Do you want to find a middle ground where your feet can be planted in mutual respect, equity, and reason? I’m pretty sure everyone wants that. But what I’m learning is that relationship rights, in general, are overlooked. Women don’t feel comfortable talking about things that are important to them. We find it difficult to say ‘no’ when we’re so used to saying ‘yes.’ Women have been conditioned and socialized to focus on everybody else’s needs first. Any of this sound familiar to you?
This week we are going to look at the Relationship Bill of Rights in more detail. Dr. Kimmery and I will go through each Right and explain how it applies to you and the ones you love. A lot has been learned over the centuries about women’s lives, and today we’re really talking about women stepping up and out and having a voice for what it is that they need in life.
Diamonds, imagine the Relationship Bill of Rights as a group of muscles. We must remember that it’s our responsibility to continue to grow and develop those muscles. And when we do so, we first empower ourselves, and consequently all our relationships, to be healthy, strong, flexible, supportive, and loving. We have the right to exist… let’s start there!
You are listening to The Midlife Sex Coach for Women™ Podcast episode 131.
Welcome to The Midlife Sex Coach for Women™ Podcast, the only show that combines a fun personality, medical knowledge, sexual counseling, and life coaching together. To create unique sex coaching that helps busy women awaken their libidos, address intimacy issues, and learn how to express their sexuality for the rest of their days. Here is your host, certified life coach and sexual counselor, Dr. Sonia Wright.
Hello, hello, hello, hello, hello Diamonds. It is so good to be with you all. It’s Dr. Sonia here and I am joined by Dr. Kimmery Newsom, my partner in life and in work as well. And this month is Women’s History Month. And I actually call it women’s empowerment month.
And a couple of weeks back I did a podcast on the Sexual Bill of Rights. And it was based on a Bill of Rights which is under the Relationship Bill of Rights. And I knew at that time that I wanted Dr. Kimmery, Dr. K to come on and talk to us about this Relationship Bill of Rights because she has been a marriage and family therapist for the last 20 years. And so she’s basically an expert when it comes to relationships. And she is also the relationship coach in my Own Your Sexuality Now program. And she also has her own relationship coaching program that she does.
So I figured she would be the one to come and talk to us about relationships because when we’re talking about women’s empowerment month we’re really talking about women stepping out and having a voice for what it is that they need in life. And having a voice in so many different things, having a voice in relationships and having a voice, right now I’m in the middle of doing a program or starting a program on advanced certification in women’s sexual intimacy.
And one of the foundational concepts that we’re dealing with is that women don’t speak up and say what’s working or not working for them, what they’re having difficulties with. Women don’t feel comfortable talking about things that are really important to them. And so I’m talking about having a voice in the advanced certification of women’s sexual intimacy for coaches. But it’s also about having a voice in all different aspects of a person’s life and specifically in having a voice in your relationship.
So I wanted Dr. K to come on, talk to us about what this Relationship Bill of Rights is and just go through each point and have a discussion about it. I should say that we’re in Hawaii right now on a family vacation. So if we get interrupted by children, that’s kind of the way it is. And we’re also going to be sharing a mic so this is going to be a fun, interesting experience. Okay, here we go.
Kimmery: So thank you for having me on, I really appreciate it. What I’m learning is that the Relationship Bill of Rights or just the rights in general that people have in relationships are overlooked. And when I talk with women about these rights in particular, some of them have just been blown away by the fact that it could be even said out loud that they have the right to be treated with respect. That’s the number one point here on the Bill of Rights, that you have the right to be treated with respect.
And that’s really interesting because in life in general there is this, most of the time there is this inherent expectation of respect. And so if we go through our lives not really being able to figure out that we deserve respect, that every interaction we have with a person should be respectful towards us. And as well we be respectful towards them then that throws a wrench in any way that we view ourselves in the context of relationships. And so I think that that one is the utmost important one.
And then the next one, you have the right to say no. What would it be like if you did not have the right to say no and not feel guilty? I mean that is just really unfathomable to me. But I can say that that is a place that I have been, I have been a people pleaser in relationships. I have been a people pleaser just in my life in general. And it is difficult to say no when you’re so used to saying yes.
Sonia: But I think also the society and the way that we are raised as women, that’s not beaten out of us but hammered, a good girl, a good woman is not bossy, does not have an opinion, does not think of herself first, does not know the word no and does not even know that that’s a complete sentence. And we hear that phrase, no is a complete sentence. But it’s almost like we have this compulsion that we have to explain and have to have a good enough reason and still have to please other people even when we’re saying no.
And so this is where that, if we say no we get to this point in our life where we do start saying no but then we still have the guilt around it because we have been conditioned and socialized as women that we have to say yes all the time. We have to focus on everybody else’s needs. So even when we start making that transition where we start saying no then we have to contend with the guilt. And when we get to that place and we realize that we’re worthy enough, we have as many rights as anybody else and that we have the ability to say no and be like that’s okay.
Because sometimes I say to myself, what would the average guy do? Maybe I’ll call them Fred or something like that. Fred would say no. Fred doesn’t want to do this. And Fred wouldn’t be worrying much about it. Fred would be like, deuces, and going on because the way the world has been for Fred is that Fred has the right to say no. And Fred has the right to have options and choose the options that is best for him. So Frederica or Sonia or Kimmery or whoever has those same rights to say no and to not feel guilty.
And when you release this and it’s kind of like okay, there is the outside conditioning by society as you’re growing up as a woman but then you internalize it all. And so this feeling guilty and feeling like you can’t do it but at this point there’s nobody policing you and policing your actions. It’s just an internal policing. So how do we get rid of that internal policing? The first step is to kick it out and then to say, “I’m not even going to be guilty, feeling guilty about this. That’s no longer going to be an option.
Kimmery: Yeah. And I think that’s a key point that you have there is kicking it out. Because the next one on here is, I have the right to express my feelings without being criticized. And no is a feeling. No is an action and no is also a feeling. And so if you feel that you need to say no and you feel no internally. Then you have the right to express that and not feel guilty or be criticized for it. And if people are criticizing you for saying no or expressing your feelings in general then those are not your people.
And so being able to have an understanding of what it is like and how it is like to be treated respectfully and honored in a relationship is something that we definitely as women must contend to as we go throughout our lives. And we must remember that it’s important for us to continue to grow and to develop those muscles that we are working to work on.
Sonia: I like how you say that no is a feeling because that reminds me that we’re talking about our instincts. We’re talking about if something inside of you says, “No, I don’t want to do that.” You get to listen to that. And so often we are in situations that may not be safe to us because we were focusing on pleasing other people and not listening to that inner guidance. Maybe when we’re a little kid and your parents say, “Go kiss that person over there.” And you’re like, “Hell no, I don’t know that person. I don’t want to know that person.”
And your parents are like, “Listen to me, go over there, say hi, kiss this person.” So that’s where from a really young age you’re taught not to respect your own wishes and your own autonomy and your own body and things like that. So it starts from a really young age and you’re like, “A good girl goes over and kisses aunty so and so even if aunty so and so smells bad and you really don’t want anything to do with her.” But all those things lead us to this place whereas an adult that we don’t feel we have the right to express our feelings without being criticized.
Kimmery: Yes, for sure. And that goes into one of them too. One of them is I have the right to ask for what I want. That’s going over and kissing aunty so and so is not something that you want to do but you’ve been told that that’s what you have to do. And so that autonomy and that choice is taken away. And one of the things that I like to emphasize with the people that I’m working with and coaching as well as in therapy is that we all have choice. And we get to decide what our life is going to look like, how we’re going to interact with people and the things that we will say yes to and the things that we will say no to.
Sonia: Now that brings up a really good point. Now, when you say we all have choice, something in my mind is like, no, we don’t. That was trained out of us. So when you’re dealing with somebody and I know it’s absolutely true that we have choice, that’s the ultimate power is you take back your power and you have the choice to make the options. But if you’re in a position where you don’t feel that you have choice and somebody’s coming to you for coaching and they want empowerment and they want to figure out, how do I have that choice? How do you help them go down that path to have the choice?
Kimmery: Yeah, the one thing that’s really important is acknowledgment of them as a free person. They have their own thoughts. They have their own feelings. They have their own mind. And so when we’re talking about having choice, we think about the different options that when they have in a relationship, when they have in making the decision about a job or when they have in the way they respond to something that reminds them of a trauma that they’ve experienced.
Often what I’m finding is that people need validation that what they’re seeing isn’t crazy and that they aren’t losing their mind and that the gaslighting they’re experiencing is actually real. And then they get to choose what they do with that information. And that’s how the transformation can happen is that the realization that what’s happening is real and somebody else is noticing that this is some bullshit and I don’t have to deal with that.
Sonia: Well, let’s talk for a moment about gaslighting because it doesn’t matter how professional you are or how intelligent you are or how many degrees you have. You can find yourself in a relationship where you’re being gaslighted. And it’s so insidious and it may not even seem that way at the beginning. But if you find yourself in a relationship where you’re feeling uncomfortable emotionally. And when you’re second guessing yourself the odds are there is some gaslighting going on. But can you give us a definition of gaslighting and how somebody would know about it?
That’s kind of how I think about it but how would you do if you’re coaching or doing counseling with somebody?
Kimmery: Yeah, for sure. So gaslighting as a definition isn’t really a thing but it’s more of the symptoms. And so if you have a situation where someone is kind of making you feel crazy, saying something to you that’s out of pocket, and then you take down the process and then you bring it back to them. And you say, “Hey, you said this and that was really hurtful.” And they say something to you to the effect of, “I didn’t say that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
And you go on and say, “Yeah, we were sitting here and we were eating dinner and then I said that and then you said this.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re crazy. I didn’t say that.” And then those situations continue to try and happen or if you’re witnessing something or noticing a change in them and you’re bringing that up and they’re like, “You’re crazy. I haven’t noticed anything. Everything is still the same. I have not changed. I am the same person.”
And so when there’s feelings of uncertainty and it drives you to a point where you start to question whether you have the sanity necessary in order to maintain a life then that is a big part of what gaslighting can look like.
Sonia: Yeah, or if you’re bringing up an issue and somehow it gets turned around such that you are the problem. And you’re like, “Hey, I think we should communicate better about this, let’s sit down and talk about it.” And somehow it’s because you don’t have the skillset to communicate. Somehow you come innocently into a situation trying to improve it and you end up leaving feeling more guilty like somehow it’s your fault. That is usually an indication of gaslighting as well.
Kimmery: Yes, definitely, that’s a great example. When manipulation happens that’s pretty much what happens with gaslighting is an emotional manipulation and twisting the blame and turning the blame around onto the other person and making them feel like everything is their fault and therefore not question the person who is the other partner or the other person in the relationship who may be being inappropriate or not being respectful, so definitely.
Sonia: Yeah, so that brings up another in the Relationship Bill of Rights, I have the right to feel safe. I have the right to feel safe in a relationship but of course physical safety without question. But often we don’t recognize that there’s not safe emotionally. We recognize that somebody smacks you upside the head, you’re like, “Whoa, something’s got to change here. I’ve got to get out of here.” But you may not recognize that there’s emotional manipulation or emotional abuse, verbal abuse. There’s many different ways and different forms that this can take such that you don’t feel safe.
So for everybody listening on this call you definitely have the right to feel safe. And we’re talking about Women’s History Month. A lot has been learned over the centuries in terms of women’s lives and what they have the power for and what they should get the respect for. Because a lot of women have gone through these situations in the past and decided they wanted something to change. And stepped out and made a difference so that we can learn from this and we can learn what’s happened in history.
But sometimes we may have to go through it ourselves even if your mother or sibling or aunt or somebody has gone through this experience previously. You may not see it until you’re right in the middle of it. So can you talk a little bit about this right to feel safe and what that might look like.
Kimmery: Absolutely. Safety is of the utmost importance just in general in life. And as women we’re taught that we are the ones who are responsible for our safety. If something happens to us in a public space, well, the questions aren’t who was it and what did they do? The questions usually are, what were you wearing or why were you out there this late at night by yourself and that sort of thing. So that’s a part of the gaslighting that we’ve talked about too is blaming the victim in essence is what that looks like.
And having the right to feel safe in your relationships is having the right to be able to bring up an issue. Something that’s going on, something that you feel like is not going well in the relationship and being able to say something about that and know that you’re going to be met with curiosity and respect as opposed to anger and disdain. And that usually is something that keeps people from speaking. When you’re in situations where someone is telling you that what you’re saying is wrong and your feelings and experiences aren’t valid.
Then that’s not a safe place to express yourself. And the physical safety as Dr. Sonia said is definitely of the utmost importance. Sometimes though the emotional unsafety can definitely have a larger toll. And so when you move on to a different relationship it can be precarious in a lot of ways because you can’t necessarily know whether a person is emotionally safe until you’ve spent time with them and been able to go through what I like to call the four seasons of life with them and seeing them in kind of all of the different ways in which life can throw things at you.
And so I think that that’s one of the most insidious parts of our relationship functioning is that if we don’t feel safe in other relationships when we move towards other people or other people try to move towards us, it’s a lot more difficult for there to be feelings of safety there too.
Sonia: And of course it goes without saying that your partner has the right for the safety as well, man, woman, non-binary. This focus on the Relationship Bill of Rights. There’s two sides to this or more, depending on how many people are in the relationship. But you have the right to feel safe. Your partner has the right to feel safe as well. So if you find yourself in a situation where you are the one that’s verbally abusing and stuff, check yourself. Really look at how you’re treating other people in relationships as well.
So all these things we’re talking about in the Relationship Bill of Rights you have this right, make sure that your partner or whoever you’re in a relationship with also has these same rights. So that’s something that we want to make sure is clear out there. Okay, so what else would you like to talk about? Yeah, I have the right to make my own decisions. This I think is, I’m all about power, empowerment and stuff and so I think the core of everything is the right to make your own decisions.
And we need to get to that place where we – there are times in our lives where we might have to step out and step out of what everybody else around us is saying is best for us and decide what is best for ourselves. Even if we’re not going to get the approval from everybody else, it’s just making the decision that is right for you. And then also you can do it in a respectful manner.
You can say, “This is the decision that I choose to have or to make and I understand that this may not be the best decision for you but it is the best decision for me and ultimately for the relationship at this point as I see it. And let’s continue to have a conversation about it but at the same time respectfully this is the decision that I’m going to make.” So when we’re talking about decisions in relationship, what do you think, Dr. Kimmery?
Kimmery: Well, I think most of the time we struggle with decisions when we are taught that we don’t have the right to make them. And so when we get into a position where we can make decisions for ourselves and we are expected really to make decisions for ourselves it may be a little bit difficult to do that. And one of the things I wanted to kind of add into that and you tell me what your thoughts are about this too, Dr. Sonia is that having the right to make decisions and having the right to make mistakes.
Because sometimes what we decide may not necessarily turn out to be what we thought it was going to be and so we make the decision and then it’s a mistake. And then we get ridiculed or treated badly for making the mistake. And so I just want to know where your thoughts are about having the right to make the decisions and the right to make the mistakes as well.
Sonia: Yeah. I think that’s part of empowerment, is you take responsibility for your decisions. And some are going to go the way you would like them to go and some are going to go the other way. You get to decide if that’s a mistake, first of all, if you want to label it that. But if you do choose to label it that I think that we have to have an understanding that nothing is going to be ‘perfect’. Everything is 50/50. So some things are going to happen one way, some things are going to happen another. And then you put a label on that as to if it’s a good thing or not so good.
But so often when I look at my areas of greatest growth it has usually been around the things that I initially labeled as a mistake or things I didn’t necessarily want to go through. And then on the other side they ended up being the blessing in my life, the most important thing that brought me to my next level. So yeah, I think that making your own decision is important and owning mistakes is important but also recognizing that it’s not necessarily the worst thing in the world and you can just make another decision.
So I don’t worry quite as much, as long as it’s not a life or death type of thing. Most things can be recovered from. And I think this is where love and respect and humor in a relationship become really important. And also if you’re going to have a conversation, say, “Hey, respectfully I’m making this decision. I know you may not agree with it but this is the decision that I would really like to make. And I also understand that it may go the way I want it to or it may not go the way I want to. Would you be there to support me? You get to have these conversations in whatever way with your partner.
And often it makes the relationship stronger than you imagined it was going to be. Sometimes when you’re in the midst of the mucky mistake and your partner reaches out a hand and says, “I love you no matter what is going on even if you made this stupid fool of a decision that I didn’t want to make anyway.” You can really find out who’s in your corner and you two can have a closer, or more, can have a closer bond. So it remains to be said if something is specifically a mistake or not, but that just kind of goes with the territory.
Decisions, it’s important to have the autonomy to be able to make the decisions that you need to in your life. And at the same time recognize that life is just going to be 50/50 and so it’s not always going to be perfect.
Kimmery: For sure. And this goes into another one. You have the right to not be pressured into doing stuff that you don’t want to do. You don’t have to do what somebody tells you to do just because they told you to do it. You get to choose something differently. And usually it’s the best bet to sit down and talk with your person or people about, okay, this is what you’ve asked of me, this is what I really decided that I would like to do instead. I would really like your support. Even if I don’t have your support this is really the direction that I’m going to go anyway, that’s that autonomy.
And you have the right to feel good about yourself based on the decisions that you make and based on everything else too. But since we’re talking about decisions, you have the right to feel good about making your own decisions and what that looks like for you. And I think that it’s important for us to know that it’s okay, it really is okay. And you have the right to ask for what you want. You have the right to do that and all of this is in conjunction with the communication and connection within our relationships.
We have the right to be, just to be, we have the right to exist. And a part of being and existing is being treated with respect, being able to say no, being able to express our feelings without being criticized, taking time for ourselves, which is really, really important. And having the understanding that you have the right to change your mind about something. And if you want to end a relationship you also have the right to be able to end that relationship and be respected because you made that decision, even if it’s a decision that nobody else agreed with.
So I think it’s important for us to know that all of these different things are what we are entitled to. And yes, I said the word, entitled to, in relationships because if we don’t then we lose ourselves in those relationships.
Sonia: Yeah, I think exactly. And then if we’re talking about relationships it really all comes down to communication based on a foundation of love and respect. So let’s quickly go through this list of the Bill of Rights and just read them out as we finish up this podcast. So I’ll let you read them because I like to listen to you.
Kimmery: Okay, I’ll read them. Now, this is from Pacific Lutheran University. So I want to give credit to them for coming up with this. I think they dated it, it was 2014. And so if you want to look at the source you can go to Pacific Lutheran University. Okay, so the first one is I have the right to be treated with respect. I have the right to say no and not feel guilty. I have the right to express my feelings without being criticized. I have the right to take time for myself. I have the right to feel safe. I have the right to make my own decisions. I have the right to change my mind.
I have the right to ask for what I want. I have the right to spend as much time with my family and friends as I want. I have the right to make mistakes. I have the right to not be pressured into doing stuff I don’t feel like doing. I have the right to feel good about myself. And I have the right to be respected if I want to end a relationship.
Sonia: Thank you. Thank you for going through that list. And thank you for being on the podcast today as we talk about Relationship Bill of Rights. And I do want to emphasize that yes, we do have these rights. And there’s sometimes you may choose to point to this in the Bill of Rights and activate, it’s not the right word but choose to say, “Hey, I have the right to do this and I’m going to do it.” And then there’s other times where you’re like, “That’s fine, whatever.” But I think that if you come from a place of respect, mutual respect, this communication and love and the relationship will thrive and grow.
What I’ve found with relationship coaching when I’m doing relationship coaching is that when people are set in their ways and there’s not a place for the communication and where it’s very one-sided and people are looking to be right all the time, that’s where there’s more issues than not. So I find that the mutual respect, the love, the commitment, those are the things that work well with the relationship when you have it on the foundation and the Relationship Bill of Rights. And it’s not set in stone. It’s not exclusive where you have every single thing every moment of every day, the way you want it. That’s not specifically what it’s about.
It’s kind of a give or take. It’s kind of like a guide. And I think that the important aspect of it is that you are in a relationship and you want to be in that relationship. In some ways it’s like there’s my Relationship Bill of Rights and then it would be kind of cool if we had a relationship, the relationship itself Bill of Rights. So maybe we could work on that at some point in time and say, if the relationship were a third individual, our third entity which I kind of think it is. What other rights in that for that relationship. So that would be kind of an interesting thing to do at some point in time.
Kimmery: Yeah, I like it.
Sonia: Alright, Diamonds, that is all for this week. So Dr. Sonia and…
Kimmery: Dr. Kimmery.
Sonia: We are out at this time and we will talk to you soon. Take care.
Kimmery: Bye now.
Hey Diamonds, do you want to reignite the passion that’s gone missing from your life? Do you want to want to want it again? You know I’m on a mission to end the emotional pain and isolation that women experience associated with sexual difficulties. And many of you also know that I was once in that place where I was experiencing little to no sexual intimacy in my life. And I kept thinking that there was something that was wrong with me, that I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t attractive enough, I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough to fix this problem.
And I was worried all the time that my relationship was too far gone because of this lack of intimacy. Well, you know what? I was right about one thing, the relationship didn’t last. But even though the relationship didn’t last, I committed to doing the work that I needed to do to own my sexuality. And now I have this amazing sex life and it’s everything that I wanted it to be. And I’m also committed to helping my Diamonds by teaching them the same strategies that I figured out in order to revitalize the intimacy in their life.
So, if you want to stop feeling broken, if you want to stop feeling shame and guilt about sexuality, if you want to feel more comfortable with your sexuality and tap into that pleasure then I’m here for you, Diamonds. First of all, know that there’s nothing that’s gone wrong with you. You’re not broken. And you know what? You can solve your intimacy issues. You can let go of that shame and guilt, and you can tap into that passionate person that’s just waiting to come out. Let’s get on a strategy call together and let’s discuss how we can work together and how I can help you.
And know that a strategy call, it’s 100% a safe place, there is no judgment. We’ll talk about your intimacy situation, which is what’s going on right now. We’re also going to talk about your intimacy goals, what you would like your intimacy to look like in the future. And then we’ll talk about how we could possibly work together to come up with a personalized strategy plan for you so you can get the results that you need. So, Diamonds, I’m here for you, don’t wait another minute. Book that consultation call with me today and I can’t wait to talk to you.
You can get that consultation call by going to soniawrightmd.as.me. And the link is also in the show notes. Okay, have a great day. I can’t wait to talk to you. Take care.