Work at Home Business Opportunity MLM & Direct Sales for Moms
work from home mom business ideas
 ~ direct sales resource ~ home organization tips

Relationship Therapy
in a Box

Save My Marriage

> Fool for Love or a Doomat?

> Love and Trust in a Relationship
> Depressed Husband, Mom, Child? When Someone You Love is Depressed
> Christian with Cold Feet
> Sex Starved Woman
> My husband has a big boob fetish - is breast augmentation an option?
> Musings on Sex - when he wants sex and she wants to connect.
> Regain Intimacy in Betsy's Intimacy Challenge
> What to do when your Husband gives you a Terrible Anniversary Gift?

Save My Family

> How to Stop Bullies 
> What to do when your mother is not respecting your parenting choices.
> My son is terrified of his teacher - what to do when your child is scared of his new teacher.

Find Romance Again

> Romance Your Husband

Intimacy Challenge

by Betsy Sansby

Betsy Sansby is a Marriage Therapist, columnist on and author of .


Okay, Girls. This one's for you. I was inspired by Sharon's challenge to everyone to Shape Up. I'm not qualified to help you trim the fat from your thighs, but I can help you trim away the resentments, hurts, and loneliness that's growing between you and your husband or partner.

Here's my proposal: If enough of you are interested, I'm willing to post the kinds of questions I typically ask any woman coming to see me for relationship counseling who's wanting more intimacy in her primary relationship. The questions will help you figure out where your relationship is right now and what you can do to improve it. Your job will be to answer those questions as honestly--and with as much heart as possible--and then ACT on the insights you gain. I won't be offering individual therapy, but I'll be reading the posts from time to time and offering general suggestions based on your comments and questions.

If you're interested in some simple tools you can use to get started, go to my site:, and click on the Free Exercises button. The S.T.O.P. Strategy is great for diffusing anger, and The Art of Conversation is great for learning how to talk about issues without defensiveness or blame.

Let me know if you're interested. I'll check this board for your responses, or feel free to contact me directly. Betsy

Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Question One

Okay, here's your first question. It may seem like the answer is obvious, but resist the temptation to give the "right answer." Instead, notice the answer that bubbles up organically and what feelings follow. Sometimes our first answers surprise us. That's when we know we're onto something. Other times, our first answers are "social" answers, answers we give out of habit, or because they're expected of us, or because they used to be true.

Here is your first question. Let yourself really marinate in it for awhile:

How good do you REALLY want this relationship to be?

For example, a couple I counsel has worked hard to make a 30% improvement in their relationship just by committing themselves to treating each other with greater kindness. They no longer fight about small things, and they both report feeling much better about themselves because of the changes they've made. The problem now is that they've stalled out. Neither one of them has been willing to do the work required to take the next step toward intimacy, the step that would bring them closer together.

So . . . to discover the answer to the first question, really give it some time to percolate. Marinate in it. Imagine there are hidden places within it. Each question I'll be asking requires that you answer the question that came before, so take your time. Betsy

Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist 

Question Two

Many of you have unearthed the ambivalence I was talking about when I posted the first question. Repeated hurts and disappointments have a way of eroding our desire to have greater closeness with our partners. I see this all the time in my marriage counseling practice. Partners complain about the problems between them, but can't get themselves to work on them because their desire has gone into hiding beneath their frustration, anger, pain, and fear of opening up and getting hurt again.

The way out of this cycle--because that's what it turns into--is to work on getting really honest with yourself with your partner about all of this. The first step isn't getting desire back. It's getting the DESIRE to even HAVE the desire back. Some of you know this already because you are there.

So my second question is: Do you WANT to want your partner again, or have you crossed over into the land of contempt--a land from which desire seldom returns?

Question Three

Your responses to my second question have uncovered some of the reasons women stop even WANTING to want their partners: resentment, exhaustion, the fear of being vulnerable again and getting hurt. The problem is that you can't feel closer to your partner as long as you're bracing yourself against hurt.

To experience what I'm talking about, try this experiment. It's fast and easy, and it only takes a couple seconds. Cross your arms tightly over your chest. . . Now notice what happened to your breathing. Weird, isn't it? Just the physical act of pulling in, literally covering your heart, cuts off your breath. And if you think of breathing as your vital life force--which isn't a metaphor, it's true--then you can begin to imagine the cost to your health of bracing yourself day after day.

In order to reclaim your desire, your breath, your vitality it's critical that you find ways to expand your lungs and open your heart again. Chronic holding of the breath (through daily rituals, like walking on eggshells, or dreading the approach of your husband, surly teenager, or partner) can cause all sorts of physical ailments. In particular, constriction in the lungs and chest can make you more vulnerable to infections. Over time, the bracing causes the muscles in neck, back, and chest to constrict, making it harder and harder to breathe fully, and move oxygen in and toxins out of your lungs.

So . . . here's my third question: What activities can I start or do more of to expand my lungs and open my heart?

Here are some examples to get you started: singing in a choir, taking a Salsa class, jogging, yoga (start with a video--they're cheap on eBay), swimming, walking, belly dancing, breathing exercises (ther are lots of audiotapes that will talk you through these), cry out loud.

The key here is not to allow yourself to be stifled. You can't afford to have your joyfulness crushed because your partner, or kids, or parents drive you crazy. I see too many women shut down, little by little, until they become that person they never wanted to be. Don't let it happen to you.


Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
On-line consultations now offered.

Question Four

What are YOU willing to do to make your relationship more intimate, more loving, more exciting, more juicy?

Nicole's suggestion of the 10-second kiss reminded me of the exercise David Schnarch (a real sex therapist) has couples do. He calls it "Hugging until your bodies relax." It sounds easier than it is, but it's a great way to see where your relationship is in terms of your ability to maintain closeness.

The idea is to stand or lie together and hug, maintaining close contact until AFTER both of your bodies have relaxed into the embrace. So often, a hug is more like a peck on the cheek than a full-bodied expression of Mmmmmmmmm . . . Usually, one person breaks the contact first. For this exercise, there is no breaking of contact. No leaving each other first. It's like settling in, moving past your desire to flee contact, until you both experience a deepening in your connection.

Be prepared for a surprise. It's way harder than it sounds and takes practice. Let us know how you do. Betsy

Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
On-line relationship consultations available

Question Five

My last two questions were a Call to Action. Question #3 was an invitation to take responsibility for getting back in touch with your own vitality by doing things that automatically enhance your “state,” or sense of aliveness. By this I meant things that cause your heart to open and your lungs to expand. Singing, belly dancing, walking, jogging, doing yoga, listening to music, making love, laughing with friends. All these activities have the power to increase vitality, and restore a sense of confidence in your body and hopefulness in your life. So do less physical activities, like reading poetry, praying, painting, going to live theater, watching movies that bring out emotions you want more of in your life.

How many of you took me up on my invitation and started doing one or more of these activities? How many of you thought “Great idea!” but did nothing?

Question #4 was a follow-up question to Question #3: What are YOU willing to do to make your relationship more intimate, more loving, more exciting, more juicy? The idea here was to use the energy generated from your response to Question #3 to breathe new life into your intimate relationships.

Again, what did YOU do?

My own story: Several years ago I came down with a mysterious virus that flattened me for the better part of two years. During this illness, I had very little energy for my relationship with either my husband or my daughter. For much of the time, I was literally fighting for my life. Part of the fight involved resting—something I was neither accustomed to nor temperamentally suited for. But I had no choice. There was no escaping the facts: I was sick. I had to rest.

As soon as I was well enough, I bought a video and started doing yoga every morning when I got up. And every afternoon I did tai chi in my studio. I felt awful, but I was determined to do whatever I could to feel alive again. Believe me; my life was far from “juicy.” But I was determined to do whatever I could to increase the likelihood that I would one day laugh again with my husband and my daughter.

In time—and I mean a long time—my health returned, and my ability to focus on joy--instead of survival--increased. One of the things I did to celebrate was to sign up for a 10-week Comedy Improv class with my husband. When we finished that, we took a 6-weeek Salsa Dance class together. I also took an art class with my daughter where we spent 3 full days making jewelry by the ocean.

If I can come back from the dead, trust me, you can come back from wherever you are.

Don’t get trapped in the cycle of blaming your partner for what’s wrong or missing in your life. If you wait for him (or her) to change, your happiness will always be on someone else’s list. If you decide to make changes yourself, you’ll feel better no matter what anyone else does.

So here’s Question #5: What concrete action are you willing to follow through on for the next 7 days to help you become a happier, healthier person, and a better partner and mother to your loved ones? Here are a few examples: 1) Write and deliver a love letter to your partner and each of your children (Make sure these are hand-written love letters, not signed Hallmark cards), 2) Start a night-time ritual with your family of saying one thing you appreciate about each other (Example: “I was touched by how nice you were to my goofy sister.”) 3) Get enough jars or baskets for each family member. Hold a family meeting and have everyone make a list of nice things they’d be willing to do for another member of the family during next week. For example, a list might contain things like: make your bed, shovel the walk, baby-sit Mikey, do the dishes, rub your feet. When everyone has at least 10 things written down for each family member, cut up the lists and put the slips of paper in the appropriate person’s jar. Once a week, each person gets to draw 2 slips of paper out of his or her jar and cash in on the kindness of others. When the jars are empty, make new lists and start over.


Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

Questions #6 and #7

It’s interesting that many of you who responded to my Intimacy Challenge automatically assumed that by “intimacy” I meant “sex. ”In fact, when I wrote the first question, I wasn’t thinking about sex at all. Mostly, this is because intimacy isn’t about sex. In fact, intimate sex is rare--even among the happiest of couples.   

What I define as intimacy is a feeling of safety between you and your partner that allows you to be totally honest or “naked” with each other (in the emotional sense of the word). In an intimate relationship, it’s safe to tell the truth--even when what you have to say is embarrassing, humiliating, weird, frightening, or even threatening to the stability of the relationship. Intimate sex then, means having sex from a place of total vulnerability and trust. How often have you experienced true intimacy in your relationship, inside or outside the bedroom?

With this definition of intimacy in mind, my questions are really about opening yourself to knowing and being known by your partner—even with your faults. They’re about making contact with your innermost self, and sharing your essence with another person.

Question #6

How safe does it feel to be totally honest with my partner about who I am, what I want, what I like and dislike, and what I need from him or her?

If your answer is “not very safe,” and you’re still interested in having more intimacy with your partner, then ask yourself this question:

Question #7

What can I do to increase the level of emotional safety in my relationship?

The list below should give you some ideas. After you’ve gone over it yourself, share the list with your partner. After you’ve discussed each item, come up with an action plan that fits your needs. The more specific your goals are, the more likely it is that you’ll achieve them.

  • Commit (or recommit) to having both feet firmly planted in your relationship.

  • Assume the best about your partner’s intentions even when his or her behavior seems selfish, unkind, or disrespectful.

  • Do your own work! Your partner may be cold, dumb, selfish, or mean. But your responses to him or her are about YOU. As Gandhi said, “We must become the change we want to see.”

  • Don’t use threats to get your partner to change. Let your partner know what the bottom-line is, and don’t waver. Scaring your partner may get his or her attention for the moment, but the continued use of threats breeds hostility and distrust. Threats kill intimacy.

  • Be honest with your partner about what’s missing in your life--without blaming him or her for your unhappiness.

  • Make requests, not demands.

  • Share your deepest thoughts with your partner (instead of with that attractive friend at the gym who may be a threat to your relationship).

  • Let your partner know what scares you, including the fear that if things don’t change, you will either leave or stop loving him or her.

  • Tell your partner what you care about, what you want, need, like, and dislike about your life and your relationship.

  • Focus on the strengths of the relationship, rather than on the weaknesses. Build on those strengths, one brick at a time.

  • Give only what you can lovingly give. Giving more than that will turn you into a martyr.

  • Take risks together that force you to look out for and depend on each other (examples: mountain climbing, salsa dancing, camping, parenting, starting a business, sharing in important decisions and tasks).

  • Look for the good and praise it. Accentuating the positive is an attribute that distinguishes successful couples from those whose relationships fail.

Good luck. Feel free to post your comments, questions, and feedback.  Betsy

On-line and phone consultations now available. Contact Betsy at:, or go to:

Betsy Sansby, MS, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist

For You:  - printable activities for your children* surveys for cash

Visit our sister site - activities for kids.

Do not duplicate any portion of this site without permission.
website owned by Nicole Dean -- Copyright 2004-2007.  ShowMomtheMoney

wahms - work at home resource

Web Hosting for Moms and WAHMs