Welcome to Relationship Rehab, new.com.au's weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a wife who found her husband's "sex list", a woman keen to take things further with her sexy barista and two sisters determined to battle it out.
SPICY WORK BANTER COULD BLOW UP MY LIFE
I have been married for 13 years and I'm very happy in my relationship. I genuinely believe my husband is my best friend and we have a great life, and three lovely boys. But now that our kids are a bit older, I feel like my identity is shifting a bit. I've found myself getting a bit flirty with some guys at work, and while I'd never take anything to the next level, I can't seem to stop the banter. I also find myself wishing I'd lived a more adventurous life before I settled down. I was 17 when I met my husband and 19 when we got married. I've never has casual sex or wild nights out like most people my age are still indulging in now — it makes me feel like I've missed out of something. How can I make these feelings go away without blowing up my family life?
ANSWER: It's not surprising that after so long together you feel like things have lost their spark and want to spice things up a bit.
It's normal to even wonder what you missed out on, enjoy flirty banter or even fantasise about someone else. We all do this at times. It doesn't mean we really want to act on it.
You're well aware of the consequences of acting on this banter — and it doesn't sound like something you actually want to do.
In my work as a couples therapist and sexologist, I've worked with many people who were in a similar situation to you, feeling like they "missed out" on something because they got together with their partner early.
There are plenty of people single and dating right now who would want to assure you that you didn't "miss out" because you found your partner at a young age, but actually got really lucky instead.
I don't think you need to find a way to make these feelings go away — but look at how you can introduce excitement, adventure and sexual exploration into your relationship with your husband.
Having some uncertainty and adventure in your relationship and bedroom is vital to keeping the passion alive. Adding passion and playfulness to your sex life can reinvigorate your entire relationship and help you feel even closer to each other.
There are so many ways you can do this:
• If you can, go away for a weekend (or even just a night) without the kids and get out of your normal routine and environment
• Introduce date nights — where you do something fun and different together
• Try new things in the bedroom. Think about what you'd like to try. Have a conversation about it
• Learn new ways of touching each other and turning each other on
• Maybe even share your fantasies with each and act them out together
• This isn't a suggestion for everyone, but some couples find that experimenting with swinging or seeing other people can add passion to their relationship and stop them feel like they're missing out on something.
You might also find my free guide on how to get out of a sex rut and rediscover more playful, loving intimacy helpful.
IS IT TIME TO CUT MY FRIEND LOOSE?
One of my friends has become toxic. She brings nothing to my life but judgment and negativity — so why do I still feel guilty about cutting her loose?
ANSWER: Before you cut your friend out of your life, have you had a conversation with her about her behaviour?
Sometimes, when someone we respect points something out to us in a gentle way, we're more able to see our negative traits. The prospect of losing you as a friend might be the push she needs to make change to her own behaviour.
If you've done that and she continues, the bigger question for you is why would you allow that toxicity to continue in your life? What stops you being willing to put your own wellbeing before making someone else happy?
Guilt is a feeling that we've done something wrong. What do you believe is wrong with not wanting to be around someone who makes you unhappy?
My guess is that you were taught something in childhood about putting other people first, or making them happy to your own detriment.
HOW DO I GET MY MUM TO STOP SAYING RACIST THINGS TO MY KIDS?
How do I stop my mum from unloading her issues onto my young children? She has some very outdated views, and can be quite racist, and has made comments in the past that I am not at all OK with. She always does it when I'm not there though so I only hear about it from my seven-year-old. How can I raise it with her without it turning into a screaming argument?
ANSWER: I love your concern on the views and values that are being passed onto your children. Thanks for being a considerate and caring human being!
I'm sorry to hear that there's even the possibility of this turning into a screaming argument with your mum. Ideally, you should be able to voice your needs and boundaries about your children and have them respected.
Start by trying to have a calm conversation with your mum explaining what you feel is inappropriate and why it's important for you to pass on positive values to your kids. Try to keep the conversation focused on what's important to you, rather than what your mum is doing wrong or what you're not happy about. She might be more willing to listen when it's framed this way.
You can also counteract what your mum is teaching your kids by modelling and teaching your own values and respect for different cultures.
Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sex therapist and sexologist. For more expert advice follow her on Instagram