by Stephanie McCrackenAugust 1, 2013 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling0 comments
You love your wife, husband, boyfriend, live in lover, you have remained together “insert number of years.” In fact you are so stricken with these pangs of warm and gooey feelings that you want to put in the extra effort that love sometimes requires of us to enhance our relationship bonds. Or, another possible consideration is that your relationship is in a slump and if this is the case you may have become aware of the fact that love does not tend its own growth. Regardless of how much time you may spend in your partner’s presence the difference between a quality relationship and a love that may be waning is often depicted in the quality of the time spent together. This is particularly true when a relationship may be suffering from the effects of deteriorating communication lines, conflicting schedules, the passage of time, strain upon one or both partners just to name a few. Besides couple’s therapy, there are a number of things that you may consider doing in our beautiful city to revitalize that loving connection that was once the highlight of your life.
- In Pittsburgh’s Cultural District there are several absolutely free galleries that are definitely must see’s! Space is on Liberty Avenue right downtown, even if you and your partner are not a beret wearing art aficionado, the instillation art is highly accessible to the laymen not to mention an interesting conversation starter, plus, did I mention that its free! http://www.spacepittsburgh.org/flash.html
- Take a long walk on one of the abundant river trails. We are lucky to live in a city that has a plentitude of water trails, some private and wooded while others permit a stroll next to the glittering metallic of the industrial laden skyline. Take advantage of man or natures bounty with your lover while hands remain clasped, a simple stroll can be so refreshing.
- Go shopping in the strip district markets and purchase a small amount of your favorite treats for a hiking excursion, take your picnic to one of the local parks. We are lucky to live in a city where there are a myriad of options, from Raccoon State Park to Morain State Park. At many of the parks you have the option of hiking or even renting a paddle boat which is fun and great exercise! http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/moraine/
- Take a ride on the incline and visit the startling heights of our city where you can admire the vista with your lover at the summit. While enjoying the sites, you can take the time to talk about the places you see that you have been together or the places that you would like to visit. http://www.duquesneincline.org/
- Create a couples vision board together, clip through books and magazines to create your ideal vision of where you would like to be in the next year or in 5 years. Plan together; this will give you both a chance to reconnect while understanding your own and your partners’ dreams. http://www.ehow.com/how_4494911_make-vision-board.html
- Peruse the Pittsburgh City Paper for outdoor concerts, even better you may stumble upon some that are absolutely free! From outdoor moonlit symphonies to indie rock, check out the ticket for lists! What speaks romance and excitement as much as enjoying the relaxing effects from the music in your ears. http://www.pghcitypaper.com/
- Enjoy one of the Paint and Wine events such as Corks and Canvases. These are paining classes that are targeted towards adults; you can go with your significant other and even a group of friends. While the cost may be a bit prohibitive for some, if it is within your budget it is well worth it to become creative making those “happy trees” while sipping a glass of wine. http://corksncanvas.com/
- Rent a Kayak, available on the river next to PNC Park or also available in Millville. Get your heart pumping with the renewal of romance and the fun of enjoying the city from a unique vantage point! This fantastic venue also offers bike rentals and the city of Pittsburgh boasts many wonderful trails.
I encourage you, the reader to share your own yinzer worthy way to REVIVE YOUR LOVE!
In love and health,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Offering Psychotherapy and Marriage Counseling
Reviving Minds Therapy
1010 Western Ave
Pittsburgh Pa 15233
Long Term Sex, for Long Term Love, Tips to add Spark to Sexual Intimacy- Marriage Counseling and Beyond
by Stephanie McCrackenJune 26, 2013 couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, psychotherapy, sensate focus, sexuality, Uncategorized0 comments
Long term relationships, life time marriages ; Tips To Add Spark To Sexual Intimacy
Idyllic harmonious encounters of two souls forever become one, ahh…sounds so lovely, and it can be. Yet, reality settles in and our fantasy love becomes peppered with disappointments, disagreements, and challenges of surviving in a world that is at times unjust. For those who are able to make a loving partnership work, the bliss and benefits are at times extraordinarily beautiful, even promising greater wellness and longevity for people who are a part of a healthy committed relationship. There are many tips and methods which can help a couple mesh their various conflict resolution patterns and styles of loving which will create a happy ending after all. Yet, even those couples who are able to remain attached into the deeper phases of loving matrimony are not in the clear as time itself exerts a considerable amount of influence upon our behaviors and even our biology. Time causes us to become “habituated” to our mates, to use a scientific term. The term habituation is an important one, it means that all of those exciting feelings that we once derived from our partner’s presence are replaced with sensations of comfort. Literally that man or woman who was once the source of a quickening heart is now a source of a calm and comforting feeling, their presence is soothing. Like all things, habituation is at times a blessing but can also be a burden. Someone whose mere presence provides calm and comfort sounds divine, however sexually this can potentially be a source of trouble. When it comes to the bedroom biology will require that our pulses quicken and that blood flow heighten, this may be even more important for males whereas females can potentially experience greater arousal as they become more soothed. Are you a couple and have found yourself recently entering a sensual slump or are in a long term pattern of doing it less than is desirable for you? Keep in mind that there really is not a magic number for how many times a week or month is the ideal number of times for love making. Some couples may be content to enjoy sex a few times a month while others enjoy sex several times a week. The key point is that you and your partner know what is best for you individually and collectively. Taking that into account, if you are past the honeymoon phase and noticing a sexual shift, here are some tips for men and women to use, to combat the effects of time.
1) Cast aside routine. You probably have plenty of routine in the rest of your life so keep those outside of the bedroom. In fact, for some couples who are experiencing lower sexual arousal making an effort to make love in a different room of the house is a helpful tip to renew once felt passion. You may even want to consider spending the night in a hotel or taking a long weekend, enjoying you physical bond in a different setting may be just the trick to break the spell of habituation.
2) More on routine, it is easy to get stuck in a sexual rut by performing the same sexual position time after time but this will squelch your sexual passion quickly. Dare to try something new! Yes, it can be frightening to step outside of yourself and into something different but maintaining the same script every time you and your partner jump into the sack may be just as frightening. Fortunately, we live in the technological era and there are countless online and professional resources which will explain a million other contortions to enjoy your physical bond. Study something like tantra to add to your imagination.
3) Resolve emotional conflicts. This is a big one, the longer you remain together, the more time exists to build up unresolved emotional issues. Emotional conflict will wreak havoc on your sexual connection. Often our hurts, our resentments and all of the other things that inevitably happen as lines of communication and understanding become crossed, crop up in other parts of our behavior. Therapists hear many stories being recounted over and again from couple to couple, battles being reenacted in the sexual relationship as a pattern of one or both partners begin withholding sex. The best way to combat this is to resolve those emotional issues, adopt different manners of communication, it takes work but the relationship that can be achieved when you put in the time is well worth the effort.
4) Make time to make love! It is commonplace to be consumed in work, children, and finances that we literally forget how important it is to carve out some time for physical bonding with our partners. With so many other things placing demands on our attention, sometimes we view our partner as being “the person who will always be there tomorrow”, if they are there tomorrow the demands of the night doesn’t always elicit due urgency. I will beckon urgency for you, make time to regularly make love, it is every bit as important as driving the kids to soccer practice and dropping the mortgage in the mail.
5) Take care of your physical health, when we exercise and eat well, we feel our best and when we feel our best, our sexual energy is higher. The human body is a spectacular thing that can endure well into old age but only if we are kind to ourselves by nurturing our mind, body, spirit with quality nutrients and oxygen. If you are struggling with sexual arousal, sexual desire, orgasm, or a sexual pain disorder, you should seek sex therapy or a medical evaluation. By caring for yourself, you have mastered one of the best predictors of having a quality sexual relationship with your mate into octogenarian-hood.
One final note, sudden decreased sexual desire or sexual response can sometimes occur with other symptoms related to certain conditions such as depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, or even emotions such as low self-esteem or as a result of trauma or attachment related issues- this list is by no means exhaustive and is no substitute for medical or psychological help.
In health and bliss,
Stephanie M. Wijkstrom, LPC, NCC
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue
Pittsburgh PA 15233
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh Pa 15233
by Stephanie McCrackenMay 6, 2013 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mindfulness, Uncategorized0 comments
Eros, Cupid, and Heart Shaped Boxes of Chocolate
“The Task is not to seek for love but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi
Ah, February. That time of the year when the days slowly begin to increase, while the climate gives us a pining glimpse of why we love the summer months. Yet, in spite of the frostiness outside our bodies, there is warmth in our hearts. They pitter-patter or maybe they simply ooze with affection and reflection, indicating that now is a fine time for us to consider love. Eros in Greek and roman history is the god of passionate love, yet Carl Jung who later uses the work meant something very different by it.
Since the earliest times we have always been fascinated with the topic of romantic love – think Cupid, spritely son of Venus in Roman mythology. His message was quite simple; love is something that simply happens to us. It happens when we meet the perfect person who is our “soul mate.” We are always looking for our other half, the half that the Gods took from us. When we fall in love at first sight, then we have found someone that “fills” our anima or animus archetype particularly well. This match, cut from the same archetypal cloth, will make all of our short comings suddenly dissipate with the fulfillment of this perfection…uh-oh! With such a wishful perception of what it means to fall in love and linger in love, it is no wonder that Cupid’s arrows often result in more pain and disappointment than pleasure.
The desire to be a part of a romantic relationship is a very healthy one. Psychologists, philosophers, media outlets and the public chatter on endlessly about love. Yet sometimes this healthy urge can bring us to the pits of repetitive despair. There are those who seem to be in a new romantic relationship every month. Each liaison is asserted to finally be “the one.” However, as soon as true intimacy begins to take form emotional fears emerge and the person is off to find the next “one.” How about the friend who continually falls for “the one” that she ends up loathing? She embraces an idea of love that soon resembles a battlefield where tears replace laughter and frowns are misaligned, forced smiles. With the advent of social media there are those who increasingly hide behind keyboards instead of taking the risk to experience meaningful human interaction. Perhaps they are so afraid of the risks of love that they choose to stay far away from its possibilities and responsibilities?
Are there those who are simply addicted to love? The Top 40 catalog of popular music for the past 100 years would have us believe so. Recently neuroscientists have identified that there does seem to be a similar pathway which is involved in the formation and sustainment of all addictive behaviors, including an unhealthy need to always be “falling in love.” We know it is there, those who are suffering know that it is unhealthy, yet how do we move beyond the despair of repeatedly engaging in patterns that debase our sense of personal strength and hope?
So, what then is this thing called love? Love is a mutual interest in each other and in other things yet love is also maintenance of individuality and solo pursuits. Love is compassion and care for the self and for the other. Love is respect of the other and of others-in-the-world. Love is both, “I want to append to this person’s happiness and I will continue to be my own happiness.” Love is taking the time to listen and hear, being present with the other. Finally, love is speaking with positive clarity and authenticity to the values wants and needs of me and the other.
Remember when someone told you that love begins where and when you love yourself? Mature love will not sustain itself by an unhappy person trying to bring happiness to another—only the unity of the two nurturing mutual wholeness and happiness can ignite the chemical reaction of true and meaningful love. So if you are plodding along anxiously waiting for “the one” to appear, “the one” who is going to change the gloomy trajectory of your life, you may be waiting a while.
Seizing this moment to respect yourself, to love yourself in an authentic and mature fashion, will eventually ripple out into the ether and present an opportunity for you to experience the love of another in a new and significant way. Perhaps you have some thoughts about love that you would like to share?