Category Archives: Relationship Tools/Tips for Couples

Tips and Tools for resolving relationship problems for couples in long-term relationships and married couples.

Be Satisfied This Valentine’s Day…Again & Again & Again

Here’s a Valentine’s Day article I wrote for Theravive that still rings true for many of my sex therapy clients longing to be satisfied. It’s about how to get the Valentine’s Day you want. I want people to stop basing their relationship and sexual expectations on what they have learned through movies and media. If you are waiting for your prince/princess to come and read your mind about what you want for Valentine’s Day or what makes you feel desired, yada, yada, yada, then you are likely to be disappointed. Expecting our partner’s to read our minds and be the perfect romantic partner for Valentine’s Day and any day for that matter is often a recipe for failure and disappointment. Waiting for that arrow to strike you in the butt may more likely result in a sore @$$ of resentment towards your partner and your relationship.

So read further to get some tips on taking control of how you want your Valentine’s Day to look and start creating it today. Read on…

10 MORE Sex Tips #MaySexTips

Here’s more May sex tips for all you couples in relationships as well as flirty singles. If you haven’t seen them all, just follow me on twitter @TalkSexWithLiz . To read about my first 10 sex tips, check out my blog here. I don’t think you or your partner will be disappointed. Also, if you have already tried some of these sex tips or you have feedback on my first 10 sex tips then comment below and let me know how they turned out for you.

Sex Tip#11-“Lick by Numbers.”

Number your body parts in order of how you want to be licked using your partner’s favorite flavor. This is a great way to teach your partner what you like in a fun way. S/he will likely remember this better than verbal instruction and you both will certainly enjoy it more.

Sex Tip#12 – For date night this week, go to a sex toy shop.

My favorite is the Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood . Here you can explore & buy sexcessories to spice up your sex life. Find out some of your partner’s likes, try something new, and maybe even learn something new about your own sexual likes and dislikes.

Sex Tip#13 – Have sex in the kitchen.

I suggest each of you pick out five items in the kitchen to supplement your love making. It may be food, a spoon, or even something more dangerous, but it will definitely be different than sex in bed.

Sex Tip#14 – Watch or read erotica with your partner and share the things that you see or read that you would like to try to do together.

So many of the couples I see think they know everything their partner’s like and dislike but they are often surprised when they approach sex in a state of curiosity rather than all-knowing.

Sex Tip#15 – Instead of your usual foreplay try some partner yoga.

Here’s a great video to get you started. Touching in a way that is sensual without a focus on orgasm or being sexy is sexy in itself. You may tap into a whole new way of being with your partner. If you really enjoy this you may want to start exploring Tantra yoga or Tantric Sex.

Sex Tip#16 – Take turns blindfolding each other as you sensually touch and tease one another. Notice how your other four senses are magnified.

Many people get focused on the physical touch of sex but tapping into our other senses – sight, sound, taste, and smell can definitely intensify our sexual experiences more than you might think. By restraining one sense, it naturally intensifies the others.

Sex Tip#17 – Take a picture of your bare hip/thigh/collarbone/hand/rib cage etc. and text it to your partner as foreplay. Add sexy hints about the pictures you send.

Good foreplay starts way before you enter the bedroom. Remember when you and your partner were dating? Yes, that’s when you felt that on-going sexual energy. You may remember it being so natural and easy but it wasn’t automatic – it took work – it just didn’t feel like it. Start taking time to do fun and enticing things like this and foreplay will feel like “play” rather than work.

Sex Tip #18 – Try some new sexual positions.

Have you gotten into the habit of those predictable sexual positions that are focused on getting you and your partner off? Well that’s all fine for a quickie but when sex is so predictable it gets boring, your senses dull, and your satisfaction and excitement decreases. Here are some ideas for new positions to try tonight.

Sex Tip#19 – Give her the best cunnilingus.

One of my favorite “sexual how to” books is, “She comes First” by Ian Kerner. I guarantee that you and your partner will learn something if you read it. It’s not just for the giver – the receiver can learn something about herself as well.  AND for those people who think they don’t have time to read – you can get it on audio!!

Sex Tip#20 – Give him the best BJ!

The key to a great blow job really is in your level of enthusiasm. Of course technique and novelty is helpful – but that’s something you can learn. My favorite book on increasing your BJ talents is “Tickle His Pickle” By Dr. Sadie. It’s light and funny, yet informative and accurate.

Now…Go Have SEX!!!

Top 10 Sex Tips for May

Sex Tip #1 – Share your turn ons & offs with your partner. For every 1 turn off share 5 turn ons.

So many people assume they know what their partner wants or likes most but often when I ask the question “What are your partner’s greatest turn ons and off?” I get the answer “I think…hmmm.” If you have actually asked the question and you learned what your partner’s greatest turn ons and offs were years ago, great. But consider this, maybe his or her turn ons or turn offs have changed since the last time you asked. What we consider erotic in our 20s is often different from that in our 30s, 40s, 50s, etc.

Sex Tip #2 – Not every woman is a porn star and not every man has a 10″ dick. Unrealistic expectations of sex result in disappointment, so act accordingly!

It’s fun to act like a porn star. Some do this more often than others but when our partners EXPECT us to take on this role most of the time the result is either disappointment or detachment. So many people have expectations for sex that began on a TV, movie, or computer screen. The sooner you get realistic about your sexual expectations the sooner you will be able to embrace you and your partner’s sexuality and start working on greater sexual satisfaction and intimacy.

Sex Tip #3 – Be curious and mix it up. Approach your partner without expectation of their response. They will feel more desired & excited.

Everyone wants to feel desired. Everyone gets into habitual sexual behaviors. Habits are great for knowing what we can rely on but not so great for long term sexual satisfaction. Great sex requires a level of excitation that often gets stifled when our sexual behaviors and interactions become habitual. Mix it up and see what happens.

Tip#4 – Quit waiting for sex to be spontaneous – Spontaneous sex is a myth.

For more on this tip read my blog:

Tip#5-Your brain is your biggest sex organ. To feel sexy create space for and feed sexy thoughts.

When you see something that turns you on pay attention to it! Again, for more on this read my blog: Our Biggest Sex Organ

Tip#6 – What you wear can fuel or extinguish your desire. Get rid of those granny panties or grandpa boxers. Enough said.

Tip#7 – Mix it up – try using your mouth (taste, lick, bite, talk) and hands (grab, scratch, caress) MORE and your genitals LESS.

The erogenous zones outside of our genitals are often ignored – what a shame. Filet or Lobster is great for dinner but do you want to eat it every night? How about mixing up the menu? Try it – I think you will like it.

Tip#8 – Increase the intensity of your partner’s orgasm -tease it out – make them beg for it.

Sounds sexy doesn’t it? Slow it down and explore all those erogenous zones from Tip#7 before even considering touching the genitals – your partner will thank you for it.

Tip#9 – Use a good silicone lube.

If you think lube is overrated then you have never experienced a good silicone lube. Sure great foreplay and following all of my tips mentioned above will make it less necessary but this is to supplement sexual satisfaction not make up for a lack of lubrication because of lack of foreplay.

Tip#10 – Oral Sex Tips from Oral Sex Tips & Techniques like the tea bagging one are great – but I suggest shaving first!

Yes, if you want those nuts/balls/boys really attended to during oral sex then it’s all about maintenance – shave those family jewels! You and your partner will thank me for it.

Now go have sex!

The key ingredients of great sex

great sex and sex appealSo what are the key ingredients of great sex you ask? Am I suggesting that great sex comes down to just a few simple ingredients? Yes. I know what you are thinking – here it comes – the answer to everyone’s sexual problems and the key to world peace. Ok, so maybe not world peace. These key ingredients aren’t actually things or a who, what, where, or when. The ingredients to great sex are a way of being. The ingredients to great sex are actually about the way we approach sex, our sexuality, and our sexual partner(s).

I know, get to it already. If you’re wanting me to hurry up and get to the point or feeling the impulse to jump to the end of this article to these ingredients, then I think you would benefit from a whole other blog topic. Give me a day I’ll come up with something. Possibly, “What’s the rush? Sexual impulse control for the hurried man or woman.” Or maybe reading my previous blog might help.

Seriously though, think back to a time long ago when you had great sex… for some of you this wasn’t so long ago and that’s awesome. For others, it was a long time ago and the closest thing you get to foreplay is my blog – sorry, I will try to write more often. Okay, really seriously now. Think about what has made up great sex for you in the past. Was a key ingredient the person you had sex with? Was it the place you had sex? Was it the positions you had sex in? These may have been some of the ingredients that made the sex great for you but were they common throughout each great sexual experience? Were they essential to what made the sex great? – Were they the flour in the cake? Were they the egg in the omelet? Typically, these items above are not necessarily key or essential items, they are important, and may bring back fond memories, but they are not typically the key ingredients to great sex!

The key ingredients – the sure fire way to make or break sex – are enthusiasm and confidence! If you have read my blogs before, you know your biggest sex organ is your brain. So if you are not into your partner or the sex – if you aren’t “feeling it,” the sex will be mediocre – whether you have all the ingredients I mentioned above or not.

Enthusiasm is contagious

If you are not enthusiastic about what you are up to in the bedroom, if you lack the excitement and interest in what you are doing, your partner can sense that, and you will both experience less pleasure. Our sexual partners feed off of our enthusiasm – it makes them feel good that you are interested and excited so they in-turn are more interested and excited and into you. When they feel desired they in turn have more desire for you. It’s contagious and cyclical.

Confidence is key

Confidence is important because if you are struggling with feeling confident about your sex appeal, desirability, or sexual prowess, you will APPEAR less attractive to your partner and ultimately BE less desirable to them. Over all the years I gave romance parties, taught romance, pole dancing, lap dancing, and even fabulous fellacio 101, I met many beautiful and attractive people who I thought could be very sexy, who actually couldn’t find their inner diva or stallion. They definitely lacked the confidence to pull off a sexy lap dance or a romantic interlude. Then again I also met many average looking people that kicked ass in the sexy department. They had enthusiasm about the pleasures of being sexual and they had the confidence to entice and excite not only themselves but their partners who in-turn mirrored that confidence and enthusiasm.

So there you have it. Even if you have a hot partner, a closet full of sex toys, the best sex swing on the market, or the body of a dancer or a Spartan, you’re not gonna have great sex without enthusiasm and confidence.

Now go have sex!

Be a Selfish Lover

long-beach_sex_therapist_background.pngThat must be a typo you say. But no, it’s not. If you want better sex, be a selfish lover. Your partner will thank you for it. Being a selfish lover isn’t what you think. Being a selfish lover is about approaching sex the way you did with your lover when you were first together – when you couldn’t get enough of them – when you didn’t know what she or he wanted – when you were curious about them – curious about their body, the way sex with them felt, the way they responded to your touch, and how it felt for you to touch him or her.

Being a selfish lover is NOT about

Being a selfish lover is NOT about ignoring your partner’s satisfaction or just getting yourself off. When I tell my clients to do this their first vision is often the young guy who has no interest in connecting with his partner sexually. It’s the partner who skips foreplay, orgasms prematurely, says to himself “awe that was great” and then rolls over to go to sleep. Let’s be clear – this is not at all what I am suggesting. If you know someone like this, give them my number, I can help! 

Being a selfish lover is about taking yourself and your partner to places that YOU want to go. It’s about approaching sex with a new sense of curiosity and desire that often gets stifled when we approach sex with the sole intent to please or perform for our partner. When you approach sex selfishly you and your lover can often experience more sexual pleasure.

When sex is a have to…

If sex is a “have to” rather than a “get to” for you then selfish sex is an approach you should try. I often find with clients or couples struggling with low sexual desire that they stopped having sex for themselves at some point and turned the focus onto doing it for their partners. When we approach sex or anything for that matter, in a way that is about doing something for ourselves then there is less space for a “have to” way of being. If you have difficulty allowing yourself pleasure or treating yourself; then that’s another conversation and it would likely be helpful for you to see a Sex Therapist. In the meantime, check out other topics on my “Talk Sex With Liz” Blog for some ideas on where to start.

Your partner will thank you …

When you approach sex selfishly your partner will actually feel more desired. Yes! Yes! Yes! Everyone wants to feel desired and when a partner is having sex with us because they want to – because it’s their treat for themselves – we feel more desired. Huh? Not getting it yet? Okay let me reframe. I am not talking about when your partner wants “It” I am talking about when your partner wants “YOU”. When your partner wants to have sex with you as a selfish treat to him or herself you feel wanted.

Mix it up…

One last caveat – By no means am I saying that we should never approach sex with the idea of pleasing our partners. I am suggesting that you be a selfish lover more- often not a stupid lover. These tips are by no means a constant – I want you to mix it up – variety is the spice of life. So having sex FOR our partners or giving to our partners in a loving, selfless way is fine, just don’t make it a constant in your approach to sexual intimacy.

Now go have sex!

Should Marriage Therapists Have Perfect Marriages?

My husband and I recently attended a couples retreat to work on some rough spots in our marriage. Yes people – marriage therapists don’t have perfect marriages! We are human just like you. It was humbling and difficult. While I have no delusions that I am a perfect partner or in a flawless marriage, I do sometimes find it difficult to ask for help when I am the professional that others go to for help.

Many of us marriage and relationship therapists feel embarrassment or even shame for not being able to fix our problems or resolve relationship issues on our own; thinking “If I can’t fix my own problems who the hell do I think I am getting paid to help others?”

At the marriage retreat what I found most humbling was surprising but not surprising. I see it every day in my therapy office; whether my couples are struggling with sexual desire, sexual dysfunction, communication, or rebuilding trust. What I found most humbling personally was struggling to empathize with my partner. As a Sex and Relationship Therapist this is my strength. Dammit – I am great at empathizing – I pride myself in this. That is one of the qualities that make me a good therapist. So to see myself in a battle between empathizing with my partner and being right was almost a surreal experience. I see this all the time with my couples but getting caught up in this myself was disappointing. Now don’t get me wrong – I knew this about myself before the retreat. What I hadn’t realized was how difficult it is for me to change it when I know it’s the solution.

I often tell my couples that empathizing with their partner is often one of the first steps towards change – AND essential for working through difficult relationship issues.

I see couples struggle with empathy towards their partners every day in my therapy office. Couples seeking to understand their partners or to be understood by their partners but getting stuck because one or both of them needs to be right. Years ago, before I became a Sex and Relationship Therapist, I heard a therapist do a talk entitled “You can be right or you can be married.” I agree. Successful, happy relationships and marriages make space for feelings over righteousness.  As you can see this concept has stayed with me and yet it continues to be a challenge for me. So boy do I empathize (smile).  My marriage is a work in progress just like everybody elses – I can be right about that ;-).

Now – quit trying to be right and go have sex!

Communication tools for couples

Are you a good listener? Do you think you communicate effectively? What would your partner say about your communication skills? How about when you are angry, sad, frustrated, or hurt?… Are you able to calm your emotions enough to LISTEN to the actual message and process what you heard or do you get flooded with feelings that make communicating impossible?

In couples counseling a common theme I find is that couples often get so overwhelmed (aka flooded) with emotions that they are unable to hear what their partner is saying.  How many times have you and your partner gotten into an argument about two totally different things? Also, sometimes when people tell us things we don’t want to hear, the message we take in gets filtered. Basically we filter the message into something that may or may not be accurate. Then, we allow our emotions to take control and rather than making sure we are clear on the message, we lash out at our partner with hurtful words or we don’t acknowledge the message that was communicated because we are so caught up defending ourselves. Or maybe when you start expressing your wants, needs, or feelings, it starts with “you…”. That sounds like the message is more about someone else than yourself. Does this sound familiar? If it does, then I highly recommend slowing down the way you communicate with your partner by using these communication tools for couples. If you are at the point where this isn’t helping then couples counseling can get you in the right direction so that you can effectively use tools like this.

I suggest using this BEFORE you get overwhelmed or flooded with emotions. First, try practicing this when communicating about a topic or issue that doesn’t typically get you and your partner flooded with angry or hurt feelings. Practice it when trying to decide about what to eat for dinner, making a purchase, or something that you know isn’t a source of contention between the two of you. It feels odd or robotic at first but with practice it is an amazing tool that has helped many of the couples that have come into my office for counseling.

Goal: Communicate what you are wanting, needing, or feeling. Focus on the SOLUTION you are hoping to reach NOT what is wrong with your partner.

Talker: Try to limit message to 2 sentences. Start with “I” statement.

“I want…” “I need…” “I feel…”

Example: “I want more affection, more hugging and kissing. I want to feel closer to you.”

Instead of: “You never hug or kiss me anymore. You never pay attention to me.”

Listener: Step 1: Paraphrase what was said & check for accuracy

“What I hear you saying is…”

Example: “What I hear you saying is that you want us to be more affectionate, like with more hugging and kissing.” Is that right? Is there more?

Step 2: Empathize

“That must make you feel….”

Example: “That must make you feel disconnected, maybe lonely, and sad that we aren’t as loving as we used to be.”

Step 3: Validate – this doesn’t have to mean you agree.

“If I were you/If that was me/If I were in your shoes/I agree, I feel/would feel …..”

Example: “I can see how you would feel that way since we haven’t had a lot of quality time together. I know this is something that is important to you so I will try to make it more of a priority.”

Then the couple can switch roles so that the listener can take the opportunity to express themselves. Sometimes one round is all that is needed because the talker just wants to be heard and when the listener doesn’t get or feel defensive it’s not about arguing a point, it’s just about getting wants/needs met or feelings heard and we can get that accomplished more easily/quickly using this method of communicating.

Now makeup and go have sex!


Our Biggest Sex Organ Is Between Our Ears

Yes, your biggest sex organ is your brain! Sex drive, sexual pleasure, and sexual satisfaction are more about what is between our ears than what is between our legs. However, our culture sees sex drive, sexual pleasure, and sexual dysfunction as being about our sexual parts – our genitals. The fact of the matter is that our sexual desires and dysfunctions are driven by our thoughts and what we do with our genitals will rarely change our sex drive or dysfunction unless we first change our thoughts. So if you or your partner are struggling with orgasm, maintaining erections, premature ejaculation, or staying present during sex keep reading.

In our culture sex is about breasts, hard erections, the right clitoral stimulation, or that perfect sexual position. Sure all of that is important too but until you get into the right head space, your body isn’t going to enjoy or be receptive to what is being offered by way of stimulation. Just look at the success of businesses that sell sex toys, sexual stimulants/arousal creams, and other sex related accessories. Now don’t get me wrong, these products can be fun, enhance sexual pleasure, and help to get some people in the mood or stay in the mood. The problem I see is that when we look to these sex accessories as a fix to a sexual problem it is like putting a band aid on a wound that needs stitches, it just makes it worse and it‘s likely to leave a scar. Yes, so many of my clients have scarred themselves by trying at home fixes for sexual problems and the increased insecurities, hopelessness, and sexual frustration it resulted in created a much bigger wound than the initial sexual difficulties.

So go get yourself into a sex positive head space, take a personal inventory and be honest with yourself about why you are having sex related difficulties, communicate with your partner, and go have some sex! Not sure how to do this? Keep reading my blog and I will give you tips for increasing your sexual comfort, your sexual desire, and having more open and direct communication with your sexual partner about your sexual likes, dislikes, turn-ons, and turn-offs.

Look for my blog later this week for step one of getting into a sex positive head space: clarifying how your thoughts are driving your sexual desires and satisfaction. I will give you some tools for taking your own sexual inventory.

Now…. Go have some sex!

Are you running on emotional empty?

Are you running on emotional empty? While I don’t like to minimize the work I do, sometimes therapy or counseling is pretty basic. Sometimes basic questions like “What are you doing to take care of yourself?” or “What fills up your emotional tank?” are all that are needed in therapy or counseling sessions with my clients. If you often find yourself in patterns of putting others before you or feeling so depressed or anxious that you lose sight of how to get your basic needs met, then it‘s time to slow down and take a personal assessment of what you need emotionally to feel like you are not running on empty.

Sometimes therapy or counseling is an outside party giving us permission to do what is necessary to fill up our emotional tanks. Whether it be a massage, social time with a friend, spiritual time, exercise, private time with a good book, talk with a therapist, or anything that relaxes us like sex.

Being a mom with a successful career I too experience the typical guilt feelings that drive me to an empty tank and when I am putting all my efforts towards my loved ones and not making efforts to do what I need to fill myself up, I know that not only do I suffer but my loved ones do as well.

I often share with my clients the analogy of the vehicle. When we don’t take care of our cars (gas, oil change, tune up, a good wax job;-))) they eventually breakdown. In this way, people are like cars. Without the proper fuel and tender loving care, we eventually breakdown; whether it be physical or emotional, something eventually gives. Of course everyone is different so it can show up as impatience, frustration, anger, resentment, anxiety, sadness, depression, and the list goes on.

So go do something today that fills up your emotional tank!

True Love or Co-dependency?

Is the book the Giving Tree about true love or co-dependency?
One of my many insightful clients brought up recently that the book “The Giving Tree” seems more about a person’s co-dependency with a partner who takes, is selfish, and never gives, than a beautiful friendship or loving partnership. So I had to open up that old book on my shelf and take another look at it from a therapist’s perspective. Wow, did I agree.

From my perspective, giving of oneself selflessly is not what love and friendship are about. I find that many of my clients are caught up in patterns of rescuing behaviors that result in their partners being dependent upon them. Ultimately they end up feeling resentful about their partner‘s lack of responsibility, neediness, or selfishness yet struggle to get out of their patterns of giving or pursuing. Sometimes this is the only kind of love we  know and this is where the work begins to decrease unhealthy enmeshed behaviors that result in resentment, dependency, and co-dependency. Increasing healthy differentiation and ultimately learning to soothe ourselves when our partners may appear to need us to save or protect them is essential to changing the relationship dynamics and eliminating our own tendency towards co-dependent behaviors.  As the old saying goes, “It takes two to tango” is relevant here. In order to change a relationship we ultimately need to change how we react to our partner’s behaviors and their patterns of relating.

According to Wikipedia “Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others.” I actually don’t think that the person one is co-dependent with has to be narcissistic or an addict; that sometimes, that person could just be enjoying receiving like the boy in the giving tree. When my clients get caught up in co-dependency or acting like a parent to a child in their adult relationships, I encourage them to consider what they are getting out of relating with their partner in this way. While there are many disadvantages to having a partner be dependent upon us there are advantages to this as well – it can feel pretty good to feel needed or to feel in control.  But when does this get confused with feeling loved? Without the support of an objective supporter, it may be hard to pull back and see how the dynamic maintains itself and how we continue to feel like the victim in our relationships.  If you find yourself experiencing these feelings repeatedly in your relationships it may be time to take a look inward… if you want to create something different.