The LoveLife Blog: guidance on mindful, bodyful, soulful loving!


#213: Bad Communication Styles - The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, October 15, 2017



We’ve discussed the importance of sharing before you move into solution mode. How you do this is equally as important.

John Gottman, has also identified four negative ways of communicating, which he calls the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. These might not seem as drastic as the originals from the Bible: war, pestilence, famine and plague, but these lesser horsemen can reek just as much damage on a relationship as the big ones do on a whole society.

The Four Horsemen are:
  • Criticism
  • Contempt
  • Aggression
  • Stonewalling

If these little devils are firmly entrenched in your relationship then you haven’t got a hope of having a positive one, let alone a mature one.

How often do I hear people say: “I’m not being critical; I’m being honest!” “I’m not being aggressive; I’m just getting my point across!” “I’m only being funny; not contemptuous” “I’m not stonewalling; I'm just keeping the peace…”

Criticism is not ‘helpful’ or ‘being honest’, it is judgemental and disrespectful and makes your partner defensive and/or reduces their self-confidence.

Sarcasm is contempt; it is not humour. Contempt of any kind is hurtful. Eye rolling is infuriating and has never ever induced someone to be... read more



#209: Share Before You Fix

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, September 10, 2017



John Gottman, noted American couples therapist, has some wonderful ideas around good communication. One I particularly like is the concept that you have to share before you can fix.

What this means is that when you have something you need to discuss or resolve, it’s important that the two of you take the time to share how you feel about the situation before you try finding ways of solving the situation.


You need to speak about your feelings until you each feel heard. You’ll know when you’ve reached that point because there will be a shift in the energy between you, you’ll feel a coming together, a sense of connection and being in sync.

Once you have that feeling, then, and only then, do you start to look at options and explore ways of dealing with the issue.

If you go into the fixing before you’ve done the sharing of feelings then one or both of you will feel frustrated at not being heard. That frustration can manifest as anger or giving up, neither of which are useful emotions to have when trying to resolve something and move forward.

It can be with the best of... read more


#202: Seven Benefits of Attending A LoveLife Couples Tantra Retreat

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, July 23, 2017

 

Taking a break together is always a good thing to do, helping you relax and rejuvenate and hopefully have some quality sexy time away from the stresses of everyday life.

So why would you add a couples retreat to your time away? What are the benefits to you of going to one of my LoveLife Couples Retreats?

Well, where do I start?! Feeling the love and connection in the group and seeing the couples blossom is an experience that’s hard to put into words.

But I’ll try...

1.  Learn the Tantric approach to sex, its physiological basis, and why it’s so important for modern lovers.
I love the way science is reaffirming ancient wisdom in so many ways, particularly when it comes to sex. The Tantric approach is essentially good sex - connected, erotic, intimate. It’s about slowing down so that you’re in the chill zone, as good sex is not possible if you’re stressed; it’s about ‘syncing in to sink in’ as you can’t have good sex if you’re not connected; and it’s about being mindful,as you can’t have good sex if you’re not present to the experience.

In the... read more


#198: Your Partner Can’t Be Everything to You

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, June 25, 2017

 

We have such huge expectations of our relationships and our partners these days: we expect him or her to be best friend, untiring provider, attentive helpmate, sympathetic counsellor, sexy lover, perfect co-parent, handyperson, master chef, fashion advisor, etc.

Then when they’re not, we’re disappointed.

How realistic is this expectation though? Completely not!

Yes, it is true that the best relationships are a combination of being friends, lovers and team mates. But best and only friend? Sharer of identical interests and dreams? Able to fill your every need from financial to co-parental to sexual?

Give them, and yourself, a break! None of us can be all that.

Your partner can’t be everything to you and you can’t expect them to be.

Nor can you expect your partner to feel that you are everything to them.

Be the best you can be, and help your partner to be the best he or she can be, with love and respect and reality.

As the old saying goes: God, give me the courage to change the things I can, the strength to accept the things I can’t, and the wisdom... read more


#194: Be Kind - It Works

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, March 26, 2017




I confess, I do sometimes look at my bookings of the day and see certain client names with some dread…

One such young couple were clients once. Newly married, he was struggling with an ‘incident’ she’d been involved in a little while before and they were not coping at all well. Nastiness, accusations, resentments, passive aggression, verbal aggression … Let’s just say that they weren’t being very nice to each other. And there was definitely no sex happening.

A few sessions on, I looked at my client list one day and saw them as the final clients for the day. The bell rang, with some trepidation I answered it, and lo and behold, there were two young people looking radiant with big smiles on their faces!

“So, what’s going on?” I asked with curiosity.

He looked over to her with a grin, she looked up at me with a grin, “Well,” she said, almost guiltily it seemed, “we’re being nice to each other.”

“Wow, radical concept!” I commented light-heartedly, “and the result?”

“We’re getting on so much better!”

“Sex?”

“Four times in the... read more


#188: A High-Level Relationship is a High-Maintenance Relationship

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, February 05, 2017



The clients and retreat participants I see tend to be pretty together type of people with a mature attitude to life and relating. So I don’t get too many couples who want to stay flat-lining or locked in conflict. They want to grow and develop as individuals and as a couple and have the best life they can.

There are three ways of having a long-term relationship, or four, as the second type manifests in two ways which might appear to be diametrically opposed but are actually versions of the same dynamic:


1) Flat-lining

This is when a couple play it safe. Too afraid to upset the other or too needy of validation from their partner, neither of them is game to be truly honest. Over time these relationships tend to become more and more limited and the couple grow ‘old’. Sometimes there is a power dynamic here, such as in the traditional patriarchal structure where the man had the power and the woman had to acquiesce. The key indicator here is that they want it to be ‘easy’ and ‘not rock the boat’.

2) Deadlock

These couples know they’re not happy and blame the other... read more


#182: What Is A Marriage Sabbatical and Why Take One?

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, November 20, 2016



I have a client at the moment who recently took a ‘marriage sabbatical’. At least, that’s what she and her husband called it.

A work sabbatical is traditionally when you take a break from your job to study something else for a while. The idea is that regular work is too full to focus on the study, so you have some time away, and come back to the job both with new and useful knowledge and a fresh spirit.

That’s what this client is doing with her marriage: she’s taking a month off to be away from her husband and all the expectations and pressures she feels (rightly or wrongly) from being in the marriage, in order to have the space to learn more about herself and what she wants and needs in her life and in her marriage.

So, yes, it’s a marriage sabbatical.

I love this term. It’s so much better than ‘trial separation’ or other more onerous terms. It’s calling it for what it is: time out.

These clients, like so many others who seem to have reached a plateau, have been married for over twenty years and are now empty nesters. They’ve had some struggles in... read more


#181: The Basic Sexual Unit is One

Jacqueline Hellyer - Sunday, November 13, 2016



(This is copy of a blog I wrote five years ago, hence some of the historical references.)


Here I am sitting in the depths of the jungle in northern Thailand, spending some time at a permaculture farm. Last weekend I was studying spiritual healing. Over Easter I attended the Xplore festival on alternate sexuality. Three quite different experiences, but all united: the sexuality, the spirituality and the connection to the environment.

What unites them? You, one, the individual. The individual is the basic unit and it is only through you that change happens, or doesn’t. It’s up to the individual to find their spiritual connection, their connection to the environment, and their connection to their sexuality.

The basic sexual unit is one.

You’d hardly think so, given our society’s obsession with couples. Not that I have anything against couples, pair-bonding is a normal human activity, and it is the social norm. The problem is two-fold:

The first is that people feel that they need to be in a couple to feel complete. This places enormous pressure on the other to live up to this expectation. Even the archbishop who married Will and Kate last week in his sermon said that one of the problems with modern... read more



#174: Mums and Dads Need “Cuddle Time”

Jacqueline Hellyer - Saturday, September 10, 2016



Happy loving parents make for happy loving children
, so it’s vital that as parents you make the time and space to be loving with each other.  A lot of people seem to feel it’s all too hard when you have children, so they have infrequent sex, if any at all.

It doesn't have to be that way though, not if you train your children to know that Mummy and Daddy need “Cuddle Time”.  

We tend to make sex exceptional, rather than treating it as a normal part of life. Thinking that our children couldn’t possibly know we’re having sex, or that we can only have sex when they’re asleep or out of the house, is a good example of how we treat sex as something ‘different’.

Normalise it in your family: from the earliest age, let your children know that Mummy and Daddy like to have private “cuddle time”. Explain to them that when we have lots of cuddles together we make lots of love for each other and for the whole family. Kids love cuddles, so they understand why Mummy and Daddy cuddle too. They don’t need to know the details. Just keep things simple and use age-appropriate language.

This means that you can... read more


#169: The Three Pillars of Love

Jacqueline Hellyer - Friday, August 05, 2016



 I was honored once to give the reading at a friends’ wedding. They’d chosen a reading they liked, but wanted it ‘sexed up a bit’ - and who better to ask? Like most wedding readings it was beautiful and poetic and spoke all about love and commitment and sharing and respecting - all good and important aspects of marriage - but nothing about sex and intimacy. As my friends rightly said: “It’s our sexual connection that brought us together and it’s what makes our relationship unique - so we want that celebrated in our wedding ceremony too!”

So, in the reading, I pointed out that a marriage (or any long-term relationship) is like a tripod. It has three legs: friends, partners and lovers. When all three are strong, you have a strong relationship, when they’re wobbly or missing, so is your relationship. 

Being friends means just that: enjoying each other’s company, sharing conversation and activities, and generally being good companions.

Being partners means being teammates in the game of life: being able to successfully run your household and family, managing the logistical parts of life.

Being lovers means maintaining the ‘mmm’ factor, that special energy that connects you in a way unlike... read more


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