Is Your Relationship Riddled with Substance Abuse?

drinking problem

Dealing with a partner who has substance abuse issues can be hugely complicated. It is as if you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. You love them deeply, but you cannot maintain the status quo. Every time they use it causes significant pain. You feel as if they are choosing their substance over you, and you are less important than their drug of choice. Even if he or she does get sober, or significantly reduces their use, past hurts have accumulated, making it difficult to go back to the way things were. So the emerging question is,… Continue Reading This Article

How to Get the Most Out of Couple Therapy

marriage counseling

As a therapist, I often have a front row seat to relationship miracles. Well, okay, there are no miracles really. The fact is “fixing” a relationship takes work. It takes two people wanting it to work and then putting in the effort. Having said that, I have seen couples go from nearly ending it to being back in love, and liking and respecting each other. Couples therapy can be a powerful change agent, there is no doubt about it. But what allows some couples to make it while others don’t? The couples I have seen recover from marital issues and form an even… Continue Reading This Article

Important do’s and don’ts for a healthy relationship

healthy relationships

Because relationships are difficult, we need to be proactive. This entails both doing and not doing certain things. Here, I made a list of important do’s and don’ts. Constantly remind your partner through words and behavior that they are your number one priority. Learn what uplifts your partner’s mood. What do they like to hear? How do you make your partner feel loved? Be familiar with the raw spots of your partner. What triggers your partner’s fears and vulnerabilities? How may you be inadvertently triggering them? Let your partner influence you. Don’t think your way is the only way. Don’t… Continue Reading This Article

Is it Possible to Rebuild Trust After an Affair?

affair

For many couples, the discovery of a spousal affair is the ultimate betrayal. And yet, the betrayal by one does not necessarily decrease the love of either party for the other. When you still love someone but the trust has been significantly damaged, is it possible to mend the relationship? Can marriages be rebuilt after an affair? Dr. Janis Spring is a clinical psychologist and author of After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful and How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To. Through her work she has found that… Continue Reading This Article

Practicing Mindfulness in Relationships: Creating a Bigger Container

tea pot

Every moment offers opportunities for truth. One opportunity is to simply be aware of the external reality – sights, sounds, and sensations. Another is awareness of our internal reality – thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is mindfulness: being aware of the present moment on purpose. So why is mindfulness important for relationships? When we are practicing mindful awareness, it is as if we gain an ally for our relationship. Mindful awareness is as close as we can come to a third-party observer in our relationship, without actually having an “objective” third-party observer such as a marriage counselor or couple therapist…. Continue Reading This Article

Avoiding Projections Through Appreciation

marriage counseling

A common way we get into trouble in intimate relationships is through projection. We project onto our partner how we think they should be or act, usually through the lens of how we learned to be and act from our parents. We may have a fantasy of the ideal partner, or ideal behaviors we want from our partner, and we hold them to these unattainable projections. The result of this is disappointment for both parties. Your partner only knows how to be themselves and will resent you if they are seen in and treated through idealized expectations. Thus, there needs… Continue Reading This Article

Patterns from the Past: Relational Implications of Avoidant and Anxious-Ambivalent Cultures

patterns from the past

When we are in an intimate relationship and feel vulnerable, defensive or shameful, usually it’s our old stuff that is being triggered — patterns of interaction that we developed with our parents. When we are young, we learn to act and respond in ways that optimize our attention and love from our parents. Some behaviors may be encouraged, while others discouraged. Here I want to illustrate two common examples and how they manifest in adult relationships: avoidant culture and anxious-ambivalent culture. Avoidant culture emerges if one or both parents seem to primarily value the idea of a “nice” family, and not… Continue Reading This Article

First Things First: The Primacy of Partnership in Blended Families

secure-functioning relationship

There is no magic bullet to maintaining and raising children within a blended family (a family with children from multiple relationships), and I am no expert in the finer points of day-to-day interactions in a blended family. But while working with couples with blended families, I have found they do better when they follow one basic principle: they hold each other as primary in the relationship, or we could say, as the king and queen of the household. This may sound straightforward enough, but it is not always easy to put into practice, especially since there are usually overt and covert… Continue Reading This Article

Travel Well With Your Partner For a Happy Relationship

happy couples

This blog post was inspired by a trip to Thailand with my wife. Obviously, traveling can be fun. When you travel with someone, the awe and excitement of the new experiences, people, and places are mutually amplified. As a result, bonds are naturally strengthened with your travel partner as you two are co-creating shared memories. If you two are traveling effectively together, you are also co-creating a template that is ideal for an optimal and secure-functioning relationship. To co-create this template, you and your partner must communicate overtly and covertly in ways that assure each other that you have the… Continue Reading This Article