Ask Elizabeth

OUTinPerth’s new relationship advice colomn comes from Elizabeth Brennan from Relationships Australia. Relationships Australia is a non-profit organisation offering education, counselling and
other services to people of all backgrounds including sexual preference. The website www.wa.relationships.com.au gives information on services. Elizabeth has over 30 years experience in relationship education and counselling.

 My partner has dropped hints a few times about bringing someone else into our bedroom.  He’s had a threesome before and I know he really enjoyed it – but it’s not something I’ve ever done.  I’m kind of interested but worried that it might be the beginning of the end our relationship.  How can I tell if this is something I should do?
Nervous, of Yokine.

For some couples, the decision as to how sexually exclusive the relationship is to be is no issue at all.  It is a mutual decision and they stick to it.  Others may decide at the start that a non-monogamous relationship is what they prefer.  And, again, there are others for whom the question arises well into a relationship that has been erstwhile exclusive.

What goes into the decision that a given couple makes?  The answer is often more complex than it first appears.

The crucial ingredient to the success of any relationship is open, honest communication.  It is only by going beneath the surface, in trust and sincerity; in taking the risk to disclose our own fears and needs; to enunciate what each wants and why that we really connect with another.

Everyone brings into their relationships ‘hidden baggage’. This ‘hidden baggage’ is comprised, in part, of patterns of behaviour, attitudes, beliefs inculcated in our family of origin; influences of peer groups in our forming years; gender-role conditioning  Most of the ’hidden baggage’ lies in our sub-conscious; it is only when we face a particular issue that it is brought into a conscious level.  Those in the sub-conscious can remain there for life.

Do I allow my partner to bring another into our bedroom? Take the risk – dare to open each other’s ‘hidden baggage’. You won’t regret it. And you will come to a decision that you both can live with.

My partner and I have been in a relationship for many years. We still love each other but over the last few years we seem to have fallen into a pretty boring domestic routine. While we used to go out to clubs, restaurants and events, my girlfriend now just seems happy to stay at home and watch TV. What can we do to bring the excitement back in our social lives?
Bored, of Ellenbrook.

Like all living organisms, relationships go through stages – they are not static.  In the same way, humans are not static – we grow, develop, age, experience different stages of change. We can move from a need for connection at one time to separateness at another. It is in this constant movement, back and forth, that we can find new excitement and growth in our relationship.

Part of the joy of relationship is the comfortability of the ‘domestic routine’ that we share with a partner.  But it is important to nurture our relationships by including special times too.

Don’t assume that your girlfriend is just happy to watch TV. She may also be looking for new ways of spending time together.

Plan an exciting night of re-discovery. Give her a special invitation card to attend this occasion with you. Organise a special meal. Decorate the place with flowers – symbols of growth and change.  Celebrate your relationship.

At the close of the meal, invite her to participate in a game, the purpose of which is to see who comes up with the longest list of new and exciting activities that will fulfil your developing interests.  Be wild, be creative; the list can be culled later if need be. Laugh and make it fun.  You will be surprised at what can surface!

Just remember:

1. No one person can fulfil all our needs. There are times when we are required to do things on our own to meet individual needs and times to cater to mutual needs.

2. Change is inevitable. It may mean loss of some things, but also paves the way for exciting new ways of more effectively addressing who we are in the present.  Bring it on!

 Please send questions on relationships to Elizabeth Brennan, Relationships
Australia, PO Box  1206, West Leederville, WA 6901, or email
[email protected]

The names, locations an distinguishing details of letters have been changed as to protect the identity of the authors.

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