Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This month, we've been talking about creating more intimacy with your partner, especially now. Here are some more ideas for you to try on.

If your children now live away from home, you may have more time and energy to devote to each other. Develop or rekindle affection, closeness and romance. Many women find that this can be enormously satisfying in a different way. Fay, an elementary school teacher, has grown to value the companionship in her relationship. "We enjoy rubbing each other's back, reading together in front of the fire, sharing funny stories about our grandchildren. Who would have thought that would feel intimate?"

Explore techniques of expression that may be new to your relationship. Try different positions for your lovemaking. Studies have shown that an active sex life slows the aging process so your effort will be doubly rewarded. With their son away at college, Joy felt emotionally closer to her husband than ever before. "With the house to ourselves we feel less stressed, more carefree, less inhibited and make love more often."

Enjoy your sensuality. Have fun with it. Learn about exercises in "sensate focus" as you discover new ways to explore your body. Energy level, body image, physical limitations and the quality of the relationship all play a part in feelings of sensuality and intimacy.

Work with your health professional to rule out physical conditions or the side effects of prescriptions that could be contributing to a decrease in your libido. Talk to your internist or gynecologist about remedies - lubricants as well as prescription medications or creams.

Be patient and take small steps toward feeling emotionally satisfied. Allow yourself the pleasure of slowly learning more and more about your partner, even now. For Lisa and her partner, buying a motorcycle and riding together on weekends was one way of rekindling the excitement in their marriage. "What a thrill - I love it all - the speed of the ride, the wind in my hair, the physical closeness, even being the chick on the back of the bike."

Friday, February 16, 2007

February is perfect for cuddling, with the cold weather and longer nights. No wonder it's known as the month for romance. But, as a member of the Sandwich Generation, does caring for your growing children and aging parents make you too tired to bring Cupid back into your intimate relationship?

Lucy was on the fast track at work and active in her family life, having three teenagers and parents who were declining. Her interest in romance was waning and she was devastated by changes in her body and her psyche. "I have totally lost my libido and I feel as dry as the Sahara desert. In the past, I had been happily led around by my active sex drive - it has been my life force for so long. Now, I have lost my ballast and my identity. I want to have those feelings again."

Difficulties with intimacy may be affecting your partnership and, more likely, difficulties in your marriage may be interfering with your sexual relationship. If there are situations in your life that preoccupy your thoughts and are stressful for you, these can also affect your desires for intimacy. Begin to deal with them directly so that they do not spill over into your sex life.

Examine your relationship with your significant other. Are you satisfied with the intimacy? How is your communication? How do you both manage anger? Discuss the issues that are causing problems rather than withdrawing from each other. Don't use intimacy as a bargaining tool when there is unresolved resentment in your marriage.

Schedule a date night alone with your partner. Remember how your heart used to skip a beat when you happily thought about your next evening together? Recreate some of that excitement and mystery now. Take turns planning an activity that will remind you both of why you fell in love.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Statistics show that one out of two marriages in the United States ends in divorce. As a safeguard, some couples sign a pre-nuptial contract. Yet there are other non-verbalized agreements that impact marriage, but are not communicated as directly. For example, “I earn more than you and that gives me greater control over major decisions,” is understood but not a topic for conversation. An increase in either trust or tension in the relationship eventually allows these kinds of concerns expression and resolution, one way or the other.

Still other decisions are unconscious, part of the psychological baggage that is carried forward from the family of origin or from previous relationships. For instance, “my father walked out on our family without an explanation so, when you’re quiet for too long, I get scared,” can be an old script left over from childhood. Shaped by earlier experiences and well hidden by defense mechanisms, these entrenched beliefs often continue to drive individual attitudes and behaviors.
Discover the benefit of bringing emotional influences to conscious awareness. At this time of year, when so much love is in the air, let your heart speak. When talking quietlywith your partner, be willing to reveal your own personal needs and opinions so that he has some access to your subjective world. Encourage him to do the same with you.

On February 14th, mark your calendar as the first day of the rest of your lives. Cast a love spell as you celebrate your relationship. And commit to nurture a heartfelt connection through the gift of conversation.

Friday, February 02, 2007

How couples speak to each other is an example of the differences between the sexes – and the conversational styles of women and men are often poles apart. Despite your partner's ongoing support, do you find it difficult to talk about your deepest thoughts?

Sometimes women just want their partner to listen to how they feel about a particular situation. Instead, they find him intent on fixing the problem or finding a solution.

The truth is opposites attract. And genuine mutuality thrives on recognizing the differences in how you communicate. When it's impossible to respect and honor what sets you apart, find the humor and fall back on laughter.

February is a perfect month for you to tell us about some of your favorite, funniest or most poignant conversations. Let us hear from you.