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Physical or Emotional Intimacy?

May 18th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I’ve been married for twenty years, and my husband has become very controlling over the years. I ended up seeking counseling about 2 years ago and I also talked to my bishop (who was NO help, by the way, his basic advice was to pray and read my scriptures and have family home evening…which of course, we’ve done all along) anyway my counselor opened my eyes to the emotional blackmail I’ve been living with. He recommended that we come as a couple but my husband refused. Not knowing what to do, I just tried to fake along like everything was OK, but it only made me more depressed. Then my husband started dropping hints that we would be better off divorced. I can’t explain how I felt about that…mostly anger. I again suggested counseling. He agreed to go this time. But after only a couple of sessions, he was expecting overnight success, mainly- he thinks I should be all kissy and huggy with him, but I don’t feel any affection for him anymore. I don’t know how I should respond to this increased demand for affection. It makes me sick when he touches me. He says that if I don’t show him in this way, that I’m willing to try to make our marriage work, then he will just assume that I hate him and he will leave. I am really confused and need some quick advice because he keeps sending me lovey-dovey text messages and I need to know the best way to respond.

-Wylee

PS- he has never- before now- sent love messages of any kind or
tried to hug me all the time like this. I feel like I’m suffocating!

wylee


Dear Wylee,

Your situation is far from uncommon. Clearly your husband feels the most loved through physical affection and is now making demands for it or else… Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t work very well for you when
you don’t feel close to him. It appears that his increasingly controlling nature has created some walls in your marriage. It’s quite difficult to open up emotionally to someone who tries to control or threatens divorce.

Most women need to feel emotionally close and connected first, before they can connect physically, which includes physical intimacy. It is not realistic to go to counseling for a couple of visits and then think that all is well. In some ways, he’s reaching out to you by sending you messages and trying to hug you. I realize that you’re feeling suffocated but it’s important not to make him feel totally rejected. Since your marriage is already on the rocks any further rejection might be the final straw.

If you would like to stay married here’s my suggestion. First, acknowledge the fact that he is trying to make deposits into the marriage account through his increased efforts of connecting physically. Tell him that you appreciate the attention. Second, if the two of you can discuss your needs, wants and desires on your own then go for it. It needs to happen in a respectful and attentive environment. If that doesn’t exist then, try it in front of a third party that you trust.

Explain to him that you need to feel closer to him emotionally and safe first. That’s what makes you feel loved the most. Once that happens, then you can begin to open up to him in the way that is the most meaningful to him, meaning physically.

A couple of good resources if your both open to doing some work together to bless your marriage. One is to read (or listen on a cd) The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. It’s one of the best books out there.
Another resource is the book And They Were Not Ashamed by Laura Brotherson (LDS) on the topic of physical intimacy. Finally you could also listen to the cd called The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going From Surviving to Thriving!

Good luck and let me know how tings work out.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com

Learning from our mistakes is key to our happiness

Dec 16th, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I love to read your posts and your new column on Mormon Times. I am a 49
year old woman going through my second divorce. My two husbands left me
for younger, sexually alive women. I have a 10 year old daughter with my
second husband. The trauma of living through betrayal, rejection,
abandonment and loneliness for the third time (my father left my mother
for a younger woman when I was 9), is almost more than I can bear. I
blame myself for my father and two husbands leaving me. Logically, I
know this doesn’t make sense, but emotionally, I scour my soul to reveal
my faults that cause men to turn against me. The proverbial “elephant”
in the room is my lack of sexual desire.

My question is why do I seem to attract my dysfunctional dad in every
man I form a relationship with? I also seem to have inherited my
mother’s inability to give to a man in a deep, emotionally, intimately
and sexually bonding way. I’ve lost the three most important men in my
life, I don’t want to attract this relational disaster for the fourth
time, nor do I want to pass on the same pattern to my daughter…please
help me stop the heartbreaking chaos.

What I would really like to know is how can I get in touch with myself
so that I can give a man what he really wants. That’s my problem, I
don’t know what men really want in an enduring relationship, meaning in
a sexual way. It’s hard for me to be so honest and vulnerable but I
can’t bear to live the rest of my life alone, nor can I bear to live
through another failed relationship with a man.

This will sound bold, but what I really want to know is what pleases a
man in the bedroom? My observation is that “sex makes the world go
round” for men. I have read your previous posts and I have obtained the
book you suggested, “And They Were Not Ashamed,” and that has helped.
But I want to know from a man’s perspective, especially a man with your
background in the “Greek” culture which is known for producing centuries
of great lovers, what do men want from a woman? Don’t get me wrong, I
don’t want to sound inappropriate, I just want to get in touch with my
feminine, intimate, sexual goddess side. My husbands have told me, and I
confirm that I am dead there. Please help me wake-up inside and attract
the man of my dreams and keep him!

Desperately,

Charis


Dear Charis,

Going through a second divorce, especially with a child involved is
not an easy matter. It is emotionally, physically, spiritually and
financially devastating. It seems like you’ve identified the root causes
of both failed marriages. Your husbands, just like your dad have
“abandoned” you for younger women. The issue of physical intimacy and
sexuality in a marriage is of primary importance.

I’m glad you are reading the book And They Were Not Ashamed by
Laura Brotherson. From a spiritual perspective, I believe it’s the best
book out there, in dealing with intimacy in the bedroom. As you might
recall, the author quotes President Kimball as stating, “Divorces often
occur over sex…If you study the divorces, as we have had to do in
these past years, you will find there are many reasons. Generally sex is
the first. They did not get along sexually. They may not say that in
court. They may not even tell that to their attorneys, but that is the
reason.”

What makes this quote so remarkable is the fact that it took place
over 30 years ago. The world today inundates men and women with sexual
images on a daily basis. The availability of pornography plus all the
other sexual outlets have changed what healthy sexuality looks like. Men
especially, expect things that a lot of women are either uncomfortable
with or unaware of. When couples fail to discuss their expectations in
the bedroom, problems inevitably arise.

It might be of benefit to receive some help on this matter, so as not to
“attract this relational disaster for the fourth time” as you say.
If you have any further questions, you may contact me directly.

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com

Married to a sex-addict!

Nov 6th, 2008 by Dr. Elia | 0

I recently received a question pertaining to sexual addiction and infidelity in a marriage. Because of the amount of detail contained in the question, I have elected to remove it from this site. The answer to the question appears below for the benefit of those who may be struggling with similar issues.


Dear Pam,

First of all, your feelings are NOT messed up! Not wanting to be
intimate with your husband after years of infidelity is perfectly
normal. Trust is the primary cornerstone of any successful relationship.
Your husband has completely emptied the marital “trust fund” through
his actions. Clearly he has a LOT of work ahead of him to try and
restore whatever little is left from the destruction he has caused.

You say he “needs it a lot” and therefore you feel like you should
oblige…He’s an addict and like any addict, of course he would say he
needs it a lot. What however might be in his best interest is a period
of abstinence. He needs to be working with a therapist that specializes
in Sexual Addiction recovery on a weekly basis. He also needs to be
attending a 12-Step support group (where abstinence is encouraged.)
finally he needs to be meeting with your Bishop every Sunday for the
time being. If he does ALL of these steps for a long time then he might
have a chance of a different and by that I mean, a sober life!

I seriously doubt if he truly knows what love or real love-making is all
about. He might be great at “lust-making” but that is part of his
problem. You do not want to enable his lust-making by trying to meet
those addictive acting-out needs. Taking care of yourself does mean that
you treat your body and yourself with respect. You are NOT an object for
his desires. You are a daughter of your Heavenly Father…always
remember that!

If you need to talk more, please feel free to call.

God bless,

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com

Physical Intimacy

Sep 16th, 2008 by Dr. Gourgouris | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

First of all, thank you for a safe forum to ask really hard and often embarrassing questions about such sensitive topics like sex. I know I speak for many concerned wives who on the one hand want to ensure they are doing all they can to help their husbands stay away from pornography and the temptation of an affair, but on the other hand are not comfortable with their own nakedness, nor with giving themselves permission to enjoy sex with their husbands. I know how much it would mean to husbands if their wives enjoyed sex as much as they did.

So my question is, how can I learn to feel more comfortable being naked with my husband and what suggestions do you have to encourage LDS women to allow themselves to enjoy sex? If you could answer this, I know it would help a lot of struggling marriages.

Thanks,
Kima


Dear Kima,

First of all, thank you for your kind words about creating a safe forum to discuss really sensitive topics. Obviously the topic of physical intimacy is of utmost importance to many married LDS couples.

There’s a great book written by LDS author Laura Brotherson called “And They Were Not Ashamed: Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment”. I would highly recommended it. She addresses all the questions and issues that you bring up. In fact, this is the first book written by an LDS woman that discusses (quite openly I might add) the topic of sexual intimacy. What I also like about it is the way physical, emotional, and most of all spiritual intimacy are embraced. In a lot of ways it is a “how-to” book/workbook that both you and your husband can read. It’s kind of a “marriage book,” “sex-book,” and “parenting book” all in one… as it says on the back cover!

The book is available at Deseret Book or on her website, www.StrengtheningMarriage.com.

It is actually rare that I would endorse someone’s product like I do with Laura’s book, but I’ve seen the results! I would hope that after reading it and doing the exercises she recommends that your view of intimacy in your marriage will be greatly enhanced. I would love to hear a follow-up report from you so that our readers could benefit from your experience.

Good luck,
Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com

Lack of Desire…

Aug 30th, 2008 by Dr. Gourgouris | 0

Hi Dr. Elia,

Thanks for your answers to the other posts. I find them helpful to me as well.

My question is regarding intimacy. When I first got married 11 years ago, I thought the desire for intimacy would come in time. But the opposite has been true. I have no desires whatsoever. My husband is a great guy, attractive and doting. But I don’t have any feelings for him that way.

I did go to counseling for a while, and I picked up Laura Brotherson’s book as you suggested in another post. I did find them both informative, but so far, I can’t muster those kinds of feelings.

Should I see a medical doctor? My bishop? Another counselor? It’s definitely an issue in my marriage as I have to force intimacy for my husband’s sake. But it doesn’t end up being an enjoyable thing for me.

Are there other women who feel like me? All my friends talk about is how great things are. I just pretend I know what they are talking about…

Any counsel you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

D.


Dear D.,

First of all, thank you for your kind remarks about the other posts. I’m glad you found them helpful!

There are a lot of women who feel or have felt the same way as you do in terms of physical intimacy. Lacking desire is not unique to you…I hope you can take some comfort in knowing you are not alone. It sounds from what you shared, that those desires have never been part of your relationship. Have they ever been there in your life? If the answer is yes, then this could indicate a relationship issue, even if you’re married to such a wonderfully doting husband.

If the answer is that you have NEVER had those feelings then a visit to a medical doctor would be a good start. You’ll need to find out if there are any physiological/medical reasons for your lack of desire. If the doctor’s visit reveals that there’s medical condition then he/she should offer you a
possible solution. If however, everything looks normal, then the next step would be to explore the emotional and/or spiritual components.

Were you able to go through the book and do all the writing assignments and exercises? What about the ones which would include your husband? How supportive was he? I’d love to hear your follow up…

Thank you again for bringing up such an important topic. It is more prevalent than you think…The good news is that there’s always a solution!

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com

My family is driving me crazy!!!

Aug 15th, 2008 by Dr. Gourgouris | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I am having a difficult time trying to transition back to being a mom after spending a year at school, I don’t like cooking…my dh hardly compliments it at all…and the kids, well kids like to say “I don’t like it” …you know. I am a ver verbal person, and I seem to be “high maintance” as far as I need pats on the back and my requests honored. I have some health problems as well…PMS and the like…and so my intimacy button is broken as well…and dear husband doesn’t think I like him…or that I don’t like intimacy…so I PLAN times that I am intimate…so that he doesn’t think I hate him…but it is REALLY hard to get my motor going…

Well, I literally BLEW UP at my family today…after I requested for them to stop bitting (criticizing, and nitpicking…especially 17 yr old son and father) each other, first thing in the morning… ( they are like a den of grumpy bears in the morning, and my 4 yr old keeps that grumpiness all day long…and fights with 5 yr old sister!! ( I have 7 children.)

I don’t quite know what to do…now I feel guilty, and drained all at the same time…any suggestions?

Thank you for your time…
Nicoll


Dear Nicoll,

How often do we feel like our family is driving us crazy? It’s more often than most of us will admit!

A couple of thoughts come to mind as to your predicament. I’m not sure if you are truly high maintenance. It sounds like no one in your family is speaking your primary love language… which in your case sounds like “words of appreciation.” So after a considerable time of not feeling appreciated and with all the demands that are upon you, “your emotional bank account” runs empty. No wonder you feel drained…When the stress gets too much a blow up is not unexpected.

It’s very important to understand what makes you feel the most loved and the same for your husband. This is done by prioritizing the 5 love languages from what fills your bucket the most to least. The key to successful relationships is to express our love to our spouse (or children for that matter) in the way that it makes them feel the most loved… For more information on this topic, you can read my article on “Love Languages: It’s All Greek to Me!”

Imagine how different life would be at home if everyone felt loved in their particular language. The emotional bank accounts would be receiving daily deposits and everyone would be happier. Although this requires some work up front, especially on the communication side, in the end it will be worth it. If you need any assistance let me know… It’s not that hard to learn… It is a little harder to implement it and do so consistently. The good news is that once it becomes a habit the sky is the limit!

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com

Physical Intimacy

Aug 13th, 2008 by Dr. Gourgouris | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

Do you have any advice for women who don’t have any desires for physical intimacy? (Can I ask that on this site???)

Stacy


Dear Stacy,

You can certainly ask any question on this site as it relates to intimacy (emotional, spiritual or physical.)

Your question brings up a lot more questions actually. Have they ever had any desire for physical intimacy? Depending on the answer there would be different advice for them. If the answer is yes, then what has been the leading cause for the loss of desire? Is the marriage relationship having difficulties? As for most women that I’ve worked with on this issue, it frequently comes back to the lack of emotional connection with their husbands. When women are emotionally connected with their spouse they tend to be more open to being physically intimate. If they’re not, it certainly will have an impact in the bedroom. Physical intimacy in a marriage plays a big part in the overall sense of happiness.

DTE: Define The Expectations in the bedroom goes a long way towards a fulfilling relationship. When I coach couples on their DTE’s they show a remarkable improvement. So many times hurt feelings arise from misunderstandings or miscommunication, or no communication between a husband and a wife. Breaking down those barriers in the spirit of love, acceptance and tenderness will bless any relationship in their intimacy area!

If a woman has never had those desires then it becomes a little more complicated. She might want to have a medical check-up to determine if there are any physiological/medical reasons for the lack of desire. If that is ruled out, then some counseling would be appropriate, especially if it’s impacting her life, or that of her marriage in a negative way. There is a wonderful book that deals specifically with this issue and it’s is written by an LDS woman author. It’s called “And They Were Not Ashamed” by Laura Brotherson. I’ve recommended it to many LDS women over the years.

Thanks for your great question!

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D
303-523-6396
www.LDSCoaching.com