If Only You Could See the Real Me: Validation in Couple Relationships

September 25, 2017 | posted in: Couple Therapy

Marie sat with her arms folded and jaw clenched on the couch. A steely look in her eyes told me she no longer felt like John was even trying to understand her. She blurted out, “See, he doesn’t even hear me when I talk.” “All he wants to do is defend himself.” John looked frustrated, “She never even wants to hear my side of things, she’s only interested in attacking me.” This brief dialogue explains the importance of validation in couple relationships. Without it, communication Read More

The Deeper Meaning of Couples Communication

July 19, 2016 | posted in: Marriage & Relationships

The number one reason couples come to therapy is because of “communication issues.” Why do I put this in quotes?  Because when couples speak about communication issues, it’s not that they can’t talk to one another -- some couples do a great job of making time to sit down and communicate. Nor is it about their attempt to understand one another -- some couples can paraphrase back exactly what their partners think and feel about a certain topic. What couples really mean when they say Read More

The Imaginary Fight: Distance in Couple Arguments

April 25, 2016 | posted in: Managing Emotions

Many couples feel as if they get locked into a certain dynamic or repetitive pattern in their relationship. This pattern seems to play out during times of stress or conflict, and it often lurks under the surface of the conversation and out of awareness of both partners.  This pattern comes with feelings of anxiety, guilt and sometimes shame – though they are never acknowledged or spoken of. These patterns may have been present from the beginning of the relationship, or they may have developed during Read More

Top 5 Benefits of Couples Therapy

April 14, 2016 | posted in: Family Counseling

Marriage counseling is hard work. Maybe that is why less 5% of divorcing couples come to therapy for help. What most don’t realize is that therapy can benefit not only the relationship, but the individual as well. Listed below are five benefits of couples therapy – see if any of these can help you and your relationship. Learn how to communicate better. This is perhaps the biggest complaint that couples bring to therapy. This includes feeling misunderstood as well as not heard by your partner. Chances Read More

Care to Dance: I’ll take blame you take attack. Conflict in Couples

June 3, 2015 | posted in: Emotional Defenses

All couples have arguments, and contrary to popular belief, arguments with your spouse or partner are healthy. They help decide the direction or course of the relationship, resolve important decisions regarding child rearing or domestic issues, and move the relationship forward. But was frustrates most couples is when they tend to have the same argument over and over and over. More to the point, what keep couples stuck is when they fall into the same dynamic when they argue. Dynamics or as Lerner (1989) calls them, Read More

Emotional Safety for Couples

January 30, 2015 | posted in: Emotional Development

Joseph Sandler was a psychoanalyst who coined the term “Background of Safety” in his 1960 paper. His “safety principle” was way ahead of its time when Freud’s “pleasure principle” dominated the psychological landscape. What he meant by “safety principle” has now been verified by Bowlby’s attachment theory and his ideas of “safe haven” and “secure base.” That is to say that in every relationship there must be an underlying feeling that each partner is safe – safe not only from physical harm, but from psychological Read More

Deepening the Attachment Ties in Couples

January 22, 2015 | posted in: Family Counseling

When counseling couples I often hear, “I love her, but…” or “He’s a good man, but….” Usually the “but” is my first clue that there may be a disruption in the attachment bond. Strong attachment ties are the stuff of life. We are born into a web of relationships and it hardly seems we know who we are outside of those relationships. But (here we go again) those attachment ties can be difficult to maintain. Over time attachments change, they morph into something we often Read More

Good Mental Health – Introduction

January 16, 2015 | posted in: Emotional Development

This is the beginning of a new year. Therefore, we should start fresh and consider the year 2015 as the year of good mental health. But what is good mental health? Does it mean less stress, more exercise, or eating healthy? While those things are important for brain heath, they are not exactly considered good mental health. When I speak of good mental health I mean cultivating certain capacities within ourselves that lead to certain outcomes. For example, who wouldn’t want to be more resilient Read More

How Did I Get This Way? Integration

March 25, 2014 | posted in: Emotional Development

This is the fourth of a five part series on development and how it shapes our adult relationship. The first article gives an overview of the entire series and if you have not read the first one you might want to go back and star there. Just as boundaries define us as separate us from others, integration brings us together. Integration is about bringing together the good and Read More

How Did I Get This Way? Separation or Boundaries

February 17, 2014 | posted in: Emotional Development

This is the third of a five part series on development and how its shapes our adult relationships. The first article gives an overview of the entire series and if you have not read the first one you might want to go back and start there. Boundaries separate us from other. It helps us define who we are and who we are not, what we like and what we do not, and what we feel and what we Read More