Trina Dolenz

Trina Dolenz

Monday, March 30, 2015

5 lies to stop telling yourself about your relationship

There are things people believe about relationships that are simply not true and don't help us to have healthy happy relationships. I call these relationship myths.
In this post, I'm going to be 'busting' the top 5 relationship myths that I regularly hear couples bring into the counseling room.

1. 'Relationships should be easy' or 'It shouldn't be this hard'

Really? Where did this idea come from? If we think this is true, every time an issue comes up to test or challenge us, we will hit a wall. Believing this will set you up to fail.
The fact is, sometimes relationships and human experiences are complicated, painful and difficult, but similarly the feelings of love and connection are also so amazing that it makes the tough times worth working through. It's the hardships that make you stronger and help you grow both as a couple and as individuals.
If you do feel like you've reached a standstill on an issue talking to a therapist can give you both the space you need to discuss any concerns that you have.

2. 'We should be able to work this out on our own'

I often meet people who come into the counseling room with a resistance to the concept of needing therapy. They believe that if they are meant to be together, they should be able to work it out on their own without the need for any external help.
This is a frustrating place to start from. I mean, if you didn't learn at home from your family, get taught at school, or just magically happen to be good at relationships, then how on earth are you supposed to just know?
It's quite an expectation to have of yourself and your partner, when relationships, emotions and human beings are such complex, magnificent things. Relationships are a work in progress and a skill, just like everything else in life, you need to learn and practice and sometimes a little help is all you need.

3. 'Arguing is bad'

All couples argue; it's a normal, healthy part of being in a relationship and I'd be more worried if a couple said they never argued because I'd be thinking, are there issues being bottled up?
It's not necessarily arguing that's bad; it's more to do with the way you argue and resolve conflict that can be bad. If your arguments are very intense and damaging and there's no apology and resolution to them, then arguments can feel very threatening in your relationship.
Relationship Counseling can help you to look at how to communicate more fairly and effectively so arguments are not so scary and bad, but can actually be seen as useful in getting issues resolved.
If you want to learn more about how you and your partner argue try our Arguments Check-up quiz

4. 'We should be having sex all the time'

Some couples worry that they are not having as much sex as they think they should be. When I ask what's going on in their lives, they tell me about young children, work, study, travel, running households etc. and I'm not surprised that sex has dropped off the agenda.
Realistically our sex lives will ebb and flow according to the demands on our energy and time. If you're having loads of sex, everywhere, all the time, in lots of different positions, that's great! But I would say you're in the minority rather than that being the 'norm' for most couples.
At a purely physical level if you're very stressed and tired, all your blood will be rushing away from your genitals and the last thing you will feel like doing is having sex. This may not have anything to do with attraction to your partner or the state of your relationship.
Often it's the worry that you're not having sex that puts pressure on you. If you can talk about the fact that it's actually ok and take the pressure off yourselves, you might find when you relax, that's when the sexual feelings come back.
If you do want to improve your sex life,  Sex Therapy  can help you either create a more fulfilling sex life together, or give you a little kick start in reigniting the passion.

5. 'If they love me, they'll change'

This is often the underlying feeling clients bring into the counseling room. I often see couples in limbo, unable to progress because they are caught in an internal struggle between what they want their partners to be and who they actually are.
Just because somebody loves you, doesn't mean that they can be someone they're not, or give you something they don't have. Even if they want to, it's like asking a cat to be a dog, or a poor person to give you a million pounds.
Saying that, of course there's room to grow and negotiate, but both parties have to be open to doing this for the relationship to work. But what it comes down to is you may have to accept your partner for who they are, or recognise that the relationship is not going to work long term and find someone who does meet your needs and gives you what you want.

How we can can help

I hope exposing these myths will help you think a little clearer next time you start worrying about what's going on in your relationship. That said, if you are concerned about issues in your relationship don't try to deal with it alone, talk to a trained couples therapist.

4 reasons sex is good for you

4 reasons sex is good for you.

Some might say it’s overrated, but why is sex just so important in a romantic relationship? Here are my top four reasons why sex is so great, why we need it, and why it’s good for us and our relationships. So if you’re looking for excuses to get busy, you’ve come to right place!

1. Sex reduces stress Sex provides us with an all-important timeout from the pressures of everyday life and studies have shown that, ‘Increasing warm touch among couples has a beneficial influence on multiple stress-sensitive systems.’ Researchers have found that a night of passion with your loved one can flood the brain with feelgood chemicals that relax the brain, reduces stress levels and even dull pain. So next time you’re feeling cranky, tired and stressed out, instead of just rolling over and going to sleep, try to reach out to your partner and share the benefits of a stress-busting session in bed together.

2. Sex helps us to bond

Here comes the science… Bonding behaviors such as kissing, hugging and touching release a hormone called oxytocin, which is also released when we orgasm. Oxytocin relaxes our natural defensive systems by soothing a part of the brain called the amygdala, which controls our stress responses. The comforting feelings produced by oxytocin help us to feel close to our partners and deepen our bonds with them, keeping us feeling safe, close and connected. In a study on a group of men who were given either a dose of oxytocin or a placebo, researchers found that oxytocin release made it easier for men to act in a positive and loving way towards their sexual partners. Feeling safe and trusting our partner is so important in maintaining a strong relationship and it’s been found that the more frequent and dependable the flow of oxytocin produced, as a result of regular physical contact, the easier it is to sustain a relationship. This links back to a previous post I wrote about connection being more important than communication. If you're flooded with oxytocin your defensiveness will be down and you will feel much more connected and loving towards each other.

3. Sex is unique to your relationship

Relate Sex Therapists will tell you that sex is the one thing that is special and unique to a couple relationship that you don’t experience with anyone else. It allows you to share a level of closeness, vulnerability and intimacy that help you bond and connect in a way that you don’t do in any other relationship in your life. This is the part of your relationship that is exclusively yours and no one else’s.

4. Sex is good for your health

 There have been many studies proving that regular sex can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, improve cardiovascular fitness and reduce the risk of heart attack. Having more sex can even be good for your libido, so the more you have, the more you’ll enjoy it! Remember: Sex is more than just intercourse Finally, don’t limit yourself by thinking about sex as just the physical act of intercourse; sex is so much more than that and can be anything you imagine. Stroking, touching, kissing, caressing, cuddling, holding hands or any way that you physically comfort and offer each other pleasure can all be viewed as part of a fulfilling sex life. So get exploring!

Find out more If you’re not completely satisfied with your sex life, I can help. You can call me on 202 657 6919

Monday, March 16, 2015

How can we cope with the aftermath of an affair?

How can we cope with the aftermath of an affair?

How can an affair be forgiven?


It is vital that you both understand the real reasons why it happened. To do this you will have to talk about what had been going on between you in the time leading up to the affair. This can be very painful, but unless you know what went wrong, you won't be able to change things in the future. Be patient. Rebuilding trust that has been broken can take a long time.

What helps to mend a relationship?

  • The unfaithful partner must end the affair, once and for all.
  • Talk it through. This process may take days, weeks, or longer.
  • Don't talk on for hours and hours - you'll just go round in circles.
  • Set a time limit, and don't talk when you're tired.
  • Agree to also discuss future problems, instead of just hoping they'll go away.
  • Make a commitment to a new future together. Both partners must do this, and mean it.
  • Find more time for each other, take more interest in each others' lives and feelings.
  • Try to sort out sexual problems.
  • Consider relationship counselling.

Long-term effects of an affair
Only you can decide what to do in the aftermath of an affair, and whatever you decide will not be easy. Many affairs cause havoc in a relationship that is already dogged with problems. Affairs do sometimes provoke far-reaching changes that eventually strengthen and enhance the relationship. The cost can be very high, however.
An affair can also have destructive effects on your family. Children, in-laws, friends, may all find themselves caught up in events, and perhaps having to take sides. Permanent barriers can be created. Even so, an affair does not always mean the end of your relationship. With hard work, commitment and patience, it may be possible to come through this crisis changed, but also stronger.
The key message is to understand why the affair happened, rather than running away from the reasons. Whether you stay together or part, it is crucial to gather some insights into what went wrong. Do this, and if you remain together you will have a deeper understanding of yourselves. If you part, you will know that you had the courage to face the truth, and will be better prepared for future relationships.