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Co-dependent Issues

Dear Eryn-Faye,

My question is how to handle a co-dependent relationship issue.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and a half and my boyfriend won’t let me keep anything at his place or introduce me to his parents. Exceptions are toothbrush, toothpaste and shampoo. This took almost a year before I was permitted to leave these basic items at his home.

To say my boyfriend is territorial and defensive is an understatement.

My boyfriend says that he is protecting his mother and has had negative experiences in the past and does not want to cause her anymore stress from relationships that could possibly fail.

Furthermore, my boyfriend has asked me to marry him during sex and then afterwards, once back to reality, he changes his mind. He says that saying things like “he wants to marry me” heightens his sexual experience and that I take things too seriously. I am beginning to resent his lack of empathy for my feelings.

I love many things about my boyfriend and am perplexed in how to address these issues without causing a big argument.

I feel disposable in the relationship when my boyfriend treats me this way.

I have tried to address these issues with him and am at my wits end….

Suggestions are more than welcome…

Let me begin by saying that my heart goes out to you right now. I can understand that you are frustrated and need some outside insight on your situation!

In my practice, I often speak with couples about the three “C’s” – commitment, communication, and consummation (aka sex). These elements provide the foundation for a healthy, long-lasting relationship. If you are weak or lacking in one or more areas, then the entirety of your relationship is in jeopardy.

Commitment is the element which binds the couple together through thick and thin. It is not only the decision that “I am with this person”, but also the decision to make healthy sacrifices for your partner because you recognize their individual value. As we deepen our commitment, we realize that our own selfishness is a hindrance to our relationship and with it we will not grow as a couple. The tricky part about commitment is that both parties have to be on board. If one partner is constantly sacrificing for the other out of fear of making the other partner mad, or starting a huge fight, or being left by their partner, then there is a breakdown in the whole system.

Communication is the freedom to express what we are feeling and thinking with our partner without the fear of retribution. It is how we let that person really get to know who we are – our likes and dislikes, why we react a certain way, what our dreams are for our lives. It is also the way we do check-ups on our relationship – are we meeting each other’s needs, are we showing love to our partner in a manner that they understand, how can we work to correct the issue that we are facing together in our relationship.

Your boyfriend’s lack of desire or willingness to fully incorporate you into his life and his blatant lack of regard for your feelings lead me to think that he is not willing to develop the commitment or communication part of your relationship. I was horrified by his explanation for saying he wants to marry you during sex as just to “heighten his sexual experience.” (By the way, I did mention this situation to a few of my male colleagues, just to get a male perspective on your boyfriend, and they were all equally as horrified.) The general consensus was that his actions and comments do not reflect someone who is interested in a healthy relationship.

I am also concerned that you might be struggling with some underlining self-esteem issues which are the source of why you allow your boyfriend to treat you in such a manner. A counselor will help you understand your worth as a person, break patterns that you might have which lead you into unhealthy relationships, and shed light on ways that you can develop healthy relationships with people who value and respect you.

I realize that this is “messy” and maybe it is not what you wanted to hear from me. However, I would love to be here for you as you walk through these issues, and I welcome any further questions that you have. Please feel free to write back at any time!

Warmly,

Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach

New at This

This question is about sexual intimacy in the marriage bed and is very descriptive ( I am a newly wed, and am very NEW at all this).

My question is simple – as a wife, I would like to have oral sex with my husband. but I am uncomfortable with the odors I have in my private parts, so I have refused him access to that area. I would like to offer this gift to him, so what products (edible oils, cleaning products) do you suggest I use to get rid of these odors?

I hope that wasn’t out of topic. I am new to this site, and I have not had the courage to ask this question to anyone so far…Thanks for your prompt reply!

Let me start by saying that I applaud you for having the courage to write this email, especially as you have just recently been married! Any questions about sex are extremely sensitive, and sometimes it is difficult to know who to ask. I have coached hundreds of women in the areas of passion, sensuality, and sexuality, and let me assure you that your question is very common – many women are nervous about the odors that they have in their genital area and this impacts their impression of oral sex.

Let me start answering your question by saying that very often, men are far less concerned about our odors than we are! We, as women, are very critical about our bodies (how they look, how they smell, how they taste, etc.) and this can impede the intimacy we have with our husbands. However, they usually don’t care at all – they are just ecstatic that we chose to be with them!

I would suggest that you take a shower or bath before you want to have oral sex with your husband. If you are planning to return the favour, ask him to do the same. In fact, showering together and soaping each other down might be a great way to start the foreplay! And while plain ole’ soap will do wonders to freshen both of you up, you could also use a scented body wash that both of you like. I personally think the Body Shop has an amazing line.

Another product that has a great reputation is called D’Lickious. This edible lotion can be put on his penis or your clitoral area (but do not put such items inside the vagina), and enhances oral sex by giving a warming or cooling sensation. As it is an edible, it also helps divert attention from any odors.

Finally, it is important to remember that oral sex, like all types of sex, is a skill set. It takes time of develop and perfect your technique. As you and your husband explore and discover what you each enjoy, you will expand this aspect of your sexual relationship and deepen the intimacy between the two of you.

If you have any other questions, please write again! In the meantime, enjoy your new explorations!!

Sincerely,

Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach

First Time

Dear Eryn-Faye,

My fiancee and I are both virgins. We are waiting until marriage. We would like our first time to be natural (i.e. no condom/ interference with contact) but also do not want to get pregnant. She has medical conditions that prevent her from being on any pill/insert/hormonal supplement. We would not mind bringing in condoms after the first time. Any advice?

I totally understand your desire to have the first time feel as natural as possible. However, there is no way to guarantee that you won’t get pregnant. Even though using a condom is not 100% accurate, it is the best option when you cannot use the other methods (the pill, the patch, the shot, the IUD, the ring, etc.). You will raise the risk of pregnancy significantly if you choose not to use a condom. You could look into a spermicidal lubricant so that you are not completely unprotected, but this is certainly not fool-proof and you could easily get pregnant on your wedding night. If you do choose this option, have your fiancée apply it as a “test run” before your wedding night to ensure that she is not allergic to any of the ingredients in it. Ultimately, the two of you need to make the decision together as to what is more important – protecting against pregnancy or having a “natural” experience – because you can’t be guaranteed to have both at once.

But as a professional, who has coached hundreds of people in the area of sexuality, please allow me to give you a few pointers which you might find helpful. Oftentimes, we have preconceived (and incorrect) notions of what sex will be like before we actually engage in it. Understanding the realities beforehand greatly increases our chances of enjoying that first experience.

  1. Most men, when they have not had sex before their wedding night, experience orgasm very quickly. This will not be a contentious issue if both of you are have realistic expectations on your wedding night. Having a condom on actually helps you have longer staying power, which will be helpful to your bride’s enjoyment of the experience. Just a thought.
  2. Take a lubricant on your honeymoon. The ability to lubricate to the extent needed varies from woman to woman, and having a lubricant on hand will greatly increase her comfort and therefore enjoyment. I am a fan of water-based lubricants as they are the easiest to clean up, but feel free to find what works for you.  Here are some choices.
  3. Encourage your fiancée to go to the doctor a few months before the big day, tell him/her that she is a virgin and about to have sex for the first time. If the doctor sees that she is particularly small, there are ways for her to stretch herself in preparation for you. While this might seem a bit embarrassing right now, trust me, it is so much better than her being in a lot of pain the first time (or first week or even first month) that you have sex!!
  4. Read up on the female orgasm!   The male orgasm is far less complex than the female orgasm. Fewer than 30% of women have an orgasm through vaginal penetration alone – the vast majority of women need stimulation on the clitoris in order to orgasm. Allowing your bride to “go first” will increase the chances of sufficient lubrication, allow her to be more relaxed, and ensure that both of you will be satisfied. If she doesn’t have an orgasm on that first night, don’t worry! The two of you have a lifetime together to figure it all out. (However, do write me back – or have her write me – so that I can give you some tips and suggestions for that department!)
  5. Be prepared for a clean up afterwards! Bring a hand towel, or box of Kleenex to bed with you so that you don’t have to sleep in the “wet spot” your first night together. Besides, great sex often requires a shower afterwards!

I realize that my answer goes beyond what you were asking originally, but I would love for the two of you to have the very best experience possible on your wedding night. Remember that sex is not a “gifting” that some people are endowed with and others are not. Instead, think of it as a skill set that the two of you will learn and perfect over time together. I would love to hear from you again (and your fiancée too) if you have any further comments or questions!!

Sincerely,

Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach

Losing the Spark

Dear Eryn-Faye,

My husband and I have been married 40 years and in our early sixties. Five years ago our mom and pop business of 10 yrs went bankrupt and have done nothing since job-wise. Now one of us is getting a small pension, and we struggle to get by.  There is almost zero conversation between us, and we have nothing in common except for two married children who live.  I feel very alone much of the time. My husband does not like company so I never invite people over to save embarrassment. What to do–I have tried several approaches but almost anything I say–I get “oh woman” and remarks like that.  We are both educated but my level of confidence has gone down the drain and am depressed — Both have health problems which does not help.  For me-sex has become a task–help please!

As I read your email, a few thoughts came to mind. First of all, congratulations on having 40 years of marriage! That is quite a feat in this day in age! Sustaining a marriage takes work, and you have obviously been very committed to your husband.

From what you have written, it sounds like you are feeling quite isolated and alone. I would love to see you break out of this cycle and develop some friendships. If your husband does not like company at the house, then find it outside of the house. Here are a few suggestions of things you can try:

  1. Join a club. There are lots of organizations which are focused on social responsibility and volunteerism, such as the Lion’s Club. They are great avenues to serving your community as well as building personal relationships. Likewise, there are clubs which are formed around a common hobby, such as quilting, running, or reading.
  2. Become a volunteer. Non profit organizations are always looking for help to achieve their mandates. For example, you could check out your local food bank, children’s hospital, or home for abused women.
  3. Join a church group. Many larger churches have groups which meet throughout the week to meet the needs of their parishioners. These groups are often organized into age categories, or common interests, etc.
  4. Get a part-time job. You will need to check to see if this is an option given the fact that you are on a pension (sometimes working violates the conditions of the pension and is therefore not a good idea). Even if you are flipping burgers, you will be making a little bit of money (which will help on the home front) as well as connecting with the world around you. Don’t let your age get in the way – many people in their sixties are realizing that youth is just a state of mind and that they are too young to retire!

You might be asking yourself – how will any of this help my marriage? For a few reasons: first and foremost, the weight of being your only companion is very heavy for your husband to bear. Even if you are very involved with your children, having friends outside of your family helps you continue to grow as an individual and that will bring new life into your family relationships. Along those lines, men really don’t like to talk as much as women do. Biologically, they are “built” very differently than us, and they are very uncomfortable with the level of communication that we need. If you can create relationships with other women, you will find your need for communication much better satiated that expecting your husband to meet 100% of those needs for you. If you would like some books to read on this subject, Dr. Scott Haltzman’s books The Secrets of Happily Married Women and The Secrets of Happily Married Men and are both excellent resources.

Feelings of isolation and depression, as well as stress about finances, are all challenges to the intimacy of a marriage. It is not surprising that sex feels like a chore for you! As women, we reach out sexually when our emotional needs are being met. And for men, it is the opposite – when their sexual needs are met, they can reach out emotionally. So, continue to make sex a priority (I can give you a list of tips and suggestions to make it fun if you would like!), but branch out beyond your home to build friendships too.

I would love to hear back from you as you try new things and explore your options! Please write again to update me or ask new questions!

Sincerely,

Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach

A Lost Art?

Dear Eryn-Faye,

Being single again in my fifties, I would love to embrace another committed relationship but it seems all the fellows I meet want to go directly to sex. What happened to good old fashioned courting? A lost art in my opinion.

How can a fellow know he wants to be intimate with me unless he takes the time to get to know me first and then see if any fondness grows? I always tell possible suitors that sex is never my goal but could be an outcome depending on whether a deeper connection occurs on all levels (spirit, heart, mind, soul).

Am I from the dark ages wanting to get to know someone first and experience falling in love? It seems to be such an instant society… entitled to the prize without much effort!

Thanks for listening!

I love your comment about us living in an instant society. Most of us send email or a text message instead of a letter, and so we are unaccustomed to wait for what we really want. (Think back to times when people waited for weeks or more to hear back from the person they wrote) In my opinion, this decreases our ability to persevere, sacrifice and work for what we really want…and then to appreciate it once we have it! And you are certainly correct – this attitude translates into our perspective on sex as well. We are blitzed by media images of couples who meet, go on one date, and then fall into bed together. While this may work for some couples, many find that they start off on the wrong foot because they haven’t really invested in getting to know each other before they became sexually involved.

The other day, I was doing some research on cheating and was reading a book called “Close Calls”, by Dave Carder. He had a very interesting perspective on the beginning of sexual relationships that I would like to share with you:

“Your relationship is only as old as it is nonsexual. The relationship stops growing once it becomes sexual, because the physical aspect will become the primary focus. It is the sexual tension in a dating relationship that drives you to get to know the other person and that keeps you exploring the difficult subjects that are necessary to establish a long-term, well-matched experience.”

So allow me to applaud you in making the very wise and mature decision to slow down the sexual part of your relationship as you look for a good man. While it might be a rather lonely road to walk at times, I think you will be very satisfied with the results that it produces over the long-term. The fellow who wins your heart will be worth it (and yes, men who “court” are still out there!!).

Warmly,

Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach