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Marriage Counseling Parents

Lessons Learned from Mom

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

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

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

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

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

Considering Parenthood…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Family and couples counseling Coral Springs Katie Lemieux LMFT

Does Your Relationship Need a “Checkup”?

How’s your relationship been feeling lately? Any fever, aches, pains? What about congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes? No? Okay.

What about communication, how often are you and your partner communicating? Hourly throughout the day, every few hours, or just once when you get home before you go bed reporting back what I call “the business of the day”.  It kind of sounds like… “What’s for dinner?  How were the kids?  Did Rebecca do well at swimming?  How was work?”  You know this I am sure! This communication is necessary but not deeply intimate or connecting.

How about satisfaction? How satisfied are you currently in your relationship, on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being completely unsatisfied and 10 being completely satisfied.

If any of these questions got you thinking about the quality of your relationship, you might need a relationship check up. It might seem odd at first to think about giving your relationship a check up although nothing could be further from the truth.

One of the most disheartening statistics I’ve come across as a couples counselor is that the average couple waits six years before reaching out for help. Six years! While couples may wait to enter couples counseling for a variety of reasons, this means there’s a long time where one or both individuals in the relationship is feeling hurt and these feelings are going unresolved.

Another common complaint I hear when couples enter counseling is while the relationship is “alright” at the time, the couple isn’t experiencing the same level of happiness or satisfaction as they previously were in the relationship.

This is where I like to introduce the concept of a “Relationship Thermometer” to the couples I work with in therapy. Just like the first step in checking your physical health is to take your temperature, the first step in checking your relationship health is to see where you’re at as a couple.Does Your Relationship Need a Check Up

Checking in frequently and regularly with your partner about his/her level of happiness and satisfaction in the relationship, as well as your own feelings, is crucial to the long term success of your relationship.

It’s a shame this key piece is often overlooked in relationships yet it’s crucial for you and your partner. Most couples get hung up on the necessary, yet unrewarding, communication habit of conducting the “business of the day”.  These topics are important for the continued functioning of the household while at the same time keeping couples stuck on a “merry-go-round” of topics.

This merry-go-round isn’t hurting anyone, but it certainly isn’t helping you and your partner get the relationship you want.

So, how do you start using your relationship thermometer and get you and your partner off the merry-go-round? My colleague Susan Block, LMFT and I have a great video on “How Code Words Can Help Improve Your Relationship” that looks at ways couples can incorporate code words to quickly and easily communicate with one another about their feelings.

Phrases like, “I’m so well done” might indicate a particularly tough day at work and can help partner’s respond in a meaningful way. Code words work best in relationships when both individuals know and can agree upon the code words and their respective meaning. (You might not get the results you want if you start speaking in code without letting your partner know!)

Think you might want to delve a little bit deeper into your relationship check up? Another great tool I use with the couples I work with is the “Gottman Relationship Checkup”.

The “Gottman Relationship Checkup” looks at 60 areas within the relationship and helps couples identify and highlight what’s going well, what needs improvement, guides the overall focus of the couples counseling as well as gives you tools and activities to do outside of session.  I would love to get you started on the Relationship Assessment it is backed by 40 years of research on couples, good stuff!

If you’re taking your relationship temperature right now and realizing your relationship isn’t so well, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Remember, the average couple waits 6 years before getting any kind of professional help. Maybe you’ve waited long enough. I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com, talk with you soon!

Relationship Counseling

Top 4 Ways to Support Military Families

We had the great pleasure of interviewing our colleague, and friend, Jessica Jefferson on tips for working with military families. Jessica is uniquely situated to work with military families and couples, coming from a military family herself. Below, she offers the top 4 ways to support military families. Relationship Counseling

Military couples go through the same issues as most couples; however, it’s often heightened and other issues are added onto everyday struggles. When working with military families, it’s important to have a background knowledge of the the military. The top 4 tips Jessica offers for families with a member in the military are:

  • Create Structure

Deployment and station changes can be stressful on families; sometimes spouses don’t always accompany the military member on the station change. It can be a hard transition and sometimes a family member can be unsure of their new role in the family, especially when a returning family member rejoins the family and hasn’t been around for a while. A structure when the service member is both home, and deployed, is key especially with your children. The structure will allow for an easier transition upon returning home from deployment.

  • Create Memories

Service members don’t always have their deployment on a timeline and may not necessarily know when they’ll be deployed. Jessica suggests creating memories together as a family even before the service member leaves and keeping the memories alive, so they can be sent as snippets throughout deployment, as a way to stay connected and communicate. This is also a way that children can stay involved and have a sense of control through participating.

  • Build Resources

A military family is always moving, making a support system so necessary for families. It can be tempting to rely entirely on a spouse as a support system but this can create dependency, which is especially hard when that service member is deployed. Conversely, welcoming a returning service member back into the home and social network will go a long way in reintegration. The spouse who stays home will want to avoid becoming overly independent and unneeding of the spouse, in addition to avoiding over dependence.

  • Be Understanding, Compassionate, and Accept Limitations

In retirement, military members can lose a sense of identity. It’s important that the partner be understanding and compassionate, while also recognizing when they need additional resources. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is commonly found in service members who return home and in some instances, a diagnosis of a mental health issue may result in a service member returning home prematurely. Individuals with PTSD may have higher stress responses, particularly around holidays with loud noises, or fireworks, as it’s reminiscent of combat. A result of PTSD can be increased introversion, withdrawal, and avoidance of potentially triggering situations.

A military family, like any other, goes through ups and downs of the family cycle. As clinicians and family members, it’s important to educate ourselves on best practices and individualized ways in which we can support and treat our returning active duty service members and veterans.

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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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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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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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