couples therapy

How to Tell Your Partner You Want Couples Counseling

Telling your spouse or partner you want to go to couples counseling can be really tricky for some people. In fact, I often get calls from people asking this very question. They know they need help but aren’t sure how to approach their partner and they aren’t sure what to say.  Here are my suggestions.

 

First, make it about you. Do not make it about them. Try something like this: “I am having trouble communicating with you and think I need some help in figuring this out. I think it would be great if we both went together. We could get a few tips and some new skills. What do you think?” Or:  “I would love to learn how to approach you in a new way so that maybe you can hear me better. And sometimes I don’t do a good job of hearing or listening to you either.  Would you be willing to go to couples counseling with me?” Or: “Honey, we know we are both really struggling right now, we have the same fights over and over. I think this is at least a 50 / 50 thing between us and I think we could use a little help here. I don’t think either one of us is to blame. How would you feel about some couples therapy to get us both back on track?”

If you make it about the other person, you are assigning blame. Nobody wants to be the bad guy. Plus, the research shows that when couples are in conflict, it is almost always a 50 / 50 deal where no one person is more at fault.  

What’s best is if you can pinpoint the things you want to work on personally and name them.  Perhaps you want to figure out how to be more flexible, a bit more forgiving, not running away when things get tough, learning how to control your temper, not lashing out when the dish is left in the sink (it’s never about the dish anyway).

Another option is letting your partner know that you sense this pattern that gets played out over and over again and you want to figure out how to jump out of it before it takes over again.  Think of the pattern as a weapon that is wounding each of you.  We can lay the weapon on the table and disarm both of you.  When we know what we are dealing with (the weapon, the pattern), we can then tease it apart and put you both back on the path to success so that you can thrive in your relationship.  

Ready to start working on your relationship? Call us today so we can help you and your partner get back to where you want to be.

 

The Anatomy of an Argument: Step 6 - Give and Ask for Equal Regard

Brent Atkinson describes this step in the following terms.  “Let your partner know that you’re willing to keep an open mind to the potential merit of their viewpoint.  If a decision needs to be made, be willing to be flexible and attempt to find a middle ground.”  He goes on to say that successful relationships operate like a democracy - every person gets one vote and every vote counts equally without having to prove why their reasoning is valid.

Researchers can’t always tell in an argument what success looks like while couples are going at it.  Success sometimes shows up at the end of the argument.  When 2 people are willing to give equal regard to their partner’s point of view, even if they staunchly disagree, that’s where the success lies.

When one person tries to diminish another’s feeling, priorities or opinions, they are standing on shakey ground.  These aren’t facts, they are belief systems.  Stop thinking that your beliefs are the best.  The obviously perfect example is all over the news right now. Trump vs Hillary.  Thank goodness when you go to the polls you won’t have to defend your pick!  So stop putting your partner / spouse / best friend on the defensive, you won’t win.  You are only building up resentment.  Be a superstar and argue like a champ.  THAT’S how you actually win.

If you are looking for couples counseling for you and your spouse, or couples counseling for one, we would love to help. Make an appointment today.

Be sure to check out steps 1-5 of Anatomy of an Argument.

Have Better Sex Tonight with This Trick!

Now that I have your attention....

I want to talk about mindfulness. Not the sexy topic you may have expected, but bear with me, I promise I wasn’t just teasing you with some clickbait blog title.

Sex is pleasurable, fun, connecting, and even spiritual at times. F### what Cosmo or Maxim might say, the way great sex happens is not through circus act moves, fancy positions, or having the perfect body. It comes from being mindful.

Mindfulness is paying attention and choosing your focus and purpose. You can have the best techniques and all the right moves, but if you’re doing your taxes in your head or critiquing the size of your butt, you’re missing out. Being mindful will help you notice your own feelings and pleasure and give you the wherewithal to be able to communicate what you need to be fully present and connected with your partner.  

Now Cosmo and Maxim aren't totally wrong. New moves, exotic smells, and feeling sexy thanks to the latest health and fashion tips may help you to have great sex. But why do they help?? Because trying something new, using your senses, and feeling confident aid us in staying present and being focused on the moment.

But you can’t expect to go around being a mindless robot, thinking of the past, the future or not thinking at all, and then expect to suddenly be good at staying present for sex. That's crazy. We get good at what we practice.

So, since sex sells, here’s reason #592 for practicing mindfulness consistently: being more mindful will make you a better lover!

Quick mindfulness tips to jumpstart your practice. Do this as often as you like to use your five senses to be more aware of the present moment.

  1. Notice 5 things you can see right now
  2. Notice 4 things you can hear right now
  3. Notice 3 things you can touch right now
  4. Notice 2 things you can smell right now
  5. Notice 1 thing you can taste right now.

Namaste. Happy practicing!

Anatomy of an Argument: Step 1 - When Arguing, First Focus on *Your Own* Reactions

Couples naturally argue and disagree over almost anything you can imagine.

Fighting with your spouse or significant other can be healthy in that you are standing up for yourself and letting your feelings and intentions be known. You are telling your views and opinions. That’s great!  But are you doing this effectively?  In a series of posts I am writing, we will look at the anatomy of an effective and appropriate fight.  In this first post, we dissect why the first step in arguing effectively is focusing on your own reactions.

When we get into an argument, we are presenting our case for why the other person should come over to our side and our way of thinking…because we are more right, right?  WRONG.  In all likelihood, the other person’s opinions and beliefs are just as valid as yours.  HUH?  Yep, if you take a step back and really think about it, they just have a different viewpoint than yours.  You might not like or agree with that viewpoint, but it isn’t necessarily wrong.  Right?  People show up in the world in all sorts of different ways and you can’t make somebody wrong because they disagree with you.  The only thing you accomplish is that both of you will end up digging your heels in deeper. You each get more and more defensive.  When we get defensive, we slip into our bad habits and then we are off and running.

The first step in a successful disagreement is to focus on your own reactions.  If you can do this, you will automatically help manage the other person.  If you come out with guns blazing, you are instantly pushing all the buttons of the other person.  Their defenses will naturally go up and you have now created the perfect storm.  Want to know a better way?

In order to get somebody to listen to your opinion, you need to make sure you are acting in ways that are optimal for this to happen.  You want to get your way, right?  You must make sure you are coming to the table as calm as you can be with a tone and facial expression that isn’t off-putting. If you don’t, good luck.  Take a few minutes prior to engaging and take a few deep breaths.  Tell yourself that you are going to engage in this process in a calm and collected way.  You have valid points and the other person probably has some, too.  If you head into the conversation with an all-or-nothing-your-way-only attitude, they will sense this immediately and nobody will get their needs met.  Make it easy for your spouse or partner to give you exactly what you want!

Always remember that if you manage yourself, you manage the other.  In the next post we will explore how to avoid a judgmental attitude, the second habit that all successful couples have in their back pocket.


Here’s to fighting effectively!  Please call me and I will give you all the knowledge I have on fighting fair.  I help couples navigate arguments daily, let me help you, too.

Men and Machismo and Therapy, Men LOVE Therapy

Calling all Machismo...Listen up

I have this fantastic pair I am working with in couples therapy.  These two – in the beginning – and I am NOT exaggerating, could hardly say one sentence without the other one jumping all over them.  True story.

Today they are in session and he is telling me how mortified he was coming into my office for the first session.  To him, it meant failure and he (and I quote) “doesn’t fail”.  This is a guy who wakes up every morning and declares himself a winner in the mirror ( I LOVE THIS!!!).  He’s a very successful businessman who I imagine is definitely in charge at work and his tone is BIG.  She is soft spoken and had trouble standing up for herself because she put everybody else first.  She is certainly not a pushover, rather a care-taker who put herself and her spouse second or third on the list of importance.  They each had their faults.  While I was definitely concerned about these two, I also saw the passion that they have for each other, their careers and those they love.  Even when they were seriously pissed off at each other, they were holding hands.  It was sort of like, I am so pissed off at you and terrified of losing you at the same time… so don’t let go.

As for the “failure”, now he “loves” coming in and talking and these two are doing fantastic.  I felt like I really pushed both of them during one of our sessions and I seriously wondered if they would be back.  I wondered about these two all week long.

Hooray!  Each one stepped up in a way they had never done before.  Both gave something that they were terrified of giving.  Once they gave, the other softened.  They each now had some really good faith that the other was all-in, no going back.  That’s all they needed was to know that 100% the other wasn’t taking off and that they were secure with each other.

They have civil arguments now, they each know their growing edges and where they still need to do the work.  She brings in the couples manual every week and shows where she has fallen short and where her work is still in progress.  I love this story because I have only seen them XX times.  Therapy doesn’t have to be some year-long process.  When you commit and dig in you are in control.  I want you to be in control and I want you to get your power back.

Let me help you get the control back in your relationship, for each of you, asap.  You can come in by yourself or with a partner.   Why won’t many men come in for therapy? Because they feel like they have failed. Failure is NOT coming in, so be a winner 😉 Call me asap

Couples therapy is a winner’s game.