by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghAugust 4, 2020 bowens system theory, triangulation, what is triangulation0 comments
The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. (2020, August 3). Theory. The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. https://thebowencenter.org/
You may have heard the latest celebrity gossip regarding Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s relationship drama. If not, let me catch you up to speed – Jada openly admitted to having an ‘entanglement’ with a much younger man without Will’s consent or knowledge. This abruptly caused a firestorm across the internet with questions and jokes about ‘entanglements’ and what this all really means. Underlying this drama is an important lesson about relationships and specifically, ‘triangulation’ within relationships. An ‘entanglement’ is a form of ‘triangulation’. Triangulation occurs in a relationship when something or someone disrupts the flow of communication or emotions between the couple. Triangulation could be a manipulation tactic by one person in the relationship, but quite often triangulation happens when a relationship is struggling and without people even realizing it is happening or that they are facilitating it. In Will and Jada’s case, her ‘entanglement’ with a third person may have served to evoke strong emotions or bring previous relationship issues to the surface, forcing communication. However, it certainly doesn’t take an affair or an ‘entanglement’ for triangulation to occur.
What is triangulation? Originally, the concept of triangulation came out of Bowen’s Systems Theory which is a theoretical model used by some therapists to understand and explain family dynamics. In families, triangulation occurs when one or both members of a couple pull a child in to be the third point in the triangle. In this scenario, the child absorbs some of the stress of the relationship or acts as a communication device between the couple. This can occur in relationships where the parents are still together, but struggling in the marriage, or when the parents are separated but do not take the necessary steps to communicate while continuing to co-parent. At any rate, triangulation within a family system puts the child in an extremely difficult position.
More recently people have noticed another kind of triangulation within their relationships. Within the context of family and marriage therapy, we see many forms of triangulation, even where the third point isn’t a person at all, but rather technology, and most often a cell phone. Quite often, one or both members of a couple may avoid in-person, direct communication about difficult or sensitive topics and instead rely on technology to do the communicating. For example, one member of the couple may post or interact on social media to passively communicate with their partner. One or both members of a couple may utilize their cell phones as either a conscious or an unconscious distraction device. Or, one or both members of the couple may seek comfort from their cell phone rather than their partner, avoid intimacy to be on their cell phone, or just generally not be emotionally available because they’re on their device instead of present in the relationship. Some studies have shown that just the mere presence of a mobile device, even when it isn’t being used, can detract from face-to-face interactions. Effective communication is essential for a positive relationship and while triangulation doesn’t signify the end of a relationship, it is likely to lead to significant problems.
By: Lauren Aikin-Smith
Audrey Juhasz & Kay Bradford (2016) Mobile Phone Use in Romantic Relationships, Marriage & Family Review, 52:8, 707-721, DOI: 10.1080/01494929.2016.1157123
The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. (2020, August 3). Theory. The Bowen Center for the Study of the Family. https://thebowencenter.org/
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!
No Sexual Chemistry in Your Relationship? Here are some ways that you can talk about it without them taking it personally.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 20, 2019 sexual chemistry, talking to your partner about sex0 comments
What can you do if you and your partner just don’t seem to have good sexual chemistry? Wondering it there are there ways to overcome it? How can you talk to them about it without them taking it personally? If you have ever wondered about the answers to these questions, we have you covered, read on!
Having a great sex life with a partner, assuming you both have already established an interest in each other takes awareness and intention if we are talking about a long term relationship. To enjoy ‘off the charts sexual chemistry’ really means that both you and your partner have compatible needs for sexual frequency, sexual style, that your anatomy is compatible and for many people having some degree of emotional connection also factors in to sexual chemistry. Having a great sex life doesn’t actually start in ‘the bedroom’, at least not when sex is coupled with a long-term relationship. Even if your relationship started with a lot of sexual energy, there is no promising that this will continue in years to come. ‘Habituation’, the tendency for our responses to any stimuli to become dulled or muted with greater frequency of exposure dictates that the same sexual positions and responses which were once wildly arousing will eventually become less arousing.
Good news, There are things that can be done to bring some of the arousal back! If on the other hand the relationship has always lacked sexual passion or chemistry, then think thoroughly by taking an internal assessment of whether the sexual component of the relationship is actually important to you. According to the Kinsey institute, we all have different sexual needs. There are many components to a healthy relationship, sexual intimacy is just one of them. If you are an extremely sexual person and can’t imagine life with less than 5 steamy sex sessions in a week, a relationship with poor sexual chemistry might not be a good fit for you. If you enjoy sex but are happy with ones a week or a few times per month, maybe it will be satisfying to maintain a long term relationship with less sexual chemistry as long as you have an intimate conversation with your partner about what is happening between the two of you. Without any sort of mutual understanding about the sexual relationship, it becomes likely that resentment will build over time and start to erode at the other parts the relationship which might otherwise be very nurturing and meaningful.
A great way to start a conversation about the sexual relationship is to; Ask your partner what they think of the sex you have been having! You could be surprised to learn that they too have been struggling with it, or perhaps they have a history or sexual aversion, sexual shame, or a sexual arousal disorder that prevents them from enjoying their full sexual potential. Ask them what turns them on the most and what you can do to make them sexually comfortable. You also might ask if they talked about sex in their family growing up or did they receive a lot of sexually shaming information about how taboo and bad it is to be sexually intimate. You will likely be able to tell if they suffer from sexual shame as the conversation about sex will be palpably difficult for them with stammering, blushing, and bouts of silence. After understanding more about their perceptions of sex and needs for sexual frequency and style of sexual intimacy, share a bit about your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. When we talk about our own needs, we always use constructive language that presents opportunities for understanding and if your partner takes that personally or becomes defensive, there might be something to further explore with a sex therapist or marriage counselor.
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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by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 17, 2019 addiction recovery, counseling wexford, digital detox0 comments
‘5 Awesome and Up-worthy Benefits of A Digital Detox’
Mental clutter, anxiety, ‘fubbing’ and stress related disease are just a few of the human spoils which we can estimate are at least in some part perpetuated by our over-reliance on cell phones and digital solutions. The technology era is here and the evidence is within our aching and gnarled fingers, computer blurred-out hyper-focused eyes, our text neck, and cluttered minds. In fact, cell phones have become a newly added to the expanse of potential behavioral addictions. The more we tune into our personal devices the more we tune out all that is around us. Digital detox is the new mental colonic but with perhaps even greater results and significance. When was the last time that you unplugged? What do you imagine would happen if you tried. We have heard of some texters and cell phone obsessed say that they even get full blown anxiety attacks if they leave their phone at home accidentally. We encourage you to take the digital detox challenge and see for how long you can not use your phone. Even for a few hours a day can make a difference. Here are some of the benefits you will notice fairly quickly.
- Thoughts and feelings become much more calm. Much like a turbulent bay on a stormy afternoon, our thoughts get churned up when we are constantly bouncing from one email, to our search engine, and then to social media. When we step away for a few days, our consciousness and the direction of our thoughts have a chance to become still and reflective.
- Enjoy better concentration with internal stillness. Sometimes we multitask to our own detriment, in an attentionally scattered frenzy we try to do too many things at once and fall short everywhere. Yet, when we are unplugged, we can tune our attention in any direction we chose. There are limitations to our ability to think and pay attention and we deplete those resources shuffling between 10 screens. Yet when we focus on things more deeply we become more aware and productive.
- We see what is around us, for real!! Of course when we are scrolling and trolling we are not very good company and we are missing a lot of the scenery. The people we care about may even become hurt or feel rejected by our obsession with our phone. In fact, cell phone overuse wrecks relationships and even brings many couples into counseling. Sometimes we unconsciously use our devices to avoid who and what is happening around us. When we put down our phone and step away from the screen we become much more aware of the people around us, the raw beauty of the skyline, the gray tinged clouds that roll in before the storm, we are ‘in the now’ and living it all.
- Sleeping more deeply. There is much compelling research from the National Institute of Health that logs the correlation between screen time and disrupted sleep wake cycle. The statistics are so compelling that we can safely suggest that we leave behind our personal devices for at least one hour before hitting the sack. The benefits really peak after several days disconnected, this is when our internal clocks have a chance to reset, the benefits multiply as there are few things which are better for our wellness than a solid nights slumber .
- Higher energy and creativity. When we are sleeping well and tuning into the environment, the next natural result is greater energy and even creativity. Want to finish an important project or just feel more vital? Try a digital detox for a few days and see what happens.
How ready are you to try something new today? If you would like further reading on how to make emotional, or physical changes, read our article ‘How to Slay Anything in 2019.’
With energy and clarity,
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, Monroeville, and Wexford.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJuly 16, 2018 anxiety during pregnancy, depression in pregnancy, postpartum, stress pregnancy0 comments
Anxiety and Depression During Pregnancy, ‘Wellness For People Like Me.’
Writer, blogger, and art therapy graduate Angela Grace Wilt shares some of her experiences in recovering positive coping and mental health including ways to manage anxiety and depression during pregnancy. This is a part of the ‘People Like Me’ Series of our wellness blog, real people, real stories, real ways to incorporate wellness into stages and experiences of everyday normal life.
Being a woman comes with a lot of ups and downs. Women are prone to anxiety and it can be very hard to to admit. For example, women are closely tied to the monthly cycles that their body experiences. Things such as menstruation cause anxiety, depression, mood swings, and intense bodily urges with cravings. Men never will get us or grasp what we go through. We are just that unique. For as long as I could remember, I have felt that as a woman I am special and cursed all at once.
Then of course recently, as I have taken this jump into parenthood with the amazing biological potential of my body, quickly I have learned that while things like premenstrual dysphoria, and the normal anxieties and depression of menstruation are challenging, pregnancy holds a whole long list of unique and larger fears and physical difficulties. In fact, this is true for all women, and according to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), between 14-23% of women will struggle with some symptoms of anxiety or depression during pregnancy. The shift in mental health have multiple sources, think about it, there is insomnia because our body is changing so fast that some women can be prone to rapid heartbeat, which makes it harder to fall asleep. There is also the whole list of ‘what ifs.’ Will my baby and I make it to full term? Will my baby be healthy? I can no longer drink alcohol, ride adrenaline driven roller coasters, lift heavy weights, or really take any chances of too adventurous tasks. With each decision I make, I consider the question ‘what will makes my little bump, a healthy or not so healthy baby.’
Physical and emotional changes are also thread within social fears and adjustments, I sometimes wonder, have I planned enough for this pregnancy that has in many ways, just happened. The truth is, I am not some 30 something who has been charting my cycle for 6 months to achieve conception, I didn’t plan to get pregnant just yet. I thought about it sure, but just like most couples we wanted to walk down the aisle with a white dress of lace and flowers all the scenery of our closest friends and family shouting us on, it was always my dream of being that princess and marrying my soul mate! We still will have that for our future, but it will be after we get through the current stresses. In addition to the changes in my timeline, I also care about what our parents think about our having a baby right now. Having a baby out before marriage can be shocking for some religious and cultural values. We were lucky because my family is just fine with it, and with a little time to adjust, my better half’s is now happy about the news.
The list of anxieties and real practical matters which accelerate my concerns are aplenty, even small things have caused me stress, I have had to shop for insurance as a pregnant women, because I am twenty-six, pregnant, and didn’t have any. Finally, babies are expensive, health insurance is also expensive, we have stresses of finding better jobs, I have to go on insurance yet because I am twenty-six and don’t have any. We are cleaning house and making a baby room. When all of these real life stresses start to mount very high, I can feel my heart beating faster, I try to stop and think of the things that we do have, I try to re-frame my anxieties and depressed thoughts in a positive light, I pause and I say to myself, ‘I have my boyfriend, our love together, and I have a supportive family. I have myself and my strengths, and I am strong and able.’That always seems to calm me down and help me to remember that there is much to be excited about as we move forward together as a young family.
With all of these anxious and depressed thoughts swirling in my mind, I have taken the time to put together a small list of ways that I manage and support my emotional health during my pregnancy. Of course if you are struggling with mental health during or after your pregnancy, talk to you PCP or Mental Health provider, get a screening for Postpartum or Baby Blues, every year women die or don’t bond with their babies due to maternal mental health factors. If you are like me and relatively healthy but feeling a little anxious or blue, then read on because these tips may help you as much as they helped me.
Use positive self talk, be your own biggest fan and encourage yourself like you would a friend
I say nice things to myself, I write little notes and post them through out the house, simple thoughts like,’ Rome was built in a day’ ‘We will get everything done in time.’ We’re already almost half way there at twelve weeks. It’s just a wild ride. My body is going through so many beautiful changes. Tune in, all of my emotions are heightened. Hunger is giving me nourishment now. Sleep is always appreciated. Sex is fierce and always wanted. Sadness and anger are intense. I have energy that comes out of nowhere. Its ok if sometimes I can’t stop crying. I love my baby and baby’s daddy and not want anything more than to be with just them and them alone. I want the best by our new child. I want to give it proper nutrition and a good home life. I want to be a good parent and my baby to grow in a family where love is the answer and anger is dealt with in a healthy supportive manner. I will protect this baby with all that I have. This child’s needs and wants are now first. I am ready to teach this baby proper education, morals, respect, and spirituality.
Its normal to be overwhelmed, life is now changing!
Anxiety,stress, and fear are the norm when we are overcoming big changes. ways just important to remember that having a baby is a life changing experience. Normalizing the emotions that I am experiencing helps me by making me not feel the guilty, ashamed, or odd for having these dips and emotional shifts.
Reach for your Tribe!
Please remember, you are not alone. You are a powerhouse and you have many people who will listen and talk. Make a list of 5, if you can not list at least 5 people who will pick up the phone for you, see a therapist and talk about the feelings of isolation and loneliness. Mom, dad, best friends, siblings, make a list and think about who is the best person to talk with through the things that come up. It will likely be a different person for each of situations that one may encounter on the pregnancy journey.
Use your breath
The body and its breathing are powerful, breathing can be used to energize and manage our response to stress. Take some deeps breaths every day.
Make a Wellness Routine
Do calming relaxing type activities like yoga, walking in nature or just walking, stretch, journal, and keep time for yourself to collect your thought and consider the daily experiences that you are managing. Essential oils can help ease the mind and emotions and of course be sure to choose blends that are safe to use during pregnancy.
Bond with your baby
Talk to your baby while its in the womb, there will likely be a time after your baby is born that you are longing to be so closely connected to him or her again, try to cherish these moments and zoom out towards the big picture where you are nurturing a sacred bond right now in your womb. Being a woman is very special, and this connection, with baby snugly centered in my sacral area, right as my mother and my mothers mother have always done, this is something that men can not understand, but I am ok with that.
We are powerful, we are able to make changes that influence the outcomes of our life. Pregnancy like all things, is what you make of it. Do your best to stay positive by thinking of the new exciting things that can be done all in great fun with your new family together. Your love of baby and yourself will take you far. Be gentle with yourself when you notice the stress, anxiety, and fear of the 9 months ahead. This is a special time that can be used to get really healthy and in tune with your bodies needs. As always, seek medical help from a PCP, Gynecologist, or Licensed Professional Counselor if you have concerns about your mental health.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMay 18, 2018 premarital counseling, premarital counseling questionnaire, premarriage counseling, Uncategorized, wellness counseling0 comments
Premarital Counseling Questionnaire
If you have recently answered ‘yes’ to a marriage proposal, then along with the rush of planning your version of the perfect wedding you also may also be considering whether you should be going to premarital counseling. Premarital counseling is a form of couples therapy that emphasizes wellness, you can learn more about the process here. Our counselors have put together a premarital checklist to look at your relationship and to determine if it makes the wellness grade for relationship health, this will help you and your partner to understand some parts of your relationship in a deeper way. Don’t be afraid to feel a little uncomfortable, these are not the kinds of questions that you normally think about but that also is what makes them especially powerful to assess the strengths and various qualities of your unique partnership. This does not replace premarital counseling but it does help you each to examine your relationship in a mindful and healthy way.
- Why do you want to get married?
- What roles do you see for yourself in your marriage?
- What do you imagine might be your biggest challenge in being married?
- What makes your relationship unique?
- How do your friends and family view your relationship with your partner?
- What is your idea of the perfect wedding?
Are there others who are close to you who have different ideas for how your wedding should go?
How do you each talk about your thoughts and needs on this topic?
- How do you manage conflict?
- What are each of your conflict resolutions styles?
- What has been a challenge for your conflict resolution?
- How you repair conflict?
- When you feel stress how can you partner help you?
- How would you describe your communication style?
Is it generally easy for you to talk about your needs?
Do you find you over communicate your needs?
Do you have an attacking communication style?
Do you become very emotional when you communicate?
- How similar or different are each of your sexual libidos?
Describe the amount of foreplay that you have with your partner on average?
Do you feel able to initiate lovemaking?
Do you feel able to decline sex with your partner?
Are you able to orgasm?
Do you have sex that is non-penetrative?
- What are some of your financial concerns about your future together?
- What is your ritual around managing the finances?
- How do you handle household maintenance like cooking and cleaning?
- Do you plan to have children together?
- What trait do you most admire in your partner?
- What is one mutual goal between the two of you?
- What do you see yourselves doing in 10 years?
- What do you see yourselves doing in 20 years?
With the help of questions like these, you and your partner can begin the lifelong process of deepening your understanding of yourselves and each other, keeping in mind, your answers to these questions will likely change over time. That is normal and to keep your marriage healthy, you should continually check in with each other and have hard conversations about things that matter to you. Wellness means that we manage and care for ourselves and our relationships in a way that keeps them strong and happy and that we strategically plan for success by growing our relationship to be stronger. Great marriages are created intentionally by addressing individual and relationship needs, prioritizing connection, listening and compromising. None of which are easy, but all of which are well worth it to live happily, in love, for the rest of your life.
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh
830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh PA 15233
4108 Monroeville PA 15146.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 16, 2018 counseling, marriage counseling, mindfulness0 comments
Relationship Wellness Checklist, A Mindful Marriage Moment
Marriage, relationships, couple-dom, all forms of interpersonal dynamics work based upon unstated rules, we peacefully and automatically operate with a lifetime of typical exchanges. Some moments are peppered with glimmers of joy, one part emotional support, heaps of memories made, when we are being good stewards of love we dutifully maintain our promises for commitment. How to maintain contented connections with our loved ones isn’t usually a goal that we think about until something starts to go wrong. We know that to keep our minds, bodies, and spirits healthy, mindfulness holds the keys to happiness and longevity. The wellness model has useful applications to marriage counseling and couples therapy, we have compiled a 5-part relationship wellness checklist – lets take a moment to see how well your relationship makes the grade.
- Do you disagree and air grievances with your partner? By disagreeing, we mean constructively having a discussion about things that are bothering you within the relationship. One very ominous behavior pattern is when a couple comes in for therapy and tells the therapist or counselor that they never argue. We know that this is usually a sign of relationship disease. In this situation, it is likely that one or both partners are withholding vital information and may even be passive aggressive and building resentment by not discussing their true feelings. This communication fallacy is a product of imagining that by not being open about annoyances that they are preserving their bond. Withholding feelings and missing chances to constructively manage disagreements is a relationship destroyer and leads to emotional disengagement in the long term.
- Does your relationship have intimacy? The concept and behaviors associated with intimacy are multifaceted. Intimacy is a dynamic synergy of emotional trust, physical connection, and having shared meaning within the relationship. Intimacy is built over time and is facilitated through travailing joys and difficulties together for example, by exhibiting the ability to offer emotional support through a crisis.
- Do you check in with each other through the day? Many of us have demanding jobs and schedules, even having to endure travel to maintain our work responsibilities. Yet, our cell phones and Skype provide us with a chance to tighten the chasm of disconnection by having some face-time, texting, or calls through the day. It is important to turn toward our partner to share highlights and check in, and this characteristic is something that healthy relationships do have in common. Alternately, this doesn’t mean to call every hour and lapse into conflict if our relationship is not experiencing as much face-time as we would like. We should highlight that checking in, is a natural response to feeling connected and participating in the intimacy of our friendship with our partner.
- Is there sexual and non-sexual touching between you and your partner? Both forms of touch are very important in our relationships, while many couples go through periods of lower sexual frequency, they stay connected by touching, hand holding and having other forms of non-sexual touch. Both forms, sexual and non-sexual touch are equally vital for our sense of well-being and bonding. Keeping in mind, consensual intimate touch provides a cascade of hormonal responses, releasing Oxytocin which is dubbed the cuddle hormone and facilitates bonding.
- Who do you turn to for support? Can you name 5 people? Is your partner one of those people? If your partner is not one of the top 5 people who you turn to for support, your relationship may be headed for trouble and this is an indication signaling that your relationship may be prey to a deeper issue worth exploring with a marriage counselor or couples therapist.
Warmly brought to you by the licensed Therapists and Professional Counselors at
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh serving 4 locations with 35 counselors in Western Pennsylvania
- 830 Western Avenue Pittsburgh, Pa 15233
- 4108 Monroeville Blvd Monroeville, Pa 15146
- 3901 Mcknight Rd Mccandless 15237
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by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 1, 2018 counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, marriage counseling, mindfulness, personal growth, psychology0 comments
Repair or Run the Other Way? My partner had an affair, Should I Stay or Go?
If you or your partner has recently discovered an affair has been happening in your relationship, in this moment you are likely trembling, a blurry fury of agonizing hurt, the entire relationship now may feel foreign to you. As a couples counselor affairs and their tempestuous aftermath are ironed our my office couch. Both parts of the couple struggle to make sense of the betrayal and its costs, couples seek aid and asylum to find the answers to questions such as; should we stay together or separate, will our relationship ever regain a sense of normalcy, ‘am I weak or foolish for thinking of staying?’ ‘how can we fix this?”
A relationship is founded and grows upon a platform of trust, without the reinforcement that trust provides, the person who was victimized by the affair will be thrust into a state of panic, questioning every action and motive of their life and partner. An affair is a trauma to the relationship, often people who have learned of, or been told about an affair from their partner, suffer from symptoms similar to PTSD or Acute Stress Disorder. Sleeplessness, anxious and intrusive thoughts and images, fear of it happening again. Within the wake of this mountain of emotional upheaval they create their next course of action, remain together or disassemble their lives. Use this guideline to weigh the options, keeping in mind the decision is one that must be made by ones self, as it is personal, intimate, and an infinitely complex choice to make.
- Is the partner who committed the affair being accountable? There must be a high level of accountability if the relationship will be repaired. This means that the cheating spouse accepts responsibility for his or her actions. If instead your partner is blame shifting or gaslighting, by saying that the affair is your fault or someone else’s fault, or if he or she is trying to minimize the impact or the hurt this will not work. The relationship must have truth to begin the healing process. It can be very frightening to own up, and some personality types that are antisocial, psychopathic, or narcissistic will likely use more defensiveness when met with the truth and or will struggle with empathy for their betrayed partners hurt. Under these circumstances it won’t be possible to work thought what happened in a healthy way.
- Has communication been cut off with the paramour? If communication is on going with the alternate partner there is no chance that the relationship can heal from the betrayal. There are people who will try to stick it out and court their partner while he or she tries to figure out which partner to choose. This is not a recipe for healthy connection, jumping around doing the “pick me dance” will likely lead to a major impact on self esteem and an internal sense of anxiety and profound sadness. Many couple’s therapists will not treat a relationship when there is an active affair happening.
- Is your partner willing to have greater transparency with you? This means giving you the codes to his or her phone, email, and social media accounts. Even with the codes and access to your partners interactions, it will take a herculean effort to restore any sense of safety or trust. This is a good first step in letting ones partner in and pushing the affair partner out.
- Do you want to do the work or forgiveness? While it is true that the affair is often symptomatic of deeper issues, the aftermath puts a tremendous strain on both parties. Deciding to work through and forge forgiveness is a toll which most heavily gets heaped upon the person who has experienced the betrayal. If you have learned that an affair has happened in your relationship and that you want to work on repairing it, you will simultaneously actively be committing to forgiving, this will be exquisitely difficult. After enough time has passed, you will be required to work through the process of handling anger, hurt, sadness, resentment, jealously, insecurity, all in the name of staying with your partner. Keep this in mind as it may not be for everyone which is ok!
All of these grim facts in mind, there is hope, if the above questions can be answered with certainty then there is a path to be forged toward forgiveness. Not an easy one but it is possible to have a connection which is stronger after an affair. Trust is a formula of consistency over a time, trust can be rebuilt if the formula is followed. With understanding, truth, and commitment, love is a robust and golden vessel which proudly contains the tender blossoms of our lives. A vessel that is able to withstand complete annihilation and be recreated to become gleaming and full again, or sometimes it is best to pluck our precious contents and replant somewhere anew…
In love and care,
Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh and Monroeville
Stephanie Wijkstrom MS, LPC, NBCCLearn More
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJanuary 9, 2018 autism, child therapy, clinical herbalist, co-parenting, counseling, couples counseling, couples therapy, educational, marriage counseling, mindfulness, Parent Child Interaction Therapy, parenting, therapist, wellness0 comments
Jackie Mandock, LPC, NCC, LBSC, MH is a counselor at Counseling and Wellness Centers of Pittsburgh- Monroeville. She provides therapy to children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults. Jackie approaches therapy from a holistic perspective, always staying mindful of how the body, mind, and spirit are interconnected. Jackie is certified in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and is trained in parent-child interaction therapy. She has worked with many different concerns in these specialized populations ranging from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder to trauma, as well as anxiety and depression. Jackie is also a licensed behavioral specialist with a strong background in autism. Jackie was a school-based therapist and is familiar with school concerns and supporting educational issues. She is a graduate of University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors in Psychology and Neuroscience and from Chatham University with a Masters in Counseling Psychology. Jackie also has a Master Herbalist diploma from American College of Health Sciences.Learn More