For some people, it’s because of a crisis, such as infidelity, job loss, illness or accidents.
Others come in because they feel distant and want to grow closer, or they seek counseling before they marry to sort out any difficulties and ensure that they’re ready for life together.
Some couples simply know that something feels wrong but they don’t know what, and they want to fix it.
But once you and your partner have decided to seek counseling, how do you make the most of it? Here are six things to consider.
Humans are all about community. By connecting with others, we find support, meaning, reassurance, and joy. Even the healthiest among us feels lonely and isolated at times. For those who struggle with physical or mental disabilities, the isolation can feel even greater.
How to people do it?
When I first became a bird owner, I noticed that my cockatiel Sunshine would only eat when someone was near her.
Most birds are flock animals; they rely on the members of their community for companionship, safety, and parenting.
In the wild, Sunshine would only eat with her flock members there to watch out for her.
Like many other animals, humans have an inborn need for community that is crucial to not only our survival but also to our mental health and happiness.
Not everyone needs 40 friends, but everyone needs someone they can rely on to help them through the harshness of life.
WHAT KEEPS US FROM BEING CONNECTED TO OTHERS?
There is a lot of relationship advice out there; friends, family, and coworkers are willing and eager to share their thoughts.
Over the years, I’ve heard and read some awful pieces of advice.
Here are the worst of them.
10. If you love her enough, you can get her to change.
9. No one will ever love you as much as he does.
Do these sound familiar?
For some people, these phrases may bring back memories of their childhood, or they may have heard these statements from their kids.
Despite sounding childish, everyone has said something similar in their adult life to a spouse, police officer, family member, or friend.
In counseling sessions, I frequently hear how people struggle with the difference between excuses and explanations.
Some people hesitate to give any explanations; they see explanations and excuses as the same thing, and they don’t want to be seen as giving excuses.
Others go to the other extreme and take no accountability for his or her own actions, blaming everything from their upbringing, their stress load, their partner or kids, for their wrongdoing.
Although it can sometimes be unclear, there is a difference between an excuse and an explanation.
People make excuses when they feel attacked. They become defensive.
Excuses are often used to deny responsibility. People make excuses when they feel attacked. They become defensive.
Explanations help clarify the circumstances of a particular event. Explanations are less emotional and less pressured than excuses.
Sometimes, the only one who can really know if their statement is an excuse or an explanation is the one saying it. Telling the police who pulled you over that you are running late for work is a good example of this. If you were hoping to get out of a ticket or lying, it was probably an excuse. If the officer asked why you were driving 30 in a 25, and you answered honestly, it was an explanation.
Why does it matter?
Consider the following situation:
Your 14-year-old daughter has brought home a failing grade on her science report. You ask her what happens. She says:
As a therapist, I work with people who have very different reactions to difficult situations. How a couple manages stress can either break down or build up their relationship. The following are two real life examples of people who faced stressful situations and had very different reactions. Identifying details have been changed.
Example 1: Stan and Beth were stuck in the airport, trying to return home after celebrating their 2nd anniversary. They missed their connecting flight, and it was clear that they would not make it back home until the next morning. Beth was furious and blamed Stan for the missed connection. As Beth fumed under her breath, Stan argued loudly with the ticket agent, criticizing everything from the layout of the airport to the polices of the airline. The taxi ride to a hotel ended up in a screaming match. On the flight home the next morning, they barely spoke.
Example 2: Brian and Mark were driving to visit family for a week’s vacation. On a long stretch of highway surrounded by corn fields, the car began to overheat. Mark pulled over as smoke poured from under the hood. Mark was visibly upset, complaining about Brian’s lack of attention to car maintenance. Brian resisted blaming Mark for driving too fast. Instead, Brian put his hand on Mark’s shoulder and reminded him that they would be fine and laid out a plan of action. After calling for a tow truck (and being told it would arrive in 2 1/2 hours), they sat on the edge of the road together. They made some humorous comments about their situation and the age of their car. When they arrived at their destination a day later, their road trip story was discussed as more of an adventure than a disaster.
Two couples in two similar stressful situations had very different responses. In the first example, missing a flight was an event that turned the couple against each other. There was blame and anger. In the second example, the couple pulled together and tackled the problem as a team. Blame and anger were quickly pushed aside.
When a couple faces a difficult situation, they have three choices to make. The first is how they approach the problem.
When a child learns to love herself, she learns acceptance, pride, self-esteem, and inner strength. When a child learns to love others, he learns how to make connections with others, how it feels to be kind, and how to be vulnerable. When a child learns how to be loved, he learns that he is a person worth loving, that he is valued and wanted.
Words are powerful, and in a relationship they can be used to both bring people together or push them apart.
As a therapist, I’ve noticed that there are several statements couples commonly make to each other that destroy the foundation of their relationship. Sometimes the words are used deliberately to hurt the other person, and sometimes the destruction comes about through carelessness.
If you want to have a healthy relationship, it’s important to be aware of the impact your words will have on your partner.
Here are the top relationship destroying statements that couples make to each other, and some ideas of what to say instead.
Do you ever wonder why other people are happy, and you’re not?
The good news is that being happy is more of a choice than you might think.
Happiness doesn’t have to be an elusive idea that only some fortunate people are able to obtain. Here are seven simple things you can do to increase your happiness.
If you’re a parent with a mental illness, or if someone in your family is mentally ill, you may struggle with how to talk about it with your children. You may feel embarrassed or even ashamed about your disease.
Even thought it can be difficult, it’s important to create a safe space for kids to hear and ask questions about the illness that affects you or your partner.
Here are five tips to help you get started.