How to Build Intimacy

Three forms of intimacy and how to build intimacy Intimacy outside the bedroom- It’s a whole new frontier for some people. That is kind of sad and important because intimacy outside the bedroom is what makes intimacy in the bedroom better, or there at all. Some people come in, and they complain that they aren’t having intimacy in the bedroom, but there isn’t any intimacy in their relationship, period. I’m going to share with you three forms of intimacy and how to build intimacy.   1. Do things together. This may sound obvious. It’s all over social media, movies, etc…- you see a happy couple, and they’re doing something together. People get busy. You work and your significant other works, you come home, and someone is making dinner and someone watching TV or with the kids. He’s on his phone; she’s watching a movie. And then they wonder where the intimacy is, or they think it’s okay because they’re going to have a date night. Then something happens, the babysitter can’t watch the kids, you’re too tired to go out, so the date night gets canceled.  Doing something together doesn’t have to be sex, or it doesn’t even have to be talking, it can be anything. If you think about things that you do that you can invite your significant other to join you or can you join your significant other. Something as simple as getting ready in the morning, can you go to the bathroom and get ready at the same time? It doesn’t have to be an in-depth conversation to be intimate. It can be just hanging out together. What if your significant other is cooking, and you go in there and offer to be the taste tester or to chop up some vegetables, or sit and have a glass of wine together while she’s cooking.  There’s a lot of different ways you can hang out together to increase intimacy. It doesn’t have to be a big production; it doesn’t have to involve a babysitter — just time hanging out together. You’ll be amazed at how much that can help out, one little change. 2. Are you an avoider of confrontation? Most people divide themselves up into avoiders of confrontation or ones who dive head-on into a confrontation. No one likes confrontation. I’ve never had anyone come to me and say, “I like confrontation.”  If you’re the action avoider …

surviving the holidays with family

3 Fact-based Strategies for Surviving the Holidays

Right around this time, every year, my clients’ lives begin to churn with guilt and stress, and they wonder how surviving the holidays is possible. My clients’ tell me about all the extra stuff they “have to” do to get ready for the holidays. They tell me about the family traditions they’ve already begun to dread. They say they wish they could enjoy the holidays more. Then they chastise themselves as being “bad” people for feeling that way. Let me say here the same thing I say to each of them: The only way to enjoy the holidays is to do what fulfills you. When you start with a sense of obligation (a “have to”), that leads to guilt, which, in turn, leads directly to resentment. The way to beat what I call this Obligation-Guilt-Resentment cycle is by adapting three crucial strategies: 1. Take care of yourself first. There’s a reason the airlines tell us to put on our oxygen masks before helping others. When we’re tired or fed up or angry or emotionally exhausted, it becomes difficult (if not impossible) to show care to those around us. Sure, I’ve had plenty of clients who think they do an excellent job of hiding their feelings about the holidays, but in nearly every case, they’ve discovered that their loved ones did know they were unhappy. Kids say, “Dad’s always a grump at Christmas,” or their spouse says, “We have a major fight just after Thanksgiving every year, without fail.” If you don’t want to ruin the holidays for those around you, you’re going to have to get good at making sure you take the time to do the stuff that you enjoy, this is the first key to surviving the holidays. 2. Accept that there are no “bad” feelings. It’s okay to dislike going to your mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving every year. Hate the meatballs that have been a family tradition since before you were born? That’s okay. It’s even okay not to enjoy playing host to people you love. The only way to discover happiness is first to identify and acknowledge your other, sometimes uncomfortable feelings. The truth is, emotions don’t make us bad; actions do. Feeling so angry at someone that you want to punch them doesn’t make you a violent person; punching them makes you violent. So, accept the fact that you hate spending $2500 to fly your …

3 Ways to be Intimate Without Being Physical

3 Ways to be Intimate Without Being Physical   Intimacy inside of the bedroom is important. When most people come to see me about relationship problems, it’s because they have not mastered ways to be intimate without being physical. I want to share three tips that I give most people in couples counseling or if they come alone and have relationship problems. Don’t forget; you can go alone if your significant other doesn’t want to participate. I’m sharing three essential tips that work hand in hand with increasing sexual intimacy. If you can nail ways to be intimate without being physical, it gives a great launching pad to a good sex life. Tip 1. Watching the patterns to see where you can break them. One thing that I find surprising when people come in to talk about their relationship problems is that they have some trouble getting stuck in the facts of who is right and wrong, the proof, and all the details. The first thing I do is encourage people to step up and out and look at the dynamics going on because you can get a lot of information by doing that. When I encourage people to do that, what I’m looking for is patterns. If there is a pattern going on, you need to disrupt part of the pattern (your part), and the whole pattern changes. Typically, if you look at an argument and you examine many of your arguments, you’ll find the same pattern. Example: I had a patient who was very frustrated at the pattern happening in his relationship. When he would talk about something difficult, his wife would shut down. She would stop talking or give in. She would agree with him, agree to do things his way, and he took that at face value. But then, she would talk under her breath, and he would get distraught. He would ask his wife what she said, and she would respond by saying, “nothing.” So this turned into an argument of whether she said something or not. His question to me was, “how do I stop her from doing that? I’ve asked, I’ve begged. I’ve demanded she won’t change.” Shockingly, people don’t change because we want them to. What I did was, encourage him to change. We started back to the beginning of the pattern. Which is where he said, “what did you say?” I …

Ted’s Story About Overcoming Infidelity with Therapy

An Incalculable Return on Investment: Ted’s Story About Overcoming Infidelity with Therapy “Ted” was nearing his sixties, and life was big—he was successful, he had a list of accomplishments; people even knew his name. One thing they didn’t know is: Ted had a severe infidelity problem. His behavior in those days, he says, was, “Terrible, horrible. A nasty thing.” And it needed to change. He needed help with overcoming infidelity. He turned to Dr. Dabney for help, but even that decision came with serious doubts. For starters, he’d never been a proponent of therapy. “I thought you should be able to deal with your problems on your own,” he says. “Men are funny like that. [They’re] less amenable to discussing problems that they created.” Even more, he knew that treatment would demand a significant investment of his time—over three hours every week. Dr. Dabney’s office was nearly an hour away. “I’m busy,” he says. “That was an expensive amount of my time.” Ted kept his commitment to therapy for three years. The work, he could tell, was paying off. Plus, he adds, “I quite enjoyed it.” She was as forthcoming as I was expected to be forthcoming. It made the entire process unduly pleasant, to be quite honest.” It was Dr. Dabney’s demeanor that helped keep him going. Ted remains reserved  to discuss his problems with other people, but he was surprised to find that during their sessions, “Laura made it easy.” Ted’s Results With Overcoming Infidelity: Today, Ted is emotionally healthy independent of therapy and describes himself as “Pleasanter. Calmer. I’m a better person.” His work with Dr. Dabney taught him that he isn’t the only person to have ever made mistakes. And the mistakes that he did make, he learned, “Those mistakes can be rectified … and can be overcome.” Curious to learn more about how Dr. Laura Dabney can help you? If so, schedule a free 15-min consultation here, or call (757)340-8800. For more topics, go to www.drldabney.com or www.lauradabney.com.

couple holding hands

What is Intimacy?

Expanding The Definition of Intimacy   A lot of people come into my office and talk about having no sex. Yes, that is a lack of intimacy, but sex is only a part of intimacy. They fail to see the part before sex, which is super important too. I’ll ask them questions such as, “how are you with conflicts?” “How are you and your significant other with expressing yourselves?” And their response is, “We don’t do any of that.” There’s the problem. Let’s talk about the stage before sex and what that entails. There are three parts to that. A lot of people have confused or oversimplified the stage before sex. Which is communication. You do need to communicate, but there is a specific way to communicate, which I have broken down into three stages. The stage before sex is crucial. Men tend to minimize it, and women tend to overemphasize it. Communication isn’t just sitting down and babbling. There are three parts of the pre-stage of sex that makes it intimate. First, being able to know what you’re feeling. It sounds simple, but it is incredibly hard for some people. They talk about what they’re thinking, but it’s tough for them to name the actual feeling they are feeling. Telling someone what you’re thinking is different than naming the feeling. We can tell anyone what we’re thinking, but we share what we’re feeling with our significant other, this is what makes it intimate. You have to be able to name what you’re feeling. Example: Some people say,  “My wife came home late, and I told her she shouldn’t be late; it’s wrong to be late.” I ask them to name their feelings, and they proceed to say that the wife was wrong to be late, she shouldn’t be late, and they can’t trust her. The issue is, those are all thoughts. I have to stop some people and name feelings; that way, they can pick the feeling. In this case, it is typically anger. Being able to name your feeling is taking the time to think long enough about what you’re feeling and being able to name the feeling.  Second, is being able to express the feeling — any emotion, anger, sadness, joy, frustration, or hopefulness. We want you to be able to express your emotions in an emphatic way. Emphatic means you’re listening to the other person expressing …