Are you a woman over forty with a few noisy kids, a demanding job, a messy house, and an even more sexually demanding husband? Is sex the last thing you’re interested in at the end of another commotion-filled day? Is your husband wondering why you no longer find him irresistible – or thinking maybe you have a lover? Is he cranky, frustrated and feeling rejected? Do you feel more dread and pressure at “bedtime”?
If any of this sounds familiar, realize you’re not alone, and don’t miss my next 45 minute BlogTalk Radio episode about this very common problem! I’ll be co-hosting with Dr. Terri Vanderlinde, a board certified OB-GYN in private practice in Dover, NH. She deals with this issue often in her work with women and their partners, so she’s a wealth of information about “low libido” in midlife, what it is and isn’t, and what can be done to deal with it.
Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to join us live on the air with questions or comments. If you can’t make the live show, catch the recording at www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager anytime at your convenience. You (and your husband or partner) will be very glad you did!
PS. If you and a spouse or partner are wrestling with this issue and want some professional help, feel free to call me for an appointment at 603-431-7131
I’ve been doing Discernment Counseling for several months at this point. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a form of treatment specially designed for “mixed agenda” couples, where one person wants to continue the relationship and has hope for improving it, and the other person feels done and is “leaning out,” but hasn’t yet pulled the plug. It’s a one to five session form of treatment geared to help the couple move toward one of three choices: stay in the status quo, or break up, or do the work of reconciliation. It’s a decisional therapy, not regular couples therapy which presumes mutual energy and commitment toward improving the relationship. It is designed to help “couples on the brink” avoid the time, expense and frustration of half-hearted couples therapy). I can tell you right now that it works! I don’t yet have any hard statistics, but in my experience so far I’ve found that this way of working really resonates for couples in this dilemma for the following reasons, among many:
- Both partners tend to feel understood and honored, as nobody is being “sold” the continuation of the relationship. Instead, the three paths are intricately explored, with each partner exploring their own part in the negative history, as well as in possibilities for change of any kind.
- The “leaning out” partner doesn’t feel pursued or pressured to stay in the relationship by the therapist (who often in regular couples therapy would mirror the pursuit of the “leaning in” partner by encouraging strategies for improving things). Instead, they are given space to explore any ambivalence they may have about moving on, as well as space to look at their own contributions to the situation.
- The “leaning in” partner is helped to look at how to bring their best self to the work, and not humiliate themself in the process, as well as exploring their understanding and willingness to address their partner’s concerns.
- Clients report really appreciating the format, where we begin the session by meeting all together, then each is seen individually while the other leaves the room, ending with us all reconvening so partners can share their thoughts and feelings about what they have each gained or taken from their individual sessions. I get regular feedback about how each person feels safer having their own time with me to look at the issues, and what they want to convey to their partner about what they’ve learned.
- I observe a tremendous lessening of defensiveness and commotion without both partners in the room at all times, given free reign to talk at each other. There is very strict protocol for each segment of the sessions. This is not a free-for-all, duplicating the toxic dance the couple has already been doing. It’s a carefully guided exploration.
- So far, this form of treatment has moved most seemingly intractable couples toward a more solid, trusted decision about their future relationship.
I am in the process of pursuing advanced training in this work, so I can envision ironing out some of the kinks which come up, like the time management piece – (there’s lots to cover in a particular sequence each session, something a bit foreign to my more organic way of working). There are also unique dilemmas presented by each couple which require attention and sensitivity. We’re nowhere near perfect, but Discernment Counseling is experienced as a whole different thing by couples on the brink of a split.
For any “mixed agenda” couple interested in getting out of a stalemate around the direction of your relationship, feel free to contact me in my Portsmouth office to further discuss the possibility of doing Discernment Counseling with me. I have some openings at this point, but expect that as we move into the Fall my availability will be much more limited, as it usually is when Summer ends.
Get home from work tomorrow night, pour a glass of wine, put your feet up and call into my half hour BlogTalk Radio Episode: “The Five Love Languages: Are You Speaking The Right One To Your Partner?”
Learn about the five basic ways through which most humans feel loved and appreciated, and most importantly identify the two primary “languages” for you and your spouse or partner.
Learn how to get the love you want, and how to give the love you feel in ways which finally translate!
Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to join me live on the air with questions or comments. Let’s make it a conversation! If you’d prefer, you can catch the show live streaming by going to: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager
Sign up before April 11, 2014 and get a 5% discount on registration for the May 16-18 Couples Retreat at the lovely Victoria Inn on the seacoast in Hampton, NH.
Learn how to improve communication, deepen connection and reduce conflict in a cozy, intimate setting with five other couples, Susan Lager, and Meredith Richardson, Esq., a collaborative lawyer and conflict coach.
For more information or to register with the discount, contact Susan Lager at 603-431-7131
In my work as a psychotherapist, I’d say that about 25% of the people who come to me are on the fence about continuing their marriages or “committed relationships.” Generally, spouses have been together long enough for the rose-colored glasses to have come off, and have lost hope for a happy marriage. “Trying” seems to be inauthentic, as partners recite the long list of violations and disillusionments, and the longer list of futile attempts at repair. It’s not uncommon for one or both spouses to be having, or have had an affair. It’s also not uncommon for one or both partners to have consulted an attorney, readying for a split. They are “hovering by the escape hatches,” yet they often describe having problems they’d somehow like to fix. The sense of anguish in the room is palpable.
As a couple therapist, I have spent most of my career fighting to save marriages, and often I’m the last one standing! As marriage counselors we’ve been trained to pull up the hope in the partnership, and teach people how to get along better: strategies for better boundaries, communication, managing conflict, spending quality time together, figuring out how to collaborate, etc. But sometimes one spouse wants to try, and the other doesn’t, and that’s when traditional methods can fail. Getting “busy” working on trying to fix a marriage on the brink can be misguided. First, couples need to have the psychological space to decide if they both want to try to reconcile. Any treatment which provides “tools” prematurely is missing the point.
Enter “Discernment Counseling,” a 1 – 5 session process of exploring what would need to be different for the “leaning out” spouse to have the energy to “try,” and how the “leaning in” spouse can maintain a stance which brings their best self to the process, not one which humiliates or degrades them.
I’m very excited about this work, and have been added to the National Directory of Discernment Counselors after having completed The Minnesota Couples On The Brink Project training. (As far as I know, I am now the only Discernment Counselor in New Hampshire).
I will be doing a half hour BlogTalk Radio show introducing this process on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 8 PM EST. Call toll-free 877-497-9046 to join me live on the air with questions or comments. I’d love to make it a conversation! If you can’t make the live show, you can hear the recording afterward at: www.BlogTalkRadio.com/SusanLager