Just before the holidays I had the pleasure of speaking with relationship expert, Dr. Laura Berman most famously of the now defunct "Oprah Winfrey show" to discuss ways couples can create intimacy in their relationship and how to be "blissfully single" when not in a relationship.
Relationship expert, Dr. Laura Berman – image courtesy of Zimbio.com
Candace Rose interviews Dr. Laura Berman audio file: Download Candace Rose
Candace Rose: Relationships often start out passionate but begin to lose luster. What can couples do to keep the passion alive?
Dr. Laura Berman: "Well, there's so much you can do, and you know you're absolutely right. The beginning of the relationship is easy, everything comes naturally; you can't get enough of each other but over time as you get busy with life and the stresses of life or in a long term relationship, things can go a little bit stale and there are lots of reasons for that. There can be physical reasons, emotional reasons but there are some key things that you can do if things are starting to go a little bit stale or maybe to ensure that they don't, that really make a difference."
Candace Rose: Do you have any tips on creating a romantic mood at home?
Dr. Laura Berman: "Absolutely; I mean, I think what people miss most in those longer term relationships is spontaneity and if you're in a place where you're having kids and you know, life is busy, it can be hard to have that spontaneity or to have it happen naturally, but at least you can do things to support it. For instance many women don't even think about the birth control that they're on, right? So they're on the same one that they've been on since they first got on it ages ago or they just do what their first doctor they went to told them to do and it's really important that women are their own best health advocates and know all the options available. The most important thing when it comes to kind of creating that spontaneity is not to worry about getting pregnant and also to be able to- putting STD's aside- assuming you're in a long term relationship also you know, having something not only that you can trust but that fits your lifestyle. And so you know, for some women, hormonal options are a great fit; for other women it really isn't. For some women they don't mind taking something every day, for other women it's hard for them to remember. And it's really about finding the right fit. So for instance you know, there's many women don't even know about; IUC's: intrauterine contraceptives which prior people knew them as IUD's. But that's a great option for women who haven't had children as well as women who have and there's one called ParaGard which is 99% effective, hormone free. Once it's in she can leave it there for ten years but she can take it out at any time before that and return to the same place in fertility that she would have been otherwise. And so for a woman in a monogamous relationship that can be a great option to support the spontaneity."
ParaGard Logo – image courtesy of ParaGard.com
Candace Rose: Absolutely, because a lot of times when say for instance you suffer from migraines and stuff like that you can't take regular birth control.
Dr. Laura Berman: "Yeah, every woman's different and for some women it's really about finding the right fit."
Candace Rose: What role does birth control play in your sex life?
Dr. Laura Berman: "Well, you know I think it's huge because first of all, lets just talk emotionally. If you're worried about getting pregnant a lot of women will avoid sex. They'll be self conscious, they'll be anxious, they'll be worried before and after and so it it can really put a damper on them; or if they're having any side effects that can obviously affect them as well. And if she's worried and forgot to take something when she was supposed to take it, she's worried about it, then. So each woman has her own unique personality and has to talk to her doctor about the best fit. But I think it's a fundamental. The great news is that we have all these options available. We don't have to get pregnant if we don't want to, and that's the good news. But it really requires that we do our homework as well."
Candace Rose: Do you have any relationship advice for those who are single, especially during the holidays?
Dr. Laura Berman: "Yeah, I mean it can be a tough time if you're single, especially if you just had a breakup but even just being single. And I think the most important thing, obviously spending time with family can be great, but the most important thing I think for singles in general is to really find a way to really be what I call 'blissfully single'. You know I always try to tell people that you're going to attract someone into your life that's at the same level you are and you know the holidays can be tough time, but it can also be a great time. If you offer to babysit the kids of your friends or your relatives- spend an afternoon with them and then you won't necessarily in as much of a rush to have children. Take advantage of being able to sleep in. If you're lonely, you know go out and have an amazing spa day or do something really indulgent for yourself. There's great ways to kind of spend time with friends. There are great ways to really enjoy the holidays as a single person that doesn't require you to be a couple, at all."
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your show "In the Bedroom"?
Dr. Laura Berman: "Yeah, it's a show. It's actually going to be premiering in the new year; the second season the on the Oprah Winfrey Network, and I each episode I work with a different couple who's in a kind of a relationship sexual crisis and I have three days to kind of turn their relationship around. I put them through the paces and work with them really intensely and the camera follows them every step of the way and it's very funny. Some of the stories are really insane, the things that people have going on, so that's kind of fun but it's really cool because not only is it entertaining and kind of funny at times and heartbreaking at times, but my goal was not only to be entertaining but really provide take home tools along the way that all of us can apply to our lives."
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you'd like to share?
Dr. Lara Berman: "Well, I think the main thing is that when sex is working in your life and it's one small part of your life; but when it's not working it can really take on a life of its own and you don't have to just let it go by the wayside. You don't have to just assume it's a natural part of life or a long term relationship or being stressed. There's always something you can do about it and the key is if things are not working sexually don't sweep it under the rug, but really attend to it. If you're struggling in any way with your desire or your sexual response or your connection and it's gone on for six months or longer, definitely get help."
Candace Rose: Where can we go for more information?
Dr. Laura Berman: "You can go – well ParaGard.com is one place you can go to learn more about that birth control option. You can go to my website DrLauraBerman.com for information about sex, love and relationships."