Show Transcript for Episode 58: How to Keep Your Love Alive

Laurie Watson 00:09
Hello again and welcome to foreplay radio sex therapy. I’m your host certified sex therapist Laurie Watson, author of wanting sex again and blogger at Psychology Today in Web MD. And I have with me Dr. Adam Mathews my co host, who’s a couples therapist, psychotherapist and president of NCAA MFT foreplay is dedicated to helping couples keep it hot. Each episode we cover an aspect of sex that impacts your sex life and something that you can relate to. So if you find our discussions helpful, please give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher. We would love it if you would tell a friend about us. You can find us on the web at foreplay rst calm, and if you have a comment or a topic that you’d like us to talk about, we’d love to hear from you. Please send them to us at info at foreplay rst.com Thanks for listening. Now on to today’s topic.

Announcer 00:58
Today’s episode is Part One of Laurie’s keynote address to the Forsyth County Medical Society Sexual Health Awareness group at Wake Forest School of Medicine titled How to keep your love life alive.

Laurie Watson 01:11
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I’m Libby Kelly. I’m the outgoing president of the Forsyth County Medical Society. So I’m introducing Laurie Watson Laurie has been in practice for 27 years as a marriage therapist, couples therapist and sex therapist. she maintains a very busy practice both in Greensboro as well as in Raleigh. She has lectured both at Duke medical school as well as at Chapel Hill medical school, so we’re excited to have her here for the first time. She’s the co author or the She’s the author of a book called wanting sex again, and she hosts a fun podcast called foreplay. She’s also a frequent keynote speaker like she is tonight and a guest on radio and TV talk shows. So please join me in welcoming her. Thank you for having Me, there’s a lot of people here. They say the millennials, sex is dead for the millennials. And it’s probably this dress. This dress, you know, I have taught this material actually at my church, we’re Episcopalian, so anything goes there, you know, we’re hardly to be trusted really. But as I was teaching this, I had two friends who were coming to the class, they’re married to each other. They’re both doctors once in ob gyn and once a urologist and I told my girlfriend that ob gyn I’m like, can service talking in front of your husband about all this? The SEC stuff? What What if I get it wrong? What if he thinks I’m, you know, what, if he wants to correct me, or, you know, I just and she’s like, I didn’t know anything about sex. So I know that I am the only hour that the OB GYN residents get at UNC Chapel Hill on sexual functioning. When I was teaching this class, a new couple actually started ambled in, you know, they were brand new. And it was the day that I was going to be the most explicit about the sexual response cycle. And I just thought, Hey, this is going to be the most interesting Sunday school class probably ever been to. And they were kind of unsuspecting. But when people come to a sex talk, and they actually sign up to be here, you know, it’s a bit of a double bind. There’s a part of all of us that says, You know, I really, I really hope I learned something there about sex. And then there’s another part of us that says, I really hope I don’t learn anything there about sex. Right? Because none of us necessarily want to be shown up and we feel anxious about sexuality. And if we brought our partners if we’ve been brave enough to do that, we are really helping our partner doesn’t think we need to know anything about sex or that we would learn anything here. We have very sexual, fragile Sexual egos, including myself, I totally get it and my husband, we’ve been married for 30 years, we have three nearly grown children. My oldest has come into the practice. And I have four more my husband tonight I said, you know, honey, all my good jokes. So if you want to be here, you can, you know, maybe he’s hoping he’ll not learn anything about sex either. Or maybe to see his wife and stilettos talking about sex, I don’t know. But I did a little research on sex and doctors before I got here in the medical economics, and it turns out that the radiologists are the happiest with their sex lives. The other thing is, is that the radiologists are most likely to have sex with the lights on it’s because they work in that cave.

04:51
I just made that up. I’m kidding.

Laurie Watson 04:54
And the people most unhappy with their sex lives are the gynecologists which That’s true. Really sad to me. And the orthopedic surgeons are the ones who have sex the most, nearly 10 times a month. But you know, surgeons I got to talk about, you know, all the good stuff. Okay, so we’re going to talk about three things. Tonight, we’re going to try to talk about how to keep your love life alive, both emotionally and sexually. And the first thing I want to talk about is what makes great sex. I believe that there are three things that make sex great being present ruthlessness and vulnerability. So when I was young, it was my duty to clean the bathrooms and I would wake up and in my mind, I’d be laying there on a Saturday morning and I’d go get the bucket in my mind and I’d get the all the supplies and I would see myself cleaning the bathrooms. And, you know, eventually I was I had to shake myself Don’t clean them twice. You know, don’t do it in your mind and then do it again, you know, and that is the absolute Epitome I think of not being present, I could have just relaxed, had a few more winks. But instead, you know, I was cleaning the bathroom in my head. And I believe that we do this sometimes when we’re having sex, right? Sometimes we’re multitasking. You know, there’s, I’m sure you’ve seen it, it’s, it’s that picture of the person having sex and they’re like looking over their shoulder at their phone. You know, we’re not in the place. We’re not present to what’s happening in the moment. And the other thing is, we can maybe because we have so much stress, we have so much to do. We can rush through the experience, barely feeling it barely being present in that moment, you know, to get to the list. I wrote the book wanting sex again. And one of the things in the beginning I saw more women now I see equal measure of health. more men at this point, but the women particularly told me, You know, I, I just I can never have sex I can never get relaxed. I’m like, Well, why not? You know because I have the list. The list has to be done. And so I can’t relax in the moment and they can’t get present. When kind of helpful little tip is, you know, obviously slowing it down. Try to look in your partner’s eyes. There’s a guy named Schneider. She’s a writer he wrote passionate marriage and his exercise he writes this whole chapter on eyes open orgasm. I didn’t even know that was possible until I was like four years old. I just thought your eyes like the doll. You know, you lie down. I said. It’s like, you know, orgasm, orgasm, your eyes just shut right. You know, but but I think if you can feel some connection with your partner, sometimes opening your eyes and seeing them is a way to come into the moment. I have another little trick for but I’m going to save that for later. For When your mind is wandering about the bad, so ruthlessness, it’s a funny concept. But ruthlessness is the ability to really go for it in sex, to really let yourself try to get as much out of it as you can. And to believe and trust that your partner a wants you to do that, and that they’re doing that too. So, ruthlessness, if if there’s too little of it, if we’re too hung up on, you know, am I pleasing my partner? Am I you know, are they happy, you know, with too little ruthlessness about you know, kind of a sense of selfish going for it, then sex is very flat. It’s kind of boring. If there’s too much ruthlessness, I don’t care about my friend, I’m, you know, I don’t care at all I’m hooking up and let’s go. Then basically, sex is mechanical. But if there’s the kind of the rite of passage Out of ruthlessness, then sex is hot. Because we have to have that ability to go for it. vulnerability is, I think the third thing that we need in order for sex to be good, to be great. We think that sex naturally declines with a long term relationship. We’ve seen that right everywhere. Our parents, the old people, I’m looking old to a lot of you, I’m really not that old. But and I still want sex. But desire kind of makes us feel vulnerable. And I think that that’s the problem in long term relationships and long term relationship. You know, there’s a lot of slings and arrows, it’s difficult. There’s a lot to work out. And so we start to turn off our vulnerability. The other thing is, is what if we would allow ourselves to long for and feel the pressure A sexual desire for this one person all our lives maybe if it’s a committed relationship forever too long for somebody and to desire them leaves us vulnerable to several things one, they may not long for us back they may not desire us and so little bit by little bit, you know, we back up or they may desire someone else, you know, and those possibilities, you know, grow on us. Oh, this I’m not so sure so safe to keep this sexual desire going, this longing for this person, or the ultimate thing is, you know, they may die. Right to continue too long for another person is going to end badly. Every love story, the better. The love story, the more tragic the end We all die, our partners die. And so we guard our hearts and our hearts and our bodies are so one that we will dial down desire, we will dial down the vulnerability that keeps us going. There’s a story about a princess, and she’s kind of a poor princess. And her parents, the king and queen, they need some gold to keep the kingdom going. And so they decide to betray their darling princess to a dragon because we all know dragons have gold. And so the princess, not what she had hoped for. goes to a wise woman and a sage and ask the woman you know, what about the wedding night? You know, I’m terrified of the dragon. And what am I going to do? This is a fire break. In dragon, so the wise woman whispers in her ear, the secret plan for the wedding night. And so the whole kingdom comes and gathers and is celebrating And meanwhile, the princess is dreading the bedroom chambers. And finally, it’s time for them to exit and go into the prepared bedroom. And so she goes there and she sees her, you know, her, her new husband, the dragon, and he is all about it. And she says, You know, I have one favor to ask of you. And and he said, Sure, anything, whatever you want. And she says, I, I’d like to address for you. And the dragon fire. Yeah, go for it. And so, she said but but what I would like is as I address As I take off my gown, I would like you to take off a few of your plates of armor and scales. Okay, I can do that. And so she takes her wedding gown off and underneath her wedding gown is another wedding gown. And so he takes off some of his scales. And underneath that wedding gown is another wedding gown. He takes off some more scales, another wedding gown, more scales, another wedding gown once she has 10 wedding gowns that she has kind of stuffed herself into pretty soon he’s kind of getting a little threadbare with all these scales coming off of him. And then underneath that there are petticoats and layers of undergarments that she takes off very slowly as he takes his scales off. And of course, you can guess the ending, right? The ending is that after the scales are all gone, he’s actually the handsome prince. And it’s in undressing. It’s in vulnerability, that the bed chamber becomes the place that it’s meant to be the beautiful place but it is tough. It is really tough in long term relationship to undress, right? We tend to say our that, you know, they hurt me and we’ll put a little more on. So it’s tough but that’s what makes sex hot. It’s being present the presence, ruthlessness and vulnerability.

Announcer 14:31
More of Laurie Watson this keynote address how to keep your love life alive. What every doctor needs to know is coming up next on foreplay radio sex therapy. Wanting sex again, how to rediscover desire and heal a sexless marriage by certified sex therapist Laurie Watson.

Laurie Watson 14:58
Each chapter is designed to Fix one of the problems that cause low libido from early marriage through the childbearing years, even all the way through menopause. I’ve also had men read it and tell me that for them it was the most helpful thing they read about resolving sexual problems.

Announcer 15:12
Look for watching sex again on amazon.com. You can also talk to Laurie Watson for therapy in person or via Skype.

Laurie Watson 15:20
I offer couples counseling and sex therapy and I think about both aspects of the relationship emotional intimacy and sexual technique and that combination together helps marriages be happy

Announcer 15:31
weekend couples intensives are also offered. Improve your sex and improve your relationship with awakening center for couples and intimacy. Find out more at awaken loving sex calm, awaken what’s possible

Adam Mathews 15:46
is one of my great joys in life to be able to really help individuals and couples find strength in their relationships and really find hope again

Announcer 15:57
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist doctor You’re Adam Mathews for Matthews counseling.

Adam Mathews 16:02
I work with a wide variety of issues including depression and anxiety, marital issues, issues with adolescence. I believe that therapy should be designed around you that it should be personalized to who you are and to your unique situation.

Announcer 16:17
Therapy is available in Office Online and by phone.

Adam Mathews 16:20
I want therapy to be comfortable for everyone at our office, you’ll find that we sit around a fireplace and deep, comfortable chairs, look at the problem differently and offer practical solutions for you to take home and utilize outside of the therapy room

Announcer 16:35
scheduled today and rediscover hope

Adam Mathews 16:37
you can find me on the web at Matthews counseling dotnet Matthews with one t you can contact us through email or phone and find a lot of resources on our website Matthews counseling dotnet

Announcer 17:00
Welcome back to four play radio sex therapy, in part one of mores keynote address at Wake Forest School of Medicine.

Laurie Watson 17:07
I see a few doctors in my practice. And I think that one of the flaws I see is that they often are so busy, and they give themselves so fully to their purpose, right? Their purpose, not necessarily their person. They really have important jobs you do you have important jobs, you do have a high calling, you have a calling to heal people. And it’s exciting. And I see these physicians getting caught in the excitement of their call. And and it is fabulous. But sometimes, they over invest in the purpose and they under invest in the person of their life, right. We need two things for its 11 work. We need the purpose and the person to make As happy and sometimes they’re kind of surprised when their person it doesn’t really go home with that neglect so well and gets a little upset about it and isn’t ready to jump into bed because they haven’t had a conversation in a week or so. And they are feeling shut down. Sometimes their partners are like screaming at them, you know, hey, hey, we need a little healing here too. There’s a little bit of sickness between us as well, we need some connection. But sometimes there’s not time enough to be present, to be present with their person, to have time enough to feel love to get in the mood and to get connected. So I wanted to talk about and this is the second thing that I think is important is why sex in connection get caught in relationship. In the power struggle, how they get snagged, relationally and how you know what happens. We need love and work, we need a purpose in a person. And in our relationships, we also need two things. We need connection. And we need autonomy. We need love sex, talking time, togetherness, family time. We need autonomy, right? To be masters of our own destiny, to have respect for our own decisions, to have alone time to have our own hobbies. You know, some separateness we need space as well. And I know that doctors often favor autonomy and purpose because it’s so demanding to become a doctor and to be a doctor. So there is a huge demand. One of my girlfriends and others. I actually end up having lots of ob gyn friends probably because of my specialty. But she has a calf that is permanently swollen because she blew it out in residency, you know, the long, long hours. And you can tell I’m not a doctor because I can’t tell you what mechanism that was. But all I know is her calf is blown out in swollen all the time now. She gave so much away. We toggle these needs inside. The more time we’re at the hospital, the less time we have to be with our loved ones and our family. When we’re taking care of our patients, our businesses or whatever, we have less time at home. I think, as a working mother, I felt tremendous guilt about this. I felt a deep inner conflict about the time away from my children that was devoted to my work and and i don’t think that my male friends that were working similarly felt the same conflict. So I know it’s there. But this balance balancing connection and autonomy is really important for our love life. How do we get these two needs balanced? If you have been sitting around or if you have your computer open certainly take this little quiz. I do capture your email and menus get just a few newsletters from me. But it’s a fun quiz and it’s, it will personalize kind of this lecture for you in terms of what style you are what which side you’re on. What I talked about is the person in relationship even though we both have both needs. in long term relationship, we kind of split the difference. One person focuses more on autonomy, and the other person focuses more on connection. This person you know, busy, they’re building their kingdom, they got work to do. their hobbies often are alone hobbies, this person Like more concerned just innately feels more concerned about family time talking together, sometimes sex, you know they they want more and it becomes a chaser and a chase II game. The pursuer goes forward, the dispenser backs up. It’s almost like South Pole magnets on a rod. You know the the more they chase it’s weird, but the further back they get now we all have the needs for closeness. We all have the needs for sex. We all have the needs for autonomy, but in relationship they get pulled apart into separate people. Some of you couples out there I see you smiling at me. You know when I’m talking about distances want space, and we’re getting to sex. Don’t worry, I’ll never forget sex. I promise I’ll get there. dispensers want space pursuers want closeness distances want time. To do their own thing, and pursuers want time together. I have a girlfriend. I’ve been friends with her for 16 years. I’ve been out to lunch with her once. Because she says, you know, if she had time to do that, she’d want to do it with David, her husband, you know, any free time any free money is going to be spent with David, you know, she’s an mega pursuer. One time they got in a fight and I took her out for coffee or something. And I’m like, you know, let’s go out to the movies to Oh, I forgot my pocketbook. Let’s go home and get it. I’m like, Okay. She went home and in five minutes, she came out and she said, David wants to make left tonight. And I’m like, gosh, if you went to the movies you’d like by you know, it’s like, Spice Girl. You know, just like stay away. dispensers. They really want us to back for their differences, but pursuers they’re like shares. They want to share everything their thoughts, you know all the time. It’s funny distances are often people a few words and pursuers we like to talk Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck. Distance is often more concerned with production and pursuers are more concerned with family time, home and hurt distances now in bad times, they become withdrawn cars in pursuit pursuers become critical. dispensers will say this no matter what I do for you, it’s not enough anyway. I can’t make you happy. And pursuers will say, yeah, Damn straight because it’s not enough. There’s some pursuers out there. You know what I’m talking about? dispensers, their primary fear is a being controlled by that critical other by being absorbed by their agenda and pursuers their primary fear is the loss of control and being abandoned by the other. And you see how nicely that dovetails into each other when one feels controlled and the other is like losing control and then scrambling After further in heterosexual relationships, and often the lesbian relationships I see there’s, they might flip flop in this as well. So, in a heterosexual relationship, 75% of all men are dispensers. 75% of all women are pursuers So he might be more distancing in general. But he’s the pursuer sexually. She might be more pursuing tell me all your feelings Let’s spend time together. She’s not so interested in bed. So they flip flop. And actually that’s probably the easiest couple to help because there’s motive, right? There’s good motive one of them they want something from each other. It’s more difficult when couples are congruent when one’s a distance or an a sexual distance or or a pursuer, you know, and a sexual pursuer, those are harder to fix. Sex therapy really in and of itself doesn’t take very long. I mean almost successions I can fix anything, you know and orgasmic or premature ejaculation, Ed, you name it. Really when it comes right down to the technique, part of sex therapy. It’s very cognitive. I mean, it’s getting a badge. Dismiss woman. to actually be penetrated, takes about a year, you know, penetration takes about six weeks. And then she’s done. You know, but but getting through to people that the problem is that we are having sex, actually, it’s humans. And it turns out that humans are very complicated. And it’s just getting them to the party that is the hard part of sex therapy. It’s like, our limbic system tells us that when we’re in relationship with somebody, the blame game kind of starts, and we feel this desire to fight, or take flight or to freeze and to unhook that system, in order to get movement between them. It’s kind of really the work of therapy. To stay sexual, as we’ve said, requires vulnerability, which is something most of us did not observe very much of in our childhoods, and our childhoods are provided a map Emotional vulnerability and also sexual vulnerability. It provides the emotional map of how we relate intimately with another. And, you know, like they say, you know, the one person at the functional family conference, right? You know, most of us come from even good families have problems. We have three boys, you should see the house we could have built with all the therapy payments we made. You know, I mean, huge. And we have three adult sons who talked to us, which we think is an enormous achievement. But I gotta say, you know, we also see three sons who have problems even though I was a therapist, my husband was working with people. You know, we studied this, we studied child development, even in our family, we know we messed up. Even good families that try really hard, just can’t be there all the time, right. There’s a there’s a mess up. And so that map lives in us. And our partner has another map. And sometimes the fight is whose map Are we going to walk on? Whose Are we going to use? Which dysfunction Are we going to exhibit? in sex? Sexual pursuers initiate sex. They’ve got the pleasure plan. They’ve got the masterplan for fun in bed. They risk the first kiss. And they are hoping to make the marriage intimate and warm and playful. Sexual dispensers actually like sex. They really do. But they’re responders. They’re not necessarily initiators, and they are more keenly sensitive to the intensity of sex and they need sex to be safe so they like seduction. They like to be tempted and coaxed and, you know, kind of charmed and sweet time toward this preface that for them feels precipice that feels somewhat dangerous and out of control sexual pursuers. They are improvers, they will have a great sexual experience. And they’re going to talk about how can we make that better? You know, how can you know what should we do next time? Can we do it in the morning? How, how soon can we do it again? And how much better Can we make it? And often because we seem to connect with and commit to partners who are our equal emotional level, but our opposite defense pursuers, marry, get connected with distances, it’s just the way it is. It’s always proportional. Wherever you are on the seesaw, if you’re looking at your partner going, you are such a mega dispenser. Guess what? You are such a mega pursuer. We’re always opposite in our defense. So those pursuers, man You know, they they like the experience the sexual experience to be intense. They want it Wilder, they want it better. They want it the hottest sex and they want hot sex all the time. That’s their expectation. They want an 11 on a scale of one to 10 sexual distances, that that kind of thinking absolutely terrifies them. No, because they’re not measures. They don’t think about the next time they are enjoying this time. And they don’t kind of measure this time against all the other times if you ask them sexual distance, or what did you think that was great. Well, but was it as good as law? I don’t, I don’t know. That’s not how I think. They don’t measure the quantity or the qualities of sexual experiences. Every experience is a standalone if sexual pursuers if their fantasy is for more intensity, a sexual distances fantasy is about making their partner happy. I just want you to say it was great and then nothing that’s what I want. That’s what would make me happy. They want to be skilled and attractive and but they want to be good enough in bed pursuers you know, they can seem hard to please sexual pursuers and they struggle against anxiety, they struggle against this. These thoughts worried thoughts about sex are like little Gremlins that crawl into their head, their obsessions that say, you know, it’s been a long time since the last time and and I know we had it last night but it’ll probably be that long again and they start to get a You know, maybe they think, Well, my partner maybe doesn’t love me enough or isn’t as attracted to me. Maybe the fact that this was the best sex of my life is a fluke. And I’ve already had the best sex of my life, so I have nothing to look forward to. I mean, that’s how their mind sort of starts spinning sexual distances. Again, you know, that kind of thinking shuts them down, because they think, you know, it’s just scary that that big intensity is scary. And sexual distances have reasons to keep sex shut down in some ways. They feel I believe, sex more intensely than even their partners could ever imagine. They don’t express it well, but they feel it very intensely, and that’s why they stay contained. They often do control the frequency of sex when sex happens, but partly they’re containing their vulnerability about sex inside. So sexual distance Sirs, basically, sex feels risky to them. I think it’s hard for them to trust their partner to meet their body needs that feels like unbearable vulnerability to ask somebody Hey touched me so that you can give me an orgasm that is incredibly vulnerable. Right? And to instruct them to how to do that, you know, that’s like, really scary. And so sexual dispensers kind of keep it inside they to feel anxious. Okay, so now what do you do about it? Sexual pursuers if you’re a sexual pursuer. First thing you want to do is bite your tongue against the in bed critique when you’re in bed, no criticism and when you’re out of bed, find something to say that’s positive, right? Find something to say that is like That was great. Thank you. And don’t ask, Can we do it tomorrow? When’s the next time? Was it good for you just just zip it? Just say you know, say it was fabulous. Find a way to positively communicate your feelings of anxiety. So when you’re like, Okay, okay, you know, are we going to do it again? You know, say you know, rather than we don’t have sex enough, say I’d love to make love to you three times a week. You orthopedic surgeon you sexual distances, your tasks, do your own work. You know, examine your sexual history, your childhood, know who you are as an erotic been. How many of you have been told that you need to discover yourself as an erotic beam? We don’t we all think that just happens naturally. We don’t realize that we actually Have to attend to that, that that’s a piece to develop and we take classes and courses and fellowships and continuing add. You know, we know professionally we have to develop but sucks. I mean, I can’t even tell you the number of people who come with the percentage of people who will pay my fee and haven’t read a sex book. I’m like we’ve done nothing toward this. Sexual distances, keep sex out of the power struggle. See if you can remove don’t play the power struggle out on the sexual field. Why? Because you lose out without eroticism in your own life. Life is flat. I mean, those of you who know this and our sexual distances, and just I never want to have sex again. You know, life is kind of flat. If you’re not looking forward to this hot thing, this spicy thing in a long term relationship. The bed is where excitement happens. Know your own body and what’s normal, which leads me to our own bodies and what’s normal.

Announcer 37:05
You’ve been listening to for play radio sex therapy for the conclusion of Laurie Watson this keynote address how to keep your love life alive what every doctor needs to know. Download our next episode. Thanks for listening.

37:20
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