3 Things to Do Before Couples Therapy Starts

 

 

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So, you and your partner have finally agreed to go ahead and move forward with couples counseling? First off, congratulations for taking the first, and often the hardest step, towards working on your marriage! Many couples don’t even make it this far. So you should really give yourself a pat on the back. Even though the counseling sessions haven’t started yet, there are still some things you and your partner can do prior to coming in for your first session. Doing these 3 things will help to make the sessions go smoother and be more productive.

1. Practice Introspection

Therapy is a great way to an outside perspective of your situation. However, introspection can go a long way as well. Think about your relationship and your experiences within the relationship from a new perspective. Doing so can help you to empathize with your partner and help you identify where you might be falling short. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself questions. The best therapist sometimes is yourself.

 

2. Practice Self Care

It might seem counterintuitive to practice self-care when you’re trying to work together to make your marriage work and get back on track. However, self-care isn’t a selfish activity. In fact, self-care is all about choosing behaviors that nourish your body and spirit. You can’t pour from an empty cup. So, if you’re running on empty, that means you have nothing left to give within your relationship.

 

3. Prevent Further Damage

This will be different for every couple but preventing further damage prior to your first session is going to make things a whole lot easier. Further damage is typically unhealthy patterns of interaction or communication. These unhealthy patterns are the ones that are causing distress in the relationship. This can be anything from yelling to passive-aggressive behavior to even physical, emotional, or mental abuse. Try to notice and be aware when you find yourself spiraling into an unhealthy communication pattern. Take a deep breath, step back, and regroup when you have regained your composure.

 

Marriage isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. There are going to be long periods of both joy and grief which is what makes these relationships so beautiful. But sometimes during the dark days, you need a little bit of extra help. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate, we can help. Our team of highly skilled counselors can help you and your partner identify problems and teach you how to resolve issues in a healthy, effective manner. Schedule an appointment with us today.

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The Components of a Healthy, Happy Marriage

 

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There’s so many different ways to build a happy, healthy marriage. However, we’ve noticed that there are about 4 different components that help to establish that strong foundation that allows for a happy marriage. A great foundation is essential for long-term stability and growth within the relationship. Let’s take a look at the different components that make up a healthy, happy marriage.

 

Friendship Component

The friendship component is so important because it means that you and your partner genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Being able to find joy in doing activities together and engaging in conversation is key. Additionally, friendship helps you see the humor in life. When the friendship aspect is lacking, it can lead to arguments, less time spent together, and overall resentment. You and your partner can and should be the best of friends.

 

Spiritual Component

Spiritual connections that you share with your partner can help you two overcome even the most difficult of times. Couples who share a strong spiritual component in their relationship are usually able to work through rough patches and can find a greater sense of peace within their marriage. Spiritual connections help both you and your partner see the bigger picture in life. This is especially important when the little ugly details of life start to crop up.

 

Business Component

As dry and dull as this component may be, it’s extremely important. The business component is often what makes or breaks a marriage. This component involves money management, delegating duties, children rearing and caring for, and other day to day responsibilities. When you work through this component as a team, you come out stronger. This aspect is all about how you and your partner get your needs met while ensuring that these decisions are what’s best for you and your family.

 

Managing a Healthy, Happy Marriage

Some days it’s easier to manage your marriage than it is others. However, when you have a strong foundation you can see beyond a silly fight or disagreement. Establishing a strong foundation in your marriage is the key to longevity.

 

The good news is that you can always work on the foundation no matter where you are in the marriage. Working on the building blocks that make up a happy marriage can make a huge difference and increase satisfaction within your marriage.

But sometimes it takes a little extra help from an outside source. If you and your partner are needing some extra help to fill a few cracks in your foundation, we can help. Our team of counselors can assist you and your partner in strengthening your union. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.

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3 Common Communication Problems In Marriage

 

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Communication is key to a successful marriage. But many couples fail to understand that just because you’re talking doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re communicating. Effective communication means that both partners are able to openly discuss their thoughts and feelings, while also being able to listen to one another. Over time, it’s easy to get into a bad habit of communicating poorly. Here’s how to identify and break the bad habit of communicating poorly.

 

1. Communication Blockers

A communication blocker can be both a verbal and non-verbal blocker. A verbal blocker can be saying something like, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore”. Verbal blockers can also include name-calling, passive-aggressive comments, and condescending comments. While a non-verbal blocker can be an eye roll or ignoring your partner for your phone or tv when they’re speaking to you. These blockers let your partner know that you have no interest in considering their feelings and that never feels good for either person.

 

2. Continuing a Discussion After it has Escalated

It can be hard to break away from a heated discussion once it’s gotten so heated. When you and your partner get emotional it’s almost impossible to reason with one another. When you’re trying to discuss things while angry, it’s likely that neither of you are really listening to what the other person is saying. In fact, it’s likely that you’re merely reacting to what they’re saying, rather than actually hearing what they’re saying.

 

3. Blame

The blame game is super common because it’s super easy to play. It’s easy to place blame on your partner for whatever it is that is making you upset. Effective communication requires both parties to take responsibility for their actions and their words. Remember, there is no right or wrong when arguing, you’re not trying to “win” the conversation. You’re trying to resolve it. There’s no gold medal at the end of the argument, so quit the blame game and practice finding ways to resolve the issue together.

 

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been together for 20+ years or married for 6 months, effective communication can waiver and falter throughout the length of a relationship. Even the happiest of couples need a relationship communication tuneup once in a while. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate effectively, give us a call. We will be happy to help you and your partner identify what the issue is and how you two can learn to resolve them together.

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What to Expect During Your First Couples Therapy Session

 

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Every couple is different. Some are experienced in therapy and know what to expect, while their partner has never been in therapy in any capacity. Whether you’ve been in individual therapy before or not, marriage counseling is different because you’re adding another person to the session. In individual therapy sessions, it’s all about your feelings. However, with couples therapy, you now have another person in the room whose feelings you all have to take into account. You’re working toward a common goal rather than an individual goal. Here’s what you can expect during your first couples therapy session.

 

1. Feeling Anxious

It’s totally normal to feel anxious and nervous going into your first session. Therapy is a very vulnerable place and not everyone feels comfortable opening up immediately. Just remember that when you go into therapy with your partner that you two are working together against the problem not working against each other.

 

2. Raw Emotions

Because therapy is a safe place for you to express yourself, remember that some very raw emotions might come out during the first session and subsequent sessions thereafter. Don’t let the emotions scare you off. Come ready to open yourself up to your partner and let them in. Couples therapy can help you and your partner build a new level of intimacy towards each other.

 

3. You Choose Your Goals

The goal of marriage counseling isn’t always to “save the marriage.’ In fact, the goal is completely determined by you. Sometimes the goal is to just figure out how to communicate better, how to create more intimacy in the marriage, or learning to grieve together. Marriage counseling is by no means an indicator that your marriage is on the brink of disaster. You can determine your goals before going into therapy or outline them with the counselor together as a team.

 

4. You Will Have Homework

Yes, that’s right. You will have homework, even after your first session. Marriage counseling is for the ones that are serious and ready to put in the work. If you’re not ready or willing to do the homework, then there’s no point in coming to counseling. Homework will be a team effort and you and your partner are in this group project together!

If you and your partner are curious about how marriage counseling can improve your marriage, give us a call today. We can schedule an appointment and help you and your partner with a number of different, yet very common relationship issues most couples go through. Schedule your appointment online or on the phone today.

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3 Factors that Interfere with the Success of Marriage Counseling

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Marriage counseling can be a truly positive experience for you and your partner. However, even if you seek out the best therapist money can buy, there are still certain factors that can interfere with the success of your marriage counseling. As you probably already know, marriage counseling isn’t a cure-all for everything that is wrong in your relationship, but it is a start. Though, even with counseling it still seems like there’s some couple who even therapy couldn’t help. So what did the couples who had successful marriage counseling do that the unsuccessful ones didn’t?

 

Seeking Permission for Divorce

Many couples go into therapy with the mindset, “I just want to be able to say that we tried everything before we divorce.” There’s no checklist of things you need to do prior to feeling okay to filing for divorce. You should be entering counseling with an open mind about your marriage. If you’re looking for permission to get divorced you definitely won’t leave satisfied. No therapist is going to “sign a doctors note” for you to get divorced.

 

Trying to Prove Your Spouse Wrong

Sometimes, when couples go into counseling, it’s because one person has decided it’s what their relationship needs and they hope to seek some validation for what they’ve been feeling. This, of course, is fair. However, you’re not going to be off the hook entirely. Change in any capacity happens from within. So, if you’re ready to change your behavior and your spouse is ready to change theirs, you two can move forward.

 

Unwillingness to Change

Counseling always requires an open mind. Creating change within yourself and your marriage is hard work and it doesn’t happen overnight. Counseling can assist you in determining if you even want to make that change. If you or your partner aren’t ready to make changes, then counseling won’t magically fix what’s wrong. Whether you and your partner are looking for new ways to communicate or manage your anger, lasting changes come from commitment and willingness to do so.

 

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Counseling won’t work unless you do. If you don’t put in the effort, then you won’t see the results. Our marriage counselors are highly skilled in helping couples work through their issues. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate, control your anger, or work through any other issue you may have, call us today.

 

3 Biggest Mistakes That Happen In Every Marriage

 

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No marriage is perfect no matter how hard you try. Some days are going to be easier than others. Of course, everyone is bound to make mistakes within the marriage. That’s why they call them mistakes! Fortunately, there are ways to prevent compounding your mistakes by first, knowing what the mistakes are. Secondly, catching those mistakes are soon as you start to make them and reversing your actions or behaviors. These are the 5 biggest mistakes almost everyone makes at some point in their marriage.

 

1. Dividing Labor Unevenly

A lot of people go into marriage thinking that the division of labor and roles will just naturally unfold. However, this is far from the actual truth. It’s so important to openly discuss the division of labor and roles within a marriage and home. It’s not a fun talk but it doesn’t have to be a scary one either. Simply, lay it out all on the table and if it comes down to it, set up a chore chart.

 

2. Not Listening

You’d be surprised at how often you aren’t actually listening to your partner. Or maybe you wouldn’t? Either way, listening is an essential part of a happy, healthy marriage. Sometimes, even if you think you’re listening, your partner may feel like they’re not being heard. Making an effort to listen to your partner will have profound effects in and outside of your marriage.

 

3. Lack of Empathy

Empathy is important in all areas of your life but especially within your marriage. If you find yourself saying things like “don’t make a big deal out of this” when your partner is clearly upset, then you’re not practicing empathy. What is a big deal to you and what is a big deal to your partner may be two different things and you need to respect that. Avoid constantly disregarding your partner’s feelings no matter how silly you think the issue is. Their feelings are valid and they deserve to feel validated within the marriage.

A successful marriage takes work and sometimes it takes a little more work than usual. Fortunately, our marriage counseling services provide the help you and your partner need to achieve that longterm, successful marriage. If you’re struggling with communication, dividing labor, listening, or other common marriage problems, we can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our counselors. Your marriage is worth working for, so don’t let the stigma of counseling deter you from seeking help.

4 Common Communications Problems In A Marriage

 

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In any relationship, communication is key. But many couples aren’t sure how to communicate properly, surprisingly. Just like everyone, all couples make communication mistakes. Effective communication means that both partners are able to openly discuss their thoughts and feelings while also being able to listen to one another. Often times, after being together for awhile, couples will fall into bad habits when it comes to communication. Do you identify with these 4 common communications problems?

 

1. Continuing to Talk After Things Have Escalated

The old adage, “never go to bed angry” is actually very wrong. When you or your partner get emotional during a conversation it’s almost impossible to listen effectively. Especially when you’re angry, you are likely to raise your voice so that the other person can “hear” you “better.” It’s essential that you and your partner recognize when the conversation is escalating so that you two can pump the breaks and take a conversation timeout.

 

2. Communication Blockers

You’ve probably said, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore” at least once during an argument. However, this saying is considered a communication blocker. It’s meant to change the subject or deflect from the argument. Some non-verbal communication blockers are actively ignoring your partner while they speak to you while you do another activity like watch tv, surf the web, or read a book.

 

3. Bringing in Another Person

It’s totally normal to seek out another person when you’re upset like your mom, friend, or confidant. However, this can cause issues within a relationship because that person usually only gets one side of the story. Not only that but saying something like, “well my friend thinks it was a bad thing for you to do” can add unnecessary stress to the relationship and argument. In the context of therapy, telling the therapist should never be used as a threat.

 

4. Playing the Blame Game

Effective communication requires each person in the relationship to want to solve the problem as a couple, not an individual.  Finger pointing might seem like the easiest solution, however,  it’s a really easy way to get stuck in a fight. It’s important that you step up and take responsibility for your behavior and your partner do the same. That way you two can move forward as a couple.

Communicating successfully in a marriage takes work. However, sometimes even the best couples need some outside help. If you and your partner are struggling to communicate effectively we can help. Our team of counselors are skilled in helping couples of all types talk out their issues. Call us today to set up an appointment.

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Little Changes That Can Make A BIG Difference In Your Marriage

 

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Many couples feel like their marriage is in trouble long before they seek out counseling if they ever even do at all. Your marriage doesn’t always need a major counseling intervention to improve the marriage. There are lots of small things that you and your partner can commit to doing daily that can have a major positive impact on your marriage. Keeping a marriage happy and healthy takes daily work but it’s okay to have some fun with it. Whether you need to reignite the spark that once brought you together or you just need to add a little bit more TLC to the marriage, your marriage will benefit from these little changes.

 

Schedule a Date Night Each Week

It’s so easy to lose the romance that once made you two fall in love with each other. Unfortunately, life can get in the way and nearly destroy what were once loving marriages. Which is why it’s so important to schedule weekly date nights. You don’t necessarily need to wine and dine at the fanciest restaurants in town. In fact, date night can be a quiet night in. Essentially, date night is simply where you and your partner can reconnect without the presence of daily stress and interruptions.

 

Treat Your Marriage like You Would Your Job

There are days when you don’t feel like going to work but you go anyway because you enjoy getting a paycheck. There are going to be days where you don’t feel like “showing up” in your marriage. But if you didn’t feel like showing up to work, what would happen? Some serious rifts would start to form and you’d eventually be fired. Marriage takes work and if you start treating it in the same way you would your job, you’ll notice how things start to change. Start showing up daily to your marriage mentally, emotionally, and physically.

 

Focus on what You can Contribute

A marriage is all about give and take. Of course, sometimes one person is giving or taking more than their fair share. However, if both of you start to focus on what you can contribute rather than what you can gain a beautiful thing happens. You start to cultivate a relationship of compassion and consideration. Compassion, consideration, and kindness are essential to a loving marriage.

 

Marriage isn’t always happy times. So it’s okay if you and your partner are struggling to be happy together. If you and your partner are considering splitting, please consider how marriage counseling could help you and your partner. Make an appointment today with one of our counselors and learn how you and your partner can reconnect and reignite the love that once brought you two together.

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How To Rebuild Lost Trust In A Marriage

 

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Trust is something that is earned over time and when it’s lost it can seem like the entire relationship is over. Trust can be lost over a number of different things. However, the most common of those are usually infidelity, hiding money, and just lying in general. Depending on your relationship and how you want to move forward together you absolutely can start to rebuild trust.

Building Trust

Trust is built over time and in small moments. In every interaction you have with your partner, you can either foster trust or lost trust. Though this may seem like a lot of pressure, there is hope. One single moment is not that important, however, when you continue to turn away and let those little moments build up inside is when they start to turn a relationship sour. Overtime, you will begin to make negative comparisons and instead of cherishing your partner, you’ll begin to trash them. So what are some ways you and your partner can start to rebuild your trust with one another?

Flip your Internal Script

Negative thoughts can make you absolutely mad. When you’re consumed by negative thoughts, everything your partner does is going to be up for criticism or debate. Though this isn’t always easy, trying to flip your internal script can help you marriage. Learn to separate specific relationship problems from your overall view of your partner. Try to replace negative thoughts with  compassion and empathy.

Create We Time

When you distrust your partner, it’s pretty easy to find reasons and excuses to not be around on another. Between work, kids, friends, family, holidays, birthdays, hair cuts, whatever. You can always find a reason to be busy. Happiness, both in and outside of a relationship, is a result of relishing what you have rather than gaining something new. Making time for each other will allow you to rebuild that lost connection and really get to know each other once again.

Marriage and relationships are not always easy. They’re work and they take time to develop. But as long as you continue to water your grass, your relationship with your partner will continue to flourish. If you and your partner are struggling with loss of trust, trust issues, or other common problems within a marriage, please call us to schedule an appointment. Our team of kind, caring, and open eared professional counselors can help you and partner navigate your new relationship territory.

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Love is in the Air… Ways to Rekindle the Passion in your Marriage

 

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Spring has almost sprung and you know what that means, love will soon be in the air. Whether you’ve been married for 1 year or 10 years, every marriage needs a little rekindling once in a while. Between work, kids, friends, and family it can be hard to find time for each other, let alone find time for passion. Before you give up on your marriage and call it quits, try these passion rekindling activities. You never know what you might spark up!

 

Hold Hands more Often

Remember when you two first started dating? How even the slightest touch felt so explosive! Even though hand holding may seem so elementary, it can actually bring you and your partner closer together. Touching releases oxytocin which can have a calming effect on you and your partner. Physical touch also reduces the release of the chemical cortisol, which is the stress chemical.

 

Focus on Affectionate Touch

Who doesn’t like a nice shoulder or foot rub? Many people associate foreplay, like massages, with sex. However, affectionate touch, like hand-holding, can make you and your partner feel closer to each other. Affectionate touch has a powerful effect on rekindling passion between you and your partner, especially if one of you are not the super touchy-feely type.

 

Practice Being More Emotionally Vulnerable

Discussing your dreams and fantasies with one another, especially during sex, can bring you two closer. By practicing being emotionally vulnerable you can connect with your partner on a deeper level. If you or your partner fear emotional intimacy, it may be time to seek out individual or couples therapy. Emotional intimacy is such a powerfully rewarding form of intimacy that everyone should experience.

 

Make Sex a Priority

The first year of marriage, you probably couldn’t keep your hands off each other. Even if you’d been together for years prior, there’s something romantic about marriage that makes you fall in love all over again. However, over time, it’s common for couples to place sex on the back burner of life. As dull as it may seem, placing sex on the calendar can help keep both of you accountable. You can still make it fun, don’t be afraid to wine and dine each other even after all of these years.

 

If you and your partner are struggling to rekindle the spark that made you two once fall in love with each other, call us today to schedule an appointment. Our highly trained counselors can help you and your partner rediscover your passion and love that once brought you two together.

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