How You Might Be Avoiding Conflict in Your Relationship

After parking in your driveway, you notice that the walk from your car to the door of your home seems much, much longer today. You’re feeling uneasy about going inside as the going has been rough with your partner lately. It’s a stressful time for both of you, and you’ve been at odds more than usual. While you may not be concerned about the health of the relationship—you’ve weathered storms together before, you’ve understandably been texting and talking with your best friend about it as you’ve needed some support. The calls, the coffee meetings, the texts with your friend have been a breath of fresh air. Without even knowing it, though, the uptick in contact with your friend might be a way you’re avoiding conflict in your relationship.

The Best Resource for Making Your Marriage Sweet

“What resources can you recommend that will help us with our marriage?” As a marriage counselor, I hear this question a lot, especially from couples I see for the first time. Like so many married partners, these couples quite understandably want to know what they can do to make their marriage better. Of course, a number of books, articles, blogs, and podcasts come to the top of my mind in response, but when couples ask about resources to improve their relationship, my first answer is always the same: you. You are the best resource available for making your marriage sweet. 

5 Reasons to Do Premarital Counseling

Wedding season is right around the corner, and many couples are busy getting ready for one of the most joyous days of their lives. All too often, however, in the hustle and bustle of preparing for their wedding, a couple may spend too little time preparing for their marriage. Premarital counseling—whether meeting individually with a therapist or participating in a premarital workshop—can help the couple strengthen their relationship to ready for a lifetime of love and commitment. If you’re getting married (or know someone who is), why consider premarital counseling?

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 3

Over the last couple of days, I’ve shared with you some of my thoughts about why spending time with our families can be stressful, sometimes enough to leave us feeling a little crazy. Feelings of anxiety, confusion, frustration, guilt, being blamed, and other “crazy” emotions when we’re with our families aren’t uncommon. In Part 1, I described how these feelings can result from relational trauma, which happens when we’re emotionally wounded, blamed for our pain, and shunned when we attempt to reconnect. In Part 2, I explained that we might also see these feelings as the outcome of subtle ways of being with our loved ones; the more discordant notes in a family’s melody, the more intense our crazy feelings often become.

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 2

This time of year, as Paul McCartney sings in his classic tune, the mood is right, the spirits are up, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re having a wonderful Christmas time. Indeed, in case you missed it, in Part 1 of this series, I considered what visiting family for the holidays can bring up—anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, shame, and other “crazy” feelings, other painful feelings that you may even feel guilty about or that cause you to second-guess your emotional experiences. As we saw, one way to make sense of these feelings is to understand them as the result of relational trauma, which happens when someone we really care about hurts you, blames you for being hurt, and rebuffs your efforts to reconnect. These “crazy” feelings become more intense around family as members interact with and hurt each other in familiar ways.

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 1

For many, the holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year—a time of gathering with family, being close with loved ones, revisiting old memories, and making new ones. The title of this post and my post last year notwithstanding, I love the holidays, as I have many fond memories of being with my family around our Christmas tree as a boy. Being with family and friends is still deeply meaningful to me and to most of us.

 

However, starting a few weeks before Thanksgiving and throughout December, I frequently hear of anxiety, frustration, and even dread this time of year, because just as it’s a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones, it’s also a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones. Visiting family can be wonderful indeed, but if we’re honest, the holidays can you drive you crazy. Why is this, and what can you do to make your family time merry and bright?

Minding the Present Moment

Happy Labor Day, everyone! For most of us, a holiday like this one is a wonderful chance to be with family and friends, but I wonder how often we pause to truly live such moments. If the pandemic of iPhone-induced poor posture is any indication, many of us find minding the present moment challenging sometimes. We find ways of detaching ourselves from our thoughts, feelings, and experiences—our subjectivity, often without even knowing it. We are sometimes unwitting accomplices in our own lives passing us by, which is unfortunate because being aware of one’s own subjectivity is crucial to emotional well-being. How can we live more fully, then, by minding the present moment?

Creating Magic in Your Relationship, Part 3: The Magic of Surprise

We began considering how to create more magic in intimate relationships by looking at the rhythm that’s created in relationships when two partners are managing their feelings together. Next, we talked about what happens when that rhythm gets disrupted and how to repair these unavoidable disruptions. Today, I invite you to think about with me how surprise can pave a path toward greater intimacy with your partner. What do I mean when I say “surprise,” though? Before we go there, we need to talk about what every relationship needs—romance.

Creating Magic in Your Relationship, Part 2: Repairing Disruptions in the Rhythm

Last time, with a little help from Coldplay, we explored the “magic” that can occur between partners in a committed relationship when they feel close and intimately connected with one another. When both partners really “get” each other, even though the couple may be having a difficult conversation, each one feels known, valued, recognized, and understood. When they’re in their rhythm, each partner feels completely safe, so much so that together they can co-manage even the most difficult feelings that inevitably come up in a long-term relationship.