Learn how to fight fair in your relationship, heal your partner with an apology, stop defending yourself and blaming one another for relationship issues, understand the differences between cheating and micro-cheating and why it matters, quickly increase intimacy with your partner, understand why you might feel lonely in your relationship, manage anxiety in your family, and what to expect from couples therapy!
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In our intimate partnerships, we may try hard to connect, wish to be heard, feel understood, ask for change, and validate all of those things. Yet we might be met with resistance.
We start asking Why, Why, Why questions ...
Why are you so defensive?
Why won’t you listen to me?
Why won’t you talk to me?
Why can’t we work on this?
Then things likely escalate, and our partner sounds even more defensive, which might make us feel attacked, so we become more defensive too! Round and round and round we go. So, the dance of disconnection continues. Sound familiar?
Well, the good news is that there are many places we can break the cycle in this chain of reactivity. This Blog will highlight one opportunity with how to eliminate the Why, Why, Why.
Most phone calls to a couples counselor come when the romance has faded, and the power struggle stage has set in.
Of course, we wish everyone would call during the time the glow was still on, but realistically who calls for help when they still think that their sweetheart is perfect?
The "wonderfully organized" person in the honeymoon phase later becomes the "control freak" in the power struggle. The "free spirit" of romance becomes the "hopeless flake" we now live with daily. And so it goes, in some version, for all of us.
No one really leaves a relationship because the other is a flake, or too controlling. Couples give up because they don't want to keep arguing about the issues. They don't know how to resolve their differences without frustrating and often painful conflict.
Have you heard about micro-cheating? Here's how it's different than physical or emotional cheating.
Monogamy falls on a continuum. It goes from totally closed—meaning no sexual, sensual, or emotional connection with anyone outside of a marriage or committed partnership—to totally open, with both partners agreeing to explore sexual, sensual fully, and emotional connections outside of their relationship. But there are ways to cheat that fall somewhere in the cracks of these definitions. These avoidant techniques are outside of your explicit monogamy agreement and are called micro-cheating.
Micro-cheating happens when you consciously create small opportunities for physical or emotional or affectionate behaviors that fall outside the bonded relationship. Micro-cheating can happen without sex.
Micro-cheating can happen when both partners are present. Micro-cheating can even happen with total openness, where both partners are aware of the behavior or the micro-cheating behavior with others.
What are some signs that you are micro-cheating? Do you know?[Read more...]
Giving an apology is a gift we offer to our partner, to recognize we have hurt them, and that their pain matters to us, big or small. But how its expressed makes all the difference.
How do we apologize in a way that truly heals our partner?
The first step is to put your own story aside and only see the experience through your partner's eyes. This means taking ownership of your part without equivocation or defensiveness.
Here are some suggestions to help...[Read more...]
Did you know that nearly one in three kids between the ages of 13 to 18 now meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder? In addition, 32% of teens report persistent feelings of sadness or loneliness. Many factors contribute to this escalation. With COVID-19 taking over our lives, their anxiety levels can be even higher!
During “normal” times, they were already dealing with screen addiction and the constant comparison to unrealistically “perfect” lives of peers on social media. Teens combat online bullying, lack of sleep, the pressure to achieve, media influencers, political turmoil, and the possibility of a school shooting when school is in session.
Many of these environmental factors are out of our control. As anxiety mounts in society, it mounts in individuals and families. It is cumulative, and passed down from parents to children, generation to generation. The attitude or action of one person in a family or group affects everyone else.
If you are in a relationship, you know how that works! In couples therapy, we ask individuals to imagine what their own contribution to the conflict might be. It’s essential to think about how the other person receives one’s behavior. So, what might be the main reason we see more anxiety in children? They are absorbing our distress!
Often, problems within the couple relationship impact the children. Without the cognitive skills to communicate how they feel, kids can act out their anxiety in disturbing ways. If family anxiety gets high enough, the impact can be severe. The focus then becomes on the child. Ideally, we would address the anxiety we carry as adults before it impacts the child.
Are you married now? If not, have you thought about being married? Do you ever wonder how you can have a lasting marriage? Do you want to remarry but are unsure it's right?
Think about how much work you put into preparing for a career. Weddings, as well, often take a large amount of planning and preparation.
Isn't it interesting that preparation is often not part of the picture when it comes to your marriage?
Preparation and education are vital to a lasting marriage. Here are some essential steps to explore and share with your partner before and after your wedding...[Read more...]
At face value, there is no greater mystery and irony than being with another person in an intimate relationship and feeling completely alone.
A large part of feeling lonely in relationships relates to cultural, commercial, and advertising messages. We are told through greeting card companies, popular music, romanticism about weddings and couples’ resorts, classic literature, and more than being a couple is the highest relational goal.
This romantic standard planned for in our childhood includes ideas such as:
"When I have a boyfriend, I will be happy."
"When I have a girlfriend, I'll be complete!"
"When I get engaged, I'll be happy forever!"
"When I get married, I'll never be lonely again!"
Cultural messages perpetuate the myth that our future life of official marriage, engagement, or cohabitation will automatically equal a lifelong feeling of closeness. This creates an unrealistic expectation that to achieve and maintain the connection in our relationships, we don't need to participate in every stage actively. Hence the term, “Happily Ever after…”
In Imago Relationship Theory, we encourage the concept and practice of an intentional and conscious relationship. This means that we help each partner understand that their relationship is an active, organic, and dynamic creation.
Congratulations! If you are reading this, you have probably decided to seek help for your relationship. And this is often a difficult decision.
If things are not going well in our intimate relationships, it can feel like a very personal failing.
Many of us prefer to do things on our own or feel that it is a weakness to seek help from others.
Relationships are like any other endeavor – we need to have knowledge and skills to be successful!
What should you expect from Couples Therapy?
We hope you've enjoyed reading our Imago health and wellness blogs & tips this month. If you love quizzes, be sure to check out our Imago Relationships Quizzes!
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