Relationships


While traditionally recognized as a service for couples who are experiencing marital difficulties, marriage counseling can also be beneficial for couples ranging from newlyweds to those who’ve been married for decades. Beyond resolving any existing matters, these sessions can help avoid future conflicts by teaching you better communication skills and helping spouses communicate openly and honestly. Read on to learn more about the benefits of having a neutral party with a willing ear. 1. Learn to compromise. Couples can disagree about key issues such as finances, child rearing, intimacy, employment, and other serious decisions that must be made. When partners simply seem to find no middle ground on their own, seeking out a good marriage counselor can be a positive step. As an objective third-party observer with resolution skills, counselors can often help couples come to a resolution. 2. Vent safely. Some couples often have trouble speaking their mind, but those who do so can actually put their partners on the defense when venting—especially in haste. Whether one partner is holding back essential information or their true feelings, having a mediator such as a counselor can often help reluctant partners open up and share their thoughts, emotions, and even their fears, with one another. 3. Prevent skyrocketing problems. When troubles begin to rear their head in a marriage, it’s typically regarded as sound advice to seek some type of couples counseling right away. As experienced mediators, they often help couples get to the source of their issues and find solutions that prevent them from becoming larger ones that could irreparably harm—or end—a once solid relationship. Rather than waiting until your marriage is hanging on by a thread, seek out a professional counselor at the first signs of discord. 4. Learn effective communication. The ability to clearly communicate with one another in a respectful way is one of the most vital aspects of a healthy marriage. Couples need to understand how to both listen to and process information being presented by their partner and to do so without judgment, anger or resentment. Marriage counselors can help couples resolve their conflicts and express their feelings in healthy, productive ways. 5. Prevent divorce. The true cost of divorce reaches far beyond financial concerns. Considering the cost of separating your family, the disagreements that will ensue over assets and lawyer fees, it only seems wise to seek out a couples counselor before giving up hope. Most individuals are surprised to discover just how affordable couples counseling can be, and those who chose to invest are making a solid investment in the future of their relationship. If your budget is tight, most counselors are...

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While marriage counseling is helpful for people who are facing trouble in their marriage, it can also be beneficial for couples who want a healthy way to stay on track and prevent certain problems before they begin. Some people simply don’t have the skills needed to work through marriage problems on their own, or they want help maintaining their good relationship. Here are a few reasons why marriage counseling may be helpful for you and your significant other. 1. Learn how to be assertive. In a marriage, it’s important to be able to speak openly about your problems without worrying that you’ll hurt the other person. This isn’t an excuse to be cruel, but instead, it is a way to get across your point even if it’s difficult for your spouse to hear. Your marriage counselor will help you both find a way to get what you need and want without making demands or sparking a conflict. 2. Resolve Conflicts Healthily. A marriage counselor will teach you and your spouse how to communicate clearly and openly so that you can understand one another. Not only will you learn how to speak in a way that your spouse understands, but you’ll also learn how to listen to what your spouse has to say in return. You’ll both learn how to process what the other one is saying in order to avoid miscommunication and confusion. This will also help you both communicate your needs to one another in a clear way so as to avoid any anger or resentment. 3. Work toward overcoming issues. If you and your spouse seem to hit the same wall over and over again, your marriage counselor can help you move on from an unresolved problem. Even if you haven’t had luck working through the problem in the past, you may find that it’s easier to express your concerns and needs with the guidance of a professional. This process also may make it clear to you that your spouse is unwilling to do the work it will take to heal your marriage – in this case, you’ll have the information you need to decide whether or not you want to move forward with your relationship. 4. Discover your significant other. A huge part of being in a healthy relationship is understanding your spouse and both their desires and needs. At the same time, you’ll learn so much more about yourself and what your own needs are. Both of you will discover whether or not those needs are able to be met within your marriage; if they are, you’ll learn the tools and skills you need to meet...

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Forgiving, How Important Is It?


Posted By on May 27, 2017

Are you having challenges forgiving someone in your life?  Have you tried and it just keeps coming back? We all have someone in our life that has hurt us and we have trouble letting it go.  My first husband years ago left me for another woman and I was six months pregnant.  He walked out for good and did not want to take responsibility for being a father.  I was left alone to raise my son.  I had help from my very supportive family, but I was so bitter and angry for 2 years, that I had trouble moving on with my life. I realized over time that He could care less about me and what I was going through.  I wanted him to feel the pain that he had caused me and I wanted him to suffer.  Through reading and therapy, I realized that I was developing a victim mentality and not taking responsibly for my life.  I was giving all my power away to him, somehow thinking I was making him pay for what he did, but in reality I was the one reliving the pain everyday. I heard recently that not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and then expecting them to die.  Forgiving means accepting the pain that the person has caused us, letting go of bitterness and anger and moving on.  It is like getting hit by a car and getting a broken leg.  We can blame the driver all we want, but we are responsible for accepting the situation, knowing that life is not fair, and then making the best of it.  Through the pain of life not always being fair, we grow and mature. Never let the reason for difficulty be an excuse for helplessness. Forgiving is not easy and it is an act of the will.  We have to choose to forgive and accept the pain the other person has caused us.  We cannot forget, but we can choose to forgive and move on with our lives and learn from the experience. For every tragedy in our lives, there is a window of opportunity. I would not want to go through the pain, I went through, when my first husband left, again, but looking back, I would not change the experience for anything.  I learned so much about myself through the process of taking responsibility for my life and realizing that pain can be good, because we develop the tools we need to grow and manage life better.  I am much more confident and I know that I can survive enormous amount of pain and survive.  I have chosen to be...

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Cognitive distortions are things that we believe as truth, but they are not reality.  If we live our life based on our cognitive distortions, it will hinder us from living a productive, healthy life.  That is why it is important to be aware of cognitive distortions, so we can check our thinking and work on changing those false beliefs about ourselves and the world we live in. There are basically 15 cognitive distortions that have been named by David Burns, MD who works at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.  He is a psychiatrist and has written many books.  My favorites are “Feeling Good”, and “When Panic Attacks”. These are 15 Cognitive Distortions: 1. Filtering. We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. 2. Polarized Thinking (or “Black and White” Thinking). In polarized thinking, things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure. 3. Overgeneralization.In this cognitive distortion, we come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or a single piece of evidence. 4. Jumping to Conclusions. Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. 5. Catastrophizing. We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing. 6. Personalization. Personalization is a distortion where a person believes that everything others do or say is some kind of direct, personal reaction to the person. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. 7. Control Fallacies. If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?” 8. Fallacy of Fairness. We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us when we’re growing up and something doesn’t go our way, “Life isn’t always fair.” 9. Blaming. We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. 10. Shoulds. We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. 11. Emotional Reasoning. We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and...

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John and Julie Gottman, through their working with couples for over 40 years, have found that couples who have shared rituals have stronger relationships. Planning fun events together as a couple creates shared meaning.  Intentionally looking for things that you both enjoy and then following through with planning and doing them helps focus on the positive and creates the opportunity to connect. One of the rituals that my husband and I do, after work, is set in our spa and share about our day.  We feel relaxed when we get out and then enjoy dinner together.  It helps set the stage for a nice evening. Another ritual we have is going to a small little town in Northern California for our anniversary almost every year.  We take our bikes and enjoy the weekend eating out and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Those are just two of our rituals for connection. What rituals of connection do you share with your spouse and family?  If you do not have any, then talk about rituals you can create to look forward to and connect.  If you are a young family, decide what rituals you want to create that are unique for just your family.  Do you have traditions around the holidays that you want to pass on to your children and what knew ones do you want to incorporate with the old. Looking forward to a planned event keeps your relationship moving forward in a positive direction.  Plan vacations together or just spending an evening together with friends or alone is important in keeping the vitality of your relationship healthy.  Be creative in thinking about different fun things you can do together.  Geocaching is a great way to get outside and enjoy the nice weather, you can download the app and learn how to play, if you haven’t already. For more ideas on how to create rituals in your relationship go to Gottman Institute and check out their web site.  They have great tools to help connect as a couple or as a family. Enjoy. Vickie Parker, MFT vickiemft.com...

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