How to Balance Intimacy with Eroticism

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on March 5, 2008
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unhappy couple.

So is it even possible to keep erotic excitement alive in a long-term relationship? When the person you love is as familiar to you as that old, ratty pillow your mother sewed for you back in your toddler years, how can you possibly get excited about him or her anymore? Is this slide into affection and deeper intimacy a form of a more mature love, signaling the end of a youthful passion that was bound to end eventually?

This might be TMI, but I’ve been struggling with a low libido for the past few years.

If this is TMI, I’m giving you the chance to bow out now.



The Infinite Wisdom of Others: How to Create Your Own Traditions

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on February 19, 2008
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I know. I know. Since I started blogging for the Modern Materialist, my posting habits have become even more erratic. As in nonexistent. I’m still trying to get the hang of this pro blogging thing, and am even considering seeking out help from the master himself.

I have to admit that, though my regular proofreading gig in the city is a nice, relaxing way to bring in some money, I get frustrated by how much the commuting time cuts in to my at-home writing time. Should I work longer at-home hours? Should I broach the topic of telecommuting? Should I wait it out until things change (as they inevitably do)?

Eh, this is all the subject of another post. Mostly, I just want to say that I’m sorry for being so inconsistent. I’m still searching for that ideal brand of time management.

In other infinite wisdom-type, news, Gretchen has posted on the positive effects of creating your own traditions, which led me to muse upon my own desire to create new traditions with my husband. At the moment, and with less than a year of marriage under our belts, we’ve been mostly riding on the coattails of our families’ holiday traditions, but we’ve been attempting to create new ones of our own. Sadly, pizza Fridays were short-lived, as were sushi Sundays (our fave sushi bar is closed on Sundays), and date night has been on-and-off, but we do attend Santacon every year since he proposed to me there our first year.

Aside from giving us something to do, traditions give us the satisfaction of having something that is completely ours. And as new marriage is something that sometimes seems surreal, it helps to have something ongoing to remind us that this is real, and that we’re in it for the long haul, and that we share a lot more than just a bed and a bathroom.

How about y’all? Have you and your Someone Special started up any new traditions that are All Yours? I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with. Maybe it’ll give us some new ideas!

How to Make Love Last, Even When He Refuses to Rinse His Dirty Dishes

Posted in self help by Steph Auteri on December 10, 2007
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first dance.

I’ve always been a bit of a commitment-phobe (understatement). I’ve given each and every one of my past boyfriends hell, none moreso than my husband. I’m stubborn, solitary, and independent, and entrusting my heart to another has always been somewhat of a stretch.

As a result, I’ve read an estimated one trillion relationship how-tos. Out of those trillion or so books, my favorite couple therapists/authors have been Barry McCarthy and John Gottman.

McCarthy is a marital and sex therapist based in D.C., and I read his Getting it Right the First Time, so that I wouldn’t have to someday read Getting it Right This Time.

Gottman is a professor of psychology and the co-founder and co-director of the Gottman Institute. Of his many books, I own Why Marriages Succeed or Fail and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

I’ve tried to follow the tips in their books as consistently as possible and, as a result, my life with my husband has never reverted to The Way Things Were When We First Moved In Together:

  • If you don’t respect each other, there’s going to be a problem. Remember the person you fell in love with, warts and all, and you’ll be able to accept both their strengths and their weaknesses for many years to come. It may help to reminisce about the beginning of your relationship, before it occurred to you how annoying it is to have a girlfriend who eats cookies in bed.
    • This means that you should not demean your partner, especially in front of others. Even if you think it’s clear that you’re just teasing.
    • And acknowledge the fabulous things they do or accomplish.
  • Hold on to those positive feelings. Aim to maintain a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative couple feelings and experiences. This way, the tough times will never be so overwhelming that they shake the very foundations of your relationship.
  • Your Way Is the Right Way, But You Can Still Humor Him. Just kidding. The truth is, the both of you were most likely raised in wildly different ways, so you probably have differing ideas of right and wrong (the right way to load the dishwasher…the right way to make the bed…). As you enter into this relationship. realize that you can create new traditions and new concepts of what exactly it means to do things the “right” way.
  • Polish Up Your In-the-Ring Technique. Having a good relationship doesn’t mean not fighting; it means fighting the right way. Instead of blaming your partner for your negative feelings, take responsibility for them. And then attempt to have a rational discussion about them, that does not involve slamming doors, blaming, walking out, etc.
  • Avoid the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These would be Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.
  • Present a united front. Some conflicts will seem insurmountable. Don’t take this as a sign that you should take your complaints to an outside party. This will only serve to undermine your relationship.

All of these books contain a multitude of couple exercises that you can complete with your partner, that are sure to provoke many enlightening conversations. If you’d prefer to purchase a workbook, filled with nothing but exercises, I’ve found that the one I received at pre-cana is good for those who are both religious and non-religious. I’m sure there are a number of options out there, but the one I have is this. Sometimes, we sit in bed and do one of the worksheets together, because we’re huge dorks. I mean, it’s either that or boggle.