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.

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!