Focus on Your Marriage, Not Just the Wedding

Who doesn’t love a wedding? These special events are romantic, beautiful and filled with meaning. People come from near and far to witness your union as you express your commitment to one another. But with all the attention on the big day, you may not spend an equal amount of time reflecting on the marriage that follows.

Long-lasting relationships are rare and wonderful. They’re also hard work. While planning a wedding is difficult, you will face many challenges that are even greater. So as you’re getting ready for your wedding ceremony, it makes sense to think about the life you’re building together.

SHARING THE POWER OF CHOICE

Let’s be clear. I’m not advising you against having the wedding of your dreams. But I would recommend that you begin creating the relationship you want right now – starting with the decisions you need to make for the big day.

Planning a wedding can be a great exercise in giving and taking. Choosing the wedding gifts you want can be a good starting point. When you’re registering, pay attention to how you’re communicating. Is one of you demanding all the power of choice? Is one of you too passive and yielding?

When you disagree, how do you resolve things? Can you come to a compromise that satisfies you both? Exploring these questions with an open mind can strengthen the bond between you.

SEEKING BALANCE NOW ENSURES HARMONY LATER

Long ago, people said that whatever you did in the months before your wedding would set the tone for the rest of your days. Though the way we view marriage and life has changed substantially, I feel there’s still some solid truth to that statement.

When you are looking at furniture and your future partner says, “Whatever you think is fine with me”, it might seem caring and sweet. Ten years down the road when you’re refinancing the house or deciding which car to buy, “whatever you think” may put too much pressure on you. You may resent making all the decisions by yourself – and feel guilty when things don’t work out as you hoped.

The same is true when one spouse demands the right to make all the decisions. When one wants a recliner in the living room and the other ignores that wish, putting a sectional sofa in without any discussion, resentment builds. Both partners should have a say in how their home looks and feels, even if it takes substantial time to work out the details.

SOME CHOICES ARE YOURS ALONE

Of course, there’s a middle ground here. Some decisions are yours alone to make. For example, one of you may want a custom dress or suit for the ceremony. That’s your call. The other may want to rent a gown or tuxedo – and that choice is purely personal.

Compare that, however, with the task of planning your honeymoon or deciding whether to sell one partner’s home and live in the other. Clearly, there are choices that must be made as a couple if you’re both going to feel a sense of engagement and balance.

REMEMBER, LOVE IS A VERB

I often remind couples that I work with that love is not something we “fall into” or “fall out of”. It’s not measured by the size of a diamond or the amount you spend on your reception. Love is something that we do. Love means showing honor, respect, kindness, and support even when it’s not easy to feel those things.

When we practice giving love, even when it’s hard, the bonds between us grow stronger. This is how love and commitment grow over time. One day you realize that your love has turned into something you never imagined it could be. You can’t envision your life without each other. That’s the foundation for a lasting marriage, and it begins now.

BUILDING THE RELATIONSHIP YOU WANT FROM THE VERY START

Did you know that many couples enter marriage counseling even before they say “I do”? Getting together with a couples therapist can be a powerful way to make sure you are aligned and communicating well as you begin your life together. It’s also a great way to ease the stress of making all the decisions that are demanding your attention right now. To schedule a conversation in my offices, get in touch with me today.

 

Source

Marriage.com

Relationship Health: Are You Bored or Just Comfortable Together?

If you’ve been in love for a long time, it’s natural to hit a stage when things begin to feel a bit of routine. Even if you get along well and appreciate each other, you may wonder if feelings of boredom are a red flag revealing that your relationship is in trouble. Does an occasional sense of restlessness mean you’re with the wrong partner?

It’s a valid question. As a marriage and couples counselor, I’ve met many people who struggle at first, but admit that they feel bored with their spouses and partners. A deeper look is needed to determine whether this is a sign of trouble or merely an indicator that your relationship has reached the level where you feel less excitement, but also enjoy a sense of contentment.

What is the difference between boredom and comfort in a relationship? Let’s take a closer look.

BOREDOM COMES WITH A DESIRE FOR CHANGE; COMFORT DOESN’T

Boredom means feeling stuck in your relationship, feeling deeply frustrated because you genuinely want something different. You may feel you’ve tried to keep your relationship fresh, but you’ve exhausted all options with your partner. Likewise, your partner may feel frustrated with you and may have stopped investing energy in your relationship. This feeling isn’t limited to sex, although a sense of sameness and apathy in your intimate life is a strong signal that your partnership needs attention and care.

Comfort, on the other hand, doesn’t come with a strong desire for change. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you’re finally home and can unwind after a long day. Your partner is the person you want to be with when you let your guard down and retreat from the outside world, ready to relax and just be.

BOREDOM CALLS FOR ACTION; COMFORT LETS YOU RELAX

When you’re bored, you may feel desperate to find a solution. This feeling usually means you need stimulation, action, and options. In your relationship, this may mean adding excitement through travel, learning, spontaneous adventure, and yes – more experimentation in the bedroom! Often, just admitting that you’re bored and want to try new things can lead to positive change – since your mate may be feeling exactly the same way.

When you’re comfortable with another person, however, you’ll feel great most of the time. Although there may be clashes now and then, your overall feeling is that you are meant to be together, and you won’t be searching for anything.

BOREDOM IS A NEGATIVE FEELING; COMFORT IS HAPPY AND POSITIVE

If you’re feeling restless in your primary relationship, there’s no doubt that it has a negative effect on you. You may feel hopeless about your relationship but anxious about what it would mean to end it. These thoughts and feelings may swirl in endless loops as you wonder what to do about the deep boredom you’re experiencing.

With comfort, on the other hand, you’ll generally feel happy and grateful that you found someone who “gets” you. If you feel content most of the time, even though the wild energy of new love has passed, chances are good that you’re settling into a love that has the power to last.

BOREDOM IS RESTLESS and EVEN ANGRY; COMFORT IS PEACEFUL

If you are bored in your relationship, you may feel so trapped that you can’t think of ways to heal your relationship. It might be hard to think of exciting things to do – and you may not even feel motivated to try. At the same time, you’re itching to do something, anything, to relieve your negative feelings, including leaving the relationship.

By contrast, comfort comes with a sense of peacefulness. When your relationship is generally satisfying, it will provide a haven from anxiety. There’s no need to worry about the fact that every day and every encounter doesn’t bring fireworks the way it did in the beginning. Contentment is a sign of maturity in your relationship and often means that, even with your ups and downs, you and your mate are meant to be together.

YOU CAN OVERCOME RESTLESS, NEGATIVE FEELINGS IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP

If you’re feeling restless, frustrated and bored, it’s time to take a good look at your relationship. These feelings don’t necessarily signal the end, but they are a warning sign you can’t afford to ignore. The good news is that with help from an experienced therapist, long-term couples can restore vitality and intimacy within their relationships. It all starts with clear, honest communication and a willingness to invest in each other.

I have helped hundreds of married and committed couples navigate the rough spots in their relationships, and I’m ready to support you. To schedule a conversation in my offices, get in touch with me today.

 

Source

Elite Daily

Are Sex and Intimacy the Same Thing?

We often use the word intimacy as a stand-in when we’re talking about sex. But if you are in a close relationship, married or not, you probably realize that they are not exactly the same thing.

All of us have the capacity to be intimate with family members or dear friends, even though those relationships aren’t sexual. And we know that sex in a loveless marriage, or any sex act we perform out of duty, will lack any sense of intimacy. So what is the heart-to-heart connection that allows us to feel we are actually intimate with one another?

I would define intimacy as the state of feeling heard and seen by another, believing that our loved one really “gets” us. We feel comfortable revealing ourselves, warts and all. When we are intimate, each of us knows what makes the other angry, sad, happy, scared or sexually stimulated. No topic is off-limits, and we don’t have to hide behind masks. We do this openly for each other, letting ourselves be visible and known.

HOW COUPLES BUILD INTIMACY

In the get-to-know-each-other stage of an intimate friendship or love affair, we engage in a lot of revealing conversation. There is a joy in finding out about the other. We find out how we are alike, marveling at the things we have in common. We also discover our difference and find those traits just as fascinating. Throughout this process of learning, we share how we feel about nearly everything.

Once the friendship or the marriage is established, everyday concerns seem to take over: Did you clean the litter box? Have you called your mom? How did you do on those tests? But if a couple wants to enjoy true intimacy, they will also ask: Do you mind cleaning the litter box? Would you prefer that I do it, or could we take turns? How are you feeling about the tests you took?  Want to talk about it?

SHOWING LOVING INTEREST IN EACH OTHER

If both partners are coming home after long, stressful days, it’s often the case that one will hit the couch and grab the TV remote while the other takes something out of the fridge for dinner. They may eat together silently, later returning to TV or tablets or smartphones. Before bed, they may have sex. But where is the intimacy?

This couple will feel much closer if one partner comes over and cuddles on the couch while they both watch TV, or if one says, “Let’s go for a walk as soon as you’re through with the dishes”. One of them could ask the other, “How are you feeling about the trouble at work you were telling me about?” Or they could make plans for the weekend.

If you try this new approach, your partner may be crabby or quiet at first. Don’t give up! Show concern and genuine interest. Ask more questions that begin with “What’s happening with…?” or “How are you feeling about…?”

When the person you care about shows that he or she cares about you, things change for the better. Small expressions of interest and caring conversations are what build intimacy. It takes time. Try to make a point of adding these actions into your everyday life. Intimacy needs to be tended like a living thing, and when you make the effort, your relationship will bloom.

Need help communicating with each other and fostering a sense of closeness that will create a stronger bond between you? As an experienced therapist helping couples throughout the Las Vegas area, I am ready to show you how. To schedule a conversation in my offices, get in touch with me today.

 

Source

Psychology Today

Leaving Your Faith Community: What It Means for Couples

As an experienced therapist serving couples throughout the Las Vegas area, I often encounter people who are struggling with questions of religion and spirituality. Many are wondering if they can remain within the faith communities they’ve been part of for years – in some cases, all their lives.

This is a life-changing decision, no matter how you look at it. Leaving your religion means that a crucial part of your history will be left behind. This makes the transition very traumatic – very much like the death of a loved one. It is the end of a certain kind of reality, and therefore, a major shock to the system.

When couples decide to make this change, they are fortunate in the sense that they can walk this difficult road together. Still, there are many things they need to know as they provide love and support during the transition.

THE CHANGES COUPLES FACE AS THEY WALK AWAY

Breaking away from a faith that you can no longer comfortably live with is both a painful and liberating experience. Many couples tell me that they feel a huge sense of relief, even excitement about the new possibilities that leaving the church can bring.

Certain problems are solved when we walk away. For example, you will no longer have to twist your thinking and behavior to meet religious doctrines that were hard for you to follow. You won’t have to work hard to bridge the mental gap between the church’s view of the world and your own perceptions. Still, both of you may find yourselves fighting your way through long periods of guilt and confusion.

For devout couples, the church can be a one-stop-shop for social and spiritual needs. Churches provide a coherent worldview and meaning and direction in life. They also offer structured activities and emotionally satisfying experiences. Without these resources, how will you find a place where you belong – a new community where these important human needs can be met?

A TIME OF LOSS AND CONFUSION

Questions like these point to the forces that can make leaving your religion a long, lonely, and confusing process. Departing from the fold means multiple losses, including the disappearance of many friends and in most cases, the loss of some family support. Some couples find they must deal with open anger and shame when church members criticize their decision to leave. The same people who were so warm and understanding once may suddenly feel like enemies.

I see many couples and individuals who need help with feelings of anxiety, grief, anger, and bewilderment as they sever ties to their former lives. They find their old beliefs are tightly bound with deep-seated needs and fears that go back to childhood. This can cause tremendous struggles that relate to our sense of self-worth and identity. Who are we when we are no longer the people we once believed we were?

WITH THE RIGHT SUPPORT, BOTH OF YOU CAN THRIVE

If you’ve made the decision to leave your faith community, you will need tremendous support to get through the difficult times. I want to reassure you that I am here for you. As a long-time therapist helping couples strengthen all aspects of their relationships, I can empower you to deal with the inevitable bumps along the road to your new life. Working together as a team, we will explore new skills and perspectives that will help keep your relationship healthy and enable you to move forward.

To schedule a confidential appointment, get in touch with me today.

 

Source

JourneyFree

The 5 Worst Fears About Couples Counseling

Does the idea of coming to couples counseling send a shiver of fear down your spine? If you answered yes, you’re in good company.

Many couples know they need help, but they worry that the therapist won’t really be able to deliver. Maybe he or she will just spout the same old “solutions” they’ve already thought of before – or recommend things they’re not willing to do.

If you’re worried about the value of couples counseling, let me reassure you that in my work with hundreds of couples in the Las Vegas area, I’ve seen how powerful it can be in helping people restore love, communication, and trust in their relationships. Here are 5 common fears that you may have – and the reasons they shouldn’t hold you back.

Worry #1: The therapist will judge us.

The truth is, many couples face issues just like the ones you’re having — which means your therapist has likely worked with others who are in the same boat. Every couple is unique, but your therapist is unlikely to be shocked by anything you share.

Therapists are generally understanding and nonjudgmental. They are skilled at being open to your needs without imposing their views on you.

Worry #2: The therapist won’t have any solutions we haven’t already tried.

Often, finding a solution for a particular issue isn’t the main goal of couples counseling – although the process may begin with an open discussion of what you feel needs to change. Your therapist will help you learn new ways to communicate about issues so you don’t fall into painful, unproductive patterns that can harm your relationship. The issues you bring into the room will lead to healing on an entirely different level than you expected.

Worry #3: The therapist will choose sides.

An experienced couples therapist will not favor one partner over the other, although there may be times when one partner is the focus of a particular session. Other times, the focus will switch. No matter how strongly you believe that one of you is the “real problem”, the therapist knows that it takes two people to create a whole relationship – and two people to create progress.

Worry #4: Marriage counseling is a waste of time and money.

This can only happen if one or both of you are not committed to the process. If you’re open to counseling and you bring your best to it, you can accomplish a great deal in every session. Your therapist may also give you simple assignments to do before your next session, which can accelerate your progress.

Couples therapy is a time that is 100% devoted to your relationship. It may be the only time you and your partner are able to sit down together and focus on one another. Having a skilled professional who is thoroughly trained in couples dynamics will make your conversations even more productive.

Worry #5: We’ll just sit there and fight the whole time.

Some sessions can lead to arguments, but your therapist has tools to manage conflict and return your focus to the deeper issues that are causing repetitive flare-ups between you. You’ll learn more about what triggers these fights and how to turn them into productive conversations that actually strengthen the bond between you.

Don’t let fear block you from creating the relationship you want

As the founder of Couple Counseling here in Las Vegas, I have helped hundreds of couples address their fears and anxieties as they begin therapy. If you are ready to build a more loving, satisfying relationship, I am here to help. Get in touch with me now to schedule our first conversation.

 

Source

Talkspace

 

Why Do Couples Stop Talking to Each Other?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant, a theater or other public space and noticed that some couples are chatting away happily while others sit in icy silence?

Even more to the point: have you been that couple who are together, yet miles apart?

If so, you’re clearly not alone. Couples face constant challenges when it comes to keeping good communication flowing between them. Many fall into bad habits like these:

  • Responding to each other with anger and contempt
  • Acting thin-skinned and defensive
  • Criticizing each other’s thoughts, feelings or needs
  • Tuning each other out – or just pretending to listen

 You may be surprised to hear that these patterns are often just symptoms – a clue that there are deeper conflicts below the surface. Here are a few examples that marriage therapists see frequently in the couples they treat.

Partners often interpret everything through their own eyes.

In conversation, it’s so important to consider how the other person is feeling and what they may be thinking. Frequent interruptions are just one sign that we’re not tuned in to our partner. We are thinking only about what we want to say, not the point our loved one is trying to express.

Many studies show that men interrupt more than women, but I’ve seen couples where both have trouble allowing space for each other’s thoughts. The one being interrupted may think, “My partner doesn’t respect what I’m saying.” The one interrupting might be totally unaware that s/he is sending this negative message. By shifting awareness and seeing how our impulsive actions affect our partner, we can change how we relate to one another.

Another bad habit: trying to “win” all the time.

 Your relationship is not a contest. And every argument that comes up should not be a competition to see who will come out on top. Instead, you need to think of conflict as a sign that you need to take on an important issue as a team. Both of you can gain from this opportunity if you cooperate and make sure emotions don’t get the better of you.

Winning really means having a solid, loving relationship. If you adopt a win/lose attitude, no one truly wins in the end.

The language we choose can foster communication – or shut it down.

Do you pay attention to the words you use when you speak to your partner? Language matters a LOT when it comes to keeping the lines of communication open. Practicing mindfulness in the way you choose your words means slowing down and thinking before you speak.

Sentences that start with “you” often sound like accusations, as in “You hurt me”. Or “You didn’t even care about what happened”. Likewise, the words “always” and “never” sound blameful: “You always do this to me”. “You never seem to be there when I need you”. These statements sound so final and so judgmental that they often shut down dialogue instead of opening the door to understanding.

Don’t let the silence build up. Let’s work together to heal your relationship

As the founder of Couple Counseling here in Las Vegas, I help couples build strong communication skills. It’s so easy to develop negative patterns that keep you apart – but the truth is, you don’t have to settle for anything less than a dynamic, supportive relationship. If you’re ready to heal the silence between you, give me a call today.

 

Source

Center for Mindful Psychotherapy