Couples Counseling Articles

relationship

The Relationship Dance

Sue Johnson, the world’s leading couples therapist and researcher talks about intimate relationship as a ‘dance that shapes and recreates the dancers’.

Relationship is about relating; ‘It’s a dance of synchrony requiring partners to improvise and tune in to each other’.

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For entertainment we watch movies where brilliant actors talk and pick up each other’s flawless cues.

They respond perfectly. Dreamily. Lovingly. That’s why we pay them $20 million a picture, after all.

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Sometimes Hope is Enough

I imagine some couples glide thru life and wake up cheerful every day. They agree on most issues, share everything, and use their energy in a perfectly harmonious division of duties. I’ve never met one of those couples but movies and magazines want us to believe they’re out there somewhere.

More human and more admirable is the couple who – when things are stressful – stumbles and struggles to find ways to reach for each other without blaming or defending, winning or losing. Those partners look for ways to understand and support. They lean into each other when the need is urgent; talk, hold hands or sit silently letting the other know ‘I’m here for you.’ That kind of warmth and reassurance takes courage especially when others would give up and walk away.

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A Relationship Check-Up In Six Questions

happy-couple01-25It’s risky to check-in and reflect on an intimate relationship because when it’s good, it’s very good. You don’t want to rock the boat.

When it’s bad, all you want to do is fix, hide or move on and hope things get better soon.

If you step back for a minute, these six simple questions will provide a panoramic view of your relationship.

What is its purpose and does it guide you?

Love is essential and love is grand yet not enough. A 21st century relationship also needs purpose to survive.

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What’s Your Relationship Worth?

Most people would never consider assigning a value to their relationship. Just ask. The answer: It’s priceless. happy-coupleC

But make a mess of things, add an eye-roll, some resentment, ignore, criticize, throw in some run-around-crazy-busy-ness, the daily tasks of living and the constant, insistent lure of electronic devices – – it’s remarkably easy to damage something we consider priceless.

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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?

 

 

Are You There For Me?

Are You There For Me?Like most folks, you probably thought having a safe, secure base and being dependent on another human being should be limited to parents and children.

Growing up, you were probably taught, explicitly or implicitly, that the most desirable option for any self-respecting adult was independence; that needing someone… relying on someone… and needing reassurance was a sure sign of weakness.

Fortunately, there’s a new paradigm emerging and the science is clear.

  • Effective dependence is optimal and loneliness is a greater risk to your health than smoking.
  • Having a close, loving relationship and a partner who provides a safe-haven and secure base – especially in difficult times – calms the central nervous system and soothes the brain.
  • Emotional closeness enables you to do more, be more; live more fully and take more risks.

It turns out, effective, healthy and mutual dependence is an extraordinary advantage in life.

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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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Post Holiday Conflicts? You’re Not Alone!

You’re grateful for the blessings in your life. Couple in conflict after the holidays

Still, the holidays probably took a toll because family issues, spending, rich foods, alcohol and all that running around — send the best of us into overdrive!

Maybe you find yourself irked that someone didn’t come thru for you or upset that you didn’t pull off the perfect Christmas – again.

You are not alone! Conflict and exhaustion are normal results of holiday frenzy and by January things can look bleak.

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The Cost of Facing Truth

Distressed couples rarely seek out truths that disturb the status quo of their relationship. Blaming is so much easier. Blaming sooths us and lets us off the hook.

“It’s not me. It’s you.” accusing-pointing

On some level it works.

Couples maintaining the status quo of distress get caught in a two-step dance…. and they’re skillful at it.

Usually, one person pushes and prods for closeness. The other withdraws… certain that more engagement will generate more distress…This creates distance… and other person pushes and prods for closeness again.

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