When newlywed couples vow to stand by each other for better or for worse, chances are they can't imagine anything other than the bliss they're experiencing. The harsh reality is that any long-term relationship is bound to hit a rough patch, but couples prepared for tough times are more likely to emerge closer than ever. Dr. Steve Josephson, a clinical psychologist specializing in anxiety and stress management, talks with Dr. Oz about typical problems couples face.
One of the most common questions Dr. Oz hears from viewers is, "Why is my desire for sex disappearing?" It's a typical feeling, Dr. Josephson says, especially among people in long-term relationships. Because sex can begin to feel rote with the same partner over time, it's important to do a lot of experimenting to come up with new ways to make love. "There is a difference between a generalized lack of desire—someone who doesn't want to have sex with anyone—and someone who doesn't particularly want to have sex with their partner but would like to jump on anyone they encounter walking down the street," Dr. Josephson says. A medical professional can help determine if the lack of desire is due to relationship issues, low hormonal levels or even depression.
Couples in successful long-term relationships are distinguished by the frequency of close, caring interactions as opposed to frequency of conflict, Dr. Josephson says. Couples in dysfunctional relationships often fight horribly and don't communicate with respect, but this dynamic can be changed if each partner is willing to do some work. "The only way a relationship is going to get better is if you focus on yourself and change yourself," Dr. Josephson says. He suggests looking at the world through the other person's eyes, trying to understand why they do the things you find off-putting and thinking compassionately about why you married this person.
Published on August 18, 2008