Posts tagged couples counseling rancho cucamonga
It’s not about the F*%$&@ Dishes
Resentment

In the last 10 years in my work as a therapist I’ve heard couples argue about some of the most serious issues. I’ve also heard an equal amount of arguments over the most ridiculous things. The most common, yet benign argument, is over housework. 

John Gottman says that 69% of marital problems are perpetual issues that will never be solved. This means that you really need to figure out a way to keep the peace and ride the waves of the perpetual problems.

When couples come to my office and I bare witness to their arguments over minute things like housework it can be incredibly telling about the state of their relationship. It’s rarely about the dishes, the dirty clothes, or your partner’s decision to move the furniture around without consulting you first. 

When people dig their heels in and fight tooth and nail over who doesn’t clean up after themselves I think to myself, 1) who cares about the dishes?? and 2) what’s this really about? And those are things that I will quickly verbalize.

99.9% of the time when I call couples out on what they’re arguing about they will admit to me that it’s really not about the dishes.

In order to get there I ask questions like, what’s really under your ager over the dishes, why is this so important to you, and what feeling or thought comes up for you when you see your partner’s dirty dish in the sink?

house.jpg

That’s when I hear the translation: “you’re not on my team,” or, “you don’t have my back,” or “I feel like I’m just here to clean up after you (which translates to: we aren’t spending any quality time together).”

I’ll be honest with you – for the last 8 years of my marriage one of our perpetual problems has also been housework (which is why I finally hired a housekeeper).

I call this the dirty sock test (because that’s our issue): On any given day as I am picking up around the house I can find my husband’s dirty black socks strewn around like I’m on an Easter egg hunt. I know this about him – he sits down, removes his socks, and kicks them to the side, and there they stay until he or I come around and clean up. I’ve spent 9 years living with this man, I know that’s his habit, we all have them and I know I’m far from perfect – we said for better or worse, right?

But if I happen to be picking up the house and I bend down to pick up a few dirty socks and also happen to find myself whispering expletives under my breath, I know that my love tank is empty and he hasn’t been speaking to me in my love language, and I it’s time to ask for what I need. What I might think I need is for him to pick up his damn socks, but what I truly need is much more than that (it's usually quality time). 

Nobody gets that angry over a pair of dirty socks (or dishes, or furniture, or tardiness) unless there’s something under that anger - the socks just happen to be the blister on the surface.

So when you’re ready to snarl, retreat to your corner, send a snarky text or give an obvious eye roll, it’s time to check yourself and ask, what’s this really about?

Another way to think about this is to ask yourself, “if my best friend left their socks behind, (left a dish in the sink, or was late for plans) would I blow up?” More than likely it would just roll off your back and you wouldn’t think twice about it.

We give our friends a great deal of grace. But when you aren’t nurturing your friendship with your partner its easy to fight about the little things.

So what’s it really about? Are you resentful over something that’s missing in your relationship? Those conversations might be more difficult to have, but I’m happy to help. You might not get over those perpetual problems in marriage, but when you’re free from resentment it makes it so much easier to be friends - even if they don’t get around to washing their dishes a couple times a week. You can click here to book a consultation with me and we can talk about how couples therapy might help. 

How to date your Spouse
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. 

2-Minute Relationship Tune-Up: How do I get my partner to listen?

I seriously can't believe that it's been almost a month since my last blog! I know you felt like there was something seriously missing from your life and your inbox these last few weeks ;) But I'm back from vacation, and although I'm still soaking up the SoCal summer, I should be back to our regularly scheduled programming although today's post is in the form of a video. 

Do you have 2 minutes? Do you want to improve your relationship? Then I have just the perfect thing for you! Although it's only two minutes, it is something that will likely take a lot longer than 2 minutes to get in the practice of doing. 

Hang in there, and practice, practice, practice! If there is any way that I can support you in learning this and other skills, please reach out, I'm loving the responses I've received on this video, so check it out, and leave a comment below to let me know what you thought.

Here's the direct link for the video, don't forget to comment and share: https://youtu.be/_H8Tt39dtUQ

Once a cheater, always a cheater?
cheating infidelity

Once a cheater, always a cheater. At least that’s how the saying goes, right? In my line of work I’m often the one doing the questioning, but I also get lots of questions from clients and professionals and one that comes up a great deal is, is this saying true?

My short answer is no, but then of course I have a lengthier version, which I will share with you today, and that is - it really depends. It depends on the reasoning behind the infidelity that will determine if the person will cheat again.

If someone is cheating because they are addicted to the excitement of being caught, or they are addicted to the spark of new romance, they may continually seek out affairs to find that spark, and to put themselves in a place of secrecy. While I’ve said that most people cheat in order to feel alive, and to rekindle life within themselves that they’ve lost in their relationship, I think this is different than what I previously described.

Although most people cheat to feel excitement, being addicted to that excitement is very different than seeking outside of your relationship to find something you’ve lost that you likely once had.

When people take the time to understand themselves and put in the work necessary to understand what lead them to stray outside of their relationship, it’s not likely that they will do it again. But the key is really that they’ve done the work. They’ve shown up, they’ve looked at themselves, they’ve looked at their relationship, and they’ve found understanding and insight into their motives for straying. And that of course is as intensive as it sounds. It takes work.

While the infidelity may have caused their relationship to end, someone who cheats still has to take themselves with them into their next relationship, and unless they’ve taken a good hard look at themselves, they are likely to continue in a similar fashion.

There’s often a misconception that if the relationship ends after infidelity, that’s the end of it. The person just wasn’t happy, they looked outside of their relationship to have something fulfilled, and it ultimately ended up killing their relationship, and they must then move on.

Many times infidelity can be the best thing that happens to a relationship. While I’d never wish it on anyone, nor is it something I suggest you do, it gets couples talking in a way they haven’t in many years, if ever. It serves as a wake-up call, and marks the start of a new, different relationship with the same partner. It definitely takes couples a long time to get to the point of seeing this, but it happens, and the new relationship that couples create following infidelity is one that is often more fulfilling, more intimate, and connected.

You can never “cheat-proof” any relationship, but it’s much less likely to happen again if both partners are truly invested in finding understanding for themselves and one another, and have a commitment to do things differently as they move forward. Once a cheater, not always a cheater is what I say, but that’s because I’ve been across the couch, asking the tough questions, and helping my clients find understanding.

If you could use some help sorting things out after infidelity, and could use a nonjudgmental third party, I’d love to help. Feel free to contact me at (909) 226-6124, and we can talk about ways therapy can help you understand yourself and your relationship. If your partner has recently been unfaithful, and you're struggling to figure out what to do next, click here to download my free guide on communicating after infidelity.