We’re curious about how to maintain a beautiful relationship with our beloveds in the long term. As with most things in life, it does start with setting the proper foundation. Here are some things I’ve found that might shed some light.
Psychological studies on couples
In most cases, psychological studies on couples follow four dimensions:
1. Consensus (agreeing on foundational things like plans for the future, money, religion, politics, etc.)
2. Satisfaction (satisfaction the partners feel within and concerning the relationship)
3. ”Expression” (freedom and satisfaction of emotional and sexual expression in a couple; or more simply; intimacy)
4. Cohesion (team feeling in the couple and appreciation for common interests)
(source: “Psychology of the Romanian People” 2015, published by the Romanian clinical psychologist Daniel David, an adjunct professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the head of the Research Program at Albert Ellis Institute in New York)
According to several analyzes (explained in this book in detail), couples from various nations rank well on different dimensions. Some rate high in 2. satisfaction and 1. consensus, while others in 3. expression, and 4. cohesion. With all defining cultural values that individuals are influenced by, no country ranks high in all of them.
There are several nuances to deepen the studies. These include marriage (before, during, post/divorce), the age of each partner, whether the couple has children, and their socio-economic standing. Daniel David mentions them in his book, as he mentions the high divorce rate that threatens the stability of the organization of society around the family/couples. Unfortunately, he does not give a figure. I wish I knew.
From my coaching practice
Sometimes couples seek my coaching practice. The tendency I’ve seen in my coaches was that usually, one partner attended sessions. And, in 99% of situations, that partner came retroactively (so after anger or dissatisfaction had already negatively impacted the couple’s “expression”).
Up to the moment of posting this article, I had only one coachee that came proactively, so before any trouble appeared. I don’t have scientific studies behind this following statement, but I have seen in practice that most people don’t work proactively on the quality of their “expression.”
The main issues and how coaching helps
Before going further, I will say this: most intimacy challenges originate in the consensus dimension (point 1. in the above list). As such, it’s advantageous to work proactively on your intimate relationship. It’s way better to invest in your relationship than waiting around until the time comes to fix it.
However, when trouble strikes, it might originate in 1. consensus, or 3. “expression.” Let’s look at the latter for now.
Sometimes intimacy problems reside in the intimate expression itself. So, trouble arises with how each partner embodies their pleasure and how that works in the couple dynamic. Here are the most frequent problems I’ve seen in my practice:
1. Past psycho-emotional wounds (abuses), yet unresolved. In such case, this can be worked in therapy only, as one needs to go back and work out all the complex changes that a wound brings about. Coaching can’t help here. Therapy gently takes you back in time, works with memories, emotions, and your nervous system to bring yourself to your power.
2. Misunderstanding of needs and values in intimacy. On the one hand, there is little quality information in the mainstream. On the other, there is little patience or openness to find out more about these. In essence, we do not have the mainstream culture yet open to this topic. Coaching can help a lot here. The heart of coaching is working on needs, values, or desires. In coaching, one analyzes and integrates them in the most beneficial way possible.
3. Stress, overwork, too many administrative or household responsibilities, and leaving “expression” for the second, third, or fourth place. Here, coaching can and does help! In essence, one begins by rearranging priorities and then returning to more “expressive” activities. The return is done in terms of mentality & mental focus, emotional disposition to being intimate, and actual embodiment—how one relates to their physical experiencing of their everyday life, including pleasure. Yes, once someone ignores “expression,” it takes a bit of work to get themselves back to more expressive states.
After this article, I must say that “expression” has a place of honor in my vocabulary. 🙂