Your Two Best Tools for Better Communication with Your Partner

best tools for better communication“We need tools to communicate better.” This is one of the most common things I hear couples say when I first start counseling with them. And of course, it makes sense. After all, anyone going to marriage counseling or couples therapy would expect to learn ways of communicating better with his or her partner.

 

There’s more to the story here, though. In order for couples to communicate better and grow closer together, they need more than tools. They need to become skilled at using those tools, and that means that they themselves need to grow and change. 

Minding Your Emotions: How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 3)

minding our emotionsGetting to know and understanding ourselves, our stories, and our feelings is such an important part of personal growth. Learning to live with difficult feelings instead of self-medicating, numbing ourselves, or in some other way avoiding vulnerability is the stuff of life. Doing this hard work of being aware of and owning our “stuff” is key to living with meaning and fulfillment.

 

In part 1 of this series, I shared a personal experience to illustrate how important learning to deal with our most painful feelings is important. In part 2, I talked about why some people have trouble identifying and describing what they feel. In this post, I’d like to share with you some strategies for how you can learn to get to know yourself and your feelings a little better.

Why We Have Trouble Knowing Our Feelings: How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 2)

why you have trouble knowing your feelingsRemember the last time you felt something so strongly that your emotions got the better of you? Maybe you did something you regret. Maybe you spoke words that you wish you could take back. Or maybe you just gritted your teeth, trying your best to hang in there while it felt like the world was falling apart. Because in moments when strong emotions have ensnared us, it really does feel like the sky is falling.

 

Most of us, in moments like this, have at least some idea that we’re caught up in powerful feelings. What we don’t always know is what we’re feeling and why. As we’ll see, being aware of what you’re feeling is the first step to taking the reins back from your strong emotions.

How to Recognize and Deal with Your Feelings (Part 1)

how to recognize and deal with your feelingsWe’ve all been there. We have an experience that causes intense feelings to rise up in us, drowning out all others. We become momentarily awash in that painful experience, whether it’s anger, shame, anxiety, fear, or all of the above all at once. We feel so much so quickly, often without fully understanding what’s going on with us.

 

I had an experience like that recently. Without getting into the gritty details, I stepped in it with a family member, someone I love and care for deeply. I didn’t communicate clearly about some of my plans, and she was hurt. Of course, I didn’t mean to hurt her, but that’s beside the point. That’s what I was telling myself in between my flashes of anger, which is always a sure sign that I feel shame.

How to Talk to Your Partner about Going to Therapy

how to talk to your partner about going to therapyWhen I get a call from a couple needing help, the spouse or partner on the phone usually says that the relationship is in some kind of crisis. Couples can sometimes struggle for months, even years, before something happens that at last causes the relationship’s ground to give way.

 

When this finally happens and partners talk about going to therapy for the first time, it may not go anywhere. In fact, things sometimes get worse. Fights get louder and longer. One partner might storm off or leave and not come back for the first time. Words are exchanged that can’t be taken back. Each partner feels like there’s nowhere else the relationship can go. Neither can see a way of working it out. They’re both at the end of their ropes. The relationship is crying out for help.

How to Change Beliefs to Form Better Habits (Part 2)

change beliefs

I believe I don’t like pineapple. That belief isn’t going to change.

Changing our habits can be challenging, and in part 1, we saw why. Whether it’s starting a new habit or ditching an old one, any changes we try make will quickly send us to a meet-n’-greet with the beliefs that are tied up with that habit.

 

Maybe you have trouble regularly checking your finances because we believe you’re not with money and there’s a lot of fear there for you. Maybe you’re afraid to start something new because you believe that you’ll fail. Maybe it’s been really tough to kick your pornography habit because you feel like you’re not good enough no matter what you do, and at least pornography makes you forget that for a while.

How to Change Beliefs to Form Better Habits (Part 1)

how to change beliefsAbout every month or so, I pick up a new business book from the local public library and dive in. I enjoy reading business books as I’ve found that it helps me with the business side of running a practice so that I can be my best for my clients. Recently, I picked up Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt, a book about how to set and achieve goals in your life.

 

It caught my eye because I’ve been wanting to find time to cultivate new habits. With our family’s sometimes crazy schedule, I was having trouble making the changes I wanted to make. Every time I try to create a new habit, I stopped after a week or so.

How Much to Tell & When, Part 3: The Tension Before Formal Disclosure

This post is the third in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses the tension between the initial and partial discovery of sexually compulsive behaviors and formal, full disclosure of those behaviors. Click here to read part 1 on spontaneous disclosure, here to read part 2 about formal therapeutic disclosure, and here to read part 4 on what a sex addict should tell his or her partner when asked about acting out.

 

Sometimes Christians talk about living in “the already and not yet.” While it’s not a perfect analogy, it captures well what it’s like in between the initial discovery and the formal disclosure for sex addicts and their partners.

 

“The already and not yet” is a way of referring to the idea that the culmination of time and history began in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus brought in the kingdom of God in his ministry such that it’s presently among us, but that it will only be realized in its fullness when Jesus returns in the future.

 

So God’s rule in the kingdom is already present and partially realized, and it is not yet fully manifest. Christians call this present age “the already and the not yet” for this reason.

 

It can be an excruciating era to live in, as sex addicts in recovery and their partners know well.

How Much to Tell & When, Part 2: Formal Disclosure

This post is the second in a series of posts called How Much to Tell and When: Disclosure in Early Recovery. This post discusses formal disclosure and its benefits. Click here to read part 1, here for part 3, and here for part 4.

 

“How much do I tell her?” In part 1 of this series, we considered spontaneous disclosure, which happens when the sex addict’s behaviors are either discovered, about to be discovered, or when there is partial disclosure of the addict’s acting out behaviors after the initial discovery.

 

Oftentimes, spontaneous disclosure occurs as a couple is preparing for formal disclosure. Although holding off for a few months on formal disclosure can give both sex addict and his partner time to prepare for the traumatic formal disclosure date, waiting can be excruciating, especially for the partner.

 

But what is formal disclosure? And as painful as it is, why is it worth waiting around for?