Couples Counselling

Relationships are an important part of our psychological functioning. Establishing, maintaining and terminating relationships in a healthy manner requires skills which, hopefully, continue to improve throughout our lifetime. Establishing relationships can be difficult particularly in our technologically driven society. Increasing your skills to create positive friendships, making good choices within your interpersonal relationships and allowing yourself to be open to others are first steps to creating healthy relationships.

Maintaining relationships requires a willingness to be vulnerable with another human being. Avoiding superficial relationships and truly sharing with another person can be a healthy goal. Competing tasks which increase over time such as parenting and employment can get in the way. Many couples find that they benefit from engaging in positive activities that help them maintain a positive relationship. You are encouraged in your goals to experience happy and fulfilling relationships with others!

In my practice, I welcome individuals or couples who wish to address relationship concerns. Whether the goal is to increase the intimacy within your relationships, decrease conflict within your relationships or address outstanding issues which limit your ability to establish positive relationships, psychological intervention can assist you to achieve your goals.

All relationships are unique. Whatever your relationship status, I provide an open and non-judgemental approach to therapy.

Here is some information that I created to help you explore various elements of intimacy and relationships.

How do we manage and maintain intimacy within an established relationship?

Intimacy can be defined as closeness between partners, sharing personal thoughts, feelings and emotions within a relationship. Intimacy helps us create a relationship where partners are vulnerable, open and allow each other to truly know one another. Intimacy can increase throughout a relationship or it can fade over time. Busy schedules, child rearing and work stress can limit opportunities to establish intimacy within our relationships.

Being close physically and emotionally to another human being is an important part of creating a satisfying sexual relationship. There are ways to increase the level of intimacy and closeness within your relationship. This may lead to improvements in your sexual relationship as well as to your overall relationship satisfaction.

Sexual satisfaction is enhanced when your relationship is happy, when positive communication is favoured and time is spent improving your relationship. Sexual satisfaction can decrease when you are unhappy in your relationship, when there are unresolved conflicts in your relationship or when your expectations within the relationship are not being satisfied. It is important to address relationship problems and resolve conflicts as they occur.

Here are some tips:

1. Spend time together.

Take short periods each day to be together. Ensure that you take the time to holiday together, this is especially important for partners with busy schedules or caregiving responsibilities. Remember a holiday does not have to involve travelling or a large expense, time alone at home counts too!

2. Be present.
When you are together with your partner, be present. This involves silencing cell phones, ignoring email and computer requests as well as turning off the television. Being truly available for your partner once a day is a worthwhile goal.
3. Communicate positively.
Remembering to foster positive and supportive interactions can assist you to create a healthy and happy relationship. Thanking your partner and recognizing their efforts are two important ways to communicate positively. It is also important to be honest. This includes communicating your personal feelings, thoughts and perceptions regularly.
4. Grow within your relationship.
It is easy for relationships to become stagnant over time; bad habits creep in which undermine your efforts at creating intimacy. Recognizing when your relationship needs extra attention and energy is an important long term investment.
5. Open communication about sexuality.

Discussions surrounding sexual expectations, sexual preferences and sexual values are an important part of establishing a healthy relationship. Sexual expectations can change over the course of a relationship. Open communication about sexuality is a helpful goal.

Sexual behaviors can change over time within your relationship. How does aging impact sexuality?

It is a myth that older adults no longer explore and enjoy their sexuality. For some, retirement brings increased conflicts about sexuality and the level of sexual activity within the relationship. It is important to resolve these conflicts in a way which honours the needs of both partners.

Rekindling your sexual relationship can become an added benefit to the changes that life bestows in later years. While the general public tends to pay little attention to sexuality in later years, sex has no “best before date” and is enjoyed by individuals throughout their lifespan. It is a myth to believe that after menopause or after physical health changes that can occur with aging that couples cease their sexual activities. In fact, it is often after retirement that partners have increased time to spend enjoying each other and enhancing their sexual experiences.

Unfortunately, sexual dissatisfaction can occur at any stage of life. Addressing sexual difficulties takes courage but it can be a positive way to re-establish intimacy within your relationship. At any age, seeking pleasurable sex remains a worthwhile goal.

Here are some tips to increase your sexual enjoyment and sexual desire:

1. Don’t believe the myths that surround sex and aging.
While some physiological processes change over time, sexual enjoyment does not diminish. In fact, taking more time to relax and enjoy sexual activity can enhance the sexual pleasure of both partners.
2. Take the time to discuss sexual activities, sexual expectations, and sexual interests.
It is possible that your partner would like to explore different sexual activities. Honest communication about your sexual interests is one way to foster positive communication with your partner.
3. Set the mood.
Enjoying an activity together, going for a walk, listening to music, exercising together or sharing a good meal are some examples of activities that can enhance elements of romance. You can take that extra time together, take full advantage of it!
4. Resolve conflicts and relationship dissatisfactions.
Resolving conflicts in a way that satisfies both you and your partner is important. Establishing positive interactions and enhancing mutual appreciation within your relationship is an important goal. Maintain positive feelings about your partner as this will likely increase your interest in pursuing an active sexual relationship together.
5. Maintain your physical fitness over your lifespan.
Engaging in low impact exercise as well strength training will assist you in maintaining your physical health as well as your sexual activities throughout your lifetime. Feeling good in your body translates to positive sensations and positive experiences!
6. Ask for help.
Do not be afraid to discuss your sexual needs at any age. You deserve to experience and grow your sexual self and explore your sexual identity. Pleasure is joyful at any age!

Contact me for further information on relationships or to discuss your own personal relationship goals through either individual or couples counseling.