Why My Marriage Works

I want to let you know about a really exciting change I’ve been working on.  

I’ve changed my business name from Relationship Counseling of Walpole to My Marriage Works, and I’d love to tell you why….

Why did I change the name of my business?

Ten years ago I decided to focus on becoming an expert in working with couples. 

Not only because I’m so passionate about this work but when I looked around to collaborate with other professionals in this area of work I discovered no other helping professionals that were experts in working with couples.  

So I made it my mission to be that expert. 

As part of that mission my work with couples has evolved into a thriving marriage & relationship coaching business. 

I’ve been a licensed counselor for nearly 20 years and I was done diagnosing people and answering to insurance companies.  I decided I’m going to run my business on my terms and serve my clients more powerfully. 

The medical model did not fit with my business vision and the work I want to do to help people create successful marriages and improve their lives.  

I hired a business coach to help me bring my business vision to fruition.  When I invested in myself, and it was a big investment, my life and business changed and grew exponentially. The personal and business growth I’ve experienced have in turn helped my clients achieve greater results faster.  

I am so honored to be a part of helping people save their marriages

Wondering what’s the difference between coaching and therapy?

Here’s my take after doing both. 

  • Therapy is about treating a mental health problem.
  • Clients explore and heal from the past.
  • Therapy generally goes on indefinitely at the client’s discretion. 
  • Provides support and empathy. 
  • Clients aren’t necessarily looking for massive change as much as to relieve pain.
  • Provide a supportive, empathic listening.

What coaching is to me.

  • It is an active goal driven process that challenges people to grow beyond what they thought was possible.  
  • Clients want to grow and are committed to making changes in their lives to get the results they want.
  • Coaching clients are fully capable of changing their relationships and improving their lives without a diagnosis.
  • Clients are fully committed to change and invested in getting results.
  • The focus is on the future vision clients want to create and taking actions to help them get there. 
  • Always focused on the future they want instead of the past they’ve been living in.  

This way of working has been a perfect fit for me and my own future vision.  

Coaching has given me the freedom to work with clients differently.  

To show up as myself more than I ever have in my 20 years of being a therapist. 

I now offer services for my clients in a way that I know works best instead of what the insurance company dictates. 

I work with clients for set periods of time.  Together we figure out what they really want in their life and relationship and map out a plan to get there.  There is a beginning, middle and end. 

Here’s what new in my business:

I created the 90 day Make Your Marriage Work coaching program for couples who truly want to make their marriage work but don’t know how. 

The 90 day program has proved to be hugely beneficial to clients.  

Couples are more committed to the work and have better results faster.  

Why 90 days?  Because in all my years of working with couples this is what it takes to make real lasting change.  

Remember, most couples that come to see me have been married for years.  They have been repeating the same patterns and habits that have gotten them to where they are now when they’re reaching out for help.  

Those types of ingrained habits/patterns don’t change overnight.  It requires commitment, effort, patience and lots of practice with support, feedback and accountability from me.  

When clients invest in themselves and in saving their marriage, they commit to real change and growth.  

At the end of working together I want clients to be able to say…

“MY MARRIAGE WORKS”

Groundhog Day

⭐️DOES THIS SOUND LIKE YOU?

You have a big blowout over the weekend with your spouse, yet again.
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You swear this time you’ve got to do something about it.
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You start googling marriage help, how to fix my marriage or some variation of that. You’ll call on Monday.
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But Monday comes, you both head off to work, kids are off to school, and you return to everyday routine.
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Monday turns into Friday and before you know it you’re back in a groove and things don’t seem that bad.
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We’re good. We don’t need help.
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Even though the dust has settled, there’s still tension. In the back of your mind you’re worried about the next big fight.
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One or both of you walk on eggshells. You may hold back from saying things because you’re not sure how your partner will respond or what might set off the next big argument.
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But for now, things are quiet. Tense but quiet.
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You never quite get to feeling like you can let your guard down or just rest in the comfort of knowing you can handle whatever comes.
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It’s exhausting to live this way. Isn’t it.
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What effect is this having on your life, family life, your job, your relationships with other people. Your kids?
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Most days you can just push it aside and just do what you’ve got to do.
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But it feels more like just surviving!
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Do you want more for your life than just surviving?
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Here’s the thing,
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The problems you have are most likely not deal breakers.
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Let me say that again. The problems you have are most likely not deal breakers.
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But if this kind of pattern continues, it does eventually become a deal breaker.
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Because it becomes just too difficult to live this way.
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So if it can be fixed, Why wait?
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Get help for your marriage before it’s too late. So you can do more than just survive.
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You absolutely can fix this. And have a marriage you are happy to go home to. Imagine feeling more ease, having peace of mind, being more relaxed, enjoying each other, looking forward to spending time together, having positive feelings about your marriage, your partner, your life.
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How would you feel if you felt really good about the example you’re showing your kids of what a strong, healthy relationship looks like?
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Your marriage sets the climate for other areas of your life.
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When your marriage is doing well everyone does better, life is easier, there’s more laughter more lightness, more joy.
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If you want to stop just surviving and have more ease, peace, and joy in your marriage and your life book a free 30 minute relationship breakthrough call today.
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I want to help you figure out what’s not working, what you want more of in your marriage and help you make a step by step plan to get you there!

Call or text today 617-694-7015

Listen Up

If you really think about it, when you are in a  difficult conversation with your partner or spouse are you listening to understand and learn or are you listening to respond

If you’re being truthful you probably said “listening to respond”. 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.  This is quite common and one of the most obvious blocks to good communication. I see this in the majority of couples I work with in my coaching practice.  Can you relate?

Most of us think we are listening when we’re really not.  When you’re caught in tense moments of disagreement or more difficult moments of full out arguments you are likely just thinking about your response.

You and your partner disagree about something.   You argue for your perspective to be heard without hearing what your partner has to say. You interrupt each other, talk over each other, tune out, judge, blame, and the big one is defend.  Being defensive is a huge block to real listening and is a hard habit to break. But is not impossible to learn.

In addition to defending another thing that partners do that gets in the way of good listening is trying to “fix it”.  

Instead of listening, which is what we all want, you or your partner try to come up with solutions to try and fix it.  Really, all you want is for them to listen but instead they are saying things like “why don’t you do x” or “don’t worry about it”  “you shouldn’t be upset about that”.  And while it may be well intentioned because the listener may not want you to feel discomfort, it only serves to invalidate your thoughts and feelings.  

Listening is such an important component of good communication. Without improving this it will be impossible to have better communication.  Learning and practicing real listening is the best way to have a deeper understanding of each other’s experience. When couples improve their listening they improve their communication and their connection. 

Here is an exercise you can practice at home.  One of you will be the speaker and one of you will be the listener.  The listener’s job is only to listen and the speaker’s job is to talk about an experience or subject they want their partner to know about. It can be about anything and preferably something neutral that the two of you have not historically fought about. This will help you practice the skill of listening.  

As the listener you:

  • Reflect back what you heard the person say.  “So what you’re saying it’s really important that you get to the gym 5 times a week”. 
  • Ask questions to learn more, be curious.  “What is it you like about working out?”
  • Act as if you are a reporter, learning about something you know nothing about.
  • Don’t try to solve anything or input your own perspective or thoughts. 

One other very important shift you want to try and make when working at listening is to not personalize what your partner is saying.  Remind yourself “this is not about me”. This is about my partner expressing themselves.  

Remind yourself, your partner is a separate person and is entitled to have a different opinion.  Focus only on learning about the other person’s perspective and don’t make it about yourself. When you are able to do this you are truly giving the other person the gift of being heard. 

True listening is much harder than you probably think because it requires putting aside your own stuff so you can deeply understand what your partner’s thoughts, feelings, wishes and desires are.  Working to understand their experience is real listening.  

Listening is a skill you need in all relationships.  If you’re working on your listening skills know that this will positively impact all of your relationships not just the one with your spouse or partner.  

If you’re interested in learning how to improve communication with your partner schedule a free phone consultation today.

 

Thinking Traps That Are Sabotaging your Relationship

Are you inadvertently sabotaging your relationship with faulty thoughts and beliefs. Thinking traps like these can keep you from having the marriage you truly want.  The good news is you can do something to change this.

Here are 3 common thinking traps that you’ll want to reconsider if you are interested in getting more of what you want in your marriage.

Problem #1. Making Assumptions  

Making assumptions means accepting or believing something to be true without proof.  Your daily interactions with your partner are often unknowingly filled with assumptions.  You base decisions on these assumptions, avoid conversations, and may even hold a grudge towards your partner based on an assumption.  All of this going on without ever actually knowing for certain what your partner is truly thinking.

Maybe it plays out like this…You walk in the house after a long day and your partner is quiet.  You immediately assume they must be mad at you but you can’t imagine what you did. You’re now feeling annoyed that your partner is mad at you. So you become quiet and withdrawn.  Do you see what just happened there?

What if instead you checked in with your partner and asked them “are you ok, you seem quiet, are you upset with me?”  You just may find that their quiet mood has absolutely nothing to do with you.

You have to stop assuming and start asking.  Anytime you find yourself thinking you know how your partner will respond or what they will say, ask yourself, “do I know this to be true or am I assuming?”.  If you discover you’re assuming then ask instead.

Problem #2. Mind Reading

Do you think/believe your partner should just know what you want, know how you feel or know what you expect?  I hear this from almost every couple I work with. And truth be told it’s most often from women. I know I fell into this trap in my own marriage before too. What I discovered is, I don’t  know anyone with the power of mind reading, do you?

Say for instance you’re upset about something your partner did.  You may believe they should know, A. that you are upset and B. why you’re upset.  Or you had a rough day at work at need some TLC and you think your partner should just know you want to be comforted. You may even say to yourself “I shouldn’t have to ask for this, my partner should just know?

The truth is we are grown ups and if we want something we have to ask for it.  As much as we would love our partners to know what we want and need without having to ask, this is just not reality.  No one can read your mind.

I certainly do understand the desire to want this kind of connection, I wanted it as well.  However, expecting it to happen will leave you repeatedly disillusioned and disappointed.

You’ve got to stop expecting your partner to know what you’re thinking and ask for what you want.  Which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean you will always get it (to be discussed in a future blog post).

Problem #3. They Should Want To

Ok, so you finally accept that maybe you will have to ask for what you want.  So say for example you ask your partner to greet you with a hug when you come home from work and  your partner agrees. Fantastic! Except now you question “do you WANT to give me a hug or are you doing it just because I asked?”.

The request is no longer a simple request.  There is an added expectation of “I want my partner to want to, not just do it because I want them to”.  See how confusing that gets. We make it way more complicated than it has to be.

The mistake is thinking/believing that it doesn’t count if your partner is doing it because you want them to do it.  Instead believing they should want to . Where did we come up with the belief that it doesn’t count if they’re doing it just because you asked.   

If your partner is willing to do what you ask then why not celebrate. You have a willing partner. Willing to do something they know will make a difference for you.  So rather than discount the effort your partner makes, praise and appreciate their desire to please you.  

These are just a few of the thinking traps that can create problems for your relationship.  Do you recognize yourself in any of these? How would your marriage change if you stopped doing one of these things? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.  

Why Avoiding Conflict is Bad for Your Marriage

Why Avoiding Conflict Is Bad for Your Marriage and what to do about it.

Let’s face it nobody really likes conflict but it’s a natural part of life that we all have to deal with.

The absence of conflict while appealing to some, is not necessarily a good indicator of a healthy marriage.  In fact if you never argue in your marriage it can lead to bigger problems.

Continuously avoiding conflict, believing, “conflict is bad or something must be wrong with my relationship” you set yourself up for big problems down the road.  

Perhaps you find yourself doing things you don’t want to do, saying yes when you really don’t want to, not speaking up for yourself, being upset about something and not bringing it up. When your partner asks you a question and you say “I’m fine”  because you don’t want to “get into it”. You may think you’re avoiding a fight, but all this really leads to is you and your partner not being honest with each other in order to avoid the tension of conflict.

At the time it seems the easiest way to deal with the situation, it gets you off the hook in the moment.  Sigh of relief, you dodge a bullet.

Unfortunately, the fact that steering clear of problems seems to work only  reinforces the initial feeling that avoiding conflict is a good solution.  Over time, avoiding fights ends up doing both of you a disservice as you develop habits of interacting that you’re hardly aware of.  You may be so accustomed to being this way that you’ve forgotten what matters to you. Resentful compliance becomes a way of life. But under the surface there’s a slow simmer waiting to erupt.

The truth is, lots of couples and or partners avoid conflict in their relationship.  It’s normal to do this from time to time, you pick your battles. Not all things need to be a matter of discussion. There may even be times when biting your tongue makes sense.  But repeatedly silencing yourself is in no one’s best interest.

It’s true conflict can be uncomfortable especially if you’re someone that has been conditioned to be fearful of it. However, it is possible to learn to address conflict in your marriage in a healthy respectful way.  It is possible to get comfortable with conflict and view it as an opportunity for growth.

What is it costing you to keep the peace?

On a small scale the avoidance of conflict looks something like, being agreeable to things your partner wants to do that you don’t want to.  Sure, I’ll go see that movie with you. I don’t care what restaurant we go to.

On a larger scale are couples who show up in my office after one partner has, out of nowhere,  announced they want a divorce and are ready to abruptly end the marriage after 15 years. The partner is stunned and can’t understand what happened. We never fought, I thought everything was fine. I didn’t realize you were unhappy.

Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. 

Avoiding conflict in your marriage, while it may seem the easiest way to handle a difficult situation at the time, ends up wreaking havoc in the long run.

When you don’t address conflict your relationship suffers.  Accumulation of unaddressed issues can lead to:

  • Built up anger and resentment
  • Emotional distance and lack of intimacy
  • Unresolved relationship problems     
  • Self-doubt, lack of confidence
  • Missed opportunity for growth
  • Lack of honesty
  • Not getting what you want/need                                                                                                                              

Side stepping conflict in your marriage has the potential to cause significant emotional and relational consequences.

Conflict doesn’t have to be scary

Yes, dealing with conflict can be uncomfortable. But learning to tolerate tension and work through conflict is something that can be learned. Conflict and disagreement is necessary for the growth and health of any relationship.  If you’re someone who grew up in a family that never dealt with conflict then it makes sense that you try to avoid it.  

But when you learn to think of conflict as your friend instead of your enemy you open up  new opportunities to know yourself better and to deepen the connection in your marriage.

The root cause of most conflict comes down to differences, which are a normal part of any relationship.

When you express your feelings/thoughts openly and honestly you reduce feelings of anxiety and tension, as if a weight is lifted, it is healthier not to express not suppress. Suppressing your feelings can have significant emotional and physical consequences.

Here’s nine ways to start handling conflict in your marriage head on:

    • When you find yourself holding back ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen?” Usually it’s not nearly as bad as you imagine.  
    • Take small risks at first. This will help build your confidence.
    • Take time if you need to decide what it is you want to express even if it’s after the fact.  
    • Change your belief that conflict is bad. Remind yourself it’s a normal part of relationships.
    • Work on expressing your opinion when differences arise.
    • Don’t mindread or assume.
    • Address situations that you would normally say nothing to keep the peace.
    • Be direct, use “I” statements.
    • Avoid blaming your partner. 

At My Marriage Works my clients work on facing their fear, becoming more and open in their communication and challenging themselves to talk about issues even when it’s uncomfortable.

Clients practice these skills both in session and out of the session.  They track progress by keeping a notebook or journal to record the things that are working to make a difference in the relationship.   

Together we work to uncover hidden beliefs that are driving their fear of conflict so clients can create new more helpful beliefs.  Clients begin to realize through experience that conflict is an opportunity for growth.

Couples have noticed that after just a few sessions they are starting to speak up more and say what’s on their mind even if they think it may lead to an argument.  They start to see that disagreements/arguments are an opportunity to work through difficulty and be strong on the other side.

When people tell you they never fight don’t be fooled into thinking they have the perfect marriage. The absence of conflict doesn’t mean there aren’t any problems in the relationship. It just means they aren’t being addressed.

To make sure that you and your partner aren’t burying conflict and creating dysfunctional patterns in your relationship call to schedule a session

5 Things to Consider When Looking for Couples Therapy

Searching for a marriage counselor can be a time-consuming and overwhelming task. With so many therapists to choose from, it’s hard to know what the right choice is.  Most couples seeking help for their relationship will start by doing a Google search looking for, “Therapist near me.” Up pops a list of names or a link to Psychology Today, an online directory of therapists.  Then they start calling around to see who is taking new clients and who accepts their insurance.

 

Couples are just looking to find that first person who can make an appointment for them versus the one who is likely the best match to help them with their marriage. Unfortunately couples are not aware of what they should be looking for when it comes to choosing a therapist for their marriage or relationship.  When your marriage is in trouble, you can’t afford to choose the wrong therapist.

 

I often hear disappointing stories from clients about their previous experiences with couples counseling.  One tragic example is a couple who came to see me for Discernment Counseling after their last therapist advised them to separate.   It’s stories like this that made me realize the importance of educating consumers on how they can go about finding the best therapist for their relationship or marriage.  It can mean the difference between saving your marriage or heading for divorce court.

 

Here are five things to consider when choosing to work with a counselor for your marriage.

  1.  Be sure you find someone who specializes in working with marriages and relationships.

Couples counseling is a specialized skill set.  It is not the same as doing individual therapy with two people. Many well-meaning therapists say they do couples therapy but don’t realize that it is very different than individual therapy with two people.  This isn’t to say they aren’t good therapists, they just might not be the right therapist to help you with your marriage. 

In your search, if you come across a therapist website who works with individuals, couples, adolescents,etc. This most likely will not be the therapist to help you with your marriage or relationship. You want to be sure you are working with a therapist  who specializes in working with couples and at least 50% of their practice is based on work with couples.  

Choosing a therapist who is not a skilled couples counselor can cause more harm to your relationship than good.  It is important to look at a therapist’s qualifications and ask questions about their experience working with couples before choosing to work with them. When it comes to your marriage you want an expert to help you. Your marriage is too important to choose someone who doesn’t have the right training and enough experience with this complex work. Think of it this way, if you had a heart problem, you would see a cardiologist, not a general practitioner.

 

  1.   Don’t just go with the therapist who takes your insurance.

A very big life decision is going to be impacted by the work you do to keep or end this relationship. Be willing to make a financial investment instead of just seeking someone who accepts your insurance.Many couples therapists who specialize in working with couples do not bill insurance.  

Consider that the financial investment in a marriage counselor is only a fraction of the cost of an elaborate wedding celebration and an even smaller fraction of the cost of a lengthy and painful divorce.  Rather than face the heartbreak or financial pressure that comes with separation, why not invest those costs in your marriage.

Marriage Counseling often requires a financial investment and may not always be covered by insurance.  There are many well-qualified therapists who do accept insurance and may even accept the insurance you have.  However, when it comes to your marriage it is better to choose a well-qualified expert instead of just choosing one who accepts your insurance.  The costs involved in a divorce are also not covered by insurance and can add up faster than a well-qualified therapist.

 

  1. You should expect to have clear goals and a direction in your sessions.

I frequently hear stories from current clients or potential clients about bad experiences in couples therapy.  One or both partners often share their experience as, “It didn’t help; we just argued about the same things in session,” or “Our counselor just let us fight, we had no goals and just felt like we were venting.” If these statements resonate with you, that could be a sign that you are not with the right marriage counselor.

Couples therapy should always include clear goals and direction for the therapy. An effective marriage counselor will be actively involved in the session and should not just allow you to fight with your partner.  An effective counselor will take a strong leadership role and help you identify and change the negative cycle of arguing and blame in your relationship.

A marriage counselor with strong leadership can help identify unhelpful relationship patterns and provide a roadmap that will help you both move your relationship forward.  Trust your gut. If you’re attending session after session rehashing the same arguments you have at home, then you are not with the right counselor.

 

  1. Know how your therapist feels about marriage.

When your marriage is in trouble, you may have lost hope that it can be fixed.  A good couples therapist should always be holding hope for marriage and wanting to help relationships get back on track. Don’t get me wrong, there are certain times divorce is inevitable (abuse, addiction etc), but the therapist should not be promoting divorce.

You want to be sure you’re working with someone who is there to help you save your marriage and not just be a neutral party or someone who recommends divorce/separation.  Most marriage counseling is ineffective because therapists do not take a strong stand on marriage. Excluding domestic violence or addiction issues, most challenges can be overcome if a couple is willing to put in the hard work it takes to save the relationship

Choose a therapist who prioritizes the marriage over the individual.  When you are seeking help for your marriage you want to work with a therapist that is supporting the relationship instead of you as individuals.  If you go to counseling alone for help with your relationship or marriage be sure the couples counseling for one is marriage friendly and marriage focused.  If not this could backfire. Individual therapy without a relationship focus can undermine your marriage.

 

  1. Make sure you keep realistic expectations.

While above I have given you tips  on how to choose a good couples therapist, you should also know that when you do find the right therapist to work with, there is no magic pill or wave of a wand to make everything better.  You can’t show up to therapy expecting that your therapist can “fix” your relationship.  Changing and improving your relationship takes time, effort and some hard work.

Some couples come to counseling wanting big change with little effort.  Creating a better relationship is an active process and requires both partners make considerable effort to bring forth the changes they desire. Expecting significant change to happen in a few weeks is not realistic. Creating real, lasting change will take time and effort.

If you go into counseling with the expectation that the therapist will somehow make things better, you will undoubtedly be disappointed and leave feeling it didn’t work.  Therapists are the guide or facilitator of change but can only help to the extent that the client is willing to be active in the process.  If you’re willing to do the work it takes and have the support of a skilled therapist, you are on the right track to turn your relationship around.

 

Questions to ask when considering to work with a couples therapist.

  • What is your area of expertise?
  • How much of your caseload is working with couples?
  • What kind of couples have you had the best results with?

Choosing a therapist can sound challenging at the start of the process, but don’t let it overwhelm you. Using the above recommendations as a guide, invest in your marriage, take the steps to find the therapist best qualified to help you with your most important relationship. There is always hope for a marriage and taking the time to evaluate and decide on a marriage counselor will help you to restore your hope in yours.

Click here to learn more about my approach to couples counseling or call 617-694-7015

5 Tips to Easily Improve Connection in Your Marriage in Less Than a Minute a Day

Somewhere along the way, we got the message that marriage is supposed to be easy and love will conquer all.

Unfortunately, if you go into marriage believing this, you will undoubtedly be disappointed and disillusioned. You may not be prepared for what it takes to have a relationship that can withstand the tough times.  

Relationships are easy and effortless in the beginning. Fast forward 5, 10, 20 years and your marriage has fallen into a rut. In the busyness of life, you’ve stopped paying attention to your spouse. Over time, in the midst of full-time jobs, raising kids, and being stretched thin, the last thing to receive your attention is your relationship. You become distant and disconnected. You barely speak or even acknowledge one another, and when you do talk, it’s about what needs to get done, who needs to do what, and who needs to be where. Life feels tense and stressed. You’re short and irritable with each other. There’s no talking, no time, no connection.

Unfortunately, if left unattended your marriage will grow more distant with each passing day. The disconnected feeling between you becomes your new normal. Getting your relationship back to place where you feel that connection can feel like so much work. You wonder, “how did we get here.” You miss your partner, but you’re not sure how to bridge the distance between you. The day comes when you wake up, look at your partner sleeping next to you and think to yourself, “I don’t even know this person anymore.” You wonder how you drifted so far apart.

When you neglect your relationship, you will likely experience a breakdown in the ability to communicate, increased arguments that never get resolved, feeling lonely even when you’re with your partner, frequent misunderstandings that escalate, and mounting resentment. You might view your partner in a negative light and no longer see the good. You now have concerns about what the future holds for your relationship.

But the truth is, this is normal. Many married couples struggle to stay connected with each other. However, there are small things you can do every day that require little time and effort and that make it entirely possible to have a close, loving, connected relationship with your partner.

Strengthen Your Connection Today

When you start giving your marriage the attention it deserves, you can absolutely transform your relationship with your partner. By strengthening your connection with your partner, you can feel more supported by each other, you become better able to communicate and understand each other, and you work more as a team. This then makes parenting together easier, you stress less and have more fun, and you look forward to making time for each other.

Being stuck in a negative cycle with your partner can be very painful. But it doesn’t have to be this way. At My Marriage Works, I teach couples how to break free from these patterns and have a more satisfying marriage. The key to achieving a rock-solid relationship is to consistently do things every day to make a positive difference.

Take a look at these five tips that I use with my clients to help them make a difference in their marriage immediately.

  1.  APPRECIATIONS/POSITIVE FOCUS
    A simple way to start seeing results in your relationship is through a daily practice of appreciations. Each day you share with your partner one thing you appreciate about them or something they did that made your day easier. This helps to create positive feelings and helps you focus on what is going well instead of what is going wrong. You’ve likely heard the expression, “the energy flows where the focus goes.” What you focus on is what you see and what becomes your reality. Noticing and focusing on the positive things in your relationship has the ability to significantly change the way you view your relationship and how you think and feel about your partner.  
  1. CARING BEHAVIORS
    What are the things that make you feel loved by your partner and what are the things that you do that make your partner feel loved? If you’ve grown distant in your relationship, you might not know what those things are anymore. Work to reacquaint one another with those values. Decide on one caring behavior and commit to doing for each other. Maybe it’s offering a compliment, asking about your partner’s day, sending a sweet text message during the day. I’ve had a partner say that hearing a simple good morning from her partner made a huge difference in how she felt about their relationship. Whatever little thing that means something to you and you both can commit to.

    Creating a strong relationship requires giving even when it’s not convenient. Naturally, we all want to feel special and important to our partners. To feel like we matter. If you’ve lost touch with your partner and you’re not sure what that is, ask your partner! What’s something I could do that would make a difference for you or that would make you feel loved and important?

  1. RITUALS OF CONNECTION
    Couples often express that they are so busy it’s hard to find any time to connect. I get it; staying connected to your partner in the hectic pace of life can be challenging. I also know that no matter how busy life is there are always opportunities for connection. When you’re not in the habit of making your relationship a priority, your moments of connection are likely few and far between. Another way to reconnect with your partner is to create rituals of connection.

    Establishing rituals creates shared meaning in your relationship and reinforces your bond as a couple. A perfect way to start this is to establish a ritual of departing and reuniting at the end of the day. These rituals may include a warm hug or quick kiss, asking about your partner’s day or sharing something about your day. When leaving in the morning, take a moment to find each other and say goodbye with a hug or a kiss. It’s simple acts like this that remind you to prioritize each other and your relationship. Some couples go on to create many more rituals including eating meals together, going to bed at the same time, or setting aside a set time to talk without any distractions. Incorporating this simple step into your daily routine is an effective way rebuild your bond.

  1. BE CURIOUS
    Remember when you first got together and you wanted to know everything there was to know about your partner? You’d ask lots of questions and were interested in all the details. When couples have been together a long time partners start to assume they know everything there is to know about their partner. You stop asking questions, assuming you know how your partner will respond or what they are thinking and feeling. If you stop being curious, you stop asking questions. When you stop asking questions, you stop talking. And when you stop talking, you drift apart. Simply put, stop assuming and start asking. Curiosity creates connection and builds intimacy. It gives your partner the message, “you are important, you matter, I value you, I care.” When you start to be more curious and stop assuming, you still can learn a lot about your partner that you didn’t know.
  1. SHIFT YOUR FOCUS
    The number one result couples share they want when they come for couples counseling is better communication. This is frequently followed with a well-rehearsed list of all the things their partner needs to change for the relationship to improve. The truth is, you get the best results when each person recognizes their contribution to the problems and works to create change. You can influence your partner, but you cannot change them. The only person you can change is yourself. If you really want to have a different relationship you have to shift your focus away from changing your partner.

Rather than complaining about the current state of your marriage, think about the kind of relationship you want to create in the future.  Ask yourself if you’re being the kind of partner you aspire to be? If not, where are you getting stuck? Shifting your focus from your partner to yourself is not an easy shift, but it will lead you to sustainable relationship growth instead of temporary. Self-accountability is the key to lasting change.

If you’ve been married for any amount of time, you know how easy it can be to let things slip in your relationship. When you don’t make your relationship a priority over time, you fall into a rut. You feel disconnected, frustrated, and lonely wondering if it’s even possible to get back to what you had. I’m here to tell you it’s entirely possible to reconnect in your relationship even if you’ve fallen into a rut. With a little support from My Marriage Works, you can begin to make small changes and create new habits that strengthen and nurture your marriage.

Call 617-694-7015 to schedule a session today.

Don’t Be Fooled by These Modern Marriage Myths

It’s easy to fall into the trap of some popular yet misleading modern marriage myths. Unfortunately, these myths often distort the reality of what a marriage really is and what it can be.

By believing so many marriage myths, you can actually end up causing more damage to your relationship.  You may never truly feel satisfied, even if everything is perfectly fine within that relationship.

Being able to break through some of these marriage myths allows couples to focus on what really matters in their relationship. When you’re able to do that, you can actually work on building a stronger marriage.

Myth #1: You Don’t Have to Tell Your Spouse Everything

Some couples tend to still want their privacy. While there’s a fine line to this myth, a good rule of thumb is to share as much as possible with your spouse.

Don’t assume that you’ll still have the same level of privacy in a relationship as you had when you were single.

As you may have guessed, assuming often leads to a lack of communication. And miscommunication is a ticking time bomb when it comes to ruining relationships.

If you do still want some privacy, talk to your partner about it. It’s better to work on ground rules together than keep things hidden from each other.

Myth #2: Friends Give You the Best Relationship Advice

Everyone has their own opinion on marriage and how relationships work. You might think your best friend has a successful marriage, so they’d be the best person to talk to about your own relationship.

However, this isn’t necessarily true. Another friend with a successful marriage might give you completely different advice.

You can take the opinions of friends and family to heart or with a grain of salt. It’s your choice.

If you’re really struggling with something in your marriage, it helps to have a mentor or counselor guide you through it.

The people closest to you might have your best interest in mind. But, that doesn’t mean their advice will always be what’s best for your relationship.

Myth #3: Happy Couples Never Argue

Between pop culture and social media, it’s easy to buy into the idea of an idyllic romantic life. For many people, that gives us the assumption that happy couples don’t go through arguments. 

Every single couple argues at some point in time. It could be something as small as washing the dishes, or a much bigger life event.

Disagreements aren’t necessarily a bad thing in a relationship. In fact, they often make marriages stronger when they are executed correctly and productively.

Don’t assume that just because you argue with your spouse, it means you’re not “meant to be.”

Instead, focus on how you argue and disagree about things. Again, communication is key. How you handle arguments makes all the difference. Focus on coming out of the argument stronger.

Myth #4: You’re Too Different to Make It Work

It has become all too easy for people to find any excuse for an exit strategy in marriages today. You may begin thinking you’d be better off with someone else. Or, you may think you and your spouse are just too different to ever make things work.

The thing to keep in mind is that no marriage is perfect. In fact, a “perfect marriage” is the biggest myth of all.

Marriage takes a lot of work from both partners. Instead of always looking for a way out, commit yourself to work hard on your relationship, and expect your spouse to do the same. If you’ve reached a point where you can’t do it on your own, it’s okay to seek out help.

Going through counseling or therapy with your spouse suggests that you both want the relationship to work.

Please reach out today if you’re ready to begin working towards your relationship goals.

Together, we can come up with practical solutions to strengthen your relationship and ignore some of the modern marriage myths that may be plaguing it.   

5 Ways Happy Couples Deal With Disagreements

Even strong, happy couples argue and disagree about things. No relationship is perfect. But, it’s how couples deal with those disagreements that can make a difference.

Unsurprisingly, people don’t get into relationships looking forward to disagreements, but they’re bound to happen. Whether big or small, knowing how to handle disagreements with your partner can make for a much more secure partnership.

If you’re not sure how to do that, don’t worry! Following are some tried and true methods of how happy couples deal with disagreements.

By putting some of these ideas into practice, you can turn your future arguments into tools for strengthening your relationship.

Let’s take a look at five productive ways couples deal with disagreements.

1. They Take Responsibility for Their Actions

One of the biggest pitfalls of most arguments is one person pointing blame at the other. In some cases, one person will be at fault. But, that doesn’t mean the other person is perfect.

Happy couples take responsibility for their actions.

If you always tell your partner that they are the problem, and don’t accept any responsibility for your part, you’ll constantly hit an emotional brick wall.

Work with your partner and communicate as to what you both could have done better. When couples deal with conflict by taking personal responsibility, the outcome tends to be a more united one.

2. They Get to the Bottom of the Disagreement

When you do have a disagreement with each other, it’s important to focus on squashing the disagreement itself, instead of each other.

It’s far too easy to let a simple argument snowball into something much worse. This tends to happen in the heat of the moment when partners are triggered by each other.

When this happens, you may start thinking about other upsetting things your partner has done. Although irrelevant to the current situation, you may resort to saying things out of anger or spite.

Rather, focus on the argument at hand. Work together to “fight” the argument, instead of fighting each other.

3. They’re Open and Honest

It doesn’t take a relationship expert to know that communication is a key component for happy couples. This isn’t just a silly statement that people throw around. It’s actually a huge part of what makes a relationship work.

Open and honest communication is especially effective when you’re having a disagreement. Understand that your partner can’t read your mind. They may not know exactly why you’re upset or frustrated.

Try to get to a point where you’re comfortable being vulnerable and sharing your thoughts and feelings during a disagreement. If you both do that, it’s likely the argument will be resolved quickly and you can move on.

4. They Make Sacrifices

Not every disagreement needs to come out with a clear “winner.” Instead, focus on compromise and sacrifices.

Disagreements usually start because one person wants something from their partner.  It may be wanting or demanding the other person to either start or stop a behavior.

Instead of expecting a complete change in your partner, meet them halfway with a compromise.

Don’t be afraid to make sacrifices. It’s not always easy to back down from what you want. But, when you think about the bigger picture, you’ll usually see that making a small sacrifice can allow for a stronger relationship in the long run.

5. They Expect Disagreements

Yes, happy couples expect that they’ll argue about certain things. If you purposely try to avoid arguments in your relationship, you could be creating a ticking time bomb.

By avoiding disagreements, you let negative emotions build inside you. Eventually, they’ll have to come out. That results in even bigger arguments often much more damaging to the relationship.

Instead, expect that you’ll have disagreements from time to time. Use the other tips listed here to work through them productively.

As you can see, the way happy couples deal with disagreements isn’t anything too complex. Really, the challenge is putting actionable steps to work for you.

But, by using some of the suggestions here, you can start to turn your disagreements into something that can strengthen your relationship instead of trying to tear it apart.

If you’d like support in living your best relationship, please visit my Couples Counseling page to schedule your free consult call today.

How to Keep Love Alive When the Happily Ever After Fades

We go into marriage with the promise of lasting love and hope for a storybook romance.

It’s a time of excitement and joy about your future life together and the dreams you share.  

Few couples, however, really understand what it takes to make their marriage work. When the honeymoon is over and real life settles in, your differences begin to show in a much more noticeable ways.  

Those differences likely started out so small, so irrelevant, maybe even welcome. But now they are all you can focus on and, perhaps, you wonder, how did we get here?

If you’ve found yourself here, disillusioned and disheartened, but desperate to make your relationship work, there is help. But, this is not for the faint of heart; it requires digging deep, being open to learning, sustained effort, and a willingness to change.  

Dealing With Differences

When differences become more obvious it can be very scary for couples, leaving them to wonder if they married the right person.  Partners tend to use ineffective but well intentioned methods to try to convince each other to see, do, and think it their way.  

Lacking effective skills to manage your differences brings unwanted conflict and heartache. Soon, a pattern begins to develop. The relationship turns into a kind of tug-of-war, each of you trying to preserve what you hold as true.  

Your relationship becomes stuck in a painful cycle of argument and blame.  You love each other but don’t know how to maintain your love and connection as you face these challenges.

How do you handle these differences?  Many couples attempt to make their differences go away by convincing their partner that their way is wrong.  A healthier and more realistic alternative is to work on accepting these differences. Realize your partner is a separate person, with individual thoughts, feelings and beliefs. If those are different than yours, it doesn’t make them bad or wrong; it’s just different.  Get curious, try to refrain from a defensive response and try to understand your partner’s perspective by asking questions.  

Sustain Love and Connection

A concept I’ve found helpful in my work with couples is remembering that relationships don’t just happen—they are created.  Yes, relationships are hard work!  When “happily ever after” fades (and it will), the challenge is to remain loving and giving even when you don’t feel like it.  

Like growing a garden, your relationship needs care, consideration, and attention.

If you ignore or neglect your garden it will wilt and, eventually, die. The same is true of your relationships. Ongoing efforts to nourish and nurture your relationship are key to maintaining a loving connection to your partner.

Some simple ways to nurture your relationship include showing or expressing appreciation/gratitude, carving out time to be together, daily rituals of connection such as a kiss goodbye, and a warm greeting at the end of the day.  

Looking Inward

When things get tough in your relationship it’s easy to fall into a pattern of criticism and blame. Blaming each other for not getting your needs met is a common dynamic in couples. This, unfortunately, does not lead to the change you desire.  

Real change starts with you. Remember, the only person you have control over is yourself. Looking at yourself and your contribution to the problems in the relationship is far more challenging to do, but it is key to creating a healthy, sustainable relationship.

Instead of focusing on your partner’s shortcomings, ask yourself, “Am I being the kind of partner I aspire to be?”  If not, then what do I need to do to change that? Instead of focusing on what you’re not getting, shift your mindset to ask yourself, “How can I give to my partner in a loving, kind way?” Beginning with self-change will lead to greater growth individually and relationally.

Yes, the happily ever after fades, but it doesn’t mean you married the wrong person. The newness and intense excitement of any relationship fades. It’s a natural developmental process the relationship moves through over time.

The intense feeling of being “in love” develops into a mature love.  A love that is not just a feeling but one that requires doing and giving even when it’s not convenient. Feelings come and go, but to sustain real love you must be active in doing loving things for your relationship to strengthen and grow.