Feeling a bit at odds with your mate? Like you’ve been at each others’ throats about small, trivial things? You may wish your partner was less irritable, more enjoyable, and more fun--like they used to be. But, it can feel like a daunting task and downright powerless to sit around hoping and waiting for the other person to change, especially after you’ve repeated yourself over and over again. While there aren't any quick-fixes, here are some simple, but effective strategies that YOU can implement turn your relationship around this week.
Apologizing is no easy feat. I work with many couples, families, and individuals who are hurting, and want their loved ones to recognize their hurt, and expect an apology in some capacity. But, why is apologizing so hard to do? And if we don’t mean it, should we still apologize? We have conceptualized apologizing as a vehicle for admitting we are wrong, smoothing things over, or giving in, any of which signify that we may be weak. Contrary to popular belief, it takes great strength and courage to dare to apologize, and here is guide for when to do it, and how to do it well.
The majority of couples that I work with (and even individuals) tell me that communication is a struggle for them. Either they don’t feel heard or understood, or they can’t keep a simple disagreement from escalating to unhealthy levels, or they feel like what they say isn’t important. HOW you argue is more important that HOW OFTEN you argue. If you have daily spats, but are able to address them quickly and create a resolve, that can be more healthy than arguing once a month, but never resolving the issue and communicating in a way that harms the relationship. One of the first steps in learning to communicate clearly and effectively is understanding what to eliminate in your communication style.
If you are recently engaged, approaching engagement, or considering marriage to your partner, you may have heard of pre-marital counseling. These days, it is not uncommon for pastors or certain churches to require it of couples before they walk down the aisle together. If you are wondering how it works, or what to expect from the process, here is a glimpse into how I work with premarital couples.
Perhaps you’re considering working with a couples therapist to improve your relationship, but may be wondering how it works. Here’s a bit about what you can expect to learn when you work with a therapist that specializes in working with couples and relationships.
Recently, on social media, a mother’s account about the ever-changing role in motherhood caught the attention of mothers across the world. The article was titled
Recently, on social media, a mother’s account about the ever-changing role in motherhood caught the attention of mothers across the world. The article was titled “When Did I Last Wash Your Hair?” It revealed how we often forget to savor the small moments in our relationships with our children, and how this mother didn’t know that the last time she washed her daughter’s hair would be the last time. She went on to state:
“Why didn’t I know it was the last time? If I would have known, I would have done a better job, or made it last longer, or kissed her head or something. I would have DONE SOMETHING!”
Further into the article, she discussed how she was afforded a second chance after her daughter fractured her wrist, transforming her independent daughter into someone who, once again, needed her mother’s help. She was able to wash her daughter’s hair with a new perspective:
the wisdom to know that every moment is sacred if we can slow down enough to see it.
This article made me think about the clients I work with. We are often so plagued by the annoyances and nuances of our partners, that we forget to view each moment as sacred. We begin to view them through the lens that makes them the enemy, not the ally. We sometimes distance emotionally and physically.
I often work with couples who are trying to survive an affair, and typically the first response is anger and hurt. This is normal, valid, and important to process through. But sometimes what happens is we begin to create a dynamic where the adulterer is the problem, the bad guy, the one to blame, and the perpetrator so to speak, making the other partner the victim. The “victim” can certainly feel “victimized”, shocked, betrayed, and blindsided, and it is easy to sit in that pain, sometimes becoming paralyzed by it.
It is important to note that affairs (whether emotional or sexual) are usually an attempt to solve a problem in the relationship, and are essentially a cry for help. Healing can begin and trust can be re-established especially when both parties are willing to take a hard look at how they shaped the relationship, and how the affair made sense in context. Taking a look at some hard truths requires us to take accountability for our behaviors (or lack thereof) and how we may have drifted from bringing our best version of ourselves to our relationship table. Our relationships often serves as a mirror for us and reflect back what we are putting into the relationship.
What does this have to do with the article I mentioned before? Being willing to slow down and see each moment as sacred can change the way we see our romantic relationships. Some of the clients I work with finally reach this point and are brave enough to see past the anger and hurt and examine those hard truths. Sometimes they say things like this:
“I was so hurt that my husband cheated on me and we finally sat down to talk after being apart for some time. When I looked at him, I noticed his skin was rough and his toenails had not been clipped. I realized, I used to take care of those things for him, and now I can’t remember the last time I clipped his toenails or rubbed lotion on his body.”
“Before bed, I used to always make my husband sandwiches for lunch the next day. He never appreciated me. I felt like he didn’t need me, so I stopped making his sandwiches. I don’t remember the last time I made him a sandwich.”
“When I was dating my wife, I made sure to compliment her. She was so beautiful and fun and sexy. After we got married, it was great because she knew I felt that way about her and I didn’t have to remind her all the time. We didn’t have to talk about it. But I can’t tell you the last time I looked at her, you know, really looked at her, and told her all the things I found beautiful or attractive about her.”
When was the last time I washed your hair?
When was the last time I clipped your nails, or put lotion on you, or made you lunch, or told you that you were beautiful, or held your hand and kissed you just because?
Whether those questions regard your child or your spouse, I invite you to dig deeper and be willing to answer them. Be willing to slow down and appreciate those moments. Be willing to continue taking care of those who need us, whether they seem to appreciate it or not. Be willing to not just HAVE love; be willing to DO love, BE love, and MAKE love.
Ready to go deeper? Whether you’re healing from an affair, trying to affair-proof your marriage, or just trying to be more present in your relationship, call today at 678-796-8255 for a consult or schedule online 24/7.