by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 24, 2019 comfortable relationship, counseling south hills, marriage counseling monroeville, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford0 comments
8 Things you should do to make your relationship comfortable
- Have a disagreement! Most of us in the clinical world agree that it takes at least 2 years for a person to trust enough to become really honest about their past, present, and futures. If you haven’t disagreed with your partner, you don’t really have a relationship, its an acquaintanceship.
- Don’t tell your friends, family, about your relationship issues, talk to your partner about what you feel. While everyone at times uses others as a sounding board if you turn to others more than your partner to vent, you are likely robbing your relationship of important life blood.
- State your needs not your criticisms. People fear stating a position in a relationship because they don’t know how to be constructive and supportive so they instead fiend silence and then explode or repress their true selves until the relationship deteriorates. When we tell our partner what we need, we allow our partner and the relationship an opportunity to grow and nothing is more comfortable than a relationship that is evolving.
- Make time for yourself that doesn’t involve your partner. Keep your friends and solo activities, if you don’t have some, you will likely over rely on your partner for social support and approach your relationship from a perspective of need instead of strength. We can’t have a comfortable relationship if we cant stand on our own.
- Be vulnerable, share your insecurity, were you bullied as a kid? Went through an over weight stage or worked through stuttering? Say it, if this is your person, you must take small risks of sharing your vulnerable aspects, this is how trust is built by making small disclosures over time!
- Tell them what you really enjoy sexually, sexually intimacy is founded on trust and honesty conveyance of what turns you on and off, indicating your pleasure to your partner is paramount to enjoying a healthy sexual relationship.
- Share your dreams, what is your 5 year plan? Sharing this with your partner is a great way to grow closer together, or not. Especially if this is a newer relationship each of you can think honestly about the direction in which you see your life going.
- What are your boundaries or no go zones? These can be emotional, physical, interpersonal. Boundaries are unique for each of us. Some common ones include how you will interact with others, whether your relationship will be monogamous, frequency of communication. Boundaries teach others how we need to be loved and they define where one person ends and other begins.
Comfort is important in a relationship if it indicates that we have trust, respect, and attraction. Yet some people site that too much comfort can also detract from the relationship and erode at sexual attraction and contribute to feelings of boredom, we believe it is important to all yourself to be bored in a relationship and intolerance of boredom is an internal problem with ourselves.
Be well with us,
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC
Contact us today at 412-856-WELL to book an appointment for Therapy, Marriage, or Family Counseling at one of our 4 conveniently located centers:
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC is a certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania’s largest and most trusted wellness therapy practice. Stephanie specializes in relationships and providing marriage counseling and she has been featured on local television and Huff Post where she acts as a thought leader on relationships.Learn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghSeptember 17, 2019 communication exercises, couples communication, south hills counseling0 comments
The steps to a sincere apology that counts!
If you have made a mistake in your marriage or relationship then congrats, you are like the rest of us who work hard to do our best but sometimes fumble. One of the ways that couples get really off track in relationships however is that they do not know how to make up after having a big fight, they don’t know how to make an apology. Here are the 5 steps to an apology that will count by communicating your feelings and allowing your partners feelings to be understood.
- Admit where you went wrong – If you have found yourself looking back on a recent event and knowing that you made a mistake, the first step is to open up and admit it. Unfortunately, this is tough work for many people. Our defense mechanisms can at times go to great lengths to prevent from being accountable and we even lie to ourselves so that we don’t have to risk being wrong. Be accountable, vulnerable, and humble by admitting this.
- Ask your partner how it felt for them- Here is where you can really become a relationship master, ask your partner to share their experience and really tune in. Do not assume that you understand but give them the opportunity to open up about whatever it is that happened between you. This will create a relationship based on empathy.
- Validate your partners feelings, Find some shred of what your partner shared- This is the most important step in any apology, validate, find some point of agreement for your partners perception of reality. There is a lot of research about the mental health effects of being in an invalidating environment but when we validate and affirm each other’s experiences, people are soothed and conflict resolved.
- Share what you could have said, done, or how you could have behaved differently or would in the future. Apologies are only as good as their assurance to not commit the same mistakes repeatedly. If we continually mess up, pay lip service with ‘I am sorry,’ but continue to do the same thing, our partner isn’t going to have much faith in our words. However, when we plan to do something different next time, even though we can’t change the past we are committing to a different path in the future.
- End with I am sorry. Saying I am sorry if really the final step in the whole process of the apology, the words are much more authentic when embedded in the context of all of the meaning of the conversation that precedes and follows it.
Check out some of our other communication exercises for couples.
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Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC is a certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania’s largest and most trusted wellness therapy practice. Stephanie specializes in relationships and providing marriage counseling and she has been featured on local television and countless articles where she acts as a thought leader on mindfulness and wellness. Stephanie is a loving wife, an ardent yogi. Stephanie enjoys her daily meditation practice, trying new wellness tips, prancing through the world with belly laughs on her breath and preparing gourmet meals.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 25, 2019 chores, marriage, marriage and family, national institute of health, relationship, way couples can stop arguing about household chores0 comments
Couples Counselor verified; 6 ways that Couples Can Stop Arguing about Household Chores.
Cleaning and how to manage it with some degree of harmony is a topic that comes up often for couples, it ranks right up there with finances and parenting in terms of hot button relationship issues. The research weighs in, according to the National Institute of Health, in relationships where both partners are engaged in managing household chores, wives have higher happiness and well-being in the relationship. Furthermore, the opposite is true, in marriages where only one partner, typically the female partner, manages the majority of household labor, there is greater dissatisfaction and distress, this is especially true in relationships where both partners are a part of the work force. The stress and imbalances in shared responsibilities can take their toll, in fact according to data compiled by business insider, house-hold chores are a common reason people divorce. Often when couples take the time to dig a little deeper into what each of these critical issues means to the other, the dialogue changes. Instead of pointing fingers at each other, they can consider, what are the true barriers to making change, and then work on creating mutually achievable solutions, it is empowering to realize that these conflicts can be resolved. Here are our therapists 6 best ways to stop arguing about household chores.
- Co-create a cleaning list of total household chores; divide and conquer. This may seem basic, and it is. One of the problems we as couples therapists observe is that one partner carries the ‘cognitive load’ for organizing, cleaning, and managing the household. Data shows that this is often the woman in the home, she then asks for help and the male partner may feel criticized or micromanaged when he is asked to help. When couples co-create a weekly list on a dry erase board, both partners become responsible for completing it. This can also help both partners see the sheer volume of work that must happen to keep the house managed well. Add an initial next to the task once it is completed and then you can even turn it into a competition, create a prize or personal expression of gratitude for the person each week who completes more tasks etc.
- Recognize that while one partner may be more focused on cleaning, don’t take that as a lack of love. We all view the world in a different way, we walk into living-room and some people see the pillows on the couch in disarray, others never notice the pillows because their brains are not wired that way. Partners who have repeatedly had discussions or battles about cleaning may end up feeling very hurt imagining, ‘If my partner cared about me, they would do the dishes or clean the bathroom.” The truth is, they may love you very much but household tidiness may not be on their radar. In other instances, a partner may be struggling with depression or another mental health disorder that prevents them from action. In any event, do your best to not make the cleaning about his or her love for you.
- Use a soft start instead of a criticism! Soft start is stating your feeling and what you need, this is a Gottman Couples Therapy Method to break up the tendency that couples have to criticize each other. Instead of saying, “You never wipe down the counter tops!” You might try, “I am really tired today with a busy work week, I could really use extra help with the counter tops.” This way prevents our partner from feeling attacked and makes it less likely your conversation will spiral and instead you may achieve your goal which is to be responded to kindly!
- Figure out what having a clean house means to each partner. Talk about it constructively! Figure out what is most important to your partner about cleaning the home, ask them questions that play back to their own childhood too. It is amazing how much you can learn when instead of responding to each other’s criticisms you go deeper. Maybe your partners parent had OCD or were perfectionists, maybe your partners parents never cleaned and they were embarrassed to bring friends back to the house as a kid. Meaning is vital for couples by providing a context for each person’s wants and needs.
- If you want your partner to share in the chores, you might need to accept that they will likely perform the chores differently that you do. Some couples expect their partner to become the perfect task master and do everything the way that they have been instructed. This isn’t fair, we need to accept that our partner will come up with a different way of doing things, when we create a home with a partner, it doesn’t get to be all about the way each individual wants to do things, collaboration and mutual problem solving are necessary.
You may not have this fight forever. According to Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, she stated that “One couple she worked with for many years used to fight about the pillows never being straight on the couch. The woman fumed about it leading to many battles, several years later her husband died, and each day when the woman walked to her living room she was tearful, wishing that those pillows were misshapen. Remember, our time on this earth is limited. The things that annoy us today we may end up missing tomorrow.”
For a couples therapy or marriage counseling appointment near you, please call us at our Pittsburgh Counseling Center, Wexford Counseling Center, Monroeville Counseling Center, or New South Hills Counseling Center!
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 19, 2019 gottman counselor, gottman marriage counseling, gottman method counseling, marriage counseling near me, sound relationship house0 comments
Gottman Method Marriage Counseling
Gottman Method Couples counseling is a form of therapy created by Drs John and Judy Gottman, which aims to support a positive and constructive relationship between two married or dating partners. Gottman method counseling is grounded in research and is proven to be one of the most effective ways to help couples enhance their relationship. The theory identifies the ‘Sound Relationship House’ as the model that helps the marriage counselor and couple conceptualize the parts to their marriage or relationship. The Sound Relationship house includes the following, from the basement up: Love Maps, Shared Fondness and Admiration, Turn Toward instead of Away, The Positive Perspective, Managing Conflict, Make life Dreams Come True, Shared Meaning and the two walls of the Sound relationship house: Trust and Commitment. Let us examine each of these components to your relationship house.
Love Maps denotes the amount of cognitive space that our partner takes up in our thoughts. When we spend time talking with our partner we generally can stay in tune with what is important to them including their interests and people close to them. Often in the beginning of a relationship there is a lot of time spent on getting to know our partner. Love Maps need to be continually updated and this only happens with shared time and connection.
Shared Fondness and Admiration All of our relationships are a mirror of ourselves. When we notice that we or our partner doesn’t respect, admire, or care for us, we both start to feel poorly about ourselves as well as the relationship. Healthy relationships are full of respect and care that are exhibited and practiced on a daily basis. We have many ways to express fondness and admiration, including the love languages of Verbal Affirmations, Physical intimacy, Time Spent, Acts of Service, and Gifts. Fondness is expressed in what we say and do as well as how we say and do it.
Turning Toward instead of Away Couples make bids for each other’s attention and time regularly when they are in love. It is important to analyze how each person is responding to the bids by either turning toward it in acceptance, turning away, or even turning against. The Gottmans recommend a 5:1 ratio of turning toward each others bids for every one time in a day we turn away. A bid might be, “look out the window honey, the sun is so beautiful right now!” If Johnny the husband accepts that bid by saying, “oh yes, it is beautiful.’ Then Sandy the wife feels connected, understood and pleased that she has shared a marriage moment with her husband. If instead Johnny the husband says, ‘Why are you bothering me?” That bid has instead been turned against. If Johnny the husband doesn’t respond that is an example of turning away. Everyone will miss some bids sometimes, but healthy relationships accept five bids for each one they miss. Turning against bids has predictive value to divorce according to the Gottmans’ research.
The Positive Perspective A Gottman Method Couples Counselor is always analyzing whether a relationship is in a negative or positive perspective. This is really the color of the fabric of the relationship, the perceptual lens through which our partner’s behavior is viewed. When we are in positive sentiment overload, everything our partner does is cute, loveable, and easily accepted as well as overlooked. Conversely, Negative Sentiment overload is when we believe that everything our partner does is evidence of their failing or lack of caring. Think about your partner being 10 minutes late for dinner. In positive sentiment overload we would think, ‘I hope she is ok, I know how much she would want to be here on time.’ In the same scenario if we were in negative sentiment overload, we would think, “What a clown, she never takes anything seriously and is late all the time!” Perception is the foundation of our thoughts and feelings, and they contribute to our response to our partner which also contributes to their response to us.
Managing Conflict Every form of couples therapy should help the couple learn to manage conflict if those skills are not already in place. Conflict is one of the most common reasons that a couple decides to enter counseling.
Making Life Dreams Come True The best and most healthy relationships allow us to have a balanced and peaceful sentiment from which dreams and goals are born. When our partner is on our side, they collaborate with us to make personal and shared dreams happen. Conversely when we feel that our partner has different dreams and goals or is non-supportive of ours, little bits of those dreams and our love for our partner can begin to erode.
Shared Meaning Do you feel that you and your partner are on the same page and moving in the same direction, do you share friends, do you have rituals that help you move through time together like a weekend retreat? How do you continue to connect with your partner over the years?
Trust and Commitment In the Sound Relationship House, all of the preceding points serve as layers to the house, with the bottom ones needing to be in place before moving on to the next level. Trust and Commitment are the walls and without the walls to a house, even the strongest foundation will not make a safe home. Trust is more than trusting that your partner is honest and monogamous or non-monogamous if that is what is agreed upon, it is faith in consistent reliability. Commitment is equally important. If the relationship uses tactics of holding the relationship hostage by threatening to leave, it is difficult to have trust in the commitment. Both parts are necessary to open up, feel safe, and stay motivated to care for each other.
Just like with the house or home that you live in, your relationship requires consistent care and attention to become the best version of itself. When we care for our home and our love, it cares in return by providing safety, warmth, and can become a place of magic which is worth every bit of time that we put into it.
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