Celeste and Danielle, Creators of the Somatica Method of Sex Therapy and Relationship Coaching

In this important and timely NYT article, Amy Sohn looks at how some forms of couple’s therapy may not get to the root of sexual issues. A whole new generation of therapists are approaching sex differently and The Somatica Method is at the cutting edge of approaches that teach couples connection and intimacy, but go beyond that to help couples make sex hot and exciting again (or for the first time). In our practice we see so many couples who have a wonderful connection but sex has gone by the wayside.

In our upcoming book, Making Love Real, we cover how sex can be a big part of the glue that holds relationships together, but that sex and what makes sex hot is largely misunderstood. We help each person in a couple share their unique sexual psyches, their deepest and most vulnerable longings, so that sex can touch into what it truly arousing and fulfilling. We are so excited to be a part of this important direction in couple’s coaching and sex therapy.

No two relationships are exactly alike, yet we often make assumptions about how relationships are supposed to be. There is a lot of societal pressure, for example, to have a relationship where your agreements are assumed instead of overtly communicated and where you are expected to follow a particular relationship trajectory: you fall in love which generally includes meeting, dating, and becoming monogamous, then you solidify the relationship by moving in (and sometimes getting married), then you become a family (which may include children), and then you stay together into your old age.

The more relationships we see in our sex therapy and relationship coaching practice and the more we read the research, the more we are aware that this particular formula does not work for everyone (or even the majority of people). Yet, people judge themselves and their partners on their success or failure based on their ability to make the trajectory happen. We help people replace this static, assumption-based approach to relationships so that people can honor their unique and changing desires and boundaries in service of having sustainable, loving relationships.

We suggest you start with the following assumption: There is no right way to have a relationship and the most successful relationships account for the beautifully unique needs of the people in them. For example, we have seen wonderful marriages where the couple does not live together, delightful relationships that never result in marriage and generous couples who decide that the most loving, supportive thing they can do for one another is break up. We have seen relationships revived by an affair, and ones that were ruined by the monotony and boredom of trying to fit into society’s mold.

We invite you to examine the contract you have with fresh eyes and creativity and to be willing to continue to look at it throughout your relationship as you change and grow. Notice all the ways you have let yourself fall into default settings and see where this is or is not serving you. Even if you want aspects of the trajectory, bring them up and make sure you and your partner’s needs are both heard. Here are a few questions that might help you make your contract more transparent:
* How have you decided to share money?
* How do you approach attending social engagements (together or separate or both)?
* How do you sleep (i.e. in the same bed or not, at the same time or not)?
* Do you assume there is a right way to do some things in your relationship and get angry and blamey if it is not happening the way you want it to?
* What things do you really want that you have decided, consciously or unconsciously, not to ask for because it might upset your partner or it “just isn’t done”?

Once you approach your relationship contract as a dynamic, negotiable and non-judgmental process, we believe you will have a lot less undue suffering and frustration and a lot more of what you really want your relationship to be! Let us know if you’d like some help.

In popular culture affairs are portrayed as the ultimate, unforgivable relationship sin. The person who cheats is thought of as untrustworthy at best and, at worst, as downright evil. Yet, affairs happen all the time in relationships. In our work, we have found cheating to be more of a symptom rather than the problem. And while it is easy to blame the people who have affairs as the one who has betrayed the relationship, in our sex therapy and relationship coaching practice, we have found that people don’t cheat because they are bad people. But, they do cheat and they cheat for many reasons.

Sometimes people have affairs because they feel that something is lacking in their current relationship and they don’t feel that it is ok to ask for what they want or ask to be with someone else. They may still love and want to be with their partner (or they may not), but whatever is missing is something they feel they can’t live without, something that makes them feel truly themselves. For some people cheating is an expression of desire to be seen in a different light that they are perceived in their relationship or to explore a different aspect of themselves that isn’t expressed in their relationship.

Many people have affairs to make up for a lack of emotional or sexual connection. It may be that they don’t feel accepted or desired by their partner, or they may desire sex that is different from the kind they can have in their relationship. Maybe the sex they are having is not arousing to them, or there is little or no sex at all in the relationship. Some people simply have a strong desire for novelty and excitement despite a great sex life and connection with their partner. Cheating can be a way people fight the boredom and frustration that can arise when you are with one person for a long time.

For some people, affairs are a way to escape the responsibilities and criticisms of daily life. They want to feel, for a moment, that there is nothing they have to do and that someone is crazy about them just as they are. Some people have revenge affairs to get back at a partner who has cheated. Others have affairs to make up for a feeling of having been taken advantage of or as an expression of their unexpressed resentment. For example, if you feel pressure to provide and make everyone in your family happy, you may feel that the burden is unfair but not share your needs and feelings about it. Instead you feel justified in getting your emotional and/or sexual needs met somewhere else.

Stay tuned for our next installment on how to avoid cheating!

Here’s an excerpt from our upcoming book, Making Love Real: How to Create Emotionally Connected, Hot Relationships that Last.

Move Beyond Damaging Myths

Before learning tools to enhance your sexual connection, you must first understand why sex can be such a challenging and contentious area in your relationship. There are so many confusing social messages and harmful myths about how sex is supposed to be and how men and women are supposed to behave sexually. Because these messages are presented to you from very early on, they become a part of you, like the air you breathe. Most people never question the validity of these messages and don’t realize how harmful they can be. We invite you to question them and see how they cause misunderstanding, anger, fear, and sadness and how they disrupt your connection with your partner. Once you gain some freedom and distance from these messages, you can begin to approach sex with much more realistic attitudes and expectations, empathize with your partner, and better communicate your sexual needs and desires.

Damaging Myth #1: Sex is supposed to happen spontaneously.
People often get upset at the idea that they might need to plan sex. They remember when they started dating and sex “just happened.” However, dating is essentially planning sex or erotic connection. By planning a date, you are taking special time out to focus on the connection between the two of you. You dress up, fantasize about meeting each other, prepare, and get excited. This isn’t spontaneous sex; it’s anticipated sex.

Once you have joined your life with someone else’s, time together has many purposes. You might spend time together where you are each doing your own separate work, or you might need to talk about money, kids, and all the day-to-day logistics of life. Most couples stop carving out time together where the focus is on building and enhancing sexual and emotional connection. When you live in a culture where there is a high level of shame surrounding sex, soon one or both of you will likely move sex to the bottom of your list of priorities. Just as you’ve made a commitment to each other, if you want your sex life to last, you need to make a commitment to consciously cultivate your sexual connection the same way you did when you were dating.

This is the season to connect with loved ones and that’s just what Celeste and Danielle’s client and her husband do their Sex Therapy session and in part 3 of our series featuring her candid writings.

Lesson: Tension and Touching

“The second appointment with our sex therapist was full of laughter and more “flow,” a major change from our first appointment full of tears and apprehension. We talked about how we were afraid this would be like other attempts; that this new found passion would sputter and die out as it has in the past. The sex therapist reassured us that this is a long road and there was a lot more we could do to ensure this was a long-lasting change. She talked about some essential elements to great sex. She talked about energy, and specifically tension, and she talked about touch.”

“To illuminate what she meant about tension, she talked about those Hollywood movies where you can see and feel the build-up (think Mr and Mrs Smith). She said all great sex starts with that, and tension starts before sex. She led us through some breathing exercises (together this time — yay, dual participation) and had us take a deep breath in, then tighten our muscles (my pussy, his cock) and then exhale fully while relaxing those muscles. She made sure we were breathing through our mouths for this, and said mouth breathing is very important during sex. She encouraged us to be as vocal as we’d like on the exhale, though I’ll admit we were both pretty quiet. I mean, this is strange, right?!? Then she talked about touch: good touch, bad touch, light touch, heavy touch. Not touching genitals or anything, just touching each other’s arms and face and shoulders and legs. It’s pretty powerful stuff moving from tension to touch. And yeah, none of this is secret stuff we don’t know about. It comes naturally in the heat of the moment. But it is really interesting to talk about, break down, and reconsider how the things that happen outside of the heat of the moment can lead up to something really amazing.”

Homework: Sexy Movie Night

“So, now we are currently working on breathing and touching, and we’re watching some Hollywood movies with great sexual tension. And it’s working. And it’s great. And it seems so different from what might have happened if I had gone to the therapist that my OBGYN suggested.”

We’re giving you an intimate glimpse into one woman’s quest to increase her libido, featuring excerpts from emails she wrote to close female friends as she worked with Celeste and Danielle in their Sex Therapy and Relationship Coaching practice.

In this second of five posts, we’ll look at what really helps women deal with their low sexual desire as she describes the transformation she and her husband went through. Our client writes:

“I knew logically that when we have great sex, so many other things are better – he is nicer to me and I am nicer to him, we have more fulfilling conversations, we play more joyfully with our son. I mean, who doesn’t want these things?!? So why were we sitting here nearly 2 decades into our relationship with my husband feeling like I wasn’t attracted to him and didn’t desire sex in the way that he wanted? And was it going to be the thing that eventually destroyed our relationship?”

So she went to her OBGYN who told her that there really aren’t medications to solve this problem and the OBGYN recommended she contact a therapist, but they either weren’t available or not a good fit for her. Our client writes:

“My husband did what he does best and did some research online. And he found Celeste & Danielle, some fairly non-traditional Sex therapists. Most therapists focus on LOTS of talking and hopefully a moderately positive outcome. This one (Celeste & Danielle) focused on the transformative power of pleasure via exposing our vulnerabilities alongside a heavy dose of sex education.”

Lesson #1. Breathing… all the way down.

“Our first visit with the Sex therapist, we both shared our side of the story (VERY hard, LOTS of tears). She listened, connected with us, asked questions and even shed a tear herself. She comforted me and told me that as a female race, we’ve been taught OUR ENTIRE LIVES to keep it in our pants. She pointed out that that kind of brainwashing certainly makes it difficult to reconnect our mind with our pussy. Whether it’s that the initial infatuation period has worn off, or that work is stressful, or that the kids need attention, or that the dinner has to be made – it is SO EASY for us to focus on absolutely everything else other than our sexual needs and desires. She told me that most women have “low libido” which is just another way to say that we are disconnected from our sexuality. Try something right now. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out. Do you feel it down to your pussy? If you are like me a month ago, the answer is that you don’t. You take a deep breath in and out, and the sensation stops right in the middle of your torso. So take a moment, and try again. Take a REALLY deep breath in and out and connect it all the way down to your pussy. If you are like me a month ago, that was a really strange sensation. But it felt nice.”

Homework #1

“So what did our sex therapist ask us to do after that first appointment? Well, I had the brunt of the homework, or so my husband thought. I was to do little things – like when I walked outside and the air felt fresh and cool, or I liked the way the sky looked, or it was unusually warm, I was supposed to take a deep breath, all the way down to – you guessed it – my pussy. And yes, you say that word often enough and it heightens your awareness of your sexuality. I was also supposed to dress more slowly, to feel the sensation of the materials on my skin. As a couple, we were supposed to be more affectionate and playful. To greet each other more enthusiastically at the end of the day, to cuddle together, to have pillow fights. Finally, we were supposed to expand our sexuality outside of sex. To watch a Hollywood (not porn) movie together, to read erotica together. No connection to the act of sex itself, just to expand our awareness and enjoyment of each other’s sexuality.”

The bad and the good.

“I’ll be honest, there were days that didn’t go great. There were days I got upset about something at work, or how my husband handled something at home, or getting my period. But overall, the deep breaths and getting dressed slowly awakened something inside me that made it quite frankly, much easier to feel turned on in a way that I’ve never been able to do before. I’m not saying I automatically am thinking about sex a hundred times a day, it’s much more subtle than that. But I did start to find that these small moments throughout the day helped me realize I might not only want sex for my husband’s sake, or for logical reasons like connecting us more deeply, but I might want it for my own pleasure as well. I actually giggled one day riding home on the bike to realize that it must feel pretty damn good to be a guy and think like this all the time.”

A realization.

“On a long run between our first and second appointments with our sex therapist, I asked my husband how he thought it was going. He mentioned that he thought it was going well from a results standpoint, but he felt he wasn’t really contributing. He felt it was all because of what I was doing on my own. I told him that I felt like we were trying to climb a mountain and that yes, part of establishing base camp was me connecting within myself, but that I really felt an equally important part was feeling wanted (not just for sex, but really truly loved and cared for) and we talked about how important I felt it was for him to show me this in a super exaggerated way. For instance, when he gets home at night, to dazzle me with a deep kiss and to hold me in his arms for more than a quick second. Not because he wanted sex that night, but just because he loves me. Or to skip his normal routine of heading to the office upon arriving home, and to instead sit with me while I prepared dinner and to talk to me about his day or my day or anything else. He tried hard to do these things since, and it’s been as essential as some of the other more overtly sexual homework.”

We love that our client is letting us share her journey with you because so many women want a more robust sex drive. And the next installment will be about sexual tension, which everyone wants more of!

One of our clients sent over this series of emails she wrote to her close female friends about working with us to address her low libido. We are so delighted that she is willing to open up about her journey, and we’ll be sharing it with you as a series of blog posts.

The Problem

In this first post, we will share with her absolutely on point description of what most couples experience when the woman in the relationship has lower desire and how they try to solve it. Our client writes:

“Over the course of the 19 years that I have been with my wonderful husband, we have had the great fortune to grow together in many ways. However, one thing that has been constant over the years is his sexual appetite has always been greater than my own. Sound familiar? That’s because a ridiculously huge proportion of women face similar issues in their relationships.”

Is Good the Enemy of Great?

“It wasn’t that I couldn’t have GOOD sex with my husband. Despite my self-diagnosed ‘low libido,’ we still managed to have sex on a moderately regular (albeit less than he would have liked) basis. But it was routine. I brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas, crawled into bed with him and we did the things we knew would please each other and we had sex. It was good. But GREAT sex required stars to be aligned. It required vacations, or alcohol, or a particularly perfect week at work and a kid who went to bed early or slept in late. It required me to get out of my head for a second and to not be annoyed that his loving overtures weren’t coming at a time where I was already in the mood, but to have them put me in the mood. It required a small miracle.”

Looking for the Quick Fix

Many couples try to resolve the issue with “quick fixes,” “hot tips,” and all sorts of short-cut solutions that generally don’t do much to shift people’s habits or change their sex lives and relationships. Our client continues:

“We’d had discussions over the years about this topic, and as a result of these emotional conversations, we’d stumble upon various tactics that would work for a SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. We’d decide to have sex every Wednesday, and it worked. For a month. We’d decide to be more amorous to each other outside the bedroom, and that worked. For a couple weeks. He would buy me sexy lingerie. That wouldn’t work (does that work for anyone but a guy?!?). We’d think that “Oh when the baby is older, we’ll get back in the groove” or “Oh, it’s the birth control pills, that’s it. After the vasectomy and I’m off the pills, we’ll magically want to jump each other’s bones all day long.”

Sound Familiar?

Some of you are probably nodding your heads emphatically right now, totally able to identify with our client’s situation. Society tells us that sex is easy, especially when you’re in a happy, loving relationship. In reality, many women suffer from occasional to frequent low-libido, making them frustrated with their relationships and themselves.

In our next post we’ll continue following our client on her journey as she searches for an answer to her low libido.

We are delighted that you are here and want to encourage you to follow the momentum and inspiration that got you here by contacting us today.

Celeste and Danielle
client