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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

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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What Mask Do You Wear in Your Relationship?

Ever wonder what mask you wear in your relationship? A late night Pinterest prowl produced the following Pin:

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Interested in what this could mean for couples, I quickly used Google to search for “Japanese phrase about multiple faces”. While it appears the above statement is not Japanese in origin (but still very clever and thought provoking), there is the idea in Japanese philosophy of honne and tatemae. These Japanese words describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires (honne) and the behavior and opinions displayed in public (tatemae).

With Halloween fast approaching (my favorite, and yes I still dress up) the idea of having two faces can seem akin to wearing them within your relationship and begs the question what do you wear in your relationship with your family, friends, co-workers, kids, partner…? Are there parts of yourself that you hide from others because you believe they won’t be accepted or because they are conflicting with a commonly held belief?

As a counselor one of the most important things I find when working with individuals or couples, one of my most important tools is unconditional positive regard. This acceptance of my clients allows for a more open dialogue between us about aspects of themselves they would like to change and how to bring about this change.

During a recent intern supervision, an intern expressed a deep sadness over some family troubles with a teenage child and voiced concern about the fact that while trying to help clients navigate difficult relationships and family dynamics, felt fraudulent because of their own perceived failings to handle their own family conflict.

Perhaps you even feel this way too. Successful in one area of your life, maybe at work, you desire improvement in another area, like your relationship.

  • What mask are you wearing at work that you take off at home?
  • Conversely, what mask are you wearing at home that you leave behind when you go to work?
  • Is it wrong to wear a mask anyway?
  • How is wearing a mask helpful in certain situations and not in others?
  • Do you want to wear a mask?
  • What would it be like if you can be your true self in all situations?
  • Are you even aware of the masks you wear?

The term “two faced” undoubtedly garners negative attention. We feel that those individuals who cannot show their true selves must be sinister or untrustworthy, hiding the truth and speaking negatively behind our backs. In essence, someone who lies or makes contradictory statements may be someone we think twice about befriending.

Is that mask acceptable? This month, I want to encourage to be your truest self, without fear of being too much or too little.

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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

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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How a Quick Smoke Break Helps You and Your Love

I’m sure you’re probably wondering, especially if you aren’t a smoker, how taking a cigarette break can help your relationship. As a couples counselor I’ve come to learn that couples who stay consistently connected throughout the day and week have more satisfying and longer lasting relationships. This information is also supported by current research in the field of marital and family counseling. Of course there are many other factors to having a great relationship, but when we connect with our partner and our partner reaches and connects back, overall we feel more connected with one another.

Couples+Counseling+Coral+Springs+ParklandI’m a licensed marriage and family therapist who works with couples day in and day out.  My work is extremely rewarding. I love working with couples!  Working with couples makes me a better person, spouse and partner.  I am trained in the Gottman Method of Couples Therapy, a research-based way of helping couples create stronger and healthy relationships, created by Drs. John and Julie Gottman. I also trained with Dr. Sue Johnson on Emotionally Focused Therapy, another evidenced based model of therapy on couples, attachment, and relationships. The couples I work with are often the inspiration for my blogs. This particular blog post was inspired by a couple I am currently working with. One day in session, the couple was sharing with me their relationship history, or as I like to call it, taking a walk down memory lane. This couple originally met one another through work, and their relationship began to form through the small five to ten minute cigarette breaks they would take together outside. Whether or not you’re a smoker, you get the idea of what happens on a cigarette break. If you take a cigarette break at the same time as another person, day in and day out, naturally you begin to develop conversation, and potentially, a relationship with that person. This relationship continues to be built in small moments throughout the day over weeks, months and perhaps years.  Conversation often develops from sharing random facts, discussing the weather, your general interests, things that frustrate you, how you’re feeling, what you worry about, what you dream about, your goals, and so much more. These are the types of conversations we have with our partner’s when we first meet and how we get to know them and their world. In the beginning, usually with in the first two years or so, everything is good, even great! We’re in love with the things our partner says, the things our partner does, how they make us laugh, how we think they’re funny, and the sex is often better.

But the honeymoon phase is quickly over and we are forever trying to get some sense of that back.  Couples who don’t work on their relationship or make their relationship a priority can find themselves feeling distant. Distance, physical or emotional, can be a symptom of many things happening within the relationship. When we fail to meet our partner out back for our proverbial cigarette break, we forget to connect with our partner. When they come home from work, we’re on an important call for work and we forget to kiss them “Hello” or the next morning we’re running late and heading out to our next meeting, we forget to say “I love you”. There’s only so much alone time before we have to hop back on the phone for another conference call. What we know and what research shows is that couples that connect consistently throughout the day maintain their connections. These connections come in a variety of ways like sharing a funny story, calling your partner when something bad happens or you’re feeling frustrated at work, replaying a funny story about your child, the list could go on. When a partner takes the time to listen, respect, and reply back, it makes us feel secure and helps us stay connected and a part of each other’s lives. Just like what happens outside on a cigarette break.

When working with the couple that inspired this blog, I asked them to go back to taking their cigarette breaks. Although they have both quit smoking, and I wasn’t encouraging them to pick up the habit again, I was encouraging them to go outside, sit down together, and connect for five, ten, or even fifteen minutes or more. It’s in these easy, naturally flowing moments that many magical things happen for relationships. Often, nothing big or grand happens on one cigarette break, but the consistency of the communication and connection overtime builds the relationship. So, whether you’re a smoker or not, I suggest you invite your partner to go have a cigarette break. And if you’re finding it difficult to talk or connect and you’re finding you need some support, I’m here to support you and help get your relationship back on track.