Couples Counseling Articles

Couples

Communication, Creativity and Contradictions

Reading any news headline makes me think deeply about the source of turmoil.

We can pretend things will get back to normal soon.

We can tell ourselves that our lives and the world are not forever changed. 

We can continue the exhausting human habit of resisting pain and bracing ourselves for (mostly) imaginary disaster.

We can even continue to relate to each other as before; tiptoeing around the under-currents of anger and tension. 

We have a choice; we can hold back or we can speak up. 

What keeps us from speaking up at home AND in the world, I believe, is fear. 

It also prevents us from loving well.

The moment we recognize our emotions as the organizing principle of truth and we’re willing to speak them out loud…..

We’re inclined to take more risks and make a ruckus.

That’s when our relationships are transformed.

Spoiler alert – speaking our emotions is not the same as venting, blaming, criticizing or acting out.

Rather, it’s a courageous and messy process brimming with creativity, communication and contradiction. 

One way or another, it seems we’re all headed in the direction of more truth-telling.

Either we embrace the shift or we keep doing things the old way.

Isn’t it good to know we have a choice?

How Do We Make Things Better?

We don’t think of it often but, culture defines nations, neighborhoods, families …and corporate entities.

Starbucks and Dunkin’ have different cultures, for example.

Families differ culturally too…

And, every marriage merges two cultures.

When we spent Thanksgiving with one of my relatives, my dad would grumble all the way home.

It makes no sense,” he would say with an eye-roll, “Why would anyone serve Jello at a holiday meal?”

Culture is a set of ideas that affect our behavior in certain ways.

It’s shared information and values….stored mostly in our brains.

(Yes, it’s also stored in libraries and museums.)

Some of these stored ideas are clear and explicit. Others, not so much.

They’re vague and few ideas last for long.

Most simply disappear.

But when an idea is exceptional (good or bad) it gets embedded and resistant to change.

Like long-lasting relationships, long-lived ideas start to shift too.

When the shift happens…and it always does…perhaps the most important question to ask is,

How do we make things better?

Couples, Communication and Confusion

It can happen while sitting around sipping an extraordinary Australian cabernet….

Or between episodes of Bridgerton…..

Or even while giving simple directions to someone you love.

Things can get awkward and frustrating because communication is fundamentally flawed.

Even the best communication involves abstraction and guesswork on the part of both people.

It’s filled with errors on the part of the communicator and misunderstandings by the recipient.

Messages shared and messages received are rarely the same.

And, over time…patterns develop.

Communicating with any human being depends on putting an abstraction, or thought, into words as precisely as possible.

At first glance the recipient thinks s/he understands….but take a closer look… and you’ll see that they have to guess.

Does s/he mean exactly this? OR Does s/he mean exactly THIS?

The brain gets confused and it happens so fast that we don’t notice.

Even if we do….we rarely take time to check things out …because we’re not doing scientific research here…right? Instead, we move on.

The brain makes a quick interpretation and we make our decision from there.

Seems simple enough, right? But hold on.

We also ‘make meaning’ out of these new interpretations.

If there’s a meaning or interpretation we don’t like….well….the brain can take us on a harrowing roller coaster ride full of emotional ups and downs.

That’s when we develop a false sense of certainty….and the brain makes up even MORE stories we believe to be true.

It all happens in seconds and when the stories fit our narratives and beliefs…

…we get frustrated… rarely show mercy….and find someone to blame.

Sometimes, we even blame ourselves.

Perhaps…these self-created interpretations get in the way for all of us.

These Essentials Are The Solution… But They’re Not For Everyone

Problems are conflicts of ideas and perception.

I may have an idea and see things one way. That means something to me.

My partner sees things another way….. that means something to him.

There’s a good possibility we’ll fuss over it.

This kind of conflict happens to all couples and most often…..we move on.

Because most problems are uninteresting and work themselves out.

But there are times when a couple gets stuck in a conversation that goes around in circles.

It’s a never ending cycle and can be about something major….or seemingly insignificant.

A negative pattern can develop in the relationship that is so profound, it brings up dread.

Oh, no. Here we go again!

Once embedded in the relationship, this cyclical pattern can go on for years, even decades.

Try deflecting it with silence or politeness and it works for a while.

Then comes the inevitable jab.

It hurts.

For lots of people, it’s easier to just take the jab; stay quiet and wait.

It keeps things tidy. It also keeps things from getting better.

The ultimate solution requires courage; taking off the mask and stepping into possibility.

It involves taking risks and speaking up….simply….creatively.

These are the essentials that get us UNSTUCK and move things forward.

And this is where we find passion, connection, emotional safety and trust.

Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples – Charlotte, NC – September 28 & 29

How do you want to feel in your relationship?

Safe? Warm? Respected? Understood? Cherished?

Whatever it is for YOU…. if you’re trying hard to make things better – you’re not alone.

We’re all pretty good about attending to our children, homes and careers. Yet when it comes to our primary relationship, most of us wing it and hope for the best. STOP!

What YOU want for your relationship is more important today than ever before.

It’s time to dig deep and think about the ONE thing that’s likely to make everything better.

You know what I’m talking about….connection.

It creates the kind of closeness you experience when you have important conversations…. without slipping into that dreaded negative spin.

Connection is a must-have for 21st century relationships and exactly what you’ll experience in our couples workshops.

Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples

2 Days – 7 Conversations

Join us on September 28 and 29!

The Wellness Center Counseling Hold Me Tight workshop

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Continue Reading Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples – Charlotte, NC – September 28 & 29

I’ve struggled with this too!

We all know falling in love is the easy part. Keeping love alive is the BIG challenge, right?

When we try to remake our parents relationship into our own or use them as relationship role models, it doesn’t work well for most of us. In part, because they lived less complicated lives with clear expectations in a very different era.

Still, it’s hard to let go of the image of perfection or how things should be.

Making room for the new means letting go of old expectations that end up building walls of resentment.

When we can say, this is OUR relationship – not my mother’s / not my father’s – we switch into the role of co-creator.

Consciously, we begin to sketch out what WE want this relationship to be and care enough to make it happen.

Our Hold Me Tight® Workshop for Couples (June 29 & 30) lays it all out there for you. Seven conversations over two days that have the capacity to change the way you see your partner AND your relationship. It’s perfect for couples who have conversations that either escalate or don’t ever seem to get resolved.

Continue Reading I’ve struggled with this too!

Love and Loneliness

Creating emotional balance and safety in a topsy-turvy world seems impossible some days.

Intuitively, we know love, attention and connection are are key; everywhere present and scarce at the same time.

So we seek it. Crave it. Demand it.

While the essence of it all might just be about mastering how to give and receive it.

What we believe matters… now more than ever.

Happy New Year and Last Chance to Register For Early Bird Pricing

Tonight my husband and I have plans for a lovely dinner to celebrate New Year’s eve.

Yet, this morning, I found myself wishing for a drive along the majestic California coastline.

These tumbling thoughts can turn into complaints and always catch me by surprise. They force me to pause and reflect.

Maybe… just maybe it’s our nature to crave things we don’t have in the moment. It also saps energy and can bring on the blues.

The quickest FIX I know of is a GRATITUDE list. So we did one…. together.

Continue Reading Happy New Year and Last Chance to Register For Early Bird Pricing

Before That Clock Strikes Midnight on December 31st

It’s almost 2019 and I want to end the year with a HUGE thank you.

Throughout 2018 I’ve been moved by the warm comments you’ve shared with me about how our workshops and Intensives have impacted your life.

Seeing couples like you create real, affirmative change means more to me than just about anything on this planet.

“There are no words to properly describe how impactful the intensive retreat was… It changed our relationship and my life profoundly.”

“This workshop was very helpful for my husband and I in learning a new, more intimate way of talking to each other about our needs. We both feel we have reached a new level of connecting and communicating and that we are working together better as partners since attending.”

I know you’re committed to LOVE and to loving relationships so before that clock strikes midnight on December 31st, check out this short list to see if our Intensives and Workshops make sense for you or someone you care about:

You have the same arguments over and over again and you can’t get out of the loop.

You want to have conversations that bring you closer and create connection.

Your relationship is at a tipping point and you want to keep things from getting worse.

You experienced an emotional or physical affair and you want to re-establish trust.

You’re unclear how things got so stressful between you and you’re ready for a change.

If any one of these resonate, you need to join us in 2019. It’s a perfect gift and you can supercharge your results with our special pricing.

Use this $250 gift voucher to register for an Intensive before December 31 ……and attend in 2019! Simply set up your Intensive with Beth McCain or Jennifer Holladay before year-end. I invite you to meet Beth McCain and Jennifer Holliday by watching their videos below:

Continue Reading Before That Clock Strikes Midnight on December 31st

Moment by Moment / Grace and Gratitude

Just a simple reminder on how well you’re doing.

Those anxious moments you had a year ago are gone.

The problem was either resolved or it faded into the background. Something you live with but no longer think of as urgent.

Today there are other issues – for sure!

And, knowing you can get through every single overwhelming moment makes it easier to see what’s real.

When we give our attention to the important stuff instead of the panic within, we learn to build a cycle of goodness.

Continue Reading Moment by Moment / Grace and Gratitude