Three tips from the couples counseling express desk


I used to work with couples a lot, especially during my practicum work. It scared the shit out of me at first — I was outnumbered in that therapy room with two people — and both of them were trying to convince me their individual points of view were the truth (most of the time, they both were in some way).

At some point, I started to love it. That was some sacred work.

I was working with two committed people, who were often in crisis, trying to find their way back to each other.

I helped people with everything from the aftermath of the bankruptcy, empty nests, terminally ill children, and, most often, extramarital affairs.

Public opinion about the breach of trust that comes with an affair is generally:

“I’d leave him/her.” 

“I’d kick him/her out of the house, take all of the money and never look back.” 

“Once a liar/cheater, etc., ALWAYS a liar, cheater, etc.” 

As a professional person who’s been alone in a room with people who’ve gone through these things, more couples than you would think do not slam the door on their relationships.

A lot of people fight for the life they have together — even though that life will never be the same.

I’ve been a part of those miracles — people slogging through every emotion you can think of, and still finding the resolve and strength to move forward together.

I didn’t deliberately stop seeing couples; it just kind of faded away as I kept growing in my practice and began focusing on women’s mental and physical health.

Almost every day, though, I speak with my clients about their marital / partnered relationships and the impact they have on their lives.

These past two weeks, there was a recurring theme about how to connect more deeply with a partner, even though life was feeling good and they weren’t having any overbearing, chronic problems.

I love this. This is good stuff.

Partnered people often wait until things feel like they’re unraveling before they get outside help.

In my opinion, if more people came to me for relationship “tune-ups” and “maintenance,” they could get some great tools to strengthen their relationship, and hopefully, grow together instead of sliding into crisis.

Here are some ideas I shared with a few of my clients this week who want to add some conscious connection to their relationships.

NOW — these are not heavy duty / heavy lifting therapeutic interventions. There are situations that require much more depth and strategy, of course. These are thoughtful tips for connection and sparkle.

As I always say, “take what you need and leave the rest.”

  • Creating the story no one else can create -What if you could look at your marriage / partnered relationship as a story you’re creating?

With your actions, words and thoughts, you’re shaping a life narrative no one else could possibly create. In a way, you choose the setting, the characters, and plotlines each day.

When we’re going through the day-to-day routines, it might breed boredom or disconnection. If you took the time to think about the big picture and what you want to add to your story — the romance, the fun, the meaningful moments — what would that look like? The best part, is that the story never ends — even though we eventually leave this earth, the life you’ve created together lives on, whether you have children or not. Your relationship impacted countless lives, whether you know it or not.

 

  • “The Peach & The Pit” – When people tell me they talk about the same things over and over again, and there’s nothing new to say, I tell them to take 10 minutes and share your “peach and pit” with one another.

Some people call this The Rose & The Thorn … or The Peak & The Pit. My family started calling it The Peach & The Pit because when my son was around five years old, he thought we were saying that phrase versus “peak” and “pit.” It made perfect sense to us, so we kept it :).

The Peach and The Pit practice is taking time to ask your partner what the highlight of their day was (the peach) and what the not-so-great part of the day was (the pit).

Many of us do not spend 24 hours a day with our spouses or partners. You don’t always know what’s happening and how they’re feeling throughout their day. And even if you communicate through text messages all of the time, nothing beats face-t0-face communication.

You get to be present, mindful, see gestures, make eye contact and all of that good stuff. Most importantly, you stand to learn something new about your significant other’s point-of-view or feelings about a situation (and vice versa) that a text or quick phone call might not convey.

 

  • Pay attention and catch your person being amazing. Pay attention to your partner in a different way or a different setting. I call it “pulling back the lens” or “being a scientist in your life.”

Whether it’s stepping back and watching them interact with another family member, or enjoying an event or engaged in an interest they have, stand back and be curious versus being involved.

My husband has been a funeral director for over 20 years; I know what his job entails and we talk about it some throughout the week.

Sometimes, I see him actually doing his job, because I’m attending the funeral of a friend or family member.

He is what his job title says he is — a director — so I will pull the lens back when I see him doing what he does every day, and notice.

I’ve been with this man for 22 years, and I get to feel proud, and a lot of times, in awe of his professionalism, kindness, grace and command of the situation. I watch him do things for people even before they know they need it. That is masterful knowledge of people’s emotional and social cues.

I mean, can you imagine what it takes to have to get 100 grieving people out of a room and into 25 – 30 cars, go through traffic and get to a church at 10:00 a.m. right on the money?

Damn.

When I witness that, I get a new layer of love and respect for him, just as much as I do for how he parents our children, locks up our house each night and leaf blows the back deck.

Notice the good. Notice what you admire or love about this person and how they move through the world.

You may think you already know, but people are always revealing different parts of themselves, even in the smallest of ways.

Watch. Listen. 

 

If you haven’t already connected with me online, you can find me here:

Facebook (personal) *send me a FRIEND request*

Facebook (professional) 

Instagram

I post something almost every single day on social media that’s inspirational, motivational, educational or just plain “here’s a fun slice of my life.”



If you’re interested in the possibility of working with me one-on-one and want to see if we’re a good fit, you can find out by scheduling a free 15-minute consultation call with me.

We’ll chat about what’s on your mind and you can ask me anything you want about how I see us moving forward and working together.

We can work session-by-session or I have long-term coaching packages we can also discuss.

There’s no “hard sell” or push to move forward — it’s entirely in your hands in terms of whether or not you want to move forward and when.

I’m not going anywhere — I’ll be ready when you are.

Have a great week!

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