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How to Empower Your Relationship

How to Empower Your Relationship

How to Empower Your Relationship

Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP is a marriage counselor, couples therapist, and life coach. Her approach is warm, positive, solution-focused, and all about helping you get to the core issues so that you can grow and move forward confidently. Teresa works with her marriage and couples clients to help them build a positive foundation and experience empowered relationships.

Cultivating positive growth

There comes a time in many relationships when the experiences you are having together make you feel less hopeful about the future of your partnership. Maybe you have been arguing more than you want, or you have been feeling disconnected for some time. When the relationship is no longer something you feel positive about, I suggest taking these steps to empower your relationship and revive the hope you once had. I encourage my clients in marriage and couples counseling to use these skills when beginning the journey of reconnecting and building a better relationship with their partner. 

Set Intentions of Change

The first essential step to empower your relationship is setting your intentions of change. When you feel like things have gotten to a point that you no longer feel satisfied it can be easy to begin the process of acceptance. I encourage my clients to resist accepting any part of life and relationships that they want to be different. Setting your intentions begins with refocusing your mind toward creating change. Start thinking about the things you want to be different. Sit down and start having loving conversations about each of your perspectives so that you are clear and on the same page about what changes you would like to make together.

Keep Communication Positive

I understand that when your relationship is needing some care it can be difficult to communicate with your partner. Many of us lose our cool and engage in negative communication when we feel stuck in the dynamic of the relationship. It is discouraging and sometimes painful to not be fulfilled in your relationship. So, when you are feeling stuck and it is hard to be hopeful, it is important to keep communication positive. Even when you are discussing the changes you want to make, try balancing out the conversation with the things you enjoy and want to stay the same. I encourage you to begin acknowledging your partner’s effort to change, as well as the small successes you have along the way. Consistently tell your partner what you love about them. Positive communication helps you stay motivated and willing to work through setbacks.

Establish & Evaluate Your Relationship Values & Principles

Empowerment will help you find motivation and purpose in your relationship. When you have set your intentions of change and made positive communication a priority, evaluating the values and principles of your relationship is a great next step. We all have personal values and principles that we live by. Relationships should also be based on a foundation of shared values between partners. Some examples are honesty, loyalty, open communication, and spontaneity. Begin thinking and talking about the values that you share with your partner. I suggest writing them down and putting them somewhere visible and accessible for you both to reference and add to the list.

Create Action-Oriented Plans

The last essential step to empowering your relationship is to focus on action-oriented plans. In order to move forward and create lasting change in your relationship, it is important to identify the behaviors and actions that go along with the values you set in place. For example, if one of your values is trust, actions like telling the truth even when it is hard and allowing your partner to have healthy friendships outside of your relationship, communicate and support the value of trust. So for each of your values talk about the ways you put them into action. This way you are both aware of the expectations and how you can communicate your intention of love and support for each other and the relationship.

These first steps to empowerment will allow your hope to return and jump-start the positive changes. 

 

Warmly,

Teresa

 

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

How to Balance Your Career and Relationship

Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C is a positive, solution-focused “change agent” with a fun, empowering approach to personal growth and couples therapy. Rachel helps couples achieve a more balanced life both in their personal and professional lives.

Working it out

As a relationship counselor and life coach, I have had the opportunity to work with couples who both value their career and their relationship, yet do not know how to properly balance the two. Understanding this work/life balance is essential for not only individuals looking to cultivate a happier life, but especially for couples in long-term committed relationships.

For many of us, we become aware of how off balance our priorities are in unexpected moments. For me, I was typing furiously on my computer one evening, multi-tasking (or more attempting to multi-task). I was trying to carry on a conversation with my partner and tie up loose ends from the work-day when my partner said, “Work isn’t our whole lives.” I often revisit his words during moments of overwhelming stress or when I struggle to find balance. This little statement took me by surprise. Mainly, because this really hadn’t occurred to me.

I’d spent years in school to foster a career I could be proud of. In fact, many components of my life have revolved around the idea of creating success. In living this way, I had fallen into the trap of working long hours and forgetting to devote quality time to my other values. I was treating work like it was my whole life.

Now perhaps you’ve had a moment like this, where you’ve noticed you derive a sense of worth, value, or even freedom by focusing on your career. Perhaps, you’ve done this at what might feel like a cost (your social life, time with loved ones, less time doing hobbies, etc.).

What if I told you that you didn’t have to pick between a successful career or successful relationships?  In working with clients (and based on personal experience), I’ve found a few tips to be very helpful in creating balance.

Take Stock of Where You Spend Your Time

Dr. John and Julie Gottman describe this conundrum (balancing work and relationships) as a “simple” numbers game. If you and your partner both work 60-70 hours per week, this means there are simply fewer hours available to devote to your relationships. In these situations, they recommend maximizing the time you do have together (make that 10-minute break count) and to also evaluate what is sustainable for your relationship, long-term.

Crunch the Numbers!

Look at how much time you and your partner actually have together and discuss if this will be workable over the long haul. If the answer is no, this is an opportunity to really evaluate your goals as a couple (which I’ll talk more about next).

In the meantime, establish routines and rituals that allow for you to create meaning with the limited amount of time you do have together. For example, if you have 10 minutes together before heading to work, try putting your phones away and take the first few sips of your morning coffee together.

Identify What’s Truly Important

Certainly, it’s positive to derive satisfaction from your work, but what are your priorities in the “big picture?” Typically, most people don’t wish they’d spent more hours at the office…but we do often remember and, maybe even regret, the missed moments with loved ones or doing the things we love.

So, what’s important to you and your relationship? Take a moment to write out a list and prioritize it according to what YOU feel is best and then discuss it with your partner. How do your priorities line up? Are there opportunities for growth both in your personal priorities and the priorities of your relationship?

Discuss With Your Partner Your Long-term Goals & Values


Talk openly about what you have in common (and what you don’t have in common). From there, you can identify ways to support one another as well as longer-term plans that will allow both you, your partner (AND your relationship) to have their respective needs met.

Often our relationship to work is rooted in what our work represents to us. For some it might symbolize a paycheck, a means to an end. For others, it might represent self-worth and validation. Understanding what work means to you will be a critical component in not only communicating with your partner or loved ones but also better understanding yourself.

Find Other Outlets That Assist You With the Same Goal


What I mean by this is, if you rely on work as your primary outlet to feel validated or accomplished, it may be helpful to find other avenues that meet these same needs. In doing this, you will have more flexibility to set healthy boundaries around work and you won’t need to rely so heavily on work in and of itself. Put bluntly, you’ll start feeling better!

My hope for you is that in evaluating these different pieces, you’re able to put your career into context (what’s the big picture and what matters most to you?). In doing this, it doesn’t mean that you value your job any less but instead, you may find you’re able to let go of unnecessary pressure and devote time to the relationships you truly value.

To sum it all up, by fostering open communication with your loved ones and by being clear in your values and goals, you certainly can have a satisfying career and satisfying relationships. You might even be able to find that tricky “balance” everyone is talking about.

Wishing you success,
Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFTC

How To Fall Back In Love With Your Spouse

Long-term relationships can sometimes start to feel stagnant when you've both been doing life together for so long. Marriage Therapist and Relationship Coach, Hunter Tolman, M.S., MFTC shares a simple step towards new beginnings in your relationship. Check it out here...

How To Avoid Unrealistic Expectations

Do You Find Yourself Feeling Dissatisfied In Your Relationship? Couples counselor and therapist Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT shares how you can avoid unrealistic expectations in your relationship with insight into where our unrealistic expectations come from and how to transform them into a healthy relationship.

What To Do When You Don’t Want To Be Touched

Do you avoid being touched by your partner? (Or struggle with feeling like your partner is avoiding being touched by you?) Relationship expert and sex therapist Dori Bagi shares how couples can restore a desire to be touched, and restore physical and emotional intimacy.

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How To Fall In Love Again

Looking to reignite that spark in your relationship? Here are some fun (and practical) suggestions from an expert marriage counselor and relationship coach about how to keep your love alive.

How to Empower Your Relationship

Are you feeling a disconnect in your relationship? Here is some advice from a marriage therapist and couples counselor on how you can empower your relationship to create positive change.

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

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.

Recover from a Fight

As a relationship therapist, I have had the opportunity to work with many couples who come looking for answers for their communication woes. How many of us have experienced that gut-wrenching feeling after a fight with our partner? Maybe you don’t feel heard, perhaps you feel like what you have to say about the topic is being misconstrued, or maybe you don’t know how to get your feelings across properly. Many couples who decide to engage in couples counseling are often doing so because they are experiencing unproductive communication, or they are at a loss as to how to resolve the conflict.

What you should know is that there is a better way to communicate, and out of better communication will come resolution to the conflict. Using positive communication skills can also help you find a path forward, and make-up after a fight.

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

Turning conflict into connection can seem like a merely unattainable relationship goal. You might be thinking that it’s not worth the effort to try and even communicate about the conflict because it will just encourage another argument – but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can choose to consciously practice (and I say practice because it can take time) a form of better communication. Not only will it help you recover after a fight, but also strengthen your relationship.

This week on The Love, Happiness and Success blog I am sharing what positive communication steps you can take to heal your relationship after a fight and turn your conflict into connection.

 

 

How to Solve Relationship Problems Without Breaking Up

How to Solve Relationship Problems Without Breaking Up

How to Solve Relationship Problems Without Breaking Up

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.

Every Couple Goes Through Hard Times.

 

 

Has your relationship been feeling hard lately? Arguing, bickering, sullen silences, critical comments, and rampant invalidation? If so, you’re not alone. Virtually every couple has gone through rough patches like these where things feel challenging: Frustrating, hurtful, angering, and stressful.

 

When your relationship is in a fragile place, even the most innocent comments or situations can trigger a conflict and it feels like a new fight is always simmering just under the surface. Even when you try to have fun together, it quickly goes off the rails. You might even start avoiding each other in order to prevent a new disagreement.

 

Relationship problems like these are exhausting, but mentally and emotionally draining too. Your relationship should be a source of comfort and support, not one of stress and anxiety. If you’re normal, at a certain point, it starts to feel unsustainable to keep going as you have been, and start searching for solutions. You may even start entertaining the “final solution” of breaking up or getting divorced.

 

Can This Relationship Be Saved?

 

If your relationship has been having problems for a while, you may be feeling helpless about how to save your relationship, and worried that things might not work out between the two of you. It is normal to wonder if this relationship can be saved. Of course, this is a scary place to be in, particularly if you really want a relationship to work. But it’s true: When you’ve been trying over and over again to communicate and solve the problems in your relationship and it’s not working… everyone starts to wonder if this is the end of the road for their relationship.

 

When relationship problems persist and nothing seems to help, it’s normal to start to doubt your compatibility, or think that you and your partner are just too different in your values or personalities. You may be wondering if your partner CAN learn how to communicate, or whether they are even willing to work with you to make the marriage or relationship better. You might think about trying marriage counseling or couples therapy, but then think, “How would a marriage counselor saying what I’ve been saying have any impact at all? What’s the point of marriage counseling when they refuse to change?”

 

While this mindset is absolutely normal and natural, if it’s indulged for too long it’s likely to end in divorce or a break up. Why? Because you’re convincing yourself that nothing can be done, and in doing so, may be closing yourself off to solutions. I’m here to tell you that you may have more options than you currently realize.

 

Thinking About Leaving Your Relationship? Not So Fast…

 

If you’ve been feeling badly in your relationship for a while, you might even be harboring escape fantasies: Browsing online for apartments, thinking about what you’d say to the kids, and what your life might look like if you’re finally free of the relationship that’s been feeling so frustrating and hurtful. It can start to seem like divorce or leaving is the only option.

But that is rarely the case. Just because what you have been doing hasn’t worked, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a path forward that will work. (It just might look different than you were anticipating).

 

As a marriage counselor, I know first hand that some relationships cannot be saved. However, many more can. And, sadly, most of the time people get divorced because they don’t know how to resolve the problems in their relationship, and lose hope that things can ever get better. However, it is very rare that evidence-based couples counseling doesn’t work when two people care enough about their relationship to try (and are given the right tools and supports to be successful).

 

Consider this: Even if you do divorce, and form a new relationship with a new person, chances are that sooner or later you’ll arrive in a similar place — feeling frustrated by your relationship, and at a cross roads where you either grow together or grow apart. (Read: Why Your Relationship is Worth Saving)

 

It’s easy to start creating a narrative about how “things shouldn’t be this hard” or “this is not normal.” The truth is that unless this is a genuinely toxic or abusive relationship, all normal couples go through times just like this. You’re normal. I dare you to find one person who’s been married or partnered for more than about 4 years who has not, at some point, felt exactly the way you do.

 

There is hope for your relationship: Couples, with the right support, can grow together and not just resolve their problems but come out the other side being stronger, happier and genuinely more satisfied with their relationships — not in spite of going through the hard times, but because of them.

 

Learning How to Grow, Together

 

When couples inevitably get to the point where communication has broken down, and resentments build up… they have the opportunity to do some serious growth work together. Through this process, you have the chance to be understood, cared for, heard, and respected by each other. You also get the chance to solve problems together as a couple, and work together to build the type of life and relationship that you want.

Without going through the hard times, you wouldn’t have the opportunity or motivation to get really real and embrace the challenge of growth that your marriage requires.

 

How to Save Your Relationship, When It Feels Like It’s On The Brink

 

There is a path forward, that can bring you two back together again. It’s actually fairly simple (but not easy).

Listen to this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast for advice from a marriage counselor for how you can get your relationship back on track.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

xo, Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

 

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How to Save Your Relationship Without Breaking Up

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

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When Do You Need Marriage Counseling? 8 Ways To Tell

When Do You Need Marriage Counseling? 8 Ways To Tell

When Do You Need Marriage Counseling? 8 Ways To Tell

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a marriage counselor, relationship coach, life coach and therapist with Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

“Do We Need Marriage Counseling?”

Have you ever thought this to yourself? Maybe in the aftermath of a nasty fight, or another frustrating conversation? It’s also easy to talk yourself out of going to see a couples therapist, marriage counselor or relationship coach. It can be hard to tell what is normal relationship turbulence that will blow over on its own, and when more serious relationship problems are brewing under the surface that you may need professional help to resolve.

I think we can all agree that relationships take work. However, too often (particularly for long-term couples) it can be easy to take each other for granted, and pay attention to everything and everyone else besides each other. When relationships are set to autopilot for too long, over time they often go significantly off-course or sometimes even take a 90-degree nose-dive into the ground.

When your relationship is clearly in a significant crisis you know it’s time to get help and seek couples therapy or relationship coaching. However, if your relationship is not clearly in trouble, but rather is in the process of going off course, it can be hard to say, “This is it. We need to talk to a marriage counselor.” 

The problem is this: Relationships that are still mostly good are much easier to repair and restore than seriously damaged relationships where trust and goodwill have been lost. Marriage counselor and couples and family researcher Dr. John Gottman has found that, on average, divorcing couples waited for an average of six years after the onset of their relationship problems to get help for their marriage. Often, sadly, by the time they do, it’s too late. [Check out “How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage“]

On the other hand, pro-active, committed couples who care about their relationship are alert to the early warning signs that their relationships are headed in the wrong direction. The happiest, healthiest, and strongest couples are the ones that get into marriage counseling or couples therapy early, because they stop budding relationship problems in their tracks.

I think of relationship coaching or couples therapy as being proactive versus reactive. The one thing that I have found to be consistently true is that it is much easier to elevate an already healthy relationship than to try to save one that is floundering, There are a variety of reasons why relationship coaching would be beneficial but all of them support the goal of enhancing what you already have.

Here are eight early warning signs that your relationship is headed for trouble, and it’s time to talk to a marriage counselor:

You Struggle to Communicate With Your Partner

Communication is the number one reason people seek out marriage counseling or relationship coaching. People have different communications styles. Often couples have unintentional miscommunication because they have a fundamentally different way of communicating. While one person may be speaking from a place of logic and reasoning the other person may talk straight from the heart. If this has been true for you, take heart: Marriage counseling or relationship coaching is the perfect way to learn basic communication tools and identify where your specific breakdowns in communication are happening so that you can change your patterns, and start understanding each other again.

You Feel Disconnected From Your Partner

While we all may wish to return to the feeling of total connection and engagement we had with our partner when we first started dating, it can feel challenging to maintain that with the ever competing demands for our time and attention between kids, work, and  life in general. If you are noticing a feeling of disconnection between you and your partner, couples counseling or relationship coaching not only provides you with the specific strategies to regain your connection but also puts aside uninterrupted time to focus on the relationship, which is beneficial in and of itself. [Learn More: Empathy: The Key to Connection]

You Have Difficulty Managing Conflict

The ability to “fight fair” is learned. Healthy conflict management is a skill-set. Couples often need a roadmap to navigate their conflict so that they can avoid the roadblocks, understand the unforeseen curves and learn how to get themselves to the desired destination safely (we’re talking emotional safety). Learning how to have healthy, productive conflict is one of the most common goals I see in my couples counseling practice.

One Or Both Of You Is Uncertain About Your Commitment to the Relationship

It is common for me to see a couple where one person, or sometimes both people, are no longer certain about their commitment to the relationship. Through couples therapy or relationship coaching we assess the level of engagement and what it would take to either move towards full commitment to the relationship or begin the process of separation. This is generally a short-term process and at the end of it we either refocus on rebuilding the commitment or giving you the tools to separate in as healthy a way as possible.

You Need to Rebuild Trust

Whether there has been an affair or some other form of infidelity, couples often come to marriage counseling or relationship coaching with the hopes of rebuilding trust. Rebuilding trust is a delicate process, requiring lots of support for both of you. Trust and emotional security are difficult to repair without the support of an expert couples counselor. However, when you work with a competent marriage counselor or relationships coach you can both learn how to manage anxiety, show each other you’re trust worthy, and rebuild your sense of emotional safety. [Learn more: How to Repair Your Relationship After Infidelity]

You Need Parenting Coaching

Maybe your relationship is solid but you’re having challenges with parenting. Many, many couples struggle to get on the same page around parenting. Parent coaching is an opportunity for you and your partner to get on the same page in your parenting relationship and to identify strategic, evidence-based practices to manage the difficulties you are having with your child(ren).

You’re Facing a Difficult Decision As a Couple

Many times, couples can get into “gridlock” around major life decisions. To have a baby or not, to move to a different town or not, to take a specific job or not, can all turn into binary black-and-white, either-or conflict between partners. Gridlock can be difficult to get through alone, but working through major life decisions with a great marriage counselor or couples therapist can help you find common ground. If you are coming up against a difficult decision and either you and your partner disagree or are struggling to talk about the decision altogether, relationship coaching will provide a safe space to begin talking through the options and giving you both the space to be heard and understood so that you can move forward, together. 

You’re Struggling With a Transition

Life transitions are hard. They often upend our world as we knew it and force us to adjust to a brand new set of circumstances. If you are going through some sort of challenging life transition, whether it be the birth of a child, job changes, moving, or empty nesting, relationship coaching is a perfect place to process the transition and learn the necessary skills to adjust and thrive in your new circumstances.

“But Who Has The Time For Marriage Counseling??”

Yes, for many couples, time can be the biggest obstacle to getting involved in marriage counseling, couples therapy, or relationship coaching. (The second is the myth that marriage counseling is expensive, which is addressed here.) But it is true that many busy, successful, professional couples — especially those with families — can struggle to get the planets to align to both be in the same place at the same time for couples counseling. What’s the answer? Virtual relationship coaching.

 

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Make it Work, With Online Relationship Coaching

If you are living a full life without an excess of time, then virtual coaching is.a perfect way for you to address the challenges in your relationship now before your find yourself in a full-blown crisis. Virtual relationship coaching, aka, meeting for marriage counseling or couples therapy by online video, is not just a fantastic option for busy couples but also sometimes the only way to make it work. This is especially true if:

You Need Relationship Coaching But Are Living Abroad

There are several reasons why relationship coaching is a great option for people that live abroad. It can often be challenging to find access to mental health professionals in other countries. However, having the ability to do virtual relationship coaching internationally brings a highly trained couples coach right to your door. Living abroad can also be isolating. Coaching will provide you with additional support and also help you identify how you can build a support system within your new community, both individually and as a couple.

You Need Couples Counseling in a Long-Distance Relationship 

If you and your partner live in different towns, states, countries and aren’t in the same place often, virtual coaching for long-distance relationships may truly be your only option to get help for your relationship. It is common for me to work with a long-distance couple via a three-way video conference. Don’t think that being in a long distance relationship rules you out from getting help. [Listen to “How to Make Long Distance Work” on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast for some great advice about how to have a fantastic long-distance relationship].

I hope this information helps you decide if you need marriage counseling, and if so, about all your options for getting your relationship the help it deserves.

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
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