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.

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.

Want to avoid ending up in couples counseling? Say something nice!

avoid couples counseling
Whisper sweet somethings to your spouse.

You know how the saying goes… If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. In a marriage you may not always have nice things to say and while it is important to voice concerns and bring up uncomfortable issues how to talk about difficult topics is the subject of another post. The rest of the time, how positive you are and how much warmth you share between you has a big impact on the quality of your relationship. While it may be an oversimplification to say that you can avoid couples counseling by being nice, you can have a major impact on the day to day climate of your marriage by keeping the ratio or positive to negative interactions to 10:1. When you espouse an attitude of positivity and gratitude you lift those around you into that mindset as well. Positive people are more attractive, tend to be healthier and happier. Continue reading Want to avoid ending up in couples counseling? Say something nice!

5 Habits of happy couples.

happy couples
Photo credit: Timothy Krause

5 habits happy couples practice.

1. Steer clear of toxic talk. If not careful, toxic talk can easily creep into daily chatter with your spouses.  One of the wonderful things a close relationship affords is lots of information about each other, the good and the ugly.  When you use the intimate information you have about each other to tease, mock or rail against your spouse you undermine the trust and safety critical for an intimate relationship. Happy couples steer clear of harsh words and share encouragement and positivity instead! Continue reading 5 Habits of happy couples.

Your relationship maintenance checklist.

Have you had the gutters cleaned on your house lately?  How about weeding and lawn mowing?  Maybe you have had to fix a leak or repair a crack in the wall. Your house, in order to stay in good working order needs regular maintenance. Failure to take care of those tasks and your house is likely to suffer and eventually fall into disrepair, the same is true for the relationships in your life. Regular relationship maintenance will keep the love alive and the investment in your relationship strong.  So what’s needed to sustain a healthy relationship?

relationship maintenanceRelationship maintenance refers to regular behaviors that are engaged in by partners in an effort to stay together.  The more relational maintenance you engage in as a couple the better your chances of longevity in the relationship. Researchers Laura Stafford and Daniel J. Canary identified a set of five general relationship behaviors that when engaged in regularly increase the quality of the relationship.

Your relationship maintenance checklist…

Continue reading Your relationship maintenance checklist.

Is marriage counseling inevitable?

All couples have challenges, there is no doubt about that. Sometimes the challenges are external; job related stresses or job loss, familial conflict or major life events like the birth of a child. Some conflicts are internal; depression and anxiety can result in conflict in a relationship, poor habits from past relationships or even patterns learned as a child all contribute to how you relate to your partner.  Add to that personality differences, cultural differences and you have loads of potential for conflict.

Is it just inevitable that at some point in a long term committed relationship you would need to seek marriage counseling?

marriage counseling

Just as the question gets complicated so does the answer.  All couples can benefit from learning new relationship skills. Couples who are able to manage conflict in a healthy way are far less likely to divorce or need counseling. While all couples can benefit from a good marriage therapist, counseling can likely be avoided if you are proactive about learning solid skills as early on in your relationship is possible. Continue reading Is marriage counseling inevitable?

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.

marital problems
Do you do “all the work”?

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

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?