Couples Counseling Articles

Marriage

Something Brand New is Emerging

Not terribly long ago almost everyone grew their own food and wove their own cloth.

Then, fueled by the discovery of steam power, the Industrial Revolution burst onto the scene around 1750.

It continued through the 1800’s as a Technological Revolution brought us scientific innovation and mass production.

The 1900’s ushered in the Information Age, quantum physics and, by the early 2000’s we all witnessed the Digital Revolution as it permeated our lives.

Today we have a boundless universe of information at our fingertips, an obesity epidemic and far more stuff than we can ever use.

On social media we stage, enhance and perform our lives for other’s consumption while we tally clicks, likes and friends.

Yes, the internet connects us in many ways yet the technology that was supposed to ‘save’ us time instead has us time-starved and drowning in digital soup.

Simultaneously, loneliness is near universal and considered the #1 public health risk in North America.

As I see it, there’s another revolution emerging; one that will transform us and our planet.

It will take work as we toggle back and forth between joy and pain, commit to be better humans and learn to love well.

Care to join me?

On Generosity

Whether thinking about what you’re going to do today, or for the rest of your life – generosity is a great place to start.

It’s different than tolerance which allows or endures.

Generosity is kind in spirit.

It leads to happiness and engagement in a world that appears increasingly unhappy and disconnected. 

Generosity requires effort and self-trust such that you can take your mind off yourself and your problems long enough to be present and see someone else’s pain.

​​​​​​​It takes guts and willingness to be generous.

It also takes emotional labor; enough that you’ll stay in the game when the biggest part of you wants to shut down and walk away. 

Creating a Place For Peace

Most relationships end up pretty far from where they start out.

Life dishes out lots of challenges, speed bumps and misunderstandings. But when partners persist and are open to change, they can create a safe space for peace and connection.

This doesn’t mean we lead a problem-free life. Rather, life’s challenges can bring us closer and allow us to share what may sometimes feel like a heavy load.

This perspective – leaning into difficult situations together and without struggle – also allows things to untangle in ways that may seem unfamiliar.

Often, the problem is how we relate to each other in everyday challenges and unknowingly step into negative cycles that disconnect us from peace and the people we love.

We humans work hard to get away from rather ordinary yet uncomfortable feelings and situations.

It could be something as simple as being annoyed or hurt by a partner’s comment and leaving the room as frustration bubbles up. Anything to get away and stop those awful feelings.

It takes only a fraction of a second for your brain to interpret the comment and weave a story around it.

In fact, your brain might weave another story around the situation…and then another, and another…making the situation in your mind even more vivid while your frustration turns to rage.

You might be able to tuck it away for a while but sometimes it’s too late and the tension boils over.

If you’re super creative, you’ll find new ways to self-soothe and try to hang in there until things blow over.

But they don’t blow over. Not really. And they don’t go away.

They go underground and linger until the next annoying comment fires up your brain and the negative cycle starts all over again.

Blame is Contagious

We may love someone but the way we talk to them (or about them) isn’t always loving.

Sometimes, we talk to people we love in ways that are largely inconsistent.

Maybe it has something to do with our limited perception.

It’s tempting to blame and believe the stories we tell.

Blame makes us feel better.

Blame allows us to zoom past our own emotions and discount accountability.

It’s so much easier to point a finger and hold the other person responsible.

Blame discharges anger quickly and doesn’t require any effort to figure out what’s really going on.

These blaming conversations are contagious. 

They’re also the fastest way to embed painful narratives in our relationships.

Relationship Tools May Seem Important

Relationship tools seem important….

Yet, the essence of relating lies in non-judgmental curiosity.

This is a new idea for most of us and it’s simple but not easy.

It points to heart-centered listening.

When we learn to practice this approach with a heart-centered attitude, our relationship takes care of itself.

This clear concept can be written down in a few sentences and covers a lifetime.

It’s the seed for empathy, compassion and connection.

Relating is not so much about using tools to figure things out, rather it’s in how you approach the relationship itself.

When you show up curious and willing to observe with an open mind, things start to shift.

You show up moment by moment ensuring that you are not trying to change or control anyone or anything.

A little clumsy at first, you start to refine your approach and your attitude.

You withhold judgment and criticism (even the kind you consider constructive).

You observe yourself and stay present.

There will be challenges every day and some days will be easier than others.

You will have disagreeable conversations and have to work through them.

But over time, relating to your partner with curiosity becomes the new normal.

Together you explore, create new experiences, get comfortable and your relationship starts to change.

It’s Worth Considering

In a safe, intimate partnership, there is nothing more important than approaching each other with an open mind and a vulnerable heart.

The moment we seed our interactions with defenses and demands, we are no longer relating.

It’s subtle, yet over time, we can see how easily and often we project images and comparisons onto our relationships.

When we show up open, without labels or expectations, things start to shift.

The approach is simply to allow; to relax and show up as if you’ve never done it before.

You genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen.

You’re showing up as your unique and original self… willing to relate… not knowing what is going to happen in this moment… or the next.

Your mind is open and your heart is available.

You’re naturally curious and able to experience your partner.

Letting go of all those thoughts of what your relationship should be, is a radical idea.

One worth considering.

Tis the Season: Love, Resentment and Happiness

We all have decisions to make around careers, love, and partnerships.

And making good decisions makes us happy.

It’s a simple concept, but not easy.

Because when life is stressful, it’s hard to know where to begin. Good decisions can seem out of reach.

We might doubt ourselves or think of others as the source of our confusion and unhappiness.

Take a closer look and we can see why.

We are social creatures who are hard-wired to connect, and our happiness depends largely on our relationship with others.

Without love, friends, and community, it’s hard to be happy.

Continue Reading Tis the Season: Love, Resentment and Happiness

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?

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