Posts tagged Couples Therapy
Is date-night really that important for married couples?
 
 

Having a regular date-night is probably one of the most basic prescriptions given out by couple’s therapists, and it’s also one of the most commonly ignored. I think that’s because it’s so basic in nature that it leaves couples wondering how important it really is.

When it was just my husband and I, we didn’t really need a date night. Every night was date night. It was just the two of us, and not much really got in the way of us spending our evenings together. We’d have dinner together at home or out at one of our favorite restaurants, and even if we didn’t go out we’d do something fun together.

In the early days when we were on a tight budget and living in a tiny apartment, we’d play board games, play video games, and watch tons of shows on Netflix. Now that we have kids, I look back at those times and I honestly can’t believe how many shows we used to keep up with. These days I’m lucky to have one show!

When we had kids things changed dramatically! It was no longer just the two of us, and we started to get disconnected. Being a couple’s therapist, I was hypersensitive to this disconnection, and recognized that I had to practice what I preached so we started doing date-nights two times a month.

Our relationship had evolved, like so many couples that I work with. Adding children and businesses to our lives added so much richness, but it also added craziness, lack of sleep, and shifts in our priorities.

That disconnection that started to happen very subtly is something that I see so many couples experience. But they aren’t as sensitive to it, and it often goes unnoticed for long periods of time. The continual focus on things other than that primary relationship causes distance between couples. They stop connecting, laughing, and sharing their inner worlds with one another.

I recently read an article on Facebook about why date-nights are a waste of time, the author was a mom, and she listed all of the excuses that I hear most people give when trying to plan a date-night – the cost, the need for a babysitter, having to get out of your yoga pants, etc. and while I can attest to having those hang-ups myself, I have to call B.S. on those excuses! 

When you stop dating your partner you leave the door open to lack of connection.

Date-night doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to take place at night. It can be Sunday morning walk on a weekly basis, or a lunch together during the workweek – I’m actually an even bigger fan of those times because then no one falls asleep during a movie or on the way home.

The point of a regular date with your partner is the connection.

It’s talking and getting back to who you were before life got too busy. Even when couples don’t have kids, they often mistake time together as quality time. Just because you occupy the same space day in and day out doesn’t mean that you’re connecting. You could be in the living room, and your partner could spend the evening in the bedroom on their laptop, and do that for weeks on end. You’re experiencing two totally disconnected realities even in the same space.

Date-night is really that important.

It represents friendship. We often grant our friends an incredible amount of grace when it comes to disagreements and misunderstandings, and that’s exactly how we should treat our partners. But you have to have that relationship established in order to do so.

Here are my top tips for scheduling date-night successfully:

1.     Choose a reoccurring day and time that works for both of you.

2.     Get a shared calendar, and mark that day and time weekly or every other week.

3.     Guard this date the same way you would if you had an important doctor’s appointment – it’s funny how we can leave work early, fight traffic, and do whatever else we need to do for such appointments – this is how you approach date-night as well.

4.     Shoot for twice a month, or once a week if you can swing it.

5.     If you don’t have a babysitter talk with other couple friends who may also be lacking a date-night, and offer to swap kids every other week.

6.     Have fun planning. Switch off planning every other date, and surprise one another with an evening out, or even at home.

7.     Be creative, and remember, it’s not about the cost; it’s about the connection!

8.     Use websites like Groupon, Living Social, or Goldstar for cost-saving ideas.

And that’s that. Get your date on, start connecting, and remember that friendship should come first. If you get stuck and just can’t seem to get into the groove of dating your partner, feel free to reach out to me (909) 226-6124. I’m happy to help. 

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

17.png