COUNSELING CAN REVIVE YOUR DYING MARRIAGE.

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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

3 WORDS MEN HATE TO HEAR

 

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Women, can you think of the last time your man brought up something that bugged him about you?

Maybe it was that you talked to your friends too much, your mother too much, or him too much.

But unless really, really pushed – like during an argument – men aren’t usually relationship-complainers; at least mine isn’t.

It’s not that women do more talking than men – that truism got debunked (by male researchers, interestingly enough) – it’s how and what they talk aboutthat seems to make a difference.  Follow a husband and wife through any department store:  listen to what each points out and the descriptive words each uses.  Are both genders equally engaged and expressive?  I hang with my husband at Home Depot but the reverse isn’t true at Ross Dress for Less.

Men are finicky about stupid things, like artichokes or wearing turtlenecks.  Lots of things aggravate women, too, starting with men’s inability to recall what they do that women don’t want them to do anymore.   Hence the phrase “How many times do I have to tell you?”

Now, I couldn’t swear to it, but I’d bet my last carton of yogurt that men forget things on purpose, even at the risk of appearing stupid, which is actually pretty smart.

How else to explain men who feign ignorance about where the kitchen towels go when enlisted in putting away the wash?

Or men who fix diesel engines but can’t remember to put down the seat?

While the splash of a fanny hitting the water at 3 a.m. isn’t enough to strike fear in a man, three words are:  Can we talk?

That same carton of yogurt rides on my belief that when a woman says those words, it’s like a guy’s thrown into the deep end with shackles binding his wrists and ankles.  It’s not that women bowl guys over with the quantity of words – the sexes actually say about the same number of words in a day.  It’s the kinds of words used, the language that’s spoken.

Women generally have it over men in “feeling-speak”.  So when a woman wants to talk, bet your yogurt it’s in the language of feelings.  And even if both partners are talking about the same thing  their understanding and expression of it are very different.

Just like being in a strange land where we don’t sprechen the language, we show our frustration with each other in the same ineffective ways:

  • Talk louder and louder;
  • Throw up our hands in disgust;
  • Think how dense the other person is;
  • Walk away, muttering.

Just as tourists in a different land need more than passports and sensible shoes, couples often leave behind what’s most basic to their enjoyment and success.   Translator app, anyone?

Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist and Relationship Coach specializing in couples work, especially with those relationships impacted by invisible disability.  She has a firm belief that the quality of a couple’s communication skills have a significant impact on their own, and their family’s, health.  Kathe and David have been married for almost 30 years and live in Colorado where they teach Couple Communication Workshops and continue to unravel Petey’s and Lucy’s cat-speak.  Discover more about Kathe Skinner and the Couples Communication Workshops at http://www.BeingHeardNow.com and be sure to check out more of Kathe’s blogs at ilikebeingsickanddisabled.com.

©2014, Being Heard, LLC

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