Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

same sex couples counselling

Marriage counselling and relationship therapy Burnaby help you shift your love lifeAs a marriage counsellor and sex therapist I often hear couples talk about one partner having less desire for intimacy. Once upon a time everything was fine, but today there seems to be a reluctance to initiate and often the answer is No.

Would you agree that for  many, but especially for women,  a “yes” is impacted by how emotionally connected you are feeling? 

An emotional connection is directly related to how open or guarded your heart is.  What affects the heart space? Resentment, disappointment, frustration, sadness and hurt will cause your heart to become careful and less open.

Of course feeling seen, heard and understood, appreciated and loved  will create trust and connection and openness.

Today I want to look at one particular dynamic that affects how open and connected you are feeling, the dynamic of giving and receiving.

Pause for a moment and check in with yourself. What type of giver are you? Are you very nurturing and caring? Do you give freely of your time and energy? Do you give your partner a lot of love? I am sure that many of the things you do are pure acts of love.

You are detached from the outcome. You are doing it simply because it makes you feel good and you want to.

However – if you are like most people, some of the things you do are part of an “unwritten contract.” I am not suggesting that you are always aware of this “contract.” You do become very aware however when it isn’t fulfilled. 

94c1a022c5b28e9bd26ef99155dd0d1dDoes any of these scenarios / thoughts resonate with you?

  • You do nice things – and they aren’t fully appreciated or perhaps not even noticed.
  • Often it feels like no matter what you do, it’s never enough or not good enough.
  • Your partner always seems to notice what you didn’t do, rather than cutting you some slack and acknowledging all the good you are doing.
  • You’re tired of your partner not being accountable to their commitments in your home and you feel like you always end up having to pick up the slack.
  • Somehow you are “always” the one who has to be disciplined and conscientious while your partner has no problem relaxing or taking time out for themselves.

The bottom line – you have been over giving!! and now you feel hurt, or disappointed and you are guarding your heart a little bit or a lot…. and so you say No.

How to shift? Whether you are responding to a request or you are doing something because a little voice says you should – check in with yourself first and establish whether you are in a place of openness and ease.

Does whatever you are about to do make you feel good? Noticing how you feel in your body is a great barometer. If you feel contracted, grumpy, frustrated, impatient, obligated – you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

If you are at the receiving end of your partner’s increased level of self-care and potential “No” to your requests, you may not like it very much in the beginning. But in the long term it will benefit your relationship and safeguard you both from developing a score card mentality. 

Let’s look at the flip side: How well can you receive? Can  you allow yourself to be vulnerable to Couples counselling North Vancouver to help you ease conflictreceive help or support? Can you get past shame, body image issues, and old scars to be able to receive? Can you receive without feeling the need to give back immediately to “even the score”? Take a moment to reflect if your “No” in the bedroom is connected to a difficulty in receiving,

If the giving and receiving dynamic in your relationship has affected your heart and your desire to answer “Yes”, then perhaps it is time to sit down and share how you have been feeling.

I encourage you to talk about yourself and how you feel, rather than talk about your partner and what you think they are doing “wrong.” The old and tried formula of “I feel ____________ when you ______________. Would you be willing to _______________________?

can go a long way to re-establishing connection and help you shift from “No” to  a joyful “Yes.”

Communication tips from a Sex TherapistAre you comfortable talking about sex with your partner? This is one of the first questions I ask couples who come to my Burnaby Marriage counselling practice  for Sex Therapy or Intimacy counselling.

While we are flooded with all types of sexual images in the media and many marketing strategies use “sexiness” to entice us to buy something, many couples are not very comfortable conversing about sex. Often lovers hesitate because they don’t want hurt their partner’s feelings or because they feel embarrassed or shy.

Do you know your partner’s preferences when it comes to sensuality or sexuality?  If you have been together for a longer period of time you might be making the assumption that you do. But when was the last time you actually talked about it? We all change with time, be it due to our aging bodies, health or other reasons.

Just like macaroni and cheese may no longer be your favorite meal since the days of university, the way you like your clitoris or penis stimulated may have changed.

Research has shown that couples who are a) comfortable talking intimately about sex and who b) regularly update their knowledge about each other’s sex maps derive more pleasure from their lovemaking and sexual encounters.

If you know what or how your partner enjoys something, you will be able to increase your partners arousal and pleasure, which typically will enhance your own excitement and pleasure. Deepening the intimacy of your erotic connection has the potential of increasing the amount of lovemaking in your relationship…after all, we tend to pursue what we like and experience as fulfilling. Burnaby Sex Therapist helps couples talk about sex

Here are some important points to remember when you talk about sex:

  1. Timing can be everything. Together choose a time when you are comfortable and relaxed to ask each other questions or share a request. While you would always want to let your lover know in the moment if you are in pain or discomfort, asking questions similar to “Why do you never / always do “X” like that?”  while you are having sex can create resentment and feelings of inadequacy with your partner.
  2. When making requests or asking for something to change, good communication practices also  apply when talking about sex, i.e. talk about what you are experiencing and feeling rather than discussing what you think the other person is doing “wrong”.
  3. Stay connected to your boundary. Don’t get defensive if you find out that your partner has been wanting to try something or would like to change how you have been doing something. This is not about you not being good enough (if that is where you can go in your mind) – this is your partner sharing THEIR experience. Remember that in order to be authentic, as the person who shares, you need to manage your feelings of vulnerability and as the person who is listening, you need to manage any feelings that arise in response to what you are hearing.
  4. Honour and respect each other’s level of comfort and ease in revealing your sexual and erotic preferences. If your lover doesn’t feel comfortable sharing a fantasy or discussing any other aspect of your lovemaking, don’t push it and again remember this has nothing to do with you. If you can love each other thru these places of vulnerability or shyness with respect, patience and an attitude of no judgment, you will, together, create a container of emotional safety that will deepen your intimate connection on every level.
  5. If you are shy or uncomfortable, name it. If you can, let your partner know why this is more difficult for you. Sometimes  it is helpful to use an “icebreaker” like a scene from a movie, an excerpt from a story, something you heard or saw as a gentle gateway towards more personal revelations. 


North Vancouver Intimacy Coaching and Sex Therapy helps couples' struggle with low libido

Finally, try and remember what your partner shared with you and be open to getting feedback from each other. Stay tuned for part 2 of “Let’s talk about Sex” where I shine a light on the topic of orgasm, difficulty reaching orgasm and enjoying orgasm together.