can think of them as healthy habits of living life together, because when they’re in place everything stays in good working order, humming right along. When they’re not, deterioration and corrosion and rot set in – basically, everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

There is one habit that can change the entire situation for you. Ellyn Bader from The Couples Institute uses the phrase “get curious, not furious.” When something is off-kilter in your marriage, partners use this habit as a way of exploring what’s behind the imbalance. Rather than critiquing or manipulating or simply getting mad, you honestly explore what you both need and why. Removing the hostility and blame creates a breeding ground for transparency and more sex.

Sex gets wonky sometimes

There are many reasons sex gets out of whack in our marriages. Sex involves so many conflicting dynamics, such as our feelings about our bodies, and the stresses we’re under at work, and the differences between what men want versus women, and our jacked-up expectations from what we see in TV and the movies. All of this and more affects how sex functions in our lives.

For example, take the matter of frequency. If you’ve been married a few years, what’s the “right” amount of sex? Are you getting enough? Too much? Does one of you want it more than the other? Researchers say that the happiest couples report having sex once a week. (Which is probably why so many of the couples we work with at The Marriage Place aren’t having sex anywhere close to that frequency.)

As another example, consider the basic differences between men and women. As I’ve referenced in other blogs, a study by Rosemary Basson, MB, FRCP showed that men have a spontaneous desire for sex, and women have a more responsive desire. A woman’s desire is usually in response to her partner’s sexual desire rather than a spontaneous ignition of her own libido. Men are generally ready to put the pedal to the metal, while women take a few laps to get up to full speed

And one more aspect to consider: Sex is simply a fragile thing in the first place. It’s touchy – pun intended – because it’s designed to be one of the most intimate, meaningful interactions we participate in as human beings yet it isn’t easy to negotiate in terms of how, when, where and even why.

So, if you’re like the majority of couples, over the course of your marriage, sex gets wonky at some point.

What do you do? Get curious, not furious

When expectations aren’t met, it’s easy to start the blame game. But there is another way! Like I said, there are answers! Instead of accusing and blaming, instead of getting angry and yelling, we can help you approach the issue of sex with an honest exploration that for most couples will deliver results in the bedroom and more intimacy over all.

Let me walk through one way of doing it. I’m adopting the perspective of the spouse who wants more sex because that’s the one who has to start the conversation, BUT that doesn’t mean they’re responsible for the fix by themselves. It’s just the starting point in the process for most couples.

1. First, get your head ready.

    Think through what you want. What is the best way to present it to your spouse? You must be willing to ask, “How am I making it hard for you to give me what I need?

2. Then, speak up.

    Be willing to come to the table from a place of vulnerability. Be open. There might be a valid reason your spouse doesn’t want sex. At the same time, they need to understand that no one wants to beg for it. Be clear about how that affects you.

3. During the conversation, manage your reactions.

    No matter how your spouse reacts to you, it’s important to let them have their thoughts and feelings, and you have yours. You need to take what they say seriously, but you don’t have to take it personally. This is differentiation, and it’s a healthy thing.

4. Finally, if your spouse isn’t listening, you must get their attention.

    • If this is a serious issue to you, your spouse needs to know it’s not going to go away. You must seek counseling, whether together or individually. You may even need to

consider a step that I call “putting the marriage on hold.” This isn’t walking out or initiating divorce, but it is changing your life rhythms in a serious way, such as moving into another bedroom in your house. A counselor can help you figure out how to clearly communicate “this is a big deal to me.”

Many couples – dare I say most – need help from a professional to keep this process healthy and positive. The Marriage Place can give you a safe way to talk things through. Whether the issue is sex or something else, our counselors and coaches know how to guide you.

Call us or schedule an appointment

(972) 441-4432 or Send us a text at (214) 431-5764

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Do I Have an Addiction?

Do I Have an Addiction?

By Kim Bowen

It can be porn. Or some other form of internet activity. Or food. Or alcohol. Or drugs – legal or illegal.  

It can involve a behavior, such as gambling or video games. Or a relationship, such as an emotional attachment to someone you know isn’t healthy for you to be around.  It can even be an addiction to a device, like your smart phone.

Regardless, every person who is serious about cultivating a thriving marriage needs to ask:  Am I addicted to something – anything – that could damage my marriage?

What is addiction?

Rather than give you the technical definition as defined by the American Psychological Association, I thought I’d describe it in more simple terms.

Most experts accept four indicators of unhealthy addictive behavior, as outlined in the descriptions below by Kay and Milan Yerkovich in their “How We Love” series:

  • Compulsion to use. The behavior becomes less of a choice, almost to the point that if you see it or think about it, you must do it.
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences. You don’t stop the behavior when someone discovers you or it causes problems of some type.
  • Lack of control. You’ve made repeated attempts to stop the behavior and failed.
  • Craving. You experience what seems like an overwhelming desire for the physiological or physical effect of the behavior.

Could you be addicted?

Good question!  How would you answer these questions?

  1. Have you felt compelled to engage in a certain behavior even when you know there will be negative consequences?
  2. Have you spent less time with your spouse, children, or work due to this behavior?
  3. Have you attempted to stop, and yet return again and again to the behavior?
  4. Do you, even as you’re reading this, look forward to the next time you can engage in the behavior?

If you answered yes to these, you have an addiction.

The real question

Now hear this – I don’t actually care how you answered these questions or whether you define yourself as an addict.

What I DO care about is what you do with it – the action you take.

We find in our work with couples that understanding something intellectually doesn’t produce change. In other words, just being aware of an issue doesn’t fix it. Taking action does.

If there is even a hint of something that could slither its way between you and your spouse, I say attack it with everything you’ve got. Your marriage is that important. A strong marriage serves as the foundation and launching pad for every other element of your life. From waking to sleeping, from work to leisure, from your children to your grandchildren – the richness of your marriage affects it all.

So Do Something!

One of the most basic, but critical, things you can do is to start talking about the issue.

Addiction, as with any other problem, only has power in the dark. If you want to attack it, the first thing you must do is flip on the lights and expose it. As I’ve said before, you have a choice: talk about it, or give into it.

We can give you a safe place to talk it out. Whatever the issue is, our counselors and coaches know how to guide you through it in a healthy way. Simply reach out. That is an action you can take right this moment. Do it now, for your marriage.

Call us or schedule an appointment

(972) 441-4432 or Send us a text at (214) 431-5764

Learn More