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Sex with Dr. Jess


June 28, 2019

How to Prepare For Marriage, Get Over an Ex and Repair a “Broken Relationship”

Episode 113

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Jess and Brandon weigh in on listener questions related to breakups, rough patches, managing jealousy in the age of social media and wedding planning anxieties.

**Please find a rough transcript below for this episode.**

How do I not get jealous when it seems like everyone else is so happy – especially on social media?

First – know that your comparisons aren’t realistic.

Comparing your real-life relationship to the highlight reels that other couples post on social media will inevitably produce an unsatisfactory result. Photos, videos and other edited posts offer a momentary snapshot that is incomplete, condensed and/or scripted and your life is far more complex than one post can illustrate.

I don’t post about the fact that I ate a chocolate bar that I took from the plane for breakfast this morning, or that my tummy is hurting. I don’t post about the fact that the sex we had the other night was really weird and sort of uncomfortable. I don’t post about being constipated or the fact that I had a terrible night last night and came home pissy over traffic and my team losing in a sort of frustrating game of Ultimate.

So first and foremost, know that you’re comparing your regular life to less than 1% of someone else’s life.

Next, know that jealous is normal. Admit to it. Identify if there is something they have that you want. And then identify what you can do about it.

Some jealousy can help you to feel inspired, so when it comes to what you see on social media, calculated comparisons can be useful. As long as you realize that social media offers only one depiction of a multi-faceted relationship, it can be useful to learn from other couples. For example, perhaps you follow a couple who prioritizes health and fitness and at times it motivates you to to the same. Or perhaps you follow a couple who travels and you use their itineraries as inspiration for your next trip. Experiences of normative jealousy can be helpful if they help you to recognize what you want and how you can change your thoughts and behaviour to deepen fulfilment. If, however, feeling jealousy leads to distressful thoughts (e.g. feeling badly about yourself), they can be damaging.

Once you’ve acknowledged the emotion, you can examine why you’re feeling it and what you might do about it. What shifts can you make — behaviourally and cognitively — to learn from this feeling.

How can you use jealous feelings to look at what you feel you’re missing and make changes OR accept your circumstances in the case of things you can’t change. For example, if you feel jealous of another person’s financial success and you acknowledge this feeling, you may be able to take steps to improve your own confidence or make adjustments to your own finances.

You’ll also want to look at ways to build confidence overall. If you admire or covet something somebody else has, what can you do to achieve/embody this in your own life? You can’t have everything they have, but you can make changes to the way you think and the way you behave right now.

And finally, consider the evidence that supports your jealousy. Should you really feel jealous or is it an irrational emotional response? If a friend came to you with the same problem and feelings, what would you say?

I should note that envy often refers to negative emotions directed at another/others (e.g. resentment, malevolence) whereas jealousy often refers to longing for something that someone else has. If you’re feeling envious, you’ll want to really work to address the underlying jealousy because it’s exhausting to live your life directing anger and malevolence at other people.

My husband and I are going through a rough patch and it feels like we’ve been fighting for years. We barely even touch anymore. We had a heart to heart last week and agreed to spend the full weekend together next week when he comes back into town. He works over 500 miles away. We want to take this time to reconnect – it’s actually our 10-year anniversary —  but we aren’t sure where to begin.

You aren’t going to heal years of hurt and resentment in one weekend, but you have to begin one day at a time.

If you’re struggling in your relationship, you might want to begin by taking stock of what you appreciate about your partner and your relationship. Make a list of why you care about them and what is going well at this time. You may also want to consider elements from the past that you can re-inject into the relationship.

The practice of gratitude is associated with higher self-esteem, lower stress levels and more compassion; couples who practice gratitude are happier in their relationships and feel closer to one another, so start today. Once you have your gratitude list, being and end each day by reminding yourself of one thing for which you’re grateful. You might take a moment to reflect on your own or consider talking to yourself in the mirror if you’re really committed to the process.

If you’re going through a rough patch when it comes to sex, don’t feel pressure to have the hottest anniversary sex ever. Instead, see if you can just reach out and touch one another in non-sexual ways. If you’re driving, can you hold hands in the car? If you’re watching a movie, can you snuggle up? Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves to fix everything in one weekend. Instead, use the time to try and remember the happier times and recall some of those feelings and see how those feelings fit into the present. You can’t recreate what you had, but you can create a new version and it can be even better.

Take a social media break. You don’t have to cut him off forever, but staying connected on social media after a difficult break-up is a recipe for disaster. Keeping tabs on one another or broadcast passive-agressive posts will only fuel your anger, resentment and sadness and do nothing to motivate you to seek happiness. When you’re happy, you’ll attract other good people whom you can trust with little effort.

Change your daily routine. Sometimes the hardest part of a break-up isn’t the loss of companionship, but the major shift in practical routines. Did you used to go for coffee together each morning? Find a new morning ritual with a friend, co-worker or neighbour so that you don’t find yourself in the coffee shop reminiscing about the time you spent together soaking in your morning high. A longer relationship often results in more engrained behaviours and habits, but you can break these patterns almost immediately by making conscious decisions to change small daily habits one at a time.

Try something new without the goal of meeting a partner. Boosting your self-esteem is of paramount importance after a break-up —particularly if your ex cheated. In between crying sessions, movie nights and ice cream indulgences, promise yourself that you’ll try something new and challenging in the next two weeks. Book and pay for this activity in advance and if you can, sign up with a friend. Whether you take a dance class, learn to cook Indian food or take a rock climbing lesson, you’ll benefit from a boost in self-esteem and an increase in the desire to try new adventures — including dating.

I’ve got anxiety over my upcoming wedding. It’s not about getting married, but I find that I’m just getting stressed about the wedding itself with all of the work and planning. You said that your wedding wasn’t stressful, so how do I

A certain degree of anxiety can be a good thing, as it indicates that you care and can help you to perform at your optimal. However, your wedding day should be an enjoyable experience as opposed to a performance, so you’ll want to address the source of your anxiety.

If disagreements with your partner or their family about the wedding itself are a source of anxiety, it’s important to address these issues now. When you’re married, you tend to fight about kids, sex, money and housework; when planning the wedding, you tend to fight about money, family/in-laws and labour. The fights are similar with family subbed in for kids (in many cases). One of the big mistakes we make is assuming that the tension will dissipate after the wedding and the opposite is true. If you’re feeling resentment about money, family or division of labour during the wedding planning, these issues will likely intensify with time if you don’t work to resolve them now.

I suggest that you STOP planning your wedding now; instead, start planning your marriage.

Divert a set percentage (20%?) of your wedding planning time and budget to investing in your relationship. You might go to counselling or simply spend time together not talking about the wedding. Go take a course (perhaps study the language of the country you’ll visit on your honeymoon), go to a health spa, take a tour of your own city or take an unpaid day off work. As our emotional and intellectual resources are diverted to planning (and transition), we have less time to invest in ourselves and in our relationships. And if you’re planning a wedding, you’re likely experiencing tension with other involved parties (your parents, your partner’s parents, your wedding party members), so your patience may be depleted; don’t expend all of your energy on others or allow your tension from other relationships to get misdirected at your partner. Take the time and money NOW to work on your relationship.

You talk a lot about relationships, but I’m single. I feel like I’m missing out, but I also don’t want to settle. I want a relationship, but I’m also happy when I’m single. So what I’m asking is how do I reconcile this?

Rest assured that being single does not mean you’re unhappy.

If you’re happy when you’re single, you’re more likely to be happy if/when you decide to partner up. One person is not going to positively overhaul your constitution or overall mood — you have to take responsibility for your own feelings and how you live your life.

Being happily single might involve being open to new intimate relationships or it might involve a preference to remain single for a given period of time (or forever); how you define “happily single” is ultimately up to you.

Consider the benefits of being single:

Know that the latest research is falling on your side in terms of happiness: new research suggests that singles report higher levels of fulfilment, self-determination and personal growth.

  • You can still hang out with couples! When you do, you get the best of both worlds — social support as well as freedom to grow. You can travel, eat and explore with your coupled friends, but leave as you please when you need space. Self-expansion has been shown to be vital to healthy relationships and it’s one area in which many couples struggle.
  • You’re more likely to cultivate meaningful and intimate relationships with friends; when you partner up, your friend circle shrinks because you tend to invest more time into your romantic relationship. Because love and social support come in many forms, it’s important to maintain social ties with friends and family whether you’re single or partnered.

This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.

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