Everything Date Night Should Be

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I wanna be smiling.  Like this, see?

I wanna have fun.

I wanna be with grown-ups, talk about grown-up things, like love..

I wanna look nice.  Smell nice, too.

I want some good, lip smackin’ eats.

I wanna build a better relationship.

I wanna understand my partner.

I wanna do some give and take with other people.

I wanna talk about anything but the kids.  Or the job.  Or the weather.

I wanna be a watcher.   Sometimes I just wanna take it all in.

I wanna relax.   No pressure.  I got pressure all week.

I wanna make you glad to be with me.

 

Date Night premieres Saturday night, 3/17/18 with John Wayne as The Quiet Man.   Check show time, location, cost.  Registration required. Professionally guided for couples by Kathe Skinner, Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Relationship Specialist. ©2018, Being Heard, LLC.

 

 

 

MOST MARRIAGES GET STUCK ON ONLY HALF THE PROBLEM.

jelly beanWhen we were in school, most of us had to do “word problems” in math class.  Like this one:  Stan starts out for home,16 miles away, at noon on a hot day, carrying 39 jelly beans in his pocket. Within 5 miles of home he notices there are no jelly beans left, although Stan swears he hasn’t eaten any. How many miles has he travelled?

The first step in solving any problem is to figure out what’s really the problem.  There may be lots of information, some important and some not very.  Some information seems important but doesn’t apply to the question.

Or does it?

In relationships there are often two or more different views of what’s important:  jelly beans, distance, heat, Stan’s track record at telling the truth.  Lots of marriages get stuck when one is talking about Stan’s fondness for jelly beans and the other finds a solution in the day being hot.

In this scenario people are talking past each other; each interprets something different even within the same situation.

A husband might pass off Stan’s love for candy as no big deal, while his wife might see Stan’s behavior around candy as disgusting and weak-willed.

Soon it’s no longer about Stan.  Husband says wife is too uptight and judgmental.  She’s that way with the kids; never lets them have any fun and keeps them on a short leash.  Even does it to him.  Dragging their children and pets into this marital dust-up, husband declares that everyone is fed up!  The final shot is his suggestion, delivered in an ominously quiet voice, that even her mother agrees with him.

His wife is openly shocked, confused about how they went from Stan’s behavior to a personal attack on her.  She righteously challenges her husband’s values and parenting.  Somewhere she alludes to his sometimes wearing the same underwear for two days.  As for her mother’s opinion, well, that’s a whole other fight.

Neither partner is being heard nor hearing the other.  If you don’t see dark storm clouds you’re probably not married.

When it was legal to advertise cigarettes in the media, one brand’s tag line was “I’d rather fight than switch”.

Maybe fighting rather than switching is about appearances — smoking the most popular brand.  It’s possible defending your cigarette brand is like defending yourself; your inalienable right to protect your choice against all others’.  At a certain tipping point, not switching is inversely proportional to the quality of the smokes; said another way, the likelihood of fighting has more to do with ego than it does with fine tobacco.  Nevertheless, it’s hard to picture two dudes duking it out in the break room over smokes.

This same effect happens with couples.  Call it what you will — false pride, stubborness — It’s more likely that each partner feels threatened in some way; so much so that disagreement turns vociferous, personal, and mean.

Unhealthy communication within marriage guarantees an unhealthy marriage.  It’s what husbands and wives do when they aim to save position within the relationship, not in saving the relationship itself.  Sort of like ignoring the larger issue of smoking to argue about cigarette brands.

Before you know it, there’ll be fighting in the streets over jelly beans.

Kathe Skinner has been a Colorado Springs Marriage & Family Therapist for over 20 years with a private practice specializing in couples work.  She and her husband, David, are counting down the months to their 30th anniversary.

copyright 2016, Being Heard, LLC

CAN COUNSELING SAVE A DYING MARRIAGE?

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Does it feel like the feeling’s gone?

  • Your partner isn’t the person you fell in love with.
  • The communication gap between you widens every day.
  • Your partner won’t talk about it.
  • You’ve been unhappy for so long it feels like it’s too late.
  • Your relationship feels dead.

Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely you still care enough about your partner and your relationship to want to help it — if you only knew how.

Most marriages should be given a chance to succeed.

Marriage counseling can help you restore the trust and intimacy your relationship once enjoyed so that you’ll both have a secure place to learn techniques and tools that can actually make a difference.

  • Resolve past hurts and painful memories
  • Put an end to endless arguments
  • Overcome differences in parenting styles
  • Improve your intimacy and sex life
  • Heal from an affair
  • Grow closer together
  • Take an active, involved and interested role in the life you’ve created together

Behavioral research is often focused on the clinical effectiveness of couples therapy but the subject of couples therapy is in the out-loud American mainstream, too.  Attention runs the gamut from on-line and print articles, to films like Couples Retreat, to playing supportive roles in television dramas like The Sopranos.

Most marriage counselors would agree that a couple’s motivation to make their relationship work is the single most important factor in determining the success of couples counseling.  Beware the seduction of obtaining a promise from your partner to “work on the relationship” if one of their feet is out the door.  Breaking up is hard to do, there’s enough hurt to go around, so sometimes one partner “buys time” by agreeing to couples counseling.  Therapy also seems to be less successful for couples who wait too long before seeking help.  Unfortunately, the average number of years a distressed couple waits before seeking help is 6 years.

If you and your partner are serious about creating the best relationship possible, marriage counseling is an excellent way to explore your relationship and help each of you uncover and overcome destructive relational patterns.  Hopefully, before 6 years go by.

Kathe Skinner has been a Marriage & Family Therapist for 20 years.  She specializes in couples work, especially with relationships where invisible disability is part of the mix.  She and her husband David have been married for 29 years and together provide a Secular Couple Communication Workshop throughout the year.  They live with their 2 hooligan cats in Colorado Springs.

CARRY MARRIAGE SOMEPLACE NEW.

couple and bridgeIn life, bridges connect us to the future. They provide passage to carry us forward to new discoveries, new opportunities, and renewed relationships.

But crossing a bridge means making a change, and change can be uncomfortable. We’re torn between staying where we are or venturing into the unknown. And often, when given the option to turn back to what is safe and comfortable… we do.

And that’s why we must reach deep inside and gather up the courage to burn some old and useless relationship habits and beliefs so that we can move forward and cross bridges into new ones.

When you cross a new bridge….or burn an old one…you are growing, changing, and evolving. Sure, it’s scary not to know exactly what lies ahead, but as C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

What bridges do you need to burn? And what bridges are waiting to lead you to new discoveries? There are many opportunities that lie ahead for you – all it takes is having the courage to find which bridges to cross… and which one to burn.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in work with couples.  She and husband David teach Secular Couple Communication Workshops in Colorado Springs throughout the year.  

Copyright 2015, Being Heard LLC

COUNSELING CAN REVIVE YOUR DYING MARRIAGE.

love hearts abstract

Ever feel like the love is gone? 

  • Your partner isn’t the person you fell in love with. 
  • The communication gap between you widens every day.
  • Your partner won’t talk about it.
  • You’ve been unhappy for so long it feels like it’s too late. 
  • Your relationship feels dead.

Since you’re reading this article, it’s likely you still care enough about your partner and your relationship to want to help it — if you only knew how.  

Most marriages should be given a chance to succeed.

Marriage counseling can help you restore the trust and intimacy your relationship once enjoyed so that you’ll both have a secure place to learn techniques and tools that can actually make a difference.  

  • Resolve past hurts and painful memories
  • Put an end to endless arguments
  • Overcome differences in parenting styles
  • Improve your intimacy and sex life
  • Heal from an affair
  • Grow closer together
  • Take an active, involved and interested role in the life you’ve created together

Behavioral research is often focused on the clinical effectiveness of couples therapy but the subject of couples therapy is in the out-loud American mainstream, too.  Attention runs the gamut from on-line and print articles, to films like Couples Retreat, to playing supportive roles in television dramas like The Sopranos.  

Most marriage counselors would agree that a couple’s motivation to make their relationship work is the single most important factor in determining the success of couples counseling.  Beware the seduction of obtaining a promise from your partner to “work on the relationship” if one of their feet is out the door.  Breaking up is hard to do, there’s enough hurt to go around, so sometimes one partner “buys time” by agreeing to couples counseling.  Therapy also seems to be less successful for couples who wait too long before seeking help.  Unfortunately, the average number of years a distressed couple waits before seeking help is 6 years.

If you and your partner are serious about creating the best relationship possible, marriage counseling is an excellent way to explore your relationship and help each of you uncover and overcome destructive relational patterns.  Hopefully, before 6 years go by. 

Kathe Skinner has been a Marriage & Family Therapist for 20 years.  She specializes in couples work, especially with relationships where invisible disability is part of the mix.  She and her husband David have been married for 29 years and together provide a Secular Couple Communication Workshop throughout the year.  They live with their 2 hooligan cats in Colorado Springs.

Which AGE is a Romance Killer? You May Be Surprised.

beached rowboatNo matter what your age, assumptions, generalizations, and expectations (AGE) will kill romance, and even the relationship, just about every time.

Human beings, male or female, are complex outcomes of how they’re hardwired, the meaning they make of themselves and their place in the world, and the world in which they grow up. I’m not a fan of statistics but I do know enough to say the combinations are endless — finite, but endless.

In other words, no two people are exactly alike.

Maybe because of our need to manage those unmanageable numbers we make generalizations about “what is a man” and “what is a woman”.  As a therapist I sometimes fall victim to simplification myself rather than taking the elements of a couple as two different people and not the generalized version of their gender descriptions, e.g. men are stoic and women are emotional.

I’m not the only perpetrator.  Societies generalize all the time, with changes usually coming over time, and in sometimes cataclysmic ways.  In American society think women getting the vote, same-sex marriage, or race relations.

Some generalizations take their time dying.  For example, every newly married couple — and some long-term ones — have expectations based on generalizations.  Same with expectations each gender has about the other.  Our society generalizes about roles, sex, happiness, conjointness, privacy, emotionality, rationality, areas of competence, and so on.

Otherwise life is way too complex.

Take sensitive men, for example, with their thoughts, feelings and behaviors contrary to the alpha model.  Or women whose thoughts, feelings, and behaviors run to competitiveness and control.  It’s not just men who have to wear a mask, women do, too.  A guy might get away with wearing a pink shirt if he’s otherwise kick-ass.  A woman CEO has to wear more than perfume in order to be relabelled from pushy, bossy, or bitchy.

Expectation-based thinking is insidious in most of us, hetero- or homosexuals alike.  That’s trouble.

Human interaction is expectation-based, often uneducatedly expectation-based.  We generally modify expectations about the physical world based on trial and error — that’s called learning. But when it comes to couples, for instance, generalization-based assumptions are wedged tightly into our psyches and seldom disappear for good.

In other words, a failing grade is earned in Relationship 101.

Relationships don’t have to die, or even fail.  Examining automatic thinking is work. There’s another way; it’s harder, but it works. Paying attention to gray matter chatter is the first step in breaking an AGEing brain away from automatic thinking.  Automatic thinking is a passive process; no thought goes into it at all.

The more active (read “aware”) the process of thinking, the fewer assumptions, generalizations, and expectations we hold about our partner and our partner’s role in the relationship.  It’s active thinking that can give partners insight into each other — the real other, not the generalized versions.

If a relationship stands a chance, AGE has to be put aside.

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist specializing in couples.  She and her husband, David, teach couples how to avoid the destructiveness of AGEs.  They offer a Secular Couple Communication Workshop throughout the year; the next one begins September 25th.  Check it out!

Copyright, 2015 Being Heard, LLC