When our partner snaps at us, s/he is generally sending us a distress signal. That distress may be connected to an immediate need that is not being met; to a sense of being overwhelmed; to a feeling of inadequacy or of being misunderstood; or even to an old (painful or uncomfortable) family-of-origin dynamic or trauma that is being triggered.
Emily Nagoski pens the popular sex blog, TheDirtyNormal.com, and teaches a course on Women’s Sexuality at Smith College. In her new book, Come as You Are: The surprising new science that will transform your sex life (Simon & Schuster, 2015) Nagoski explores the whys and hows of women’s sexuality, based on groundbreaking research and brain science.
Human sexuality is complex, and the nature of intimate partners’ circumstances and interactions is varied and complicated. That said, at the risk of oversimplifying all of the above, I share with you a simple, but wise, quotation that rethinks…. foreplay.
According to scientific findings, lasting relationships come down to — you guessed it — kindness and generosity. Drawing on the research of the Gottman Relationship Institute, Emily Esfahani Smith (Masters of Love, The Atlantic, 6.12.14) writes that partners who show genuine interest in their partners’ joys are more likely to be happy together and content with their relationship. The following is a short, edited excerpt.
Disagreements do not need to be resolved immediately or before we go to bed. On the contrary. Often, when a fight with our partner escalates, our nervous system goes into overdrive, as we are flooded by currents of rage, hurt, panic and fear. Our muscles tighten, our stomachs clench, our hands begin to tremble. This is our primitive, parasympathetic nervous system in action, preparing us for fight or flight, a state in which we lose our capacity for rational thought.
Over the course of several years, psychologist/author Esther Perel contacted couples she had seen following an affair to find out more about the long-term impact of the infidelity. This posting is an abridged version of an article she published in 2010 (After the Storm: The Affair in Retrospective), in which she identified three basic patterns in the way couples reorganize themselves after an infidelity.
Your partner has had an affair. Should you leave? Esther Perel, psychotherapist and author of Mating in Captivity (2006), maintains that to think of the affair as the sum total of a whole relationship, is to think in black-and-white. Sometimes, exploring and coming to an understanding of what happened in the relationship makes it deeper and more resilient. But how does one go about the process of forgiving?