On this Valentine’s day eve, I’m thinking of those couples whose disconnection is weighing even more heavily. As if the daily reminders weren’t hard enough, this holiday can a quite the twist of the knife. I trust that you can find countless articles about the 10 special ways to celebrate Valentine’s day, but when you are sitting in disconnection it can be a real challenge to get through the day. Here is some perspective from a couples therapist.
It's been about 6 weeks and your OBGYN has given you the thumbs up to resume sex and other activities. You have mixed feelings about having sex again. Your partner has been mostly patient over the last few months, but also dropping hints about wanting to get it on again. Meanwhile, you cannot even fathom how there's anything sexy about you right now (sleepless and covered in spit up), yet there's still a part of you that misses the playful sex of yesteryear.
Identifying your defenses that guard against some underlying uncomfortable feelings is very important if you want to break the negative cycle you are caught in together. There are four key defenses that we use; John Gottman refers to them as “The Four Horsemen.” They are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. They are interconnected and build on each other. The good news is that once you recognize them in yourself, you can do something about it.
Parenting stress and the fall-out from it is one of the many reasons why couples seeks therapy. When I work with couples/parents, I often remind them that going through these challenges together will only reinforce their bond and commitment. Here are a few strategies to cope with the stress of parenthood.
Transitioning to parenthood is one of the greatest challenges that most couples face. We read every book available about the growing baby, research the best cribs or nursery accessories, but don't take the time to talk and prepare for how becoming parents will affect the relationship. Here are three signs that parenting stress is affecting your relationship/marriage
And yet, what often brings couples to counseling are those very changes that seem so intolerable and unexpected: "He's so irresponsible with money", "She's so disorganized", "He's so illusive, I can't seem to get a straight answer from him", "She flirts with other people" .... And in the sea of complaints and finger-pointing, deep down I know that most of the complaints are not truly surprises once the person starts to think about how their partner was when they first got together.
Based on the research of Dr. John Gottman and his famous Marriage Clinic, couples wait on average of 6 years from the time marital tensions began to the time they seek professional help. So between our misconceptions of who, why couples seek therapy, along with our apparent ability to tolerate a least 6 years worth of marital disconnection, when is actually a good time to seek couples therapy before it's too late? Here are a few pointers.
It usually starts pretty innocently: a text exchange, a reconnection via Facebook, a regular coffee date to catch up, but before you know it, you're sharing more personal information with this other person than your spouse or significant other. While everyone should be entitled to have a private life outside of their core intimate relationship, how do you know if you've entered the world of emotional affairs? Here are a few tell-tale signs.
All relationships entail some degree of power dynamics. If you're in a marriage where things are relatively equal (either you agree on almost every decision or you have consciously agreed that you will each have your departments of decision-making power) then you're not feeling a constant push and pull. But I see a lot couples with power imbalances that can become real relationship killers.