L
ADING

Using Laughter to Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner

02-07-2018

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

When we’re asked what attracted us to our partners in the first place, nearly everyone will include their partner’s sense of humor. Why is this such an important quality in a potential partner? It might be that we have an innate understanding of the benefits of humor. For example, a 2002 study by Culver examined the benefits of humor usage with surgical patients and found an increased capacity to tolerate stress. We also know that humor and laughter contribute to long-term relationship success. As John Gottman, the famed relationship psychologist, puts it: “Couples who laugh together last together.”

What Do We Mean By Humor and Why Does It Help?

When we talk about humor, we mean sincere experiences of laughter that partners share. Laughing at a silly thing a child has done, giggling at a joke, and watching a comedy you both love – all are great examples of shared humor. Humor doesn’t necessarily need to be pure or innocent – it just needs to be an experience that both partners find funny. Things like sarcasm or making fun are acts of criticism and belittling and will only drive a wedge in the relationship.

When a person experiences humor, it activates the part of the brain associated with pleasure, thereby releasing an array of chemicals that stimulate happiness, relaxation, and pleasure. Not only will humor increase these feelings immediately, but the presence of these brain changes will have lasting impacts on a couple’s connection and intimacy. Buhlman, Gottman & Katz found in a 1992 study that the quality of laughter in a relationship was directly correlated to whether or not a couple was still together at a three-year follow-up. This result was reinforced by a study completed by Kurtz in 2015, which found that the amount of laughter between a couple was correlated with overall relationship quality.

Aside from these immediate and long-term impacts, couples also experience the following:

  • Increases in bonding and connection: Couples that share humor have the power to recall memories together, giving a solid base of values and history.
  • Establishes hope and trust: When couples laugh together, it shows they feel comfortable in one another’s presence and recalls memories of the moments of attraction partners first had for each other.
  • Increases excitement: Humor can make the work that goes into building a solid relationship feel worth it, especially for couples experiencing times of stress.
  • Diffuses tension: The Gottman Institute states that humor is an example of a “repair attempt,” a method to address an issue without necessarily having a direct conversation about the problem.
  • Increases feelings of validation in a relationship: Successful attempts at humor help meet both partner’s need for attention and validation.

Strategies for Using Laughter and Humor in Your Relationship

  • Spend time together, everyday: Give your relationship opportunities to experience humor. Spend uninterrupted time together watching comedy, sharing about your day, telling jokes, or just finding things to giggle at together. Make sure your quality time isn’t always focused on emotionality or serious issues – build laughter into your interactions.
  • Reminisce about the happy times: Share funny stories, look at pictures together, or visit family and friends who are intertwined in the history of your relationship. Use these opportunities to laugh about the moments of your life that bring you joy.
  • Create opportunities for future laughter: As a couple, try things that you may not be the most comfortable with – take a class together, visit a new restaurant, or just try something new. Approach things with a sense of curiosity and be prepared to laugh when things don’t go as planned. This not only gives an instant “humor boost,” but provides material for inside jokes that can be shared for years.

Humor can be a powerful tool for improving intimacy when used correctly – find ways to apply it to your partnership, and watch the “fuel gauge of joy” in your relationship move up as well.

How Empathy Can Improve Bonding and Connection in Your Relationship

01-25-2018

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

A couple comes in for marriage counseling to improve their communication and intimacy. After some time, the wife says, “My husband doesn’t appreciate everything I do for our family.” The husband immediately becomes defensive and replies: “She doesn’t understand how hard I work and what I go through.”

There’s an issue here, but not necessarily a lack of appreciation or gratitude. The problem is deeper – the couple’s ability to empathize with one another. Without empathy, the problems of this couple can multiply, leading to long-term consequences for their relationship. In this article, we’ll take a look at the concept of empathy and how you can use this to build up your partnership and increase intimacy, understanding, and togetherness.

Defining Empathy

According to Gottman, empathy is about understanding someone else’s emotions. It means stepping away from your own perception and embracing the experience of someone else’s life.

When empathy is used effectively, when we truly step into the perspective of another, we reap considerable benefits. A study by Duncan and Jowette found that perceived empathy among 149 couples was positively associated with relationship satisfaction and negatively associated with depression and conflict. It’s something that every couple can use to improve or repair a struggling relationship – but it requires commitment and hard work.

The terms empathy and sympathy are often used interchangeably, but they don’t mean the same thing. Sympathy is marked by an attempt to recognize the emotions of another, to feel sorry, and to be impacted by those feelings. Empathy is a much deeper action, as it requires one to change their perspective and share another’s experience vicariously, as if they were in their place. Let’s take a deeper look at the differences here:

Components of an Empathetic Relationship

A study by Pristang, Picoiotto and Barker examined 18 couples’ communication of empathy during the transition to parenthood. They concluded that couples showed high empathy levels when:

  • They checked out and explored their partners’ meaning of their concerns: When there is a problem or disagreement, this means taking a moment to rationally discuss the issue at hand without getting defensive or avoidant. What is the disagreement? Do both partners agree to the issue and what it entails? What stance does each partner take and why?
  • They acknowledged their partner’s concerns: Each partner recognizes and validates that there is a disagreement and values the difference of opinions that exist around the issue.
  • They articulated the meaning or summarized the partner’s issues: After listening and hearing the voice of their partner, the other partner is capable of understanding where that person is coming from.
  • They offered solutions: Instead of avoiding or stonewalling, each partner shares mutual solutions that demonstrate an understanding of each’s experience and live in the spirit of compromise and mutual respect.
  • They agreed on a mutual, shared experience: Partners commit to a solution together, continuing to check in with one another about the steps taken and make agreed upon adjustments as needed.

Are You Embracing Empathy in Your Relationship?

Dr. Gottman describes empathy as mirroring a partner’s feelings in a way that lets them know that their feelings are understood and shared. He cites it as the key to attunement with your partner, as well as essential to the emotional coaching style of parenting. Take a look at the questions below and consider how often they apply in your own relationship:

  • How often do you and your partner take each others’ perspectives? Even when your partner isn’t willing to, how often do you hear their words and place yourself in their shoes?
  • When having a conversation where your partner is facing an issue, how often do you keep advice, opinions, and consolations out of your words? Instead, how often do you allow yourself to simply “be there” for your partner?
  • When your partner is expressing a concern, how often do you look for the deeper meaning and emotion underlying the problem first, versus attempting to argue or solve the problem?
  • How often do you validate your partner’s feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, or any other feelings they may be experiencing, without telling them that they are wrong to feel that way, getting defensive about your actions, or trying to “cheer them up”?

To truly embrace empathy, both partners in a relationship should answer the above questions with “often” or “frequently.” If these actions rarely or never take place, empathy in the relationship is lacking and the partnership may suffer.

Integrating Empathy Into Your Partnership

So what can we do to use empathy more effectively in our relationships? Couples can try the following techniques to increase their empathetic communication and, thus, their bonding and relationship satisfaction.

  • Give your partner loving attention every day: Spend treasured moments together, greet one another with happiness, and take the time to share openly about feelings.
  • Pay attention to your partner’s feelings: Especially when couples are first starting out with building empathy, partners may not feel comfortable openly sharing their feelings. You can begin by paying attention to your partner’s moods and ask questions: “You seem to be feeling sad – am I correct or misinterpreting?”
  • Validate your partner’s feelings when they are shared: One of the greatest keys to empathy is this – all feelings are okay. Feelings are simply feelings. While you may not have the same feeling in a similar circumstance, the fact your partner feels a certain way is a result of their own personhood, and nothing about that is wrong. When your partner shares how they are feeling, simply validate: “Thank you for sharing that you are feeling angry – I appreciate your trust in me to tell me that.” Do not try to dissuade, convince, or fix the feeling – be okay sitting with that emotion.
  • Work together to overcome problems: Once a shared respect of feelings is established with empathy, continue to use this tool to come to mutually-derived solutions. “What can I do to help you experience this feeling less in our relationship?” “How can I bring more joy into your life?” “What solution to this issue would cause both of us the most joy?”
  • Empathy has the power to transform the feelings of togetherness, understanding, and love between partners when used effectively. It brings the friendship back into a partnership, where both partners know they have each others’ back.

    Couple Relationship by  Jennifer Novak.

    Five Ways to Get Along with Your Partner’s Family During the Holidays

    12-22-2017

    By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

    With the holidays approaching, many of us will find ourselves traveling and visiting family. For some of us, that means traveling back to our hometown and spending time with the people we grew up with. For others, it means visiting your partner’s family - sometimes for the first time.

    While the experience of spending a holiday with a new group of people can be joyous and thrilling, it can also bring about stress, tough feelings, and new styles of celebrating. Everyone wants their holiday to be meaningful, but visiting a new home comes with its own set of expectations and realities.

    What are yours?

    Do you hope for smiling faces? A picture-perfect holiday? A table full of warmth and love? Or do you just hope to be included, welcomed by your partner’s family?

    Do you accept the reality of this visit, that it may be stressful, busy, and require lots of preparation? Do you accept that there may be family disputes, different traditions and values than your own, or even the risk of not being accepted by your partner’s family?

    How will you manage it?

    • Give yourself permission to

      feel, assess, and wish

      . Not every moment will be comfortable, but accepting this and creating hope for what will go well can help to relieve the stress this causes.
    • Get your partner on board. Talk with them in advance about your hopes for the visit. Discuss topics like boundaries, what your partner can do to make the visit more comfortable for you, and how your partner can support you before, during, and after the visit.
    • With your partner, develop a plan for the visit. Have them take the mystery out of what you should expect by having them share family traditions and dynamics. Discuss and evaluate options in the event a family member oversteps a boundary or if you feel out of place.
    • Practice your plan with your partner. Have them think about specific situations that have come up during past holidays and role play those scenarios. Will a certain relative ask inappropriate questions? Is there a family member with a bad habit you may be confronted with? Be prepared by discussing and planning for these in advance.
    • Take the time to connect with your partner. They may be the only person you’ve met prior to the visit – make the effort to develop your own language and jokes before you visit family. Remember that if nothing else, they are your source of inclusion and love.

    With planning, preparation, and reasonable expectations, your visit with your partner’s family CAN be a success. It’s all about what you and your partner are willing to work and hope for from that time.

    Self-Growth and Self Improvement by  Jennifer Novak.

    We Attract What We Are

    11-24-2017

    By Jennifer Novak, Social Media and Content Director

    When we go through the process of finding a partner, we are bound to have some ideas around the kind of person we would like to be with. Some of these qualities might include the physical attractiveness of the other person, their values, their beliefs, or their interests. Oftentimes, we desire to be with someone who is in sync with ourselves – someone who shares a similar mindset about life that we do.

    What’s important to keep in mind is that when we go about trying to find that ideal partner, we need to keep our vision of who they are in mind. This is true for a multitude of reasons – we can lose sight of our ideal partner if we do not envision them clearly; we can find ourselves “settling” out of a fear of loneliness; or, we can find our own values shifting based on being with a person that finds us attractive – we can bend ourselves to the needs of another person.

    In the below video, Bob Proctor talks about the importance of mapping your ideal partner in terms of the law of attraction – that is, by envisioning your partner and living life as if they are already in your life, that you will eventually attract that person to you. Take a look below and pay careful attention to the concept of mapping your partner – the act of listing out the qualities that you would want to see in the person with whom you hold a relationship.

    Let’s walk through the exercise completed in this video together. Start by drawing your own circle and lines outside of it. While Proctor provides some great ideas for the qualities we would probably want to see in a partner, each of us are unique and place different values on different things. Consider for yourself the qualities that YOU most desire in a partner – what does that person believe? What are their values? How do they choose to spend their time, both with you and on their own? Draw as many lines as you would like and be as specific about these qualities as you can.

    Now, let’s take a moment to stop the exercise. We’re going to explore something that came up in the video briefly, but it’s something I think deserves quite a bit more attention. Think about the people who have most recently come into your life – those with whom you’ve had a relationship that ended for one reason or another. What qualities do they share with your ideal person? What qualities differ?

    The point here is this: We attract what we are. While we may desire a specific type of partner, ultimately who we will be most attracted to us are those who are innately similar to us. Those qualities in your ideal partner that your past partners don’t share, the things that you do not want to see in the person you end up with in the long-term? That’s the stuff we have to look inward upon – something about those qualities appear in ourselves and attract those who harmonize with them.

    This is where we depart from imagining a relationship and we start imagining our ideal self. While this technique is beneficial for bringing a potential partner into our life, it’s also a tool for mapping out the things about ourselves that we will need to address before that ideal person will appear and before we are ready to have a relationship with that person.

    Look at the comparison of lists – ideal partner qualities versus past partner qualities – and pick out three that seem to differ the most. Do these negative qualities in past partners shed light on things about yourself that you would like to improve in? Do they indicate a trend in who has been attracted to you? If so, you have a starting point – clear goals for self-improvement that you can implement with dedication and planning.

    The work involved will be dependent on what kinds of traits you selected – article topics all on their own. But by having a clearer starting place, and giving yourself permission to reflect and accept the truth that this comparison of partners provides, you are moving through the early stages of a path that can bring you both self-fulfillment and meaningful connection to a future partner.

    The Staircase That Is Anxiety

    10-11-2017

    By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

    No matter how laid back you are, how accepting of the present moment, or how well you manage stress, everyone knows what it’s like to feel worry or to be anxious. While many of us feel these moments of anxiety for only short periods of time, for some, the feeling of anxiety never quite goes away. If you haven’t lived with chronic anxiety, it can be really hard to understand how debilitating this feeling can be and what impacts it can have on the life of the person suffering from it. In this post, we’ll share how you can support a loved one living through anxiety.

    In the following video, we see a great example of what it can feel like to have anxiety, and how, sometimes, this “anxiety staircase” can become a tremendous obstacle for the person living with it:

    This video shares some hard truths about anxiety. The first is that the person living with anxiety knows that what they are worried about is often irrational. That they can see what it would feel like to approach life without worry. Regardless of this knowledge, and this is one of the most important points made here, is that it is ALWAYS a struggle for the person with anxiety to get to a point where they do not feel it, where they are operating within the realm of rational thought.

    What does this mean for those of us with a loved one who is experiencing anxiety? Take a look at the below tips for supporting someone dealing with this issue:

    • Remember that the staircase is always there, but depending on the day, it might be much larger and steeper than it was before. This means that whatever issue is causing anxiety, some days this might be a small struggle and others an impossible one. It’s important not to tell the person with anxiety to simply get over this issue – they don’t have control over the size of that staircase.
    • The top of the staircase is usually visible… but sometimes it may be clouded. When the person with anxiety seems unable to see the rational “landing,” gently remind them that this exists and that whether or not they reach it that day is okay.
    • There will be days when the person with anxiety cannot climb the staircase. Maybe they’ve already tried and slid back down; maybe it is so overwhelming that they just can’t do it. Share your support with them, but don’t force them to do something they simply don’t have the mental energy to do.
    • Celebrate the successes. When a person with anxiety does something they were previously unable to do (even a task that may seem simple to others), give positive reinforcement. This is the fuel that can encourage those living with anxiety to push themselves a bit further every day.

    Louise L. Hay: Thoughts on Living a More Joyous Life

    8-22-2017

    Louise L. Hay, a self-help author and motivational speaker who helped bring the power of affirmations to a broad audience as early as the 1980’s, has been inspiring people across the world for decades to live a more joyous life through a deeper understanding of their own inner world. In this article, we wanted to share a video collection of footage from a recent film she produced that presents some of the greatest collective work of this individual. Go ahead and take a look at the video below – when you return, we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from this and consider how we can apply them practically in our own journeys of self-growth.

    While this video covers several broad subject areas, the key theme here is pretty simple: if we want to to be happy, we need to know that happiness comes from within us. That doesn’t mean that we can be happy by simply willing ourselves to do so – it requires patience, courage, and a dedication to improving our abilities in this over time. But for all of us, it is possible. Let’s consider some of the main points made by Louise L. Hay and how we can incorporate these into our daily experiences:

    • Paying attention to our thoughts: Louise believes that our thoughts aren’t just passing reflections of the world around us – instead, she maintains that our thoughts are the main drivers of our experience of life. As such, we need to prioritize paying attention to them. Although this is pretty simple, most people ignore their thoughts fairly regularly. To start paying attention to yours, try this technique: When you find yourself lost in thought, take a moment to reflect on what those thoughts were. Do they represent what you want in your life? No matter the answer, take note of it. Even better, journal each day about these discoveries and watch for trends over time.
    • Doing affirmations: Tell yourself you love yourself. Speak directly to yourself about the good that will come into your life, every day, more than once. Imagine for yourself what the ideal journey for your life would be and tell yourself that you are capable of this and will succeed.
    • Be gracious: Have gratitude for the things you experience and receive and share that gratitude. Find the positive in everything. Tell people how thankful you are for them on a regular basis. When we send out gratitude, even for small things, we open ourselves up to receive bigger positives in our lives.
    • Know that your beliefs are choices: Louise maintains that for every person, what they believe is a choice. This may not be a choice we remember making, but how we feel about ourselves, others, and the world is something we choose to do – and something we can choose to change. Challenge yourself to think critically about your own beliefs – are these things that bring you closer to what you want in your life? If not, can you choose different beliefs?

    By embracing the unknowns in life and understanding that we have the power to shape our future, we not only empower ourselves, but we also push ourselves closer to the path of enlightenment that Louise speaks about. This may seem a bit daunting – do we really need to challenge every thought and belief we hold? Not really. But if we can get into the practice of doing so, even on a small scale at first, we can help shift our thinking to a way that better supports our own happiness, thus bringing greater joy and satisfaction into our lives.

    This entry was posted in Self-Growth and Self Improvement by Jennifer Novak.

    How to Have a Better Conversation and Connect With Others

    When we think about the ways in which we communicate with others on a daily basis, the act of actually speaking and sharing conversation with people may not be as high on the list as it once was. Instead, we find that most of our communication is digital – text, email, liking or commenting on status updates. While there’s nothing necessarily wrong with staying connected though technology, it does leave gaps in our human connection – without speaking with someone face to face, how close can we really be to them?

    In the below video, Celeste Headlee tackles this issue head on by bringing to light the problems we have directly talking to one another and maintaining non-offensive and worthwhile conversation. Watch below and come back for an exploration of the ten tips she describes for being a better conversationalist – we’ll be exploring these though the lens of how they apply to our most personal relationships.

    Now that we’ve heard about these tips, let’s consider how they work in our closest relationships – those with our partners, children, and dearest loved ones.

    1. Don’t multitask – This means that in order to truly connect, we must dedicate ourselves to focusing on the conversation and only that. It can be hard to do, especially when we live busy lives! What we don’t want is for our partners to think that they aren’t a priority – we need to make sure those we care about know that we care enough to invest our time with them.
    2. Don’t pontificate – Meaning holding back opinions that we feel are right, and being open to learning. This may be one of the most important tips in the context of personal relationships, because it allows us the space in a conversation to see potential for compromise and a willingness to hear the opinions of others.
    3. Ask open-ended questions – This is a wonderful tip for bringing out more fruitful conversation with someone whom we are trying to build (or rebuild) a relationship with. By giving someone else the space to think carefully about their responses with who, what, when, where, why, and how questions, and for us to listen to their answers, we dive much more deeply into their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
    4. Go with the flow – Don’t stop listening because you’ve thought of something you’d like to say or ask. Let your loved one talk. If it’s that important, bring it up in a later conversation. Don’t disrupt the flow of speaking to someone else with your own agenda.
    5. Say “I don’t know” – Maintain your credibility with loved ones by being open when you don’t have the answer to something. Better yet, make a commitment to finding answers if possible and working through unknowns together.
    6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs – When a loved one opens up to you about something they are experiencing, they aren’t seeking an understanding of the circumstances – they are seeking an acceptance of their feelings. Focus on the feelings and provide support to those when you feel the urge to compare stories.
    7. Don’t repeat yourself – At best, this can make it seem as though you aren’t paying attention; at worst, that you are being condescending. Trust your loved ones to hear you the first time and only repeat yourself when it’s clear that hasn’t happened.
    8. Stay out of the weeds – Again, when it isn’t needed, avoid oversharing details that someone doesn’t really care about. Focus on the big picture and answer questions about “the weeds” if they arise.
    9. Listen – Pay attention to the person speaking. Carefully think about their words until they are done speaking, and give them time to finish their thoughts without cutting them off. Give your energy to this and avoid “filling in the blanks” with your own thoughts and beliefs.
    10. Be brief – While this may not always be the case, your time with loved ones may be limited – make sure you spend your time in conversation wisely, using it to build deeper connections and help them to feel the support you provide them.

    When couples come to therapy, one of the greatest complaints is the feeling of lost connection, often as a result of not taking the time to have conversation. With the above, you can start rebuilding this in your own relationship or prevent lost connection in the future.

    Commitment in Modern Relationships

    07-24-2017

    By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

    With all of the benefits of technology, the ways in which we can meet others and remain connected to those we care about, we still face the negatives – the instant gratification, the temptation of considering what else might be out there in terms of romantic partnerships. In this video, we see this negative in action and what it means in terms of commitment when we have so much access to what might be on the other side of the fence.

    When we use technology to build relationships with others, we need to understand that it empowers us to find and meet people for as long as we continue to use it. In terms of commitment, it means that once we’ve started developing a relationship with a partner, we will never really be able to fully dedicate ourselves to investing in that relationship until we set boundaries around our use of technology. In practical terms, it means we need to assess the commitment we want and that our partner wants and come to agreement around how we should or should not continue to use social media.

    For yourself, consider the following questions for your own relationship, whether or not this partnership started through social media or otherwise:

    • How much time do both of you spend using social media? Have you discussed together the boundaries you should set around this usage, especially for apps or sites specifically dedicated to matching people for romantic partnerships? Both partners need to agree to and abide by these boundaries, or there won’t be any real way to build trust.
    • How much time and energy do you spend investing in your current partnership? When you start to see the imperfections of your partner, are you at a place where you are committed to working through these? Or do you turn back to “grass is always greener” thinking? How can you force yourself to remember that no one is perfect, especially those we might match with on social media?
    • When you and your partner have committed to a dedicated and monogamous relationship, how do you hold yourself accountable to avoiding the temptation of social media? Have you deleted or frozen your accounts on these websites and apps? If not, what is holding you back from doing so? The answer is often that we’ve still left one foot out the door, holding onto the desire to keep ourselves available should a “better” match appear. If this is the case, how can we really be present in our own partnership if we are still on the look-out for someone who comes along and appears to be a better potential partner?

    Without stepping back from social media and stepping into commitment, it’s impossible to truly develop the lasting connection needed for a meaningful partnership. As you look at your own circumstances, reflect deeply on your reasons for continuing to use social media. And remember this key point from the video – the other fish in the sea? They’re only showing their best selves. Once we get to know someone, imperfections become clear. Unless we accept this truth and the reality of who our partner is, we will always be on the search for a perfection that simply does not exist.

    When We Blame First: How Do We Let Go of This?

    07-16-2017

    By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

    When we experience a negative event in our lives, how many of us find ourselves reacting immediately with placing blame on others? Why do we do this and what are the negative impacts of this on ourselves and our relationships? In this post, we’ll be exploring the blame process and why this reaction comes so easily for people, the detrimental impacts of this, and what we can do to shut this reaction down more readily over time.

    To understand why we blame others, let’s take a look at this brief video featuring Brene Brown. Here, she openly shares her own struggles with blaming and provides valuable insight as to why we do this.

    From this, we see two important points about why we blame:

    1.It is a way that we attempt to find some reason for why something unexpected happens; therefore, we are creating a semblance of control for our minds in uncontrollable circumstances.

    2.It is a projection of our anger and pain, a quick way of expressing these emotions without the trouble of holding ourselves or someone else accountable.

    There are a few problems with the “quick-to-blame” mentality. First, we aren’t addressing the root of our problem – by first blaming others when something bad happens, we are putting a stopper on reasonable and effective communication. Second, we put others in the position of dealing with the mental hurdles that we’ve navigated to place blame on them, hurdles that may not make sense to anyone but ourselves. When we don’t clearly explain why we are upset about something, and instead point fingers at our loved ones for things seemingly out of their control, we further reinforce the walls we have in our relationships. Both of these things have the potential to contribute to more and more relationship problems, such as stonewalling, anger, and a refusal to hear our partner’s side of things.

    If you find yourself jumping to blame first, consider the following strategies to prevent this reaction:

    • Stop and breathe: When something unexpected happens, take a moment to process before saying anything. Analyze your thoughts. Are you already starting to place blame? Is the blame process logical or rooted in a place of anger and frustration?
    • Consider the source: If blame is coming from a place of anger, what caused this anger in the first place? For example, in Brene’s scenario, it wasn’t the spilled coffee – it was that her partner was late to return home. What might be happening in your relationship that’s causing negative feelings that you haven’t shared?
    • Discuss how you feel: While it may not be productive or enjoyable to feel the need to blame, it is a sign that there is something bothering you that you haven’t communicated. When this happens, take the time to engage in self-reflection and figure out what you need to communicate; then, do it without placing blame. Try to hold yourself accountable to holding others accountable in a respectful and empathetic way.

    Through the need to blame, we are given the opportunity to peek into the issues facing our relationship – while letting go of blame, let’s commit to working towards more effective ways of communicating out needs and feelings with our partners.

    Bringing Home Baby: Easing This Transition for Couples

    06-04-2017

    By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

    It’s hard to describe what bringing home a baby means to new parents – until you’ve experienced this transition, it seems impossible to really understand the changes your life undergoes, from long-term plans to the daily routines you’ve had. When parents bring home a baby for the first time, it can be a time of overwhelming joy – but with any new change, stress and feelings of disconnection can also be present. Without understanding what a new baby can do to a relationship, this can be an especially vulnerable time for marital discord. We love this article from Women’s Health Mag – it’s such an honest look at the most common relationship troubles during this transition. Take a look – when you come back, we’ll explore some questions to ask before you bring baby home that can help avoid these issues.

    The good news is that these issues can mitigated with some honest and thoughtful conversations with your partner. Ideally these would happen before discussing having a baby (or at least before the baby is born), but if these are things you are struggling with in your own relationship, start the conversation as soon as possible.

    • What role expectations do you both have regarding child-rearing, especially at the newborn phase? How do you expect your partner to support you? How will you communicate when you need more help or when you are feeling overwhelmed? If you are planning on returning to work, how will these roles shift at that time? What additional supports would you consider to help mitigate the stress of working and raising a child?
    • How prepared do you both feel to provide daily care to a newborn? How can you communicate with one another if you are concerned about the care provided by your partner to the baby? What are your expectations for care and are these realistic things to expect from your partner all of the time?
    • Your body will need time to recover after child-birth, regardless of yours or his sex drive. How can you embed intimacy during this time? How will you make time for this even after your body is healed? How would you prefer to communicate about feeling dissatisfied with the amount of intimacy during this time if it becomes an issue?
    • Do you and your partner spend quality time together now? How will you hold yourselves accountable to scheduling this time after the baby comes? What supports do you have that will allow one-on-one time without bringing baby along?
    • What are each of your parenting styles and philosophies? How were each of you raised, and how is that influencing how you intend to parent your child? When baby comes, how will you discuss parenting differences as they arise in a respectful way?

    While these are a lot of things to consider before having a baby, they are essential to making this transition successful. Without having a conversation around these issues, problems like resentment, stress, and isolation can arise – things that quickly drive deep wedges in relationships. Above all, remember that effective communication, the willingness to be flexible and insightful, and placing your commitment to your family above all else is what powers couples through the new baby stage.

    Our Location

    1 Research Court,
    Suite 450
    Rockville, MD 20850

    Our Phone

    (301) 660-ORLY (6759)

    Email

    therapyorly181@gmail.com

    Office Hours

    Monday through Friday
    by appointment.

    Join Us On Our Social Network, Too...