A Thanksgiving Gratitude List

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches this week, I decided to create a list of things I am grateful for.  I am sure this list could continue to expand but in one sitting these are the fun things that came to mind. What better way to express gratitude than on Thanksgiving?

What better way to welcome the holiday than to explore, appreciate, feel and experience the gratitude I have for so many things.  You don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to create a gratitude list you can do it is part of your daily ritual. I do mine with my morning meditation.  You can also do this as part of your evening or dinner ritual with your spouse, partner or even kids.  When we shift our focus and experience the things that we are grateful for it begins to shift our perspective and experience of the world.  “Where attention goes, energy flows!” ~ James Redfield

  1. Speaking of meditation I found this great link that I listen to during my meditation – https://youtu.be/w6sbrmcrSuo
  2. The meaning of “Om”
  3. My dog Charlotte she came into our lives at the perfect time as 5 weeks later we had to say an unexpected goodbye to our loving and kind dog, Destiny.  
  4. Quiet times at home by myself
  5. The Movies!!!  I love watching movies.
  6. Shelly Does – one of my current fav YouTube instructors
  7. My marriage
  8. The evolution of my relationship
  9. The evolution of myself in my relationship
  10. The pioneers in the field of relationships as it has made me a better person, partner and spouse
  11. My spouse
  12. My parents
  13. My adult relationships with my parents
  14. Four legged furry animals that bring people so much joy
  15. Living in Florida
  16. Thinking about how amazing the world really is.  Sometimes I get lost in thinking of all the amazing things humans have created.  
  17. Wind
  18. The beach
  19. My upcoming trip to the Grand Canyon – bucket list item – CHECK
  20. Firepits
  21. Dunkin Donuts & Starbucks
  22. Pumpkin and Salt Caramel flavorings
  23. Halloween
  24. Events, shows and concerts – going to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra play this year
  25. Bike riding
  26. Meditation
  27. Youtube
  28. The internet
  29. Going inward
  30. Photography
  31. Art shows
  32. Friendships
  33. Water
  34. Ice tea
  35. Ethos – one of my most favorite restaurants in the area I love – delish!
  36. My business partner
  37. My assistant
  38. People overall – I see people as good and wanting to help and guess what they show up that way
  39. Discounts, deals and COUPONS!
  40. Reading
  41. Pinterest – making a curry butternut squash recipe this evening for dinner.
  42. Brene Brown
  43. Candles
  44. My home
  45. Possibilities
  46. Brighton
  47. DSW
  48. My comfy bed
  49. The time I get to spend with my family when they visit
  50. The laugh and giggles of children and babies

I would love to hear and learn about what you are grateful for, drop me a line at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.  

For more gratitude, check out the vlog below on What We Are Grateful for When It Comes to Relationships!

Fill out my online form.

How We Became Couples Counselors

Ever wonder what leads people to their career path? Watch below to learn how we became couples counselors.


How to Understand Primary and Secondary Emotions

Relationship Counseling

Make Peace with Lost Loved Ones

There are moments in everyone’s life which become the basis for how that individual sees the world. Similarly, there are moments or events that shape an entire generation, a zeitgeist, or sign of the times. It’s ever so important that we make peace with lost loved ones in order to move forward in our lives. 

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Next year, there will be a whole generation of high school Freshman who were not alive for this event.

Relationship CounselingReflecting on September 11th undoubtedly brings to mind the details of where you were when you first heard the news. For me, I remember it was the one day I did not have my cell phone with me and therefore could not immediately call my family. For others, especially those who lost loved ones that day, the details may vary and yet the feeling is universal: loss.

How do we grieve the loss of loved ones, particularly the loss of a spouse?

Many suggest going through the popular five stages of grief identified by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her work was mainly for the dying not the grieving, but many people have adopted these 5 stages to understand grief.  The Dougy Model, offers and suggests 3 phases of grieving. Others seek comfort in religious or spiritual services and guidance. There are numerous ways to mourn and no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one, unless how you grieve is putting your life or health at risk.

In my practice, I’ve found that individuals who find a way to honor the relationship and keep a small part of it alive report less distressing feelings during the mourning and grieving processes. An example might be someone who purchases an extra lottery ticket in honor of a spouse who enjoyed playing the lottery.

Even though our loved one may not be here physically with us, we continue to have a relationship with him or her; the relationship is simply transformed. In thinking about how the relationship has changed, I like to reference a song from the Broadway Musical of The Lion King “He Lives In You”. There is peace in knowing that our loved ones continue to live on in our memories and our actions. This theme is echoed throughout literature and art, as we frequently see scenes in movies or TV where a character visits another’s grave to engage in a lengthy conversation, perhaps about a recent change or to make a difficult decision.

Why would we engage in behavior like this, a one sided conversation with someone not physically present? For the same reasons that some individuals engage in prayer; it helps us. The connection between our minds and our bodies is strong and anyone who’s ever attempted to change something in his or her life will undoubtedly tell you it all begins in your mind. Change your mind and change your world.

This September 11th, as we remember all those whose lives were lost, let’s also remember to think of those whose lives were changed forever and those who lost a loved one. If you find yourself struggling with how to make peace with a change in your relationship, you can always reach me at katie@familyandcouplescounseling.com or (954) 401-9011. Your life and relationships, are worth it.

Fill out my online form.
Coral Springs Couples Counseling Yoga

How Yoga Can Make Your Relationship Superior

It’s a great idea and fun to celebrate, random monthly holidays. What better way to brighten your (or your partner’s) day than by celebrating Happy Cat Month by looking at pictures of happy cats everyday for the month? (Not for you? There’s always Adopt-A-Dog month).  Speaking of Adopt-A-Dog that’s exactly what we just did.  We added to our family.  We adopted a 1 year old rescue from the humane society.  Now, I’m making the case for how yoga can make your relationship superior. 

September holds numerous monthly holidays (Happy Cat Month is one of them) but it’s also National Yoga Month and “Superior” Relationship Month. That got me thinking: what makes a relationship “superior”? Could every couples make their relationship superior? And could this been done through yoga?

Coral Springs Couples Counseling YogaI spend most of my time thinking about how couples can improve their relationships and find satisfaction in their lives together. While superiority holds a rather negative connotation, I’m reminded of the Ernest Hemingway quote, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” This month, I want to encourage couples to try and become superior to their former selves.

Where does yoga fit into all this? Yoga can be an incredibly transformative practice, for individuals and couples alike. Through yoga practice we find inner strength and peace, an ability to calm our mind, a way of letting go of judgement and living in the present. When couples practice yoga together, the experience is eye opening. Poses specific to couples yoga require clear communication as the couple moves from one pose to another, using each other’s bodies to stretch deeper into a position and really becoming in sync with one another.  I have done both couples yoga and flying yoga, so much fun.  What a GREAT way to enhance communication, create connection, and build trust with your partner.  

There is no superiority in yoga practice and each individual honors where he or she in that moment of their practice. Why would we turn to yoga for superiority, if it appears to go against the basic tenets of the practice? Let’s return to the Ernest Hemingway quote, about being superior to our former selves.

Everyday is another day in our lives with opportunities to change the parts of ourselves we feel unhappy with or find cause us distress. The same goes for our relationships. There is nothing to hold back couples from starting today to become a superior couple, a healthy and loving couple, a successful couple.

A daunting task for most individuals and couples, one that doesn’t just start by taking a yoga class or two with your partner. Rather, the path to a superior relationship starts the way most yoga classes start: with an intention. You set your intention for your practice, whether it’s to try that headstand or stay in downward dog, why not set an intention for your relationship. The intention can be to express more gratitude towards your partner for completing a small chore, leaving a little love note, or even a quick phone call to check in on a lunch break.

Once you’ve set your intention, work towards reaching your intention each day with your partner. Encourage your partner to set an intention with you, not necessarily related to you, maybe related to a work related stress or personal goal your partner is working towards. There’s no right or wrong intention for you or your partner (unless of course that intention is spiteful in nature, that’s not the type of intention you want to set).

It takes time, effort, energy, and intention to achieve our goals in life and the same holds true for transforming your relationship into the type of relationship you want it to be. I’m always here to lend a guiding hand or a listening ear if you find yourself struggling in your relationship and can’t quite get it to the next level. I can be reached at katie@familyandcouplescounseling.com or (954) 401-9011; remember, your relationship is worth it!

Fill out my online form.
Couples Counseling LGBTQ

Know Your Rights as an LGBTQ Parent

We had the pleasure of meeting with Radoyka “Roe” Minaya, Family Law Attorney of Minaya Law Offices on The Couples Corner recently and discussing parental rights within the LGBT community. As a reminder, all the information Roe provided on The Couples Corner is specific to Florida state laws and if you have a specific question it’s always best to consult a Family Law Attorney in the state you reside.

Although, marriage equality has been federal law since 2015, Florida has taken a little while to catch up. While same-sex couples who married in other states had their marriage recognized in the state Florida, couples with children who did not do a second or step-parent adoption in their home state faced difficulties if they later chose to divorce as they may not be considered a legal parent.

Couples Counseling LGBTQEven issuing proper birth certificates is something Florida continues to struggle with as the state catches up to federal law. New birth certificates were to be issued that would say “Parent 1” “Parent 2” “Mother” “Father” or “Other Parent” but because these new birth certificates were not issued, the non-birth parents were not allowed to be listed on the birth certificate up until mid-2016. Around May/June of this year, same sex parents were allowed to list their name under the opposite sex parent line. Same sex couple’s parental right still are a bit unclear in the state of Florida. Roe suggests that anyone relocating to Florida immediately contact an attorney to learn what might be needed in order to maintain parental rights of their children.

Most couples will need to do something extra, although it doesn’t always mean that the couple will need to do a second parent or step-parent adoption; there are other shorter and less costly options for parents to explore, due in large part to the inconsistency in Florida law.

One suggestion Roe has for parents or couples who are planning to relocate to Florida is to contact an attorney prior to doing anything, in order to make sure they’re protected regarding any decisions they make surrounding their parental rights and their family. It’s difficult to navigate current LGBTQ laws and rights and it’s hard to predict what future effects will be felt for parents in this community.

If a same sex couple is planning on having a child, Roe recommends that, the couple get married. While everyone should have the right to have a child, regardless of marital status, Roe feels that as things are sorted out, children born of a legal marriage will most likely be treated that same as any other child. Another recommendation she makes is to use a sperm bank or fertility clinic for an anonymous donor, as these organizations have very strict rules and regulations regarding future contact with children further protecting rights of parents. If using a known donor, Roe recommends speaking with attorney and foregoing trying to navigate the legal process on your own. It may be tempting to find a cheaper route in the beginning but Roe warns shirking costs in the beginning can result in great costs, both financial and emotional, in the long run.

The steps a couple would take in a second parent adoption, when the couple is not married, are a background check, a home study, an attorney to assist in the process, and a final judgement on the adoption. This can be distressing to some parents who may feel that they brought this child into the relationship and should not have to have a decision made on whether or not they can adopt their child.

If you want to know about your rights as an LGBTQ parent in Florida, Roe can be reached at minayalaw.com and will provide a free consultation.

Check out Roe’s entire interview below!

Fill out my online form.


Couples Counseling Collaborative Divorce

Stop, Collaborate, and Divorce

We got the pleasure of interviewing South Florida Family Law Attorney, Carolann Mazza on Collaborative Divorce, a topic she is most passionate about. Unlike divorces that go through the courts, a collaborative divorce can prevent a family from fracturing under the stress and weight of divorce. Carolann shares that Stu Webb created the idea of the collaborative divorce in the 1980’s as an alternative to litigation.

Why would you select collaborative divorce? Collaborative divorce differs from a litigated divorce (the default option for divorce) in that all decisions are made by the judge, someone who is in essence, a stranger to the family and most importantly the children in the family. A litigated divorce goes through the court, whereas in a collaborative divorce, the couple agrees to stay out of the court by signing a participation agreement. This can be so empowering to the couple as they decide the way to move forward with their family’s best interests. Additionally, each individual and his or her lawyer sit down and work together to come to a mutual agreement about the future.Couples Counseling Collaborative Divorce

A big benefit of collaborative divorce is the level of autonomy afforded to couples, as the couple decides how to proceed with the divorce. Sometimes, laws can be limited, too general, and do not apply to every situation and it. A great way to honor the couple itself is to even consider including verbiage about choosing collaborative divorce in a prenuptial agreement (watch our episode on Prenuptial agreements). One thing Carolann recommends, whether you’re deciding to go through litigation or a collaborative divorce, is to make sure that you have a divorce lawyer and while it may be tempting to represent yourself and stay out of court, a lawyer will advocate for your best interests.

If you’d like to learn more about the collaborative divorce process, Carolann can be reached at www.collaborativenow.com. If you’re looking for a collaborative lawyer in a specific area, Carolann recommends the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and you can search for a professional in your area.  Remember to check with an attorney in your state for state specific laws, rules, and regulations around family law.  


Prenuptial Agreement

Protect Yourself with a Prenup

Recently, on The Couples Corner, we had the chance to sit down with Elizabeth Edwards, a family law attorney in South Florida and discussed prenuptial agreements. While a taboo topic for many, it is important to consider a prenuptial agreement as part of your “wedding budget”.  It can be a helpful in setting the foundation for a successful and stress free future.

Prenuptial AgreementElizabeth highlights that a prenuptial agreement can help couples figure out what would be done in case of a divorce or death. Couples and marital assets, those assets acquired during the marriage, can be subject to certain laws in the event of a divorce. While divorce is something most couples never hope for, having a prenuptial agreement protects both individuals in the unfortunate event of a separation.

Prenuptial agreements include information and decisions on what is done with assets acquired both during, and prior to, the marriage, alimony, and how marital debt will be resolved. Elizabeth mentions that anything relating to children is not included in a prenuptial agreement and temporary attorneys fees and temporary alimony cannot be waived by a prenup, only final attorneys fees and alimony can be waived by a prenup but almost anything else can be included in your prenuptial agreement.

Any business created while you’re married is considered a marital asset and if there is no prenuptial agreement, that business can be divisible in the divorce. Similarly, if a spouse adds the other onto the deed of a house owned prior to the marriage, the house is considered a marital asset.

Elizabeth recommends that talking about prenuptial agreements early on, perhaps even with the help of a counselor, will help couples in the long run. She stresses that prenuptial agreements are less about attacking the other person and more about protection both individuals in the relationship. Elizabeth can be reached at www.bfinkelpa.com

Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Give Your Relationship a “Labor Day”

If I asked you what Labor Day and your relationship have in common, how would you answer the question? It might be hard at first. Read below to find out why it’s so important to give your relationship a “Labor Day”. 

Unlike other holidays throughout the year, like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day, Labor Day is one of those holidays which gets a lot of love but little understanding. Created during the Industrial Revolution, when twelve hour days, seven days a work was the normal working schedule for the average American, Labor Day was meant to honor workers and provide a much needed day of rest.Couples Counseling Coral Springs

What does Labor Day mean to us now? For many couples and families it’s a welcome day off from work, right after the start of the school year in some parts of the country.

So what does this have to do with your relationship? Recently, I began rewatching old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and I found myself noticing how often the theme of career versus relationships or families was referenced. The title character struggles with how her childhood was marked by frequent absences from her mother, due to her demanding career as a surgeon.

It seems many couples fail to understand, or understand yet fail to act on, the idea of a relationship being largely like a job; a good job, hopefully, but a job none the less. A job is something that requires you to show up, be present, focus on tasks, and commit to seeing through to its completion. Sounds nothing like a relationship, does it? I beg to differ. Relationships are work; again, hopefully good work, yet work all the same.

Couples who struggle with intimacy and romance in later years often cite similar complaints: “The romance is gone” or “He/she simply doesn’t try anymore” maybe even, “It’s not like it was when we first started dating.” That initial spark which initially attracted the two of you together has slowly dimmed and gone are the days of couples taking the extra time or effort on one another. Couples may find the little things they do for each other taken for granted and unrecognized.

Just like Labor Day was created to acknowledge the hard work of the average American, couples should create time or ways to acknowledge one another’s hard work in the relationship. Each couple will find a different way of creating this time or way of showing appreciation to one another and below are some ideas to get your started on the path of appreciation with your partner:

  • Create a morning ritual
    • Most couples may have the same work schedule of 9 to 5; for those that don’t, getting quality time together before or after work can be a challenge. Something as simple as making a pot of coffee or preparing breakfast if your partner wakes after you can positively impact the rest of your partner’s day and your relationship. If you’re lucky enough to have mornings together, use an extra few minutes to share that cup of coffee or breakfast and start your day connecting.
  • Say “Thank You”
    • In my blog “Top 10 Tips for Saving Your Marriage” I write about ways couples can strengthen the relationship and tip number five is “Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude”. You’d be surprised how much of a difference a simple “Thank you” can make in a person’s day. Test it out: thank one of your co-workers for taking out the trash or getting something to you on time. Notice how it changes the interaction between the two of you. Then, test it out on your partner.
  • Dismiss distractions
    • Experts agree the bed and bedroom should be reserved for only two activities: sleeping and sex. If you find yourself with your TV, iPad, tablet, laptop, or even cell phone ignoring your spouse as you surf the web, take a break from electronics in the bedroom. See if you can go at least three days without electronics in the bedroom and talk to your spouse before going to sleep. Your quality of sleep won’t be the only thing that improves.
  • Anywhere but here
    • It might be too tempting to fall into everyday routines at home; there are chores to complete and easy access to all your (de)vices. Schedule a getaway for you and your partner (even if it’s a small staycation, a one night stay at a local hotel). This one requires a bit of commitment and planning on your part, unless both you and your partner are spontaneous and enjoy last minute decisions. Labor Day is a perfect time of your for a short getaway.

No one wants to think of their relationship as work; yet to ignore the fact that relationships take work would do a disservice to you and your partner, creating resentment and anger in the relationship. This Labor Day, instead of focusing on the barbeques and all the chores you’ll catch up on around the house, take a moment to focus on your relationship. If the chores are done with your partner, great! Just don’t forget about your partner and the hard work he or she is putting in the relationship. If you find yourself feeling like perhaps you or your partner need a little boost bigger than just Labor Day, I’m always here to chat, Katie Lemieux, LMFT www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com

Fill out my online form.
Decrease Back to School Stress

Beat Back to School Stress the Easy Way

“Back to school, back to school…” Adam Sandler iconized the phrase in “Billy Madison”. But what does “back to school” really mean for some couples, especially those couples with children? For some, this is a long awaited reprieve from the carefree days of summer when their children have copious amounts of free time and relaxed bedtimes. Other couples, those who may be returning to school for continuing education or those who are school employees, may find there’s far less free time for all the fun things in a relationship, like travel and leisure time together. Even those individuals without children or without a partner in the school systems have certainly noticed the increase in the traffic around rush hour as school zones take hold of the once school bus-less streets.

Decrease Back to School StressNo matter which side of the coin you find yourself on, chances are the arrival of a new school year is felt in your family. Those of you with teenagers may be struggling to understand why your teen finds it necessary to stay up into the wee hours of the morning, only to fight with you on an early wake up for the first day of school. Turns out, they’re wired that way: the National Sleep Foundation found that teens typically cannot fall asleep before 11 pm. Frustrations with teens, rushed mornings, and a readjustment to old or new routines can cause stress in relationships.

Many couples I work with look for ways to manage the stress of returning to school (either themselves or their children). Something I always recommend is to get on a schedule. Kids (not to mention adults too) thrive off of routines and having a stable routine can increase a child’s success, both academically and emotionally. Additionally, having a schedule helps keep you and your partner on track and can limit minor disagreements, like who’s going to pick up the kids after school or daycare and who’ll be responsible for dinner. Some couples say they find it impossible to set a schedule, someone is always forgetting or life is simply too chaotic to control. While it may be true, an extremely rigid schedule isn’t going to work for everyone, having some sort of routine even if it’s just waking up at the same time every day can do wonders for family functioning. A positive (notice I mention positive) routine can actually increase your happiness. And chances are if you’re feeling happier, this happiness will rub off on your family members too.

Families run into problems when there is no routine and in essence the lack of routine becomes routine for the family. Late nights lead to rushed mornings, which lead to feelings of frustration and maybe even a hurtful exchange between two or more family members. It may seem simple, but I encourage you and your family to find one routine to stick to this new school year, whether it’s waking up at the same time every day of the week, doing one thing together when the family first gets home or just before going to bed, or even a positive group text message during the day at lunch time. You might find that as the family stress of the school year melts away, so do some relationship stresses as well. Find something the whole family can do and stick with with it for at least two months, not worrying whether or not you complete the task everyday, but trying not to miss more than 2 days in a row.

Of course, if you find yourself and your partner still struggling to get your relationship and your family on a routine, I’m always here to help.

Fill out my online form.