Couples Counseling Articles

Couples

The New Luxury Item and #1 Status Symbol

In a restaurant the other day I heard a man say, “I love my wife and we don’t have kids but it seems nothing, absolutely nothing could have prepared me for this thing called marriage.” It was a moment of truth and took my breath away.

This Holiday Season, as I watch shoppers, I find myself reflecting on the rarest of gifts; the one thing people want most and money can’t buy:
A long-term, happy, not-perfect-but-relatively stress-free marriage (or long-term committed relationship) where they can feel valued, respected, appreciated and heard.

It sounds simple and perfectly rational, right?

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The Masters, The Disasters and Everyone in Between

key-to-happinessNow and then I reflect on something I heard John Gottmann say.

Gottman is one of the worlds leading researchers on marriage and I’m paraphrasing the man but, in essence, he said:

When it comes to couples and long-term committed relationships, there are the Masters, the Disasters……. and then there’s everyone in between…… brailling their way through.

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Are You Stuck in a Downward Spiral?

happy-mature-coupleLook in the dictionary and the word ‘stuck’ has many meanings. Here’s one:

To be at a standstill.
To become fastened, hindered,
checked, or stationary by
some obstruction.

It’s hard to imagine, but for distressed couples, the biggest obstruction is a negative pattern they know is there but can’t change. People almost always refer to it as a loop, a cycle or a downward spiral.

The biggest indicator that you’re in a downward spiral is a recurring argument that starts slowly at first and usually gets ignored or shoved under the rug.

When that spiral gets momentum, it shreds your relationship and sooner or later you and your partner…..loving people who once felt safe and secure….suddenly feel distant and defensive.

You build walls around your heart and wonder – How did this happen to us?

Couples usually try to strike bargains; asking, negotiating, even demanding that the other person change. If you would just do this…then I’ll to do that…. for example.

Problem is, bargains don’t work and the cycle has you both locked in a pattern of negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors……

Demands and promises turn out to be a set up for disappointment and almost always make matters worse.

What drives this villainous pattern? FEAR

F-false
E-evidence
A-appearing
R-real

couple-fireIt’s a challenge to acknowledge fear at first but once you see it – you can’t NOT see it anymore. And once you see it, you can feel it, talk about it….even do something about it. That’s when everything starts to change.

There’s a shift happening and change is in the air. This might be a great time to take a look around and see how you might be stuck.

Everybody fears something.

What do you fear?

 

 

3 Things Happy Couples Do (Almost) Every Day

3 Things Happy Couples Do (Almost) Every DayHappy couples aren’t perfect the way you might imagine. They fuss and disagree just like everyone else. What’s unique about these couples is that partners are able to step out of negative situations fairly quickly and they do it together. They don’t brood, attack or stonewall each other.

Partners are available and engaged in affirming ways. If there’s a misunderstanding or hurt feelings, they tend to the hurt rather than blame or defend. Partners are able to reach out, connect and repair even when things are difficult.

These aren’t sweeping gestures. They’re tiny, courageous acts of love that have huge impact and bring lovers close.

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3 Sure Signs That Signal A Distressed Relationship

Couple before coming to Wellness Counseling Center - Charlotte - North CarolinaWhy would anyone want to look at a troubled relationship when it’s so much easier to look the other way? Denial can be a wonderful thing, for a while.

In a distressed relationship, you do your best each day…to put the hurt away…hoping things will be better tomorrow.

When times are tough, you braille your way through the difficult terrain – sometimes with the advice of co-workers or girlfriends…but mostly…it’s a solitary journey and folks go it alone.

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How Masterful Couples Use Time

When you think about the relationship you truly desire, you might think…We don’t have time for that.

I read a blog recently that reminded me of the way I think about time. Then, as I listened to clients, I realized the issue is too important to keep to myself. I was going to have to write about it.

Here are just a few of the things we all say and do around time:

The kids take up all our time.
Who has the time?
Maybe we’ll do it next time.
Time passed us by.
We run out of time.
We don’t take the time.
Relationships take too much time.
We race against time.
We borrow time,
save time
use time,
spend time
and
waste time.

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The #1 Tool You Need to Fix Your Relationship

Humans are generally happiest when their intimate#1 Tool You Need to Fix Your Relationship relationships go well and they’re distressed when they don’t.

It’s not unusual to get anxious or depressed enough to seek help.

Back in the day, old-school thinking propelled individuals into counseling for three basic reasons…

1) We wanted someone (other than family) to understand our situation and tell us what to do.

2) We wanted to clear our head and get our act together BEFORE getting into another relationship.

3) We sent our partner to therapy so they could get their act together!

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Are You Feeling Stuck? Start a Movement

Humans have the capacity to see the world through a whimsical lens or a weighty one. As a result, feelings usually ebb and flow. But sometimes… I can get stuck – I mean really, really stuck.Get Unstuck

It’s a universal human experience and happens to everyone.

Stuck-ness creeps in without warning and… when it does…. it reigns supreme and colors everything.

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How To Create a Relationship Everyone Will Envy!

Human beings want to be valued and admired but creating a relationshipCouples in conversation with other people in mind is a bad idea.

If you want your relationship to make others green with envy…

Rule #1:  Don’t do it!  

Building a relationship intended to

•    satisfy someone else,
•    ‘show’ someone,
•    out-do someone or
•    impress someone

ensures distress and unhappiness.

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Are You and Your Partner Connected?

One Little Answer to Four Simple Questions Determines A Healthy Relationship

Couples Connections and RelationshipsIn the fall of 1993, I was making a career transition from university fund-raiser to Marriage and Family Therapist when I saw my first client in a Los Angeles clinic. She was a beautiful, young, soft-spoken woman in despair over her relationship. While we sat together she explained how much she and her husband loved each other but for some reason, things were not going well. For nearly an hour, she shared her confusion and the drama of their life and then … I never saw her again. Ever. Today I think of her as an angel who inspired me to focus on working with couples.

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