5 ways to increase intimacy and sex in your relationship


As a couples therapist I hear a lot about how sex becomes rut and how intimacy seems to be nonexistent. Oddly enough, these ruts are normal in long term relationships. With little to no passion maintenance, the pace and connection between you and your partner becomes predictable and robotic. So today I’m going to share with you 5 vulnerable yet easy ways to bring some erotic passion into your relationship. The only tools and toys you will need are your 5 senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound.

Here is a little disclosure first: when connecting with your partner sexually the 5 sense are a shared two-fold experience. What I
mean is not only are you touching your partner, you are also experiencing touch; your partner hears you, and you hear your partner; During sex, using your 5 senses becomes a dance shared and reciprocated by both people.

Increasing Your Sexual Experience Using Your 5 Senses

1) Touch. Touch is probably one of the most important elements of the senses during intimacy and sex. Where you touch, how you touch, the pressure used, the speed, and the parts of the body used during touch are a critical part of the sexual dance. Talk to your partner about what they like about being touched, where they desire to be touched and held. Yes, it’s a safe bet touching the penis or vagina are high priorities for you both, but there are other erotic zones on the body. For instance, the back, inner thigh, chest, neck, hips, etc. can be very enticing and heighten the sexual intimacy. If there is a type of touch or pressure you don’t like, tell your partner. Be respectful and kind when telling your partner what you don't like in the bedroom though.

2) Taste. Yep the taste of you and the taste of your partner play a role in the intimate connection you both experience. Wow…I really hope my mom doesn’t read this part, but I’m about to get a little on the naughty side of taste. Taste includes, the skin, mouth, vagina and penis. There are different areas of the skin will taste different than other areas. This is also in part to where your partner holds their fragrance or essence. Some people call these pheromones.

Tasting your partner’s natural fragrance is bonding and exciting and something you will long for when thinking of your partner. The unique taste of your partner can usually be located near/around their genitals, chest, neck, etc., but its best to discover this on your own. Your partners’ saliva will also have its own unique taste. Again, your partner tasting you is just as critical as you tasting them. On another note, understanding how you personally taste can be something you and your partner discover together – this can be a very erotic and intimate experience.

3) Smell. Very similar to taste is smell. You and your partner individually have a unique and natural smell not shared by anyone else. But here’s the enticing part…during intimate and sexual experiences each of your unique smells mix together through sweat, saliva, semen, and vaginal fluids to create a bond and memory shared between you. As you’re tasting these special zones, take time to smell and appreciate the uniqueness of your partner and of yourself.

4) Sight. Whether you're a man or woman, don’t think that just because you don’t look like a
supermodel or porn star you can’t have sex with the lights on, walk around naked, or be on top of the sheets or the kitchen table. Tell each other what you like about the others body and what the sight of them means to you. There is something delightful and fun looking down at the both of your bodies entangled with the other; watching the movement of your bodies together; and watching how you both are touching each other. Keep your eyes open, watch as your partner enjoys you and the experience you both are sharing.

5) Sound. Let’s face it, quiet sex is kind of boring and only necessary when the kids/others are around! The sound of your partners breath, moans, voice and grunts (yes…I said grunts guys seems to do this) are part of the dance and connection you both share. The tone and noise made by you both contributes to the direction and need you’re meeting for each other. Like laughter is contagious, the moans and groans of your shared sexual and intimate moments are contagious, too.

 Deliberately Use Your 5 Senses

We use our 5 senses daily, but now try them in the bedroom and with the one who is the most important to you. See what happens when you enter this level of connection, intimacy and vulnerability…Your sexual experience will never be the same.  

Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.

Establishing A Strong Parent-Teacher Relationship


If school hasn’t already started for your children, it’s right around the corner.  While there are a number of things you can do to help your children be successful this school year – helping with homework, getting them on a schedule, or helping them stay organized – one of the most neglected things you can do is establish a strong parent-teacher relationship.  Although you might not find this as important, teaming up with your child’s teacher ensures more academic and, potentially, social-emotional success.  To create a positive parent-teacher relationship, try these tips.

With a Little Time and Energy, Creating a Relationship Can be Easy 

Be Friendly
Most teachers will tell you that working with kiddos is the easy part; it’s the parents who can be difficult.  I know first hand that it can be difficult to deal with unfriendly parents.  Think of it as you dealing with an unfriendly boss, someone who may look down on you in front of others.  If you do not like your child’s teacher, that’s fine; however, try not to undermine or speak negatively of him or her in front of your child.  Children tend to model what they are taught, simply being friendly with your child’s teacher will not only help you develop a connection, it will model respectful behavior to your child.  Plus, kindness is free.  Yes, getting a small token if appreciation can be nice, but being friendly speaks volumes.     

I know we’re all busy, but volunteering at your child’s school is an easy way to develop a relationship with teachers.  Volunteering to come in and read to the class, for a school dance, or other activities not only gives you exposure to the teachers but what your child is doing at school.  This is a win for both you and the teacher, as you will have an opportunity to experience your child’s daily activities, allowing you to create some continuity between home and school. 

Be Respectful
Just like you, teachers are busy.  Be respectful of their time.  Don’t overload their inbox or leave dozen of voicemails.  While it can be frustrating not to get an immediate response, it’s not always possible for teachers to cater to your needs and teach a classroom of kiddos.  Also, if your child's teacher does happen to call you to share a concern, such as your child’s classroom behavior, be respectful of their concerns.  Your child's teacher may not be to blame for a child’s classroom behavior.  Remember, your child may act differently when you’re not around.  Try to stay respectful and hear your child’s teacher out before jumping to any conclusions about their classroom management.

Be Available
Let you child’s teacher know the best method of communication for you.  Working in schools, I noticed most parents gave out their home number instead of a work number.  Usually the best time for a teacher to reach you is during the day, specifically during an off period.  Make sure you are giving out the best method of communication so you’re easily reached. 

Don’t Helicopter
When asking my teacher friends for advice on ways parents can build relationships, one of the themes that emerged was the helicopter parent.  Teachers, even beginning teachers, have the education and experience necessary to support and appropriately educate your child.  The last thing a teacher, or your child, needs is for you to be overprotective and continually checking in.  While teachers appreciate volunteers, watch the amount of time you spend in the classroom.  Giving your children the space to develop a little self-efficacy will give them the self-confidence they need to successfully navigate through life.  While your child is your baby now, he or she won’t be forever and won’t always rely on you to problem solve.  School is a great place for children to develop these skills along with confidence and self-esteem. 

Whether your child is starting kindergarten or transitioning into high school, it’s always important to establish a strong parent-teacher relationship.  Not only does this communicate to teachers are you available and interested, you will be better equipped to support your child academically.  

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they've always wanted.

Fighting the Good Fight!


As a Marriage and Family Therapist I spend a lot of time with fighting couples. Generally I enjoy my work because I get to see folks change the way they relate to each other and that can really inspire me! Over the years I have helped many couples to have a good fight. Now, that might sound like an oxymoron but it isn’t. Most couples come to therapy to STOP fighting, but I say good fights make for good relationships - if you do it right. So Let me tell you a few sure fire ways to have a great fight (and the make-up sex isn’t bad either!).

Tips for Good Fighting

Schedule Your Fight. Most times fights get out of hand when one or both people are tired, cornered or taken off guard. With little or no pre-planning partners can easily go into attack-defend mode. For example, your partner may take issue with a particular habit you have and before you know it you are in a full blown argument and you may have even forgotten (or have never known) what you’re trying to accomplish. Even worse is that you may have an audience witnessing your fight. 

Leave the spectators out of your fight by scheduling regular meetings, free from other people and distractions, where the main purpose is to discuss the business of your relationship. Put parameters around this time. You might decide that once a week for half an hour is all it takes to clear the air. Literally set an egg timer giving both of you time to voice concerns. Round 1 can be your partner’s concern(s) and Round 2 you get a chance to vent. Partners are much more likely to take the time to discuss bothersome issues if they know it won’t become an all-nighter! And it is much easier to listen well and respond lovingly if you both know that there are time constraints around the fight. And like in boxing, do not fight outside of the ring!

Go for a win-win.  In a relationship, trying to be the sole winner of a fight is counterproductive because even if you win, you lose. You want to make sure that both you and your partner come out of the fight having gained ground; and looking for a way to help your partner win is a good way to do that. Even if you might not agree with what your partner is saying you can validate his or her feelings. Can you name their emotion? If you listen very carefully to what is being said underneath your partner’s words (or their silence) and speak to that you will find a lot of common ground. 

By learning to hear, honor and validate your partner’s sadness, frustration, or anger you are going a very long way in creating a win-win. He or she may be off about your intentions but they are always right about the way they feel. “I can see you are upset. Help me understand that” can go a very long way in creating a win-win! When your partner feels like you “get” him or her, the defenses drop and both people are right.

Have a Limited Agenda. Fights turn ugly when there is a no-holds barred attitude and everything and anything is game. Fighting the good fight is knowing exactly what you want to come away with at the end of your fight. Like boxers warming up, a good fight takes some pre-planning. Know exactly how you want the fight to end. Do you want to feel closer? Do you want your partner to understand you? Do you want something very specific like a certain decision to be made? If so, start by stating your agenda. “At the end of this I want you to know how scared I am about our finances.” Then stick to that and only that. When other topics come into play call foul! By simply saying, “I think we’re getting off topic; let me re-group” you can more easily get your partner to hear what is most important to you.

Shake Hands After the Fight. We learn as early as little league that no matter what happens in the game we line up and shake hands afterward. Ultimately you should be fighting so that you can have a better relationship. Most couples who have given up on their relationship rarely take the energy to fight so, in some ways, fighting is a commitment to make things better. 

After the good fight, you might want to spend some alone time reflecting on and learning from the fight. This can be the equivalent of the post-game show in football. By gently reflecting on and learning from the fight we can move beyond it. Ultimately, at the end of it all, you want to feel closer to your partner than before the good fight! One way to do this is to have a post-fight ritual. For some it is make-up sex, for others it can be a soak in the hot tub or a walk around the block. Make sure to end the fight with some expression of connection. By marking the end of the fight with the proverbial handshake is a clear message that your life is what happens outside of the ring!

Roxanne Bamond, Ph.D., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping individuals and couples to create healthy relationships. She also assists and helps individuals through transitional difficulties such as a divorce, separation, or life crisis.

Dating Tips for the 21st Century


Dating in 2015 is probably one of the most phenomenal, strange and shocking experiences if you’ve been out of the game for a while. The rules of dating have changed over the past decade and yes, there is even a Dating Book for Dummies! Plus, social media has influenced the dating game significantly. So you find yourself dating again and feeling lost, questioning or unsure of what to do, then this blog is for you.

Dating Tips for the Modern Dater

Can you talk to the people you’re interested in? One of the struggles I faced was how do I talk to men, especially when I felt insecure and nervous. What I found was that exposure is best. Engage yourself with activities where you have to communicate with others. Find ways to get connected into a community and just start talking! You can do this through running clubs, workouts, bike clubs, brewery tours, dance lessons (my personal favorite) and or an art class like photography or painting - just to name a few. Not only will you have fun doing what you already like, you're also more likely to find someone with the same interests as you.

Get friendly with technology. There are several ways technology can be used in your favor. If you’re really uncomfortable talking to potential dates, try using a free dating site like Tinder or Plenty of Fish. I know…they are known as hookup sites, but you never have to meet those you’re talking to in person or share personal information. Or meetup.com is a more casual and interesting way to engage in conversations and learn to be social outside of a dating or serious relationship. Match.com and eHarmony.com are two of the more serious ways to connect and develop a more personal relationship. These sites are designed to focus on compatibility and take care of most of the work it takes to find someone to connect with.

Have some good friends to laugh with. You will most likely come into contact with some interesting characters who bring both a shock factor to the date and/or leave you speechless. Write down these moments and keep a journal to reflect on later. Oddly, this is very helpful to recognize not only your process of dating, but also help you narrow down exactly what you are looking for in a future partner. Sharing these experience with close friends or others in the same situation helps to normalize that you’re not the only one going through the dating game.

Don’t be afraid to be alone. Sometimes there seems to be so much pressure to find someone to take to weddings, special occasions, family functions or just to look normal around the sea of other couples. Stop! There is nothing wrong with being single or going solo to a gathering. Be you, find freedom in trying new things and being secure in your own skin and circumstances. There is not a single thing wrong in being single and just because you’re single, doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.

Sit Back and Relax

Enjoy the process. The dating game has opened up a whole different world for me and who I am. I’ve learned more about myself than I ever imagined. I found out I can take care of me; I can make my own decisions; and I can have as much fun as I want. My life has opened up to chasing my dreams and learning the little things don’t really matter at the end of the day. Good luck and keep your head up!

Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.

What Are You Nonverbally Communicating?


I recently spent the weekend visiting my family and while I was watching my nephew play outside, I was also responding to an email.  In that moment, all excited about the the bee in the backyard, he noticed that I wasn’t paying attention; looking up to me with big blue eyes, he innocently asked, “Auntie, are you texting?”  Later that day I was thinking, what are we really communicating to others when we are consumed with our phones?  For most of us, our phone is usually within an arm’s reach.  We stop conversations to read text messages, ignore stories to scroll through Facebook, or zone out to a game while we’re at dinner with friends or family.  While you may find this behavior acceptable, and the norm, have you considered what you’re really communicating to others?

Something else is more important

In that moment when my nephew was pointing to the bee, I was subconsciously telling him that something else was much more important than spending time with him.  While it’s not always possible to put your phone away – say you’re on call, working from home, or there’s an emergency – it is possible to peel yourself away to acknowledge others around you.  I often suggest to clients, if possible, they leave their phone tucked away.  The last thing you want to communicate to your friend, child, or partner is that they don’t matter. 

You Do Not Matter

When you pick up your phone in the middle of a conversation or quickly utter an “mmm hmmm” while your eyes are directed at that little screen, you are communicating a very clear, nonverbal message.  We may not always be interested in our partner’s hobbies or find it difficult to play with trucks or dolls for the third time in a day, and that is okay.  However, a little validation goes a long way.  When you are preoccupied with your phone, you are telling others they do not matter as much, and they are, in some way, undeserving of your time and attention.  If you're having a conversation, try tucking your phone away, pile them all in the middle of the table, or don’t bring them at all.  Showing you’re interest in the other person communicates that they matter.

I’m Not Interested in You

When I see a pair or a group of people out together and they are all on their phones, it makes me wonder if they are even interested in spending time with one another.  If you are texting, tweeting, or playing a game, you are basically communicating that you’re not interested in the conversation and what you’re perusing is much more compelling.  Consider how you feel when others treat you in this fashion.  Chances are your child or partner is experiencing similar feelings.

It’s Okay to Ignore Me

We teach others how to treat us.  When you pick up your phone in the middle of a conversation and ignore others, you’re teaching them that behavior is an acceptable way to treat you.  It would be of benefit to consider what your phone habits are teaching others.  Modeling a little phone etiquette could dramatically change your conversations. 

Obviously these won’t hold true for every situation; however, next time you start reaching for your phone, think about what you’re communicating to others.  When we are spending time with friends and family members, they deserve our full attention.  Think about it, when was the last time you were truly present with someone or even yourself?  Putting down your phone and making eye contact and asking questions will communicate a message of interests and caring.  Your child, friend, or partner will never have to question whether or not you like them or are interested in the conversation. 

Lori Dougherty is a Marriage and Family Counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. As a marriage and family counselor, she helps couples navigate the many difficulties that arise in their relationship. She also helps couples rebuild happiness together so they can have the fulfilling relationship with their partner they've always wanted.

He Said/She Said: Are Outside Relationships Okay?


Dear Aaron & Rachel,

My boyfriend of four years has a lesbian friend.  At first, I was okay with the relationship.  Then the longer he & I dated & the more serious we became, he finally disclosed that if she were not a lesbian, she is whom he would be with in a relationship - that he loves her!  This has made me very uncomfortable.  Especially considering that when they are together, I am not allowed to be around.

My Boyfriend Loves Me AND Someone Else!

When she calls, he pretty much drops everything to attend to her.  Not to mention that she treats me very unkind at every opportunity she gets & he defends her actions.  I know nothing sexually will happen. However, I always wonder when they are together if he is wishing things were different.  If he is wishing that she was the one he was sharing his life with instead of me.  He tells me that he loves me more than he has ever loved a woman. However, his words are hard to believe, especially considering all he has disclosed about his feelings for her & his actions towards her.  They have been friends for almost 20 years & their relationship was a factor in the demise of his 30 year marriage.

My boyfriend's in love with a lesbian!

She Said

So sorry to hear about your situation with your boyfriend and his friend. To be very clear: You are in an unhealthy relationship. In fact, you are in a triangle. Three is a crowd here, and it was a crowd in his previous marriage too.

I think your boyfriend needs to be honest with himself. Why is he letting his relationship with this friend get in the way of his relationship with you if he he loves you? Words are words. If he loves you, his actions will show that he does not want to hurt you. If he doesn't start doing what it takes to make you feel better about your relationship, my suggestion is to break up with him. You deserve to be with someone who loves you and only you! 

He Said

This is one of the rare times where Rachel and I will disagree (yes, it does happen...sometimes. See?). I agree with Rachel that you're caught in a triangle, but do you mind if I ask you why you're asking him to stop a relationship where there's no risk of infidelity?  Esther Perel, who is one of the leading minds on sex and relationships, states that we often make these requests to our partners out of our own insecurity and need to be loved. 

It's nice of you to want to be your partner's one and only but it's also unrealistic. Your partner is multifaceted and infinitely complex. You simply can't meet all his needs. So  in addition to you he's going to have friends, hobbies, family members, etc. that will fill his needs, too. There's no reason to get upset about them, he's just a multifaceted person. Now, if the relationship with his friend was sexual (or at risk of becoming sexual) then I'd be telling you something else. But as it stands, it seems this is just another close (albeit a little too close) relationship that he enjoys having.

Remember, everybody does things their partner disagrees with. Whether it's leaving makeup on the sink, leaving dirty underwear on the floor or continuing to support family members who have made bad decisions, sometimes couples just disagree. And just because you're irritated, doesn't mean your partner has to change. This inherently makes your relationship manipulative and entrapping. You're essentially sending him a message that he must do what you say because you're together and you disagree with what he's doing.

About Rachel:  Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com

About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, owner of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.

Self-Care – Creating a Better Self for You and Your Family


In all the roles we perform as partners, parents, employees, leaders, and servers, filled with the busy and important tasks of caring for others, it is common for you to overlook the importance of self-care. As a therapist, I have come to expect confusion when I ask “what do you do for yourself?” Yet the busier you become and the more caring for others that you do, the more important self-care becomes.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care means being intentional about taking time for yourself. Self-care includes actions and attitudes that are intentional in improving or restoring health (mental and physical). For a lot of people, activities that focus on yourself can leaves you feeling guilty - especially when you have a family, children, and other obligations. But in reality, self-care helps you to recharge, empowering you to be more intentional in your relationships and creating more meaningful interactions with others. It also helps you in your work by being more attentive and thoughtful. So what does self care look like practically and realistically in our busy day to day lives? Here are three things you can do to exercise self-care and be a better you.

3 Simple Tips to Self-Care:

Schedule It. Make it a priority and schedule self-care like you do your other important events, classes, and obligations. In the middle of your busy days, it can feel overwhelming to try and think of when and how you are going to tackle one more thing - especially when it involves focusing on yourself. Scheduling it not only makes it a priority, but makes it feel more manageable and less overwhelming, which means you’ll be more likely to do it.

Just 10 minutes. People often think about self-care in terms of grand, time-consuming activities and actions that in reality, we just don’t have time for. Switch that thinking to recognize that just 10 minutes can make a huge difference in your attitude and energy. By giving yourself a 10 minute break, or time-out, you can return as an improved version of yourself. By taking this 10 minutes to focus on something for yourself like stepping outside to enjoy the sunshine, or reading a chapter in your favorite book, you empower yourself to return in ways that are more meaningful and intentional.

Pick one Thing a Day. When you think of all of the things you might like to do, self-care can feel overwhelming. Break it down to an area that you’d like to focus on fitting in for just that day. It can also be helpful to remember that self-care does not have to mean trying something new or spending a lot of money. Self-care can include ensuring you prepare (and sit down to eat!) a balanced meal, fit in a few minutes of exercise, and get adequate sleep. Even taking steps to ensure your health such as scheduling counseling appointments and medical appointments are a part of self-care.

Self-Care Isn't Selfish

Self-care is too often talked about in terms of feeling selfish and taking time and energy away from family and other responsibilities. Changing that thinking to regard self-care as an extension of your service to others and essential to your own contentment will help you to make self-care a priority. Start looking at self-care as a way to empower yourself to not only care better for yourself but for your children and family too. For many more awesome self-care ideas check out The Self-Compassion Project.

Amanda Regalia, M.A. is a marriage and family counselor and clinician for The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. Amanda specializes in working with families and children ages 5 and up. She is passionate about helping people to create practical solutions that support them in achieving their goals and improving their relationships and life

Do You Have a Bad Relationship if You Have Problems?


The fairytale of relationships I believe is deeply rooted in our culture. You know, the idea of Mr. Amazing sweeping you off of your feet and showering you with the picture of happily ever after. However, the reality is we live in a world where there are no perfect people, with no perfect relationships, and a fairytale consists of brief moments of bliss with the one you love. Outside of those brief  moments there are problems and a lot of work making your relationship exist. But problems in a relationship are not necessarily a bad thing for your relationship – here’s why.

Problems can be Good for a Relationship

Problems highlight what’s not working in your relationship. This is an opportunity for you to clean house in your relationship by discarding the trash causing problems. For instance, you may find you’re arguing more, misunderstanding each other, or spending less time with each other. Arguments are a sign of needing to be seen or heard by each other. You need to see each other, and find meaning in your connection with each other. So fight about it, argue about it and duke it out or whatever, but find a solution to the problem. Fixing problems in your relationship help you grow stronger and tighter as a couple. This is because there is less trash separating you and your partner.

Problems help you to grow closer as a couple. Problems have a way of opening the door to the perfectly imperfect. Having the humbling experience of growing through problems and issues is not only relieving but real. You will begin to experience a realness in your relationship and connection that’s harder to break. Understanding your faults and your partner understanding theirs offers a sense of grace and acceptance not experienced in other relationships. Working through problems deepens your bond and strengthens your connection in ways others may not witness or experience as family or friends.

Problems can be Good for You, Too

Problems can be good for you, too because they make you more self-aware. Many times I hear “I had no idea I was doing that to my partner”! Facing and accepting problems in your relationship has a funny way of making you look at what you are doing to your partner. Facing your faults is painful and a very humbling experience. The funny thing is, from that humble place you grow deeper in your connection with your partner and you find you can trust them more because they are accepting your faults and forgiving them. Knowing you can change and knowing your partner can change strengthens your relationship in unimaginable ways. You both will begin to trust that each person will come back with accountability and seek forgiveness, instead of judging or dragging problems out longer than needed.

Don’t think of problems as relationship breakdowns, but rather as buildups! If you don’t face problems or address them then, yes, the relationship will breakdown. This does not have to be the case and I hope you embrace problems as a way to strengthen your relationship and grow closer to the one you love.

Tristan Beymer is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and marriage and family counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. She specializes in helping couples rebuild their relationship to be strong, healthy and passionate. She also works with individuals to overcome difficulties related to trauma and addictions.

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