You are currently viewing Episode 251: Setting Up Your Relationship for Success

Episode 251: Setting Up Your Relationship for Success

The beginning stages of a relationship can put you and your partner on either a high road of communication and connection or miscues and missed expectations. Join sex therapist Dr. Laurie Watson and couples therapist George Faller as they talk about how to set your relationship on a path of success.

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Laurie Watson 00:02
We’ve got two sponsors this episode Uber lube, whom you know as offering the best silicone lubricant out there. And we have manscaped. Many of you will have seen this on the football games. Gentlemen, I want you to really listen up on this one as George joins the 21st century with manscaped. Let’s talk with people about how to set up their marriage in early, early marriage, sexually and emotionally.

George Faller 00:32
So important, Laurie, how many of us never get down and try to reinvent the wheel and figure it out on our own. It’s about time we help people set up for success.

Laurie Watson 00:44
Welcome to foreplay radio, couples in sex therapy. I’m Laurie Watson, your sex therapist.

George Faller 00:49
And I’m George Faller, a couples therapist.

Laurie Watson 00:52
And we are passionate about talking about sex and helping you develop a way to talk to each other.

George Faller 00:57
Our mission is to help our audience develop a healthier relationship to sex that integrates the mind, the heart and the body.

Laurie Watson 01:06
I think the first thing is helping them organize their emotional life. Right, because in the beginning, it feels kind of random. I’m saying something to my partner, I’m asking my partner something emotionally, I’m responding to them. And I’m getting something that doesn’t always make sense to me. And so I really think that organizing around understanding, not 100%. But understanding the trend of whether your partner is an emotional pursuer or emotional withdraw, really, really helps make sense, it made sense to me, finally, in my own marriage, trying to understand that and then also finding kind of what moves make it better. So that your partner, you don’t push your partner away, or you don’t frustrate your partner, right. I just remember, I was a newlywed and had an expectation, a very high expectation. You know, we’re gonna now do everything together, we’re gonna get off work, we’re gonna go to the gym together, we’re gonna come home, probably, you know, make supper together, do dishes

George Faller 02:35
together, Oh,

Laurie Watson 02:39
do dishes together and then go to bed together. I mean, that was kind of my evening in terms of how I thought that was going to happen. And I remember, that was definitely not his picture of his evening. A lot of it was he was going to go to the gym by himself. I mean, what are we going to do at the gym? Right? I mean, you go do the treadmill, I’m in the weight room. This was we got married George, when women were not in the weight room. I mean, women really were not lifting. And so you were up on doing the classes and doing the treadmill. And the guys, and so for him, this whole fantasy of mine of we’re going to meet at the gym was like, No, let’s not do that. And, and definitely, I got married in a more probably traditional expectation. I definitely saw myself as the grocery shopper, the cook, the planner, of all that kind of stuff. Yeah, that generator,

George Faller 03:45
that word expectation is critical. Right? If If we don’t challenge expectations and assumptions, it sets us up for failure. So just identifying one of the moves that you do that make you safe, right, it allows this process to become more predictable, and allows you to take the other person’s move less personal, right? So if your mood is to engage, to talk to kind of head towards, but your husband’s move is to take space when things are not working to avoid conflict, right? To just recognize that allows you to say, Hey, he’s going away, not because he don’t care. But this is how he’s learned to manage kind of a threat or for him to start recognize Wait, Laurie just wants to talk about her angers her fight for me. It’s not her trying to tell me I’m doing it wrong. That just that on the standing book, going into a marriage creates such a strongest foundation.

Laurie Watson 04:38
And I think too, you know, he had been at work all day long. So that was a high engagement, high interaction. And so the way he experienced relaxation and the end of his day was like, ending that interaction. You know, I I need alone time. I need recovery. Every time and it wasn’t even personal about, I don’t want to be with you. It was just like, you know, when we were dating, we didn’t live together before we got married. And so when we were dating, he would have a gob of that. You know, I mean, maybe we would get together in the evenings, three or four evenings a week. And so, you know, sometimes it would be seven o’clock, so he’d be off at 536 have an hour to himself. So coming into cocktail hour, like, Are you kidding? It’s like, Where’s that hour that I need? That’s right.

George Faller 05:36
Yeah, I tell new couples. I talk about this in my book, true connection, the high road, the middle road, and the low road. The High Road is great levels of engagement, great sex, great dinners, the stuff that new couples think that whole relationships going to be right, the good stuff, why we’re with each other. The middle road is just the grind of life. You got to pay the bills and do the dishes and take out the garbage and all the stuff that needs to happen. And then the low road is the missus, how do we repair our insecurities, our vulnerabilities, right? We want to help young couples thrive in all three roads. But unfortunately, what happens is most couples blindly go into it thinking, Hey, we’re supposed to be like Hollywood living in the high road together. And before you know it, they find the grind starts to sneak up on them. And this isn’t so much fun. The more you’re stuck on the middle road, the more you’re going to need to talk about the misses in repairs in a low road. But most of us get no help doing that. So that’s what you’re saying with these cycles. There’s predictable things, there are some low road conversations that are going to need to happen. Right if, if your husband was knew how to talk about kind of his world in a way you can hear it, that would have been a beautiful teaching are the value of low road, but most couples, newlyweds one, avoid it. And they don’t recognize to avoid the low road also means you start to lose the high road. Now you’re in trouble.

Laurie Watson 06:59
Mm hmm. Absolutely. I have a pursuing male partner in therapy. He’s the male pursuer. And he says, you know, why live an average life? Why shouldn’t we just like, like, really concentrate on making every moment count? Yes, sexually, and like he wants he literally wants to have daily talks about the relationship. How am I doing? How are you feeling about me? What can I do better to really make your life good. I mean, he is so intense. George,

George Faller 07:40
I listen, I feel bad for my wife as you’re talking about this. Because I mean, this is what four plays done to me. It’s caused this to be much more on my brain. So I want to be able to like, change the world. Let’s make sex easy to talk about. Let’s talk about it all the time that I look at us, she’s like, I’m not a GED, right? So I can relate to that pushing energy, right just wants to say, hey, my heart is coming from a good place. I just want to do good. I want to have fun. And when you have that kind of good energy, and somebody is like doesn’t want to engage. It’s like want wine. It’s like a Debbie Downer just like crushes you. So I’m glad that you’re given that example. And then men can be the pursuers too, right? But yes, that’s a setup when you want something badly, and you’re going for it. And the other personality doesn’t engage or walks away. It’s like, Are you kidding me? That natural anger wants to come out and say that is

Laurie Watson 08:34
not so true. And I think young couples, right, what can we encourage them with? Like, if you’re a withdrawing partner? How can you talk about your needs in a way that is loving to your partner explaining D personalizing it, explaining who you are and and what you need, so that your pursuing partner kind of is let down easy. I mean, what would you suggest you’re so good at language, I want to I want to hear you listen, I

George Faller 09:05
think these with drawers are protectors who like space, we want to see the value, the strength of that and so many places that’s so good and so healthy, we love people come on the pressure, we don’t want that to change. So we really want to start off connected with that. But I think then my next move is I really need to help those protectors experienced some success with those more vulnerable feelings, right? The reason they want to avoid emotions, because most of the time emotions lead the fight in bad things. Right? If emotions could lead to repair and connection and feeling better, they’d be more inclined to having that. So that’s really what I’m trying to set up a structured I find really helpful with my couples to say right, what is the goal? What is the target of this conversation? If you want this protector to share and have success if that is the goal, then I got to get my pursuers to say this isn’t about you or your feelings. You Your world right now we’ll get to that that’s a different target. That’s a different compensation. But for this conversation, I need you to be the one person on this planet that keeps their focus on that protector, and really helps that protect the experience success with sharing what they’re sharing. That’s a targeted conversation. But most of the time, what happens is the Protector shares something that triggers something in the pursuer. And they’re like, Yeah, but what about me? And before you know it, that conversation just reinforces for the protector? Why you don’t really want to talk about emotions, because it leads to fight drama, only making things worse. So again, how do we go into a conversation with bold people being clear on what the goal of it is first place? If it’s the pursuer who really wants to feel understood that I need to see the protector to kind of get to see the value of staying focused, this isn’t about you, you’re failing to protect yourself needed to go away? How do you get curious and really understand this protect us world? Mm hmm.

Laurie Watson 10:59
So we want to encourage the pursuing partner to ask questions about the needs of what the withdrawing partner first of all to consider, right? I think all of us, we believe we have found our soulmate we have we believe in the beginning, we have found somebody just like us. And so we want the pursuer to open up their mind to difference, right. And, you know, I noticed that sometimes you like to go to the gym after work. You really don’t want dinner until much later. Can you kind of tell me what your normal pattern is right? Trying to ask questions that make it okay for their partner to be different to have different needs. I had some girlfriends I was traveling with and they said, How do you like to travel? Do you like to read you need alone time? Do you like to do dinner every night? And I was like, Wow, that is really a great question. You know, you’re asking me about my preferences, so that we’re setting up and changing expectations rather than just making assumptions.

George Faller 12:09
So good, right? Yeah, being tensional, about things that you normally don’t think about. That’s how we challenge these assumptions or expectations, that really negatively influence, right, because we get hurt when they’re not met, even though we’ve never actually said it explicitly. And so it’s a great question.

Laurie Watson 12:26
And early marriage is just full of broken expectations, right?

George Faller 12:31
So like that to inspire people to go down this road, right.

Laurie Watson 12:35
But that’s what we’re saying. First is begin to talk about kind of minute things that you have assumptions about and just know you have a whole way of being that is, has assumptions and your partners make it safe for them to tell you the truth. And to see the opportunity in it. There is nothing like a relationship or a marriage to grow both of you. Right? If you can talk about these assumptions, and you can learn to repair it, you’re gonna thrive. That’s the opportunity. Okay, we’ll come back I just want to recommend to you again, Uber,, with the coupon for play. This supports us at the podcast and it is a great lubricant. I’ve been recommending it for years, I give out samples to all my patients. It has long lasting performance without that sticky residue that hangs you up when you’re making love. This is scent free, it’s taste free. It’s a beautiful feeling on your skin of soft and silky. It has only four ingredients and three types of high grade silicone, there’s a trace of vitamin E, it will not impact your pH balance. It doesn’t change your hormones, it won’t cause allergic reactions, which some of the lubricants out there do. So this is why I can highly recommend this one. It’s also recommended by other thousands of doctors globally, and it’s made here in the USA. It has discreet and classy packaging, which I love because I can keep it on my nightstand. It’s a glass container with white lettering. Nobody would see it as any different than a perfume bottle. It’s really high class. So please check out Uber lube calm and use the coupon for play.

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George Faller 14:22
So Laura, you know a times I can be a bit old school. Yes, growing up with a bunch of men who didn’t do any kind of trimming or cleaning. Just kind of just let it roll. So I think I tried to get caught up with the Modern Times said hey, when you notice all what women have to do to go through the grooming Glade and make them slacks racks and all this stuff that seems quite painful. I figured at least I can do is I’ll give a little tremens freshen up the promise I used you know what I was using to shave my son’s head, you know, it didn’t feel so good out here. So

Laurie Watson 14:58
you totally need manscape Electric trimmer because it is so safe. And you need this. It’s like the improved lawn mowers what they call it? 3.0 3.0. Yeah.

George Faller 15:11
When you go and close to the family jewels, you better be safe and take your time.

Laurie Watson 15:17
Absolutely. And you can use this in the shower. It’s like waterproof. There’s like an LED light that you can see. And they have this motor, I guess it goes for 90 minutes. I mean, I don’t know anybody who’s gonna need it for 90 minutes, but definitely sold manscape here, right? calm. Okay, so our listeners, you know, they can get this for 20% off and free shipping if they go to manscape calm and use the code for play. So if you want to come up to the modern era, gentlemen, I think it’s a very good idea.

George Faller 15:50
Come on and join me.

Laurie Watson 15:56
George, let’s talk about sex in early marriage, there’s often the same issue, right? There’s a cycle in the sexual cycle where one person not that they both don’t want to have sex don’t want to have orgasms, they do. But oftentimes, one person is more of the pursuer. So they’re initiating, they’re more creative, they often are setting time aside, they have expectations. And frequently the other partner more withdrawing. And I think withdrawing sexually could be that they’re more responding. They may like sex, but they’re not necessarily as focused or as sexually oriented. And so, so they are what we would call the withdraw. And so we need to help them get together about this again, I think, a discussion and I would love couples to have a discussion before marriage. So about, Hey, you know, this, this is really, really important to me. And this is kind of what I think in terms of frequency, this is how often you know, we have sex now or how often I masturbate or, or something, so that you kind of clue your partner in, in terms of the expectation for frequency.

George Faller 17:18
Well, I’m gonna put a huge highlighter here, because, again, I this is critical. Most of us come from families where we don’t really talk about sex. If you create that early foundation that says no, this is what we do as a couple, we give each other feedback, we kind of like this, if you set that foundation you are, you’re set up for great sex, for your for your relationship. But if you don’t, if you’re not intentional, if you just think your partner is going to be a mind reader, and it’s just gonna write, it’s just set up for missing, right. So this is we this should be totally built in with your marriage certificate, that you have a conversation, you’re forced to have a difficult conversation, it’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s not easy. When you go to the gym for the first time you hit a golf ball, I mean, the more you get, you put reps in, you get practice, it becomes easy, and that becomes your new normal. So this is probably the most important thing that somebody a newlywed needs to hear like, Don’t avoid this conversation. It won’t be easy, but there is no better investment of time of energy that you can have than to actually have this conversation and set the tone for the rest of your relationship, that this is something really important to do.

Laurie Watson 18:30
And I just gave you a piece of research in something else that we’re going to talk about today. That was saying, you know, talking about sex, people experienced that as more vulnerable than having sex. Hmm. You know, it is because it’s, it’s opening up your soul about it, whereas you could maybe do it, it’s good, it’s bad, it’s whatever. But talking about it is so difficult. Talking about I say that young couples should have the who, what, when, where, why conversation like, who initiated? Do you have expectations about that? I mean, so many couples are gendered. You know, they have gender expectations, the man is supposed to initiate. And the woman is supposed to be responsive, which, you know, hopefully is changing in our culture. But I still see it very prevalent. And I see it in women who want sex, who are what I would call sexual pursuers. They still wait for initiation, what, you know, what are we going to do in bad? How do we talk about that? How do we know that? I think once you’re lovers for a long, longer period of time, sometimes you can depend on flow. But in the beginning, you know, if you’ve only been sexual partners for a little bit, you may not know like, hey, my partner really wants this tonight, and I had no idea and so then they end up out of the experience going Okay, we did the same old, same old and you’re like, Oh, that’s what I thought we were doing. You know, but in their mind, they didn’t reveal it. They didn’t say, you know, what I’d really like to do is this. So and when to have sex. I have had so many couples, more couples than seems possible to say, you know, I’m a morning person, I’m an evening person. I’m like, you know, dang, there’s there’s noon time. I mean, can’t they like, Saturday, Sunday, dude at noon, you know, or when their energy is high. I remember calling my husband from I think it was actually my second job that I had when I was married. And it was, I realized 10 o’clock, what I was just like, the highest energy of my day. And I am. And I called him up and, and I was like, you know, it’s 10am. And I am like, oh, wake and thinking about you. And this was when, you know, they had cubes and hard, hard line phones. You had to kind of talk in code. no cell phones back then. But, you know, it was like, I became aware of my daily rhythm of what was really good for me. You know, so time of day, why are we going to have sex? You know, is it just because it’s the end of the day? Is it when I don’t feel good when it strikes me? And what happens if it doesn’t strike me? How do I become intentional about that? I mean, young couples really should sort that all through. I think they should sort of throw in premarital counseling. Do you know that if couples have premarital counseling, their reduction in divorce is by 50%. Wow.

George Faller 21:44
It’s makes so much sense what you’re saying I love the simplicity of the what, where, when? Where I know that those questions,

where are we gonna have sex is bad.

George Faller 21:56
Yeah. But that most of the time, premarital counseling is not really even talking about sex.

Ah, absolutely.

George Faller 22:05
Right. It’s so again, it sets into motion these assumptions that like it’s just supposed to be easy and natural and spontaneous and always good. And it’s, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Laurie Watson 22:15
It is, because they haven’t been explicit about it. And each of them has an idea about it, but they don’t necessarily talk about it. So I really want couples to talk about that. I also, so desperately want couples to talk about, you know what feels good. I mean, they got to know how she’s going to have an orgasm. Right? They, I mean, it’s like you’ve said over and over on our podcast, you don’t think that men get trained that the clutter is is kind of the center of her sexual universe. So one thing I think in terms of a goal, a sexual goal, and Dan Savage, he’s a columnist, and he’s a podcaster. He’s, you know, one of the he is usually if not number one, he’s number two and our category he says that a sexual

George Faller 23:06
sexual, Mr. Savage, we’re coming for you though. We’re gonna we have the same message as

Laurie Watson 23:14
you know, he says that the goal sexually should be GGG. That’s so your initials George, this is this all about you? Good giving and game. And so that means you should have a goal to be good and bad. Yeah, to develop your eroticism who tells you that we think it should be natural and it’s not

George Faller 23:36
a good being? You know, not about your performance, good being you are emotionally, your heart, your mind and your body are engaged, you’re present, all of us are capable of that good sex. No matter what your mechanics are, right? If you’re if you’re able to kind of be present.

Laurie Watson 23:54
Yeah, but man, I think good mechanics are important as well.

George Faller 23:59
Yeah, it is. But I get people here good and they just immediately go to mechanics. Okay. Yes, no good means being present.

Laurie Watson 24:08
being present. being there with live Yeah, I like that. Okay. And giving means wanting your partner to be happy and experience a good time. I, I think that the erotic self finds joy and excitement in touching as much as in being touched. Yes, like, so many. So many people tell me Well, you know, it takes them so long. And I have to do this, you know, my mouth gets tired this, that and the other I’m like, Oh my gosh, they somehow or another, have not translated pleasuring their partner into something that feels exciting to them. And so I think giving sacks giving touch, you know, giving to your partner is is a growth point, right in terms of developing eroticism. And then game is, you know, you gotta be up for some fun. Sometimes you got to be up for a little bit of variety, you got to say yes, unless it’s painful unless you are really grossed out. I mean, you know, you got a whole lifetime together. It’s like being game for some fun and for differences and satisfying your partner’s fantasies. And, you know, we’re about monogamy. So I think within the realm of your own moral frame, but I think being game for, for something that pleases your partner, I think that’s part of being a good sexual partner.

George Faller 25:44
Three simple words that really capture the essence that if you could follow Him, you’re going to be set up for great sex for the long haul, and hit that we need to be intentional about. Good, what that takes, how important it is to give, to not just be focused on yourself, this is about something bigger than just you. And to accomplish that you have to be game, right? You have to be able to explore and stretch your comfort zone and be able to communicate if something doesn’t work. I mean, it’s that game and that stretching that keeps it always vibrant, always growing.

Laurie Watson 26:16
And I mean, I’m certainly saying you can say no, we’re not saying you can’t say no. But within I mean, there’s a stretch that happens to, to enjoy sex, I mean, who we were in our 20s, and who we are much later in life, you know, there’s growth that should happen and can happen.

George Faller 26:38
That’s why we love to facilitate these conversations. If somebody doesn’t want to do something, they have great reasons for it, that’s gonna give us a window into who they are to get to know them better. Right? And it says, sometimes it’s when, when something’s not working, we become clearer how healthy is for new couples to go into relationship, not expecting perfection, everything to be easy, but expecting that they’re going to miss each other, you know, 10%, their ex, every sexual encounters not working so well. Like who says that in premarital counseling, like, there’s not something wrong with you, if this happens, this happens to everybody. This is okay. As long as you can talk about it and figure it out, it’s actually going to lead to greater sex down the road.

Laurie Watson 27:19
Yeah, being naked is good. You know, it doesn’t have to be fabulous to still be good. So emotionally, I think identifying which side you kind of land on pursuers. What you really got to focus on is take down the criticism, take down the anger, learn to make a direct request. And if you’re on the withdrawing side, you need to open up actually communicate clearly who you are, and learn to nurture. And then I think as a sexual goal becoming good giving and game. As you know, this is something that makes sex really vibrant and exciting for a lifetime, because that’s what we’re committing to right.

George Faller 28:04
Beautiful words of wisdom from Laurie. Thank you, Laurie. Let’s keep it

Laurie Watson 28:10
hot. Thanks for listening. George, we finally get to go to sex as a safe adventure. You know, with COVID we haven’t been able to do this class. That is the integration of sex therapy and EFT. And I’ve been waiting for this for a year. So I’m glad they’re friends of yours in New York, right?

George Faller 28:29
Yes, I’m so excited to spend some time with two wonderful presenters, Dr. loizou, Maha Gaya and Mike Moran, two fantastic EFT therapists and supervisors. And they’re really on the leading edge of integrating sex and couples relationships.

Laurie Watson 28:47
I can hardly wait to hear what they say. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time. So when is it? It’s October 23? through the 24th? I believe it’s a two day seminar and how did they reach these if some of our EFT therapists or other therapists want to learn this? How do we reach you

George Faller 29:07
just go to the website, WWE dot? Nice left NYC And come join us Lori and I will be students during this.

Yeah. So

Laurie Watson 29:17
yeah, you can text us and we’ll talk during the whole thing. We’ll have a little side notes and chats, that’ll be fun. Come and join us. Hey, I want to draw your attention to a course that George is doing. for couples. It’s on October 30th edits an all day retreat. He is basically spending a whole day with you in experiential learning. So you go as a couple by zoom to kind of gain the best tools and understanding how to grow and safeguard your relationship. Again, this is by George we will have a link to it under the resources on our website, our link hope and connection desk course.

George Faller 29:51
Lori I want to give a big shout out to our patrons whose support is really helping and as we’re starting to notice, with success comes more expensive and it would really be great for our listeners to have new patrons Come and join us to be part of this mission talking about sex, the importance of that to change our culture to help us not have to figure this stuff out and feel ashamed and along with all this.

Laurie Watson 30:17
That’s right. We are doing a Facebook Live on October 16 at 8pm eastern time so that our pacific time listeners can at least join in hopefully after work we will get you a new episode as well that is just available to patrons. Thanks so much. I mean, it feels good that people are believing in this mission, wanting to help other couples and wanting to help make sex something that is beautiful and easy to talk about and reduce the shame that people feel about it. So your financial support has been helpful and it would be wonderful to have you behind us

Announcer 30:54
calling your questions to the foreplay question voicemail dial 833 my four play that’s a three three, the number four play, and we’ll use the questions for our mailbag episodes. All content is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for therapy by a licensed therapist.