How “Dogs” Help Relationships

I’ll admit, I’m a dog lover in fact I am a bully breed lover.  Don’t get me wrong, I like cats too and in fact I grew up having cats.  It seems anyone I ever dated was allergic to cats, so in order to have a pet I had to get a dog.

We recently adopted a pitbull rescue in the month of September not even knowing that October was Adopt a Dog month.  One year old Charlotte came into our lives at the right time not knowing what was going to happen just 5 weeks later when we had to say an unexpected goodbye to our sweet and loving Destiny who was an 11 year old blonde (red nose, her coat was super light) pitbull who changed the hearts and minds of those who misunderstood the breed. The last 12 hours of her life highlighted so many things for me, not only about animals but about relationships.  Being able to be there for my spouse who had her since she was 6 weeks old was a precious time in all of our lives.  It highlighted to me the meaning of love, relationships, and marriage.  When I think of marriage the symbolism for me is choosing someone to “do life with”, the ups, downs, twists, turns, the belly laughs, and times of deep grieving and sorrow. desi-mouth-open How a Dog Helps Relationships

Pets, no matter what kind, can be a wonderful addition to a family and an excellent component in therapy. Studies show pets can actually improve our health, reduce stress, and help us live longer. Personally I think they make us better humans overall.  Therapists utilize pets in numerous way with clients, to help them heal from trauma, teach valuable life and coping skills, and much more.

Pets help us practice patience, teach caring, learn empathy and just plain enjoy life!  Are we really taking them for a walk or are they taking us out for some fresh air and exercise, of course I love a both/and scenario any day.  Pets bring us the utmost joy watching them play, being silly or showing us their personalities. When a dog especially comes into a relationship, couples must come together and decide on ideas ranging from how to raise and train the dog, notice and monitor the health and well-being of the dog, how the dog should be disciplined, and at the end of our time with them very difficult decisions on how to proceed. Couples also come together on the enjoyable moments pets bring.    

Animals teach us so many things.  They can teach us a lot about relationships.  Having a pet is responsibility just like having a child or perhaps your dog IS your 4 legged child. I know to some couples having a child or having a dog may not be a future goal and I’m not going to convince you to do either. Although I do want to convince you to look at an area of your relationship this month that could use improvement. Maybe things are going smoothly in your relationship but you’re regularly annoyed your partner or spouse doesn’t empty the dishwasher or fold laundry. Maybe you’ve both been talking about taking that dream vacation to an exotic location yet haven’t quite nailed down a plan of how you’ll achieve that goal or seriously started budgeting.

Think of the “dog” in your relationship as the piece of your relationship for which you are jointly responsible. The maintenance of the house, mutually finances, short and long term goals. If you’ve both agreed to maintain separate responsibilities (Your spouse does the laundry while you mow the lawn) perhaps it’s simply a matter of keeping your spouse up to date on your tasks and vice versa. This open communication is important.

One way couples can reconnect, or recharge, is to focus on a shared vision. You may have both started out with a shared vision and slowly moved away from that goal. As we quickly approach the end of the calendar year, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about ways to adopt a “dog” into your relationship.

But don’t wait for the next two months to start working towards this goal! Begin today. If it seems like maybe you and your partner can’t identify the “dog” in your relationship, I’m always here to chat, Katie Lemieux, LMFT www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Marni Feuerman – What Is Discernment Counseling?

Marni Feuerman is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist currently in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. She has a Master of Social Work degree from Barry University in Miami and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from California Southern University. Marni specializes in couples therapy and relationship issues.Couples Counseling Coral Springs

She has clinical training in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy and Discernment Counseling for mixed-agenda couples. Marni is the current marriage expert and content writer for the website About.com. She also writes for several other websites, including YourTango.com, Dr. Oz’s Sharecare.com and PsychCentral.com. Marni is a frequently quoted expert in the media on issues related to marriage, relationships, couples and love.

Below, you can watch our interview with Marni!

What Mask Do You Wear in Your Relationship?

A late night Pinterest prowl produced the following Pin:

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Interested in what this could mean for couples, I quickly used Google to search for “Japanese phrase about multiple faces”. While it appears the above statement is not Japanese in origin (but still very clever and thought provoking), there is the idea in Japanese philosophy of honne and tatemae. These Japanese words describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires (honne) and the behavior and opinions displayed in public (tatemae).

With Halloween fast approaching (my favorite, and yes I still dress up) the idea of having two faces can seem akin to wearing them within your relationship and begs the question what do you wear in your relationship with your family, friends, co-workers, kids, partner…? Are there parts of yourself that you hide from others because you believe they won’t be accepted or because they are conflicting with a commonly held belief?

As a counselor one of the most important things I find when working with individuals or couples, one of my most important tools is unconditional positive regard. This acceptance of my clients allows for a more open dialogue between us about aspects of themselves they would like to change and how to bring about this change.

During a recent intern supervision, an intern expressed a deep sadness over some family troubles with a teenage child and voiced concern about the fact that while trying to help clients navigate difficult relationships and family dynamics, felt fraudulent because of their own perceived failings to handle their own family conflict.

Perhaps you even feel this way too. Successful in one area of your life, maybe at work, you desire improvement in another area, like your relationship.

  • What mask are you wearing at work that you take off at home?
  • Conversely, what mask are you wearing at home that you leave behind when you go to work?
  • Is it wrong to wear a mask anyway?  
  • How is wearing a mask helpful in certain situations and not in others?  
  • Do you want to wear a mask?
  • What would it be like if you can be your true self in all situations?
  • Are you even aware of the masks you wear?  

The term “two faced” undoubtedly garners negative attention. We feel that those individuals who cannot show their true selves must be sinister or untrustworthy, hiding the truth and speaking negatively behind our backs. In essence, someone who lies or makes contradictory statements may be someone we think twice about befriending.

Is that mask acceptable? This month, I want to encourage to be your truest self, without fear of being too much or too little.

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Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Rashawn and Lori Brewster – Make Working as a Couple, Work

Rashawn and Lori Brewster offer a couple’s perspective on issues that many couples experience. They understand that relationships can be challenging and that couples often find themselves in the midst of a busy life, struggling with connecting to each other in ways that invite joy and satisfaction. Having had generational and personal experiences with failed relationships, they began a 10 year journey of exploring the challenges that couples often face and learning about effective principles and tools that contribute to a fulfilling relationship. This journey of self-discovery ignited a passion for helping others to “elevate their relationships.”

Utilizing a “couple to couple” approach, Rashawn and Lori offer an exclusive type of counseling experience that includes a male and female perspective allowing for extra listening and support. They trust that when a couple operates as a cohesive unit, it can have a positive impact on overall health and wellness, potentially spilling into other aspects of life, such as family, social relationships, careers, and parenting.Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Both also work with clients individually in areas such as grief, anxiety, self-expression and self-esteem, life transitions, relationship concerns, decision making, and stress management. Lori and Rashawn achieved their Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Nova Southeastern University and have over 20 years combined experience working with children, youth and families in many modalities. Elevating Relationships’ offices are conveniently located in Broward County, FL easily accessible from 595, I-95, or State Rd 7.

You can watch Lori and Rashawn below!

Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Eva Brown – Pros and Cons of Pornography for Couples

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and owner of Couples Seeking Solutions L.L.C., Eva Brown M.S. works collaboratively with couples to enhance communication, emotional attunement, and increase overall connection. She is known as an intimacy specialist, as a large part of her practice is dedicated to helping couples enhance their love lives. No matter the issue, she will find solutions that align with each couples therapeutic goals.

The Couples Corner Eva BrownEven in the case of a devastating betrayal, where the trust in the relationship seems irreparable, she will reassure and guide you towards healing and repair. Her approach is research informed, genuine, and collaborative. Please call Eva Brown M.S. anytime for a free 10 minute consult over the phone. To view a full list of her services, as she also works with individuals, please visit www.CouplesSeekingSolutions.com. #754-245-1424, Located at: 2425 East Commercial Blvd. Suite 400, Fort Lauderdale, Fl. 33308.

Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Chris Checke – Shame

Chris is a licensed psychotherapist working with clients throughout South Florida. He has worked in behavioral healthcare for nearly 20 years. He currently maintains a private practice in Fort Lauderdale and consults with several non-profit organizations across the region. He has presented workshops on relationships, parenting, shame, and addiction. In his practice, Chris specializes in a number of areas, including relationships, codependency, trauma, self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and addictions. He also offers executive coaching services to individual clients, small business owners, and corporate leadership. His professional experience also includes clinical supervision, program management and development, grant administration, contract management, college-level teaching, substance abuse prevention, public policy, advocacy, and training.

Couples Counseling Coral SpringsChris received a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Tampa; a M.S. in Mental Health Counseling and from Nova Southeastern University; and, an M.B.A. in Health Services Administration, also from Nova Southeastern University. Chris is a Board Certified Professional Counselor; a National Certified Counselor; a Master Addiction Counselor; a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Certified Addictions Professional. He is also a Qualified Supervisor for Registered Mental Health Counselor Interns for the State of Florida. Chris has also completed the Level 1 training in Gottman Method Couples Counseling.

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