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

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Couples Corner Divorce or Mediation

Is Divorce the Only Option?

This week on The Couples Corner we had the pleasure to chat with Leisa Wintz, a family law attorney, about mediation as an option for couples who wish to divorce, and whether or not divorce is the only option. Leisa’s background is unique in that she holds a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and worked as a mediator prior to becoming an attorney. Although it’s never pleasant to reach the conclusion that a marriage has come to end, the terms on which a couple separates can make a world of difference. Leisa discusses what mediation is and questions to ask if mediation is something you’re considering as you separate from your spouse.

Couples Corner Divorce or MediationIt’s important to note that the information Leisa shares is specific to the state of Florida; however, you can gain some insight on mediation and if you have specific questions regarding your state we recommend you consult an attorney in your state.

Why mediation?

Leisa shares that divorce through mediation is a common question couples have for her, mostly because individuals may not want a judge to make decisions about the situation. There are times when mediation will be the best choice and also not the best choice for couples. We all have preconceived notions of what we think divorce looks like; if you’re curious about your options, most lawyers will offer a free phone consultation and if you don’t like the first attorney you speak with, hang up and call another. Your lawyer should be your partner in this process and having a like minded lawyer who is on the same page as you will be your best asset. Mediation will consist of a third party, neutral individual who will help negotiate the terms of the separation. As Leisa says, in all good compromises, you’ve got to give up a something and if one person walks out of mediation feeling like he/she got everything he/she wanted, something went wrong.

For some couples, they want the divorce to amicable. Additionally, mediation is required in the state of Florida if there are children involved and you can’t settle. While it’s not required that you reach an agreement in mediation, it is required that you attend.One thing Leisa points out is that the results of a mediation will depend one two things: your mediator, and how nice you (or your spouse) want to be in the process. Should you take a lawyer with you to mediation?

That all depends. It’s not always necessary to bring a lawyer with you to mediation but Leisa recommends knowing yourself and knowing how you respond in situations. If you’re the type of person who can live with a decision and move on, maybe you don’t need a lawyer. If you’d rather have a very clear understanding of the how assets are divided and know what you’re entitled to, it may be worth having a lawyer there. It’s also important to remember that while many couples may start off with good intentions, things can change as the divorce progresses and it’s important to be prepared.  If you are contemplating divorce there are many things to consider.  The emotional, legal and financial aspects of divorce can be difficult on all involved.  There is also the option of Collaborative Divorce which we share on another episode of The Couples Corner.

Coral Springs Premarital Counseling

3 Reasons Why You Should Do Premarital Counseling

This episode of The Couples Corner, we had the opportunity to sit down with Michelle Scharlop, LMFT of Plantation Relationship Counseling and discuss the benefits of premarital counseling, including three tips for those thinking about getting married or anyone who is already engaged.

  1. Focus on the Relationship

Wedding planning can be a stressful time in a couple’s life. There is so much involved in wedding planning, from picking out the flowers, the wedding dress, the cake, the honeymoon, and all the myriad of other little details, that the focus of the relationship can get lost and be put on the back burner. In premarital counseling, couples can take the time to focus on their relationship and connect, since the goal of any wedding is to have a successful marriage.

Coral Springs Premarital Counseling

  1. Get on the Same Page

Although most couples may think they’re on the same page about important things before they get married, it’s important to really explore those deeper issues that can occur later in the marriage and cause problems. Everything from finances to children, religion, household chores, even the expectations we hold about married life is fuel for an impending fire if each person in the couple is unaware of what the other is thinking. How often marriage counselors hear, “I wish I had known that before we got married.” Premarital counseling can help prepare for the hurricane before the hurricane, discussing those rare life events couples may face like unemployment or a sudden financial crisis. Couples can avoid these difficult conversations when they are happening often making it worse because of fear due or  lack of communication skills, but in fact, Michelle’s final tip is…

  1. Be Proactive

One of the benefits of premarital counseling is that the counselor will help couples who may be struggling with effective communication develop those skills. The counselor will help couples discuss difficult areas when a disagreement in the relationship arises. While many people still view counseling a slightly stigmatized, counseling can be very similar to coaching, in that who doesn’t want to learn how to have a better relationship?

Couples Time Together Beating Boredom

10 Ways for Couples to Beat Boredom

As we say goodbye to the long and lazy days of July, which coincidentally was National Anti-Boredom Month. For those of you who may be feeling the weight of all the free time summer has to offer, you may also be searching for things to do with your spouse or partner. Here, you’ll find 10 ways for couples to beat boredom. 

1.DIY

Summer time is the perfect time to finish up those little (or large) house projects you and your partner have been putting off. Paint the guest bedroom that new color. But don’t stop there! Once you’ve completed your project, celebrate that success and your teamwork with your partner.

2. Celebrate the little things

Kids away at camp? Celebrate! Planned and executed a (semi) successful family vacation? Celebrate! No matter the size of the event, celebrate your success. While not everything may warrant popping an expensive bottle of champagne, simply thinking about your success can do wonders.

3. Host a BBQCouples Time Together Beating Boredom

July 4th may have passed but that’s no reason not to have friends and family over for some quality time (Especially since you may have a new deck patio to use or a refreshed guest room in need of some guests, if you followed tip

4. Build a Sand Castle

If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach or even a lake, building a sand castle with your loved one can be fun.  You might even consider this a metaphor for your current relationship, as all relationships take work and the stability of your sand castle will depend largely on how strongly you’ve built your foundation. For those of you who may be landlocked this summer with little to no sand in sight, stop by Michaels to pick up some sand or make you own!

5. Pokemon GO

I can’t believe I am even suggesting this, but this tip comes from a couple I actually work with.  Before Pokemon GO the wife walked the neighborhood by herself with the kids.  Intro Pokemon GO she and her husband went from 0 walks a week to 3 together.  A cool way for technology to bring some fun and exercise to a couple.

6. Get Outdoors

Get outdoors with your loved one. Water sports, like paddle boarding and kayaking, can be more enjoyable when you’re hot and sweaty, as the water will more than likely cool you off rather than chill you like during some colder months. Hiking nature trails early before it gets too hot may show you some local flora and fauna you’ve never dreamed you’d see.

7. See a movie

Summers are known for their blockbuster and family hits, so spend an afternoon at the theaters with your partner. Not big on theaters? Try watching a movie at home, with some popped popcorn, blankets, drinks of your choice, and lights dimmed. It’s all about attitude when it comes to beating the boredom and even something most of us take for granted.

8. Wash the Car

Chores? Over the summer? Forget it! But not just yet. There’s a reason films like Bad Teacher and Charlie’s Angels feature car wash scenes. There’s something sultry about getting soapy with your significant other and being able to spray them with water.

9. Expand Your Knowledge

It is a great time to take a course with your partner.  How is your financial health?   Perhaps take a course on estate planning, retirement, investing, cooking, etc.  I know some of those don’t sound sexy but they can be very important and necessary in the legacy of your family and relationship.

10. Take it to 2 Wheels

Bicycling is a great way to spend summertime and the health benefits are just an added bonus. Wedding Crashers shows how much fun a summertime bike ride can be with someone you love. Break out the bikes, break out a sweat, and get moving!  Rent a 2 seater bike and bike together, go teamwork.

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Coral Springs Couples Counseling Sex Therapy

Putting the Spark Back in your Sex Life

Coral Springs Couples Counseling Sex Therapy What would you say if I told you that you have all the answers to solve your relationship frustrations with you at this very moment? What would you say if I told you the biggest sex organ was not between your legs but between your ears? Pretty crazy, huh? Not as much as you’d think. I had a chance to sit down with Dr. Amy Demner, a clinical sexologist, for a recent episode of my series Couples Corner and below is a recap of what we discussed. She helped get to the route of putting the spark back in your sex life.

We’re all managers

You read that right. Whether you like it or not, right now you’re a manager, and your spouse is too. But what exactly are you managing? Your life. It’s the comfortable (or not so, in some cases) place we find ourselves in after years of learning how to manage getting through daily life. Some might even liken it to autopilot. We become so accustomed to the routine and what to expect, that it changes the dynamic of our relationship from how it was in the beginning. A new relationship is exactly that: it’s new, it’s exciting, we’re trying to figure our partner out, while also letting them figure us out as well.

If you want to bring the spark back into your relationship, you need to retrain your brain. This requires a little bit of practice. Dr. Demner gives an examples of how changing the automatic thoughts in our brain surrounding our spouse or partner (like “I wish he’d picked up that wet towel off the floor “ to “You know, he smelled really nice this morning”) can actually act as a mental primer for better sex even before we make it into the bedroom.

We’re also mechanics

You might be thinking to yourself, “I thought we were managers, now we’re mechanics?”. Well, it turns out, we’re both. If I had to guess, I’d guess that these are two careers you never expected yourself to have in your life and here, you’d already had them twice, in the same relationship.

Dr. Demner talks about how over time, as we become better at managing our lives, our families, and our relationships, we lose that initial interest and our sex becomes mechanical. We’ve figured out what works, what doesn’t work, what buttons to push, and we lose the simplest but most meaningful way to connect with our partner: through a kiss. An atmosphere of fun and silliness can make a world of difference in the bedroom and change the whole way you and your partner connect.

And lastly… the repairman…

For couples who do not follow the above strategies in their relationship, who engage in more negative than positive thinking and fail to find those little moments in which they can connect, Dr. Demner provides the following advice on how to repair, or mend, and relationship:

Resolve other issues to resolve sex issues.

Frustrations about the little things have a funny way of bleeding into other areas of our lives (i.e. our sexual relationships) and becoming evening bigger things. Appreciating your partner, inside and outside the bedroom, has a way of easing tensions and creating a more pleasant atmosphere within the relationship.

So there you have it, a quick recap of our time on the Couple’s Corner. Watch the full video here and for more great videos, visit our webpage The Couple’s Corner

A Transformation of Love Through Time

Dr. Sue Johnson, renowned psychologist, therapist, author, and presenter postulates that throughout time, love is continually transformed. Before modern society as we currently know it, families lived off the land, working farms, and lived in small, close knit community villages. The main reason for marrying during this period of time was to inherit more land, wealth, security, and produce offspring who would eventually take over the farm or family business and care for their parents in old age. The idea of two people coming together because of mutual feelings of love or a deep connection simply wasn’t the case. The focus in this time was on survival and staying within the community, as it provided food, shelter, and protection.

Fast forward past the agricultural age and into the industrial era and a bit beyond and we find that more often that women chose men for financial security. Many women were unemployed and uneducated during this time, so love was not a factor in the equation of relationships or marriage. Again, we see a need for wealth, security, and protection as a principal motivating factor for individuals to join in marriage. Dr. Sue Johnson even states that until the eighties, love as a reason for getting married was about fifth on the list when ranking reasons for marriage.

Fast forward to our present day and the primary reason for relationships and marriage is love. Love, an emotional connectedness so important to the couple that is surpasses all else in our lives and our partners our spouses become our loves, our friends, and our community all in one, placing an important, yet heavy load on the romantic relationship. Gone are the days when we connected with other for our mere survival, or are they? Love, and loving in a mature, adult manner, is about being connected to others as a means of survival, much like that of a newborn infant or small child, whose entire existence depends on the quality of the connectedness and attachment with its parents. As adults, we continue to choose partners based on the desire to survive, through the need for attachment and bonding. We cannot live without relationships. Sure, you might think of yourself as capable of living alone in a remote location somewhere, but even then you would rely on your relationship with others (maybe not human). You would rely on your relationship with plants and animals to feed and clothe you; you would rely on your relationship with the sun to guide you and inform you of directions, time of day, and changing seasons; you would rely on your relationship with water to hydrate and clean you. In today’s capitalist society, we have a relationship with money that puts our orange juice, eggs, and bacon on the table every morning.

Numerous studies have been conducted on orphans, prisoners, and other isolated individuals to study the power behind love, bonding, and connection and conversely, its effects when denied. In early childhood development, attachment is so important that a lack of connection to a secure attachment figure (most likely the mother, father, or other major caregiver) who was reliable and available results in physical alterations to the anatomy and chemistry of the brain, such as reduced brain activity and less developed cortexes.

In our Western society, which can be considered the North and South America, Europe, and Australia or any other country with a heavy European influence, we value the individual and independence. In Eastern societies, like those found in India and much of Asia, family and community are more highly valued than the individual. In both societies, the role of the spouse or partner is above all else and when our partner does something that is hurtful or commits an act of betrayal, our world comes crashing down. If you take these moments of hurt and betrayal  that occur daily, weekly, and monthly; however, small and multiply them by days, months, and years, we find that individuals within relationships feel hurt, disappointed, and disconnected. In this way, we are still deeply connected to our ancestral roots of why we choose to engage in a relationship, love, and marry. Dr. Johnson states that love is “a constant process of tuning in, connecting, missing, misreading cues, disconnecting, repairing, and finding a deeper connection. It is a dance of meeting and parting, in finding each other again, minute by minute, day by day.”

In our current time, since our partners and spouses tend to have many roles to fulfill as our partner, lover, friend, etc. couples and marriage counseling is a useful way for us to learn how to maintain that deep level of connection between two people that we crave and seek out to feel whole. Many therapists or counselors who aren’t formally trained in marriage and family therapy tend to help couples create simple solutions to their complex problems, but they don’t really get at the heart of what’s going on within the relationship and work to fix the root of the concern. Some of these simple and often ineffective for the long term solutions might look like creating a budget for a financially struggling couple, or a book on pleasure, a new sex position, or weekend away for a couple whose concern is that their sex live is no longer exciting and taken a turn towards mundane and routine. Although these solutions help in short-term and address the symptom, they fail to create long lasting connection, understanding, change for these couples. Couples often fall victim to a chronic pattern of poor communication that results in feeling criticized, attacked, and defensive. This pattern continues, round and round on a proverbial hamster wheel of arguments with no end in sight. Working with a couples counselor, who is trained in working with couples, will have the experience and knowledge necessary to assist you and your partner in interrupting and changing this poor communication style. For more information on couples counseling, feel free to visit my website www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com and go to the “For Couples” tab.  You will find a lot of different information to assist you on your journey!

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3 Ways to Stop Online Affairs

 1. Protect Your Status

The first step Dr. Richardson-Quamina recommends in preventing an online affair is to protect your relationship status. We all remember the pivotal scene in 2010’s “The Social Network” when Jesse Eisenberg’s character realizes that the one thing that will make his online platform completely ready for use: relationship status. When you put your relationship status out there for everyone to see, you’re being honest with others about your availability (and surprisingly, this doesn’t always happen). When you’re upfront about your relationship status, you have options on what you choose to do when you receive an inappropriate “Like”or “Poke” (back when Facebook had those) direct message. Dr. Richardson-Quamina stresses that everyone’s reaction will be unique to themselves but some reactions include: deciding to unfriend the person, unfollow the person, cut the connection, or reach out and set a boundary with that person. A question to ask yourself in determining your response is, “Will this cause a problem in my relationship if I continue to communicate with this person?”

2. Follow the Golden Rule

Of online usage, in this instance. Dr. Richardson-Quamina suggests that for an individual trying to determine at what point his or her online behavior becomes questionable to remember “Don’t do anything [online] that you cannot do in front of your partner. This simple and easy to remember mantra can be the guiding principle one follows for all online interaction, especially when it comes to social media. Be honest with yourself, and your partner, about the myriad of ways in which communication comes across through social media and online. E-Mails, direct messages (DM), webcams, etc. all play a role in how you’re communicating with others outside of your relationship. And you should be communication about this with your partner, which leads to Dr. Richardson-Quamina’s final tip…

3. Talk the talk

The difficult talk. Communication is so important in relationships, it cannot be stressed enough. Often, the issues occurring within the relationship are a result of miscommunication and misunderstood expectations. Dr. Richardson-Quamina suggests taking the time to sit down with your partner and have the difficult conversation of what your expectations are and learn what your partner expects from you. She even mentions creating an contract of all online behavior, as a way to set boundaries regarding acceptable communication online. Perhaps your partner doesn’t think communicating with an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is an issue, but this is something that would drive you insane. Until you make your expectations know, your partner can’t know them. While it’s difficult to start, having this type of talk will ensure smoother communication and boundaries in the end.

For more information on Dr. Richardson-Quamina’s tips, you can visit her website at Therapy Tribe.

Couples Therapy

When One Partner Refuses Counseling

“You can’t make me go!” That’s something you’d expect to hear from your toddler not your spouse, yet I hear it all the time. Rather, I hear that’s what my client hears all the time.   I hear other things like, “I will not go because I don’t want to have you and someone else gang up on me.”  “Things aren’t that bad.”  “We can work it out on our own.”  “I don’t need therapy YOU need therapy.”  “I don’t know if couples counseling will really help.”  It’s hard, when one partner refuses counseling.

Couples TherapyIf we take a moment to dissect what your spouse was saying, we’ll actually find the root of the discomfort many men and women feel when the idea of couples counseling is brought up: they’re going to be ganged up on by two others. What they’ve done wrong is going to be the focus of the session and ultimately, one person will lose amongst many other preconceived notions about couples counseling.

For those of you that may be reading this at the begrudging request of your spouse, let me set the record straight: while couples counseling may be the idea of one person in the relationship, the end results are to benefit both people. My client is not your spouse, nor is it you. My client is your relationship. The goals you chose to focus on will not be solely those of your spouse and neither will they be entirely your goals. The goals will be those that you decide on together in session with my help and guidance.

I am always so sad to hear how long couples struggle before they actually get into couples or marriage counseling.  Couples often wait 6 years to get some type of help when one party requests it.  Imagine if you had a fracture in your arm.  It might not hurt that bad, but you decide to ignore it in hopes that it will get better.  Then you try to use your arm, it hurts, it is sore, but yet you refuse to see the doctor.  Now, imagine you go along that way for 6 months, a year, 2 years, up until 6 years.  Ouch!!! There is no need to wait so long to get into couples counseling.  I tell the couples I work with to think of it as “couples coaching” because that is exactly what I do with couples is coach and guide them in different skills, techniques, and activities to help them have a better relationship.

Couples need to be concerned with choosing the right therapist.  There are 3 major models of couples counseling.  They are: Gottman Method, Imago, and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).  I would highly recommend seeking out a therapist trained in one of these models.  I am a Level III Gottman trained clinician and also have attended several EFT trainings.  Furthermore, you are the consumer of a service.  If it isn’t working for you search out another therapist that you feel fits with you.

I posted an infographic from Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S on “How Couples Therapy Can Strengthen Your Relationship”. The infographic outlines some of the common myths surrounding couples counseling and its benefits. In her podcast on Love, Happiness and Success, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby reviews the anxiety some individuals feel when faced with the decision to go through marriage counseling. It’s important to keep in mind your partner’s feelings when approaching the subject of counseling; just like you want your partner to be open to the idea of counseling, you also need to be open to your partner’s feelings about why they’re hesitant to counseling.

Just because it may be difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a reluctant spouse or partner into therapy. In my experience with the couples I work with, the person who was most adamant against seeing a marriage counselor is often the one who requests the next session. That original, “You can’t make me go!” is suddenly, “When do we go again?” The change in your partner’s attitude comes in large part from your marriage therapist’s competence and expertise. With the right marriage counselor, you and your partner will feel open, honest, and safe while discussing difficult topics. With the right marriage counselor you and your partner will be taught communication techniques to use. With the right marriage counselor you and your partner will begin to not only feel better about your relationship but develop and nurture a stronger and healthier relationship, increase your love, friendship, and intimacy.
If you’re ready to make to make a change and improve the quality of your relationship, I’m always here to chat. After all, your relationship deserves it. – Katie

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Marriage counseling after infidelity

Can Your Relationship Recover From An Affair?

One of my favorite movies is “Gone Girl” the 2014 psychological thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. The movie is based off the 2012 book of the same name, written by Gillian Flynn, which chronicles the relationship between the two main characters and the aftermath which ensues following Amy’s discovery of Nick’s extramarital affair.

Marriage counseling after infidelity

If giving away the story line of Nick’s infidelity has already spoiled too much for those of you who haven’t seen the film, I won’t say anymore. I will say that Amy’s reaction to Nick’s affair would give anyone pause before even thinking about committing such a spousal betrayal.

An affair is one of the most devastating events that can happen within a relationship, married or not. The stakes appear higher when a couple is married; there may be more to lose, like home ownership, custody of children, and a lifestyle to which one is accustomed. The flip side of the coin is that couples who find themselves cohabiting or co-parenting without the legal documentation of a marriage certificate may face even greater difficulties when it comes to a division of assets. No matter the size of the legal headache a divorce or break up may be, it doesn’t compare to the amount of emotional and psychological pain experienced after an affair. That’s why many couples find themselves reeling after an affair and often seeking a way to recover.

While many people may say that once a partner has an affair the relationship is over, others choose to work on continuing their relationship in the wake of the betrayal. If any of you have ever broken a bone or undergone major surgery, chances are you know a thing or two about physical recovery and how long it takes to heal from a physical trauma. The recovery from an emotional trauma such as an affair may feel almost impossible and you may even find yourself wondering, “When will these feelings end?” or “Will I ever feel right again?”

In my blog post 5 Key Ingredients in Healing from an Affair, I share with you some tried and true methods that couples who decide to stay together after an affair can use to strengthen their relationship and heal from the hurt. I want to highlight that these key ingredients are used when couples decide they want to stay together in spite of the infidelity. Some of you may be reading this and might not have reached a decision yet on whether or not to stay. This decision is not an easy one to make and should not be one made hastily or during extreme emotional duress. If you’ve just learned of your spouse’s infidelity, stop for a moment before you spring into action. The Scientific American released a podcast in 2010 providing just a brief overview of why quick, emotional decision is not always the best (you can listen to it and read the transcript here). You might be saying to yourself, “I’m hurt, I don’t want to make a logical decision.” and that’s okay. Humans are emotional beings and our behavior is often, if not always, guided by our desire to achieve a certain emotion. I want to empower you to take a moment to consider a few the following questions when determining whether or not your marriage is worth saving:

  • “How often has something like this happened and with how many people?”

This isn’t the question you ask to torture yourself and your spouse into chronicling and detailing every aspect of the affair, such as “How many times?” A part of you may be curious to know whether or not this was a one night stand or a longer standing affair that occurred over a longer period of time. The answer to both of those questions can help you reach your decision about whether to try and save your marriage but that’s not the purpose behind this question. This question is designed to help you determine if your spouse’s behavior is habitual. The answer to this question can be followed up with..

  • Is there abuse in my current marriage, including physical, emotional, psychological, or financial?

Domestic violence is illegal and it is not confined to physical assault. Many people may not consider an affair an abuse within a relationship and in most instances, that’s correct. But ask yourself, “Has my spouse consistently been unfaithful, with numerous sexual partners, and possibly put my health at risk by practicing unsafe sex in these affairs?” You’ll also want to consider the arguments you and your spouse engage in (does your spouse use derogatory language against you when arguing, including curse words, and attack your character/intelligence/abilities?) and also ask yourself, “Is my spouse controlling of me in way that I find uncomfortable, such as who I spend my time with, how I spend my money, my schedule, etc.?” Identifying any fear you may have of your spouse is an extremely important factor when deciding whether your marriage is worth saving. Lastly, ask yourself

  • How did I feel in my marriage before this happened?

It’s important to take make an honest assessment of your marriage in the wake of an affair. If you found yourself struggling to see the value in continuing your marriage prior to the affair it may signal that the road to recovery will not be an easy one and possibly not the one you will take on your journey towards healing. Try to identify what you want most out of your marriage and see if you can imagine achieving those goals within the boundaries of your current marriage. You might find that you and your spouse have differing opinions on what the future holds for you as a couple and you’re unable to compromise or reach an agreement on how to move forward and accept one another.

No matter the decision you make deciding how to proceed in your marriage after an affair is a difficult endeavor. As always, I’m here to help. Feel free to give me a call to further explore the possibilities of healing from an affair in your relationship 954.401.9011.

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

Top 10 Tips for Saving Your Marriage

Looking for tips to save your marriage? Look no further. Here are 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.