Tips+for+saving+your+marriage,+couples+counseling,+Coral+Springs

Top 10 Tips for Saving Your Marriage

1. Want It

Tips+for+saving+your+marriage,+couples+counseling,+Coral+SpringsThe number one tip for saving your marriage is that you, and your partner, have to WANT to save the marriage. It sounds counterintuitive, and you may even say, “I wouldn’t be reading this article unless I wanted to save my relationship”. The truth is, we’re human and we lie. We lie to others and we lie to ourselves. Sometimes, couples and individuals enter marriage counseling as a way to say, “Well, we tried to overcome this but even counseling couldn’t help!” Marriage counseling sessions usually last one hour a week. While helpful and beneficial, the real change in your marriage comes from implementing the techniques you learned in therapy and putting them into practice. What good is it to score a three point basket in basketball practice only to choke in the game? Likewise, what good is it to calmly express how you feel in your counseling session only to blow up at your partner the next time he/she forgets to do the dishes?

2. Find Your Love Language

Everyone expresses love differently and chances are if you’re like most couples, you and your partner express love differently. Once you determine your love language it can make figuring your partner out a little less complicated. TheLove Languages is a great place to start, if you’ve often found yourself wondering, “What was my partner thinking when he/she did this?”. This simple online quiz allows you to explore how you show love and how you like to be shown you’re loved. Some people feel loved when their partner does something for them and they show their love in return by giving their partner a gift. It can be especially devastating when we perceive that our love is not accepted or returned.

3. Make Time to Connect

Couples who connect more find greater happiness within the relationship. Recently, I wrote a blog post titled “How a Quick “Smoke Break” Helps You and Your Love”. In the post, I talk about a couple I worked with who realized their relationship developed out of the small, five to ten minute smoke breaks each day and getting back to their small connections throughout the day strengthened their relationship.

4. Ignore Other People

What works for one couple may not necessarily work for you and your marriage. Self-discovery and discovering your partner, will make more of a difference in the quality of your relationship than trying to implement any number of techniques or tricks other couples may have told you. If you are looking for concrete directions on what you can improve or change, using an evidenced based therapeutic approach like the Gottman Method or Emotionally Focused Therapy can provide practice tips and techniques to utilize with your partner and help your marriage.

5. Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude

In 2011, Harvard Health Publications wrote a piece titled In Praise of Gratitude in which it provided an overview of the science behind gratitude and health. The article is not directly tied to marital happiness but it sheds some insight on how gratitude can influence happiness. An individual who practices gratitude for his or her partner may find that it changes the interaction between them, leading to a happier and healthier marriage.

6. Take Your Relationship on a Diet

Major changes require major work. Just ask anyone who has ever stuck with a diet or exercise regimen and reached his/her goal. It won’t be easy but you can change your thoughts about yourself, your partner, and your relationship.  What is more important about the diet is the maintenance.  Once you reach your goal you have to continue to maintain.

7. “Let It Go, Let It Go”

It’s hard to let the past go, especially if there are strong unresolved emotions associated with the past. Individuals who harbor negative feelings towards another find it difficult to develop positive feelings for that person in the present.

8. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

A professor of mine in his Trans-Atlantic almost Kennedy sounding accent saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.” While the class scoffed at this statement, my time as a professional counselor has shed some light on this seemingly contradictory statement. After all, don’t fences keep people apart, not bring them closer together? What my professor was talking about was boundaries and boundaries are not a bad thing. Boundaries allow us to clearly make sense of our world and our relationships. Some boundaries are unspoken; for many couples the boundary of no extramarital sex is huge and when broken causes serious turmoil in the relationship (CLICK HERE to read more about my blog on affair recovery). Other boundaries must be explicitly stated, such as, “Please put the dishes in the dishwasher and not leave them in the sink.” If you and your partner can set clear boundaries with one another it leaves less room for misinterpretation and unmet expectations.

9. Laugh a Little

Laughter is good for the soul and your relationship. If you’re finding yourself struggling to find something funny find a way to incorporate laughter or fun activities into your daily routine. Don’t overthink it though! There’s nothing worse than gritting your teeth and saying through clenched jaw, “We’re going to have fun today.” Forcing the fun and laughter will only feel contrived and can ultimately lead to more stress. Instead, take a moment to reflect on what makes you and your partner laugh and do that activity together. While you may not always find the same things funny there’s a good chance you’ve found a little common ground in what you each find funny.  One of my favorite, WATER BALLOON FIGHTS!!!!  Check out more of ways to have fun in a relationship CLICK HERE.

10. Be Honest
Honesty is key in saving a marriage; without honesty, your relationship is going to be a lot harder. Honesty is not meant to be hurtful, like admitting that your partner’s weight gain leaves you feeling less attracted to them than in your early years together. Honesty in relationships is about being truthful and respectful. This includes honesty with yourself. It’s easy to view ourselves through rose colored glasses and take a superior stance to our partner but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Being honest with ourselves about our own faults and how we’ve contributed to the problems in our marriage can make a world of difference in our acceptance of the situation and empower us to solve the problem. If we brought ourselves to this place, we can certainly bring ourselves out.

Couples+Counseling+Coral+Springs+Parkland

How a Quick Smoke Break Helps You and Your Love

I’m sure you’re probably wondering, especially if you aren’t a smoker, how taking a cigarette break can help your relationship. As a couples counselor I’ve come to learn that couples who stay consistently connected throughout the day and week have more satisfying and longer lasting relationships. This information is also supported by current research in the field of marital and family counseling. Of course there are many other factors to having a great relationship, but when we connect with our partner and our partner reaches and connects back, overall we feel more connected with one another.

Couples+Counseling+Coral+Springs+ParklandI’m a licensed marriage and family therapist who works with couples day in and day out.  My work is extremely rewarding. I love working with couples!  Working with couples makes me a better person, spouse and partner.  I am trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, a research-based way of helping couples create stronger and healthy relationships, created by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. I also trained with Dr. Sue Johnson on Emotionally Focused Therapy, another evidenced based model of therapy on couples, attachment, and relationships. The couples I work with are often the inspiration for my blogs. This particular blog post was inspired by a couple I am currently working with. One day in session, the couple was sharing with me their relationship history, or as I like to call it, taking a walk down memory lane. This couple originally met one another through work, and their relationship began to form through the small five to ten minute cigarette breaks they would take together outside. Whether or not you’re a smoker, you get the idea of what happens on a cigarette break. If you take a cigarette break at the same time as another person, day in and day out, naturally you begin to develop conversation, and potentially, a relationship with that person. This relationship continues to be built in small moments throughout the day over weeks, months and perhaps years.  Conversation often develops from sharing random facts, discussing the weather, your general interests, things that frustrate you, how you’re feeling, what you worry about, what you dream about, your goals, and so much more. These are the types of conversations we have with our partner’s when we first meet and how we get to know them and their world. In the beginning, usually with in the first two years or so, everything is good, even great! We’re in love with the things our partner says, the things our partner does, how they make us laugh, how we think they’re funny, and the sex is often better.

But the honeymoon phase is quickly over and we are forever trying to get some sense of that back.  Couples who don’t work on their relationship or make their relationship a priority can find themselves feeling distant. Distance, physical or emotional, can be a symptom of many things happening within the relationship. When we fail to meet our partner out back for our proverbial cigarette break, we forget to connect with our partner. When they come home from work, we’re on an important call for work and we forget to kiss them “Hello” or the next morning we’re running late and heading out to our next meeting, we forget to say “I love you”. There’s only so much alone time before we have to hop back on the phone for another conference call. What we know and what research shows is that couples that connect consistently throughout the day maintain their connections. These connections come in a variety of ways like sharing a funny story, calling your partner when something bad happens or you’re feeling frustrated at work, replaying a funny story about your child, the list could go on. When a partner takes the time to listen, respect, and reply back, it makes us feel secure and helps us stay connected and a part of each other’s lives. Just like what happens outside on a cigarette break.

When working with the couple that inspired this blog, I asked them to go back to taking their cigarette breaks. Although they have both quit smoking, and I wasn’t encouraging them to pick up the habit again, I was encouraging them to go outside, sit down together, and connect for five, ten, or even fifteen minutes or more. It’s in these easy, naturally flowing moments that many magical things happen for relationships. Often, nothing big or grand happens on one cigarette break, but the consistency of the communication and connection overtime builds the relationship. So, whether you’re a smoker or not, I suggest you invite your partner to go have a cigarette break. And if you’re finding it difficult to talk or connect and you’re finding you need some support, I’m here to support you and help get your relationship back on track.