Why do we keep having stupid arguments? Death by a thousand cuts – that’s what those recurring, seemingly insignificant arguments might be doing to your relationship. Clients so often tell me, “We argue about the stupidest things!” Well, maybe. Or, maybe what you are actually arguing about is something else, something important, but you are […]
What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Be Happily Married
Success Can Be Bittersweet Some of the most satisfying, but frustrating words I hear from the couples who come to me for counseling are this: “This is so helpful! I wish we would have done this years ago!” When couples break through their arguments and really start to know themselves and each other on a […]
Study Boosts Online Therapy
A Phone Call Away Skepticism about the value of online therapy goes down as more people do it. And a recent study may help those still undecided about whether it’s worth a try. The potential benefit of teletherapy is so obvious: it saves a ton of time not to have to wade through traffic if […]
Tell-Tale Signs Of Trouble: Predicting Divorce
It’s not that hard to predict divorce. It’s actually fairly easy. What’s hard is recognizing when you are in the “danger zone” and, harder still, to do something about it. Just because you have the symptoms of a troubled marriage does not mean there is no cure. Couples therapy, workshops, retreats, books, and even helpful […]
If You Have To Ask For It, It Doesn’t Count, Right?
I want to clear up a misconception I see so often in marriage counseling that I should make t-shirts. If I could get this message out to every couple in the world, I think we could almost hear the planet getting a little happier. It’s this: When you ask for something, and someone gives it […]
Do You Want Things To Be This Way A Year From Now?
“If nothing changes, nothing changes.” I don’t know who first said that, but it challenges one of the biggest obstacles to a better life: waiting. Some people call it “hope” — hoping things will get better — without a plan. Other people call it fear — holding on to what you have because change sounds […]
What’s a Love Language and Why You Should Care
Hidden Misunderstandings It’s possible you can love someone and they don’t feel it. Or vice versa. This can be hard to understand, and too often we find out years, decades, a whole lifetime too late. The idea is captured in a popular book titled “Five Love Languages,” by author Gary Chapman. It’s a great tool for […]
Are You Being Gaslighted?
It Starts With A Lie Have you ever felt like someone was trying to cover up a lie by making you think you were crazy? It could be a friend, a spouse, a coworker, or anyone you deal with on a regular basis. Did it make you question yourself? Deliberately trying to make someone think […]
What’s Wrong With Date Night
The Set Up It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Just set up a time to go on a date and you’ll inject some much needed fun into your relationship. “Hey, let’s go to our favorite restaurant and not worry about the kids!” The problem is, you may wind up talking about the kids, or […]
Worried That You’re Not “In Love” With Your Spouse?
“I love him, but I’m not ‘in love’ with him.” It’s something I hear fairly often in my therapy office. So what? Is my reply. Okay, not really. I promise never to say “so what?” to anyone when they tell me their feelings. But to some degree, that’s what I feel like saying, because, really, […]
Your Intentions Are Irrelevant
First Things First If your best friend reaches across the table for the salt and pokes you in the eye, does your eye hurt any less because it was an accident? Are you more likely to yell “OW!” or to say “WHY did you do that?!” Sure, you might say something a lot stronger than […]
Do Marriage Counselors Take Sides?
Taking Sides? How is it possible not to “take sides” when working with a couple in therapy? I get that question from time to time. It’s understandable. If I want to go to a “neutral third party” to work on a problem, the “neutral” part is important. After all, working on a relationship is about […]
Ignoring it Won’t Make it Go Away
There is a time and a place for everything, including ignoring things. Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’ll agree with that. But I definitely do not think “it’s all small stuff.” If you ignore some problems they get bigger and bigger and worse and worse. But it happens so slowly so you don’t even really […]
When You’re Scared of Being Hurt
Do you Keep getting more of what you fear? It’s not a coincidence. We generally go where we’re aiming. If your eyes are on it, that’s where you’re headed. Ever heard someone say “Don’t look down”? That’s because looking down might increase the chances of heading that way. What do you fear? Do you fear […]
Are You Afraid To Eat The Last Piece of Pizza?
You Know You Want It Go on, admit it: that last piece of pizza sitting on the cardboard, still kind of hot and bubbly and cheesy, looks darn good. Mmmmm. If you were alone right now, it would be so gone. You may even be full, but you would still eat it. And yet, you […]
Think You’re An Expert on Your Spouse?
How well do you know your spouse? If you answered “very well,” that could be good news. Unless, of course, you are mostly an expert on what’s wrong with your spouse. People who come into my office are often unable to get through hard times in their relationship. Sometimes a big part of the problem […]
What Not To Do When You’re Caught Cheating
I’m Caught, What Now? If you’ve been caught red handed in an affair, you might be at the beginning of a way better life. Or you could be starting patterns that will make your life and your family’s lives a nightmare. It’s not all up to you, but a lot of it is. What I’m […]
Is Your Partner’s ADHD Driving You Nuts?
It’s easy to love someone with ADHD when you don’t live with them. But when your life partner has it, it’s a different deal. When I work with couples in counseling, sometimes I bump into this. Arguments, resentments, power struggles and distance can sometimes be traced to undiagnosed or misunderstood ADHD. How many of these […]
Counseling for One, Please
One Person In Counseling Can Make A Difference Individual counseling can be a great way to help your relationship. That can mean the one you have now, or the one you are looking for. Why is that? Because you are fully half of every relationship you are in. Make improvements in 50% of a relationship, […]
Are You A Backseat Driver? Or Are You Plagued By One?
Distracted Driving is Bad Enough We hear a lot about the dangers of distracted driving. But what about “criticized driving”? I’d like to see some statistics on that. Behind money, household chores and sex, I would have to say that driving is probably right up there near the top when it comes to couples complaints […]
When Your Husband Won’t Come To Counseling
Are You The Only One Trying? You know it’s bad when one person in a relationship seems to be doing all the work. How frustrating to know in your bones that life could be happier if only you could get some cooperation. On the other hand, maybe your husband won’t come to counseling. What to […]
How Porn Can Starve Your Marriage
A Closer Look At Porn If we take away the secrecy, shame and moral tut-tutting about porn, we can actually look at it. I don’t mean look at it, literally. That’s up to you. I mean look at how it plays out in our society, in relationships, and in marriage. I used to be a […]
When You Have Nothing To Talk About
Tired of Talking About What To Have For Dinner? You hear plenty of talk about how sex sometimes goes downhill in marriage. But not enough is said about conversation. This problem of having “nothing to talk about” was summed up really well in an episode of Seinfeld, in which Kramer explained to Jerry the pitfalls […]
Ten Clues Your Relationship Is Contributing To Your Depression
What Causes Depression? Depression has been linked to many factors, including genetics, medications, trauma, and various life issues. There are probably more possible “suspects” than there are treatments. It can be helpful to look at everything when trying to narrow it down. You need to find what will finally give you relief from the emptiness […]
Are You Too Selfish in your Relationship?
Is fear of being seen as “selfish” keeping you from a healthy relationship? Often times we know exactly what we want, but we are very afraid. We’re afraid of being rejected, of being criticized, or of being alone. The worst part about this is that we are right. I may very well not get what […]
Why Your Relationships Keep Failing
Ever wonder why you can’t seem to find relationships where you are treated as well as you want to be treated? Maybe you’ve had a series of mismatches. Or maybe you’re in one long relationship that is somehow promising and lonely at the same time. Is this you? If so, there is a way better […]
How Ryan Gosling Is Ruining Your Relationship
He’s devoted. Also sensitive. Oh, and he’s handsome. And he is ruining your relationship. Okay, maybe Ryan Gosling is not actually doing anything wrong. He’s making a good buck entertaining grown up little girls. He appeals to those who like the Cinderella story. But he also reaches those who want someone a little more lifelike […]
10 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress
It’s A Terrible Life. George Bailey thought all the stuff he didn’t get to do, or that was wrong, added up to a terrible life. The staircase knob that kept coming off was a constant reminder of all the little crap that never gets done. It’s so annoying. It’s distracting. It makes life harder. […]
Can You Do Marriage Counseling Over Video?
It Happens All The Time It’s not as uncommon as it once was for people to do counseling over the Internet or by phone. In-office sessions are still the norm, but many people are starting to embrace the convenience of telemental health. Sometimes referred to as Skype therapy or online counseling, distance counseling offers some […]
Online Counseling and Phone Therapy — Too Good To Be True?
Hmmmm, not sure? I know some people are skeptical of distance counseling — that is, communicating with a therapist by electronic means instead of in an office. And there are some good reasons for being skeptical. Good therapy is all about trust. Checking someone out, making sure they are trained, licensed and certified, not to […]
Why Low Desire For Sex Can (Sometimes) Be A Good Thing
Sex and Sleep: You May Be More Normal Than You Thought So many people worry they have insomnia because they wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep for a long time. Most of them are normal. Why do they think they’re not? Because the history of sleep is […]
Is an Emotional Affair Considered Infidelity?
The Emotional Affair Somehow the word “emotional” in front of the word “affair,” for some people, adds a kind of buffer. Sort of like “emotional abuse” is still abuse. Even though nothing physical happens, an emotional affair can do major damage to a person. In fact, like with emotional abuse, emotional affairs can be even […]
Everything Old Is New Again
Have you ever had the feeling that you know everything there is to know about your husband (boyfriend, wife, whatever)? What if there was a magic potion you could take to reverse that? To bring a sense of “Vuja De” into your life? I would define it for you, but it will be more fun […]
Communication Problems Series, Part 4: Stonewalling
Is This You? Have you ever felt like ignoring a problem until it goes away? It’s a great idea if you have a minor pain, maybe, or a difficult coworker you hardly ever see. But some problems just get worse and worse. They multiply like mold growing in a damp place in your home, or […]
Communication Problems Series, Part 3: Contempt
You Can Spot Contempt Easily The eye roll. It’s probably the biggest indicator that things are not going well in a relationship. Try it: look away from the screen, fold your arms, frown, and roll your eyes like you’ve just heard the stupidest thing in the world. Now what if that “stupidest thing” were your […]
Communication Problems Series, Part 2: Defensiveness
A Sneaky Problem Defensiveness is a big stumbling block to great communication because it’s so sneaky. You can’t really see it very well unless you’re on the receiving end of it. When we accidentally hurt someone, it seems so logical to explain how innocent we are. “I didn’t mean it!” or “I didn’t mean it […]
Communication Problems Series, Part 1: Criticism
What Are We Talking About? One difficulty with targeting “communication” as a problem in relationships is that the subject is just much too broad. So we have poor communication. So what? What does it even mean, and what can we do about it? A lot, it turns out. When we can zero in on exactly what is going […]
Communication Problems Can Be a Big Threat To Your Relationship
Communication Problems Create Bigger Problems What We Say (And Don’t Say) Matters If you wonder how big of a deal good communication is, there was a time when a problem in communication almost killed my husband. Well, actually, it was I who almost killed him. And not really “almost killed,” but “almost didn’t save.” […]
Five Signs Couples Counseling Will Work For You
How Do I Know If Couples Counseling Will Help? Making the decision to pick up the phone and call in a third party to help with your marriage is a pretty big step, and a weird one for many of us. It can feel like defeat. It’s as though asking for help is admitting […]
How Yoga Could Fix Your Marriage
Getting To Know Yourself One thing that continues to amaze me in counseling is how consistently people learn new things about themselves. I’ve seen it happen over and over again. Someone is extremely upset about something, yet they have no idea the depth of what is really wrong. It’s like we are deep, amazing oceans […]
How To Get Him To Come To Couple’s Counseling
Foot Dragging When couples first come to me for counseling, it is not unusual for the very first problem to be this: one person doesn’t want to be there. (It’s usually but not always a man, so for clarity’s sake I’ll use a man in this example.) The relationship is not working, something has been […]
This Mindset Shift Could Help You Feel More Confident
What’s The Goal? If you run a great race, feel wonderful, don’t pull any muscles, enjoy yourself and finish in the middle, did you win? Most people would say no. Unless I am first, or in the top few, am I a success? It’s up to the individual to decide. I kinda like the idea […]
Those Little Annoyances
“Are You Darth Vader?” For the zillionth time again last night, I woke up my husband in the middle of the night by pulling on his C-Pap mask and asking him what it was. Yep, I’m a sleep walker and talker. I am sure I need a sleep study myself. What’s even weirder is that […]
One Weird Trick to improve your relationship
I’m Not Like Them I hate those click bait things that promise one weird trick. Mostly because they suggest I need to “flatten my tummy” or “smooth my wrinkles.” Rude. I won’t click on anything that insults me. But I do have a trick, although I lied, it’s not weird at all. It’s just surprisingly […]
Fighting Over Something Stupid Again?
It Seems So Silly People who come to me for couples counseling are so often frustrated because they keep having battles over the dumbest things ever. Like when something happens and you suddenly feel upset but it looks trivial to the other person. You try to just let it go, but it keeps coming back. […]
What the heck are you waiting for?
Your Happiness Matters Okay, so you aren’t happy with the way things are. That’s not so bad, right? Everyone has to put up with bad stuff. True enough. Life can be full of awful stuff, and there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s a virtue to be able to put up with life’s hard […]
How to Make a Terrible Apology
I’m Sorry A sincere apology is probably one of the best relationship skills a person can have. But, just as a hammer can be a tool for building a nice house or a weapon used to cause great bodily harm, an apology is only as good as the intention behind it. If you’ve ever received […]
“We have nothing in common anymore.”
What’s The Real Problem? When couples first come in to see me, one of them often diagnoses the problem. They’ll say “we have nothing in common anymore.” The idea seems to be that people have “things in common,” at first. Then when that runs out, the relationship is kind of done. Makes sense. When you […]