by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghMarch 3, 2021 healthy relationships, marriage, marriage counseling, marriage counseling near me, marriage counseling pittsburgh, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford, meaning of rituals0 comments
Creating a love that lasts takes time and commitment. One of the keys to this kind of love is intentionality. Intentionality is acting in a deliberate manner that shows your partner that you love them. It might look like cooking a nice meal for your partner, or getting them a special coffee, or maybe another gift like flowers. Being intentional is a necessity to maintain romance and foster a fun and exciting atmosphere in your relationship! As a couple it is important to foster a sense of intentionally, not just toward your partner, but toward your relationship as a whole. Taking time to create Rituals of Connection is one of the best ways to intentionally foster love and intimacy. Rituals of Connection are specific times of interaction, both informal and formal, that help couples come together and build intimacy. Building rituals of connection is a way to deepen your connection and create shared meaning in your relationship.
Rituals of connection can be simple and informal, like sharing meals together, the way you leave for work, coming home from work, working out together, and even rituals before bed. They can also be more formal and scheduled, such as planned relationship check-in’s, weekly dates, scheduling times for intimacy and romance, and routine times to release stress. Rituals of Connection also include how you as a couple celebrate achievements, anniversaries, and even hosting friends in your home.
Why is it important?
Rituals of connection create a sense of healthy anticipation and expectation for emotional intimacy. They provide ways for you as a couple to connect emotionally in a manner that is personally meaningful. You might be thinking that having this type of structure in your relationship would kill spontaneity, but it actually does the opposite! Planned out Rituals of Connection build intimacy and a sense of oneness in the relationship, and this actually increases that likelihood that you will go off the cuff and do something spontaneous. Having a planned ritual is not a structure that holds you back. It is a strong foundation that empowers your relationship to explore the world around you and grow as a couple.
The Top 5 Rituals of Connection to Create in Your Relationship
- The Daily Stress-Reducing Conversation – a Stress Reducing Conversation is a great ritual of connection to introduce into your day to day routine. A stress reducing conversation is a conversation where you simply take some time to listen to each other. It is a conversation where you simply take turns listening to each other about things that are stressing you out that don’t have to do with your relationship. This is a great time to decompress and reduce stress from work or hectic to-do lists. It is a time to listen to your partner without trying to problem solve, or correct, but just to hear them out, and understand the stressors that they are experiencing in life.
- The Weekly “State of the Union” conversation – The weekly State of the Union conversation is a weekly conversation in which you and your partner review your week in terms of your relationship. It is a time to talk about the things that went right in your relationship that week, to show appreciation for each other, to process or discuss any problems or difficulties that may have occurred, and finally to ask each other, “What can I do next week to make you feel loved?” The State of the Union conversation is a great way to stay up to date on your own relationship, set goals, and ensure that you are on the same page with your partner.
- The Weekly Date – Don’t underestimate the importance of having a weekly date! It doesn’t always have to be fancy or extravagant even having a coffee date, or maybe simply going on a walk is a great way to build your relationship. Having a weekly date is a great way to maintain a sense of adventure and fun in your relationship. Often times it can be overwhelming to plan a date, but don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just do something! The weekly date ensures time to build emotional intimacy and check in with each other.
- Daily Cuddle Time – Couples need to be physically connected as well. Taking time each day to cuddle, hug, hold hands and kiss is a great way to connect and let your partner know you love them. Whether it is while reading, watching a movie, sharing a glass of wine or a cup of tea, being physically close to your partner builds connection and shows affection.
- Rituals about Sex – For many people talking about sex is uncomfortable, but discussing sexual needs and desires is a key component in creating a more satisfying sex life and expressing your love and connection to your partner. In love that lasts, sex is built on a foundation of friendship. Having conversations about how you would like to initiate sex and love making is crucial! Another crucial aspect of this ritual of connection is to discover a way to say “no” to sex, that works for you as a couple. It is important to be able to communicate needs to each other without ending emotional connection.
Discovering how to integrate these essential Rituals of Connection into your relationship strengthens and illuminates that bond that you share with your partner. These five rituals of connection are just a few of the many ways that you can work to establish a strong lasting relationship with your partner. Take some time this week to talk to your partner to see how you can integrate a few of them into your weekly routine!
Doherty, W. J. (1997). The intentional family: How to build family ties in our modern world. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (2018). The seven principles for making marriage work. London: Cassell Illustrated.
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 12, 2021 healthy relationships, marriage counseling, marriage counseling monroeville, marriage counseling near me, marriage counseling pittsburgh, marriage counseling south hills, marriage counseling wexford0 comments
Many predict that divorce will be at an all-time high during the time of COVID-19 quarantine.
One relationship therapist emailed a survey to over 700 clients and found that thirty-one percent of respondents claimed the quarantine had hurt their relationship. With record amounts of time spent together in close quarters, it may feel like there’s no escape for a married couple, especially with none of the usual “me time” activities like gyms, spas, and dinners with friends.
For that reason, marriage counseling is more important than ever. Having a dedicated safe space to process issues, especially during a stressful situation like an ongoing pandemic, can help strengthen the bonds of a couple immensely. Below are just a few of the many reasons couples may want to seek marriage counseling.
1. Support Navigating Shared Relationships
A married couple has many important relationships outside of their marriage itself. The dynamics of these relationships can also affect a marriage. Couples may need outside advice on how to properly set boundaries and interact with children, parents, in-laws, friends, and members of blended families. A third-party who is impartial can be especially helpful in these scenarios because problems often arise when both members of a couple have a different relationship with one of these outside people.
2. Help with Sexual Issues
Many times, underlying relationship issues play out in the bedroom. Sexual issues can come up again and again, shaping a large part of a couple’s intimacy issues. Luckily, studies show that improvement is largely possible, especially when a sex therapist gives both partners coping strategies to employ when they encounter sexual difficulties. A study that followed 140 couples over the course of one to six years of sex therapy found that the long-term outcome for those seeking sex therapy was excellent, and the results carried over into the couples’ attitudes about their relationship in general.
3. Gaining an Impartial Ear
When weathering marital troubles, many people seek advice from friends and family who bring their own biases to the table. For example, someone’s mother is likely to want to see them as innocent and their partner as the villain. Marriage counselors don’t have previous associations with either party. They are more likely to hear both partners’ concerns fairly.
4. Rebuilding Trust After Infidelity
Studies show that between 20 and 40 percent of married people end up seeking an extramarital affair. These statistics are especially troubling when 42 percent of divorces cite infidelity as one of the causes. That said, when the right steps are taken, infidelity does not have to end in divorce, and a couple can ultimately rebuild broken trust and become even stronger.
According to Psychology Today, part of the process involves an opportunity for both parties to discuss the whole truth. It’s natural for the person who has been cheated on to have many questions they feel need to be answered to regain trust. To reach a place of forgiveness, the transgressor needs to be emotionally honest and take responsibility for what they have done. Without taking this step forward, forgiveness may not be found and an intimate connection may not be restored. A relationship expert can help couples navigate this tricky process together.
5. Avoiding the “Four Horsemen” of Conflict
Relationship expert John Gottman has defined the four horsemen of the “apocalypse” of a relationship: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. None of these are productive ways to respond to a partner, and employing these tactics will only heighten tensions and drive a couple further apart. A marriage counselor can help a couple identify when they are responding to each other in these unproductive ways and help suggest healthy alternatives that promote a healthier conversation.
6. Creating a Safe Space
Rather than bringing negative energy into the home, it can be helpful to have a neutral territory to discuss conflicts. Furthermore, a therapist’s office provides a space for a couple to discuss their issues away from those who may overhear them, such as children or other family members. A couples therapy session is a place where each party can feel safe being honest without fear of judgment.
7. Fostering an Attachment Bond
While attachment science is often discussed regarding child development, it is equally important for adults. Emotionally Focused Therapy is an emerging field that focuses on a couple’s attachment to one another. A secure attachment bond has shown to provide resilience to the couple and improved self-esteem to each individual. Therapy provides a time and place for a married couple to get to know each other better and become more secure in their bond.
When things may look grim for a person’s marriage, there is always help. Like all things, when a couple is willing to put in the time and effort, they can look forward to the reward of a healthier, happier relationship. Marriage counseling can help married couples find common ground and feel bonded once again.Learn More
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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