Dr Lee Valls, counsellor, psychotherapist and clinical director of The London Practice, answers your questions on relationships and sex
Phones and intimacy
My partner is distant, and her preoccupation with her phone is causing arguments. What can I do to get the attention back on us spending quality time together?
This is a common issue with couples in this Instagram era. The problem is when you’re on your phone, you’re completely disconnected from what is going on around you. Even though you might be physically in the same space as your partner, you’re not there mentally.
A way to address this is to discuss, together, some boundaries around phone use. Maybe you keep phones out of the bedroom, or you agree on a ‘phone free’ time?
Both partners need to have input when agreeing on these boundaries, otherwise it might feel like one person is imposing rules on another, which can cause resentment.
The problem is when you’re on your phone, you’re completely disconnected from what is going on around you
Mood swings in relationships
My partner has awful mood swings. He doesn't shout, but is passive-aggressive, and when I try to talk about it he tells me I'm being over-sensitive. How can we have a better conversation about his moods?
When having a conversation about something that is troubling you in your relationship, but the other person can’t see this, they may feel attacked.
Try to communicate by starting the conversation from the standpoint of, “This may not be the situation, but this is how I feel…”. This introduces the issue as a conversation, rather than what could be seen as an accusation.
Reconnection and adjustment
I had our first child eight months ago. My husband and I have been really distant, sexually, since. I'm feeling incredibly unwanted, under-appreciated and unloved.
There’s a lot of change that happens when a couple has a child. As a new mum, you may feel that your identity has changed drastically, so the first thing I would suggest is to get back in touch with who you were before you had your baby. Communicate with yourself. What do you want and need? Give yourself the space to understand this.
Then, make time for time together with your husband. Dress for each other, get away from the domestic situation, and talk about what you both want and need in your new normal. Let each other know what is troubling you.
This is a period of adjustment – but you can reconnect. The key is maintaining your connection with each other outside of being parents too.
Dr Lee's Top Tips
Speaking on our podcast, I am. I have, Lee shared his advice for all of us going through the trials and tribulations of modern day relationships:
- Know that everybody struggles in relationships from time to time, it's normal.
- In this Instagram era, it’s easy to focus on ‘perfect’ - there is no perfect.
- Being in a relationship over a long period of time can become mundane - you have to keep working on it!
- Listen to each other, talk, catch up - keep in touch - but put your phones away when you are together!
- If you are considering couples counselling, look for the therapist together. You both have to be willing to engage with the therapy and therapist.
Hear more from Lee as he explains the benefits of relationship counselling. Available to download on Spotify and iTunes.
If you're not ready to delve into the world of couples counselling, there are some other things you can try at home, right now. Here are five tips to help you rekindle that spark and put your wellbeing first:
- Make intimacy your priority.
- Address your stress - maybe there’s something else on your mind.
- Understand what you want, it’s OK to go solo...
- Look after your mental health
- Think outside the box - why not go for a couple’s massage?
Want more? Read How to Put Your Relationship First.