Finances and Relationship Counseling

Do You Profit From Your Relationship?

What happens when we stop putting what’s really important in our lives first? Our relationship with our spouse or family, our hobbies, and our friends?

Over time our emotional bank accountants get withdrawn and who knows maybe we might even go bankrupt, ouch!

I recently read Profit First by Michael Michalowicz and how he revolutionized small (and big) business practices in helping make them profitable entities. Many people often forget that running a business is similar to running a family.

Profit First suggests that before doing anything (paying bills, upgrading services, etc.) in your business, always take your “profit first” (hence the name).  It’s a different way of thinking and mindset shift.  

Most people think:

Income – Expenses = Profit

Michael suggests:

Income – Profit = Expenses

Think about your own relationship and consider whether or not you take your “profit” first.

  • How often do you prioritize spending time with your spouse over doing the dishes, cleaning, laundry, working, or running errands?
  • How often do you feel drained when you give your all at work to come home to destress, eat and fall asleep after watching TV?   
  • Perhaps you are running around doing things that you feel obligated to do and not what you enjoy.  

None of these behaviors on their own are bad.  The problem becomes when you spend your all and have nothing left over for your relationship.  When it comes to our relationship we are most often giving it the sloppy seconds, who wants that!  That just doesn’t feel good for anyone!

While reading Profit First, it identified 5 bank accounts necessary for your business, and I began thinking about how couples might utilize these bank accounts in their relationship.

  • Income

Have you heard of the saying “pay yourself first”?  Most people pay themselves last after they have spent money on all there expenses and half tos.

If you start by paying your relationship first what do you think the quality of your relationship would be like? What does paying yourself in your relationship look like to you and your spouse?

Maybe first thing when you come home you greet your spouse with a hug or kiss, or first thing in the morning when you wake up, you make your spouse coffee, engage in conversation, take the kids to school because your partner wants to sleep in.

  • Profit

The profit is what you put aside to do fun things in your relationship, whether that’s take a vacation, go out to dinner together, etc.

It is important that your relationship “be rich” and “profit” in order for you and your spouse to be happy. Most importantly the “money” you allot for each account should not be moved to others!

For relationships, this means no canceling plans with your spouse when something else comes up, unless it’s an absolute emergency. While this might seem scary at first, it will help you really get a handle on enriching your relationship.  

  • Operating expenses

This is how you keep your relationship going. It might look like the “Business” of the relationship: organizing meals, scheduled home maintenance, going to and from work, scheduling activities for children, etc.

The most important thing to remember about operating expenses is you should NEVER take these first over your profit. This is where people in business, and relationships, get tripped up. They spend far too much time, energy, and money, on the operating expenses and not enough is put into their profit.

  • Owner’s Compensation

This one is often the most fun for couples because it’s when you put a percentage in every month in order to then give yourself a “bonus” every 3 months. You take half of the money out and spend it on your relationship.  Imagine every 3 months looking forward to a BONUS with your partner or spouse.  How fun!!!  I am planning things in my head right now!

The other half stays in the account for emergencies.  A relationship emergency could be the need to go to couples counseling, you forgot your anniversary and now you have to do something special for you partner.  

  • Taxes

How do you file taxes (jointly or separately)? How do you save up for big purchases of things that you need to pay (taxes, repairs, remodeling, etc.) Since you only do your taxes once yearly and you either get a refund or you have to pay, set up an account where those things will already be taken care of for you from the money you put in. While this might not seem like the most romantic way to go about things, it helps to delineate financial goals, which can often be the number one stressor for couples.

Sounds like a lot? Trust me, it isn’t. When I first started using Profit First for my business, it transformed my business and it’s my hope that approaching your financial and relationship goals will be transformed too.

If you are in business I highly recommend reading Profit First for is true financial meaning and plan, great stuff!

If you’re ready to begin profiting from your relationship and trying out a new approach to connection with your spouse and need a little guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Katie at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com or 954.401.9011.

 

Katie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Coral Springs who specializes in affair recovery, marital counseling, and helping couples love again

4 Tips for Affair Recovery During the Holidays

The holidays are here and that can mean a lot of high emotions for some people; sometimes, they have difficulty with their family of origin, like their mom or dad, or maybe a sibling rivalry that just hasn’t ended.

For others, they might be going through something in their lives that they don’t really want under a microscope like an affair or possibly the endless barrage of questions about what’s next.  “So, when are you going to get married or, when are you having kids?”

For some couples who are dealing with the aftermath of an affair, the holidays might seem like the last thing on their mind.  The affair might not have been disclosed to anyone, so they might have to act like nothing has changed when inside they’re hurting.  

If the family is aware of the affair, children, in-laws, and other family might demand the couple continue to engage in the status quo of the relationship or “put on a brave face for everyone”.  Either way let’s face it, it’s difficult!

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of an affair during the holidays or know a couple who is, it’s important to remember the following tips:

Boundaries

Whatever the case surrounding their affair, it’s important to set boundaries, and the first step in affair recovery, especially as it pertains to the holiday season.

Perhaps it means only staying at a holiday party for a two hours, rather than staying until the very end to help the host clean up. Perhaps it means no drinking or no work parties as that is where the affair may have occurred.  Perhaps it means a couple doesn’t host this year and rather offer to assist by bringing the side dish to a family member’s house instead.

Don’t Overshare

Sometimes a couple wants to share and tell everyone (especially with family), about what’s happened to them or what’s going on in their lives.  It’s important to be cautious about who you share the information with and how much information is shared. When either part of the couple opens up to family or friends, they’re opening their relationship up to potential negative opinions and judgements, which may or may not be helpful.

Assure there is a clear understanding of whether or not you’ll share and what you will share.  Check in regularly regarding thoughts and feelings about communication with others.

Figure Out What You Need

Think about your relationship as being in the Intensive Care Unit, ICU. Especially when an affair is fresh the couple is treating and managing the symptoms of the affair as they come up, often moment to moment.

If an affair is still in its first year after discovery then a couple might be experiencing the holidays for the first time post affair.  This can bring up a lot of anger, hurt, frustrations, resentment and more.  Family and couple traditions can feel tarnished or no longer special.

It is important to talk about this with one another or work with a therapist trained in helping couples navigate an affair.

Get clear on what both parties need during this time and how to communicate that to one another. Maybe taking some time to be together is helpful or time apart is what is needed. Come to a compromise on what that looks like and help each other honor that, knowing that from moment to moment that may change.  Discuss how you’ll handle any unforeseen events that might come up.

When an affair, an emotional trauma, is fresh, each party needs a lot of self care especially for the partner who is just learning about the affair.  For the partner just learning about the affair this information is brand new as opposed to the partner who was involved in the affair.  The involved partner has been processing the affair over time.  

Recreating a New Relationship Story

One of the important things in affair recovery is that the couple begin to create a new relationship story.  If the couple is ready and has worked through aspects of the affair sometimes it helps to create new rituals and traditions especially during the holiday season.  Helping the couple say goodbye to the old relationship pre-affair and living into a newer relationship that is just the couple’s, post affair.  

The holidays overall bring added and undue stress to most of us.  If you are working through an affair and having difficulty I urge you to seek out a trained professional who can support you through the process.  

Katie Lemieux is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, expert couples counselor and coach

specializing in affair and betrayal recovery with offices in Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale, FL. If you live or are willing to travel to the area to help heal your relationship reach out to her www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

 

Marriage Counseling Parents

Lessons Learned from Mom

Mothering it’s a hard job, for sure!   Here is a funny Mother’s Day video to make you laugh. Melissa Mohr show’s you how to… well you just gotta watch the video.  

In honor of Mother’s Day, she’s has some words of wisdom for all mom’s because let’s face it; moms are human beings too. Bad Moms (great movie BTW) showed us what life sometimes feels like for moms with ever increasing societal and family demands.

Mother’s Day reminds me of my work as a couples therapist and how we view motherhood through the lens of relationships. Of course many of you reading this maybe grew up without a mother.  Think about the women or people in your life you played a mother role.  We all have many mom type influences.

Depending on your age and background, your own mother may not have had the same opportunities for career advancement you and your daughters do now. There may have even been laws forbidding your mother from working, or extreme societal pressure not to work. It may have been frowned upon for your mother to want relationship counseling or marriage help.Marriage Counseling Parents

Whether you’re married and a mother, in a relationship, or still single, it’s important to think about the lessons learned from your own parents, about what roles and responsibilities you individually were taught to bring to the relationship and conversely, the roles and responsibilities of your partner.

Considering Parenthood…

Some questions I like to ask couples who are parents or considering having children are:

  • What did you learn about love and relationships from your own mother?
  • What things did you want to incorporate into your relationship/marriage/children based off your parents? What things did you not want incorporate?
  • My core beliefs on parenting are…
  • The thing(s) I love MOST about parenting are…
  • The thing(s) I love LEAST about parenting are…
  • One thing I wish we could change about our parenting is….
  • Something my mom did/taught me that is important to me in our parenting is…
  • Something my dad did/taught me that is important to me in our parenting is…
  • Something my mom did that I didn’t like that when I was a child was…
  • Something my dad did that I didn’t like when I was a child was…

In fact, I’ve got a whole worksheet with 25+ questions you and your partner can ask yourselves or one another about your roles in the marriage as well as a parent.

Asking yourself questions about what you liked, and didn’t like, about your parents, their relationship with you as a child, and their relationship with one another gives you an opportunity to examine your parenting and relationship strategies. You may find you’re repeating the very same behavior you swore you’d never do. There’s a reason we laugh at the joke, “Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out!”

Reflecting on your role as a parent and a partner may be a bit jarring at first, especially if you fall into the category of “I didn’t know I was doing that…” And if you read the above two questions and started sweating, that’s why I’m here. I encourage you to review and/or talk about these questions, despite how difficult some of the questions may be to answer, and use those answers to move you and your partner towards growth.

As you reflect on Mother’s Day either as a mother, grandmother, aunt, step-mother, like a mother or the son or daughter of one, use what your momma gave you, good and bad, to achieve the type of of relationship you want and be the type of partner or parent you want.

If you’re struggling to make some positive change, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 and Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com and I’m here to guide you and your partner in your marriage counseling. Talk to you soon!

The Kentucky Derby and Your Marriage

I’m the first one to admit, I’m not much into horse racing, yet there’s something about the Kentucky Derby that is so interesting…

Is it the hats, the roses or the names…

Perhaps it’s the glamorous hats everyone wears which are reminiscent of the fascinators more commonly found in England. It might be the day long event to watch mere seconds of a race. It could be the beautiful rose wreath placed around the winning horse’s neck (Run for the Roses anyone?) Or maybe it’s just the funny names each horse is given, like American Pharoah or Always Dreaming.

While thinking about the Kentucky Derby this year, I found myself wondering the amount of time and energy jockeys dedicate to training for the Kentucky Derby (the most well known of the three races, the Belmont and Preakness Stakes make up the other two of the Triple Crown).

And inevitably, I got to thinking about marriage counseling.

Horse and Home Life

The process of becoming a jockey is lifelong; like an sport, height and weight requirements, in addition to starting at an early age are factors which play predominantly in the jockey’s success. The horse, its temperament, and relationship with the jockey are also contributing factors, much like the saying, “picking a good horse for the race.” For those reading who like to gamble and bet, you might be familiar with the process of picking a racehorse, following the horse’s past wins and losses, style of racing, comfort on a certain track, etc.

How different would our lives be if we devoted the same type of diligence to our marriages? Or whom with whom we chose to have children?

How do you prepare for big moments in your life?

Couples often underestimate the benefits of premarital counseling or How Premarital Questions Can Help You Have a Happy Marriage. Yet marriage counseling is not necessarily only when there are problems or difficulties in the relationship. Healthy couples are always preparing for the next step of relationships, from dating, to the engagement, to marriage, and what happens during the marriage.

Just like the three races of the Triple Crown, relationships go through three phases, from courtship, marriage, to maintenance. Each phase will require different energy, motivation, and responses from the individuals in the relationship. The maintenance required of a relationship with children is much different than that of newlyweds and a new set of skills and resources must be learned and harnessed.

How did you decide to get married? How did you decide to have children? How will you make future decisions about the course of your relationship and family?

Don’t worry about the Derby…

It’s easy to get caught up in the little things; the engagement party, the wedding, the baby shower, etc. It’s only natural. These are big events, with many people in attendance, and we want to make a good impression and have good memories.

I’ll share a little secret with you: these aren’t the only big moments in your life.

The big moments are those in which you’re sitting at dinner and decide that your partner is the one. The day you wake up and feel nothing but joy and happiness with your life, your family, your friends. The time your child shares with you a very large (or small) worry or concern with you and you respond in a kind and supportive way.

These are the big moments in life for which we prepare. If you and your partner need a little help in your marriage to prepare for the next big steps you’ll take, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 and Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com and I’m here to guide you and your partner in your marriage counseling. Talk to you soon!

Career Coaching Private Practice

If You Were to Die Today

With Memorial Day approaching this month, a favorite quote of mine comes from F. Scott Fitzgerald. He said, “For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. [sic] I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”

When I coach other entrepreneurs who are opening up a business one of the very first conversations we have is…

What’s your “why”?

The coaching process begins with a pretty big question: “Why?”  No, it isn’t to make money or because I thought I should.  It is way bigger than that.  

  • Why did you even get up in the morning?
  • Why did you become an entrepreneur?
  • Why do you want to offer your services to others?
  • Why will it matter?
  • Why should anyone care?

How will the world change and be a better place because of your work? What is the legacy you want to leave behind after you’re gone?  What is your 100 year goal?  Pretty heavy stuff, right?

Death is uncomfortable…

It’s hard to believe how many days are dedicated to it: El Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico, Good Friday in Christianity, Memorial Day, even Halloween in the United States are just a few of the many celebrations throughout the world which focus on the inevitable: death.

Death doesn’t always have to scare us though, sometimes death can be the motivation we need to succeed.   What would you want people to say about you once you’re gone? Are you living that kind of life you want to? What are the changes you need to make now so that you’re living that life today?  Are you doing the things you dreamed about doing or at least taking actions towards those goals?

When I was in the 8th grade I took course on Death and Dying. As part of the course we had to write our own eulogy. I have since did that exercise several times with the most recent being February 2017.  Have you ever written your own eulogy?  Interesting right?  When I coach people in writing goals we always start with the end in mind and work our way backwards.  If you decided to try this exercise and write your own eulogy starting with “the end” (depends on your beliefs) in mind how close or how far are you away from the person who is being eulogized?  Puts stuff into perspective one way or the other doesn’t it?  Career Coaching Private Practice

Death as motivation…

I want to encourage you to use the idea of your own death as a motivating tool. Do the things which you are afraid of now; do the things that scare you because you think that business venture won’t work, or that you don’t have the money saved up for that trip around the world.

Make a plan and get going on it now, not tomorrow or “someday”.  Live your life like the person whose eulogy you wrote.  If that means traveling the world, be the best parent you can be, making more time for the truly important things or whatever your “it” is, like Nike says, “just do it.”  We aren’t promised tomorrow and there is no better day than today to start living and being your best self.  

Looking to motivate yourself more, resolve old issues in your personal life or relationship? Or maybe you’re finally stepping out of your 9 to 5 doldrum. If you’re looking for a guide to help you get started on your life’s next big adventure, I’m just a click away Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

 

Humor and Hot Air Balloons

Life is better when you’re laughing.

When’s the last time you had a good belly laugh with your spouse or partner?

Can’t remember? You’re overdue for a good laugh, then.

Laughing is essential for relationships, friendships, and overall life. Anyone who’s ever worked with me knows I love to bring my personality and humor into the room; it lightens the mood and connects us.

In honor of National Humor Month, I have a question to ask you: where is the humor in your relationship?

Many of the couples I work with my practice comment on the lack of spontaneity, fun, and excitement they once experienced as a new couple. The “business of the day” or life has gotten in the way of couples connecting on a deeper level, including sharing fun and humorous moments together.

This past month, to inject a little humor into my own relationship, I began watching a TV Show on Netflix called “No Tomorrow” (for those of you already familiar with this show, high five!) I know, this was a little counterproductive to some New Year’s Goals, especially for those who wanted to lighten up on the #Netflixandchill.

“No Tomorrow” is about a 30-something year old woman who begins a relationship with a man who believes the world is about to end, and lives his life accordingly. “No Tomorrow” really caught my attention, not only for it’s sense of humor, but the deeper message it sometimes not so subtly slips into each episode.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for some time, you know I love to dream big and set goals for myself, both personal and professional. One of my goals was to take a hot air balloon ride, and in January, I finally did! What an experience!

How are hot air balloons related to humor? I’m glad you asked. I probably laughed more on my hot air balloon ride than I ever have in my life. Truthfully, it might have been nervous laughter, although sometimes we have to take risks with ourselves in order to have a little fun. I think I also laughed at the fact that there were 12 people in a basket, floating by a balloon filled with hot air. Now that facts and logic of it all was pretty funny.

Seeing the humor in everyday life is a little bit hard at first, especially if you or your partner aren’t accustomed to laughing together, or if you’ve forgotten how to laugh. Sometimes, we have to laugh at ourselves in order to make the best of otherwise difficult situations.

My call to action for you this month is to find one thing to laugh about each day with your partner or spouse, whether it’s something the other said or sharing a funny meme you found on Facebook or watching silly cat videos, whatever tickles your fancy just do it! If you or your partner need a little guidance to find the humor in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Kate@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com. Looking forward to laughing with you!

Want More Time? Organize It!

“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24 hours in a day.” – Zig Ziglar

The New Year is here! The bottles have been popped, resolutions made, and the gyms crowded with “resolutioners” who many habitual gym goers believe (or hope) will be gone by the first week of February.

It’s the start of a new year and the possibilities to your success are endless! Or are they?

In my coaching practice, where I work with clinicians who are looking to build successful private practices, one of the statements I hear for why things won’t work out are “I don’t have the time.” In fact, it’s something I myself used to say all the time, until my own business coach pushed me out of my comfort zone (You can listen to this amazing podcast on Tips for Time Mastery in Private Practice with Michael Dill).

Where does this notion of “not enough time” come from and how can we become masters of own time?

I’m sure you’ve read some alarming statistics throughout your lifetime, about how much of our time is actually devoted to (or wasted on) certain things. “The average American watches 5 hours of live TV a day” is just one of the many you can find, breaking down exactly how we spend our time.

Seems a bit excessive, doesn’t it? Five hours on TV a day. When you add that to an 8 (9 for those with unpaid lunch) hour work day, an hour long commute (on average), plus 6 to 8 hours sleeping, you’re left with only about 1 to 3 hours of other time which you can devote to other things.

Now, don’t get me wrong I get sucked into relaxing, decompressing by watching TV. I love  a good movie, Shark Tank, The Profit and a few others just as much as the next person.  Yet there’s something about spending a large majority of our free time on such an inactive activity that leaves me wondering. I wonder how much more could be accomplished with more segmented uses of time.

It’s a tip I learned from my own business coach and have begun implementing in my everyday life. You’ve heard the phrase “Eat the frog first”. This month I want to encourage you to “Eat only the frog first”. This means doing the most important things you need to get done FIRST.  Yes that means before you check your email, hang out on Facebook or any other distraction tactics you have, and I know you do because I have plenty of those too.  This is one small skills to master your time.  

One thing to keep in mind as you begin the journey to getting organized this month, whether it’s organizing your home office and your finances in order to prepare for tax season, or even beginning to draft a plan for a next big move in your life, like home buying, career change, etc. is that part of getting organized requires you to stay focused and simultaneous let go.

Staying focused and letting go are two of the hardest things to master when working on a project. It’s tempting to give up and move on to another task if the first one we’re working on just isn’t working. And it’s hard to let go of the vision in our head of what we thought things would look like when we were finished.

Take home improvement projects for instances; it can be a daunting task to remodel any part of a home, whether it’s the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, wherever. Do-it-yourself and even professional projects might not live up to the expectation we had of the finished product.

In order to move forward and get organized we need to let go of the past, things that no longer serve us whether they be tangible things, relationships, activities and items we no longer use or need. In the spirit of the new year, and new you, I encourage you to take a mental inventory of things in your life requiring a little more focus and attention, while also looking at areas where you can find a little more balance in your life by letting go.

Getting organized can be hard and might require a little more coaching to get you in a space where you need to be so you can focus, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

Get Balanced This Year

Happy New Year! It’s the second week of January and I hope you’re still riding the excitement of New Year’s, perhaps even enjoying the last (or first) of your vacation time. It’s the start of a new year and it feels like endless possibilities lay before you. Before you get started on achieving those resolutions, stop for a moment and think about what in your life can be more balanced; January is, after all, “Get a Balanced Life Month”.

We often hear the word “balanced” throughout our day. “Eat a balanced diet”, “Have a sense of balance”, and “Work-life balance”. Yet I wonder if you ever stop to think about what “balance” means to you. After all, a balanced diet could mean eating the cookie after the salad. Balance, right?

When I think of a “balanced” life, I think of decluttering, streamlining, trimming the fat, out with the old, and in with the new.  In fact decluttering and getting rid of things is one of my FAVORITE things to do.  Clean house, clean mind. In fact just talking about decluttering gets me excited.  When I need to find peace in my life or clean, organize and toss.

Is there any area of your life where you might feel like you need to declutter, streamline, or trim the fat? Some people think about decluttering their garage or storage room, for those in the south maybe it’s the attic and for those of you up north, the basement. Stretch your imagination and include areas outside the physical that might need decluttering. Are you holding on to too many social events out of obligation? Do you feel like you lack enough time to yourself, in order to achieve your goals and your dreams, because you’re too busy with other things?

You might’ve read my blog on “How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Reduce Holiday Stress” where I discuss the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle states that 20 percent of input (or investments when it comes to finances) is responsible for 80 percent of the results. In other words, 80 percent of all your stress, worries, and fears come from only 20 percent in your life. It might seem a little strange that only 20 percent of your life is causing you stress yet I promise you, this is is the case.

Take finances for instance. This is a big area of stress for many individuals and couples and usually bleeds over into other things like paying bills, affording child care, buying splurge items, paying off debt, etc. This seemingly small or “one” thing ends up impacting a large part of your life and your daily functioning. It might not be immediately possible to solve all your financial problems by the end of January but it is possible to begin taking control of that one, “small” area of your life which is causing you the most stress.

While we’re on the subject of the 20 percent of your life causing 80 percent of your stress, maybe finances are only 5 percent of that 20 percent. Let’s look at what you’re doing with your time. What makes up the other 15?

Is there an area of your life where you’re overcommitted? Are you trying to be a “super mom” who’s on the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), Girl or Boy Scouts Troop leader, hosting a weekly book club, working out daily to maintain a certain look, all while trying to have a career and taking good care of your family?  Man that’s a lot!  Or are you trying to be Superman, taking on extra work assignments, staying late at the office every night, workout, and coach your son or daughter’s soccer league on the weekends?

No matter where you find yourself today, take a look at places where you feel a sense of obligation yet are really, deep down, things on which you don’t want to be spending your time. Are you doing these things because they’ll look good, or make you look good? Are these things you feel like you must do, based on a condition, or is it a case of the “feel bads” (you “feel bad”, so you do it)?

A commonality among over-committers, as I call them, is the feelings and thoughts associated with the overcommitment. Thoughts of “I need to do this”, “I should do this”, or “It will look better if I do this” are common thoughts found floating around the mind of over-committers. The feelings most often associated with over-commitment include guilt, obligation, and low self-worth. Getting in touch with the reason why you feel compelled to say “yes” will help empower you to honor yourself and say “no”. Maybe none of the feelings listed above resonate with you, so I encourage you to spend some time exploring why you feel the need to do some of the things you do.

If you’re having difficulty saying “No” remember that the inability to say no is considered a form of self betrayal. You deny yourself the things you’d like, or prevent yourself from being able to do the things you’d like to do, and the result is the feeling of discontent as you put others needs before your own.

As the new year gets started, spend some time identifying the areas of your life in which you’d like to have a little more balance and if you find yourself struggling on where to start or facing obstacles that are a little too hard to overcome on your own, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

Down with Resolutions, Up with Goals!

Have you ever wondered what the entire lyrics are to the traditional New Year’s Song, “Auld Lang Syne”? Better yet, have you ever wondered why it would ask, “Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?” and do you know your answer to the question? How often do you reflect back on “times gone by”? (the English translation of the Scottish phrase Auld Lang Syne) Or do you let each year go by, without pausing and bringing to mind your successes?

New Year’s is a wonderful time of year because it allows us to look ahead into the next year, clean and fresh like newly fallen snow. It’s unmarred by our mistakes and mess ups and feels full of hope for accomplishing our goals. New Year’s is also a time of reflection; a time to look back on the past year and reflect on how we’ve grown, how we’ve stayed the same, and how we were able to accomplish (or why we didn’t) accomplish our goals.

In regards to relationships, both close and acquaintance, this is the time of year where we can take a look at how our personal growth allowed us to create stronger and healthier connections, while also identifying those relationships which we need to let go of, as it no longer serves our best interests.

I’ve got a few questions for you, to help you reflect on how this past year went and plan where you want to go next year, so grab your paper and pencil (or laptop) and get to writing!

What goals did you achieve this year?

Be honest. Countless New Year’s Resolutions fly out the window by January 3rd. The hardest part with New Year’s Resolutions is sticking to them and keeping up a maintenance plan, especially for couples who wanted to feel closer or more connected, by doing monthly date nights or one romantic trip last year. Today, write down the goals you wanted to achieve over these past twelve months and highlight which ones you didn’t achieve. Then, write down why you didn’t achieve them. Was it money, time, lack of commitment, work that got in the way? Was the goal a little too unattainable at this point in your life (run a marathon when you haven’t been able to run a 5K?) Identify your roadblocks so you can strategize on how to avoid them next year. As for the goals you did achieve…

What difference has this made in your life and your relationship?

Was one of your goals to take your therapy private practice to six figure levels (which you can learn how to do if you head over to ThePrivatePracticeStartup.com). Congratulations! Be proud; that’s an accomplishment. Now take a moment to answer the the question above. Did having more financial freedom and flexibility allow you and your partner to take that romantic vacation you always wanted? Did an achieved weight loss goal increase your confidence in your appearance and improve your sex life with your partner? Whatever the case may be, look at how achieving your goals has set you up for more success in all areas of your life. It’ll motivate you to keep up your next set of goals, which are…

Which goals do you want to continue?

Learning about finances and ways to protect yourself and family? Eating healthier? Keep it up! Exercising more? Spending more time connecting with family and friends? Now’s the time to reevaluate your goals and see which ones have turned into healthy habits for you and your family.

Which goals do you want to drop like a bad habit?

This is a tough one because you might think “All my goals are positive” and you’re mostly right, yet it’s possible to go from goal oriented to obsessed if you’re not careful. Striving to reach one million Instagram followers, spending a majority of your time crafting the perfect picture and still not getting the results you want? It might be time to direct your energy elsewhere.

As the year comes to a close, sit down with your partner and have a discussion about where you’d like to focus your attention and energy this year. Is it your health and wellness, your relationship, your family, spending more time fun and leisurely activities, taking up a new hobby, getting control of your finances, your career, or your growth and development.

I know that after the initial phase of excitement motivation and momentum to achieve your goals my start to dwindle, which is why it’s important to have a Maintenance Plan. A maintenance plan allows you to plan for the roadblocks and obstacles that’ll inevitability pop up along the way to achieving your goals, especially when you’re goals relate to you and your partner moving forward and growing together.

As always, if you’re having trouble getting started on your New Year’s Goals, I’m a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

What Are Your Relationship Rights?

December is Human Rights Month, and Saturday, December 10th was Human Rights Day. You might be scratching your head (as I did when I first looked into human rights) wondering, “What exactly are human rights?” In 1948 the United Nations drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which you can read and download here) as a standard of “fundamental human rights to be universally protected”. Much like we have rights under the U.S. Constitution, we have universal rights that transcend our nationality, such as “The right to life, liberty, and security of person” and “The right to rest and leisure”.

We all have rights as individuals, just like we all have rights when we’re part of a couple and in a relationship. It might seem somewhat difficult to identify our rights within a relationship and while the UN hasn’t written a declaration for Relationship Rights, it’s worth taking a look at what exactly individuals deserve in a relationship.

Ask yourself, “What would I say my rights are within my current relationship? Scratching your head? It’s alright. It might seem like an easy task yet sometimes we forget about our own needs when we’re in a relationship, as we strive to help our partner achieve their dreams and goals. Below are just a few rights I’ve come across in my practice as a couples counselor:

Right to feel loved
It’s what we all want, no matter how young or old; to feel loved. When one partner isn’t feeling loved by the other, it can lead to big problems. It’s important that you’re feeling loved in a way that you recognize, like your love language (if you’re unfamiliar about the 5 Love Languages, you can check out my video on “How the 5 Love Languages Can Help Your Relationship”).

Right to be heard
One of Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is stonewalling and it can be detrimental to a relationship. Stonewalling shuts down the conversation before the other person can be heard. While it may feel like you, or your partner, need that time to cool down during an argument before you say something you regret, if you never come back to the topic, you lose all hope of finding an agreed upon resolution. If you feel like you and your partner need some ground rules for conflict, set them up beforehand, when you’re both calm and open. The ground rules should outline how you want to be treated during a fight, and how your partner wants to be treated during an argument and can include things like: “No name calling”, “No bringing up events that happened over 6 months ago”, “No comparison of how you/I chose to do something”.

Right to respect
Easy, right? Wrong. Respect is so much more than just saying you have it for your partner; it needs to be shown. It’s tempting when we get together with a group of friends or other couples, to begin the mutual complain-fest. “He sleeps in too late on the weekends” or “She never does the dishes after dinner”. We think it’s bonding with our peers when can share a mutual dislike for something and while propinquity (or similarity between things, like shared political beliefs) might help you develop a friendship, it will do nothing for your relationship. When you open the door of complaining about your spouse/partner to others, and in front of others, you allow other individuals in your life (friends, family, co-workers) to walk through that door as well. You might think, “Only I can complain about my spouse and I get upset if someone else does!” although that’s not always your saving grace and you set the precedent for how others treat your spouse.

Right to safety and security
Domestic violence, whether it’s physical, verbal, emotional, or financial, is illegal and no matter the circumstances everyone has the right to safety within a relationship. If you feel unsafe in your current relationship, it’s time to get help. It can be a long process, as the average individual tries over seven times to leave an abusive relationship, and it may involve much planning and therapeutic work on your part, but consider the price you pay for staying in a relationship where there is an abuse of power, control, and violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a great resource for anyone looking for more information or help and has a quick button if the page needs to be closed without detection.

In honor of Human Rights Month, I want you to take a moment and right down your relationship rights. You don’t need to include many, just as many as you feel you deserve in a relationship. This can be something you do on your own or with your partner. A review of your marriage vows, or rewriting, can be an excellent starting place to begin and remember what you agreed to when you chose to join this person. Put a positive spin on this exercise and focus on the rights you already have in your relationship, the rights that are strong, and then begin to build from those rights. As always, if you and your partner find yourselves struggling, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com. I would love to hear what rights you came up with for your relationship. Drop me a line!