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How To Fall In Love Again

How To Fall In Love Again

Let’s Talk About Date Night

If you’re in a long-term relationship the time will come when that burning flame of romance and passion dims to a comfortable warmth, it’s inevitable. This doesn’t mean that the romance and passion are over, it’s a new era of your relationship. If you welcome this era with an open mind and a willingness to experience this stage with your partner – you will find that this warmth is not only sustaining to your relationship but welcoming.

I know it can feel discouraging to think back on how alive and in love you once were before the chaos of life, work, and family obligations became primary conversations at the dinner table. Maybe you’re even asking yourself “can it ever be like it once was?”

The truth is, if you’re both willing to put in the effort to keep your relationship “lit” then YES you can have those rekindling experiences in your relationship! In fact, research by love gurus Dr. John and Julie Gottman has even shown that couples on the road to separation were able to rekindle the flame in their relationship. So what’s the secret? You guessed it…date night.

How To Get The Most Out Of Date Night

It’s easy enough to go on a date if time and circumstance allow. However, it can feel like there’s just not enough time in the day for dating, and if you are like most of my couples clients you have a lot going on. It can feel like your only conversations together happen in passing after a long day at work or at the dinner table with the kids. This means that you have to be intentional about date night, and you need to get the most out of your time together (yes, I’m talking quality over quantity).

So, How Do You Do This?

First, it’s important to choose a time that works for both of you. It might feel silly scheduling each other in, but I promise if you schedule your date together you’re both more likely to make it work. So sit down, get those phones out (or paper agendas, whatever works for you!) and pick a time where you are either both free or available to move your schedule around. This might mean getting a babysitter, rearranging less important plans, or simply saying “no” to lesser obligations. But remember, you don’t have to force a date for the sake of dating. Sometimes an hour at the nearby coffee shop can be just as fun — do what works best for you!

Next, be deliberate about the activity you choose to do together. Since time is limited, what you do with that time is important. Try to orchestrate a date that is both fun and meaningful for both of you! The more thought you put into the date, the more you’ll get out of it. Before this starts sounding like a chore, I’m not talking about an itinerary that has every little moment planned out. Think about what you both like to do? Where do you like to go? What have you done in the past you’d like to do again? What are some new places, food, or experiences you would like to try?

Number one rule – make this time about the two of you. You don’t have to stick to any version of a date that isn’t appealing to you. However, the more time you spend together, the easier dating becomes. If this means staying home and watching a movie together, sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine, going out to an upscale restaurant, or checking out the “hottest” club – do what’s right for the both of you.

Looking for some great date night suggestions? Take a look at these simple to elaborate ideas you can implement into your new date night routine.

Fun Simple Suggestions:

  1. Pizza & A Movie Marathon— whether you like the DIY method of making your own homemade pizza or you like someone else to do the work for you (aka…ordering delivery), this is a staple date night. You can choose a movie that has a special meaning to the two of you, or maybe even take turns showing your current or childhood favorites.
  2. Build A Fort or “Camp” Indoors—sometimes laying down together in a new place can be exciting and spark some old feelings you thought were lost!
  3. Go On A Long Walk Together—use this time to hold hands, talk about life, or even get to know each other more. Did you know that exercise helps release brain chemicals that can make you feel happier? So by simply doing something active together can create positive feelings between you and your partner.
  4. Desserts and Discovery—make your favorite desserts together and ask one another questions to get to know each other again. There are various apps that supply questions to ask your partner (I recommend the “Gottman Card Decks” app). You could even get creative and use this desserts and discovery date to spark some sexual intimacy as well!

More Elaborate Suggestions:

  1. Surprise Date Night—if you and your partner have similar schedules, surprise your partner with a spontaneous date (to a restaurant, bowling alley, movies, etc). The excitement of the surprise may spark some long-awaited affection.
  2. A Mini-Vacay—find a babysitter and book a hotel room for the night! A night away from home can be especially rejuvenating for a relationship, especially if you have children.
  3. Take A Class Together—some communities offer classes to the public. Register for a local class together such as art, culinary, dancing, or exercise classes. Some classes may even be free!
  4. Recreate Your First Date—think about your very first date together and recreate it.  Reminiscing on the past may help reignite passion in the present. It can also be helpful to talk through all of the obstacles you have overcome as a couple over the years and take time to appreciate how your partner has contributed to the strengths in your relationship.

Date night can be a helpful tool for relationship health. Whether you’re wanting to stick to something simple or splurge on an elaborate night out, there are many exciting ways to get to know your partner and rediscover the excitement in your relationship. Try some of these suggestions and share your experience with me below in the comments section!

Wishing you the best on your date,
Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT

Georgi Chizk, M.S., LAMFT is a warm, compassionate marriage counselor, individual therapist and family therapist who creates a safe and supportive space for you to find meaning in your struggles, realize your self-worth, and cultivate healthy connections with the most important people in your life.

Let’s  Talk

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

 

What to Do When You Are Married and Have a Crush on Someone Else

What to Do When You Are Married and Have a Crush on Someone Else

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.

Married With a Crush?

 

So, you are married but you have a crush on someone else. Hey, it happens. Married people, even happily married people are also human and as such, are vulnerable to developing crushes on attractive others. A crush, aka, “Romantic Infatuation” can happen with anyone who you spend time with and who has attractive or, interestingly, anxiety-producing qualities. 

What does is mean if you are married and have a crush on someone else?

Having a crush on someone else when you’re married doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person. It also is not a reflection of your marriage. Believe it or not, having a crush may not mean anything at all. In fact, people in happy, healthy, committed relationships can still develop fluttery feelings for attractive others. Crush-y feelings don’t need to mean anything about your marriage or your spouse, or about the person you have a crush on.

Feelings just happen sometimes.

We have crushes because we’re living, feeling human beings who are designed to fall in love. Particularly in long term relationships where the zing of early-stage romantic love has faded into a steady, warm attachment, the part of us that longs for exciting, romantic love may be tickled awake by the presence of an interesting new other.

However, smart, self-aware people in good, committed relationships need to not follow those feelings, but rather handle them maturely and with wisdom. 

The Smart Way to Handle Having a Crush When You’re Married

While developing a crush is not unusual, it is extremely important to be very self-aware about what is happening and redirect your energy back into your primary relationship as quickly as possible. (If you want to stay married, anyway.)

Developing an infatuation can actually be a positive thing for a relationship, particularly if you are self-aware enough to realize that your feelings for someone else might be informing you about what you’d like to be different about your primary relationship. 

Then you can build on the existing strengths of your relationship to add “crush ingredients” back in, like spending time together, novelty, emotional intimacy, flirtation, and fun. Your relationship will be the stronger for it.

When Crushes Cross the Line

Crushes, when not handled well, can also be an on-ramp to an affair. Consider that very few people intend to start an affair. Most affairs begin with people having fluttery, crush-y feelings for someone who is not their spouse… and then leaning into them rather than intentionally extinguishing them.

Developing a crush or romantic feelings for another can be extremely dangerous for the stability of your family and your relationship. While it’s not unusual to develop a mild crush when you’re married, if unchecked, your innocent-seeing crush could bloom into an emotional or even sexual affair. 

While everyone can have a crush bloom, it’s very important to know how to handle yourself and your relationship when crushes happen in order to protect yourself, your relationship, and your integrity.

Protect Your Marriage From an Affair

Here at Growing Self, we are strong believers in the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That is never more so than with relationships: It’s much easier to educate yourself and learn how to handle common situations successfully, and in such a way that they strengthen your relationship rather than harm it.

Knowing how to handle yourself if you start to develop a crush on someone when you’re married to another is one of the most important ways of protecting your relationship from an affair. Even though couples can and do recover from infidelity, infidelity is terribly traumatic and difficult to repair. Affairs destroy marriages and destroy lives, and at the end of the day tend to result in disappointing relationships with the affair partner.

Take it from a marriage counselor (and, ahem, author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to an Ex Love”) who’s seen the destruction that affairs create: Don’t do it. The key? Catching those normal, crush-y feelings early and learning how to use them to re-energize your marriage, while simultaneously learning how to extinguish the crush.

What To Do (And Not Do) When You Are Married And Have a Crush

Today on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m talking all about how to handle yourself and your relationship when you have a crush on someone else. We’ll be discussing:

  • The mechanics of a crush; how and why crushes develop
  • The difference between a crush and a platonic friendship
  • Why happy, committed married people can have crushes on others
  • How crushes can turn into something more serious
  • How to use self-awareness, integrity, and honesty to protect your marriage
  • How to use your crush experience in order to add energy and intimacy into your relationship
  • Warning signs that your crush is developing into something else
  • Why extramarital affairs are always a bad idea, and rarely end well
  • How to stop having a crush on someone else
  • How to avoid embarrassment and professional ruin if you have a crush on a coworker
  • How to protect your relationship and stay true to your values even when you’re having feelings for another.

All this and more on today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

xoxo,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Ps: If it’s not you you’re worried about, but rather that your partner may have a crush on someone else, here are some other resources for you: Signs of an Emotional Affair, and How to Get Your Needs Met in a Relationship. Play them in the car and see what your partner thinks… LMB

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

Married With a Crush? What To Do (and Not Do)

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

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How To Fall In Love Again

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How to Strengthen Your Relationship

How to Strengthen Your Relationship

Rachel is an expert couples counselor, therapist and life coach with Growing Self Counseling & Coaching who specializes in helping you find passion and joy in yourself and your relationships. She supports you in creating meaning and happiness, and not only facing your challenges — but triumphantly overcoming them.

Want a Fantastic Relationship? You Can Bank On It.

In my couples therapy and marriage counseling sessions, I often hear couples talk about times when they had so much fun with one another and felt incredibly connected, and moments where problems felt smaller, and arguments were more manageable. Couples in these situations often wonder, “How did this happen?” but more importantly “How do we get that back? I want to have fun with my partner again; I’m so sick of arguing all the time!” If any of this feels remotely familiar to you, then you might want to take a look at your emotional bank account.

Now before we do that, let me back up and give you a little more information.

Strategies To Strengthen Your Relationship

The Research: Dr. John Gottman is one of the premier researchers in the field of evidence based marriage and family therapy. Through decades of research into what makes relationships work (and what ruins them) he’s found that it’s not enough to ONLY address conflict resolution; we also need to look at friendship and shared meaning in order to truly strengthen our partnerships.

Conflict resolution, friendship and shared meaning: These three relational areas have a bi-directional influence on one another- meaning if we look at strategies to strengthen the friendship between you and your partner, we’re also likely to improve your ability to resolve conflict (and vice versa). You might wonder, why is that?

Well, let’s look at it this way — think of your very best friend (this might even be your partner); now think of a friend who you have an “ok but not terribly strong” relationship with. Which person do you think you’d be able to resolve conflict with more effectively?
Most likely, the individual you feel closer to and have a stronger friendship with — you have a greater baseline understanding of one another, there’s investment in that relationship,etc.

Investing In Your Relationship

Why It Matters: Now here’s why this matters- you have a shared bank account with your partner (and no, I’m not talking about your actual checking account). What I’m talking about is your emotional bank account. This is a shared account between you and your partner. When you and your partner have positive interactions, you make deposits into this account. When you and your partner have negative interactions, you make withdrawals from the account. Like any bank account, the goal is to keep the balance high.

However, there is a curveball in this whole situation. The ratio of withdrawals to deposits is not even. We require five positive interactions (deposits) to outweigh one negative interaction (withdrawals). This means it’s really important to stock up so you can handle withdrawals, without going into the negative. You might wonder, how do we stock up our account?

Double Down On The Positive in Your Relationship

What You Can Do About It: Well, let’s piece this all together! The reason I blather on about the importance of friendship and shared meaning in the relationship, is because we can foster these areas on a daily basis, thus making DEPOSITS AND MORE DEPOSITS.

So what is a “positive” interaction? It can range from noticing your partner’s bids for connection, asking your partner about their day, a quick kiss, or even giving them a compliment. Take a moment to reflect on what might make your partner feel loved and supported on a daily basis and show this through your daily interactions.

Research indicates that small, positive, and consistent daily interactions are more effective instrengthening the relationship than the occasional grand gesture. The key is to notice when your partner is investing in the relationship and to make an active effort to do the same.

So, if you maintain a high balance in your bank account (at least 5:1), you will be able to more effectively resolve conflict (your account will not go into the “negative” every time there’s an argument). With all this being said, you should take the time to develop strategies to resolve conflict effectively, but don’t forget fostering fun and friendship within your relationship are just as important. And you can take that to the bank!

Sincerely,

Rachel Harder, M.A., LMFT-C

4 Common Relationship Issues That Drive Couples To Seek Couples Counseling

4 Common Relationship Issues That Drive Couples To Seek Couples Counseling

Teena Evert is a licensed marriage and family therapist, licensed addictions counselor, and certified coach with Growing Self Counseling & Coaching.  She specializes in helping people live wholeheartedly, and create empowered lives and relationships. She can help you connect with your true self, and cultivate thriving relationships with others.

When Is It Time For Marriage Counseling?

If you’re in a committed relationship and experiencing issues with your spouse or significant other, you’re not alone. It’s very common to have challenges in your relationship from time-to-time, as there is no perfect relationship. With that said, it’s important to learn how to work through these relationship challenges as they come up, so they don’t grow into bigger issues later.

As a couples therapist and life coach, I’ve worked with hundreds of distressed couples who have come to me for support and guidance due to challenges in their relationship that they have not been able to resolve on their own. The good news is that many of these relationship issues are solvable.

In my experience there are four main challenges that drive couples to seek marriage counseling or couples therapy:

Needing to Be Heard, Understood, and Respected

The first is a desire to have more clarity about your needs and how to get them met within the relationship. Whether we are aware of them or not, we all have needs in a relationship. A sure sign that your needs aren’t being met in your relationship is irritation and frustration that often builds into chronic resentment.

Many people grew up believing that it wasn’t okay to have needs. As a result, they become hyper-focused on their partner’s needs to the point that they neglect their own. This pattern doesn’t lead to lasting happiness and fulfillment.

Therefore, getting clear about what you need in your relationship to feel loved and cared for is how you learn to express your emotional needs with one another. Understanding how to work in partnership in life, regarding simple daily tasks and expectations addresses the functional needs of a relationship. We need both our functional and emotional needs to be met in order for the relationship to be harmonious and resilient enough to survive challenging times.

Wanting to Be Closer To Your Partner

The second is wanting an emotional connection and greater intimacy with each other. Feeling out of sync and disconnected from your partner is what can break down the intimacy in a relationship. Your emotional connection is necessary to experience true intimacy with your partner. [Read: “How to Connect With Your Partner“]

Emotional intimacy allows your relationship to provide more of a sense of relaxation, expansion and joy, rather than a state of chronic stress, contraction and fear. If you get out of sync with your partner,  it’s essential that you learn how to get back into sync as quickly as possible, so that any missteps can be repaired and the confidence in your connection can be strengthened.

Working As a Team With Each Other

The third is how to work as a team to manage life stress that comes with aging parents, raising a family or becoming empty nesters. We are stronger when we work together as a team, rather than in opposition to one another. Being in opposition will only create more stress and friction in an already difficult situation.

Major transitions in life often lead to stress that will test our resilience. This is a time that not only requires strong communication skills, but also an ability to empathize and to put others immediate needs before your own. As I mentioned earlier, relationship needs are important, however managing certain life stressors particularly related to big life transitions, will also require us to make certain sacrifices that we often can’t anticipate or prepare for until they’re happening in the moment. Working together as a united front will help you successfully navigate and manage these inevitable life events.

Improving The Communication in Your Relationship

The fourth is ineffective communication and feeling a lack of support and understanding from one another. When we can’t communicate well with our partner we often feel misunderstood and there’s a lack of support that’s felt almost immediately. This can become not only exhausting over time, but we can also feel defeated inside.

This leads to feeling stuck, stagnant, and stressed, which does not serve to foster a close connection with your partner. Communication breakdown is the primary culprit to feeling discontent and inadequate in your ability to be happy or feel satisfied in your relationship. Communication problems to not get better on their own, and if communication issues do not get resolved the harmony in the relationship will suffer to the point where hostility is the norm.

Real Help For Your Relationship

I give my clients hope that these issues can be resolved, but I also let them know they must be willing to be responsible and accountable for their part in the challenge. It doesn’t have to take a long time to feel relief, but it does require both partners to prioritize their relationship and be open to learning and applying new relationship and life skills to improve their situation long-term.

If you are experiencing challenges in your relationship, I encourage you to seek professional couples therapy or marriage counseling sooner than later. Most of these issues can be resolved fairly quickly when you invest in the right support and have a strong desire to improve your relationship and the life you share together.

Warmly,

Teena Evert, M.A., LAC, LMFT

 

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
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