Marital problems: I do all the work.

So, you’ve unloaded the dishwasher, given the kids a bath, and as you carry another load of laundry upstairs you think to yourself…”arrgh, why do I have to do all the work around here?”  It’s a frequent complaint on the list of marital problems couples seek help for.  While there certainly are inequities in many relationships, it is possible it’s a question of perception.  There is a concept called overclaiming that may apply here.  The idea is essentially that in our work lives, and likely our home lives most people are prone to the feeling that they are doing more work that everyone else. Whether it’s a case of overclaiming or if you truly do more of the work, here are a few ways to lighten the load and avoid resentment and conflict over the workload.

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Do you do “all the work”?

Pay attention to your spouse. Continue reading Marital problems: I do all the work.

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Sexless relationship help: Possible or should you move on?

There are so many reasons a couple might be looking for sexless relationship help.  Desire discrepancies, low sex drive, health issues, depression and many other factors contribute to how healthy your sex life feels.  If you find yourself in a sexless relationship or headed for marital problems, how do you know if you should stick it out and work on the relationship or if it’s time to move on?  While there is no out of the box solution to this problem there are a few things to look for when trying to answer this question.

sexless relationship
Stuck in a sexless relationship?

1. Do you and your partner have good communication skills?

Continue reading Sexless relationship help: Possible or should you move on?

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Low sex drive? 4 myths and some new thinking about this very common problem.

low sex drive
Desire discrepancies (low sex drive) is the most common complaint women have about their sex lives.

Do you and your partner experience desire discrepancies?  That is do you often find one partner in the mood for sex and the other not? Do you have a low sex drive?  Desire discrepancies are one of the most common complaints related to intimacy in relationships. A sexless marriage is something many couples face. Is it possible that shifting the way we think about sex and desire would help more couples overcome this often painful problem. In her new book, Come As You Are, Emily Nagoski, PhD writes beautifully and compassionately about this idea and so much more. Here are 4 myths she busts in the wonderfully researched book about sex and desire.

Continue reading Low sex drive? 4 myths and some new thinking about this very common problem.

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Should you get married?

should you get married

Marriage is in decline, no new news there. The question seems to have shifted from when and to whom should you get married to should you get married at all? Certainly there is no one simple answer to this questions. Looking at a brief history of marriage reveals that the societal and relational view of marriage has certainly changed over time. During several recent conversations about marriage and relationships I have found myself wondering if marriage is really necessary for today’s couple? Some of these conversations involved my spouse and I chatting with happily married couples and others with contemporaries who are as of yet foregoing marriage.  In essence, these conversations have been an effort to interpret general beliefs about marriage and to try to understand why the institution still has value.

It seems to me that there is no argument about the practical benefits.  In our society marriage gives you legal, medical, taxation and many other rights that unmarried counterparts may not have.  There doesn’t even seem to be an argument about the commitment part.  It seems those opting out don’t particularly like the word marriage.  So what is it about the word that leaves a bad taste? Continue reading Should you get married?

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Relationship burnout got you down. Here are some tips for getting the spark back!

relationship burnout
Are you burned out on your partner? Get back on track together with reflection and action.

Burnout is a term often used to describe the feeling of exhaustion and boredom related to dissatisfaction at work. Even when you really love your job it is possible to experience burnout, can the same be true for relationships? Perhaps you have recently been through a stressful time, a job loss, an illness or another major life event that rocked the boat a bit. Or maybe the opposite is true, you’ve just been sailing along managing the daily tasks and have lost inspiration about your marriage.  Relationship burnout can be a significant problem for couples who have been married for a number of years.  It is not usually because of outright conflict, more often it is a slow separation of interests, time spent apart, lack of positive input into the relationship and a lack of skills necessary to keep the love alive.

You may be feeling some sense of disenchantment with your partner, the truth is though that relationship burnout doesn’t happen overnight.  It is cumulative like a bucket getting filled over time, eventually one more drop in the bucket is enough to spill over and you have a mess on your hands.

Either way, relationship burnout can be a major red flag that you are headed for trouble.  Take action now so you can get back on the right path forward together!

Here are 5 ways to nip relationship burnout in the bud!

Continue reading Relationship burnout got you down. Here are some tips for getting the spark back!

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Empower Yourself: 5 reasons to seek online relationship help

When you are struggling to change negative patterns and turn your relationship around for the better it is often hard to know where to start. Online relationship help can be a really helpful place to begin. One of the best parts of online relationship help is that you are in the drivers seat. You are giving yourself the tools and the power to change your relationship. When your relationship is strained and you are ready to seek counseling it is not usually because one day you woke up and were unhappy.  More likely there is a pattern of broken communication, negativity, anger and resentment that has been building for some time. Looking for help can feel overwhelming, the internet is often the first place folks turn.  Online relationship help is becoming more available as therapists are offering skype and online sessions, unfortunately these options still don’t solve several other major road blocks to getting help: time and money.  Finding time to sit down with a therapist or counselor (even via skype) can be difficult.  In addition, therapists who offer online counseling options often still charge high hourly rates for sessions held online.

online relationship help

Programs like Power of Two offer an alternative way to address both those concerns and there is one other key difference.  Power of Two is a skill based learning experience.  While traditional counseling can be very effective in understanding how your childhood and past experience are contributing to your current relationship challenges as well as looking at deeper issues, most couples can benefit greatly from learning relationship skills. When a couple or an individual seeks online relationship help it’s important to look for a program that teaches skills. Online relationship help can be an incredible tool for change.

 Here are 5 good reasons for a couple (or one partner) to seek help in the form of online relationship help

Continue reading Empower Yourself: 5 reasons to seek online relationship help

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Fight with your spouse this week? Blame daylight savings.

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Daylight savings can wreak havoc on your week.

Did you fight with your spouse this week? Hopefully not. If you did, maybe it is out of the ordinary for you to fight.  You may be wondering why? What’s different? Of course there are many reasons couples fight, and there may not always be a singular cause. One possible cause is your emotional state. The physical environment and choices we make including what we eat and how much exercise we get contribute to both physical health as well as emotional health. Another key factor is sleep.  An article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday argued a link between the Daylight Savings time change and marital discord.  Specifically that when you lose sleep you are more likely to fight with your spouse. “They found that people were more likely to have conflict on days when they slept poorly the night before.”

“If you sleep poorly, you’re prone to being self-centered,” and “You focus on me, me, me, and is it any wonder that you are getting into fights with your partner?”

You many not always be able to avoid having a fight with your spouse. You can however keep in mind the many outside factors that are contributing.

The key here is to pay attention to your physical state.  When you feel yourself falling into those communication traps; snarky comments, negativity and self-centered behaviors or thoughts, STOP, ask yourself… Continue reading Fight with your spouse this week? Blame daylight savings.

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How to communicate with your partner: Up the positivity!

how to communicate with your partner

This will be the final installment of our series, how to communicate with your partner. The last topic we are focusing on is positivity. There is no doubt that a positive outlook on life has plenty of rewards. People who maintain a sunny disposition and in general find the brighter side of life enjoy better emotional health. The rewards of positivity go beyond just your own emotional heath, increasing positivity also results in a longer lifespan, reduced risk of cardiovascular complications, increased resistance to illness and more.

The question remains though, is positivity an expression of happiness or can it create more happiness. In her often cited paper on positive thinking, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson says “positive emotions signal optimal functioning, but this is far from their whole story. I argue that positive emotions also produce optimal functioning, not just within the present, pleasant moment, but over the longterm as well.” What if you were to apply this idea to your relationship.  Many couples struggle with where to start when conflict and strife have become the norm in the marriage.  A wonderful place to start is with positivity. When you are struggling with how to communicate with your partner and are stuck wondering how to open the door to conversation, up the positivity.  Not only will up-ing the positivity make the day to day experience of your relationship a bit brighter it will increase the overall health and stability of your marriage.

Positivity is an action you can take to learn how to communicate with your partner.

Here are 5 actions you can take today to shift the positivity meter in the right direction. Continue reading How to communicate with your partner: Up the positivity!

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Communication with your spouse: Win win decision making.

This week is all about win win decision making.  Last week’s post was about the importance of staying in the calm zone but what happens next? After you have noticed the signs that you are reaching your anger ceiling you have hopefully walked away, taken some time to cool off and then you return to the conversation.

Communication with your spouse isn't always easy
Communication with your spouse isn’t always easy. The right skills can make all the difference.

So what’s the next step? How can you enhance communication with your spouse in a way that allows you to tackle a tough topic and move out of conflict and into a collaborative decision making stance? WIN WIN decision making is the answer. Yes, there are a few communication basics that are helpful to understand like avoiding crossovers and learning effective listening strategies that we have covered in the past.  Once you have learned the basics, the next step is to use the win win strategies outlined by Dr. Susan Heitler in her book and workbook and skills taught at Power of Two online. Continue reading Communication with your spouse: Win win decision making.

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Communicate with your spouse: During an argument.

In continuing with our mini-series on how to communicate with your spouse, this weeks installment is about navigating this tough communication road block: an argument.  Now, the idea of communicating with your spouse during an argument is a bit misleading because in truth you can’t! Effective arguing or “fighting fair” is something you occasionally hear as a solution to couples fighting.  In reality, effective arguing is an oxymoron.

communicate with your spouse
Don’t even try to communicate in this state. Instead, walk away, calm down and come back later.

When arguments are heated and tempers are flaring your brain, under the influence of adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormone) is actually incapable of making rational decisions.  The parts of your brain responsible for rational thinking and problem solving (the cortex) take a back seat to the lower, more primitive part of your brain, (you know, the old fight or flight part) the limbic system.  The limbic system, also know as the emotional center of your brain is not designed for calm, logical thought, you are better off putting the conversation in park until you can reactivate the cortex. Continue reading Communicate with your spouse: During an argument.

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