Marriage Problems and Paddle Ball . . . Really?

It may sound a bit far fetched, that said if you’re facing marriage problems, paddle ball may be just the sport for you!

Side note:  We went to the beach today for a little end of season visit.  As the weather was getting chilly, there weren’t to many swimmers, but kites, paddle ball and frisbee tossing were all the rage.

So, back to paddle ball.  We were sitting next to a young couple who clearly loved paddle ball.  Plink, plink, plink, plink went their little ball back and forth, forth and back.

Distracted from my book, I started to think about marriage problems and what could be learned from this couple’s plink, plink plinking.  Here’s a few of my musings.

  1. Keep track of how many in a row you two can get together.  Marriage problems only get worse if you keep score about who did what wrong.  If you want to assign a score, count how many “hits” you get together.  Can you do 5 conversation turns and keep it happy?  20?  A whole day?
  2. Pick a pace that’s nice for both of you.  It was clear the guy in this couple could have hit the ball a lot harder. And he didn’t.  He went for enjoying the game together instead of smashing every ball.  Same in marriage.  Marriage problems can take some time to sort out.  Find a pace that works for both of you.
  3. Enjoy each others company.  That’s the real reason to play paddle ball — it’s a fun thing to do on the beach together.  Marriage help goes the same way.  It often is best to try to start with remembering how to have some fun together.
  4. Be active.  OK, so I was glued to my beach chair all day.  And, I could see how nice it was for the paddle ballers to be actively moving around.  When facing marriage problems be active about learning new skills.  And literally, be active too – – amazing how more effective conversations sometimes are while walking around the block.

4 unhealthy communication habits and what to do instead.

Have you ever felt like anger played a productive role in your relationship? Fighting can sometimes be confused with passion. Disagreements are natural and unavoidable, anger and fighting on the other hand are unproductive and damaging to a marriage. If you can relate to any of these unhealthy communication habits it’s time to learn a better way. Save the passion for the bedroom!

unhealthy communication habits

The 4 most common unhealthy communication habits:

1. Yielding: Yielding means giving up on the issue to avoid an argument. This habit results in an imbalance of power: one person wins and the other looses– and leads to symptoms like depression and resentment. Plus, the problem starting the arguments never gets solved!

2. Freezing: Freezing happens when you refuse to talk about the issue. You may avoid starting the conversation at all, or walk away and shut down during the conversation. When communication freezes, you build icy walls of stress and tension in your marriage, leading to feelings of anxiety and emotional distance. Continue reading 4 unhealthy communication habits and what to do instead.


Better marriage on your TO-DO list? Start in the bedroom.

Have you ever wished for a better marriage? If the answer is YES, then you are not alone! Marriage is for better and worse, it’s pretty easy to imagine what the better part will look like; hand in hand walks on the beach, a glass of wine after a tough day, Netflix and chill anyone? The part that is hard to imagine is the worse; the fights, the toxic talk mumbled under your breath while your partner does something annoying in the next room. Even more troubling is a lack of intimacy, lying and a breach of trust or infidelity. Many couples wait until the the eleventh hour to reach out for help. By that time the thought of a light hearted roll in the hay may seem like a galaxy far, far away.

Traditional couples counseling often focuses on other concerns first. How is the communication? Do you fight? What are the critical conflicts that surface again and again?

better marriageHow is your sex life may only enter the conversation (or be addressed in a significant way) later on down the line. Is that the right approach? A new breed of therapists are tackling these issues in a different order. In a recent New York Times article the author reported on and interesting new convergence of therapist focusing on sex first.

So, is figuring out the sex puzzle going to give you a better marriage?

Continue reading Better marriage on your TO-DO list? Start in the bedroom.


Marriage coach or therapy, which one is right for you?

Marriage coaching is the primary focus of The Power of Two Online program. So what does a marriage coach do? Marriage coaching is all about education. Many people come to romantic relationships in life with a roseate glow. Hoping that the love and affection felt today will last through the years. Eventually, many couples find that the strain of daily life together, combined with a lack of relationship skills and bad communication habits lead to discontent. Anger and contempt develop towards your partner and you find yourself wondering what happened.

Couples that do thrive in the long run are couples who either bring with them relationship skills or (more likely) they learn them along the way. At Power of Two this is what marriage coaching is all about. Most people learn about relationships from the families they grow up in. Unhealthy patterns and a lack of knowledge about what a healthy relationship is can lead to relationship problems.

marriage coach
A marriage coach is a teacher

A good marriage coach will empower a couple (or just one partner looking for help) with the tools and skills to communicate effectively and resolve conflict. It is possible to stay calm in the midst of a storm and develop and maintain that loving feeling that started it all.

A marriage coach is:

A trained educator. The Power of Two program is based on actual skills. You won’t hear advice about how you need to be a better communicator, you will learn HOW to be a better communicator. Skills for communication, collaborative decision making, keeping anger in check and out of your marriage and staying intimately connected are all part of the program. Think of it like a boot camp for your marriage. Continue reading Marriage coach or therapy, which one is right for you?


Save your marriage over dinner.

Have you heard of the term “dining dead”? In the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Joel asks “Are we like those bored couples you feel sorry for in restaurants?” Joel muses to himself. “Are we the dining dead?”

Can you save your marriage over dinner?

A recent New York Times article described this state as one in which a couple stops talking after many years of marriage finding themselves sitting across the table, wordless, with a vast distance between one another.

save your marriage
Image credit: Andre Slob

How does this happen?

So many couples are bursting with conversational energy when they first meet. There is much to discover; many evenings are spent talking into the wee hours. As time goes on the enthusiasm and excitement lessens and the day to day of life takes hold on conversations. Continue reading Save your marriage over dinner.


How to deal with jealousy in your marriage.

If you’ve been in a romantic relationship you have probably faced your own feelings of jealousy or been the recipient of accusations at one point or another. Even the strongest marriages might experience this uncomfortable feeling from time to time. So how do you deal with jealousy in your marriage?

A really important first step is to take some advice from this classic song…“before you accuse me, take a look at yourself!” If you find yourself experiencing jealousy it is important to first take stock of how your actions, behaviors or thoughts are contributing to the situation. Are you bringing old baggage or past familial experiences to bare in your current relationship. In cases of infidelity and jealousy both partners play a part and placing all the blame on one side of the scale is problematic. Once you have gained some understanding about your own thoughts and feelings it’s time to tackle the conversation with your partner.

deal with jealousy
Are jealousy and suspicion damaging your relationship? Photo credit: Geoff Stearns

Here is Dr. Hirsch’s 3 Step plan to deal with jealousy and get your relationship back on track:

Continue reading How to deal with jealousy in your marriage.


How to find the best marriage counseling.

Whether you are looking for help with a household project, care for a child or elderly parent or help with a medical issue you want to find the best help available. The same is true when looking for relationship help. Getting the best help starts with doing your research. The internet makes researching almost anything super easy and it’s a good place to start. Unfortunately, just like you can’t believe everything you hear, your can’t trust everything you read online. The open source nature of the web makes a huge amount of information available without filtering the value of what’s out there. It’s your job to dig a little deeper and think outside the box to make sure you find the best marriage counseling for you.

best marriage counseling
Doing your research will ensure that you find the best marriage counseling for you.

Here are a few tips for finding the best marriage counseling in your area.

Start by figuring out what kind of help you are looking for.  Are you wanting a traditional approach to counseling? This often looks like you and your spouse sitting in a room for a series of sessions with a licensed marriage and family therapist. Maybe you are looking for a more intensive one time program like a marriage retreat? These sometimes require traveling or at the very least a dedicated weekend. They also often mean airing your laundry in a less private setting. There is a third option in online marriage help, programs like Power of Two. These are more self paced and tend to focus heavily on skill building with a coaching component. With an online program you don’t have to sit in a counselor’s waiting room with other patients, you’re not going to accidentally run into someone you know at the doctor’s office, and you don’t have to talk about your marriage with total strangers as you do with in-person, remote, or group counseling sessions. Counseling and marriage help are never a one size fits all deal, finding the right approach for you is an essential step. Continue reading How to find the best marriage counseling.


Marriage in trouble? Your health may be too.

There is plenty of evidence that a healthy marriage, one in which couples practice good communication, resolve conflict with relationship skills and create an atmosphere of warmth and positivity can have potential health benefits. Those may include, better heart health, lower mortality rates and lower rates of chronic illnesses like heart disease, cancer and surgeries. If this is true can it also be true that with a marriage in trouble, health problems may follow?

marriage in trouble
Is chronic martial stress leading you to health problems?

There is evidence that a marriage in trouble, one that carries with it chronic stress, may lead to health problems. Here are some of the potential health problems relating to chronic marital stress.


Continue reading Marriage in trouble? Your health may be too.


Get your relationship spark back with these 6 great (not lame) date ideas.

In a date night rut? Does the thought of Valentine’s Day inspire boredom and you’d rather just stay home in your Pj’s and skip the whole production? Well don’t! As cliche as the idea of date night can be maybe you’ve just run out of good ideas!

Here are some fun ideas to light up that relationship spark and get in the mood for love again.

1. Take a guided tour of your city together.  

relationship spark
Photo credit: Flickr image_less_ordinary

Most larger cities (and certainly some smaller cities as well) offer all kinds of tours. Maybe you recently moved to a new city or maybe you’ve called your city home for years there is no doubt there is undiscovered territory. For the history buff a landmark tour might be a no brainer, even for a history novice finding out little know facts about your city can help you feel more rooted and connected to your surroundings and hopefully your partner too! Even better find a double decker bus, segway or bicycle tour to push your comfort zone and to keep the date feeling light hearted and fun.

2. Take an Ikebana class (flower arranging that is). Continue reading Get your relationship spark back with these 6 great (not lame) date ideas.


4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016

With the start of a new year, naturally there is an opportunity to think about what changes you want to make and where you want to focus your energy in the coming days and weeks. Whether you are a seasoned couple, having spent many years together or a new couple still awash in the glow of infatuation setting intention for the year ahead will be a boon to your relationship. The work you do now will set the tone for the days ahead.

Here are 4 resolutions for your marriage to tackle in 2016.

resolutions for your marriage
Photo credit: Joao Paulo de Vasconcelos

Put your marriage on the front burner.

Too often intimate relationships, especially your marriage end up on the back burner, if it’s on the stove at all! Jobs, kids, hobbies, spiritual lives, personal free time, tend to come before “working on your marriage.” They shouldn’t! The health of your marriage is a driving factor in how successful you are at all the other ventures you tackle. How satisfying your personal relationships are tends to impact the rest of your life including your physical and mental health. While certainly not the only factor, when your emotional house is in order you free up space and energy to go after your goals and dreams with the support of your partner. Make sure your relationship gets its fair share of your time and energy by making a plan. Beyond the old “regular date night” save all, create a real concrete idea of ways you are going to make your marriage a priority. Try to avoid fuzzy goals like, “spend more time together” or “have more sex.” Instead try, spend 1 hour every evening together or kiss each other every day. Continue reading 4 resolutions for your marriage in 2016