Category Archives: Relationships

Tips on understanding & strengthening your relationships

Make Valentines Day Last A Whole Lot Longer….

In celebration of your love, why not give your partner the gift of understanding? Would that you could, right? The traditional problem with relationships is that opposites attract, men are not like women and each one is sure that the other is crazy. So you give them jewelery or flowers or whatever you saw on TV and hope that he or she knows what you want it to convey – and then you cross your fingers.

Well, that method has been used for years and while it might keep you out of the dog house, it rarely changes a flailing relationship for the better. What can? Couples coaching or counseling. There is a science to successful relationships just like there is to most interactions. Counseling is not “personal advice giving”. It is a science based on human personality types, communication and brain styles, family systems and reasonable expectations. While spiritual beliefs certainly shore up many relationships, the working tools need to be in place to give people specific tools that they can use in daily situations.

We find that most couples really love each other but  are having a hard time communicating. Yes, I know you’ve heard that finances are the number one cause of marriages breaking up. We’re not sure about that. It’s more likely that when people can’t get their partner’s attention to their feelings, they start talking back through their bank accounts & credit cards. That usually gets them a reaction, just not a positive one.

Counseling works to tune up a relationship as well as to revive a failing one. Learn how to see your partner’s strengths and understand and support their weaknesses. Learn how to get what you want and need from your relationship, especially because you want to have many more Valentines Days!

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How to reduce “Baby-Mama” drama

Probably one of the most intense of dramas that frequent the therapy office is that of distraught, frustrated folks trying to co-parent. They rely on the court, the visitation schedule, the child support orders to communicate their interpersonal pain.

One can’t understand why the other left the relationship but they can understand how to make visitation difficult. One may have trouble being heard in person but they can make themselves heard through a subpoena. Often they don’t realize they are playing out dramas from their own childhoods – issues they can’t or don’t know to address. This is an instance when employing a therapist to mediate and facilitate more effective communication between estranged partners is a child-saving decision.

As early in the process as possible, begin using these steps to reduce the drama:

1.  Set a good intention in place around your interactions. Be determined to be courteous no matter what.  Remember, your kids are watching you. For example, say something like, “I really appreciate your patience in working on this” or “I want us to come up with a schedule that works for both of us”.
Or, how about a big intention like, “We are not going to let our relationship problems make our kids miserable or constantly worried. If nothing else, we’re going to keep them out of the drama”.

2. Stay calm. Give your co-parent an “out” when the situation gets tense. Try keeping a calm, low voice tone and say, “I can see this is so upsetting for you. Maybe we should think about it a little more and talk in a couple of days”.

3. Acknowledge your co-parent’s strengths and best efforts. “You’ve always been better at scheduling than I. I’m so glad that the baby can always depend on you….” or “You are such a good mother. Johnnie’s clothes are always so well organized. I really appreciate that!”

Now, you might be thinking, “Why should I make him or her look good when he or she has been such a jerk?” Because it makes you look even better. It also gives you some power over the situation, since if you’re kind or appreciative, your ex-partner might calm down and be nicer to you.

Try it! Consider it to be your own personal research into what will make your life easier.  Try different approaches and make note of what works better. Remember, there can’t be an argument if you won’t participate.

For a great resource to help you handle custody & support issues, check out attorney Alicia Crowe’s manual, Real Dads Stand Up