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Finances and Relationship Counseling

Do You Profit From Your Relationship?

What happens when we stop putting what’s really important in our lives first? Our relationship with our spouse or family, our hobbies, and our friends? What does it really mean to profit first from your relationship?

Over time our emotional bank accountants get withdrawn and who knows maybe we might even go bankrupt, ouch!

I recently read Profit First by Michael Michalowicz and how he revolutionized small (and big) business practices in helping make them profitable entities. Many people often forget that running a business is similar to running a family.

Profit First suggests that before doing anything (paying bills, upgrading services, etc.) in your business, always take your “profit first” (hence the name).  It’s a different way of thinking and mindset shift.

Most people think:

Income – Expenses = Profit

Michael suggests:

Income – Profit = Expenses

Think about your own relationship and consider whether or not you take your “profit” first.

  • How often do you prioritize spending time with your spouse over doing the dishes, cleaning, laundry, working, or running errands?
  • How often do you feel drained when you give your all at work to come home to destress, eat and fall asleep after watching TV?
  • Perhaps you are running around doing things that you feel obligated to do and not what you enjoy.

None of these behaviors on their own are bad.  The problem becomes when you spend your all and have nothing left over for your relationship.  When it comes to our relationship we are most often giving it the sloppy seconds, who wants that!  That just doesn’t feel good for anyone!

While reading Profit First, it identified 5 bank accounts necessary for your business, and I began thinking about how couples might utilize these bank accounts in their relationship.

  • Income

Have you heard of the saying “pay yourself first”?  Most people pay themselves last after they have spent money on all there expenses and half tos.

If you start by paying your relationship first what do you think the quality of your relationship would be like? What does paying yourself in your relationship look like to you and your spouse?

Maybe first thing when you come home you greet your spouse with a hug or kiss, or first thing in the morning when you wake up, you make your spouse coffee, engage in conversation, take the kids to school because your partner wants to sleep in.

  • Profit

The profit is what you put aside to do fun things in your relationship, whether that’s take a vacation, go out to dinner together, etc.

It is important that your relationship “be rich” and “profit” in order for you and your spouse to be happy. Most importantly the “money” you allot for each account should not be moved to others!

For relationships, this means no canceling plans with your spouse when something else comes up, unless it’s an absolute emergency. While this might seem scary at first, it will help you really get a handle on enriching your relationship.

  • Operating expenses

This is how you keep your relationship going. It might look like the “Business” of the relationship: organizing meals, scheduled home maintenance, going to and from work, scheduling activities for children, etc.

The most important thing to remember about operating expenses is you should NEVER take these first over your profit. This is where people in business, and relationships, get tripped up. They spend far too much time, energy, and money, on the operating expenses and not enough is put into their profit.

  • Owner’s Compensation

This one is often the most fun for couples because it’s when you put a percentage in every month in order to then give yourself a “bonus” every 3 months. You take half of the money out and spend it on your relationship.  Imagine every 3 months looking forward to a BONUS with your partner or spouse.  How fun!!!  I am planning things in my head right now!

The other half stays in the account for emergencies.  A relationship emergency could be the need to go to couples counseling, you forgot your anniversary and now you have to do something special for you partner.

  • Taxes

How do you file taxes (jointly or separately)? How do you save up for big purchases of things that you need to pay (taxes, repairs, remodeling, etc.) Since you only do your taxes once yearly and you either get a refund or you have to pay, set up an account where those things will already be taken care of for you from the money you put in. While this might not seem like the most romantic way to go about things, it helps to delineate financial goals, which can often be the number one stressor for couples.

Sounds like a lot? Trust me, it isn’t. When I first started using Profit First for my business, it transformed my business and it’s my hope that approaching your financial and relationship goals will be transformed too.

If you are in business I highly recommend reading Profit First for is true financial meaning and plan, great stuff!

If you’re ready to begin profiting from your relationship and trying out a new approach to connection with your spouse and need a little guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to Katie at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com or 954.401.9011.

 

Katie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Coral Springs who specializes in affair recovery, marital counseling, and helping couples love again

What’s a “Blended Family”?

And what to do if you are one

Are you someone who has kids and is about to get into a relationship with someone else who has kids?

Are you a person with no children who is getting married to someone with children and you are about to be a step-parent?

One question I often get asked about is how to parent when you’ve got a blended family.

If the term “blended family” makes you go hmmm…. a blended family is when one or more parent brings a child or children from a previous relationship or marriage into the current one.

For some blended family it’s just a natural extension of their current family.

For others, a blended family can be a rather bumpy road to travel.

If you’re part of the dyad leading a blended family and you haven’t quite found your groove, keep these 3 tips in mind for a bit smoother journey to a happy family life.

How You Raise Your Children vs. How Your Partner Raises Theirs

No matter what situation you find yourself in bringing your own kids into the family or suddenly becoming an overnight parent keep in mind the difference in your parenting styles, beliefs and philosophies.

Couples counseling although seen far too often as something to seek out when a couple is having problems is actually a GREAT tool (of course if done with the right therapist, one who is trained in working with couples) to learn how to communicate about some of these differences in parenting styles.

For those couples who haven’t had the opportunity to discuss differences of opinion on certain topics prior to blending their families, it can be a bit jarring the first time a major blow up occurs.

Worry not!

Growing pains can be part of the process.  If you enter the conversation about your difference coming from a position of curiosity and a desire to understand your partner that will help the conversation for sure!

Parent Your Own Children or Co-Parent?

What Are Your Roles?

I often say that relationships are a business and that figuring out who is responsible for what will make a world of difference when it comes to the happiness and health of your relationship.

Don’t we all perform a little bit better in our lives when we know what’s expected of us?

Agreeing on how responsibilities will be shared can save couples a lot of trouble in the long wrong because things won’t get left undone and no one will feel overwhelmed with all the work.

In blended families, parenting is no different.

You and your partner will need to decide whether you will parent your own children or co-parent and what your roles will look like in either situation.

And no matter what… back each other up especially in front of the kids.  I see far too many couples argue about the parenting conflicts in front of the kids.  This creates a whole other set of issues.

If you disagree, that’s okay, do that in private, away from the kids.

Build a Relationship

You can’t speak for your child and you can’t speak for your partner.

It’s important that each adult build and create their own special relationship with each child and don’t try to force it.

Your children, will do better with the transition if they feel respected, supported and honored. Allow them space and time to come to their own conclusion about your partner and do your best not to interfere.

Keep the dialogue open between you and your children, allowing him/her to ask questions.

The only time you should interfere is if you have concerns for the safety of your child while in the care or company of your partner.

Blended families are unique, and yours is not exception! Still figuring out how to make the above tips work for you and your family?

I’m just a phone call 954.401.9011 or click away at katie@familyandcouplescounseling.com to help you strengthen these skills.

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.

Fill out my online form.

LGBTQ, Are Your Children Legally Yours?

If you haven’t already seen the picture of the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau celebrating and honoring LBGTQ people and couples, #Pride2017 in Toronto over this weekend.

As the month of June, which among many things is Gay Pride Month, comes to a close, I’m reminded of the importance of knowing your parental rights as same sex parent.

Divorce for LGBTQ couples can sometimes be a little trickier than you might expect.

Friend and Family Law Attorney Radoyka “Roe” Minaya specializes in family law for LGBTQ families and shares how when children are involved, it’s especially important to know your rights as a parent.

Roe has both knowledge and personal experience on this topic area which makes her my go to gal on this subject.

Every state is different when it comes to parental rights and in Florida, same sex parental rights are still a little unclear.

As of 2016, birth certificates didn’t allow for same sex individuals to be listed as the other parent under the “Mother” or “Father” title.

While this is changing to the more neutral “Parent 1” and “Parent 2”, it was difficult when same sex parents chose to separate because usually only one parent was listed on the child’s birth certificate.

Roe’s got 3 great tips for same sex couples who want to hold legal guardianship rights to their children.

  1. Get Married!

Now Roe’s isn’t pushing marriage, but if you are going to be together and are committed to your partner it’ll save you a whole lot of hassle if you and your partner decide to separate in the future and children are involved. Getting married allows both parents the same rights.

  1. Adopt Your Child

If you are not the birth parent of the child adopting your child will garner you the same rights as your partner.  Although it’s never fun to think that a child you helped bring into this world and raise won’t be thought of as your own, going through the adoption process will give you the same rights as a biological parent in the case of a separation.

Several steps must be made in order to adopt your child including a Home Study amongst other things.

  1.  Get Educated

Knowledge + Action = Potential Power

Get educated, know your rights, consult Google and definitely consult an attorney.  An attorney who specializes in Family Law and LBGTQ rights can help support you on this journey.

If you identify as a LBGTQ couple, live in the state of Florida and have children or are thinking about children I highly recommend reaching out to Roe Minaya.

For more information on couples counseling in Coral Springs, read more on my Marriage Counseling, Couples Therapy, and Coaching page!

Katie Lemieux, LMFT Coral Springs

10 Questions to Ask Yourself About Dad

Last month in honor of Mother’s Day, I wrote about the lessons learned from mothers and how we choose to incorporate (or reject) those lessons into our own parenting style.

Did you know, we spend 75% more on Mother’s Day than we do Father’s Day? Why are dads getting the short end of the stick when it comes to showing our affection?

Don’t forget Dad!

Dads are often forgotten when we think about parenting. Afterall, who can compete with a “Mother’s Love”?

Yet how many times do we hear, “Well, s/he needed a father figure growing up.”  The word father or dad doesn’t have to be just 1 person.  If you grew up without a dad for whatever reason I am sure you had many father figures.

Although I have 1 dad, I was blessed to have different male role models in my life each of them had a specific importance and taught me so many things.

Dads are usually known for being the “fun” parent, the parent who can fix anything, the disciplinarian or in my house the one who got in trouble.  My grandfather was always being yelled at by my grandmother for wrestling with my brother’s in the house.

Dads also get pegged often as being less emotional.

A Dad’s Love

Just like we learn from our mothers, we also learn from our fathers.

Around Mother’s Day, I asked you to consider your own childhood and how it impacted your views on parenthood.

Let’s take a look at what you learned from dad or the males in your life:

  1. What did you learn about love and relationships from your father?
  2. What things did you want to incorporate into your relationship/marriage/parenting based off your parents?
  3. What things did you not want incorporate?
  4. Rituals and traditions dad brought into our family was…
  5. A good memory that I have dad was…
  6. My dad made me feel special by…
  7. When I think of the word “dad”…
  8. Something my dad did/taught me that is important to me in our parenting is…
  9. Something my dad did that I didn’t like when I was a child was…
  10. An ideal dad or father is…

These questions can be difficult to ask, especially for adult children of abusive parents. Despite the difficulty in asking these questions, it’s important to do because it creates a roadmap for how you parent your own children and engage in a loving, healthy relationship with your partner or spouse.

This Father’s Day, I encourage you to spend a little time reflecting on what a “Father” means to you. What does being fatherly mean to you? How do you incorporate feelings of fatherhood into your own life, whether it’s by supporting your partner or spouse, embracing your role as the father in the family, or being a positive male role model in the lives of children.

If you’re looking to explore more about what it means to you to be a father, I’m just a click or phone call away at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com or 954.401.9011.

Fill out my online form.
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!

Fill out my online form.

The Kentucky Derby and Your Marriage

I’m the first one to admit, I’m not much into horse racing, yet there’s something about the Kentucky Derby that is so interesting…

Is it the hats, the roses or the names…

Perhaps it’s the glamorous hats everyone wears which are reminiscent of the fascinators more commonly found in England. It might be the day long event to watch mere seconds of a race. It could be the beautiful rose wreath placed around the winning horse’s neck (Run for the Roses anyone?) Or maybe it’s just the funny names each horse is given, like American Pharoah or Always Dreaming.

While thinking about the Kentucky Derby this year, I found myself wondering the amount of time and energy jockeys dedicate to training for the Kentucky Derby (the most well known of the three races, the Belmont and Preakness Stakes make up the other two of the Triple Crown).

And inevitably, I got to thinking about marriage counseling.

Horse and Home Life

The process of becoming a jockey is lifelong; like an sport, height and weight requirements, in addition to starting at an early age are factors which play predominantly in the jockey’s success. The horse, its temperament, and relationship with the jockey are also contributing factors, much like the saying, “picking a good horse for the race.” For those reading who like to gamble and bet, you might be familiar with the process of picking a racehorse, following the horse’s past wins and losses, style of racing, comfort on a certain track, etc.

How different would our lives be if we devoted the same type of diligence to our marriages? Or whom with whom we chose to have children?

How do you prepare for big moments in your life?

Couples often underestimate the benefits of premarital counseling or How Premarital Questions Can Help You Have a Happy Marriage. Yet marriage counseling is not necessarily only when there are problems or difficulties in the relationship. Healthy couples are always preparing for the next step of relationships, from dating, to the engagement, to marriage, and what happens during the marriage.

Just like the three races of the Triple Crown, relationships go through three phases, from courtship, marriage, to maintenance. Each phase will require different energy, motivation, and responses from the individuals in the relationship. The maintenance required of a relationship with children is much different than that of newlyweds and a new set of skills and resources must be learned and harnessed.

How did you decide to get married? How did you decide to have children? How will you make future decisions about the course of your relationship and family?

Don’t worry about the Derby…

It’s easy to get caught up in the little things; the engagement party, the wedding, the baby shower, etc. It’s only natural. These are big events, with many people in attendance, and we want to make a good impression and have good memories.

I’ll share a little secret with you: these aren’t the only big moments in your life.

The big moments are those in which you’re sitting at dinner and decide that your partner is the one. The day you wake up and feel nothing but joy and happiness with your life, your family, your friends. The time your child shares with you a very large (or small) worry or concern with you and you respond in a kind and supportive way.

These are the big moments in life for which we prepare. If you and your partner need a little help in your marriage to prepare for the next big steps you’ll take, 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!

Fill out my online form.
Katie Lemieux LMFT Family and Couples Counseling Coral Springs

Your Relationship Needs a “Spring Break”

It’s no secret most of us are working more and playing less.  Ugghh… (hand raised) I have been guilty of that for years.  I have finally resigned to no longer working weekends, only took like 20+ years, and have been incorporating more play into my life.  I can’t tell you how essential it has been for me.  It’s almost like my oxygen mask.

Psychology Today published an article, “The Decline of Play and the Rise in Children’s Mental Health Disorders” in which it outlined how the lack of play in children’s lives lead to a decrease in feelings of control for children, with dire consequences.  Wowzers, right!

Adults are no different. Sort of.

Everyone remembers the scene from The Shining, where the words “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” were typed over, and over, and over. Well, Jack Nicholson’s character wasn’t entirely wrong.

The Case for Vacation: Why Science Says Breaks Are Good for Productivity” highlights a similar sentiment as Psychology Today’s article: everyone needs a break to feel and perform their best.

And you all know I’m a big proponent of the Pareto Principle, which is that 20% of our input causes 80% of our results. And you all know that getting balanced was a first order of business this year for me, still is and an on going process.

Why all the fuss over Spring Break?

In it’s truest sense, Spring Break is a time for students to take a break from returning to school for the Spring Semester. Florida is one of the more notorious Spring Break destinations here in the U.S., historically Daytona Beach on the East Coast and Panama City Beach on the Gulf Coast.

Before you start planning your own Spring Break, stop for a moment and consider all of the leisure activities you enjoy doing, especially those with your spouse and family. How many of these leisure activities are you participating in regularly? How often do you find yourself making excuses for why you can’t take vacation, you can’t take a break, or you can’t stop working?

This month, I’m giving you a homework assignment. Counterintuitive, right? Work so you can stop working. It’s helpful though, I promise.

Take a minute to think about the things you and your partner really enjoy doing and things you enjoy doing solo. Try to come up with at least 10 activities, whether it’s 5 with your spouse, 5 alone, 10 with your spouse, 10 alone, etc.

These are the things you should prioritize when developing your weekly or monthly schedule. The beginning of every month should find you scheduling these leisure moments for yourself, your spouse, and your family.

Easier said than done, right? One of the biggest challenges the individuals and couples I work with face is getting started on implementing a new activity, task, routine, etc. It can feel like there’s a lot of effort put into making change, very little pay off. Who knows if you’ll even commit to doing those leisure activities you’ve scheduled. Need a little help deciding what to do? Or a little extra push to commit to leisure? Check out my blog on 25 Ways to Have Fun and Be Playful in Your Relationship or my others on 15 Ways to Make Your Relationship Sizzle this Summer. (Tried those? Here’s 15 more!)

My colleague Susan Block, LMFT and I created a video on “3 Things to Do Now In Your Relationship” for those individuals who were motivated and willing to begin making changes. This month, begin making the changes you want to see in your relationship, your work, your life and identify the need for a Spring Break. If you’re having a hard time hitting “Pause” on your habits, I’m just a phone call or click away at 954.401.9011 or Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com, talk with you soon!

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4 Ingredients for Your Relationship

The holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, is often accompanied by family recipes for certain dishes or meals. Perhaps there’s one dish that only a certain family member can perfect (or that you love when they make it, even if you’ve got the recipe). Recipes provide us the blueprints and guidelines for how to achieve that delicious pumpkin pie, roast beef, or grandma’s special… you fill in the blank.

If only other things in life came with a recipe book. Parenting, relationships, etc.  I mean how many times have you heard, “There’s no manual for raising kids!” and they’re right. We struggle to find ways to be successful and happy in our relationships, our careers, child rearing, and much more.  And while it’s true there is not “one size fits all” approach to a healthy relationship, we do know that healthy relationships and marriages are backed by science (no really, I tell couples this ALL the time), just like the perfect recipe. 4 Ingredients Blog

When you think about your favorite dish, and its recipe, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the person who gave you the recipe. Perhaps it’s the first time you made the recipe and how it turned out (good or bad). Perhaps it’s the entire experience of making the recipe, standing in the kitchen with your loved one and following the process, adding a cup of something when instructed.

Often, families have one particular recipe that becomes tradition for the family. It may have started with a grandparent, great-grandparent, or even earlier. Over time, the recipe begins to change ever so slightly, through different types of ingredients available (maybe that brand of tomato sauce or chicken stock was replaced a while ago and now you’re using store brand), or even just to suit the taste of younger generations (maybe you only put half the amount of sugar or salt, because that’s the way you like your tomato sauce). Although the recipe has undergone a transformation, its core is still the same.

Much like the family recipe, your relationship has a recipe as well, and it’s one that will change overtime. You and your partner were once dating and there was a certain recipe to those early days. Maybe one of you would drive to pick the other one up from their home and you’d go to see a movie together. That was your recipe for a Friday night. After you married, or moved in together, maybe the Friday night recipe changed to making dinner together and renting a movie to watch on the couch. For older couples who’ve become Soaring Eagles, the recipe for Friday nights might look even different still.

No matter where you are in your relationship, I’ve got a quick and easy recipe for you to follow to keep your relationship strong, healthy, and full of love and connection.

Recipe for a Healthy Relationship

5 Daily Kisses

Physical contact can be one of the first things lost in a long-term relationship or in a relationship that’s struggling. The initial passion fades and even the sexual aspects of the relationship can become routine. I’m a big proponent of including connection throughout the day, whether it’s physical, emotional, or verbal.

5 Relationship Rituals a Week

The Gottman method highlights the importance of having a ritual in your relationship, whether it’s saving “Good-bye” before heading off to work and “Hello” again when coming together at night. This ritual creates stability and familiarity within the relationship, a sense of comfort and peace.

4 Talking Tips

Communication is key in any relationship. When you talk with your partner, especially about something difficult, remember to be: express your feelings with kindness and a win/win attitude, acknowledge or express what you appreciate about your partner, and of course reflect and validate.  Allow these tips to be at the forefront of any discussion you have with your partner.

2 – 3 Friendship Building Activities

Many couples share with me how disconnected they have become overtime.  Much of that is lost in the habitual day by day robotic way we begin to do life.  You have to have fun, spice it up, be spontaneous or silly.  Fun things to do – go to a movie during the week, play a fun family game, have dessert for dinner, break the rules a little, relax and enjoy.

There you have a quick and easy recipe for a healthy relationship. If you think your recipe with your partner needs, a little adjustment, don’t hesitate to contact me at Katie@FamilyAndCouplesCounseling.com or 954-401-9011.

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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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