Girlfriend’s ‘annoying’ obsession lashed
Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au's weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred. This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie tackles a "ballsy" girlfriend obsessed with winning, a wife concerned her marriage has lost its spark and what to do if you're struggling to get an erection.
My girlfriend is obsessed with 'winning' and it's driving a wedge between us
QUESTION: I've been with my girlfriend for four years but I'm thinking of ending things as she's obsessed with winning. I used to find her ballsy determination cute but now I just find it annoying. I've noticed her "winning" even extends to our arguments.
When we have rows she treats it like a sport and brings up every bad thing I've ever done until I feel worn down and relent. I don't know how she remembers every bad thing I've ever done and said - if it wasn't so annoying I'd be impressed. What can I do to make her stop being so competitive when we row?
ANSWER: There are two separate issues here. One is your partner's competitiveness. The other is what happens when you have an argument.
Arguing itself isn't necessarily an issue in a relationship - it's how couples do it that makes a difference long-term.
You don't need me to tell that being 'worn down' and relenting isn't effective communication. Even if you stop arguing, your relationship will still suffer from not being able to really hear each other and reach agreement together. Ultimately that will erode the connection between you.
Your partner bringing up past hurts or incidents in a relationship is what we call 'kitchen-sinking'. You throw everything but the kitchen sink in. It serves the exact purpose your partner is using it for - it keeps the person doing it in control of the argument. It derails arguments and prohibits a harmonious resolution.
You probably never feel like you're being heard or validated. Your partner will always have past wrongs to bring up that make her the victim.
Next time this happens, be firm with her that you need to deal with one issue at a time.
I need us to stay focused on the issue we were talking about.
I'm happy to talk about that later, but right now, I need us to stay focused on this issue.
I would also let her know that the ways you're resolving conflict aren't working for you and you'd like to find new ways to communicate together.
Again, it's how couples have difficult discussions (not what they're talking about) that has the biggest impact on a relationship.
Her competitiveness is another issue.
There are two key things to address here: How this manifests and the impact it has on you. The other is the underlying issues that lead her to be competitive.
As a therapist, I'm interested in where her competitiveness originates and changing the core motivation, not just the behaviour. My guess is that winning is something she learned she had to do in childhood.
Share the impact it has on you, which may cause her to look further at the underlying issues for her and to change her behaviour.
My marriage is missing our spark, how do I get it back?
QUESTION: My husband used to make me laugh but doesn't anymore. How can we get our spark back?
ANSWER: Lack of laughter is usually a sign that you've become disengaged from each other and negativity has built up in a relationship.
Some helpful questions to ask yourself around this might be:
How connected are we at the moment?
Do we spend enough time together lately? How can we have fun together?
How is our communication?
Am I holding back sharing things that are important to me? Do we really know what's going on in each other's internal worlds at the moment? Do we end up arguing when we try to discuss important issues?
Look for ways to rebuild your connection and appreciation for each other.
I have trouble 'getting it up' - what can I do?
QUESTION: I have trouble getting an erection and it makes me really self-conscious about making my partner happy. I love her but I'm worried that she thinks I am useless. What can I do to make it better?
ANSWER: I'm often surprised at the number of men I see as a Sex Therapist and Sexologist who haven't spoken to their partners about their sexual challenges.
Start by having a conversation with your partner about this. You'll improve your relationship and sex life more when you can talk about this together.
Your partner may be feeling inadequate herself, wondering if there's something she's doing 'wrong' to impact your arousal level. She might not need you to have an erection to feel sexually satisfied. Many women prefer longer foreplay than longer sex and often reach orgasm without penetration.
Your next step is to speak to your GP and have a full health check. Erection challenges can indicate serious underlying health concerns. There are numerous treatment options, depending on the cause.
You may then benefit from speaking to a Sexologist or Sex Therapist. Studies have shown that couples who use medication alongside talking to a therapist have better outcomes than those who rely solely on medication.
This is because therapy can support you to talk openly about what you both want and help you expand your sexual repertoire.
If you have a question for Isiah, email email@example.com
Originally published as Girlfriend's 'annoying' obsession lashed