• Misconceptions about marital therapy

    Yet another great article on the Gottman Institute website has been posted. The Gottmans are the gurus of marital research and therapy whose collective work has been positively impacting marriages for four decades! They influence countless marital counselors who attempt to assist people in the improvement of this amazing union called marriage. Please read the attached article about the stigma and misconceptions surrounding marital counseling.

    It’s Time to Stop the Stigma Around Couples Therapy

    Are you taking a reactive, rather than a proactive approach to any marital problems you may be having? Don’t allow common misconceptions to prevent you from pursuing a long-lasting, fulfilling marriage.

     

  • Anger isn’t all that you’re feeling

    photo credit: edenpictures Mad Look via photopin (license)

    Have you ever found that your marital arguments go nowhere…well, nowhere that’s useful or constructive? Do you ever find that your anger intensifies to the point of character attacks toward you partner or “hitting them where it hurts?” Well, welcome to a common malady wherein your anger amps up because you feel unheard and largely misunderstood by your spouse.

    Let me tell you a story. One beautiful summer evening, Bob and I were at home getting ready to meet some friends for dinner. He pulled out a shirt to wear and decided that its wrinkled condition wasn’t bad enough to warrant not wearing it, so we finished getting ready, he in his wrinkled shirt and me in a perfectly summery outfit, and left the house to meet our friends. When we arrived at the restaurant, one of our friends met us by playfully poking fun at Bob for having a wrinkled shirt. Bob’s sarcastic response was, “Yea, Lori’s great at ironing.” In my case, for whatever reason, my response was steeped in anger because that was the emotion right in front of me; that’s the emotion that was “easy” to access.

    Thankfully, this is NOT a true story (I’m so grateful that Bob would NEVER do such a thing!), but the point that follows remains. I think a great many women (at least) would be able to understand that I would feel as though Bob threw me under a very large bus, causing my anger to be salient, BUT, if I want Bob to truly understand me, understand what I really feel, I would have to become vulnerable and tap into the emotion that’s fueling my anger. If this were a true story, perhaps I’d feel woundedness. Perhaps I’d feel guilt because I feel I SHOULD have ironed his shirt. Embarrassment is also a possibility. I may have felt all of the above. In ANY true scenario, once I discover the feeling that’s deeper than my anger, I can then GENTLY expose my raw heart to Bob allowing him to understand the underlying feeling. If I remain on the level of guarded anger, he’ll never know what I feel deep down and we’ll never grow beyond that surface level of intimacy.

    Anger is valid and cannot be minimized, but by becoming vulnerable and mining for what’s beneath the anger, we allow ourselves to be heard and understood by our spouse, which grows our intimacy. We are hopefully better understood (and understand ourselves better) after such an encounter and perhaps in the future, we won’t allow our anger to become our first response.

    Is there a great deal of anger in your relationship? Do you find that it seems to be the only way you and your spouse communicate? Consider what’s fueling your anger and become vulnerable enough to share it with your spouse.

     

  • Perception trumps intention
    photo credit: Neil Coulter via photopin (license)

    photo credit: Neil Coulter via photopin (license)

    I have advised countless couples that come into my office for counseling that their INTENTION in word or deed toward their spouse is far less important than their spouse’s PERCEPTION of what was said or done. I say this not to minimize a possibly positive intention, but to assist the couple in realizing that their actions have to be considered through the lens of the other couple member.

    This notion is especially true when we’ve spoken or acted in ways toward our spouse for years without an ill intent, but then realize that they don’t see it as such a benign word or deed. Once this is realized (sometimes through the help of a marital counselor), we then MUST attempt to step into their shoes to feel what they might feel.

    Here’s a practical example and application. If my husband perceives that I’m parenting him, even if I had zero intention of doing so, his perception remains. If he can then articulate that perception, then it’s now my responsibility to understand his perception in order to apologize and attempt to improve our future interactions. If this doesn’t happen and negative perceptions continue and become entrenched, the problematic interactions are much more difficult to repair.

    We DO need to have the best of intentions toward others, most of all our spouses; however, we also need to understand that his or her perception of any interaction will be the thing we’ll need to examine, discuss and attempt to heal, if necessary.

    How well and how often do you attempt to see things through your spouse’s lens?

     

  • I’m a lady with sex in mind

    Wives can be a lady AND an exciting sexual partner. It’s true! What goes on in your bedroom can be wild, fun and downright HOT, but the minute you step into the world, you can be classy, courteous, agreeable and all the things that make you, YOU! (…and you can even think SEXY thoughts about your marriage bed while out in the world!)

    Women tend to wear MANY hats. We are wives, mothers, sisters, friends AND lovers. We can play all of these roles and still have sexy thoughts and wild bedroom behavior. We’re sexual beings that were created to enjoy sex. It’s not dirty or obligatory and thinking of your spouse in a sexual way in and outside the bedroom is one way to keep your sex life vibrant.

    So be all that you are in this world. Be the lady you strive to be AND go ahead and wear those undergarments that make you feel desirable! Go ahead and think about the next sexual encounter with your spouse! Your marriage bed will be all the better for it!

    Have you had a sexy thought about your spouse today?