Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

To fight or not to fight- that is the question.

June 3, 2014

As a couples therapist, I often hear stories of these amazing couples who never fight or argue. They always get along, see eye to eye on most issues, are always on the same page! Funny, but when I meet these couples, they just don’t seem all that connected. For the most part, these couples are fearful of confrontation with their partner, don’t want to rock the boat,  sweep issues under the rug, find its too much trouble to bring it up, or feel its not the right time right now (or ever).  This set up can look like they are happy, but ask most of them and they will report the same thing- they don’t feel close to their partner, they are emotionally distant, their partner doesn’t always know how they feel about many issues. Not fighting is not synonymous with closeness. Don’t mix them up! Not fighting generally means distance and distance translates to a dangerous lack of intimacy between people. The decision to disagree or argue about something stems from the need to have oneself understood by the person one loves the most. This is a vital attachment need that, left unmet, often leads to a lack of satisfaction in the relationship.  Its a good instinct to push for understanding with your love. However, that can take on two distinct looks. If it looks like constructive, productive, linear arguing, without name calling, character defamation or abuse- that’s healthy. Generally we feel closer to our partner afterward and our nervous system calms down. If it looks like name calling, swearing, and character assassination- then it is not healthy at all. Research shows that couples who argue safely have the highest satisfaction in their marriages. So get out there and learn how to argue effectively in a way that leaves you feeling close, understood and loved by your partner! Happy coupling!

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The couple that plays together, stays together!

January 18, 2014

ImageHappy weekend everyone! A great way to feel close to your partner is to create a weekly ritual together. It might involve exercise, sports, play, entertainment, you name it. The idea is to create a special time every week for just the two of you to do what you both enjoy. My husband and I contracted to devote Friday mornings to exercising together. It is our priority and we stick to it. When I overhear him turning down a plan because he, “Has plans with his wife to go for a run”, it makes my heart sing. I feel important to him and a priority in his life. The awareness of this safe attachement goes a long way toward the security of our relationship and reduces conflict and arguments in our life together overall. Most petty arguments about the toothpaste cap being put on the wrong way is about testing these attachements; how much do I really matter to you? Will you do what I need you to do? Get more securely attached to each other and these arguments tend to reduce dramatically. So get out there and make a plan with your honey and stick to it! Happy coupling!

Signs of relationship stress

January 6, 2014

Happy New Year everyone! The time right after the holidays tends to be a busy time for therapists. The holidays tend to be stressful, frustrating, disappointing and lonely for people and it is often right after the chaos of the holidays that people begin to realize this and are motivated to deal with these issues.

How many of these signs of relationship stress are you currently struggling with?

1. You and your partner have difficulty resolving conflicts.

2. You and your partner never discuss your relationship.

3. You feel that your partner doesn’t really know you.

4. You feel that you don’t really know your partner.

5. You find yourself criticizing your partner all the time.

6.You feel closer to your friends than to your partner.

7. You blame each other or stonewall each other very often.

8. You feel lonely in your relationship.

9.You’re showing symptoms of stress.

10. You’re self medicating with drugs/alcohol for the stress in your relationship.

from: Women Managing Stress: A Sourcebook of Natural Solutions by M. Sara, Prentice Hall Canada, 2002.

If you find yourself struggling with 3 or more, perhaps couples therapy is in your future?

Happy coupling!!

Infidelity article in National Post

November 23, 2013

So, check out the story in Nov 23rd’s  National Post that I was interviewed for. The article is about infidelity being a positive thing for some relationships. I don’t condone infidelity as a way of improving a relationship, but do believe that we can work with it in therapy to alert us to the shortcomings of the relationship and improve on that relationship. There are exceptions however. In the case of long and intimate affairs, the prognosis for working on a pre-existing relationship is not good. In my experience, if the affair is a one night kind of a thing and there are no deeper feelings held for the person we cheated with, then it can be used to bring to light what is missing in a pre existing relationship. I’d be curious to hear your experiences. Hopefully you come in for help before someone has an affair!! Happy coupling!

Play putzavah!

October 16, 2013

What’s putzavah? Glad you asked! Putzavah is a wise Yiddish word meaning stupid, so play stupid! So what this means in the context of relationships is listen to the words your partner is telling you, and forget the body language and energy, even if they are incongruent with the words. Confused? Let me explain. Has it ever seemed that your partner is mad about something, but when you ask her if something is wrong, she says, “No nothing at all!” Your instincts are screaming at you that something is wrong here, that she is upset about something, so you start probing with questions like, “Are you sure, are you sure, you seem mad, what is that look on your face mean then?” All this serves to do is reinforce the bad communication that she is giving. You are giving her attention for miscommunication and this will only serve to reinforce it! Like I said, play putzavah. If she says that nothing is wrong, then go with that! Forget everything else and just go with the words. It will begin to force her to communicate in a more honest and authentic way, which makes for happier coupling!

There ain’t room for both of us!

September 17, 2013

Put your relationship’s needs ahead of your own. For instance, if you partner feels abandoned when you leave during a fight, resist the temptation to go and stay with him. Go into another room, tell your partner you need some quiet time away from him/her, but make your relationship more important than your own need to split. If you feel the need to be alone, go into the bathroom, but don’t leave the house if it upsets your partner and makes him feel abandonned. This is not easy, but can be done and must be understood in the context of putting the relationship ahead of your own issues. Preserving the relationship is more important sometimes than giving yourself whatever you need in any given moment. Short term versus long term gratification, that’s what it boils down to. Sure, you’ll feel better momentarily when you slam the door on your way out, but it will cause damage to the relationship that will be painful and difficult to repair later on. Happy coupling!

Diamond or the flaw?

July 2, 2013

Focus on the qualities in your partner that attracted you in the first place. We tend to take them for granted as time goes on.
I call this the diamond/flaw analogy. When we first see a diamond ring, we focus on the brilliance of the diamond, which is probably what draws us to it in the first place; the beauty, the shine. As time goes on, we change our focus; we pay more attention to the flaw, the dirt, the damage. This is a perfect metaphor for a relationship. At the beginning, we pay attention to the brilliance of our partner, to their character, to their stories, to their personality. As time goes on, we tend to focus more on their flaws, on what’s lacking, on what they don’t do or don’t say, on what’s missing. This is unfortunate because all the beautiful qualities that first drew us to our partner are easily forgotten as time goes on. It depends what we choose to focus on, the diamond or the flaws- this is our choice and often determines how happy or unhappy we will be.
Happy coupling and Happy Canada Day!

You get what you negotiate, not necessarily what you deserve!

June 14, 2013

Don’t pave the way for what you don’t want in a relationship.
Pave the way? What does this mean? I’ll tell you, it means don’t accept what you don’t want at the beginning of a relationship because it sets the groundwork for the entire relationship. You are casting a mold of what you will accept, of what the relationship will look like, of what you will tolerate and of what the future will be. If it bothers you that your partner isn’t more affectionate, but you don’t want to make waves or rock the boat, then don’t be surprised when 10 years down the road you don’t get no lovin’! You are molding the future, take this responsibility very seriously. Be very careful as to what you accept and how much you settle for. As in business, you get, not what you deserve, but what you negotiate.

I hate you sweetie! You make me sick honey!

June 7, 2013

Use terms of endearment with each other, especially when fighting, it will remind you that you are both on the same team. (Groners eg- you make me sick, honey, I hate you, sweetie).
I think the main problem from fighting or arguing with your partner is not the argument content, but rather the feeling of aloneness, betrayal and resentment that builds when your beloved stops acting in your best interest and acts in his/her own. People really reacte to this, they tend to feel alone, angry and betrayed and THIS, not the content of the argument (he didn’t walk the dog like he promised) is what escalates the problem. Most people aren’t aware of these feelings underneath the spoken word. I have seen this many times and experienced it myself. I actually have my husband tell me he loves me in the middle of an argument sometimes, otherwise I get much angrier and sadder than the content of the argument calls for. I have a friend, Brenda, who’s husband waves a white towel when they argue and says, “Same team, remember me, same team!!” Very wise husband. Another couple friend of mine hold hands when they are fighting. This may seem weird to you, but think about it, this is still the person you vowed to love forever, the person you made love with this morning, the person who surprised you with vacuuming without having been told, why should all that be forgotten when you don’t see eye to eye on an issue. Another couple friend of mine use terms of endearment with one another when fighting and that seems to work for them, it could sound like, “You make me sick, sweetie”, or “I hate you honey”. I’m kidding around here, but you get the point, remind each other that you are still a team despite the argument and you will see how much faster it will resolve with much less damage.

Get up, stand up!

May 27, 2013

Stay fit and healthy. No, I am not some health guru, but I do know that getting the juices flowing by doing some sort of physical activity is a great way to- relieve anxiety, get frustration out, get the endorphins pumping and relax completely. In this state of mind, we are more likely to feel relaxed with our partner and less likely to feel wound up. This way when our partner does say or do something that bothers us, we are less likely to snap and explode on them. Instead our tolerance and patience levels will be higher, we will feel naturally calmer and it will be easier to deal with the issue in a calm and relaxed way. Exercising also does wonders for the sex life and we sleep better, again causing less anxiety and frustration to build up.