General

5 Ways to Make Love Thrive

You may have discovered that despite your best intentions, you can’t control the course of love. While the experience of love is replete with awe and wonder, how to create conditions for it is not a great mystery. Rather than exhaust ourselves trying to control people, we’d be wiser to make skillful efforts to create these five conditions, culled over 35 years of being a marriage and family therapist.
Mindfulness

John Gottman, a psychologist an author of
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General

These 3 Lists Can Help Singles Find a Great Mate

Accomplishing any goal is usually a step by step process, starting with gaining clarity about just
what we want. Yet too many people do not give the first step sufficient care. If your goal is a good marriage, it can be helpful to first identify qualities you need in a marriage partner.     

Gaining Clarity   

I ask participants in my “Marry with Confidence” workshops for women to make three lists:
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Anger

Transforming My Angry Tightness

Last year, my husband Jon wanted me to do something I didn’t want to do. Jon promised his father they would speak on the phone at a certain time. So I had to leave Connecticut earlier than I wanted (to find cell phone reception), cutting short my lovely Sunday afternoon in the country. I felt myself get “tight” in my body, angry at having to make the accommodation.

I am not proud of my selfish reaction. Nevertheless I was powerless to stop it. My body tightened and I pushed back, asking Jon in a complaining voice, “What’s the big deal if you talk to your dad later?” But Jon insisted, claiming he made a promise he wanted to keep. So we rushed out the door.

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ADHD and ADD

How to Prioritize Your Life When You Have ADHD, Part 1

Prioritizing may seem simple enough. You figure out what you need to do, when you need to do it, and then you do it. But there are actually many steps and processes involved in prioritizing your life. These include everything from paying and shifting attention to planning to getting organized to making decisions to taking action -- all of which also involve multiple steps within each piece. And all these parts and pieces are challenging for people with ADHD because of impairments in executive functioning.

That means that it’s important to have good strategies in place that take those obstacles into account. First, it’s important to identify what’s really troubling you about prioritizing. As ADHD coach Casey Dixon, PCC, BCC, said, are you struggling with knowing your priorities or following through on your priorities? Because these will require very different strategies.
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Anxiety and Panic

Living with an Anxious Spouse

All couples have their share of life challenges or issues throughout their relationship. However, when one spouse has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the couple faces a whole new set of challenges. Normal, everyday life issues seem to become exaggerated and can inevitably put a significant strain on the relationship.

Living with an anxiety disorder is typically associated with a great deal of personal distress, but it can be just as hard on the partners of those diagnosed with anxiety. Their significant others often take on more than the normal share of financial burden, household responsibilities, and emotional support.

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General

Success Tips for Later-in-Life Marriages

“So what’s the secret for a good marriage?” asked my friend Ellen, who’s seventy-two. She’s stayed unmarried since her early twenties, when she divorced her physically abusive ex-husband.

“Choose wisely and learn what it takes to succeed in marriage,” I answered instinctively.

While this advice applies to people of all ages, it’s helpful to recognize special challenges of later-in-life marriages so we can deal with them constructively. The three to be addressed here involve money, sex, and “unfinished business.”
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Family

The #1 Way You Antagonize Your Partner

When you’re in a relationship, you’re always trying to neutralize conflict. You’re always working to calm emotional flare-ups and meet eye-to-eye. You likely have the best of intentions -- you just want to quell fights before they do real damage to the relationship. Unfortunately, one of the ways in which you’re attempting to reduce conflict is likely backfiring.

What’s the one way you try to pacify your partner that’s actually making him or her angrier? It’s telling them to “get over it” and “move on.” 
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Caregivers

Caregiving: Trading Solitude for a New Place of Wholeness


For many years, I looked to solitude as a sacred space for nurturing my soul. My routine was to get up early, retreat to a small desk by a window, light a candle, and then meditate while waiting for the sun to rise. I found this morning ritual deeply satisfying and helpful in setting an intention for the day. I never posted an actual “Do not disturb” sign, but I certainly relished this time alone for meditating, reflecting, and journal writing.

But then things changed. My husband became chronically ill, and I became his caregiver. This meant being available and responsive to his needs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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Marriage and Divorce

4 Ways to Get to Know Your Partner on a Deeper Level

The longer we’ve been with our partners, the more we may assume we know everything there is to know about them. (Of course we don’t. Because we are ever-evolving. There's always something new to learn, to explore, to understand. People change their minds, their careers, their beliefs, their hobbies. Different circumstances shape us differently.) Or maybe we don’t even think about this because we’re so focused on managing day-to-day tasks. Which might very well keep us very busy.

But, “how can we love someone we don’t know?” said Lily Zehner, EdD, MFT-C, a Denver-based therapist who specializes in sex, intimacy and relationships. “To love your partner is to truly know them.”

What does it mean to truly know your partner?
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Anxiety and Panic

How Childhood Trauma Affects Adult Relationships

Childhood experiences are crucial to our emotional development. Our parents, who are our primary attachment figures, play an important role in how we experience the world because they lay the foundation of what the world is going to look like for us. Is it a safe place to explore and take emotional risks? Are all people out to hurt us and therefore untrustworthy? Can we lean on important people in our lives to support us in times of emotional need?

Complex trauma refers to prolonged exposure to a stressful event. This would include children who have grown up in physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abusive households. Without the safety net of a secure attachment relationship, children grow up to become adults who struggle with feelings of low self-worth and challenges with emotional regulation. They also have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety.
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Family

Loneliness Has an Antidote and You’ll Never Guess What It Is

I’m somebody who’s struggled with feelings of loneliness my whole life. It’s a big part of why I decided to become a relationship coach. I wanted to understand why some of my relationships felt more substantial than others. I wanted to understand why sometimes I relished being alone, yet other times being alone evoked feelings of profound sadness.

The question I wanted to answer was this: What makes some relationships feel better than others? It was a mystery I was determined to solve.
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General

How to Better Understand Your Partner

All of us want to be seen, heard and understood. We especially want this from our partners. We want our partners to say, Yes, I am listening. Yes, I get it. Yes, I understand your pain. I’m sorry it hurts, and I am here. We want our partners to be interested in and to care about what’s happening inside our hearts.

Wanting to be seen and heard and understood are basic human needs.

In fact, one of the most common complaints relationship therapist Rebecca Wong, LCSW, hears from her clients is that they don’t feel this from their partners -- even though it’s powerful and vital for healthy relationships. “Feeling seen, heard and understood leads to deeper intimacy and relational growth.” When we don’t have this, we feel rejected and like we don’t matter, which can fracture our relationship over time, she said.
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