It's Inevitable. All couples will argue and push each other’s buttons at times. In fact, partnerships often bring up our core wounds and needs, bringing to the surface that which most needs attention. This happens in many forms, but it is most obvious when we are triggered, such as when our partner’s behaviors activate a sensitive issue within us. A couples counselor can help you figure out the anatomy of how a fight can escalate by deconstructing your feelings and needs. In helping you understand and look at when you get triggered and how that trigger may potentially be causing a ripple trigger effect with your partner, you can stop the negative cycle and more effectively communicate. Our highly specialized couples therapists can help you and your partner increased consciousness and awareness of the dynamics underlying your disagreements; in deepening your mutual understanding, your relationship will become less stressful, more harmonious and even exciting. Your differences will serve as a bookmark, a place in yourself that is calling for healing.
Tired of repeatedly having the same argument or type of conflict? Do you and your partner try to change each other’s feelings or points of views?
Our San Francisco Couples Therapists can help.
At the root of connection and intimacy in partnerships Is empathy. Empathy is a powerful way of holding mindful space with and for another person, without trying to problem solve, fix or change anything: It is the ability to deeply witness and feel moved by another person’s experience, so much so that it stirs in the witness similar feelings. Empathy is the very foundation of human connection, love and respect.
Take a moment to reflect on a time when you were listened to and really truly heard... without being offered platitudes (“Hey everything happens for a reason!” Or “Snap out of it!”), advice or dismissing statements. How did it feel to be seen as you were in that moment and experience? What did it feel like in your body as you felt understood, witnessed and heard?
One of our deepest needs as humans is to feel seen, accepted and understood; true understanding is not possible without empathy. As the iconic Humanistic psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers stated, “When someone really hears you without passing judgment on you, without trying to take responsibility for you, without trying to mold you, it feels damn good!” And indeed this is often what people most desire when upset or in pain (or even when experiencing joy)! Typically people don’t want someone to fix or change their feelings, as much as be a shared witness who gets it. We want to know we are not alone and in being understood we feel validated and supported and close to the listener.
Being Known Requires Sharing Yourself
“Vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.” – Brene Brown
Empathy is the willingness to deeply feel with your partner and to understand and accept their inner subjective experience as valid and real. It’s an opportunity to see your partner’s private inner world. What an honor to be witness! What trust and respect given by the vulnerable partner sharing their feelings!
This critical skill is part of Secure Functioning (creating a secure and safe and even sacred space of trust between the partners) and is vital to reaching resolution in difficult conversations and especially during times of conflict and turmoil. Not surprisingly, it is during conflict when empathy is most difficult and the most important intimacy building skill to master. To empathize with your partner when their hurt feelings are a result of something you said or did without defending yourself requires skill and practice. Putting yourself in your parter’s shoes, allowing yourself to soften to their hurt even when you feel angry or hurt or want to be “right” is the benefit of empathy.
EMPATHY SOFTENS US INTO AUTHENTIC CONNECTION, VULNERABILITY AND GENUINE INTIMACY. IT HEALS ATTACHMENT WOUNDS AND GENERATES EMOTIONAL SAFETY AND INTELLIGENCE.
Unfortunately, many people are not taught empathy and find themselves caught in painful and destructive repeating patterns called negative cycles. Our highly trained San Francisco Bay Area Couples & Marriage Counselors, Sex & Intimacy Therapists and Relationship Experts have helped thousands of couples and individuals deepen their capacity for empathy and intimacy, while simultaneously reducing the negative relationship patterns through highly effective couples therapy modalities rooted in the latest research in neuroscience and attachment theory.
Couples & Partners that have mastered empathy through relationship therapy often indicate “it’s like a light switch has been turned on in our relationship” and their cycles of negatively and conflict drastically reduced. They also learned how to stop the escalation and quickly and effectively repair.
San Francisco Intimacy and Sex Therapy Center’s couples Counselors are trained to assist partners to:
- Identify their problematic beliefs, feelings, interpretations and behaviors that create the negative cycle
- Help them to identify their underlying attachment needs,
- Learn how to effectively express their feelings and
- Share empathy with one another.
- Cultivate and maintain security and emotional intimacy (secure-functioning attachment).
When partners stop defending their positions and polarizing one another, they can choose to seek mutual understanding of one another other. Defensiveness invites defensiveness, whereas vulnerability invites vulnerability. When partners choose empathy over being “right” they become a team against the conflict and deepen security and closeness.
You, like many other people, could be taking it personally when your partner doesn’t come to orgasm during love-making. Are you worried that you’ve done something wrong? Do you wonder if you aren’t pleasing them at all? Have these frustrations contributed to a fight or a tense moment which has led to a missed opportunity for sexual connection?
Orgasm can be a very elusive for many people. Our San Francisco Couples Counselors & Sex Therapists see all genders in our therapy practices who report having a difficult time coming to orgasm. A lot of people are frustrated, angry at themselves, ready to give up hope and pretty depressed about their inability to orgasm during sex.
Orgasms are healthy and wonderful and it’s great for everyone to have them, however, pleasure is the goal in love-making and being frustrated and tense is not the way to go. When the non-orgasmic person is frustrated and you are frustrated it causes a real lack of possibilities for true pleasure and satisfaction to happen.
Here are some simple ways you can stop taking it personally and enjoy your own body’s pleasure:
- It’s not you. While it can be tempting to believe that you have control over your partner’s orgasm it may be truer that their body’s functioning has to do with what’s going on with them, not with you.
- Have some patience. Usually, it’s the person who is unable to achieve orgasm that is suffering more than you. Have patience with them as they go through their emotions.
- Ask how they like to be touched. When tension and frustrations arise it can be easy to neglect healthy communication. Healthy communication with your partner includes asking them how they like to be touched. Asking questions like, “what pressure do you like”? “where do you feel the most sensation in your body”? “what type of touch arouses you”? brings a sense of comfort and curiosity to the dynamic. Sometimes people are so busy getting to the “finish line” that they forget the journey is the most important part of getting there!
- If you are sexually frustrated and can’t be present for your partner, take some time out for yourself and your own pleasure. If you want your partner to orgasm so much that you are neglecting your own needs, take a break and masturbate! It’s okay to masturbate in front of your partner and it can be sexy too. Sometimes, taking the pressure off the orgasm of your lover and putting the attention on yourself can break some of the tension. Then, go back to making out and finding ways to please them.
- Engage in some slow, sensual foreplay and massage. Bring the energy and tension down by going back to the basics. If everyone is tense and frustrated they are not experiencing pleasure so enjoy some gentle, slow caressing and sensual massage. Remember, Get Out of Your Head And Into Your Body (if you want to have great sex).
- Enjoy the moment, whatever it takes. If you are processing verbally and emotionally during sex, don’t. Take a shower together, give each other acknowledgments and gratitudes, do some breathing together and enjoy each other. Striving for orgasm and feeling like it’s your fault that you can’t “give” your partner an orgasm is a missed opportunity to simply enjoy each other.
- Learn some creative, fun techniques and learn how your partner’s body works. We are all different and we all come to orgasm is our own unique ways. For some, they need a little fantasy role-play, others need a little verbal stimulation through “dirty talk”, some peoples bodies take a longer time to warm up and become aroused. Learn how your partner’s body works as well as a few techniques to help them along the way.
You are in this together and you can be a team! If you feel down about yourself come back to these steps again and again. There is a lot of good that can happen by letting ourselves off the hook and instead, maintaining a sense of team-work and creativity in the process.
At San Francisco Intimacy & Sex Therapy Center, our highly trained couples and sex therapists have helped hundreds of partners turn their whole relationships around by learning how to be a team when it comes to sex and leaning into the experience of getting to know each other in a whole new way.
Remember, it’s all about Pleasure and you deserve it!
San Francisco Bay Area Sex Therapist & Author: Dr. Anya de Montigny, DHS is a sexuality expert with over 20 years experience working with individuals, couples, and groups. Dr. Anya has a Doctor of Human Sexuality (DHS) degree, is a certified sex educator and certified sex coach and was the host of the popular radio show The O Word Sex Talk Radio. Dr. Anya has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area working with individuals and couples and invites straight and LGBTQ people into her practice. She also teaches adult sex education classes as well as consent & boundaries workshops at Universities and Colleges.