Posts tagged Couples
New Year, New Relationship?
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Happy New Year! We’ve all heard, “New Year, new me,” right? Well what if 2018 marked the start of a new relationship for you and your partner?

Whether you want to put 2017 behind you because you’re working to rebuild trust or because you just know that you need to put more effort into your relationship, I want to invite you to let this mark the start of a new relationship.

In our culture adults often have more than one significant relationship in their lifetimes. People divorce and remarry, end long term relationships, and start over again. But what if you decided that you’d have a new relationship with the same partner?

What do you think that would look like? Would you have more connection? Less arguments? Improved communication?

Hitting the reset button is totally possible. It’s something I highly recommend not just for the New Year, but anytime you feel stuck in old ways of interacting that you know aren’t working. That’s the beautiful thing about being human. We will inevitably make mistakes, but there’s nothing that says we have to stay stuck in those mistakes.

There are a few ways to hit the reset button that I’d like to share with you, and most of them have to do with mindset.

1.     First thing’s first - you have to make the decision to be gentle on yourself. How long have you been in your relationship? How long have you been operating and relating in the same patterns?

The answers will vary for everyone, but it’s likely been a while. We get stuck in ruts, and it’s easy to go on autopilot, and slip back into old patterns, but the key is not staying there.

Once you decide you are going to make a change, be mindful of it, but don’t attach any judgment about it when you fall back into your old pattern.

For example, if you decide that you’re going to ask for a time-out when you feel yourself getting overly emotional from now on, but on your first attempt you let your anger get the best of you and ask for that time-out much later than you would have liked, it really does no good to then berate yourself for not sticking to your plan.

Instead, acknowledge that it happened, take a couple deep breaths and look forward. Dwelling on what you did wrong will only keep you stuck.

2.     My second tip is don’t try to change too much all at once. If you envision your relationship looking completely different, and vow to change 10 things in the next week, you’ll likely fail.

It’s best to pick one or two things that will have the biggest impact and nail those things for a period of time before you move on to the next.

One of my colleagues is a personal trainer, and she once told me to make a fitness goal that’s almost too easy not to complete. Getting back to an exercise routine after having a baby is daunting, and so I took her advice and decided I’d do 10 minutes of exercise three times a week. I mean, who doesn’t have 10 minutes to take a walk, do some crunches, or lunges?

Once I started hitting my goal it made me want to do more, and I got all the positive vibes from accomplishing my goals, even if they were small.

The point is that this approach helps to build momentum. What is something small that’s almost too easy to complete when it comes to your relationship? Is it a text a day, a check in every night, an extra hug, or compliment? Start with something small and meaningful and move forward from there.

3.     My final tip is to choose something that will have the greatest impact. This can seem daunting, but you might not be breaking it down enough. If you want to have fewer arguments in your relationship, not bringing things up that bother you isn’t going to do you or your partner any good. But can you think of something that kills a few birds with just one single stone?

If you want less conflict you’re likely also craving more connection. So can you schedule a date or block out some time to connect on a regular basis? It may not necessarily be about doing less of something, but rather, adding something to your relationship that will have a big impact.

When you have more connection and build your friendship, conflict has a way of decreasing. 

Of course this is just one example, but no matter what your relationship goals are, I have just the ticket for you! Beginning February 1, I’m going to be doing a Relationship Refresh and in the two weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day I’ll send you a tip each day that will help you move your relationship in the right direction. This is something you won’t want to miss, so sign up here.

For this Relationship Refresh I’ll be taking my own advice and sharing small things that I’ve found to have the biggest impact, so don’t worry about getting so much info that you won’t be able to complete it all. I hope you’ll join me!

Cheers to a new year and a new relationship! 

How to date your Spouse
5 Signs You Need Couples Therapy in 2017
 
 

The New Year is a time to reflect on the year that’s passed, and the start of planning goals for the upcoming year. I personally love the thought of a clean slate, new goals, and sense of, “out with the old, in with the new.”

But I also know that it’s really only a façade. Things that have been occurring all year don’t just stop because the ball drops, and we scream, “Happy New Year!”

But it’s a marker of time, and that’s what I love about it. It marks a time to create change. I take a look at my business, my personal, and professional relationships, and I think about what I’d like to do more of, and what hasn’t been serving me, and I use the New Year to mark the start of changes that need to be made in order for me to live the fullest, healthiest life I can.

Whether you love to make resolutions, or to just reflect, I want to urge you to take an inventory of your closest relationships. Those are the ones that impact you the most.

Have you been waiting a while to approach your partner about couples counseling? Has it been something on your radar for a while, but you haven’t wanted to rock the boat and dive in?

Initiating that conversation can be scary, and it’s totally normal to feel apprehensive about it, but using this New Year as a marker, it may be the best time to have that convo, and here are some signs that couples therapy should be on your to-do list in 2017:

1. Communication has dwindled.

In long-term, committed relationships it's easy to fall into routine, and get into ruts. If you're a parenting couple, it's also easy for kiddos to become the center of your world, and your relationship, but when communication dwindles, and you're more like 2 ships passing in the night, and communication becomes only about the logistics, it may be time to look at your relationship and get some help to open up those lines of communication.

2. Sex has decreased significantly.

Just like with communication, life can get routine, and sleep often gets moved to the top of the list of priorities along with work and parenting. There is no magic number for the amount of sex you should be having per week, but when you start to notice that it's becoming much less frequent than it was previously, this is a sign that things need to be spiced up.

Conversations about sex can be difficult to have, and that's where therapy comes in. Working with a couple’s therapist inevitably leads to convos about sex, as it's a huge part of intimate relationships. A couple’s therapist can get you talking and sharing more intimately than you may be able to on your own, and having a space dedicated to focus on your relationship for one hour each week is not something that happens naturally in most relationships.

Many couples tell me that they try to have conversations about sex, but it always leads to an argument, and both partners feeling like they aren’t being heard, and like neither is getting their needs met. A lack of sex can be also be a sign that something else is missing in the relationship, and therapy can help uncover what’s keeping you stuck.

3. Fights are becoming more frequent or escalating more than before.

Just like with the other two items I shared – this can also be a symptom of something bubbling beneath the surface. Frequent fights about minor issues are usually a sign of resentment, or someone feeling as though their needs aren’t being met.

In my practice one of the first things I do with couples is to learn about their relationship – how they met, how it’s evolved, and what they think has led them to frequent fights.

Next, I have them complete a Relationship Check-up, which is an in-depth assessment about various aspects of their relationship. This tool is amazing! I love that it breaks everything down for the couple and for me so that we can take a look at areas that are working, as well as those that are leading to dissatisfaction for one or both partners.

From there, we dive in and talk about those areas that need some extra attention, and I work with the couple to provide interventions to help them get past those road blocks as they are typically what’s causing the frequent arguing.

4. Trust has been compromised.

This might seem like an obvious one, but a lot of couples tend to wait it out and hope things repair themselves on their own, and this often leads to more issues in the long-run.

If you feel like your trust has been violated in the relationship, reaching out and getting in to see a therapist early can be the best thing you can do to repair the trust, and other aspects of your relationship that you didn’t see as relating to this one issue.

Couples counseling can also help to prevent further violations of trust from happing in the future and open up necessary lines of communication and intimacy between you and your partner.

5. You feel lonely.

We can’t get all of our needs met from one single relationship, but when you begin to feel lonely and like there’s a lack of connection between you and your partner, this is a major red flag.

Work, kids, and other commitments can get in the way of having the deep connection you’d like to have, but the sooner you address the issue, the less likely things are to continue on a downward spiral.

According to Dr. John Gottman, world-renowned couples therapist and researcher, couples wait an average of 6 years until they get help. That’s a long time to be unhappy, and it’s a long time to keep up bad habits and build up resentments. The longer a couple waits, the more difficult it is to make repairs in the relationship, so my advice is to start out strong this New Year. I’m happy to help, you can reach me at (909) 226-6124

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Is this normal? Losing yourself after Infidelity

The blow of receiving the news that your partner has been unfaithful is mind blowing.

It rocks your world and shatters what you thought you had into a million pieces. You may have trouble sleeping, eating, talking without crying, and you might feel as though you’re obsessed with thinking about your partner and their lover.

It might feel like you’re going crazy, trust me, you’re not.

What you’ve experienced is a trauma. A psychological trauma.

Don’t give me any flack for this comparison, but when soldiers or first responders see things that involve carnage or devastation, there is a physical and emotional response in the body.

Having the person that you love do something that goes against all things that you thought were supposed to happen creates that same physical and emotional response.

I know it seems like a harsh comparison, but the way our minds and bodies respond to trauma is the same.

There are so many things that you may feel you have lost through this trauma, and I want to assure you that they are normal.

The most common is the feeling that you don’t know who you are anymore.

This may seem strange because after all it wasn’t you that strayed. But you might find yourself reacting to your partner in heinous ways, snarling and spitting insults and anger as you struggle to cope and make sense of it all.

It’s normal to ask, “who is this person?” while staring at your angry, tear-stained face in the mirror. Reacting in ways that are completely uncharacteristic of yourself is a normal response to something that is completely uncharacteristic of what you thought your relationship was supposed to be like.

There is a certain loss of specialness that comes with the trauma of infidelity. Hearing that your spouse called another woman the pet name he gave to you, or used your vacation home for secret meetings with a lover will not only be upsetting but it leaves you to question whether or not anything you had was special or sacred. This too is normal.

You might find yourself doing other things completely out of character like obsessively checking cell phone records, emails, and web activity, trying to catch your partner in the act. They may have told you it was over with their lover, but you just can’t trust again, and even though you might not want to obsessively question and ask them to recall every step of their day, you just can’t help it. You might once again question who you are, and where this crazed person came from. As uncomfortable and unsexy as it seems, this too is quite normal.

Another common thing is doing things in desperation to try and win your partner back. As angry and hurt as you are, it would seem normal to just end the relationship, and as bad-ass as it seems to just throw your partner’s belongings out on the lawn and change the locks like they do in the movies, it’s not practical, and there are so many more emotions that aren’t shown.

Years of love that built the foundation of your relationship is difficult to deny, and you might find yourself doing things out of character and obsessing about your partner in ways you never have. Tempting them with sex and gifts, trying to get their attention and remind them of what they could be losing may be uncharacteristic, but it is also normal.

How long will this last?

This is one of the most common questions I receive when working with clients struggling with infidelity. Although I wish I had a finite answer, it’s much like any other trauma in that it’s really difficult to tell. I can’t tell you how long it will take you to get over the loss of a job, or a loved one, and I certainly can’t tell you how long in exact days and hours it will take you to heal from infidelity.

I can tell you that if you are willing to do the work and try to find understanding about yourself and your relationship through the process, it will create space for healing to happen much quicker than if you sweep it under the rug.

If you’ve recently discovered that your partner has been unfaithful, I’d like to offer you my free guide for surviving infidelity. You can get it by signing up here. It’s a guide that provides steps that you can take in the aftermath of infidelity, to help you feel less isolated and alone, and to get you moving towards a space of communicating productively with your partner. 

Am I to blame for my partner’s Affair?
Am I to blame for my partner's affair?

Hindsight is always 20/20. Always. It’s just too easy to look back on an event and not see the signs, find the flubs, and scrutinize the details that were missed.

When you discover that your partner has had an affair, it’s common to press rewind on the last year of your life together and look for all the signs you should have seen and things you missed. The times they were out late and didn’t invite you, the times they were on the phone way too long with their work colleague and you gave them the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to rock the boat.

When hindsight is 20/20, it’s easy to place blame on yourself for missing the signs, or not acknowledging them or acting on your gut feeling in the moment. But the truth is, relationships are generally built on trust and it isn’t foolish to trust someone you love and are committed to.

As much as you’d probably like it to, the past can’t be erased, and the future of your relationship is what matters.

Many times I have clients who say things like, “I guess the last year was just one big lie. When we took that romantic vacation, and he said all those wonderful things to me, it must’ve been a lie!”

I beg to differ. Your partner saying they love you, and having an affair are not dependent upon one another. People can compartmentalize things in such a way that makes this possible. While I acknowledge that it’s confusing, I don’t believe that what is said in a moment of romance between you and your partner isn’t true for them. Just as what’s happening for them in the moments they share with someone they are having an affair with are also very real.

What you do in the aftermath of an affair is what matters most. How you handle and set new boundaries for your partner moving forward is where you can take charge, and ask for what you need.

I have seen clients that feel as though it is now their duty to punish their partner at all costs after discovering their affair. They tell their kids, they tell their friends, their family, and anyone else who will listen in an attempt to get their partner to feel shame for their transgressions.

When this happens, it creates a space that is no longer safe. Trust is one of the most difficult things to rebuild after infidelity, but when the injured partner creates a space of punishment at every corner, things can truly backfire and this often sends the straying partner back into the arms of the other.

So while you are not to blame for your partner straying in the first place, it is your responsibility to create a space and relationship after the affair where communication is open, and you are both able to be authentic as you push towards creating a new normal.

Looking back on the signs that you missed won’t do a lot of good. What will be beneficial is to identify your responsibility and contributions towards the rocky patch in your relationship that lead to your partner’s affair.

Did you stop communicating? Did you put your job ahead of your relationship? Did you stop nurturing the friendship between you and your partner? Once you can identify your role, you will have a good place to start the healing process.

You can only control yourself, and you can only work on changing yourself in the aftermath of an affair. You can change how you relate to your partner, how you communicate with them, and how you show up in your relationship, but without looking at yourself and really taking an inventory of what you need to change, there is no starting point.

Starting over can be a challenge, whether you’re starting over after an affair, or starting over completely, I’d like to help with the launch of my new e-course, The Starting Over Series. To get on the interest list and to receive more details about this at-home course that will be launching in the very near future, click here