Transparencies in Relationships

infidelity1It was the summer of Ashley Madison. You would have had to been on Mars not to have heard about the fallout from the illegal hack to the world’s most notorious infidelity site. All summer I dealt with people worried about being exposed. And with good reason. Emails from blackmailers, talk around the water cooler, investigation from employers, and partners asking to swap phones to search for dubious conversations all created massive stress for anyone who had a profile on the site. Ordinary folk felt very at risk. It certainly caused a number of couples to start conversations about wants and desires. I tell couples that infidelity doesn’t have to be the end of a relationship but it certainly is a wake-up call. And it is profoundly betraying and hurtful for the spouse who Melissa Etheridge calls “an unwitting fool”. If you are starting to wonder what else is out there or are actively fantasizing about partners other than your own, then it’s time to up the transparency. Before you cross that cheating line, talking about those feelings can release some steam and cause individuals to really own their desires. As a therapist I help people navigate the gray areas. It’s what Jessica O’Reilly calls “monogamish”. Monogamish is things like upping the sensuality, pretending your waitress will be joining you in bed as a couple, sexy date nights and things like flirty hot tubbing. Safely, openly and holding your partner’s hand allows you to communicate about what you really desire.
But what happens if your partner wants to maintain the status quo? Or isn’t open to new sensuous adventures?
Pulling the covers over your head and hoping your partner’s desires (or your own) will just go away isn’t the solution. That’s what fed the desire to have an affair in the first place. Like with low libido, this doesn’t magically get better. If you think you’ll outgrow it. think again. I regularly speak to men in their late 80’s who still have the desire for daily sex.
Counseling helps. Figuring out why you are blocked sexually is a positive step no matter how you define your relationship. I call it your “sex quotient”. It’s your prude factor. If you are too uncomfortable to safely explore your sexuality with your partner then it’s time to do something about it. Therapy can deal with trauma, guilt, or general uncomfortable feelings about sex. Figure out what turns you on. Sex is a HUGE part of married life. If you aren’t having hot or regular sex, then it’s time to ask yourself (or your partner) why. Transparency about what you really want in bed and a safe place to discuss it is the best way to remain in a committed relationship.