What’s Your Marriage Dance?

Every relationship creates its own dance – whether it be with your spouse, your children, or your siblings. These dances are about security and connection, but unfortunately sometimes the emotional connection gets lost in the shuffle. In the secure marriage relationship, couples can have disagreements, but still remain connected at the core. They experience security and love in enough of their interactions that times of disconnect are not threatening to them. However, when the times of misattunement become more frequent, couples find it difficult to find the attachment and security they crave in the relationship – they begin to feel lonely even when they are together. Dr. Sue Johnson identifies three “Demon Dialogues” in her book titled Hold Me Tight. The first dialogue is called “Find the Bad Guy”. Good to its name, the partners each try to blame the other for the problems in the relationship. It’s much easier to point a finger at another than to look at our personal contribution to a negative relationship cycle. We look at our partner’s faults and ignore or dismiss any concerns expressed to us about our behaviour. The second dialogue is called “Protest Polka” and is considered the most common cycle in which relationships get stuck. In this dance, one partner steps forward and the other steps back. One partner pursues dialogue because he or she is protesting the disconnection and the other retreats because it feels like criticism. To the ones that withdraw, the pursuit feels like: “I’m not good enough,” or “You think I’m a failure in this relationship.” They then withdraw because they feel stuck and do...

14 ways to say "I love you"

February is the month of love. We think about our partner, and at times we wish we could reclaim the passion that we felt early in the relationship, or we wonder where it has gone. For the lucky ones, the passion remains and is incorporated into daily life. For the average relationship, though, the intense passion has subsided, especially if the stresses of life, including family life, are part of the equation. Saying “I love you” often means something different 15 years into the relationship than it did 15 months into the relationship. So, how do we continue to show our partner that we are “in love” when the intensity of infatuation has waned? Of course, “I love you” is still very important. No matter how long you have been together, your partner will always appreciate being reminded that you love him. The next 13 ways of saying “I love you” are divided into Appreciation, Apology, and Influence. Showing your partner that she is appreciated lets her know that you are not taking the relationship for granted. Being able to say “I’m sorry” in different ways lets your partner know that you are willing to keep the lines of communication open, even when you disagree. Allowing your partner to influence your decisions or opinions tells your partner that you still find his input valuable. So, how do we say this in our daily life and relationship? (Taken from Gottman’s Repair Checklist) Appreciation Thank you for (e.g. being open about…) One thing I admire about you is… I am thankful for… I know this isn’t your fault. Apology Let me...

Is Marriage Counselling Enough?

Couple counselling alone is not the cure for an ailing relationship. Many couples go to marriage counselling in hopes that the therapist can “cure” their marriage problems. This belief can create false expectations of what a therapist is actually capable of doing. When couples come into therapy for their relationship, they need to understand that it takes a lot of work–not just in the one-hour session, but also at home. For every one hour session in the therapist’s office, couples need to work on their relationship for 5 hours at home. What does it mean to work on your relationship at home? Most importantly, you have to spend quality time together. This includes going on regular dates or taking 15 -30 minutes in your day to discuss what is happening in your life. Listen to, empathize with, and reflect your partner’s experiences. It helps your partner to feel that you are on his/her side. If you are having a hard time finding the positive qualities in your partner, you have to actively start thinking about your partner differently. If you enter into discussions  expecting the the worst, you will find proof for it. Meet your partner with an open mind, believing that he/she is not out to make you upset, but rather wants to listen, support and be there for you. Listen closely to what your partner is saying and ask him/her to clarify if it doesn’t sit well with you. Many arguments begin with a small misunderstanding in communication and a belief that the intentions of our partner are negative. When we ask our partner to clarify the...

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