Category Archives: Fair Fight Training

Like Cats And Dogs

Name: Karen
Gender: Female
Age: 33
Location: Dorchester, MA
My marriage of 12 years has hit a real rocky patch. I know my husband loves me and I certainly love him and we both love our 3 kids dearly. It’s just that we (he and I) have been fighting like cats and dogs lately. Every discussion, not just about sex, turns into a huge dust-up. It’s getting us both down. I don’t know where to turn. I was reading about your counseling practice and wanted to ask if you thought couple’s counseling was worth our while. Unfortunately we live on the other side of the country, so we can’t see you. But I’d look around here for help it you thought it would help. Thanks.

Yeah, I think couple’s counseling might very well help, and it might even help a lot. It sounds like you have a bank of good will eye_contact_cartoongoin with your hubby. You guys still love each other. Maybe that’s a good enough and strong enough foundation to get you through this rough patch. But you’ll never know unless you invest some time and energy into getting to the bottom of what’s eating at you guys. A good counselor will be able to assist you with that.

It’s true; you are on the other side of the country from me, but we could still work together. The thing is, I kept hearing from folks like you, far-flung from my home base here in Seattle, so I decided to introduce a remote therapy option for those who can’t see me at my office. I now offer counseling and coaching sessions by phone or through Skype. For more information about this see the Therapy Available page in the header (under the heading About Dr Dick).

Regardless of where you find the help you are looking for, let me say from the outset; this intervention won’t be inexpensive, but no worthy endeavor ever is. Besides a good marriage is worth the investment, don’t you think? As you guys consider taking your problems to a professional, allow me to direct your attention to the CATEGORIES section in the sidebar. Search for the main category — Sex Therapy. Under that heading you will find the subcategory — “Fair Fight Training.” These postings and podcasts will help you begin working on your communication skills. In fact, if you guys can learn to fight fair, you will have gone a long distance to healing whatever ails you.fight1

Basically, this is what any good therapist will help you do. He/she ain’t gonna solve your problems for you, but she/he will teach you how to effectively communicate with each other, find solutions to your problems, and do so without battering one another to death in the process.

Most of us have really poor communication skills, if we have any skills at all. We generally fight first and ask questions later. We immediately get into a defensive posture, even before being attacked. We know how to manipulate, whine, or blame and “cover our own ass,” but that’s not communicating.

Effective communication begins with “EFFECTIVE LISTENING. ”

Here’s how I see it; even if we were to express our feelings, thoughts and opinions clearly and effectively that’s only half the task. Equally important is listening to and understanding what our partner communicates. If I’m too busy formulating my response to what my partner is saying, I’m not really listening to what’s being communicated. In fact, if I’m all balled up in preparing my defense, I may be missing the most important part of the message — the nonverbal cues coming from my partner. If I’m inside my own head, I have no resources available to decode or interpret the message coming from my partner, like through body language.effective-communication-cycle

In other words, effective communication only happens when both partners are able to receive, decipher, interpret and understand the full message coming from the other in precisely the way he/she intends it. This is a difficult skill to master, mostly because it means I have to put the interests of my partner before my own interests. And who among us can say we do that with ease?

Effective listening is dependent on being an active listener. Active listening is being genuinely interested in understanding what our partner thinks, feels and wants. An active listener is concerned with the full message coming from our partner — the verbal part as well as the nonverbal. I mean, think about it; sometimes we say one thing, but our body language says something quite different. So if I’m only attentive to the words I will surely miss the other, and possibly more important, non-verbal message coming from my partner.

When I listen actively I am more concerned with grasping what is being communicated than formulating my response. If I can accurately paraphrase my partner’s message as I receive it, as well as ask my partner for verification; then I’m on the right track. This verification or feedback process is what distinguishes active listening and makes it so effective.

When you practice this feedback method, try to:

  • Grasp the feelings or intent beyond the words.
  • Resist the impulse to immediately answer questions that come from your partner. Because questions are often not always questions; sometimes they’re rhetorical statements.
  • If you’re confused by what you hear, or you don’t understand what is being said, say so.
  • Acknowledge your partner’s feelings. If you hear anger, hurt, or fear let your partner know that’s what you hear.
  • Use eye contact and be conscious of his body language.
  • Be empathic and nonjudgmental.
  • Finally, thank your partner for entrusting his thoughts, feeling or whatever to you.

Good luck

Now Hear This!

Hey sex fans…foundation for sex positive culture

Particularly all you ladies and germs here in the Puget Sound area!

I want to invite you to a very special event taking place at The Foundation For Sex Positive Culture.

A workshop and book signing event with refreshments for The Gospel of Kink by me, Richard “Dr. Dick” Wagner, Ph.D., ACS.

When: 09/21/13  3PM to 4:30PM (formal presentation starts at 3:30pm)
Where: Annex
Who: Anyone 18+ with ID
Cost: $10
(No other CSPC discounts or AYCE cards applicable.)

Purchase Advance Tickets HERE  Enter discount code — E8F3Y — to get $5.00 off admission.

Book signing: 4:30pm – 5pm FREE

I will discuss the topic of my latest book: Building, Maintaining, and Deepening Kink Relationships Through Effective Communication. I will be joined by four of our favorite seasoned kinky, BDSM, and alt culture personalities (they contributed to the book) for a fun, lively, and stimulating panel discussion and Q&A. All we be on hand for a book signing afterward.

About the book:

  • The Gospel of Kink is a workshop in book form. Its innovative and interactive format presents the reader with numerous situations and dilemmas that arise as people embrace their kinkiness and integrate their eroticism into daily life.
  • The Gospel of Kink is on the cutting edge of the sex-positive and kink-aware movements. This workbook helps the reader break free from the painful silence the dominant culture imposes on alt culture and those of us on the sexual fringe.GOK small cover
  • The Gospel of Kink provides an opportunity to learn from people just like you. Its on-the-page workshop features a group of ten fictional characters who are your fellow participants. In addition, it includes a panel of actual seasoned kinky, BDSM, and alt culture practitioners who share their expertise and life experience with you.
  • The Gospel of Kink engages you with numerous exercises and homework. As a workshop participant, you will complete A Personal Alt Relationship Inventory, discuss the Essentials of Effective Communication, identify Tools and Techniques for Navigating Alt Relationship Conflicts, and learn how to Keep Things Fresh and Interesting.
  • The Gospel of Kink provides a safe and secure place for you to air your concerns without fear of being judged for how you live your life or with whom you choose to live it. You will learn within a framework of honesty, activity, alliance, support, and humor.
  • The Gospel of Kink is a workbook designed primarily for the modern kinkster, but not exclusively. Family, friends, healing and helping professionals, teachers, students, indeed anyone who wishes to further understand and better communicate with those they know on the sexual fringe, will benefit from this book.

About The Contributors

Samantha is a bisexual switch who has been a part of the SM and swinger communities for 12 years. Her favorite motto, which she uses for both worlds is, “If it isn’t fun, then why the fuck do it?”  Following in a tradition of her own creation, she would never claim to know the One True Way. And would not spend much time (let alone play) with anyone who would say such things.  She is an active volunteer and she has several causes (kinky and not) that she supports.

Byrdie is currently a student who is trying to find ways to recover from codependency in every aspect of her life including romantic relationships, friendships, and work. She says she is learning to tell the difference between her instincts and knee-jerk reactions to triggers. She’s also learning not to be so afraid of failure. As she says, she has just as much right to ask for things, speak out, act, and follow her dreams as anyone else.  Byrdie now says she is a hedonist. She wants what she wants when she wants it. She prefers primal play (punching, biting, scratching, growling) and deep thud sensations. And she has a fondness for Daddy/Girl play.  She identifies as someplace between bisexual, pansexual, and heteroflexible, and is working to improve trust and sensual intimacy with other women.  She is one of the earliest members of the Center for Sex Positive Culture. She is an avid attendee at culture-oriented workshops and is easing back into the social scene.  Most recently Byrdie initiated the Seattle edition of Mollena Williams’ “Know Your Negro,” a photography project intended to bring attention to the dearth of brown faces in the Kink/Leather world.

Jack Slash, aka Jack the Journeyman, has been a member of the Seattle Leather community since 1982, and a practitioner of S/M since 1974. Before the year 2002, he was known as “Dragon Xcalibur.”  He holds two past Leather titles: Seattle Leatherwomon 1988 and Seattle Leather Ambassador 1997. In the eighties and nineties, he was a member of the now disbanded Leather doo-wop singing group, The Sluts from Hell.  He teaches workshops, judges local and international contests on the West Coast, participates in local fund-raisers, and leads spirituality circles at Queer Leather events since the 1980′s in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, B.C. and San Francisco. Workshop presentations include-blood sports, branding, impact play, fear and terror, ritual sacrifice, and honeybees.  He is a sought after speaker on the topic of S/M and gender fluidity within the Leather community. As part of a group of community elders he often shares his perspective on the Pacific Northwest Leather history.  Jack says that S/M has informed his life and his personal spiritual path for more than thirty years bringing him lifelong friendships, great enlightenment, and much joy and pleasure.

Kristen Knapick, MA, LMHCA, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Seattle. She specializes in working with those for whom kink/poly/sex work/queerness/gender variance are a part of life whether the source of a problem or not. Her nearly 20 years of experience as a member of all of these communities gives her a unique, non-judgmental perspective on mental health within them, and her professional training has sharpened her skills.  Kristen has presented material at Babeland, Powersurge, Living in Leather, The Center for Sex Positive Culture, Women In Kink, and Gender Odyssey. She has organized professional trainings for mental health providers on polyamory and BDSM, and created a research project to explore the aging of the transgender community and the ways in which our current system is unprepared for assisting these trailblazers. Currently, Kristen is working to raise awareness and visibility for the needs of trans/gender-nonconformists, sex workers, and kinky and/or polyamorous people within the mental health system.

First Week of Autumn 2012 Q&A Show — Podcast #347 — 09/24/12


Hey sex fans,

It’s time for another Q&A show. This time around, I have a really great bunch of correspondents who share their sex and relationship concerns with us. And I go out of my way to make my responses informative, enriching and maybe even a little entertaining.

  • Joy is unhappy because her BF is into the meth and now their sex life is in the toilet.
  • AH said something really terrible to his GF while he was drunk, now he’s paying the price.
  • Then I riff on a handful of effective communication techniques.
  • Reba says her 6-year-old son is a nancy-boy. I put her straight and tell her to visit this site.
  • Jackson got himself a dose of the clap, and now he has to tell all his lady friends.
  • Tammy wants some help with greening her sex life.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Sex Advice and Dr Dick’s Sex Toy Review.

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Fighting Fair — a Tutorial

I have just the thing for all you folks out there who are in a relationship. If you’re like every other couple I know, you have your share of tension. And let’s face it—tension leads to fighting. And fighting, if not done fairly, can lead to hurting your partner—even if that’s not your intention.

Here are Cheryl and Vern; they have a problem:

Doc,
We’ve been married for 11 years and have two great kids, ages 4 and 7. We both have full-time jobs, so family life is at a premium. Lately we’ve hit a rough patch and we seem to be fighting more than usual. We still love each other very much, but the sniping and bitchiness is getting us down. I know this is not specifically a sex question, but do you know how we could cut down on all this bickering or make it so we don’t lose it with each other?

Every relationship has its bones of contention. And it’s natural and healthy to want to hash things out. I think it’s so much better to get things out in the open, rather than let them fester all bottled up inside. Of course, there is a danger of exploding and letting things just fly in every direction. Someone is liable to get hurt. But if you give your venting some structure—fair fighting technique, for example—you’ll be more likely to get your point across with out bludgeoning one another.

First thing—we tend to fight more when we’re irritable. Stress and sleep deprivation make us cranky. And from the sound of it, you guys are definitely stressed, if not also sleep deprived. Your lifestyle is setting you up for confrontation. So no amount of fair fight training is gonna make a difference until there’s some change in your lifestyle. In fact, I suggest that you not even attempt to embrace these techniques if you’re not serious about integrating them into your lifestyle. It would be like committing to non-violence while you’re stocking up on guns and ammo.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics. The way you word a complaint will make a big difference. For instance, avoid “you” statements as much as possible. “You” statements tend to make your partner feel like he/she is to blame. “You make me angry.” “You don’t trust me.” “You’re not making sense.” “You never take the time to compliment me anymore.” “You are always to busy for me and my needs.”

I suggest that you use “I” statements instead. “I” statements reflect the way you feel. “I feel angry when I hear things like that.” “I want you to trust me.” “I don’t understand what you are saying.” “I don’t hear compliments from you anymore.” “I feel like I’m not important to you anymore.”

You see how in the first instance, the “you” statements blame your partner. They also assume he/she should know better, and that they’re doing this to you on purpose. The problem with assumptions like these is they only make things worse. They also put your partner in a defensive posture. “No, I didn’t.” “That ridiculous.” “I am, too!” “You’ve got to be kidding.”

In the second instance the “I” statements are more open-ended. They invite a response without putting your partner on the defensive. This is also a useful way of soliciting your partner’s feedback. “I’m not trying to make you angry.” “I want to trust you too, but how can I?” “Let me put it another way.” “I know I should try harder to compliment you.” “I’m so swamped; I have a difficult time prioritizing everything these days.”

Another basic to fighting fair is giving concrete examples of what you are talking about. Let’s say you’re talking about money matters. That’s always a big bugaboo in any relationship. Use “I” statements along with an example: “I felt like you just blew off the family budget when you made that purchase. I know you were thinking of the whole family when you bought it. It’s just I would really like some input on major expenditures like this. How are we going to adjust the budget for next month to pay for this?”

You see how the concrete example demonstrates your concern without clobbering your partner? You also suggested that you understood why the thing happened. And, most importantly, you offer a solution—that the two of you pull together as a team to resolve the budget crisis.

You know how sometimes you know exactly what you want to say, but it doesn’t come out right? This is more likely to happen in the heat of an argument. To short-circuit this dangerous hazard, I suggest that before either of you launches into a tirade against the other, you take the time to plan out what you want to say. Jot down some notes, bullet points, if you will. This, of course, also creates a natural cooling off period. The goal of fighting fair is to make the situation better, not worse.

If you guys are prone to fighting, I suggest that you take a cue from those in the kink community. In negotiating a BDSM scene, the participants always agree on a safeword before the scene begins. This safeword is a word that will be out of the context in the scenario, or in your case the argument. This safe word is used when someone is reaching his/her limit in the scene, or in your case, when your fight is veering toward emotional violence.

For example, let’s say you guys decide on the word “pickle.” You find yourself in a spat; things are heating up. You are dangerously close to saying some very hurtful things, things you know you will regret later. This is the time to employ the safe word. Or, let’s say, you are being browbeaten and harangued and you feel emotionally vulnerable. You don’t want to react or turn up the volume, so you use the safe word. If you commit to a safe word and one of you uses it and the other one ignores it, then that person is not only breaking the rules of fighting fair, he or she is guilty of domestic violence. And that ought never be tolerated. Get it? Got it? Good!

Here are some other things to consider when structuring your arguments so as not to devastate your partner. The time to commit to fighting fair must happen before there is a row. So I suggest that you sit down one quiet evening and pound out your own guidelines. You’ll also need to give these rules teeth. If there are no consequences for breaking an agreed upon rule, then what’s the point?

1. Pick the right time and place for the fight. Don’t bring up problems when you don’t have time to talk about them (like right before you or your partner has to leave for work). Don’t fight when you’re drinking. If things are coming to a head, but there’s no time for a fair fight, commit to a concrete time later to take on the issue. Be sure you honor that commitment and not just avoid the fight.

2. State your feelings honestly, without sarcasm or insults. Jot down the points you want to make. Delete anything that is intended to hurt or humiliate your partner.

3. Stick to the issue at hand. Don’t go bringing up things that happened in the past, even to make your point.

4. Fair fighting is not about placing blame. It’s about solving problems.

5. Stick to “I” statements and stay away from “you” statements.

6. Avoid words like “always” and “never.” “You always do that.” “I never get what I need.” This will help you avoid criticizing your partner’s entire personality.

7. Don’t mind-read. If you don’t know how your partner feels or what he/she thinks, then ASK.

8. Incorporate positive statements and compliments along with your complaints. Make a sandwich: complaint—compliment—criticism. Like this: “You’re a lying sonofabitch!” “I love your shoes!” “You should eat shit and die!”

Okay, I’m kidding on the last part up. But you could say something like: “I sometimes feel so alone. I know you’re trying to be more present. Is there any way we can work it that we have more quality time together, to love and nurture one another?” This sandwich technique will soften the blow of any complaint and your partner will be less defensive.

Remember, you are not alone. All couples have their share of problems. No couple will see eye to eye on everything. But if you know how to fight fair when fighting is called for, you’ll be able to structure your arguments so that you can resolve the issues without damaging your partner’s ego.

Good luck!

Sex Advice With An Edge — Podcast #71 — 07/14/08


Hey sex fans,

I have a great show for you today. It’s a total Q&A day, so buckle your seat belts, my friends; it’s gonna be a wild ride.

  • John gets the squirts when he swallows the spunk.
  • Karen is considering couple’s counseling.
  • Ron is deathly afraid that trying to blow himself makes him queer.
  • Steve is afraid his piss drinkin’ is gonna get him in trouble.
  • ??? isn’t gettin’ laid because of his little wiener…or so he thinks.
  • JC wonders if he can live in a sexless relationship.

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. ;-)

Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

I wanna take a moment to alert you to a new feature here on D rDick Sex Advice. It’s my PRODUCT REVIEW page. That’s right sex fans, now you can see what’s hot and what’s not in the world of adult products.

From time to time I will be posting reviews of all kinds of adult related goodies — sex toys for sure, but also condoms, lubes, fetish gear as well as educational and enrichment videos.

DON’T MISS A SINGLE ONE!

Look for the Product Reviews tab right there at the top of DrDickSexAdvice.com.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: Dr Dick’s Stockroom

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