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How To Fall Back In Love With Your Spouse

How To Fall Back In Love With Your Spouse

How To Fall Back In Love With Your Spouse

New Beginnings Together

I had known Mary for several years. I had gone to 7 years of schooling with her. We had spent countless days and nights together. We were best friends. Then we started dating, and I thought that I knew her very well but within those first few dates I found both of us having to take a step back to ask some “get to know you questions.” While this feels fairly common for a new relationship, we can forget how important these conversations are to our long-term relationships as well.

Through this foundational relationship conversation, we talked about our family histories, what we wanted for our future, what are our fears, our pet peeves – we even talked about our favorite colors and foods. In that moment, Mary and I had a new beginning. It wasn’t the beginning of our story, but we started anew. This event changed our pathway and set us on a path together rather than two separate people walking next to each other. We were unified.

As a Relationship Coach and Marriage Counselor, it’s not uncommon for couples to come into our sessions feeling stagnant in the relationship with their long-term partner. With large events, new beginnings come naturally. Things like moving, new jobs, having a baby. It is an obvious time to re-adjust and re-align as a couple. But what about those times when everything stays as it is? For weeks, months or years? That is when it becomes vital to your relationship to create moments for new beginnings.

Now having been married for several years, Mary and I continue to have new beginnings and I want to share with you today a simple tool for falling back in love with your spouse.

Creating Time to Grow Together

We as individuals are constantly evolving and changing. It is imperative that we continually ensure that we know our partner and can find ways to be unified in our relationships. Just as you continue to grow and change, so does your partner. Their favorite band 5 years ago may be completely irrelevant to them now. It’s so important to create time together (even amongst busy work/career/social schedules) to sit down and spend quality time talking, listening, and encouraging one another through personal and relational growth.

For you, this may look like a weekly date night, lunch break, coffee together, or the coveted hours of the evening once the kids are put to bed. Whatever this time looks like for you, make it a priority.

Questions That Inspire Intimacy

In my sessions with couples I like to encourage my clients to begin asking each other questions that are both new to the relationship and reruns from years past. You don’t have to have a Quizlet setup in order for this to be effective. You can begin by covering some of the more natural areas of conversation (e.g. what’s your favorite part of your day?), and you may be surprised by the level of intimacy that can grow from these simple conversations.

Some other conversation starters for you and your partner might include:

  • Do you want children? When? How many?
  • What type of parent do you want to be?
  • How do you view the role of each partner in the relationship?
  • How do you want to handle finances together?
  • What is your biggest physical fear (i.e. sharks, heights, snakes, etc.)? What is your biggest emotional fear (i.e. being unloved, failing, etc.)?
  • What makes you happy?
  • What makes you sad?
  • Where do you see your life 10 years from now?
  • What are your ambitions? How can I help you accomplish your goals?
  • What do you feel the role of extended family is in our relationship?
  • What are your top priorities for how you spend your time?
  • What are your spiritual/religious beliefs and what role do they play in your life?
  • What do you consider your core values?
  • What are some of your biggest stressors?
  • If you could change something about yourself what would it be?
  • What are some things you do well?
  • How do you show love? How do you want me to show love?
  • What are your goals for this week, month, or year?
  • Where do you want to live or raise our family?
  • What is the role of sex in our relationship?

Guide the Conversation with Curiosity and Sincerity

Approach each of these questions with a curious mindset. Ask follow-up questions, ask about experiences your partner has had that has helped develop their answer, ask anything that comes to mind after your partner answers the initial question.

Too many times I have worked with couples that have been in a committed relationship with each other for years and are not able to answer these questions. Many couples have never asked these questions or any other similar questions. In those situations, we start from the beginning and ask deeper “get to know you” questions. It may feel like we are going backwards but we are truly building a stronger foundation for that couple to move forward together.

Be sincere in your interest, and show you’re listening by engaging in the conversation as it moves forward. This isn’t a game of 20-Questions, so take your time. You already know your partner, now you’re meeting them at a deeper level.

Be Honest and True to the Relationship and Your Partner

Sometimes you may find as a couple that answering these questions confirms that your relationship can succeed and flourish, that you align in many key aspects of life. Sometimes you may find that your answers are drastically different and you are looking for different things from life. If this is the case, you may decide that you can make it work despite the differences or you may find that there are too many differences to reconcile. Either way, it is important to understand your partner on this level, and can sometimes offer the clarity you are looking for.

New Beginnings = Budding Romance (even for you long-termers out there)

Take this new year as a time to find new beginnings in your relationship. Whether you have been dating for a week or married for decades, there are new things to discover! Doing this will only strengthen what you already have. I challenge you and your partner to take time within the next week to do 2 things:

  1. Make a list of any questions you would add to the 20 I listed above.
  2. Schedule quality time together to ask each of these questions and understand one another on a deeper level all over again.

Taking the time to get to know your partner in a deeper way can be a powerful way to build a more meaningful connection and strengthen the love you feel for each other.

Wishing you all the best,
Hunter Tolman, M.S., MFTC

Hunter Tolman, M.S., MFTC specializes in helping people just like you reach their highest potential both individually, and in their most important relationships. He provides couples counseling, family therapy, individual therapy, and life coaching that focuses on creating understanding and fostering strong connections that support healing and compassion.

Let’s  Talk

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Premarital Counseling: Set Your Marriage Up For Success

Premarital Counseling: Set Your Marriage Up For Success

Premarital Counseling: Set Your Marriage Up For Success

On The Fence About Premarital Counseling?

Wedding season is upon us, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the benefits of premarital counseling, and why so many marriage counselors and couples believe it’s such a good investment for a relationship. Here are some FAQs that couples often have when deciding if premarital counseling is right for them:

We have a great relationship and don’t have any issues. How can premarital counseling help us?

Even the best relationships could use improvements in conflict resolution and communication. There may be “blind spots” that you’re unaware of that could potentially become an issue later on in your relationship. Premarital counseling allows couples to be proactive about these issues before they even arise.

How does premarital counseling differ from couples therapy?

In general, premarital counseling is much more structured than traditional couples therapy, particularly if you do a structured premarital program or a premarital class. Many couples enter into premarital counseling without an agenda, or unsure of even what to talk about. An experienced marriage therapist will be able to structure sessions around topics that are common issues that couples tend to come to marriage counseling for later. Typically, premarital counseling is less in depth than couples therapy.

What can I expect in a typical session?

Sessions can be as structured as needed, depending upon the couple. Some couples come into premarital counseling already with an idea of what they would like to focus on, while others enter into the process without an agenda. Premarital counseling can be effective in both of these situations. A good therapist will tailor your sessions to your unique needs.

How many sessions do you recommend?

I’ve found the average number of sessions for premarital couples to be 5-7; sometimes more, sometimes less. This totally depends on what couples would like to focus on, and how in depth they’d like to go.

There is a lot of information and talking points that we’ve found on the internet on what to talk about before getting married. Why should I pay for premarital counseling?

Private coaching or therapy gives couples the opportunity to focus on the unique needs of their relationship, and to practice new ways of interacting with each other. Additionally, having an objective marriage expert by your side could help you prevent some pitfalls that you may not even be aware of.

Many couples find it helpful to develop a relationship with a therapist so that they can easily come in for maintenance. Similar to finding a good mechanic for your car, having a trusted person to go to for a “tune up” of your relationship is a great benefit.

More questions about pre-marital counseling? We have answers…

What to expect in premarital counseling?

How much does premarital counseling cost?

Can we do premarital counseling online?

Is premarital counseling really necessary?

I hope this information about pre-marital counseling helps you both decide if it’s the right decision for you!

xo, 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

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When To Call It Quits In a Marriage

When To Call It Quits In a Marriage

When To Call It Quits In a Marriage

When To Call It Quits In A Marriage?

I picked up the phone to reach out to a potential new client for couples counseling. After introducing myself, the clients first question for me was, “When do you know to call it quits in a marriage?”

This question didn’t catch me off guard because it’s the same question many couples ask me at the beginning of marriage counseling or couples therapy.

With these couples, communication problems, lack of sex, and emotional intimacy have been going on for quite some time. Attempts to fix these issues with or without professional help can leave couples feeling exhausted and hopeless.

I’m the biggest cheerleader for relationships. The investment both partners have made to keep a relationship going isn’t worth throwing away at the drop of a hat. However, there are some key signs to look for when trying to decide if continued investment in the relationship is worth it for both partners.

Top Signs You Should Call It Quits In A Marriage:

Unwillingness to Communicate

No matter how hard you try to engage your partner it doesn’t seem to work. You try the nice voice and the sweet thoughts. You try the yelling and the threatening. It doesn’t matter. You get little to no response. [More: “How to Communicate When Your Partner Shuts Down”, and “Are You Trapped in a Codependent Relationship?”]

Consistent Negativity

You don’t seem to communicate outside of what is necessary and even then the content remains negative. Most of the things you say to each other reflect black and white thinking, “You never” or “I always”. At this point you probably can’t make decisions on seemingly insignificant options like where to go for dinner or who is picking up the kids.

You Feel in Your Heart the Relationship is Unhealthy

You’ve tried everything you know to do to improve your relationship. Talked to your friends and read too many relationship books. In your heart you know that you can’t keep going on like this. You can feel the energy between the two of you isn’t getting any better, in fact its either the same or worse. [More: “Are You Addicted to a Toxic Relationship?“]

Unwillingness to Change

It takes two to tango. You’re not perfect, neither is your partner. You both see areas in yourselves that need to change in order to make the relationship work. However, neither of you seems to have the motivation to make those changes.

Won’t Seek Help

You’ve begged your partner to see a counselor. Maybe you’ve gone to one or two appointments without much buy-in from your partner. Overall, you feel a strong resistance personally or from your partner to engaging in counseling.

Maybe you can identify with some or all of these red flags. You may be asking yourself, “What do I do next?” Every couple is different but if you see these things in your relationship, things have to change. The relationship problems won’t resolve on their own. Here’s what to do next:

Get support

Even if your partner won’t come with you, reach out to a couples counselor or relationship coach. Whether you stay or leave this relationship you need help to process your emotions, set healthy boundaries and expectations, and take steps forward. There are divorce and break up recovery groups online and maybe in your area. Do your research.

Get informed

I know its scary to think about all that will change and if you’re even up for it. Gain as much information as possible from an attorney or research the state laws. The more information you have the better decisions you can make about your future.

Take your time

Don’t rush a decision. If you don’t know what to do about your situation, then seek support until you find clarity. For many couples the problems have been ongoing for years. A few more weeks or months won’t change anything. Take this at your pace. There is a lot to grieve, process, and plan.

Every couple is different, as well as every situation. I believe that if both partners are willing to work towards a healthier relationship, there is hope, and there are tools. [More: How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage] Exhaust your options, arm yourself with knowledge, and have accountability. No matter how little the step, its still moving forward. You don’t have to stay stuck.

Relationship Advice From a Divorce Lawyer

Relationship Advice From a Divorce Lawyer

Relationship Advice From a Divorce Lawyer

How to Stop a Divorce… And Have a Happy, Healthy Marriage

As a marriage counselor, couples therapist and premarital counselor I’ve had a few interesting observations about January. Two types of couples tend to show up: Sparkly-eyed premarital couples who got engaged over the holidays and how are eager for premarital counseling to set their marriages up for success, and…. couples who are on the absolute brink of divorce.

The latter are often couples who did NOT do meaningful premarital counseling, and who have had hurts, resentments, and issues simmering underneath the surface for a long time. They’ve often put off getting real relationship help for years, until it’s turned into a full-blown relationship crisis, and someone files for divorce. It’s true: divorce filings spike in January. There are many reasons for the rationale behind the timing. Holiday stress can certainly be one, but in my experience as a marriage counselor and couples therapist, a more common reason that people file for divorce in January is the simple fact that they’ve been keeping a lid on things until after the holidays are over, and are eager to start a new chapter of their live that coincides with the new year.

Whether you’re reading this with the intention of learning how to prevent a divorce and keep your marriage strong, or possibly looking for advice for how to stop a divorce and save your marriage — I’ve got you covered!

How to Keep Your Relationship Strong, and Prevent a Divorce

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I have a special gift for both premarital couples AND couples on the brink of divorce: A special interview with Jim Sexton, author of “How to Stay in Love.” Jim has a unique perspective — he has spent years working as a divorce lawyer and has sat with countless couples who are in the process of ending their marriage. Through these experiences he gained insight into the biggest mistakes couples can make, the most important things you can do to prevent a divorce, and key things that couples can do to keep their relationship healthy and strong.

Relationship Advice For Premarital Couples: If you’re a premarital couple getting ready for the adventure of marriage, I hope you listen and get some great, practical advice for how to prevent future problems.

Relationship Advice For Couples In Crisis: If you are considering divorce, or trying to stop a divorce, I also hope you listen. Gaining new understanding of why couples get divorced can give you a roadmap for healing in your relationship.

And saving a marriage from divorce is possible. I’ve seen it! While divorce can seem like “the final solution” to relationship problems that couples don’t know how else to solve, sometimes one person threatening (or even filing for) divorce can be a powerful opportunity to create real and lasting positive change in your marriage. Saying “I want a divorce” can mean “I am so hurt and angry and I don’t know how else to make this better.” Understanding that for what it is, a statement of pain and a plea for understanding, can launch a new era of compassion and connection in a relationship. This podcast (and some of the other resources I share within) can help you repair your marriage.

Relationship Advice From a Divorce Lawyer

Listen and learn:

  • Things premarital couples should consider prior to marriage that will help lessen the chances of future divorce
  • The subtle “fork in the road” moments that many couples miss that will lead towards increased connection… or increased disconnection
  • The crucial conversations every premarital (and married) couple should have
  • Why marriages end, and simple, daily things you can do to keep YOUR marriage healthy and strong
  • Specific things you can do to pull your relationship back from the brink
  • How to protect your relationship from an affair (especially a “Facebook affair.”)
  • If you must get divorced, how to go about it in the best way possible

 

I hope this episode helps you understand your marriage in a new way, and provides some direction for how to keep it healthy and strong.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: In addition to speaking with Jim about his wonderful perspective and relationship advice, I mentioned some other resources as well. Here’s a link to a past podcast, “How to Stop a Divorce and Save Your Marriage” with lots of specific tips for what to do if your spouse is moving towards divorce. Also here’s a link to the “How Healthy Is Your Relationship Quiz” I mentioned. This quiz can be a doorway to having meaningful and important conversations with your partner, especially if your relationship has been struggling. — LMB

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Relationship Advice From a Divorce Lawyer

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.

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How to Not Be a Dick

(Even When Other People Are Being Jerks.)

Let’s face it: We all have moments. Moments when we feel (justifiably!) angry or frustrated with other people, and moments when we lose our cool. While everyone is in agreement that there is a time and place for healthy anger, sometimes the lines can get blurred around when you’re setting appropriate limits…. and when you’re probably being unnecessarily aggressive about making your feelings known. In life coaching and therapy sessions (and especially couples counseling sessions) the topic often comes up of how to communicate well, even when you’re upset. 

How do we find that balance? The balance between not being a pushover and having a right to your feelings, but also having compassion for other people? Especially (here’s the hard part) other people who may not be behaving well themselves. It’s challenging for all of us. (#lifegoals!)

The easy thing to do in the face of conflict is to lash out in anger, push people away,  or freeze people out. It’s much harder to stay in the ring and find a path of mutual understanding and repair.

Emotional Intelligence Skills

At Growing Self we talk a lot about emotional intelligence, and how vital it is to having not just great relationships but career success too. We think of “emotional intelligence” as being the ability to understand other people and communicate effectively, but one of the (other) core skills of emotional intelligence is actually self-regulation. Self-regulation, meaning the ability to manage big feelings appropriately, and in such a way as to not damage important relationships.

Easier. Said. Then. Done…. particularly when you’re feeling attacked or disrespected. But when you learn how to regulate yourself and handle tough interpersonal situations well, YOU have the opportunity to find solutions, build bridges and strengthen connections.

How To Not Be a Dick

On the latest episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, I had the great pleasure of speaking with NYC-based psychoanalyst Dr. Mark Borg about this subject, and his insights into how to lead a more compassionate life. Dr. Borg is the author of the book, “Don’t Be a Dick: Change Yourself, Change Your World” and he shared thoughtful strategies for how to:

  • Gain the authentic self-awareness necessary to catch yourself when you’re slipping into unnecessary “dickishness”
  • How to handle challenging interpersonal situations with grace and tact
  • The mindset that will help you stay compassionate with people who are not behaving well
  • Strategies to handle extremely triggering situations with your family around the holidays (without getting sucked into conflict)
  • How to use the power of empathy for yourself, and others, in order to make the world a better place

All that, and more, on this episode of the podcast. (Both the video and audio versions are included below!)

I hope this perspective and advice helps you and the people you love.

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

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

Music Credits: Wimps, “Baggage”

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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.

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