Finding Friends You Can Count On

Finding Friends You Can Count On

Finding Friends You Can Count On

Who’s Got Your Back?

 

FRIENDS YOU CAN COUNT ON: Recently, on the last Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I spoke with author Lydia Denworth about the importance of healthy friendships and how vital they are. She spoke at length about the positive impact of friendship on our mental, emotional and physical health, and how we all need to prioritize healthy friendships in our lives.

But… while understanding the importance of friendship is important because it helps you prioritize the time and energy required to cultivate relationships, knowing this is not the same thing as actually knowing how to build a strong community of friends you can count on. The “how to make and keep good friends” part is much harder. Particularly when you’re focused on the good part. Developing solid, mutually supportive friendships can be vastly different than finding people with common interests or who are “fun buddies.” Those types of friendships, while enjoyable, are a dime a dozen. Finding friends you can count on is a different game.

The Loneliness Pandemic

Truthfully, it can be very difficult to find and maintain solid friendship connections as an adult — now, more than ever. Before there was an actual pandemic, the idea that we were already in a “lonliness epidemic” was already getting recognition. Too many people often feel alone, and like they don’t have close friends to turn to when they need them. Even if they have social connections, these relationships can feel superficial. Combatting loneliness was on the radar of Denver therapists and online life coaches due to the benefit of positive relationships and strong friend networks, but now having trust in friendship is even more vital.

For many, a primary source of social interaction happens through their work. Prior to stay-at-home recommendations in coronavirus life, it wasn’t uncommon for me to hear about “weekend loneliness” and about how hard it is for busy adults to find new friends in my therapy and coaching sessions with clients. As we stay at arm’s length from each other in efforts to ward off Covid 19, we’re also cut off from the supportive social networks that we need for our mental health, our emotional wellness, and even our physical health. 

For many people, their social interactions are currently limited to the people that they live with and can peer at periodically through our computer screens. For people living alone during the era of social distancing, their loneliness can be so intense it feels like a hunger.

Everyone can feel lonely, even people who are nice and smart and interesting and attractive. Feeling lonely does not discriminate. However, even though many people feel lonely, they also often feel shame about their loneliness — and so they don’t talk about it. Loneliness is the big, dark secret that weighs heavily on the hearts of so many. Staying silent about loneliness only increases feelings of isolation, and disconnection. This in turn (ironically) can make you feel more lonely.

Everyone is vulnerable to feelings of loneliness. People can (and do) feel lonely in their marriage. People can have many friends, and still, feel a longing for a truly intimate emotional connection. Loneliness isn’t about not having any people in your life. Loneliness is about feeling like you’re wanting more connection than you currently have. 

But “connection” alone does not satisfy loneliness because feeling lonely is also about wanting more meaningful connection. Let’s face it: you can feel very lonely in a crowd. You can spend lots of time hanging out with people, and still not feel like you have real, true friendships with any of them. Sometimes, it’s not until you really need a friend you can count on, that you understand how many real friends you have in your life. (If at all, for some).

Friends You Can Count On 

How To Build a Genuinely Supportive Community

Today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast is devoted to helping you cultivate relationships with real, true-blue friends who can offer the emotional intimacy and support you’re longing for. If you’re seeking to increase your social circle with friends who have your back (and weed out selfish people who take more than they give) this episode is for you.

I’m joined by author and former therapist Val Walker about her new book, “400 Friends and No One To Call: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community.”

In this powerful and emotionally intimate interview, Val shares her own story about being at a vulnerable moment and becoming aware that while she had lots of “friends” she didn’t have friends she could count on when she really needed help. She shares her story of rebuilding her health, her life, and a strong social support system. Val has lots of insight into what it takes to form strong friendships. She’s sharing her insights and tips to help you get all the love, thoughtfulness and support YOU have to share flowing back to you, too.  

If you’ve been saying to yourself that the time is right for you to find supportive friends and create a good friend circle, I hope you listen to this episode with Val. We’re discussing:

  • How it’s so easy for everyone to fall into “lite” relationships
  • Why genuinely supportive friendships are so essential
  • How to make trustworthy friends
  • Where to find friends
  • The most important parts of an authentic friendship
  • Ways to build a community
  • The difference between “fun” friends and friends you can count on
  • What healthy friendships look like
  • Concrete strategies for making new friends
  • How to deepen your existing friendships
  • How to be a really good friend to others

Thank you for being part of OUR community!

With love,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Finding Friends You Can Count On

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

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Radical Acceptance: How to Cope in Uncertain Times

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Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby dives into Helm’s White racial identity development model and has an honest conversation about what the stages are really like. She shares what the work involves, the obstacles and opportunities in each stage of growth, and resources to support you in your antiracist development on this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

Many people are connecting with strong emotions as they actively confront pervasive problems in our culture. Some are sitting with sadness, some are giving a voice to long-unspoken anger, and others are feeling hopeful — even exhilarated — that racism is being acknowledged and addressed openly. Today on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is speaking with online therapists Teresa Thomas, M.A., A.P, and Zachary Gaiter, M.S., LPCC about Hope, Healing and Empowerment.

Love Without Borders: Cross Cultural Relationships

Love Without Borders: Cross Cultural Relationships

Love Without Borders: Cross Cultural Relationships

Is There a Culture-Clash in Your Relationship?

How to Deal With Cultural Differences in a Relationship

As a marriage counselor and couples therapist l know that all relationships bring a variety of challenges and opportunities for growth. At the same time, some couples  — particularly those in cross-cultural relationships — feel that they have further to go in bridging the gap. Cross-cultural couples can have vastly different relationship expectations regarding gender roles in the home, the role of extended family, how to communicate, and so much more. While, ultimately, the diversity of their union can lead to an enormously strong and healthy relationship, couples from very different cultural or racial backgrounds sometimes need to work harder to create understanding and compromise.

Cross-Cultural Relationships

For the record, it is important to note that everyone comes into a relationship from a different family of origin that had its own values, belief system, internal culture and way of doing things. Even individuals who may, on a surface level, appear to be of similar backgrounds may have had entirely different “family cultures” that are influencing their expectations in their relationship with their partner. (This is the underlying reason why financial therapy for couples is so necessary!)

One big strength for interracial couples and international couples is an overt awareness that they need to openly discuss and respect these differences in order to achieve congruence. In contrast, couples who make the mistake of assuming that their partner’s life experiences were similar to their own run the risk of having unspoken assumptions and expectations lead to conflict and hurt feelings. Knowing from the outset that you both have perspectives, values and expectations that are simultaneously both different and equally valuable is a huge asset.

Navigating Cultural Differences in a Relationship

It’s very easy for couples to get entrenched in conflict rooted in a core belief of “right and wrong” when it comes to how to approach various aspects of their shared life. This can be especially true around hot-button issues such as:

These are points of conflict for many couples. However, if a couple in a bicultural marriage or with a multicultural family background has very different life experiences that they each wish to replicate in their marriage with each other… the battles can get fierce and even nasty. In contrast, cross-cultural couples who approach each other from a place of sensitivity and openness to understanding have the opportunity to learn and grow, celebrate their differences, and take the highest and best from both of their backgrounds in order to create a unique, beautiful blended culture in their new family, together.

Relationship Advice From Cross Cultural Marriage Counselors

To tackle these questions, and provide some direction for how to begin bridging the gap and building bridges to the center, I’ve asked some multicultural relationship experts to join me for this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. Relationship coach Dr. Georgiana Spradling, MFT, Tania Chikhani, M.A, and Teresa Thomas, M.A., are marriage counselors who often work with cross-cultural couples and interracial couples, and have great relationship advice for how to create peace and harmony in your gloriously diverse family.

Specifically, we’ll discuss:

  • Why cross-cultural couples often get into power struggles about various aspects of their shared life.
  • The shift in perspective that can help you restore the empathy in your relationship and understand each other more deeply.
  • How to find ways of creating agreement, while simultaneously honoring and appreciating your differences.
  • How couples with different expectations of extended family roles can find balance between boundaries and togetherness.
  • How interracial couples can become a united front in understanding and confronting racial injustice, together.

Whether you’re in an interracial relationship, blending a multicultural family, or simply coming to terms that you and your seemingly-similar partner are actually coming into your relationship with very different perspectives, the perspective of marriage counseling experts Dr. Georgiana, Teresa and Tania can help. I hope you join us — click the player below to listen to the conversation!

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Love Without Borders: Cross-Cultural Relationships

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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online life coach arabic speaking therapist online life coach arabic speaking life coach career coach dating coach relationship coach

Tania Chikhani is a Relationship and Career Specialist with an M.A. in Clinical Psychology, and an MBA in Global Business and Marketing. She has specific training in marriage and family therapy and relationship coaching, as well as mindfulness coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, and life coaching.

Her specialty is helping you create happiness and success in all areas of your life. Her work is focused on enabling you to create and maintain passionate and fulfilling relationships while continuing to thrive in your career. She is known for seeing the love and joy that’s possible for you, and for your relationships, even through your darkest days. Read Tania’s full bio…

Let’s  Talk

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How Difficult Emotions Lead to Growth

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Are you struggling through emotional triggers? Do you find yourself feeling sad, confused, or even angry when you don’t feel heard or when trying to work through difficult conversations with friends and family? Online therapist and life coach, Josephine Marin, M.S., MFTC discusses why you feel the way you do and how to start growing through these experiences. Read now on the blog!

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Fight Racism, Part 2: Becoming Antiracist

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby dives into Helm’s White racial identity development model and has an honest conversation about what the stages are really like. She shares what the work involves, the obstacles and opportunities in each stage of growth, and resources to support you in your antiracist development on this episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

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Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

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Coronavirus & Career: How We Make This Work — Advice From a Career Coach

Coronavirus & Career: How We Make This Work — Advice From a Career Coach

Coronavirus & Career: How We Make This Work — Advice From a Career Coach

Job Loss? Worried About Your Career? Working From Home? 

ADVICE FROM A CAREER COACH | In addition to everything else in your life being upended by the coronavirus pandemic, you probably have a slew of new “coronavirus career anxieties” in addition to the usual coronavirus anxiety that’s buzzing inside everyone right now.

Many people are very worried about their career future right now. Many jobs have been lost to coronavirus, and with the threat of recession, there may be more layoffs to come. (Read: Coping With a Layoff) For those among us lucky enough to have stable employment, we now figure out how to maintain our professionalism via online video meetings, work from home while balancing childcare, homeschooling and more.

In times like these it’s absolutely normal to be worried about work, and help is here.

Advice From a Career Coach

I’ve reached out to two of my colleagues here at Growing Self: Therapist and career coach Markie Keelan, M.A., LPC, and resume writer and interview coach extraordinaire Allison Aranda. 

Markie and Allison have been gracious enough to share their career advice around:

  • What to do if you lost your job
  • How to get a bridge job right now if you need one
  • How to use this time to develop yourself professionally and make long term career plans
  • How to protect your long-term career goals from coronavirus, if they’re getting derailed right now
  • Managing anxiety about your career
  • Best practices when working from home for online video meetings
  • Balancing work and life when you’re working from home
  • And more!

 

Join Markie, Allison and I for some timely coronavirus career advice on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. 

xoxo, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, Markie Keelan & Allison Aranda

PS: One of the resources we mentioned to help you stay in a good place emotionally during all this is our online coronavirus support group. Here’s the link, if you’re interested.

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Protect Your Career From Coronavirus: Advice From a Career Coach

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, “Gravy Train”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

 

 

Real Help, To Move You Forward

 

Everyone experiences challenges, but only some people recognize these moments as opportunities for growth and positive change.

 

 

Working with an expert therapist or life coach can help you understand yourself more deeply, get a fresh perspective, grow as a person, and become empowered to create positive change in yourself, your relationships and your life.

 

 

Start your journey of growth today by scheduling a free consultation.

Couples Communication Strategies For Stressful Times

Couples Communication Strategies For Stressful Times

Couples Communication Strategies For Stressful Times

Communication Skills For Couples Under Stress

As an experienced online marriage counselor and therapist who has been doing Denver marriage counseling for many years, I know that couples communication can feel challenging under the best of circumstances.

Couples Communication Can Be Challenging Anyway

Many couples struggle with effective couples communication that helps each person feel heard, cared for, and understood. Couples always come to the table with different communication styles, attachment styles, and ways of relating that can lead to misunderstandings, and hurt feelings. It’s hard to communicate with a withdrawn partner, and it’s also hard to connect with someone who is emotionally flooded.

All married couples and cohabitating couples face these issues, and need to intentionally learn how to practice positive communication strategies in order to achieve the kind of “love your relationship” experience they want to have.

Couples Communication is Harder When You’re Both Stressed

This is true for all couples under the best of circumstances. As we say around here, “Great relationships don’t just happen — they’re grown!” But as lives, relationships, jobs and families have been upended due to the mental and emotional reality of coronavirus quarantine… these are not the best of circumstances. 

Just the opposite. Couples all over the world are suddenly in a situation where they are together 24/7, and having to reconfigure everything including their daily routines, re-work boundaries, wrangle suddenly ever-present children needing to be homeschooled, re-organize their homes to accommodate seven cases of canned soup, cope with a sudden loss or significant drop in income, and, oh yeah, figure out how to stay physically safe from the invisible threat wafting through the air. (How to Manage Coronavirus Anxiety, right here.)

Others among us are coping with even harder things like a loved one who is on the front lines as a medical professional, first responder, or grocery store worker at risk of contracting coronavirus as they work to serve their communities. Still other families are now grappling with loved ones getting sick, becoming gravely ill, or losing their lives to coronavirus. 

I could feel my shoulders tense up as I just sat here typing the words, and — friends — this is now our shared experience. 

Don’t Let Coronavirus Ruin Your Relationship

Going back to my first point: Good communication can feel hard for couples anyway, but when you’re both grappling with enormous amounts of stress it can make positive communication even harder…. And at a time when you both need it the most. 

Communication can build your relationship up, or it can tear it apart. Today’s podcast is all about helping you turn towards each other right now, and it starts with the way you talk to each other.

Couples Communication That Connects

It’s exactly at times like these that you need to be able to turn towards your partner and feel that they care about you, are listening to you, and are an emotionally safe person for you. It’s vital that you feel like your partner understands you, and is responsive to you — showing you that they love you, in the ways that matter the most. The world may be crazy, but as long as you have the love and support of your number one person, it can all seem more manageable. 

Men and Women Handle Stress Differently

However, here’s the rub: Stress, predictably, makes it harder for any of us to be the compassionate, patient, unconditionally loving person our partner needs us to be. We all cope with stress in different ways. Sometimes it’s along gender lines with men and women handling stress differently, but these differences can lead to emotional mis-matches and a communication gap between couples. This can lead both partners to feel disconnected from each other at the time they need each other the most. 

Communication Tips For Couples Under Stress

To help you improve your communication during this stressful time, I asked my colleague, online marriage counselor and relationship coach Silas Hendrich, M.S., MFT-C to join me on the latest episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to share his couples counseling communication tips, and some of the communication exercises for couples that he does with his clients. 

Actionable Relationship Advice

Silas was incredibly generous with his relationship advice and his perspective. He is uniquely situated to provide fantastic relationship advice for any couple having communication problems right now, because 1) he’s a man, with great insights into how to understand men and how they deal with stress and 2) Silas is trained in the evidence-based Gottman Method of marriage counseling, which emphasizes couples communication training and positive communication skills for couples.

He discussed:

  • How some people (often men) tend to internalize stress and withdraw
  • How some people (often women) tend to exernalize stress and need to talk
  • How this (predictibly!) creates a communication gap and emotional mis-match
  • How to stop the ensuing pursue / withdraw cycle and start connecting again
  • How couples can understand each other so they can be more compassionate with each other
  • Exercises that couples can do to improve communication
  • How to get on the same page and create agreements and understanding
  • Ways of communicating with your partner in tense moments so that you can grow closer as a couple, instead of creating conflict

 

Communicate To Connect

I was so grateful to Silas for sharing so much really useful information for how to improve your communication when you’re both stressed. Better communication between couples leads to emotional safety and a more secure emotional foundation for both of you, and for your families too. We’re all powerless to change our current harrowing circumstances, but having a safe harbor of support and comfort in your marriage can help you get through this — together. 

I sincerely hope that the excellent, actionable communication tips Silas shared are helpful to both of you right now.

With love, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby, LP, LMFT, BCC & Silas Hendrich, M.S., MFT-C

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Couples Communication Strategies For Stressful Times

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Spread the Love Happiness & Success

Please Rate, Review & Share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

Relationship Advice: Love in The Time of Coronavirus — With Katie Couric

Relationship Advice: Love in The Time of Coronavirus — With Katie Couric

Relationship Advice: Love in The Time of Coronavirus — With Katie Couric

Relationship Help

Relationship Advice For Stressful Times: I’ve been a Denver marriage counseling therapist and online marriage counseling specialist for many years. I know for a fact that stress and anxiety takes a major toll on relationships. If you’ve noticed your relationship feeling more challenging since this whole coronavirus quarantine happened, it’s not just in your head. This is an incredibly stressful time, many people are anxious about coronavirus, and people in relationships cope with stress differently — and sometimes, not well.

These relationship issues can be exacerbated by non-stop togetherness, and being in each other’s space constantly. If you are you at home wondering, “How am I going to make it through this quarantine these next few weeks?” I get it! Throw in a stressed-out husband, wife or partner, working from home with no childcare (or no work!), homeschooling and being worried about finances… everyone is totally on edge. 

One of the greatest challenges that couples are going to experience over these next few weeks of COVID-19 quarantine is being around or with one another continuously …like all the time.

We all need our space, and space is what makes a lot of our relationships work. We go to work, we run errands, we check in with our friends, we divide and conquer the kids’ activities, etc. But now that your “normal” life is on hold – how are you managing your new way of living, especially with your partner?

And it’s not just our routines that have been upended in the United States. There has been an understandable surge in mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and people are cut off from their support systems and self-care routines. It can be hard to find a good therapist who specializes in online counseling or online therapy, and even harder to find affordable online mental health services that are evidence-based and genuinely effective. (Texting with a chat-bot is ridiculous, but can seem like the only alternative when traditional therapy is out of reach). 

As a marriage counselor, I know that this whole situation is a breeding ground for a relationship crisis. Research studies looking at the impact of coronavirus on relationships and marriages in China showed that as soon as the quarantine lifted there was a surge of married couples filing for divorce! 

Yes, it’s essential to survive coronavirus, but it’s also extremely important to get help for your relationship so that you don’t lose your marriage or your family in the aftermath. In order to get through coronavirus as a couple, it’s essential to be making every effort to nurture and protect your relationship right now. 

Relationship Advice To Save Your Marriage

The relationship crisis that coronavirus quarantine can cause caught the attention of legendary reporter and journalist Katie Couric. If you weren’t already aware, Katie is doing so much good in the world through her extremely helpful and informative Instagram Live events, IGTV page, Facebook, podcast, and her online newsletter. She’s putting out a ton of helpful information lately about “how to survive coronavirus life” and more, and if you’re not already following her, you should! 

I was so honored to have the opportunity to speak with Katie Couric on her Instagram Live today about how coronavirus is impacting relationships and marriages, and the things that couples can do (and avoid doing!) to get through this stressful time together.,

During her broadcast we discussed YOUR questions and how to cope with different situations you’re facing as a couple.

During my time with Katie this morning, I answered questions around:

  1.  How to stay emotionally connected with each other when you’re both stressed.
  2.  How to improve communication, and avoid the communication mistakes that will damage your relationship.
  3.  How to negotiate childcare and other household duties in the “new reality.”
  4. How to deal with college-age kids suddenly under your roof again.
  5. What to do if your husband or wife refuses to social distance or engage in coronavirus prevention strategies at home.
  6.  Signs that mental health issues may be impacting your marriage.
  7. How to support your spouse through a job loss.
  8. How to find affordable online therapy, or effective alternatives to therapy  if you need it.

If you joined us this morning on Instagram, thank you! If you’re just now getting a chance to check it out – welcome. I hope that this conversation encourages you during what can feel like a challenging time in your life and relationship, and also helps you to move forward through some of the obstacles you may face over these quarantined days.

Enjoy this video and for more visit Katie’s Instagram at www.instagram.com/katiecouric!

Wishing you all the best, 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

How to Be More Vulnerable in Relationships

How to Be More Vulnerable in Relationships

How to Be More Vulnerable in Relationships

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Is It Time To Let Down Your Walls?

Not too long ago I shared some advice on Bustle.com about “What to do if you’re having a hard time being vulnerable in a relationship.” I thought this was such a great topic, and one that so many people struggle with, that I should share more advice on how to use the power of vulnerability to transform your relationships here too.

It’s easy to think of “vulnerability” in negative terms, because it conjures images of being open to hurt. However, what I know from many years as a couples therapist and marriage counselor, is that when it comes to your relationships, vulnerability is (paradoxically) the key to having closer, more intimate, and ultimately more satisfying connections with other people. Conversely, if you keep your guard up all the time, you’ll be missing out on having truly meaningful and authentic connections with the most important people in your life.

What does it mean to be vulnerable in your relationships? 

As Brene Brown discusses in her amazing TED Talk about the power of vulnerability: Being vulnerable means sharing the most important, authentic parts of yourself with someone who matters to you — and risking rejection.  Being vulnerable means “being seen” for who and what you are, and exposing yourself to the potential for hurt. While this may sound intimidating, the alternative is often worse: Being closed off can lead to loneliness, and feeling unseen, and unknown by others.

Do You Keep Your Guard Up in Relationships?

If so, it’s understandable. It is much safer, emotionally, to manage your image, keep the mask on, and not let yourself care. Particularly in the hyper-curated era of social media, there’s a strong pull to only show what is perfect or enviable about your life. But being vulnerable means showing someone else that maybe you’re not perfect, maybe you’re not always okay, and maybe you do have some worries, insecurities, or pain.

The scariest thing about vulnerability for many people boils down to this: When you really, really care about someone else, and want them to love you as much as you love them, it can be terrifying to allow yourself to be truly seen by them. Because… what if they don’t want you anymore, after they know the whole truth? Or what if you allow yourself to lean on someone else emotionally, and they fail you, or reject you?

Being vulnerable does mean exposing yourself to the potential for hurt or rejection. And, at the same time, risking vulnerability is also opening the door to the kind of relationship you long for: One built on authenticity, emotional intimacy, and a deep connection.

Why It’s Important To Open Up To Your Partner

Another thing to consider, in addition to YOUR feelings of closeness and connection, are those of your partner. As a marriage counselor and couples therapist, one of the relationship issues I most often hear about from couples having problems is that at least one person feels that their partner is closed off, and uncommunicative. They want to understand how their partner feels, what they think about, what they care about, and their hopes and dreams… and yet feel cut off from that.

I can tell you that many, if not most, relationship fights are really not about the things that people are fighting about, like how much money was spent, or whether or not someone wants to have sex, or “the tone” being used, or whether or not someone followed through with whatever they said they were going to do. Relationship fights are about not feeling cared for, feeling unheard, feeling disrespected, and feeling disconnected.

When couples are emotionally intimate and feel close to each other, they are much more resilient, more tolerant of each other, and generally kinder and more respectful. When true, deep connection is present, there’s just nothing to fight about. (Instead, you can have constructive conversations about how to get on the same page and solve problems together).

That’s the power of vulnerability in relationships.

On the other hand, when people are not able to be vulnerable in relationships and trust themselves and their partners enough to allow themselves to truly be seen, relationships remain superficial. Yes, you may have a companion and a social partner, but the core of your relationship — emotional intimacy, empathy, and responsiveness — feels barren.

Over time, these types of relationships tend to become stagnant. Or, if people have feelings inside of themselves that they are not communicating about vulnerably (and consequently, the needs they have are not getting acknowledged or met) they can also start to believe that the relationship itself is not sustainable.

It’s such a bind: On the one hand, in order to have a better relationship, you need to talk about how you feel and take emotional risks with your partner. That feels scary, and many people avoid it. On the other hand, not saying things out loud feels safer in the moment, but in the absence of communication, relationships grow strained and fights start brewing under the surface… which makes it feel less safe to talk about your truth in a vulnerable way.

The Consequences of Keeping Emotional Walls Up

Over time, in the absence of vulnerability and emotional intimacy, relationships become increasingly dissatisfying for both partners. This makes it less likely that either person will feel safe and secure enough to have heartfelt conversations that will bring them back together again. Instead, people make cutting side comments or show each other their distress through behaviors. (Behaviors and comments that are often angering or unattractive to their partner, pushing them further away as opposed to drawing them closer).

One of the primary benefits of marriage counseling or couples therapy is that the presence of a compassionate, knowledgeable couples counselor creates a “safe space” where people can be more vulnerable and open. With a third party holding open the door to communication, and shielding both parties from the emotional reactivity that will turn a heartfelt conversation into a vicious fight in a matter of seconds, couples can start seeing each other, hearing each other, and understanding each other at a deeper level.

By moving back into a space of vulnerability and authenticity (or for some couples, creating that kind of emotional intimacy for the first time) partners can then establish a stronger connection, empathy, and emotional safety that will help them solve problems together and increase their love for each other.

6 Tips To Help You Be More Vulnerable In Your Relationships

1: Self Awareness. The most important first step in creating a more emotionally intimate relationship, based on authenticity and vulnerability, is knowing yourself. You cannot communicate your truth if you yourself don’t know what it is. It sounds odd, but many people are awash in nebulous feelings or have core beliefs or automatic thoughts that never fully enter their consciousness as coherent thoughts. They just react. Understanding how you really feel is a prerequisite for being able to communicate it to others.

2: Clarity.  Until you have language for your inner experience, it remains unknown — even to you. If your relationship is currently in a space where it feels fragile, it may not feel safe enough to talk through your feelings with your partner until you arrive at the truth. In these cases, you might consider journaling, letter writing, or talking with a counselor or coach until you’re clear about how you’re feeling. Then, you can express it to your partner in a way that they can hear.

3: Timing. If you are already clear about how you’re feeling and what you want to express, the next most important step in helping yourself be vulnerable is, believe it or not, timing. Too many people experiment with vulnerability at a time when their partner is not expecting it, in the same mindset, or even in a place where they are present enough to be responsive. For example, someone might see their spouse in the kitchen, alone, unloading the dishwasher, and take that opportunity to start talking about something really important to them (often to their back). The preoccupied spouse may not understand the importance of this disclosure, or respond in a thoughtful way. Consequently, many people feel rejected and hurt, and come away thinking that their “vulnerability experiment” was a bad idea.

4: Be Explicit. If you want to talk about something important, make it known. Invite your partner to sit down with you, without distractions, and then let them know that you want to talk about some important things. Let them know that you feel apprehensive about being vulnerable before you start sharing. Talk out loud about your emotional process, and how important it is to you to feel emotionally safe with them. Say things like, “Just the fact that you’re sitting here looking into my eyes while I’m talking to you means the world to me,” so they know how to be present with you in a way that feels good to you.

5: Fight The Fear. If you start feeling apprehensive or like shutting down when you’re talking about your feelings, you can say that out loud too. Remind yourself (and perhaps, even your partner) that as hard as it can be to “go there” it is also the path to a deeper, more intimate connection. Be brave and honest. You might even consider saying out loud that what you’re saying feels scary or hard. Even disclosing that to your partner can make you feel less alone, and help them help you be more vulnerable.

6: Help Your Partner Be a Good Listener.  Most importantly, ask for what you need. (As much as we’d like to wish that our partners could or should “just know” how to respond to us perfectly… they won’t unless you tell them.) When you share your feelings, let your partner know that you don’t need to be “fixed” or have your problems solved. The goal is not resolution, but connection. Communicating openly with your partner about what helps you feel safer to share will pave the way for easier, more heartfelt communication and the emotional security that you both desire.

How To Get Your Partner To Open Up To You

Sometimes in relationships, you’re not the one that needs to open up. Instead, you’re feeling frustrated because your partner feels closed off to you. You try to get them to talk to you about important things, or share their feelings… and it’s like talking to a wall. Here are a couple of tips to help your partner feel safer and more comfortable to talk authentically to you. [Also read: How to Communicate With a Withdrawn Partner]

If someone isn’t “opening up” with you, one of two things is typically happening:

1: They don’t feel emotionally safe with you. This is a hard one to consider, but it’s easy to unintentionally come across as an emotionally unsafe person, especially if you’ve been feeling frustrated or hurt by your relationship. When your partner does tell you about things that are true for them, are you meeting their disclosures with caring and empathy? Or is there a chance that you are judging them, and imposing your values on them? (This can be true if their truth is something that you disagree with, or wish were different.) Show your partner that they are safe with you, by accepting them for who they are.

2: Their inner experience is not the same as yours. People differ in their personalities, in their emotional awareness, in their desire for emotional intimacy, and propensity for psychological-mindedness. Not to bring gender into this, but many times women feel frustrated with partners who they perceive as “not opening up.” When truthfully, men don’t relate the same way women do. Women establish an emotional connection in relationships by deepening, reciprocal layers of personal disclosure. Men don’t always do that. [More info: “Understanding Men,” on the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast]

Furthermore, many men are socialized out of having feelings and thinking too deeply about their emotional process. They may therefore, genuinely, not have as much to say about their inner experience. They may be happy and content in “doing” life rather than talking about it. In order to have an emotionally safe relationship, that needs to be okay too. Emotional intimacy and vulnerability can be expressed in many ways besides face-to-face conversations. Sexuality, sharing finances, making sacrifices for each other, developing shared priorities, and committing to your partnership are also all expressions of vulnerability — many times, even more powerful than vulnerabilities disclosed in words.

When you practice tolerance and acceptance for the way your partner shows vulnerability and intimacy, it increases the emotional safety in your relationship. Emotional safety creates an environment that cultivates vulnerability and intimacy, helping you continually grow closer and more connected.

I hope these ideas help you and your partner create the kind of strong, satisfying relationship that you both crave.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Denver Marriage Counselor Denver Life Coach Denver Therapist

Lisa Marie Bobby, PhD, LMFT, BCC

"Hi, I'm Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby. For over a decade, I've been helping people all over the world create Love, Happiness and Success in their lives through positive, compassionate and effective Marriage Counseling, Therapy and Life Coaching. I'm so pleased to be able to help you, too. There is help for you here, and I'm glad you've found us.

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