Marriage, Communication, Sex

Being intimate in relationships requires health on the part of both women and men in three areas - emotionally, mentally and physically.

Communication is the primary vehicle of intimacy, but it remains the number one absent portion of the relationship quota--missed by both sexes, in this counselor’s opinion. Learning how to communicate orally and being a true learner would resolve many marriage squabbles.

Too typically, she sees all the negative about him, he the same for her.

"Doesn't spend time with me."

"Fails to win me to intimacy, just demanding a sexual response."

"Doesn't communicate except with anger towards me or the kids."


"Is always critical, cranky, stubborn...."

"Gives all to the kids, little left for me."

"Has no interest in sex, we haven't had sex in months"

This lose - lose communication style is learned early on and is erased ever so slowly and with lots of effort. Both are correct in describing the others failure and the list is unending. There is no hope for change without digging in the trenches of dirty soil. I always tell clients it must get worse before it gets better. Be patient, kind, considerate and speak well of one another in public but most importantly in private communication settings. Its a difficult habit to break the cutting, critical and unkind words said while out to dinner alone.

Its really all about "mood" - that critical ability to communicate between significant others. How tattooed in our hearts is the experience of our parents and how they did it so poorly in many cases. We spent nearly twenty years with them and just five, ten or fifteen with a mate. Some partners, after thirty years continue using the same verbal styles of parents.

" Wanna have sex tonight?" the guy asks after dinner. I tell men, never ask because we as men can always get interested easily and think it’s a choice to make instead of a "mood" to create. And it’s our primary job to alter moods throughout the day and week at work and play. So why do men fail to see this in intimacy? I answer, the women are not helping them get it because they don’t know themselves. They even feel guilty that they are not in the mood, which only makes matters worse. Men get angry, feel rejected because their soul-mates are repulsed by them. Why some men dot even brush their teeth or wash or put on clean clothes and expect favors as they would at a Vegas brothel. On the other hand, I'm amazed to see so many women expecting complex psychological skills in the trucker who deals with gruff men all day and sees no TV shows on marriage communication. So how is he to gain these important skills?

Seems impossible, but really it is not all that deeply psychological this ability to communicate ones mood or interpret the others mood or alter mood. Actually, we misinterpret so often just what the root of the problem is; when I hear the reactive interpretations of how the communication is wrongly received, I shudder inside. Few men can put a number on how they feel at a given time, and then they fail to recognize their mate’s positive or negative emotions, let alone the complex texture of mood altering.

A part of my Therapy Style is to verbally rewrite what he/she really meant when something was stated. And the greater the intensity, the greater the misguided hypothesis of what went down in the heat of the argument. Another style I use is humor. For example, saying to the man something funny to lighten the load, like "You really thought that would result in some positive sexual response?" We all smile and chuckle at the notion of vulnerability and both acknowledge needing some new anger management skills. Learning to talk takes time, effort and teachability, not always found in busy couples’ lives. Yet it is necessary to begin the wonderful process of developing a more natural ability to communicate what we feel, think and do at home, at work, and at play.

View Profile

Click here to view Dr. Frank Papandrea's profile.