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3 Reasons Why a Romance Novel Will Help Your Relationship

Fabio made them famous. Or is it the other way around?

You know what I’m talking about: Romance Novels, no ladies I am not talking about the “Fifty Shades of Grey” although that can work wonders for your intimate life.

Chances are you’ve seen a romance novel as you’ve strolled by your local bookstore, scrolled online, or perhaps you have one by your bedside.

Maybe they’re a guilty pleasure.

In addition to business books, I enjoy some “rom com” from time to time but usually in the form of a movie.  I have to be in the mood to get really sappy.

Romance novels often get a bad reputation among book lovers and the general public alike, criticized for the surreality of the situations and humorous descriptions.

Yet sometimes, a romance novel could be exactly what your relationship needs.

  • Romance novels can help couples with mismatched sexual desires get on the same page and in the same mood.

Sexual intimacy is a big part of relationships and for those couples where one, or both partners, have physical touch as a Love Language, sex can be a form of how they show that love.

It’s important to recognize and understand one another’s intimacy needs and to find ways of mutually meeting one another’s needs as well.

  1.   You can get NEW ideas for your own love life

Long term couples often lament in couples counseling about “losing the spark”. After a decade or more of marriage or being together, children, homeownership, and career aspirations (just to name a few of the stressors couples face on a daily basis), some couples just don’t make time for sex anymore.

Through romance novels, there’s hope!  I know it can sound hokey, but hey is what you are doing working?  Just saying… so why not try something new and for many of you reading this, different I am sure!

Find new ways to spice up a part of your relationship which might be feeling bland as of late.

The key here will be an open and honest discussion between both individuals about the quality and frequency of the sexual intimacy in the relationship.

Talk about the words passion, romance, and commitment.

  • What do each of those words mean to you?
  • How do you express it?
  • How do you define it?
  • What does it look like?
  • How do you know when you or your partner are showing it?
  • What would your romance novel read like?
  1.   It gives you a fresh, new and fun perspective

You know I’m all about fun ways couples can get the spark back in their love life, from playing simple games at red lights to having “Adventure Night”, a favorite in my relationship.

With Romance Novel Month, I encourage you to pick up a romance novel from your local bookstore and read a bit of it with your partner, even if just for a few good chuckles.

If you want to take things a step further, if you’re both willing, act out one of the scenes and see where that takes you or write your own romance novel.  You can write it together or separately where the 2 of you are the characters.

Kind of fun, silly, sexy… whatever spice it up, enjoy!

Not in the mood to read? Check out a romantic comedy, like The Big Sick, and talk about each of the characters and what romance meant to them.

If you and your partner are looking for ways to reconnect and communicate better, around your sexual intimacy or more, I’m just a phone call or click away to help at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

3 Ways You’re Killing the Fireworks

… and don’t even realize it!

Happy Fourth of July!

This is the time of year when summer really gets into full swing for most, unless you are reading this from the other side of the equator, lol.

Days are long, thanks to the summer solstice, the weather’s hot, and the fireworks aren’t the only thing exploding.

Some couples especially couples in longer term relationships struggle to keep the romance alive, which is completely normal.

But did you know that some habits are more likely to kill that summer lovin’ faster than others?

If you or your partner engage in any or or all three of these habits then you might want to take a look at your love life to make sure you’re not killing the fireworks.

  1. You work too much or too little

As a reformed workaholic, believe me when I say, “I get it”. Some of us just love to work.

It might sound a little strange, after all, who really likes to work all the time?

When you are a business owner and just love to create it is an easy trap to fall head over heels and start romancing and spending lots of time with your business rather than your spouse or partner.

Deathbed confessions are ripe with admissions of, “I wish I hadn’t worked so much.”

If you’re a workaholic, chances are something else in your life is taking a back seat and it’s likely your love life or relationship with your partner.

On the flip side, if you work too little, that could be a killer for the mood too.

Doing your fair share of housework, and having interests outside your partner are actually better for the overall satisfaction in your relationship.

It is always a balance between the right amount of individuality and together time.

  1. Your relationship isn’t a priority

When your relationship isn’t a priority, your partner can tell.

Sometimes, it’s work that gets in the way of relationships.

More likely than not, it’s the 100 other things that feel urgent like the leaking toilet, doctors appointments, in laws, trying to have more than 5 hours of sleep, doing the taxes, watering the grass, relaxing, Facebook, I could go on.

Let’s not forget the number 1 time takers and of course priority … kids, that is of course if you have any.

Most couples report a 67% decrease in marital satisfaction after the birth of their children and it doesn’t go back up again until after the children leave home.

Why?

Depending on who you ask will get you a variety of answers yet research seems to point to the fact that babies are needy and take attention from both parents, who then neglect their individual and relationship needs.

But there’s hope!

My rule of thumb and what I tell all the couples that I work with is that you have to make your RELATIONSHIP the number 1 priority over everything else.

I know I hear the gasping over there and the “but what about my kids they are the most important.”

Keep reading…

I ask the couples I work with:

  • Will you forget to bathe, dress or feed your child?
  • Will your forget to pick him up from school?
  • Will you forget to take her to the doctor?
  • Will you forget to spend time doing something fun with your kids?

You probably answered, “no”.  That is exactly the reason your relationship needs to be the priority you are NOT going to forget to be a loving, great parent to your child.

Will you forget to be a loving and caring spouse or partner if you don’t make your relationship a priority… yes.

I tell parents, the best thing you can do for your children is have a loving and healthy relationship whether you are together or not.

Before you read the rest of this, do me a favor and try this fun experiment CLICK HERE and see if you pass the test in #3.

Which leads to…

  1. You’re not present

How many times do you look at your phone when you’re in the presence of your spouse or partner?

This little convenient electronic which today makes up our lives feels more like a hand held mistress sometimes taking time and attention away from our relationships ( I say relationship”s” because I see this everywhere in all relationships).

Don’t worry, we all get distracted with our phone sometimes but it is important to set some firm boundaries around it.

When your partner isn’t your priority and you’ve got other things on your mind, like work or chores, or your social life, your relationship takes a hit.

I mean would you pull it out on a job interview, while you are being presented an award, during sex?   Just saying… put it away, give your spouse your full presence and see what happens.

There is this great quote I have seen before,  “being listened to is so close to being loved that most people cannot tell the difference.”  ~ www.marriagemore.com

Think about a time when you were sharing something with someone and they were so right there with you.  It probably felt really good.  Give that to your partner or spouse.

Mindfulness is a wonderful tool we can all use when we find ourselves distracted, no matter where we are in life.

By focusing on the here and now, we can more fully experience what life has to offer and that includes our relationships.

So there you have it, the 3 ways you’re killing the fireworks in your relationship.

Do any of these sound familiar?  Then don’t hesitate to give me a call so you can put that spark back in your love life today. I’m just a phone call away 954-401-9011.

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Family and Couples Counseling Coral Springs Katie Lemieux LMFT

Get Creative in Your Relationship

Hi, my name’s Katie, and I’m a workaholic.

Funny to hear that coming from a therapist, right? It’s true. And it’s not often we get to hear about the issues or problems plaguing the therapist. Every so often a bit of self-disclosure from your therapist is necessary, helpful even, to put into perspective that we are all human and we all struggle in our lives. A therapist’s self-disclosure can be a useful teaching moment in the therapy session, a guiding and hopeful anecdote of the possibility and power of change.

My self-disclosure is that I’m a workaholic by nature and while I didn’t enter a Twelve-Step program (which I probably would have tried to run, along with 15 other programs if I allowed myself) in 2008, a rough year for me, I did have to learn how to undo many of my previously learned work behaviors.

The truth is, I enjoy working. I love it even. I love business, leadership and entrepreneurship. In spite of my love for work, I NOW know the value or relaxation, laughter, and fun. It is in these moments when we allow ourselves to be free of constraints (either internally or externally imposed) that we find creativity, excitement, and passion, all things we need to live a balanced life. Since January was Get a Balanced Life Month, I’m reminded to put into practice the many things I learned about easing back on the workload and into relaxation.

Creativity isn’t discussed often in our social circles, relationships or home life, maybe not even our work life (unless we’re in a creative field) yet creativity is paramount to our well-being and functioning as individuals and couples. Dr. Brene Brown one of my favorite speakers and authors talks about creativity as 1 Guidepost #6– Cultivating Creativity in her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  Just look at your Mac laptop (if you happen to have one, or any other Apple product) and reflect on the ingenuity and creativity that placed that product into your hands.

You probably can’t imagine life without it!

When you’re running low on creativity life can feel a little empty. We get caught up in the doldrum of everyday living, errands, chores, appointments, meetings, etc. What little free time we have left isn’t always used to our best abilities (like 5 hours of watching TV on a Netflix binge, anyone?).  We are most often doing those things because we are so exhausted, so overwhelmed that we just need a way to numb out and decompress.  I am totally guilty of that at times as well.

Want more proof of why you should get creating? Check out this article on Huffington Post on how “[sic] Making Art is Good for Your Brain”. There’s a reason adult coloring books have become so popular lately.

Being creative allows us to tap into a whole other side of ourselves, one we don’t get to use all that much. Fear not, those of you who think you are artistically challenged:  I once heard a Bonsai class instructor say, “it’s not about the finished product, it’s about the journey.” You don’t have to create the next masterpiece which will hang in the Louvre for decades, or write the great American novel, or even get a hit single on the radio.

What’s most important is that you allow yourself to simply create. A drawing, painting, coloring sheet, poem, short story, diary entry, the lyrics to a song, music with pots and pans, a movie plot, whatever you imagine. Dust off your the creative gears in your mind and get to work.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, it’s almost impossible for me to let an idea go without relating it back to my work with couples or more other passions. I cannot stress enough the importance of creativity within a relationship. Many couples I work with, especially those who’ve been together for long periods of time, lament the slow fade of passion and excitement from the relationship, with dire consequences.

Getting creative in your relationship takes practice, especially if you’ve shied away from trying anything new lately, or simply haven’t had the time, or whatever your excuse. Yes, they’re all excuses. I’m a firm believer in the power everyone holds within themselves to make whatever changes they want in life, regardless of circumstances. The only things standing in the way of you, is you!

One of the most helpful technique couples have shared with me about how they brought creativity back into their relationship is taking time to connect, be silly, having no agenda, reminiscing about all the first dates they went on together…  In revisiting the past, when the relationship was new and fresh and each one was trying just a little bit to impress and excite the other, coming up with creative ideas for dates and things to do together seemed easy. Couples who return to this mentality of trying to explore a world of opportunities together and getting to know the new person their partner is becoming report increased satisfaction in their relationship. Together, they’ve gotten creative.

Whether you’re in a relationship with a significant other or yourself, I encourage you this month to spend some time exploring ways you can let your inner creativity shine, either at work, home or play. If you find yourself struggling to get creative and need a little support to get you started on your journey, don’t hesitate to reach out, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com.

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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!

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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 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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15 MORE Ways to Make Your Relationship Sizzle This Summer”

I know you are probably reading the title and asking yourself, “Where did I miss the original 15 ways to make my relationship sizzle?”  Guess what you haven’t!  If you like this fun list of ideas and want more at the end of this blog just click on the hyperlink to get an additional 15 ways, 30 in all!  We always love to hear your feedback, so feel free to let us know how these ideas made your love life sizzle this summer.

1.  Have a day with no agenda – the only 2 things on it should be the 2 of you.

2.  Check out a live band or go to an outdoor concert.  Rock out, jam out, or dance the night away with your love.

3.  Read a romantic or sexually charged novel together.

4.  Lie on a raft or in a hammock together and talk about your shared dreams and goals.

5.  Create a new summer tradition.

6.  Make a summer project together.  You can pick seashells and make a craft out of it.  You can take pictures of each thing you did this summer and make a memory or scrapbook.  What will you do?

7.  Take a couples’ yoga class.

8.  Take your honey and go buy some new summer attire, try it on for him or her and let your partner pick what he or she likes on you.

9.  Get involved in a sport’s activity whether it is on a team, a day event, fundraiser, or just for recreation.  Play on the same team and flirt during the game, give your partner a friendly “good game” slap on the butt, whisper what you would like to do later, steal a kiss just like stealing 3rd base…

10.   Turn on a slow song, hold each other close and dance in your living room.  “Being a good dancer” is not a required, so no excuses here!

11.   Kiss for the entire duration of a stoplight.

12.   Play Twister, if you don’t have it just create it!

13.  Find a waterfall you can swim under and have a passionate kiss.  You can pretend you are shooting a love scene in a movie.  If you have to make your own waterfall, a hose will work too.

14.  Plan a weekend “surprise” summer getaway for your beloved.

15.  Make a favorite drink of yours and sit out on the deck and talk about nothing and everything.

CLICK HERE for those 15 additional HOT and SPICY ways to make your relationship sizzle this summer!

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Katie Lemieux, LMFT

www.FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com

pina-colada

What Does a Pina Colada Have to Do With Rediscovering Your Partner…

pina-coladaAs a couples counselor my work is profoundly rewarding. I love being the catalyst that reignites a spark between the partners I work with deepening their connection, love, intimacy, friendship, understanding and compassion for one another.  The majority of the work I do is with couples.  My work with couples is a reciprocal relationship, one in which my couples don’t even realize the benefit that I receive watching the magic unfold in the counseling room.  In meeting couples for the first time I am educating them on not only the process but also the dance they have been doing.  I share and explain to them what is happening or occurring in their relationship and why.  They often listen intently with heads nodding as if I have been a fly on the wall for the majority of the time they have been together when the disconnection and distance started to slowly seep in.  I get the process, I see the process and how it unfolds, and I see what creates and sustains it.

The reciprocity happens for me when I sit and watch couples communicate and connect after teaching them new tools and guidelines for communicating and connecting.  As they share, open up and connect sometimes I see and hear myself in their words.  As they share with one another they bring new awareness to my relationship, of course I don’t disclose that, but I can often find myself saying, “huh that is interesting that is exactly how I feel”.  My work is a beautiful thing!

Through my work as a couple’s therapist I get to help two people connect with one another again. I love watching couples increase their emotional intimacy, willingness to share and be vulnerable with their partner. I get to spend my time helping people reconnect and rediscover one another no matter how long they’ve been together.  I am honored and privileged to be a part of the deep intimacy that occurs in my therapy room between 2 people. Being just three or four feet away from people who are able to connect and share genuinely their fears, worries, hopes, dreams, desires and longings is not an experience most people get to witness.  I am often touched as I watch things transpire and unfold in the room.

As our work gets underway, and I teach couples new ways of being and communicating, I can’t tell you the number of times that couples have said to one another, “I didn’t know that about you. I’ve never heard you say it that way, or I had no idea.” Watching this in session reminds me of the “Pina Colada Song”. If you’ve never heard the “Pina Colada Song” it describes perfectly what I get to watch evolve in couples counseling as I help couples communicate and re-connect in their relationship.

If you’ve never heard the lyrics I will give you the “Reader’s Digest” version.  The song is about a couple who has fallen out of love and has gotten into the “same old mundane routine”, one that I am sure that many of us can relate to.  The man in the relationship decides one night to look into the personal ads as his woman is sleeping by his side.  He finds this captivating ad and is intrigued by it. He decides to respond to the ad without informing his partner.  He writes a catchy ad back to this woman expressing the things that he is into.  He tells her, “I need to meet you by tomorrow noon at a bar called O’Malley’s where we will plan our escape.”

So, he waits in anticipation of meeting this woman.  As he walks into O’Malley’s, the bar, and looks around for this woman he sees and recognizes her instantly.  He says, “I knew her smile in an instant and the curve of her face.  It’s my own lovely lady and she said uh, it’s you. We laughed for a moment, and I said I never knew.”  What happens in the song is that they reconnect on things that they never knew that one another enjoyed, things like drinking pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, drinking champagne, and making love on the dunes at the cape, . Ultimately what they were looking for was something that they had always had within each other.

I hear so many stories of couples who resemble the “Pina Colada Song”. They’ve been in their relationship long-term and have grown distant. They haven’t discovered ways to connect or reconnect. Many times couples try to insert solutions into their relationship in an attempt to circumvent the challenges they have. I tell couples it’s often not their fault because they don’t have the training, education, or knowledge on how to communicate deeply in a space where it’s safe to be exposed and vulnerable. I share with them that our work together is not about creating solutions but moving from the upstairs, our brain, to downstairs, our hearts. The process is about feelings, connection and love.   When we deeply connect with ourselves, share and feel validated by our partner new “solutions” naturally arise between two people shifting and transforming the course of their relationship and lives.   Just for fun, here is the song… Enjoy!