Posts tagged relationships
New Year, New Relationship?
New year, new relationship.png

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! 

The Perfect Gift for your Partner this Season
 
couples counseling
 

Tis the season for giving.

You can spend endless hours shopping for the perfect gift for your partner. Scouring the Internet for that gift that will knock their socks off, but the greatest gift you can give is the one of true giving.

We all like to say that giving is better than receiving, but sometimes this very principal is one that often gets taken for granted in long-term relationships.

Give the gift of true giving this season.

What is true giving?

It is giving without the expectation of anything in return. It’s giving for the pure aim of making the other person happy, and fulfilling their desires.

This seems to be easier for couples to do in the early stages of their relationship. Dating is passionate and emotions can be so overwhelming that it’s difficult not to truly give. Love letters, mixed tapes (or iTunes playlists for the current generation), late-night text messages – it’s easy to profess your love in the beginning without the expectation of much in return.

In the early stages, you just want to make your partner smile and let them know that you love them. It doesn’t matter if that means you wake up at 5am to make them breakfast and pack them a lunch for the day (I totally used to do that for my husband when we first got married).

As time passes you begin to settle into routine, and many people have children and their resources become limited. Time, energy, and sleep are depleted, especially when you’re raising babies and young children. The thought of staying up to finish a movie after 10pm starts to feel insane, so getting in bed and making love on a work night can feel equally draining.

So what does this have to do with giving? And what the heck are you supposed to give your spouse this holiday season?

It has everything to do with giving. True giving.

True giving means that you give even though it may cost you resources. Not necessarily monetary resources, but other resources that may be spread thin during this time in your life – time, energy, sleep, etc.

The perfect gift is the one that your partner truly wants to receive.

You might think you know what they want, but it may also just be what you want to give – it may be coming from your perception of what love is.

This brings me to one of the principals that I generally share and teach the couples I work with in my practice – The 5 Love Languages. If you’ve never heard of this concept, be sure to click here to take the quiz online, and find out what yours and your partner’s love language is, it will truly change your relationship if you apply it.

In case you’ve never heard of the 5 Love Languages, I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version: We all have specific ways that we show love, and ways that we perceive that we are being loved.

Gary Chapman breaks this concept down into 5 different languages, which are: gift giving, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and words of affirmation.

Which one best describes what’s most important for you to receive? Which one truly makes you feel loved? Is it receiving a small thoughtful gift? Spending an evening at home, talking and having quality time with your partner? Or is it hearing how much they love you, and having them express gratitude regularly for what you do around the house? Do you feel most loved when your partner sends you out the door with a lunch in hand, or folds your laundry?

And which one best describes your partner?

The complication that many couples get into is that they don’t always have the same love language. So, if yours is quality time, and your partner’s is physical touch, you may be continually trying to talk at him or her, when they just want to be cuddled.

I often use the analogy that your partner tells you, “I’m thirsty,” and so you go to the kitchen and bring them a glass of orange juice.

To your dismay, your partner doesn’t want orange juice, and they respond with, “I just want water please.”

But you’re so taken aback, and think, “who doesn’t want OJ?? It’s so tasty, and tangy, and has some essential nutrients in it.” You continue to try to get your partner to see your point of view, but alas, they just want water, and you feel like they’re completely missing out on your favorite drink.

Here you have two choices – you can either keep trying to get them to love OJ as their go-to thirst quencher, or you can just give in, and give them the water they so desperately want.

This seems like a no-brainer, right? I mean just bring a glass of water instead of the OJ and your partner will be happy.

So why, when we are talking about love languages, is it so difficult to speak you partner’s love language? I think it’s because we sometimes forget about the true gift of giving.

If all your partner really needs in the relationship is to feel your physical touch, why keep trying to talk? When you begin to feel disconnected, reach out, speak their language, and get physical.

Your love language may be quality time, and so having in-depth conversation may totally be your jam, but when you start to give without the expectation of receiving, and stop waiting for your partner to fulfill your needs before you take that step, you’ll see a change in him or her.

When you speak your partner’s language, they’ll be more likely to speak yours in return, and your relationship will improve.

Give your partner the gift they really need this season. The gift of love - in a way they can truly interpret.

If you’re stuck on this whole love language concept, please reach out to me! I love working with couples and helping them have the relationships they truly desire, you can reach me at (909) 226-6124, or learn more at www.ranchocounseling.com.  

The Right Way to Apologize
 
 
Choosing to show up in Marriage
 
Showing up in marriage
 

Marriage is hard.

Sometimes it’s REALLY hard. Sometimes I describe how hard it is with a 4-letter word with an ing at the end of it, just to describe how incredibly hard it is, to my clients.

Many times they look at me dumbfounded, and maybe it’s because I’ve just used the F word, but I don’t know any other way to describe just how challenging it is to show up and be all that you can in your relationship day after day, year after year.

What else do we choose to have in our lives, for the rest of our lives?

We don’t get to choose our family, for better or worse, we are just born into them. We choose all sorts of other long-term things to be committed to, like a job, a mortgage, a car loan, and possibly education. But none of those things come with contracts that bind us to them until death.

You can always change your career if what you’re doing no longer satisfies you. You can sell your house, or your car, if those things become lack-luster. Going to school and furthering your education may seem like something that’s life-long, but if you become disinterested you can always change your major, or quit.

Sallie Mae will still want her money, and that repayment might seem like a life sentence, but it’s not the same thing as entering into marriage.

Marriage is something we choose.

We choose to say our vows, and we make a lot of other choices about so many things that don’t matter, leading up to standing in front of all of our families and friends to profess our choice to be with this other person. Until death.

After the centerpieces have wilted, and the honeymoon is over, you start to settle in to your new normal with this other person that you’ve chosen. In the beginning it doesn’t seem like such a difficult choice for most, but as time passes, the novelty, and the newness of your choice wears off and life sets in. You might start a family, or be focused on your careers, or both.

When couples add babies into the mix, and time passes, then the choice seems to become much more apparent. Sometimes you have to choose between sex and sleep, conversation or isolation. Sometimes after a hard day of parenting and adulting, you just want to be left alone. You don’t want to have to talk or explain, because sometimes it’s just too exhausting. That’s when the choice rears it’s ugly head.

When you do choose sleep over sex, silence over connection, or to work just a little longer even though you know your partner is going to be asleep by the time you get in bed, it’s not always apparent that you’re not choosing your marriage.

I’m not saying that it’s always one or the other, and even though you might choose to work late (like I am right now), you may be showing up in your relationship at another time of the day, and making the conscious choice to put your relationship high on your list of priorities.

So maybe you’re in a rut, and life has just been happening, and date night has been on the back burner. The kids need you, work needs you, and those dishes in the sink aren’t going to wash themselves, and sometimes you might not even like the person you’re married to because, hello, do they not also see those dishes??

But you always have a choice.

You can both agree to ignore the dishes if it means you spend 15 minutes on the porch connecting, and talking, and maybe enjoying a glass of wine together. You can choose to get in bed 30 minutes earlier than usual, and forego reading or scrolling through your facebook in order to talk and possibly have sex.

Those choices aren’t easy. Neither is marriage. But it is a lot easier when you are both in it together, and find creative ways to show up in your relationship and make even the smallest of connections.

Turning towards one another is what keeps couples together, and keeps them saying, “I still do.” 

If you need help sparking your connection and making the choice to show up in your marriage, I'd love to help! Picking up the phone is the first choice you can make to show up in your relationship. You can reach me at (909) 226-6124, I'd love to hear from you! 

Why Mamas Need a Tribe
 
 

Have you ever had one of those days? I’m talking one of THOSE days. The kind where no matter what you do, and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t pull yourself up and dust yourself off. The kind where even though you truly try to just hit pause, and take a breath, and reset, but the reset just seems like a freakin repeat of what you were trying to reset from.

I have.

I actually just had one of those days yesterday. 

My terrible, horrible, very bad day started like most other days. I got up, and got my coffee fix in, and had some time at my desk to myself.

I got a little work done before my beautiful little angel of a 2-year old woke at his usual time (Which is 8am, in case you were wondering. I know you’re thinking I should just shut up, because really, how bad can life be when your toddler sleeps in past 6am, right? But I digress, and I never said this day wasn’t full of first world problems).

Somewhere in between his first diaper change and breakfast, this beautiful, sweet, tiny little angel morphed into a fire-breathing monster. I didn’t exactly see the change happen. Maybe I missed his head spinning around while I prepared his breakfast, but something definitely happened, and he was unrecognizable!

The day proceeded to be filled with frustration after frustration. I’m sure the rest of the mamas out there can attest to having such a day.

The word “no” equaled the end of the world, as we knew it to exist, and my responses to the tantrums sounded something like, “I’m really sorry that you can’t keep sucking the ink out of the Crayola marker! Even though it says non-toxic on the box, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean it’s ok to try and drink it!!” 

I’m not even sure how many time-outs we went through on that terrible, horrible, very bad day. I stopped counting and started counting down the minutes until I got to leave for work. But just as I was about to walk out the door my husband and I had a spat (I know I’m a couple’s therapist, and you may have assumed that I have the perfect relationship, but I am human, and I too fight with my husband, you can ask me about it in session anytime ;)).

Dealing with my toddler had me weak and broken down, and that spat was enough to send me into a spiral. Not only was the little one against me, but so was my partner, and wouldn’t you know it, that was the precise moment my teen decided to text me and let me know just how unfair I was being for not letting her take the car and leave her dad stranded at home for the entire evening while she hung out with her friends after school.

The score was now 3 against 1. One angry tot, one stubborn man, and the wrath of a teenage girl were all in my opposing corner.  

I can literally feel the tension rising in my shoulders as I recall the details of the day. When I returned home, my house looked like a war zone. I know I’d been begging for the ice maker to be fixed, but damn, why did it have to be today and do we really need to move ALL the appliances??

I locked myself in the bathroom several times. Took deep breaths, and desperately tried to start over with a fresh and positive attitude. None of it worked. It was like the movie Groundhog Day. I really hate that movie!

I finally used my last lifeline. I reached out and phoned a friend. Ok, I didn’t really, but I did text my bestie. If anyone was going to understand what a frazzled mess I was, it was her.

I’d love to end this post by saying that she text me back, and we had a laugh, and all was right with the world. She did text me back. 1 hour later. She has 3 kids of her own, and between diaper changes and kindergarten drop-offs, things get hectic.

We did have a laugh the very next day, and the only thing that I could do was sleep off my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. I went to sleep knowing that the next day would be better because I have a tribe that loves and supports me. I knew that the next day would bring clarity, and laughter, and connection with at least one friend who truly gets me.

But sometimes there isn’t a bestie to laugh it off with. Sometimes you just lay down and the tears stream onto your pillow, and you feel so alone in this life as a mama. You just wonder if you’re really doing it right, and if anyone else out there is trying to figure it out just like you.

But I’m here to tell you that you are not alone, and motherhood is really freaking hard sometimes, and that’s why I created the Mindful Mums group. I wasn’t born knowing how to be a mama. Things don’t always come naturally to us, and I’ve had to learn how to be mindful and gain the strength and tools that I need to sleep it off, and reach out to my tribe.

Maybe you have a tribe, and your BFF is on speed dial like mine, but maybe you both could use a push in the right direction, or an excuse to get together once a week without the kiddos and focus on yourselves. If so, I want to invite you to see what it’s all about, here

Whether you join our tribe of Mindful Mums, or another mom's group, I truly want to encourage you to find support for those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days, and everything else in-between. You might not find it on your first try, but keep trying, and keep reaching out, because you will find the one that feels comfy and accepting. Having a tribe is not just a want, it's a need.