Kings of the Heart Podcast – Episode 1.1: Overcoming the Orgasm Gap

Guests:

Dr. Donna Oriowo (Oreo-Whoa!) is an international speaker, Sex and Relationship Educator and Therapist located in the Washington D.C. metro area. Dr. Donna went to undergrad at THE Morgan State University, earning her bachelors in psychology before moving to Widener University where she earned her PhD, MSW, and M.Ed in Human Sexuality, Social Work, and Education, respectively. She is the owner and lead therapist of AnnodRight, whose mission it is to help others reclaim their sexuality, identity, and self love by being their most wise, free, and authentic selves in addressing intersectionality, culture, and race in both educational and therapeutic settings with a focus on developing healthy Black female sexuality. Dr. Donna has completed keynotes, presentations, trainings, and workshops that fill the gap and assist Black women and couples in finding their sexual freedom, while being culturally relevant. Dr. Donna collects inspiring quotes, travels to expand her mind and shift her worldview, gives firm handshakes, warm hugs, and knocks on the head. She can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @Annodright. OR you can always visit her (day or night) at www.AnnodRight.com

 

Marissa Nelson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Certified Sex Therapist (CST), CEO of XoXo Therapy LLC and Founder of IntimacyMoonsTM Couples & Singles Retreats. She served as a Relationship & Sex Therapist in the Greater Washington DC area, with a focus on Couples and Women’s Sexual Health until she founded IntimacyMoons , and relocated to The Bahamas. Marissa conducts speaking engagements, workshops and group therapy for general adult audiences. She has been featured in over 150 TV, Radio and Print media outlets, and is passionate about empowering others through her educational articles. Notable appearances include Esquire, The Huffington Post, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Madame Noire, Latina, Women’s Health, Ask Men, Men’s Journal, Teen Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, Glamour, Good Day DC, Let’s Talk Live, and several appearances on WHUR DC Radio’s Pillow Talk. She was also featured on TVOne’s airing of For My Man. Marissa is a verified expert and contributor for Marriage.com.

 

Bobbett Plummer is a Pure Romance Consultant who loves connecting with her clients so much that she started a radio talk show to widen her audience.  Natral’s Nook is a weekly online radio talk show with a primary focus on sex and relationships that airs live on Facebook and Real Explosion Radioview’s YouTube page each and every Wednesday from 10 pm to Midnight. Her main goal is to help empower men and women in the sexual arena and save marriages and relationships.

 

Resources mentioned by the guest:

All About Me

All About Us

Black Sexual Politics

Black Feminist Thought

The Art of Erotic Massage

The Karma Sutra

The Elusive Orgasm

Becoming Orgasmic

She Comes First

I Love Female Orgasms

 

Showing Appreciation in a Healthy Relationship

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

 

One of the underlying problems with being together in a relationship over a period of time is that we sometimes forget to show our partner that we appreciate them. But let’s not also forget that we also feel good about ourselves when we feel appreciated as well. The scary thing with this dilemma is that couples usually “guess” that they show appreciation to their partner and at the same time know they are appreciated. Here are three easy steps to ensure that both you and your partner show appreciation.

1. Your Small Actions Do Matter – It’s easy to think about doing something big to pull this off. But, the key to making sure that your actions of appreciation are more often and consistent is to think about the small gestures that will matter to your partner. This is when knowing your partner will pay off and will make both of you feel good!

2. Explicitly Verbalize Your Appreciation – This goes without saying but your partner won’t know if you don’t say anything on what the gesture is about? Also be mindful that when you explicitly express your appreciation, you are in a positive moodCaution – if you are the partner showing appreciation in that moment, do not obligate your partner to do so as well immediately. Your gesture will most likely motivate them to show you their appreciation of you at some point soon.

3. Expand Your Thank You’s – Whenever your partner does something for you whether basic (e.g., picking up your dry cleaning) or something extravagant (e.g., an expensive outing), it is not just enough to say “Thank you” anymore. Expand that sentiment afterwards by expressing how meaningful the gesture was in terms of how it made you feel and how it positively impacted your day.

Providing Undivided Attention to Your Partner

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

 

Most therapists will suggest to their couples that both partners should make time for each other as a way to maintain relationship satisfaction. I agree with this suggestion but I have started realize in my own clients that making time is not just enough anymore. As a result, I would like to take this suggestion of making time for each other to the next level and strongly recommend that when making time for your partner, make sure you are providing undivided attention. If you give your partner, or if your partner has, your undivided attention, you stop whatever else you are doing and listen to that person.

Why is this small piece of making time such a critical aspect of emotional connectedness in couples’ relationships? Think about it?

We feel so important when our partner has stopped everything and has their eyes on us and is actively listening to us. We feel comfortable allowing our vulnerable feelings (feelings that sometimes struggle to come out hard during times of distress) to be released in a healthy way so that it is correctly received. And lastly, we feel attractive knowing that our partner does not care about anything else going on in that given moment but us. So you see…giving your partner undivided attention is one of the easiest way to reassure our partners that they mean so much to us. There are three important things to consider when you want to provide undivided attention to your partner:

  • Clear both your physical and emotional spaces – This is very critical. Many people think by dropping whatever you are physically doing (e.g., washing the dishes, watching television, etc.) is enough to provide undivided attention. Not true! It is even more aggravating when we spend time with our partner and we sense that their mind and thinking is elsewhere. While it is important to stop doing what you are physically doing, there is nothing wrong with letting your partner know that you need a few minutes to “get ready” so that way you can hone in and allow yourself to be emotionally available and accessible.
  • Actively participate – Makes sense, right? But this strategy is one that can easily “slip through the cracks” in which we think for the most part that as long as we make time for our partner to spend time with us that they are fully happy. One of the ways that your partner will feel connected to you is when you are reciprocating as much energy as they are during quality time. I know it can be hard to do this after a long day at work but the effort is important. Trust me, your partner knows you have had a long day. So the fact that you are actively listening, actually conversing, engaging in physical touch, and even bringing some positive energy to the moment, they will feel very special (and you will win as well).
  • Ask and plan with your partner – Because our lives become complicated by the hour, by the day and by the week, there is no shame in asking and planning out times with your partner where you both are able to be physically, mentally, and emotionally available to only each other. Try to find days and pockets of times throughout the week that will comfortable work for the both of you. Even if it means that you both put in your business and/or personal calendars, you should do it! Making time and providing undivided attention to your partner is just as important (if not more important) than the scheduled meetings and gym workouts.

New Year’s Resolution for You and Yours

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

 

Every year, right before New Year’s (or even on New Year’s Eve), we tend think about the year that is coming to an end and we contemplate ways we can go about the brand new year. We call these thoughts and goals as New Year’s Resolutions. Sometimes our New Year’s resolutions include things like going to the gym more, stay fit and be healthy, spend less save more, and/or enjoy life to the fullest. But there is another set of New Year’s Resolutions that are just as important and critical – ones that involve you and your family.

There is nothing wrong thinking about yourself heading into the New Year’s. But, you it is important to fully acknowledge and accept that we all do not live your lives without others. This means that our lives are interdependent with those closest to us and they affect us as much as we affect them. And so in addition to the resolutions that involve our own personal goals such as staying fit and saving money, explore new year resolutions that are ones for you and your loved ones. Here are three healthy yet critical New Year’s resolutions that we should all set for ourselves and work towards:

  1. When problems occur, work towards reconciliation: Arguments, disputes, disagreements, whatever you want to call situations in which you and another person (e.g., your significant other, family member, co-worker, etc.) are relating to each other in an unhealthy way are going to happen – that’s life. But most of our work moving forward in the New Year’s should be actually reconciling with people during these situations. So let’s be clear…reconciling is much more than just saying “sorry.” When we reconcile with someone else, the key here is it is going to take both individuals to reconcile. Share with your loved one what you will need to feel things are reconciled and you should ask your loved one what they will need to feel things are reconcile. Work together to make both of you feel good about moving forward. This is where our communication and problem-solving skills kick in. So in this New Year’s – let’s use them!
  2. Listen to yourself and take the time to listen to others: So, I busted out laughing the other day when I was watching a show and one of the characters said “you have two ears and one mouth…so that means you should be listening more than talking.” This is something that we should all work towards. Clinically, we tell our clients that you should listen and listen and listen when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Why? Because, something as basic as listening to someone is going to make them feel comfortable, safe and connected to you. And if you think about it, you want people to listen to you because it makes you feel those same things in return. So for the New Year’s, let’s stop talking while others are talking or thinking about our responses to someone who is talking and just…listen!
  3. Seek support during the good times and the bad: It is important to not feel alone during both the ups and the downs in our lives. Going out of our way to seek support from our loved ones is such a healthy behavior for our physical and mental well-being. There is nothing wrong with needing people during moments of vulnerability (yes, positive experiences and not just negative ones, can also elicit vulnerable feelings). But, here is where we stumble and this is where we should push ourselves in the New Year’s – find the courage to ask for support and express what your needs are to your support system. No more of the “I don’t want to bother people with my problems or make people feel bad with my happiness.” Social support is amazing and we need it for good and bad times – so let’s ask for it. And heck, ask for more of it while you’re at it!

How to Help Your Partner Feel Secure During Vulnerable Moments?

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

 

Making your partner feel secure in your relationship is a 24 hour/7 days a week full-time job. But, the best time to really bring your “A game” is when your partner is having a vulnerable emotional experience. If you have ever struggled during times in which your partner was having a vulnerable moment, do NOT feel bad! It is actually quite difficult to know for sure how to feel, think and act during these moments. Why?

Well, first off, vulnerability brings out raw and intense emotions that range from hurt and sadness to disgust and shame; these emotions are always hard to pick up on immediately and there is no “quick fix” to solving them. Second, trying to make your partner feel secure when they are vulnerable is very hard because we have our own emotions to manage as well. These situations leave us in a state of confusion and we subconsciously ask ourselves: who’s emotions do I deal with first – ours or our partner’s emotions? And lastly, making your partner feel secure during a vulnerable moment may call for more effort and patience on your part.

This is hard in and of itself because we tend to have an eagerness towards resolving their feelings and the issue very quickly (I mean, who wants to see their partner distressed for a long time?). So here are three helpful strategies to utilize the next time your partner is having a vulnerable emotional experience?

 Focus on the Physical State – One of the best ways to restoring emotional security in our partner’s life is to help them calm down by slowing things down physiologically. Usually, when we are vulnerable, our thoughts and our emotions are intense and are running fast. So, help your partner slow down by engaging in various techniques – deep breathing, turning off any type of noise (e.g., television, radio), calming the kids down, dimming the lights, and even getting them a cold beverage. These techniques will help your partner slow down because it focuses on physiologically calming down and this provides the gateway to them calming down emotionally so they can talk about what is going on.

  1. Process the actual emotions (not the event) – Our favorite question to ask our partner when they are having a vulnerable emotional experience is “What happened?” Now it is important to ask this because we need context on what caused so much distress to our partners. But the problem we fall into is that we focus on the event and NOT the vulnerable emotions themselves. This ends up leaving our partner still feeling insecure as their emotions are more important than the event. So ask these questions: “How are you feeling right now?”; “What are all of the emotions going on for you?” (Hint: we can experience multiple emotions at the same time); And “How intense is your (feelings)?”
  2. Inquire about your partner’s needs – And finally, always end these situations with asking your partner a very important question: “What do you need from me right now in this moment?” This question is such a powerful question to ask your partner because it shows them that you are focused on them, you are willing to go the distance, and that their well-being is your primary concern in that moment. All three of these implications will get the ball rolling on restoring their emotional security.

Feeling Emotionally Safe in Your Relationship

by John Hart, LGMFT
Healthy relationships are relationships in which both partners are able to promote an emotionally safe and secure atmosphere for each other. Safety in a relationship is not always about physical safety. While we want our partners to know that we will protect their physical well-being, “putting in the work” towards their emotional well-being is just as critical. And when we mention security in a relationship, we are referring to a partner’s ability to consistently promote the emotional state of their partner. When at least one partner does not feel emotionally safe in a relationship, it can manifest into problematic interaction patterns.

There are three important ways to promote emotional safety and security in your relationship:

  1. Listen! Listen! Listen!: While many of us know that communication is key to a healthy relationship, consistently listening to your partner both during the “good times” and the “bad times” will support a safe and secure atmosphere.  Listening to your partner is such a beautiful process – it allows them to feel comfortable disclosing important thoughts and feelings to you and that encourages a strong connection within the relationship.
  2. Do Not Criticize or Judge:This strategy does not mean you cannot and should not provide constructive feedback to your partner. But in order to avoid criticizing or judging your partner, you need to be very mindful about your verbal (e.g., tone, inflection of voice) and non-verbal (body language) communication. Why is this important? Well, our partners will feel emotionally secure when they can sense their romantic partner is emotionally open and accessible rather than closed off (which criticizing and judging can elicit).
  3. Show Empathy: Being able to place yourself into your partner’s shoes and express understanding to their situation facilitates a close bond between the partners. In healthy relationships, empathy always wins out during the hard times because it allows both partners to communicate more effectively. The reason is because empathy is usually the vehicle driving the emotional safety between the partners.  Showing empathy involves asking about your partner’s feelings, normalizing their feelings, verbally validating their perspective (even if you disagree), and expressing to them in a gentle, calm manner that you understand where they are coming from.

Exercise and Quality Time: Couples Can Have Both!

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

 

Sometimes individuals struggle with wanting to spend time with their significant other – but many report not having either time to fit it in or that they and their partner are working on different time schedules. At the same time, individuals struggle with wanting to spend time doing some form of exercise in their daily (or weekly) routine – but many report being too busy to capitalize on such an idea.

The good news is that couples can consistently have both of these activities in their lives and the greater news is that they can engage in both activities at the same time. One big suggestion – take a walk together! 

Now, I’m sure you are laughing at such a simplistic suggestion but it actually makes sense. Walking doeswork – it is associated with important positive health outcomes (e.g., physical, mental, and social) for you and your partner and it is less expensive and time-consuming than “hitting the gym.” There is no need to go on a walk by yourself anymore – invite your partner to walk with you (and your pet if you’d like).

Walking with your partner will create a bonding experience and provide a positive atmosphere to engage each other in a different way. You both do not have to walk for a long time or at a brisk pace from day one – take your time, enjoy each other’s company, and embrace this lovely weather that is here to stay for some time.

Try brainstorming on those “pockets” of time throughout the day or week that may be good situations to exercise and spend quality time with your partner. They do exist – make sure to have fun and be creative with scheduling these “walk dates” with your partner. You’d be surprised how much available time you both have in common when you work on this activity.

Bring the Fun Back

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

A friend of mine asked me a long time ago, “Are you living or are you existing?”  This is a common problem that couples struggle with over the course of their relationship. “Existing” refers to the robotic lifestyle of doing the same thing over and over, day in and day out. “Living,” on the other hand, suggests the lifestyle of being in the now, embracing variation and indulging your desires without feeling guilty. The easiest way to achieve the goal of “living” again comes down to one basic intention – bring the fun back to your romantic relationship.

1. Slow Down – We live in a fast-paced world and sometimes we just keep going, which leads to a robotic, boring lifestyle. In order to have fun again, you and your partner need to work hard to slow things down in both of your lives. What does slowing down accomplish? Of course, it allows you to catch your breath. But more importantly, slowing down gives both you and your partner the opportunity to be more physically, emotionally and mentally present with one other.

2. Explore Shared Interests – Think about it! You and your partner are together likely because there was a strong level of shared interests in beginning of the relationship that guided fun, humor, and a sense of lightheartedness. Then life kicked in and the time spent on common hobbies started to dwindle. Once you and your partner have slowed things down, get back to having those intriguing conversations on shared interests. Why not even go the extra step to explore new activities together? It will create an invigorating spirit in your relationship that will keep it fresh and exciting.

3. Be Unpredictable – This does not mean that you should throw all structure and reliability out of the window. But being unpredictable can also be a fun experience. Try to push yourself and your partner out of your comfort zones. Be more spontaneous and make fun a priority in your life again.

 

Accepting Your Partner: How Secure Couples Truly Love Each Other

by Dr. John Hart, LGMFT

In a relationship, one form of showing our love to our partners is to express, “I love you.” While such an expression carries so much weight in making our partners feel secure in the relationship, there are other critical ways that we should consider that are just as important in increasing the emotional security in our relationships.  Accepting your partner is an important aspect of a healthy relationship. While this may sound basic and cliché, accepting your partner for who they are is one of the hardest things to do. Acceptance in a couple’s relationship is very hard because there is always going to be things about our partner that we would like to see different or improved upon. But, we have to be mindful that our partners are their own persons and they come into our lives with their own unique lived experiences, past traumas and hurts, and personalities just as we do. As a result, healthy couples do a great job on making sure the acceptance both partners display to each other is high while also promoting growth for each partner and the relationship. If this is something you and your partner would like to work on in your relationship, there are three critical things to consider:

  1. Accept yourself – Of course this makes sense. But think about it – before we can truly and fully accept our partners, we need to truly and fully accept ourselves. By accepting yourself, you create a strong foundation and an empathic perspective that allows you to understand the differences that exist between you and your partner. For example, accepting yourself allows you to be mindful that you (and your partner) each have some flaws and some growing to do and because of that before you criticize or harp on their improvements, you’ll know that you have things to work on as well.
  2. Pick Your Battles – Healthy couples do this really well. They understand the difference between the patterns or behaviors that are critical for their partners to improve on that are necessary for the relationship itself to grow than patterns or behaviors of their partner that they themselves would like to see different but it is more so for their own wants or desires. Not understanding the difference will cause a lot of conflict in the relationship because it will lead one partner to feel so insecure and perceive that their partner does not fully love them for who they are. So, you have to understand the difference and pick your battles smartly.
  3. Set Boundaries – Setting boundaries in interpersonal relationships is paramount for the growth of any person. Even in your romantic relationship, you and your partner can increase acceptance by working together and creating secure and flexible boundaries in the relationship that allow both partners to grow individually while feeling secure. And remember, we have to accept that we are different from our partners and that means that our partners may have different needs than us. So make sure you both communicate these boundaries clearly and effectively and when they have been fairly negotiated, accept them. By accepting your partner’s boundaries, you will show them that you truly understand your partner and respect them.

Intimacy Refined: Growing Your Intellectual Intimacy (originally published on Marriage.com)

I frequently receive calls from couples complaining about the relationship communication struggles they are having with their partners. Someone feels misunderstood. Someone else feels unheard. And yet another person feels smothered by the weight of their partner’s rambling thoughts. This is caused by intimacy issues between a couple. After only a few sessions, what will sometimes become clear is that the barriers to effective and healthy dialogue between the two are rooted in the rarely explored area of intellectual intimacy.

When it comes to intellectual intimacy, you should be asking yourself, “Is my mate on my level?” No, not your educational level. Intellectual intimacy is not about academics, IQ, or degrees. This intimate bond is about the way in which your brains complement one another.

Defining intellectual intimacy

Intellectual intimacy can be described as “getting each other”; being able to share thoughts and ideas, hopes and fears, wishes and desires…openly…empathetically, for hours at a time. Couples should be building on one another’s thoughts, taking the conversation to heights in which new perspectives are conceived and considered, instead of the more popular attempts to disprove or break apart each other’s musings.

Another component of healthy intellectual intimacy is the receiving, interpreting, and applying of information in a similar fashion. A healthy marriage is formed by two people with sometimes vastly different families of origin, as well as other life experiences, what they do with that information can be as dissimilar as baggy tube socks and stockings. As a result, these conflictual approaches can leave a couple feeling stuck, believing their marriage is doomed to dwell in a pit of uninterpretable sentiments. Yet, there are many ways to overcome these barriers and connect mind to mind with your mate. Here are a few:

1. Have an adventure!

Since you spent so much of your lives having different experiences, the sharing in new experiences and taking the time to reflect on and discuss your thoughts about those experiences is a great way to strengthen the intellectual intimacy with your mate. Sharing in a common adventure, like traveling, taking in a show, or simply indulging in your latest Netflix guilty pleasure, even if interpreted differently, allows you to better understand the ways in which your mate formulates their perspectives. This enhances the sense of empathy that is ordinarily lacking in instances of poor communication.

Have an adventure!

2. Share a book!

Exploring the worlds created by gifted writers with your partner is an excellent way to probe the inner workings of each other’s thought processes. Whether it’s a mystery, an autobiography, science fiction, or self-help, this activity is not meant to be a measuring stick for intellectual acumen, but rather a chance to discover the impact of the written word on the synaptic functioning of your mate’s emotional self.

3. Texting funny messages!

An even simpler way to maintain and grow that intellectual connection is actually a very popular technique many are already using: the texting, emailing, DM’ing, and posting of articles, memes, and stories to your partner. It’s not just the sending and receiving of these messages that’s the significant mechanism at work…it’s the response! Simple reactions to these oft-overlooked attempts by your mate to facilitate an intellectual dance can be the key to further securing that intellectual bond.

It is important to be intentional in the way you engage in these activities and subsequent conversations. Those discussions are what really matter! Don’t judge. Be accepting! Be sensitive! Be curious! Remember, good intellectual intimacy should not leave two people feeling drained and exhausted. Instead, you should be overcome with a sense of inspiration, encouragement, and closeness.

https://www.marriage.com/advice/intimacy/growing-your-intellectual-intimacy/