Posts tagged commitment
Have you lost, YOU?
Have you lost, you_.png

What happens when your relationship becomes all about US? When everything revolves around the collective of the two of you? Or if you’re a parenting couple, what happens when everything becomes about the kids?

I’ll tell you that so many of my clients come to see me because they are having difficulty in their long-term relationships. The number one thing they name as the issue is, “communication.”

While that may seem like the biggest issue on the surface of the relationship as I work to dig and peel back the layers of what’s happening for many couples, it becomes apparent to both them, and me, that communication is the issue, but the reason they are unable to communicate quickly becomes the focus.

One of the reasons I find that people are unhappy is because they’ve just lost touch with themselves.

In the beginning of a relationship they say they completely knew who they were, but after years of being with the same person and many times after having kids, they start to forget.

Conversations become logistical – What time are you coming home? Can we fit in that dinner with friends next Friday? What’s your schedule like tomorrow?

While those conversations are important because - hello, we need to eat and end up in the same places to even have a relationship, it becomes apparent that the conversations that brought you together, the ones that involved depth and feeling have dwindled.

You might be saying, “we’ve gotten those all out of the way, there’s no need for them anymore,” but I beg to differ.

Especially if you’ve been in a long-term relationship, you’ve grown and changed since you first began that relationship. You might have attained all of those goals you once dreamed of, and since created new ones.

Or maybe since you’ve obtained them you’ve just been coasting, and in that case it’s time to create new ones. But it’s easy to fall into a rut and that’s where many people feel like they’ve lost themselves.

It’s crazy to sit back and think, “damn I did everything I said I would – we have the house, the career, the kids,” whatever it was that you dared to dream together. Maintaining the career, the kids, the house then becomes very routine, and you lose touch with each other – at least that’s what I hear more times than not.

Monotony has a way of killing that spark that leads to dreaming and deep conversations.

Assess your relationship today. You might be having difficulty communicating, but what’s under that? Is there just nothing to talk about aside from the logistics? That’s a mundane and frustrating place to be.

If you’re raising your hand and feeling like you’re in that camp you’re so not alone! It happens in even the best of relationships. So of course I’m going to challenge you to start dreaming again, and start sharing those dreams with your partner.

But in order to get that part of you back you have to change things up.

What did you once love that you’ve just stopped doing? Did you play on a sports team? Did you get your creative juices flowing on canvas? Was the gym once your retreat? Think about what used to make you feel like you, and then make time to get back to it.

Time might be short, and maintaining your life might seem like it sucks all of your energy, but I guarantee that if you don’t overthink it, and just get back on that horse you’ll see how that benefits you and your ability to show up for your partner. After a while you’ll get back your ability to dream and share those dreams like you once used to.

If you feel like you’re in a rut and don’t see the way out, I’d love to chat with you and see how I can help. You can check my schedule here and we can hop on the phone for a short chat about how we might be able to work together to get you back on track. I’d love to hear from you!

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


Why? And other questions after Infidelity
questions after infidelity

There are so many questions that come up after one partner has an affair, and the main question that I hear when working with couples struggling to move forward is, why? This is usually one of the main questions asked by the injured partner, however it is typically something that the participating partner has the most difficulty answering.

There are various ways in which couples deal with affairs, they either 1) ignore the problem and hope to push past it without truly delving into discussing it explicitly 2) spend even more time together, and try to “love it out” in a sense, or 3) they separate in an attempt to stop fighting about it.

Wanting to know why your partner did this to you seems as though it will unlock so much, and help you to move forward. But in my opinion, and in the work that I do with couples I’ve found that there isn’t always one definitive answer that’s really good enough for the injured partner, and it typically takes a great amount of time for the participating partner to truly understand why they decided to look stray. 

This can be extremely frustrating for the injured partner, and difficult to understand, however I suggest more important things to focus on while getting to the “why?”:

1.     What about us? In the initial phase of healing from infidelity it is important to set boundaries for daily living and talk about how you will continue to be in the same household during this emotional time.

2.     Have you considered leaving the relationship? Although it isn’t vital to have a definitive answer at this point, it is helpful to find understanding in your partner’s feeling about staying in the relationship and working through the infidelity.

3.     What level of intimacy feels ok right now? Considering what normal activities feel right at the time and discussing them with your partner are essential in creating healthy boundaries in the initial phase of recovery. Deciding to do things like have coffee together in the mornings, hug, kiss, hold hands, and sleep in the same bed, and being vocal about what feels right will help keep everyone on the same page. I also suggest that you talk about what happens if you begin to feel uncomfortable with anything that you’ve agreed to try.

4.     What are we committed to doing in the short term? Creatinga short term plan to work towards healing and moving past the affair may be all you can commit to, and that’s ok. While there isn’t a definite time frame for this, it should be something both partners agree to and feel comfortable with. Within this commitment should be parameters about how you will work to improve the relationship and might sound something like, “I propose we work intensely on our relationship for the next 3 months and then reassess. That means attending weekly counseling, completing all homework set forth by our therapist, and continuing to stay in the home together, and making our relationship our top priority to see if we can indeed get past this.”

5.     Are you committed to a process of learning about how we each contributed to this affair happening? If so, are you willing to take responsibility? Are you committed to learning more about us individually and as a couple? I know this is a three-part question, but in order to move forward you must have all three components. This should also be something that each partner will commit to doing in small increments of time. While the larger question is always whether or not you should stay together, it is a process that occurs in order to find the answer.

Secrecy plays a huge role in an affair and is what the injured partner typically has the most difficulty dealing with and so if the participating partner is willing to be honest about their feelings and their commitment to move forward, this will help greatly in creating a new normal and in rebuilding trust.

Communicating after infidelity can be incredibly challenging. I see many individuals and couples struggle to find the appropriate way to move forward after their partner has been unfaithful, and so I’ve created a FREE guide titled, “My husband cheated: Communicating with your partner in the wake of Infidelity” and you can get it by signing up here. Whether you are the injured or participating partner, there is great info for both in learning to communicate after infidelity, so I hope you’ll get your copy!

If you could use more support and want to talk about the possibility of couples counseling, please give me a call at (909) 226-6124. I’m happy to chat with you about the benefits of counseling and how you can begin to move forward. 

Are you dating a commitment-phobe?

Commitment can be tough for some, and past hurts can hinder people's ability to create new, lasting, committed relationships.

But how can you tell if the person you're dating is totally averse to commitment? I'd like to share a few signs you shouldn't ignore when trying to decipher commitment cues. 

1. You're left in the dark about the status of your relationship. 

If you've been dating for more than 6 months, and by dating I mean actual dating - going out to various dinners, events, etc. and having the occasional sleep-over, but the person does not seem hip to the idea of exclusivity and rarely mentions the status of your relationship this may be a sign they are having trouble committing. 

Not having at least one discussion about relationship status and exclusivity can leave you wondering if you're the only one, and as though your relationship isn't a priority. 

2. Their "future language" does not include you, or anyone else for that matter. 

When people see themselves as having the ability to commit in a relationship they often talk about the future, and this language will include their partner or person they're dating.

They will say things like, "we" and "us" or even "future husband/wife" and they talk in ways that indicate they see themselves with a significant other in the future.

3. They haven't had committed relationships in the past.

Asking about this may seem a little off-putting if it's done too soon, but a casual conversation in which you ask about past relationships is pretty standard when you are a newly dating couple. Asking questions about the length of past relationships without asking all of the gory details can be helpful.

If the person's response does not indicate that they've had any relationships longer than a few months, it may be a sign they are challenged in the commitment department. 

4. They are unable to keep other commitments in their life. 

People who are unable to have long-term friendships, jobs, and social commitments such as playing on a sports team or being part of a club might have difficulty committing in a romantic relationship. 

If they have analysis paralysis when it comes to smaller commitments such as what movie to see, what car to rent, or hotel to stay in, and making decisions about those things is a long and overly drawn out process, this may be a sign that commitment is difficult for them. 

If they hop from place to place, friend to friend, and job to job, without truly investing the time in creating stability it may be a sign that a long-term relationship isn't on their radar. 

5. They aren't creating space for you in their life. 

If the person you're dating isn't introducing you to their friends, family, and other significant people in their life, this can be a sign that they aren't ready to go public with the relationship, and might not be ready for commitment. 

In the same vein, if they are unable to break up their daily routine in order to spend quality time with you, they aren't creating the space necessary to have a committed relationship. 

While it's unrealistic to expect that someone you are newly dating is going to rearrange their whole life for you, there has to be a balance, and while they may very well be busy with work deadlines and gym sessions, total inability to include you in their schedule isn't a positive sign in terms of their ability to commit. 

Having a direct conversation about the status of your relationship is always recommended. Being open and honest about how you see the relationship going, and asking about their feelings can assure you are on the right track. 

Relationships can be difficult, but they don't always have to be.

If you'd like more relationship advice from a professional, don't forget to sign up for our mailing list and receive you're weekly dose of Relationship RX! 

5 Things to consider before moving in Together

Even the consideration of creating a home with your honey can give you butterflies.

But if you're not ready for such a big step, it can be grounds for disaster. 

Here are 5 things to consider before you sign on the dotted line: 

1. What is the status of our relationship? 

In answering this, you want to consider the amount of conflict that is occurring in your relationship, your relationship history, and commitment towards the future.

Healthy relationships should follow the 5:1 ratio - meaning for every negative interaction, there should be 5 positive interactions to counter the negative. Relationships that are not solid have the potential to fizzle, and leases and mortgages are often difficult to break. 

2. Are we compatible room mates? 

Domestic bliss can be difficult to attain, even for the most seasoned couples. Understanding what role each of you will play in the household is important, and definitely a conversation that should take place before you get the keys to you're new place.

Knowing who will be responsible for which chores in addition to having an understanding about expectations for personal space, bathroom habits, pets, and visitors are all important things to consider.

Are you an early bird? Is your partner a night owl? Do you love having dinner parties weekly? Does your partner see their dwelling as a quiet place to recharge? When you're opposites, and can't find a balance, things can go downhill fast. 

3. Are we on the same page financially? 

Finances can cause major rifts between partners.  Sitting down and having a plan regarding who will pay for what, how often, will cut down on any surprises.

Contingency plans for job loss, unexpected illness and other life-changing events should also be discussed.

Will you be combining incomes? Keeping things separate? Splitting the rent 50/50? There is no right answer, but a clear expectation will set you up for less arguments down the line. 

4. Do we have a long term plan? 

Understanding what future plans each of you has and making sure you are on the same page will greatly benefit your relationship and make for a happy home.

Are you planning to get married? Buy a house? Have children? Will one of you be taking a job out of state in the future? Having clear goals as a couple is important. 

5. Am I emotionally ready for this commitment? 

Moving in with your partner might seem like the most awesome experience, no more weekends over, and devoting your items to a single drawer! But moving in together is a huge step, and when conflicts arise there is often less space between you to offer a retreat.

Consider what might happen if you were to split up, and make sure you have a financial plan for such. Taking an account of the relationship, and how you truly feel about the person you are thinking about moving in with.

What does your gut tell you about your future with this person? You may find that living together is as awesome as you had thought, but a little planning and forethought goes a long way!