Is free online marriage counseling possible?

You can find just about anything online these days, what about free online marriage counseling?  There are no shortages of articles, forums, advice columns and chats to read and participate in. While there is a lot of great information to be found, there’s also much misinformation from folks who have no place giving it out. So how do you separate the good, bad and the ugly?

Focus on marriage education programs, these kinds of programs offer real, practical skills for making changes in your relationship. Look for articles written by professionals associated with the program to give you a sense for whether or not they are reputable, trained and can teach you something. Marriage education programs often offer some amount of material for free and then if you want to continue you can pay a small fee.

free online marriage counseling

Understand that the most important thing you can do to fix a relationship is to fix yourself. There is a “fundamental law of relational theory” according to Psychiatrist Marina Benjamin “that when any part of a system changes, the entire system will be forced to change.” What this means is that the more you are able to effect positive change on yourself, the more your relationship will move in that direction. Marriage education programs are perfect for situations where one spouse is interested in working and the other is resistant. Continue reading ‘Is free online marriage counseling possible?’

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Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.

Communication in marriage is a really important part of keeping your sex life active and fulfilling.  In a recent survey put together by YourTango and Trojan 1,055 parents were asked about their sex life post kids. Respondents answered 35 questions about their sex life. The info graphic below sums up the results quite well. While some of the results were to be expected, parents are tired and have much less time than they did prior to having children. What was surprising is that 40% of respondents said their communication was better post kids. So what role does communication in marriage play in your post kids sex life?  Continue reading ‘Communication in marriage is key for sex after kids.’

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Using social media to help my marriage.

In an effort to help my marriage I recently deleted Facebook off my smart phone. It’s not that I have any problem with social media, it’s just the way I was engaging with it. Using my (limited) free time to scroll through endless pages of updates, photos and mundane details of my friends lives was mostly just a distraction.  Occasionally interesting, more often though just kind of boring and ripe for unhealthy comparison.  The biggest problem was that I was ignoring who was sitting next to me. I noticed this unfortunate trend during one point in particular, the first quiet moment after the kids went to sleep and my husband and I sat down on the sofa for what felt like the first time in 12 hours.  Out of sheer habit we would both grab our smart phones or the tablet and drift off into social media land. While checking in on everyone else’s day I missed an opportunity to check in with the person who mattered to me the most, my husband. We all know the relationship pitfalls of social media, getting back in touch with an EX, making new connections outside your relationship, seemingly harmless flirting. All of these activities can spell disaster for your relationship, but can you use social media for relationship good? Here are some ways I use social media to help my marriage and you can too, because after all we live in a highly social time and there is no reason to ignore the positives that can come from the many ways we have to stay connected. So here are a few ideas:

1) Have a couple or family Facebook page that you share just between your immediate loved ones.  You can use it to share pictures, funny stories or encouraging words.  Plan a vacation and use your page to share ideas.  Keep each other posted on what you are up to.  The trick with this one is to keep it totally private! Continue reading ‘Using social media to help my marriage.’

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10 ways to rekindle love in your relationship

Time flies, days are busy, filled with work, school, play, family, community and so much more.  How much time is left for your marriage?  The answer to this question will certainly vary as lives change, families grow or other hurdles come along.  Remembering some (seriously) simple ideas to rekindle love in your marriage will shift the trend in the right direction!

1. Declare your love!

2. Agree with something your spouse has said.

3. Pitch in and help with something you don’t usually do in the household. Continue reading ’10 ways to rekindle love in your relationship’

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Want to stop fighting before it happens? Have a snack.

Want to stop fighting with your spouse?  Maybe low blood sugar is a factor. Remember that snickers commercial where the guy at the party is grouchy and disgruntled, his wing man comes over and offers him a snickers and after the first bite he is transformed into a charming and friendly guy?  It’s a silly idea, often referred to as being “hangry” and while anecdotal information abounds on this topic, turns out there is truth to the idea that low blood sugar can result in higher incidents of aggression in a marriage.  In a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Brad Bushman gave 107 married couples voodoo dolls to represent their spouse, blood glucose levels were measured and participants were then asked to put pins in the dolls.  The end result…the lower the blood sugar, the more pins stuck in the dolls. So what is this really about? Will low blood sugar cause more arguments? Continue reading ‘Want to stop fighting before it happens? Have a snack.’

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Sexless marriage? What are you to do?

Sex in a marriage can be a touchy subject, especially when you aren’t having much—or any at all.  According to a 2002 Newsweek article, 15 to 20% of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which is considered a sexless marriage. There are many things that could lead a couple to this situation. Daily stressors like kids, jobs and finances can make it difficult to connect, while decreased libido for hormonal reasons, depression, and a whole host of other day-to-day challenges can make sex the last thing on your list of priorities. So what do you do if intimacy is waning in your marriage? 

Here are a few simple steps you can take to invite more intimacy into your relationship:

Dress to impress. Put a little effort into your physical appearance at home. Do you put on your comfy, worn in Pjs as soon as you settle in for the night?  Think about what your partner finds physically attractive and put a little effort towards looking and feeling attractive.

Schedule It! When time slips away and you find yourselves letting intimacy fall off the radar, put it on the calendar.  Spontaneity has its place, and so does a well-planned roll in the hay.

sexlessmarriage

Increase Positivity. Keep negative comments (especially ones about physical appearance) out of the conversation. Express gratitude; the more positivity you create the greater the warmth and tenderness in your relationship.

Disconnect to Connect. Turn off the television, computer, Kindle, and iPad. Media in the evenings can be a real intimacy killer.  Instead, find an activity you can share; talk, listen to music, or go for a walk. Spending quality time together can help you reconnect.

Go to Bed Early (and together).  Rather than watching television until you are both tired wrecks, go to bed when you still have some energy left for you spouse.

Sleep Naked. Climbing into bed in your birthday suit shows you’re interested.  It also increases feelings of sexual desire.  In addition, skin-to-skin contact causes a release of Oxytocin, the love hormone!

People often differ in their preferences, both for the frequency with which they desire sexual activity and what it takes for them to feel aroused.  Avoid the sexless marriage trap by understanding what makes your partner tick.  Learning some communication basics, as well as some good tools for talking about sex, will go a long way towards keeping things running smoothly in the bedroom. 

The bottom line is a little bit of effort will go along way towards getting that spark back and welcoming more intimacy into your marriage!

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Five Benefits of Pre Marriage Counseling

Recently I attended a baby shower, and among the silly games and exclamations of “oh isn’t that just adorable” there was the inevitable discussion of what the couple was doing to prepare, including which preparation classes the couple had taken.  I started to wonder, why is it that we expect new parents to take classes and read countless books to prepare for the newest change in their lives and relationships, but we do not have such expectations when a couple is preparing for another huge change in their relationship: marriage? Why isn’t marriage prep more common for newly engaged couples?

The benefits of marriage preparation are substantial; a study published in 2006 by Scott Stanley, P.R. Amato, and Howard Markham out of the University of Denver showed that couples who participated in pre marriage counseling had a 30% lower divorce rate.  Whenever possible we prepare for the big changes in our lives, so it’s worth asking, what are the benefits of pre marriage counseling? Continue reading ‘Five Benefits of Pre Marriage Counseling’

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Marriage and Religion by the Numbers

Marriage and religion are at the center of many couples’ minds, whether combining an interfaith marriage, discussing how to incorporate religion into child-rearing, or seeking religious marriage advice. Thanks to the folks at http://christiandegrees.net/marriage/ for this breakdown of the influence of religion on marriages and visa versa.

Most religions promote long-term unions between men and women and discourage divorce. Also, most Americans consider themselves religious (almost 80% Christian). Why then, are divorce rates rising? Hopefully this infographic will inspire you to think about your marriage and religion with new understanding. Continue reading ‘Marriage and Religion by the Numbers’

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Spouse won’t go to counseling? Watch a RomCom instead.

As helpful as counseling can be in how to save a marriage, many spouses are still reluctant to attend sessions. Therapy can be intimidating. Airing all your dirty laundry to a complete stranger can sound less than appealing. (This is why there are alternatives like Power of Two!). While getting help from a trained professional is the best way to get over marriage problems and improve your relationship, there are some ways to engage your spouse if he or she refuses to go. Continue reading ‘Spouse won’t go to counseling? Watch a RomCom instead.’

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4 Essential Wisdoms to Keep in Mind when Traveling with Your Spouse

Traveling is an incredibly challenging experience. Whether a road trip upstate or a three month journey to a foreign country, traveling puts the same stresses on individuals. Add to that a travel partner and you have the potential for your marital bonds to be tested. Our editor, Naomi, travels frequently with her partner and shares some hard-earned lessons for keeping cool and loving while traveling with your spouse.

Repeat after me: Traveling is hard

At home your brain can put on autopilot all the knowledge that you are familiar with, for instance, where the supermarket is, what time dinner needs to be started, how long it takes to go to the bank, etc. This frees up brain power for focusing on the changeable aspects of your life that require attention, such as work, new social engagements, and putting extra effort into your marriage.

During travel both your brain and body are working twice as hard. Gone is that comfortable ability to put on autopilot. Every cell is responding to new stimuli and new challenges. You’ll be sleeping in unfamiliar beds, driving new roads, your things will be arranged in suitcases, and you won’t know where or what you are having for dinner. These simple changes result in an enormous amount of stress on your bodies systems as well as your mental state.

Stressed gives our bad habits a chance to flare up. You and your spouse may bicker or snap at each other. Keep in mind that this is an exceptional situation you are in. Refrain from making any conclusions or big decisions about your relationship while on the road. After all, most of your time together isn’t traveling. However, if issues you notice on the trip continue months into resuming normal life, then you might have a problem that needs addressing.

It’s not about you

Again, traveling is hard. When your spouse seems exhausted, agitated, or upset, don’t jump to the conclusion that it is because of you. Most likely the negative mood is a result of the trip. If it’s not explicitly about you, don’t make it about you. That’s needlessly creating an argument. Let you spouse self sooth and don’t bring up marriage problems when you are both at the end of your ropes already.

traveling with your spouse

Traveling with your spouse doesn’t have to be stressful…but it probably will be.

Practice infinite compassion and empathy

You and your spouse’s moods will fluctuate up and down. One day when you are exhausted and crabby, your spouse may be ready to paint the town. The next day your moods might be reversed. On one hand, this opposition can be frustrating. It’s best when you are both on the same energy level. Still, keep in mind how terrible you feel when you just can’t handle the trip and need a break. Hold this understanding dear and use it to ignite compassion when it’s your spouse’s turn to feel low rather than being annoyed or angry for his lack of enthusiasm. You were just there yourself!

Don’t be afraid to split up

The best solution for all the ails of traveling together is to spend some time apart. A good half-day at the minimum. Take time to see sights that you are interested in but your spouse isn’t. Or just sleep all day, or spend the afternoon reading a book in the park, or visiting friends on your own. Never hesitate to split up for the day. You don’t have to, and probably shouldn’t, do everything together.

 

Think of traveling as a bootcamp, a time to practice all the marriage skills that you learn at Power of Two. At the same time, it’s a extra challenging period so cut both of you some slack. Be prepared, overall, to practice forgiveness.

Bon Voyage!

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