Chances are every woman who has a satisfying sex life has a happy life outside of the bedroom, says Rhonda Audia, owner of Guru For Two: Enlightened Couples Therapy in Blue Ash. Audia is a clinical social worker with more than 25 years of experience under her belt in couples counseling.
And sex is something she doesn’t take lightly. Audia views a couple’s sex life as a barometer for the relationship’s success or failure. When there’s trouble in paradise, Audia is a couple’s go-to woman for help.
“I help people to have more satisfying relationships by learning to accept conflict as a normal, necessary and beneficial process that leads toward increased intimacy,” she says. “Fear of conflict is more detrimental to relationships than the actual conflict. Conflict is inevitable, emotional disconnection from your partner is optional.”
Everyday stresses can adversely affect sexual relationships, too. And in today’s downtrodden economy, money can be at the forefront of arguments.
“Now, more and more couples are under enormous financial pressure while juggling the usual life stressors like career and family, she says. The bottom line is couples spend less time together. And none of this is the formula for a healthy sex life.
But there are some solutions to tackle these common issues, Audia claims. She recently completed training in California on a cutting-edge treatment technique known as Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT). The objective is to work through the secondary emotions that fuel conflict in relationships and focus on the primary emotion.
“In other words, the conflict isn’t over doing the dishes,” she says. “The conflict is over feeling abandoned and alone to care for the entire family. It’s amazing what happens when couples realize the primary cause of their conflict, affirm their partners’ feelings, and take action to care for the primary emotion involved.”
Once couples can get to the root of the problem, they are more likely to develop or maintain a healthy sexual intimacy. And it’s apples and oranges when it comes to Ms. and Mr. Right’s idea of a healthy sexual intimacy, she says.
Men need sex to feel emotionally connected, while women need to feel emotionally connected to have sex. Unfortunately, these differences can spiral in a negative cycle when it comes to sexual intimacy.
“Women need to feel listened to, that their feelings matter,” she says. “Men need to understand this and really hear and affirm their partner’s feelings.”
Unfortunately, ladies have been socialized to not express their needs. This stems from our rules as caretakers. Still, women need to make their needs known, and in turn, men need to hear and understand them. This can pave the way for healthy sexual intimacy.
Never underestimate the mind and body connection in the bedroom. Women can enjoy sex as much if not more than men, if they realize their emotional health is key to a healthy sex life, Audia says.
And men need to acknowledge the emotional aspect of a sexual encounter.
“While it may not be the way men are conditioned to approach sex, having emotional intimacy with their partner can make a man’s sexual experience better, too,” Audia says.
Don’t forget the “body” aspect of the mind/body connection. That’s where Cincinnati-based Pure Romance comes into play. Pure Romance is a relationship enhancement company with an educational component. The company’s health education department is dedicated to providing women across the country with answers about the A to Zs of sexual health.
And Erin Lapham, MPH and director of health education at Pure Romance, is a woman’s dream come true when it comes to getting the 411 on bedroom bliss.
“We answer questions about communication, foreplay, arousal, libido, orgasm, women’s health and men’s health,” she says. “We provide a safe and comfortable place for any woman to ask her most intimate questions while trusting that the information we provide is up-to-date and accurate.”
Lapham says there are a few common themes in her encounters with clients. One is fear of deviancy in bed.
“Many women often struggle with the same concern when it comes to their bedroom: ‘Am I normal?'” she says. “It is very important to remind women that ‘normal’ is defined as whatever feels right to her and her partner.”
Lapham says that she is often approached about seemingly taboo subjects – like orgasms, libido and arousal – but women need not be ashamed. Sexual health is an equally important aspect of an individual’s well-being as her physical and emotional health.
“Sexuality is an integral part of an individual’s everyday experiences – from how we interact with friends, family, our spouse, co-workers and our communities, how we identify with others and how we feel about ourselves,” she says. “By empowering women to take control of their sexual health, we are giving them the opportunity to build a healthy, overall quality of life.”
Above all, Pure Romance is committed to getting the word out about sexual health. Unfortunately, it’s common for women to encounter misinformation regarding sexuality related concerns. And the company has put its money where its mouth is through its philanthropic arm. Patty Brisben founded the nonprofit organization which bears her namesake to further research and education around sexual health.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Feb. 2 to 6. Pure Romance is sponsoring and promoting “Sex Week” at the University of Cincinnati. The campaign is dedicated to encourage discussion about sexual health, empowering women and dismantling the stigma attached to relationship-enhancement products. Expect presentations, sexual health fairs and a party. Visit the Pure Romance Web site for more information.