Category Archives: Couple Relationship

Lock image

How To Make Love Last In The Age Of Instant Gratification: A Speech by Dr. Sue Johnson

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

“Nothing grows people like love.” – Dr. Sue Johnson

What a remarkable and inspiring presentation by Dr. Sue Johnson, renowned psychologist and expert on love in modern relationships. In this speech, Dr. Johnson presents her theory on the science of love and intimacy. Through decades of research, she has come to the conclusion that love is an evolutionary adaptation, one that gives us enormous strength and resiliency, but also can make us vulnerable to feelings of fear and rejection.

As you watch this speech, consider the following key points and how they might resonate in your own relationship:

  • When a couple fights, it isn’t about a power struggle – it’s an expression of the grief and frustration that comes with feeling a loss of connection with one’s partner.
  • For someone in love, being criticized by their partner feels no different in the brain than feeling tremendous physical pain – both are threats.
  • Healthy couples understand that with love, there are moments of fear. That partners are capable of scaring one another. The couple who thrives acknowledges these moments, steps back, and soothes one another.
  • Healthy couples hold each other tight, give comfort, and are kind to each other.

Consider… is the answer to the question, “ARE you there for me?” a resounding YES in your own partnership?

Is your partner accessible to you?

Will your partner respond to you when you turn to them?

Does your partner give the attention you need and provide you comfort?

22679632894_09be149018_b

Sustaining Desire in Long-Term Relationships

For many of the couples that seek marital counseling, problems with intimacy and sex are often included on the list of things they wish to work on. Why is it that these concerns are such a common issue for couples around the world?

20161114_120847

In the below TED Talk, psychotherapist and renowned relationship counselor Esther Perel shares her insights into why this phenomena is so prevalent in modern society. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting her, and I see so much value in her perspective on this issue. Here, she shares with us her insights into some of the most pressing questions facing couples and marital counselors today: Why is it so difficult for couples to maintain desire in the long-term? What is the relationship between love and desire? And most importantly, “Can we love what we already have?”

So can we love what we already have? The answer is yes… but we must work for this. Consider the following questions and how they might apply to your own relationship:

  • When do you find yourself most drawn to your partner?
  • Which child are you?
  • When do you shut yourself down?
  • When do you turn yourself on?
  • What do erotic couples do that you can emulate in your own life?
  • Remember: “Committed sex is premeditated sex. It’s willful. It’s intentional. It’s focus and presence.”

 

fire-heart-961194_960_720

Inspiration for a Happy Relationship…From Poetry: “Fire” by Judy Brown

By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services

I found this poem “Fire” by Judy Brown to be an excellent blue print for creating and maintaining happy togetherness. Happiness in our relationship is like the fire that we create. It will keep on and on as long as we wish to invest our energy, thoughts and understanding of its structure. Happiness will grow as long as we allow some space within the structure.

Happiness is a result of providing space, allowing the individual to grow within the relationship and finding the balance between growing together and growing individually. Happiness is built on a strong foundation. It is cultivated with care and sometimes with lightness of heart.

couple-love-people-romantic

FIRE by Judy Brown

What makes a fire burn
is space between the logs,
a breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
too many logs
packed in too tight
can douse the flames
almost as surely
as a pail of water would.
So building fires
requires attention
to the spaces in between,
as much as to the wood.
When we are able to build
open spaces
in the same way
we have learned
to pile on the logs,
then we can come to see how
it is fuel, and absence of the fuel
together, that make fire possible
We only need to lay a log
lightly from time to time.
A fire
grows
simply because the space is there,
with openings
in which the flame
that knows just how it wants to burn
can find its way.

Judy Brown

image-1

Using Laughter to Improve Your Relationship with Your Partner

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.

image-2

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 these 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

image-3

  • 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.