Active listening can be very challenging at times for couples, especially during heated arguments. In the previous post, we focused on the steps to help you be an effective speaker. Now, we offer 7 steps to help you listen more effectively:
1.Remember that everyone has their own beliefs, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and “truths” regarding an issue or concern. So, when listening to your partner, get curious about their “truth” instead of trying to convince them that your “truth” is more “true” or important. More often than not, you’ll find you’re both saying the same things, just in different ways.
2.Remind yourself that you did not (and cannot ever) cause your partner’s feelings. Thus, there is no need to get defensive. They are just revealing and expressing their perceptions, feelings and “truths” to you. Don’t invalidate their feelings by telling them they have no reason to feel that way. The fact that they feel a certain way is enough for it to be valid.
3.Disarm Instead of Defend. Instead of reacting defensively, find some truth in what your partner is saying, even if it seems totally unreasonable or unfair.
4.Show empathy. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes and try to see the world through his or her eyes. Paraphrase your partner’s words. Acknowledge how your partner is probably feeling, based on what she or he said. Remember, understanding your partner’s perception and “truth” does NOT mean agreement on your part. You just want to make sure you have it straight.
5.Ask questions. Ask questions, if needed, to help you understand your partner’s perception of the issue or concern.
6.”I Feel” Statements. Express your own ideas and feelings in a direct, tactful manner. Use “I feel” statements, such as “I feel upset,” rather than “you” statements, such as “You’re wrong!” or “You’re making me furious!”
7.Convey Respect. Convey an attitude of respect, even if you feel frustrated or angry with the other person. Find something genuinely positive to say to the other person, even in the heat of battle.
Remember, we have two hears and only one mouth. This reminds us that we need to be listening more than we speak during discussions with our partner or anyone we are communicating with! We hope these help!
Saying that communication is the key to a healthy relationship is like saying that an engine is a relatively important part of your car. But knowing that and acting on it are two different experiences. If communicating well was such an easy thing for couples, then why do so many couples have trouble doing it?
The truth is that speaking from the heart is one of the most difficult things we do. This month, we thought we would share some healthy communication tips. We are starting with the role of the speaker, so stay tuned…the listener skills will be next!
1. Is now a good time? First, before you jump right into a discussion, we recommend that you check in with your partner to see if it’s a good time to talk. For example, if your partner just finished a 12 hour shift at work, it’s probably not the best time for a serious chat. Just because something is eating at you does not mean your partner is up for discussing it at that very minute. That doesn’t mean you should wait until your partner takes a day off from work to talk. Just let your partner settle in a bit and let them know you have something you want to talk about.
2. Focus on ONE issue or concern at a time. Often people start with one issue and then start adding in other issues including things from the past that are sometimes not even related to the main issue. Be careful and mindful of this…it’s a very slippery slope. When you start bringing up issues from the past, especially if they had been resolved, you’re not working toward solving the problem. You’re working toward trying to be right. You have to ask yourself whether it is more important for you to be right or to solve the problem. Most of the time, these are two different experiences.
3. If the issue or concern has to do with your partner, focus on their behavior that is problematic. Please do not attack them as a person. After all, if your partner was so bad, why are you together?
4. Concisely describe the event. Use the video camera check and avoid assumptions and your perceptions. A video camera only picks up behaviors and words…not assumptions. For example, say “When I saw your dirty socks on the floor this morning…”; instead of “You lazy SOB! You left your socks on the floor again? I know you are doing it on purpose just to piss me off!”
5. Use “I statements”. This allows you to own your feelings and decreases the chance of your partner becoming defensive. For example, say “I felt ______ when you said or did________.”; instead of “YOU made me so (angry, sad, etc)!” No one “makes” you angry. You make a choice if your partner does X, you’re going to be angry. And being angry never solves anything. Ditch the anger and get to the heart of the disagreement instead.
6. Make a request for change, not a demand. For example, say “You know I have an issue with people leaving dirty socks on the floor, so could you please work on remembering to put them in the laundry basket instead?”
Remember, by communicating your viewpoint the right way, you can actually convey how you feel in a way that can lead to solving the issue instead of escalating it to become a bigger one!
Kissing is incredibly important for couples. And unfortunately, it’s the first thing that dwindles in long-term relationships. When couples stop kissing, it can be the first step to losing passion in their relationship. Well, this Wednesday, July 6th, is International Kissing Day. Although we think is important to kiss every day, we thought we would share some kissing tips in honor of this special day!
● Great kissing is good for you and your relationship! Kissing releases endorphins and oxytocin which leads to feelings of overall happiness and helps you feel more bonded and connected to your partner. Also, decreases cortisol which is the stress hormone!
● Kissing dos and don’ts are very subjective. Thus, explore your likes with your partner!
● A kiss is great all by itself! Kissing does not have to be a stepping stone to something else like intercourse.
● For many people, kissing is more intimate than intercourse!
So, what makes a “good/bad” kiss? Well, this is very subjective. However, here is what we gathered from our experiences and our work with couples:
● Trying too hard to be perfect at kissing
● Being too stiff and/or too eager
● Kissing too hard
● Having too much tongue / jamming it down partner’s throats
● Having chap lips
● Too much slobber – too much saliva (your partner should not feel like they are drowning!)
● Biting too much or too hard (again…very subjective)
● Bad breath and/or body odor
● Too much lipstick
● Staring at your partner while kissing
● Conveying your feelings about your partner through the kiss
● Being relaxed and natural
● Thinking about your partner and what they like. Let them lead some of the kissing!
● Good hygiene and breath. Carry breath mints!
● Starting off with closed lips and slowly adding some tongue.
● Soft and smooth lips
● Opening your eyes only for a few seconds
● Using your hands too! Soft and affectionate touches on your partner’s face is nice. Or try placing your hand at the back of your partner’s neck.
● Slowing down and enjoying!
First kiss tips:
● Pick your moment and look for the proper setting
● Watch for positive body language
● Don’t ask for a kiss
● Be relaxed and natural
● Keep your tongue to yourself at first. Use the tip of your tongue to play with your partner’s tongue.
● Let your partner lead some too. Remember, you’re learning what they like too!
● Slow down and take your time
● And Enjoy!
Kissing tips for couples in long-term relationships:
● Make it a priority – make a point to kiss every day (longer than a quick peck, please)! Try kissing for more than 10-15 seconds!
● Have make out sessions!
● Please remember, a kiss is great all by itself. Kissing does not have to be a stepping stone to something else. Simply enjoy kissing!
May is National Masturbation Month! Yep, it’s true. It was started by Good Vibrations (sex-toy store) in 1995 and is intended to reduce the stigma surrounding masturbation. This means it’s time to observe this month by doing some extra solo play time! Now we know there are many sex toys out there that can do the job. And we also know that many sex toys can be used solo and with a partner. In honor of National Masturbation Month, here are our top picks to help you celebrate this very pleasurable month and beyond:
For The Guys
Silicone Vibrating Oro Stimulator™ – This is an incredibly powerful male masturbation system. It has 10 functions of vibration, pulsation and escalation and has a premium Silicone sleeve that has stimulating ticklers. It is especially designed to feel like the real thing!
Apollo® Rotator Stroker – This is an intensely powerful male stroker that has 7 functions of non-jamming rotation. It has a totally self-contained, wireless design and a textured chamber for added pleasurable sensations. We also love the fact that is has a removable and replaceable sleeve which makes cleaning easy and the sleeve can be used independently.
COLT® Double Down Masturbator – This is a heavy-duty, one-piece masturbator that has a ribbed suction chamber. It has a dual ended design and is made with a life-like look and feel.It’s also travel sized which is also a plus!
His Masturbation Kit – This kit is perfect for the job! It comes with 2 masturbators: one is an ultra stretchy, compact travel sized masturbator that has a ridged chamber and the other is a heavy-duty stroker that has 3 inner suction chambers for explosive results. It also has 3 sturdy and stretchy penis rings.
For The Ladies
Silhouette™ S8 – This is an ergonomically curved, uniquely shaped, body forming massager that has pleasure ridges at the base which are perfect for additional sensations all over the vulva area (or any erogenous zone). In fact, the design is so great that CalExotics actually won the Red Dot Award in product design for the Silhouette S8. Click here for the 8 reasons why we absolutely love this toy.
Her Clit Kit – This kit is has so many ways to get the job done! It has an incredibly powerful compact massager with 4 unique pleasure tips and intimate arousal gel for heightened sensitivity. The powerful multi-speed stimulator comes with two sleeves, a Soft and stretchy Snow Bunny® sleeve with flickering bunny ears and a Durable Clit Flicker™ sleeve with flickering tongue and reverberating lips. The stimulator may be used with or without Snow Bunny® sleeve or Clit Flicker™.
Special Edition Butterfly Kiss™ and Bunny Kiss™ – These are probably the most perfect dual stimulators! They are some of CalExotics top selling sex toys. The Special Edition Butterfly Kiss™ has fluttering wings and tantalizing antennae that are perfectly designed to stimulate your clitoris, while also having a delicately shaped G-spot stimulator that has a perfect length to hit the spot every time! The Special Edition Bunny Kiss™ also has a swelled shaft that is not too long, but is the right length for G-spot stimulation and has a bouncing bunny with flickering ears that deliver intense clitoral vibrations! Click here to learn more about these awesome toys
Inspire™ Vibrating Ultimate Wand – This wand is a part of a product line that aims to improve lives of women on their journey of experiences and taking care of their sexual health. This is a vibrating .massager that has 10 functions of vibration, pulsation and escalation which can increase circulation. It is made of premium silicone with 100% play area which means you can use all sides of it to give you pleasure. CalExotics supports Living Beyond Breast Cancer®, a non-profit organization supporting women affected by breast cancer. CalExotics generously donates proceeds from these items to Living Beyond Breast Cancer®. So not only does this wand give you pleasure, you can feel good about helping others.
These are just a few products to help you celebrate National Masturbation Month! We hope you get out there and start enjoying all these products all year long, not just this month.
This week is National Women’s Health Week (May 8-14)! It is led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. For more information, click here. We think that being healthy also includes your sexual health and CalExotics agrees. In fact, CalExotics number one goal is to promote sexual health and wellness and everything they do revolves around that goal.
With that goal in mind along with honoring National Women’s Health Week, CalExotics and Living Beyond Breast Cancer® (LBBC), a non-profit organization supporting women affected by breast cancer, have partnered together to launch a new product line called Inspire™. The Inspire™ collection consists of sexual health and wellness products designed specifically to address the sexual side effects of breast cancer treatments. According to Susan Colvin, Founder and CEO of CalExotics, “The positive effects of taking care of one’s sexual health are well-documented and these products will help support women as they rebuild their sexual lives going forward.” What’s also great is that the Inspire™ collection supports and generously donates proceeds from these items to Living Beyond Breast Cancer®.
Well as Clinical Sexologists and Sex Therapists, we absolutely love all the products in the Inspire™ collection! In fact, here are a few of our favorites:
- Inspire™ Weighted Silicone Kegel Training Kit: Exercising the Pelvic floor or PC muscle is very important to your sexual health. The basic function of the pelvic floor or PC muscle is to hold the bladder, uterus and bowels in place. It also helps with incontinence. Having strong pelvic floor muscles can increase the chances of having orgasms and increase the frequency of the orgasms. The Kegel Training Kit offers three gradually increasing weights. This is important, just like in regular weight training you want to increase as you go to strengthen the muscle. Not only can the exercisers be used to increase the strength of your PC muscles but they can be used to create arousing sensations as you move it around. You can benefit sexually from the Kegel exercisers and have some fun while exercising!
- Inspire™ Silicone Dilator Kit: Pelvic radiation therapy can shorten or narrow the vagina making it difficult for sex. Chemotherapy can cause symptoms of early menopause which include vaginal dryness, vaginal tightness and painful intercourse. Vaginal dilators can help women manage the symptoms by keeping the vagina flexible and elastic which can improve their physical comfort with vaginal intercourse. This Silicone Dilator Kit has 5 gradual sizes that are ergonomically curved to make using them easier. The finger loop helps you to control the dilator but you can also insert a vibrator to use it for pleasurable purposes. They can also improve your sexual pleasure since they have 10 functions of vibration as well!
- Inspire™ Vibrating Ultimate Wand: When people think of vibrating wands, most people just think of pleasure. However, there are many sexual health benefits of using vibrating wands. The Vibrating Ultimate Wand can help increase arousal, decrease pain during and after intercourse, and ward off vaginal dryness and weakening of muscle tone in pelvic area. It can also promote vaginal health and blood flow circulation and provide sexual stimulation which releases hormones that can positively affect your overall health and well being. The Vibrating Ultimate Wand is a USB rechargeable wand that offers 10 functions of vibration, pulsation and escalation which is perfectly designed to increase your circulation as well as your pleasure. Perfect for your sexual health and your pleasure!
These are just a few of our favorites from the Inspire collection. So, in honor of National Women’s Health Week, we hope you feel inspired to make your sexual health and wellness a priority. So check out the Inspire™ collection and support Living Beyond Breast Cancer® at the same time!
This month, as CalExotics Expert Sexperts, we were sent another great product to review. Just a reminder, each product is rated, by our testers (2 couples), using The Love Bird’s Feathers Rating Scale™:
1= “Not so hot” to 5 = “VERY, VERY HOT!”
“The hotter the product is, the more feathers it will take to cool you off!”
The new sex toy we received is the Silhouette™ S8. This is an ergonomically curved, body forming massager that also has ridges on the base…which is perfect for additional sensations all over the vulva area (or any erogenous zone)! It flexes and bends for multi-directional positioning. This means you can literally twist it, turn it and bend it in lots of different positions… the pleasurable benefits of this flexibility are endless! In fact, the design is so great that CalExotics actually won the Red Dot Award in product design for the Silhouette S8! Way to go CalExotics!!
The Silhouette™ S8 has intense incremental speed control. To adjust the speed, simply press and hold down the button on the side of the base until the desired speed is reached. It is USB rechargeable which means you do not need batteries! It comes with a universal USB charging cord that works with most computers or smart phone wall chargers so you can charge this massager when you’re on the go.
The Silhouette™ S8 comes partially charged from the factory, so you will want to fully charge it before your first use. It completely charges in 2 ½ hours. The rechargeable battery runs for 30 minutes on high speed and 75 minutes on low speed. It also comes with a security travel lock feature so you don’t have to worry about it accidentally turning on as you go through security! It comes with easy to follow operating instructions.
The Silhouette™ S8 is made of luxurious, body safe Premium Silicone, which maintains and retains body heat, and has a soft, satin finish. It is 6.25 inches long and 2 inches wide at the base. It comes in 3 colors: red, pink and purple (like shown here). It is 100% waterproof, which provides lots of thrills in and out of the shower! However, you do NOT want to charge this massager near water. Always use a water-based lubricant with this massager. It cleans easily with soap and water or, like we recommend, a sex toy cleaner. Remember to wash the Silhouette™ S8 before and after each use. It has a 1 year warranty and comes with in a sturdy box which is great for storage.
So, how did our testers rate the Silhouette™ S8? Watch the video below to find out!
As CalExotics’ Expert Sexperts, we have the pleasure of reviewing all types of sex toys and pleasure products. There are so many toys that we like that have different shapes and features available. However, we are super excited about the Silhouette S8. Why? Well, we have 8 reasons. Here are the 8 things we love about the Silhouette S8:
1. The Design – The S8 is an ergonomically curved, uniquely shaped, body forming massager that has pleasure ridges at the base which are perfect for additional sensations all over the vulva area (or any erogenous zone). In fact, the design is so great that CalExotics actually won the Red Dot Award in product design for the Silhouette S8!
So, what is the Red Dot Award in product design? According to the Red Dot website, “The Product Design competition has existed since 1954. Its award, the Red Dot, is an internationally recognised quality seal.The best products receive the Red Dot: Best of the Best award.” Participants from 57 nations registered 5,200 products for the Red Dot Award in product design for 2016. Forty one experts compose the Red Dot jury, with judges from all around the world to ensure strict standards and fairness. Way to go CalExotics!!
2. Flexibility – The S8 flexes and bends for multi-directional positioning. This means you can literally twist it, turn it and bend it in lots of different positions… the pleasurable benefits of this flexibility are endless!
3. Premium Silicone – The S8 is made of luxurious, body safe Premium Silicone, which maintains and retains body heat, and has a soft, satin finish. Love that!
4. Intense Incremental Speed Control – The S8 offeres intense incremental speeds which are easy to control. To adjust the speed, simply press and hold down the button on the side of the base until the desired speed is reached. Easy!
5. USB Rechargeable – The S8 is USB rechargeable which means you do not need batteries! It comes with a universal USB charging cord that works with most computers or smart phone wall chargers so you can charge this massager when you’re on the go. It completely charges in 2 ½ hours. The rechargeable battery runs for 30 minutes on high speed and 75 minutes on low speed. This makes the S8 an environmentally friendly product as well!
6. Security Travel Lock – The S8 comes with a security travel lock feature so you don’t have to worry about it accidentally turning on as you got through security. Embarrassing!! It comes with easy to follow operating instructions on how to lock and unlock this massager.
7. Waterproof – The S8 is 100% waterproof, which provides lots of thrills in and out of the shower! However, you do NOT want to charge this massager near water.
8. Colors – The S8 comes in 3 colors: pink, purple and red.
Bonuses – The S8 has a 1 year warranty and it comes in a sturdy box which is great for storage!
So, if you haven’t already, check out the Silhouette S8.
Did you know that Random Acts of Kindness Week started on February 14th? So, why not do some random acts of kindness for your partner? However, we certainly hope that you are showing random acts of kindness to your partner all year long…not just this week. To help you get started, here are 13 kindness ideas to do for your partner this week (and of course, all year long!):
1. Write your partner love notes and hide them around the house (of course, where you know they will find them).
2. Give your partner lots of hugs and kisses when they first wake up, when they get home, and before they go to sleep.
3. Tell your partner the many reasons why you love and appreciate them.
4. Write your partner a love letter or poem.
5. Do one of your partner’s chores.
6. Cook your partner their favorite meal (and serve it to him/her naked or in sexy lingerie).
7. Show gratitude often by saying, “Thank You”.
8. Pay attention and really listen to your partner.
9. Put your phone away when spending time with your partner.
10. Send your partner flirty and loving text messages often.
11. Give your partner thoughtful compliments.
12. Give your partner a sensual or erotic massage.
13. Plan a surprise “pleasure event” for your partner. For example, how about surprising your partner with a bubble bath with rose petals, candles, soft music, and a glass of wine?
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! With that in mind, we’d like to offer you ways to help you enjoy yourselves more as couples in the bedroom. Here are 5 simple tips to spice up your Valentine’s Day:
- Flirt – During your courtship, you would flirt all the time with your partner, but once you became a couple, that ended. Why? Just because the initial courtship is over doesn’t mean the romance or playfulness has to be over. Flirt with your lover. Leave a note on the pillow telling them you’ll miss them when you go to work. Make your partner feel wanted. If you know your partner is having a rough day, send them a flirty text. Sexting is perfectly legal and should be encouraged among adult couples. It may certainly help that insurance seminar go faster!
- Be Creative – One of the pitfalls of being an established couple is that you both get a sense of how to satisfy the other. That’s a good thing, but being slavish to those tactics can also make your bedroom play more routine. So, mix it up. Most people use the senses of sight and touch during sex, but you have five senses. Use them all. Scented candles, ambient music to drown out the neighbor watching the zombie movie marathon, flavored lotions or even something as simple as a new negligee can add enough spice to keep your bedroom play from becoming routine.
- In the Mood? – In caveman days, a common way for a man to advise a woman he was feeling amorous was to club her over the head and drag her to his cave. In our experience, that method hasn’t evolved as much as we would like. When you’re in the mood, try some new ways of initiating sex instead of just saying, “Hey, you wanna?” If your partner has had a bad day, and you figure sex won’t be on the agenda for the evening, you can turn it around. Pamper your partner with a prepared meal, a soothing massage, and some alone time. If you have kids, send them out to the movies for the night to break the nightly routine a bit so you can focus on your partner. Sometimes, the key to romance can be as simple as having an empty house.
- Try Something New – When we’re kids, we would get all excited about birthdays and the holidays, because it usually meant new toys. Well, now that we’re adults, we can still have the same excitement, because they make toys for us grown-ups, too! Take a trip to a local couples store or surf the Internet. Look at them together and explore.
- PLAY! – Aristotle once wrote that there is nothing so serious as a child at play. Well, as sexologists, we can tell you that adults can be darn serious about their play, as well! Remember that sex can and should be fun. It’s something you do together for each other’s enjoyment and fulfillment. It’s okay to laugh in the bedroom (though, laughing and pointing is a no-no!). Accept that there may be interruptions from time to time — the phone ringing, the baby crying, the dog needs to go outside — and deal with them. Heck, when they play baseball and have a rain delay, they still finish the game when the rain stops. Why should sex have to stop completely just because the neighbor wanted to borrow a cup of sugar. Give them the sugar, and get back in the bedroom and re-establish the mood. Make it Game-On instead of Game Over.
If you follow even one of these tips, you will breathe more life into your alone time together this Valentine’s Day!
Yours in Passion and Romance,
Jo-Ann and Chuck