Category Archives: Marriage and Couples

The Divorce Decision

couple back to backDivorce can be a painful process and is certainly life changing.  One should carefully and fully consider it and other options before steps are taken.

Why Couples Divorce

Why do couples that once married out of love divorce?  The most commonly cited reasons are: finances, frequent arguments, differences in sexual needs, in-laws, differences in child rearing beliefs, and growing apart.

Other reasons for divorce might include:

Communication difficulties:  Different communication styles are very often at the root of marital discord.

Power Struggles: Who’s in charge of what?

Arguing: Learning how to argue “productively” is crucial.

Differing Expectations: Couples must discuss their expectations for marriage beforehand.

Change: Never marry someone with the expectation that you will change them.

Lack of Options: Unhappy couples who feel they have run out of options may turn to divorce believing it to be the only way to become happy again.

Benefits of Marriage Counseling:

Resolve:  The therapist can teach better communication skills to enable resolution of issues.

Clarify:  Clarifying goals can assist in learning to respect your spouses’ ideas.

Your participation: It’s important to learn what role you have in the marital difficulties as we only have control over ourselves, not out partner.

Alternatives: Explore alternatives to divorce such as negotiation and compromise in the marriage.

Whatever you and your spouse decide to do, think carefully, go slowly, and examine all options before moving on.

For the complete article, please go to my page on Psychology Today at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-without-anxiety/201704/the-divorce-decision

Do Upcoming Holiday Gatherings Have You Scared?

Family serving Christmas dinnerWhile commercials, cards, and TV shows all show happy family gatherings, the reality is, many family get-togethers cause tremendous difficulties for a lot of us.  Why is that?

There is a great expectation that holidays will be fun, warm, loving. That family reunions will bring joy to all. But that isn’t always the case. Family gatherings can remind us of who’s no longer present, either due to death, divorce, or distance. This can cause sadness and a feeling of loss and longing.

We tend to act out old family roles when the whole family gets together.  So if you were the “acting out” adolescent, you may find yourself in the acting out role again as an adult. If you had competition with your sibling when a child, you may find that the old competitive spirit is alive and well. Old jealousies may rear their ugly head again. Competiton for parental attention for yourself or your children may cause some difficulty.

Here’s what you can do. Remember, holidays don’t have to bring up all or some of the above. Keep focused on the purpose of the gathering: to eat a meal, exchange gifts, or reunite with family members you haven’t seen in a long time. And focus your attention on those that support you, that have your back. This could be your spouse, children, cousins, etc.  Just because others may try to drag you into old dysfunctional patterns and behaviors, it doesn’t mean you have to follow.

Have a peaceful holiday season.

 

Is Your Marriage Stale?

Mature couple having relationship problemsIs your marriage feeling stale? Have you lost the spark? Are you often at a loss of what to say to your spouse? Do his/her little annoying habits make you miserable?

Believe it or not, this is perfectly normal in marriages. We may not like it, it may feel uncomfortable, but just about everyone goes through it. Why?

Unfortunately, we often ignore the familiar. We may spend a lot of energy and use much creativity at the job, pay attention to how we sound and what we say to friends and co-workers, act delighted to see a neighbor or the mail person, and then come home and virtually ignore our spouse. It’s certainly understandable. At the end of the day we’re tired, cranky, hungry.  It feels like “work” to put a smile on your face and sit and listen intently to someone else’s day. The last thing in the world you want to do is have to be “on” at home. I bet if you were having dinner with a friend you’d do it.

I know you’ve heard it before, but, here it is again. Marriage takes work. But this work can be lots of fun. So here’s your homework to get that spark back and reignite the flame.

  1. Remember the things you did when you and your spouse were dating? Make dates with him/her and do some of those things again.
  2. Tell him/her that they look sexy, pretty, handsome.
  3. Do you remember how to flirt? Try it on your spouse.
  4. Write a love note or x-rated note and slip it into their pocket or purse.
  5. Buy them something small and cute.
  6. You know those movies that make you think, “why doesn’t he/she do those things?” You do them. You be the initiator.
  7. When out with your spouse, try asking questions about them and then really listen to the answer. Reserve talking about the kids for when you’re at home. A date should be a date.
  8. Tell them why you fell in love with them.

When I’m working with a couple in couples therapy, I look at both spouses and say, “you do these things first”.  In other words, don’t wait for your spouse to initiate the above. If you both start there won’t be any resentment.

Have a great time!

Do you Feel Stuck or Trapped?

Your life is not where you’d like or had hoped it to be. You feel trapped and unable to make changes in either your personal or professional life, or even in both. It’s very frustrating to feel stuck in something when you’d really like to be doing something else or would really like to be with someone else. But are you really stuck or trapped?

Do you feel trapped because change seems too difficult? Maybe you stay in your job because looking for a job in this economy seems too hard or because finding a new job seems impossible. So you spend your energy feeling sad, bored, unfulfilled instead of looking to make a change. Ask yourself what you have to lose by looking? You may be surprised at the answer.

Do you Feel Stuck or Trapped?Sometimes we stay in one place even when we think we’d like to be someplace else as a way of avoiding the problem. For instance, does your marriage feel stale, unfulfilling? Perhaps you daydream about leaving the marriage and finding someone more exciting. Is it possible that your daydreams are keeping you rooted in the problems rather than using the energy to work on the marriage? Maybe you and your spouse need to begin to talk about the problems or see a marriage counselor.

Some people feel trapped because they feel locked into something due to commitments they have made. For instance, staying in a job because the income is one you’ve become dependent on due to a high mortgage or children about to go to college. In this case staying put may actually help you to feel better in the long run.

So look at why you feel trapped and ask yourself what you may be avoiding, afraid of, or waiting for. This may help you get unstuck or help you to feel better about the decision to stay put.

Improve Your Communication and Improve Your Relationships

Did you ever get the feeling you’re “talking to the wall”? Do you feel that no matter how you say things no one understands you? Or, do you have a hard time understanding what your spouse, partner, and/or boss say to you? As Paul Newman so famously said in Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate”.

What do we mean by communication anyway?

Improving Your Communication

According to Dictionary.com, communication is “the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.”

Communication is the lifeline of personal and business relationships. If there is a single key to successful relationships, it is communication. It’s hard to have a relationship with someone if we can’t talk to them or if they don’t understand or listen to us, isn’t it. Continue reading