Jennifer and Dave have been married for 3 years. “We have a huge argument every December right around the holidays,” complains Jennifer. “We just don’t seem to make spending time together a priority and when we do we argue and feel even less connected to one another.” “It’s hard for me feel close to her when she just wants to talk about what I’m not doing or she’s distracted by Facebook,” Dave sighs.  Jennifer turns her head away from him and mumbles…”of course I’m going to find something else to do like Facebook - you never want to do anything.”

Dave and Jennifer both feel alone and disconnected. While times of connection and disconnection ebb and flow in any relationship, a negative long-standing pattern may emerge if it is not addressed.  Dave and Jennifer came to a recent couples workshop to find out how to change the course of their relationship for the better.

Couples are often overwhelmed with knowing what to do when they find themselves in a similar situation.  They search for answers.  They read books.  They ask friends.  They watch Dr. Phil.  They want to feel close and fulfilled in their relationship.  So, what is the secret to fulfilling, long-lasting love?

The top two world-renowned researchers on relationships (Susan Johnson and John Gottman) agree: Being emotionally present for your partner is the key to long-lasting love.   Being attuned to your partner is all about being emotionally present.  John Gottman defines attunement as the desire and ability to understand and respect your partner’s inner world.   Susan Johnson, the founder of Emotionally-focused therapy, suggests that emotional responsiveness consists of three main components that are outlined by the acronym A.R.E.

A=Accessibility.  Can your partner reach you?  Can they count on you to be available to them for emotional, physical, and sexual connection?

R=Responsiveness. Can your partner count on you to respond to them?  Being responsive is about conveying understanding, validation, and a genuine sense of caring.  It is about being sensitive to your partners’ feelings, and wanting to make them feel comfortable, valued, listened to, and understood.

E=Engagement.  Does your partner feel that they have your full presence and attention, even if it’s only for short periods?  They know that even when they are not with you, they exist in your mind - they feel that they matter.

Being intentional in your relationship is one of the first steps in being more emotionally responsive.  Intention is a mental state that represents a commitment to carrying out action plans for the future.  When you have a mind-set of intention for the relationship and you follow-through on those actions,  it gives your partner a sense of feeling important and safety in the relationship.  It builds trust and connection.

Here are some ways to be more Intentional in your relationship:

Create a habit of reunion every day that includes some form of affection.

Set aside time of undistracted communication every day.

Practice an appreciation ritual every day that communicates genuine affection and appreciation to your partner.

Attend a Couples Retreat to work on building your relationship skills to mange conflict and enhance intimacy.

Listen to a relationship podcast. (Carole Cullen and Shelly Hummel were guests on G105’s Bob and the Showgram on iHeartRadio: starting at 70:00 min.)

Listen to a sexual intimacy podcast – Foreplay Radio.

Give your partner and your relationship more presence this year.  Be intentional and responsive.  It will put your relationship on a trajectory that consists of the fulfillment you have been yearning for.

Written by:

Shelly Hummel, LMFT and Carole Cullen, LMFT

More information about the authors can be found at:


How to have more sexual intimacy in your relationship?

What a great time we always have on Bob and the Showgram sharing relationship advice with you on air each month! We are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to give away a free Couples Workshop registration on air today to one lucky winner. In case you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast on iheart radio here.

Today we talked about how to have more sexual intimacy in your relationship. What we know about relationships is that couples who report the most satisfying sexual relationships with their significant others have 2 things in common 1) they talk about their sex lives with one another and 2) they are good friends. These couples also make sex a priority in their relationship.

So we wanted to share some tips for creating more sexual intimacy in your relationship.

Tip #1

Talk openly about sex with your partner.

Talking about sex should include talking about what gets you in the mood and also what turns you off. Each of us has a sexual accelerator (things that turn us on) and a sexual brake (things that turn us off). Your talk about sex should include learning what your accelerators and brakes are and then finding out what your partners accelerators and brakes are.

Along those same lines, talking about sex with one another should also include talking about working through the times you aren’t feeling sexually connected. Specifically, when one of you is feeling rejected sexually.

All relationships have ebbs and flows - that’s normal.  But if one of you is feeling rejected or dissatisfied in some way, talking about it and working through it is what matters.  Now, learning how to have those conversations is very important and most people don’t - not because they don’t care, but because they just don’t know how.  It’s not common knowledge and not really taught anywhere.  However, it is crucial if you want to have a deeper emotional and physical connection with your partner.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. What accelerates your desire and what puts on the brakes?

  2. Who should initiate sex?

  3. How should we talk about rejection in a gentle way?

  4. What do we each want before, during and after sex?


Tip #2

Make sex a priority

We can’t tell you how many times we hear from couples that they just don’t have time for sex or they are just too tired. We know that making time for sex can feel like a challenge. However, when couples prioritize this area of their relationship they find that they start having more enjoyable sex and more frequent sex. This is often a result of your partner feeling important to you and that their needs are important and valid. This creates a culture of appreciation and trust that fuels intimacy and sparks your partner to want to connect more, both emotionally and physically. Scheduled sex is a good thing in a relationship as long as there is also a balance of spontaneity and connection as well.

Tip #3

Develop a close friendship

Couples who report having a very good sex life also report being very close friends with their spouse/significant other. Our advice then is to always be working on the friendship part of your relationship.

Here are some ways to develop a close friendship with your significant other:

  1. Be present when you are with them. Put away any distractions, turn off the TV and devices and really make a point to be engaged. Ask questions about what they are sharing and offer empathy and validation for their feelings. Learn to be a great listener and this will build trust with them. Trust is the foundation for a healthy and deeply connected relationship. For women, especially, trust is a critical aspect of sex. Women connect emotional and physical safety with sex in their brain and it either accelerates or puts on the brakes for them.


  1. Spend quality time together. Set aside dedicated time for your relationship and make it a priority. Here are some suggestions for how to spend quality time together:

  • Uninterrupted time to talk everyday

  • Date night every week

  • Cook dinner together

  • Find something new or adventurous to do together

  • Workout together

  • Read the same book and talk about it together


  1. Show each other non-sexual affection.  Give affection frequently and sometimes unexpectedly – give hugs, kisses, cuddling without the intention of sex.


  1. Compliment and appreciate your partner. Share what you appreciate about them and make it personal. Here are some suggestions:

  • I really appreciate how hard you work for our family

  • I appreciate how creative and fun you are and I especially like it when you plan our date nights.

  • I appreciate how loving and caring you are and that you take care of me when I’m sick.

Remember to work on both aspects of your relationship, the friendship and the physical intimacy. This is the best way to have more sexual intimacy in your relationship and a deeper emotional connection.


Written by:

Shelly Hummel, LMFT and Carole Cullen, LMFT

More information about the authors can be found at: