Women are especially vulnerable to accommodating lousy relationships because we're not well trained about healthy boundaries. We often don't learn that "no" is a complete sentence. And to add more fuel to the fire, our brain/hormone connections are more sensitive to emotional stressors.

We’re excited to introduce you to Dr. Sara Gottfried. She’s a Harvard-trained MD gynecologist who practices integrative (or functional) medicine. We became acquainted with her last summer, which was perfect timing because Kelli had just hit a few unexpected hormonal bumps in the road. The information she has to share is perfect for every woman (and man!), and Kelli has learned so incredibly much from her … which is why we’re excited to share!

Inspired by Valentine’s Day, we’ve selected a few excerpts from recent e-mails we’ve received from Dr. Gottfried that demonstrate her integrative style of offering great lifestyle advice as well as physiological insight so you feel as vitalized as possible as fast as possible. And yes, we each took the Love Language quiz and love the insights and discussions that have come from it, as well as increased connection and closeness. All of this information is definitely helping us have a super happy Valentine’s Day, and we hope it will for you, too. 🙂

Dr Sara Gottfried MDReview and Revitalize Relationships

Women are especially vulnerable to accommodating lousy relationships because we’re not well trained about healthy boundaries. We often don’t learn that “no” is a complete sentence. And to add more fuel to the fire, our brain/hormone connections are more sensitive to emotional stressors.

Remember – we tend and befriend rather than fight or flight. Our hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is more likely to go into overdrive than that of men, as documented in many recent studies and in the fact that women are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and emotional memory disorders, not to mention autoimmune conditions and thyroid problems.

But it’s Valentines, and I don’t intend to dwell on the doom and gloom. My point is not to obsess on the negative, but to identify the proven and practical tips that help couples bridge the chasm between them, whether it’s differences in sex drive or just the typical fights over common topics such as money, past resentments, and communication.

Here are my favorite tips from Dr. John Gottman, PhD, Professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Washington. His work on marital stability has revolutionized my thinking about marriage. Here are some tips that he recommends.

  1. The Magic Relationship Ratio. Gottman found that if you observe successfully married couples versus couples that divorce, there is a magic ratio of positive to negative things that happily couples do together, even in conflict. In this work, he defined the positive behaviors in relationships that work including interest, asking questions, being kind to each other, affection, and empathy. It turns out that happily married couples had a positive-to-negative ratio was 5:1. Couples that divorced had a ratio of 0.8:1, and the negative behaviors included hostility, anger, resentment, and hurt feelings.  Put another way, if you do something negative to hurt your partner’s feelings (which is inevitable), you need to 5X your positive behaviors to heal the rift.
  2. Start at 50%.  Love this one – when you’re in a fight, start with the assumption that you’re 50% to blame. It’s good for everyone, especially your body, mind, cortisol, and telomeres (the little caps on the ends of DNA strands, like the cap on a shoelace, that are a basic measure of the amount of life left).
  3. Three things never to say in a fight. Gottman identifies the worst relationship killers as the following: “You never…”; “You always….”(both are condemnations of personality); and “Anything insulting or superior.” The idea is to create a field of respect and to honor that we all have limitations.

There’s an old aphorism that you can be right, or you can be married. It’s taken me years of marriage to get this idea – that blame and defensiveness just doesn’t help matters.

And also let me briefly share Gary Chapman’s wisdom on The 5 Love Languages – The Secret to Love That Lasts.

As you may know, most of us have one of the following five love languages (or we speak in 1 or 2 of them), but the hard part is that we are attracted to a partner who typically has a different love language, or two, which DO NOT OVERLAP with ours. So what might feel intuitive or loving in our own language, often is not perceived as loving to our partner. When you get this concept and start to speak to your beloved in their love language, magic happens. Communication becomes more clear and direct. I’m not pretending to be able to teach this to you in a brief email, but it’s a worthy consideration if you’re in a relationship, or want to be in one.

Here are Gary Chapman’s 5 love languages. His website is http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ in case you want to take his quiz to discover your own profile.

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

Hot Hormone Help

So now that your relationship is humming, let’s talk about getting your sexy on.

This year for Valentine’s Day instead of chocolate (because it can throw your blood sugar out of whack) or wine (because drinking it means your liver is busy burning alcohol, not fat), I want you to have some fun in the bedroom.

Uh oh….

Not feeling too frisky?

You’re not the only one.

Sometimes we don’t want to have sex because we don’t think our bodies are desirable. Sometimes it’s because we’re so tired all we want to do in bed is sleep. But sometimes it’s because we’re just not in the mood.

And if that’s the case, your problem could be too little testosterone.

You may be surprised to hear it, but testosterone balance is a critical factor in helping you feel sexy in body and in mind. Testosterone is the slinky, silky lingerie of your brain; it tells you you want sex. When testosterone is released into your body, your erogenous zones perk up, because sex is on the horizon.

Testosterone: You want some.

After age 35, your ovaries produce less testosterone. This can account for mood swings, a decreased sex drive, hot flashes and a general feeling of not-that-into-it-ness.

Another reason your system may be lacking testosterone? Too much body fat. Fat contains an enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol. The more body fat you have, the more testosterone you’re converting away from those sexy, feel-good hormones, and into estradiol.

But I promise you, this isn’t the end of good times in bed! Correcting your hormone balance may be as easy as starting a new exercise routine, tweaking your diet or adding a natural supplement to your daily vitamins.

Want to get a jump start on finding out which one of your hormones might be out of whack – take the Hormone Quiz – http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/hormone-cure-quiz. Some women have told me they learned more from that quiz than they have from their past 10 doctor’s visits! Once you know where you’re out of balance, then you can do something about it. That’s empowering!

You should feel sexy at any age, at any time. Don’t let anyone – including your own mind – tell you differently.

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