Relationships Articles

Stress and Relationships

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

shutterstock_93694900Stress happens to everyone. But why do some people appear to manage it better than others? How does the way that you and your partner deal with stressful situations affect your relationship?

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.


Lessons in Love Part 1: Helping Children Learn to Love

Monday, February 11th, 2013

shutterstock_114535009One of the most important jobs of a parent is to teach a child what it means to love and to be loved.

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.


Relationship Destroying Statements, and What to Say Instead

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

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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.


7 Things You Can Do NOW to Make Yourself Happier

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

 

 

Have you ever felt as if happiness is something that you have to wait to come to you?

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.


Talking to Your Children About Mental Illness

Monday, January 28th, 2013

 

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.


Kids and Online Pornography – What You Need to Know

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Many parents have a strong gut-reaction when they discover that their son or daughter has viewed sexually explicit content.

The internet has made hardcore pornography easily accessible to anyone with a computer and online access. 20 years ago a person would have to take multiple steps to see porn. They would have to find out where it’s sold, get to the store, find the gumption to go in and make the purchase. And the magazine would have a beginning and an end.

Now one simply has to Google whatever they’re looking for, and hundreds and thousands of pictures, webcams, and videos pop up, many for free. Unlike the pornography that shows up in print, the internet doesn’t end. A person could look at pornography day and night and still see new images.

As a parent, or adult who works with or cares about kids, here are some things you need to know about online pornography.


6 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Another year of holiday joy is upon us; another year of holiday chaos, stress, and anxiety is here, as well.

For many families, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years are times for reunions, reconnecting, and enjoying one another.

Yet however great the celebrations are, holidays are stressful. Here are six tips for making your holidays as peaceful and stress-free as possible.

  1. Don’t over-plan. It can be tempting to arrange to first swing by grandma’s, then see your in-law’s at their home, then return and make a holiday dinner for your family and your out-of-town brother and his five kids. Don’t do it. The holidays are time for reconnecting, but if you’re bitter, grumpy, and yelling at your spouse, you (and the rest of your family) will be miserable and disconnected.
  2. Realize that you can’t please everyone. The more people who are involved in a situation, the greater the chance for hurt feelings and misunderstandings. This year your parents might not be able to see the kids open up their presents or you may miss seeing your sisters at Thanksgiving. Do the best that you can with the limited time and energy you have.
  3. Make a budget, and stick to it. Don’t go into debt purchasing things you can’t afford, or else come January you’ll regret it.  Families often will have a year when to make all of their gifts by hand, or they’ll do a gift exchange rather than purchasing things for everyone. The holidays are a time for sharing and showing love. You don’t need to purchase anything for this. Remember, you and your family and friends will not remember the gifts you gave them, or the amazing pies you baked. They’ll remember the feelings they experienced, and the stories and laughter shared.
  4. Think about what feelings you want to experience during the holidays. Do you want a frantic excited holiday, or a serene and peaceful one? Do you want to be surrounded by tons of people, or have a more intimate time with your loved ones? Plan your day with this in mind.
  5. Be aware of your anxiety and stress …

Pregnancy and Infant Loss: The Pain of a Life Cut Short

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Pregnancy. It’s a time when parents dream of the child they will someday meet, when they look through baby books for names, decide on nursery decor, and imagine what life will be like when their child arrives.

When these dreams and hopes are cut short by miscarriage, still birth, or the loss of life hours or days after birth, the pain is unmeasurable.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. 

The statistics on pregnancies that end in miscarriage or neonatal deaths (less than 28 days old) are staggering. One in four women has experienced this kind of loss. And yet there continues to be a shroud of secrecy about it.

Some women feel ashamed of their grief and keep it to themselves. Others believe that something is wrong with them because months or even years after the miscarriage or loss they have to hold back tears when their friends celebrate a new birth, a coworker announces her pregnancy, or they’re invited to a baby shower.

If you have experienced the loss of a child in pregnancy or after birth, whatever you are experiencing is okay. Each person, each family, experiences loss differently. There is no one ‘normal’ or right way to grieve a baby who is gone too soon.

Remember:

  • Your loss is individual, and there is no clear road-map as to how your grief will be expressed and experienced.
  • Many parents take pictures of their child who was born still, hold them, rock them, and talk to them. It’s natural to need to say goodbye.
  • Allow yourself to grieve and mourn the life that could have been. There is no time-line as to when your grief will ease.
  • It’s okay to talk about your child to others. Your son’s or daughter’s  life may have been cut short, but it still mattered and it was still real.
  • You may feel alone in this, but know that pregnancy loss is something that many, many women experience. Sadly,  few people  talk about it.
  • It’s okay to reach out to others for support. It’s okay to not know what you need, or to need different …

5 Common Pitfalls of Parenting, and How to Avoid Them

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Have you ever been going about your normal, happy life, and suddenly ran into a situation with your child that you didn’t expect?

Perhaps it’s an issue you never thought you’d have to deal with, or you realized that the way you handled a situation was wrong. Parenting pitfalls happen to everyone.

Here are five common mistakes that parents make, and how to avoid them.


The Importance of Perspective

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

Have you ever felt like the car you were in was rolling backwards, only to realize that your car was actually still, but the car next to you was moving forward?

You inadvertently judged your own movement based not on what was truly happening, but on what your mind thought was happening.

Sometimes what we see, experience, and believe is not completely valid or true. Like an optical illusion where what the eye sees isn’t accurate, it can be difficult to gain a correct perspective at times.

Here are some questions to consider when trying to gain a better understanding of the accuracy of your experience.


 
 

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