Celeste & Danielle Offer Sex and Relationship Coaching for a Passionate, Connected and Fulfilling Life

It seems that everywhere we look we see couples in long term relationship suffering from challenges in their intimacy and sexual connection. More than half of all marriages end in divorce and a large number of those who stay married report feeling dissatisfaction in their sexual and emotional connection.

At the beginning of a relationship, also known as the “honeymoon period,” it may be possible for you to have super hot sex even you have not shared what you want out of sex and intimacy with your partner. Simply being with someone new upon whom you can project all of your fantasies, combined with the uncertainty of new romance can be enough to fuel the fires of desire and arousal and lead to a lot of sexual fulfillment.

The sexual honeymoon period doesn’t happen for everyone. For those who do get to experience it, a majority will see it fading as the excitement of newness and uncertainty wears off. It is then that the important question arises: “How can you keep sex hot in long-term relationships?” It seems like everywhere we look, we see new one-size-fits-all approaches to answering this question.

Therapists, coaches, sexperts, popular magazines and new age teachers have offered a variety of potential solutions. New age teachers will say that there needs to be polarity between the masculine and feminine. While this will help some couples whose desires include the need for polarity, others will be turned on by a feminine-feminine or masculine-masculine dynamic. Leading sexperts might tell you that there needs to be more mystery and distance that counters the domesticity. Yes, for some, that might be just the thing. For others however, less mystery and more safety will be what allows them to open to another. Some couple’s therapists advocate the idea that deep attunement and good communication will automatically lead to good sex, but that’s only true if what you need in order to get off is someone who is attuned to you. It is just as possible that what gets you off is that someone wants to use you for their pleasure.

The reason these approaches will not necessarily fix your sex life is because they are very simplistic and one dimensional. The truth of sex and intimacy is that there isn’t a cookie cutter answer that works for everyone. There is, however, a way to find out what will work for you and in your relationship.

If we have learned one lesson in our years of working with people around their sexual desires it is that people are extraordinarily diverse and unique – in other words, there is no one-size-fits-all fix. What people don’t realize is that each person has what we like to call their own unique Hottest Sexual Movie – a compilation of erotic and emotional experiences that elicit what they most want to feel in sex.

In order for sex to be hot, it must fulfill a good deal of each partner’s Hottest Sexual Movies. Those couples who have complimentary movies will generally stay much more satisfied with their sex life in the long term, but the majority of couples don’t get their movies met with the un-communicated, spontaneous sexual encounters that populate Hollywood movies. For couples who have less complimentary Hottest Sexual Movies, creating a sex life that fulfills both of your desires can be a feat!

Bottom line – what you don’t know about your own and your partner’s desires and what you haven’t shared may be killing your sex life and we hope you will begin to explore, experiment, teach and share your Hottest Sexual Movies. For a much broader look at some of the most common movies, check out our new book Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion.

Stay tuned… In our next blog – Discover Your Hottest Sexual Movie 101 – you will find out how to understand and share your own and your partner’s Hottest Sexual Movie and learn how your sex life can fulfill (as opposed to kill!) your partner’s desire.

In case you are not familiar with the acronym AFGO, it stands for Another F****** Growth Opportunity and New Year’s resolutions are just that. Instead of making an epic list of daily life alterations that will likely overwhelm you until you rebel against all of the them around January 15th, we have an idea for how you can make a resolution that can enhance your sex life and strengthen your relationship potential.

Instead of taking stock on a basic level, how about doing some self-searching this year to see the ways in which you would like to focus on your own erotic growth and emotional responsiveness. Heightening your emotional responsiveness, as opposed to allowing emotional reactivity to take over, is a life change that will reverberate into all elements of your life. As we discuss in our recent book, Making Love Real, we have worked with countless clients who have resolved to push their sexual pleasure beyond what they believed was possible.

It is not as complicated as it may seem to make these life-altering changes. In fact, this resolution also involves simply making lists. First, we suggest to start by finding the edges of your sexual comfort and jotting them down. This way you can take stock of where you would like to explore and expand. Simply doing this part of the exercise can offer a means of self-acceptance that leads to growth.

Next, make a list of the things that can be challenging about being in a relationship with you and see which one you are most interested in facing this year. Facing these challenges could mean finding deeper acceptance for yourself as you are, might mean learning new tools to replace old habitual responses and it might just be coming to it with your partner so that they know what they’re up against.

These lists may seem epic. The more honest you are the longer they may be. That is actually a good thing. But this year you will simply choose one from each list to tackle. We find that so many of our issues are interrelated, and that by truly paying attention to these two issues you select will allow you to experience erotic growth and increased emotional responsiveness in other areas as well. We know you can do it! Can’t wait to hear about your amazing 2016!

Over the years as Sex Therapists and Relationship Coaches, so many of the couples we’ve seen have shared their experiences of rough patches during the holiday season. Holiday gift giving and family visits can add emotional and financial stress. We came up with this list of pointers that can help you and your partner stay connected during the holiday season so that you can experience the love and joy of the holidays instead.

Make a “Naughty” and “Nice” gift list

There can be something pretty unsexy about the list making/gift giving process. In long term relationships where finances are collective, gift giving can really fall flat as you watch the funds leave your joint bank account and go to presents you might not necessarily want to spend it on. In new relationships it can feel like a test of weather you know someone well enough. Instead or in addition to traditional gift-giving, why not make a list of sensual or sexual favors you would like to receive. You might want a “nice” long massage or perhaps a quick “naughty” trip up the chimney? Sharing your gift list is a fun way to supercharge your intimate connection over the holidays.

Learn the family dynamics

Whether this is your first time spending a holiday with your partner’s family or the 145th family holiday (but who’s counting?), we have a hunch that there could be a bit more communication leading up to the events. Instead of having an every person for themselves survivalist approach to the holidays, it is important to ask your partner what they need from you during this time. Even the closest of families can fall into damaging patterns this time of year, and by coming up with some strategies beforehand you and your partner can find ways to enjoy the good parts. This goes both ways, of course. It so important not to take for granted that your partner will intuit your needs around family and holidays, but to give them a chance to support you.

Steal moments beyond the mistletoe

By all means steal a socially-sanctioned kiss under the mistletoe as often as you possibly can. But, also take time to slow dance in the kitchen, take a bundled stroll arm and arm, whisper a compliment or sneak away for a car makeout session that might lead to more. By creating lots of small moments of connection you can ensure your relationship heads into the new year strong. We have many suggestions for intimacy boosting exercises in our new book, Making Love Real. So, if you plan on purchasing something, might as well make it our book ;).

Create your own Sexy Traditions

Think of ways to infuse the traditions you already have with a sexy twist (i.e. Don’t wear panties to that holiday matinee). Or, create new traditions like enjoying a seasonal shag on a blanket in front of the fireplace where you can feel the heat of the flames. We had a couple who would always have a Thanksgiving quickie after they put the bird in the oven and before everyone else woke up. Instead of feeling like they had an annoying chore they got to get away with something. Whatever it is, come up with some annual events that will keep the holidays exciting and special for you as a couple.

Take Space When You Need It

We can not stress this enough. Between holiday parties, family obligations, shopping, work and sleep it can feel impossible to have any me time. During this time of year it is so important to find space to do what keeps you feeling like you even if it means missing an event or two or not helping with a family meal. This will allow you to be present for your partner and actually experience and enjoy moments of connection with family and friends as well.

As you move through the honeymoon period, you start to see the person for who they really are, which is never exactly the person you hoped or imagined they would be. This is the beauty and challenge of a relationship – the differences between your fantasy partner and the person sitting in front of you create an opportunity for interpersonal and personal growth.

In the long-term love phase, you get to see your partner’s endearing and annoying day-to-day habits, as well as your own, and you also get to experience your partner’s and your own vulnerability and defenses. As you let someone in more deeply and they let you in, you begin to see and feel your strengths and challenges. Each of you starts to gain access to the other’s buttons that trigger the fears of the inner child, the fight/flight/flee response that comes in the face of these fears, as well as the accompanying defensive strategies.

We believe true and lasting love is about developing a solid, loving base supporting each other’s attachment needs and giving each other mutual care. It is also about personal growth, following your own dreams and desires, and celebrating and supporting your partner in growing and actualizing their dreams and desires as well. In our book Making Love Real we teach you all the steps to building a satisfying and fulfilling relationship that last.

Researchers, therapists, and the media generally refer to the first six to eighteen months of any relationship as the “honeymoon period.” In the beginning, you don’t know what will happen between the two of you and you don’t know much about the person with whom you are trying to connect. You look at this other person and imagine that they are everything you desire. In this phase, you and your partner are generally on your best behavior, marketing yourselves with everything you’ve got, downplaying your challenges and basking in the delight of someone seeing you as amazing and perfect.

This can set the stage for two kinds of falls. It can be exciting fodder for falling into a deeper kind of love, as we discuss in upcoming book Making Love Real. But, more often than not, the honeymoon period can set you or your partner up to plummet off of this pedestal. In order to avoid this and give yourselves a chance for lasting love it is important to understand the honeymoon period and how to move out of it.

In the honeymoon period your uncertainty about this person’s desire for you creates a constant longing for connection, which often takes the form of sexual desire. You may feel infatuated and have obsessive thoughts, as well as an inability to concentrate on your day-to-day life. Biological determinists explain this process of sex hormones spiking as an attempt to bond you together long enough for baby-making. In this period sex is generally inevitable, spontaneous, passionate, and full of uninhibited desire and arousal. You are probably filled with feelings of excitement as you imagine all of the possibilities for your future together.

Many people are so addicted to this phase that as soon as a relationship starts moving towards the stability and deeper certainty of long-term love, they would rather move on to their next one. They start a new honeymoon period, never making room for their partner’s flaws or getting comfortable with accepting and revealing their own. If you make it through the honeymoon period, you have a chance at fulfilling long-term love which we will describe in our next post.

While it is true that part of attraction is physical, much of it has a lot more to do with familiarity (and often physical attraction is also based on particular kinds of familiarity). It is no coincidence that the root word of “familiarity” is “family”: When you choose a partner you feel very attracted to and excited about, it is likely because they remind you of someone who had a strong effect on you as a child. This attraction may come from a desire for an opportunity to resolve some of the hurt that you experienced as a child, and/or to re-experience some of your positive childhood moments. This goes beyond the trope of choosing mates based on “daddy” or “mommy” issues into much more complex interrelationships that reveal inner wounds that deserve attention and care.

If one of your primary caretakers was distant, you might choose someone who is distant as a way to attempt to fulfill your child’s desire to finally succeed in drawing a distant person closer. Or, if you had a primary caretaker who was very dramatic and intrusive, you might choose someone who has familiar behaviors in an attempt to have a different, rewarding experience where your boundaries are respected by someone with a similar personality. Unfortunately, many relationships are simply a replay of these old negative patterns rather than a resolution. Your inner child’s desire for repair is earnest, but when confronted with the familiar behaviors of your chosen partner, your inner child’s protective strategies take over. Instead of growing, you find that your habits take over: you become clingy with a distant partner or coldly push an intrusive partner away.

While you are attracted to what is familiar in your partner, unfortunately, that person also responds to you in the painful, and familiar ways you experienced in your childhood. This reputation propels you both into what we call a “negative relationship vortex” a reactionary space that offers limited tools for repair. The negative relationship vortex is the way that your and your partner’s wounds and protective strategies interact. We go deeply into the vortex and how to repair it in our upcoming book, Making Love Real. We’ve found that if you and your partner are willing to learn self-awareness and change old habits, you can find more satisfying and sustainable ways of relating that you may never have experienced as a child. These new ways of relating will offer you the joy, fulfillment, and longevity that you have been trying to create in your relationships. While your inner child may help you choose your partner, remember that you have many tools you can use to help them move beyond the vortex into a fulfilling relationship.

It feels so good to say and to hear the words “I love you,” but what do they really mean? In order to talk about what makes a relationship successful, it is crucial to have a working definition of love. This is something you can remind yourself, and each other, of during the inevitable ebb and flow of any long term relationship. Defining love is not an easy task. Poets, philosophers, neuroscientists, therapists and just about everyone else have tirelessly tried to answer this question. Our working definition of love comes from what we have seen work for the couples in our practice as sex and intimacy therapists.

Of all of the couples we see in our practice, the couples who have the most successful relationships know, or learn, that intimacy grows and is sustained not just in moments of connection, but in moments of tension. Moments of connection, such as touching, looking at one another, having an enjoyable shared experience, talking or having sex are all part of the glue that keeps relationships together. Likewise, moments of tension including differing desires, disagreements, misunderstandings, hurt feelings and anger, if done well, can also be part of the glue that holds your relationship together. When you come to conflict with the intention of sharing difficult feelings and deepening empathy and understanding of one another, and you learn to repair breaks in connection, you begin to build a sense of trust for one another that you can make it through challenges. Since every relationship has tension, knowing that you can make it through challenging moments is also part of the glue that holds relationships together. Doing both connection and tension well are essential to sustainable love.

Most relationships start out with a feeling of attraction and then move into two somewhat distinct phases. The first is the experience of falling in love (the “honeymoon period”), and the second is the experience of long-term loving. Not every relationship moves from the first phase into the second, and the ones that do so successfully are able to experience a love that is not narrowly defined. In our upcoming book Making Love Real we explore what love means. Articulating what we mean by love helps us to understand why we choose the people we choose to love (even when it does not feel like a choice). In this blog series we will explore why we love who we love and how to sustain it. Stay tuned and subscribe to this blog to get email notifications!