Do We Need Couples Therapy?

How do you know if you and your partner need couples therapy? Well there is a simple answer to this. YES you do! Everyone can benefit from relationship therapy. Why? Because we are not perfect people. We all bring our baggage from our past in to our current relationship in hopes that our partner will solve all of our relationship woes. This is our first mistake.

Some people are afraid if they talk about their problems it will make it worse. This is our second mistake. Communication is the key to a sustainable, fulfilling, long lasting relationship.

Most couples don’t talk about their issues; they avoid them in the hopes they’ll eventually fade away. NO! That will never happen, and before you know it, the whole relationship becomes a nightmare.

Here are 10 tips to help you to enhance your relationship. These are also things that can be practiced in couples therapy…

1. Be yourself

For a relationship to work, it must be based on trust. Be yourself, and don’t allow your significant other to change who you are. Stay true to your passions, dreams and goals. Above everything else, stay true to your own identity.

Chances are, unless you presented a false self in the beginning, the person who chose you likes you just the way you are. If you change, he or she will end up resenting you. We all know resentment leads to painful breakups.

2. Cherish the relationship

Give yourself daily reminders of “why” you chose the person you chose. Remind yourself of this and remind the person. It is easy for us once in a relationship to point out the other person’s faults. We tend not to point out the positives once getting too comfortable in the relationship. Daily romance is important- we often tend more to the little daily life things and negate the important people in our lives during this hustle and bustle. Make time (even if 10 minutes) to tell the person you love that you love them and all of the reasons why, or things you are grateful for about that person. This might sound simple, but rarely do people do this on a daily basis.

By focusing on the good in other, you will eventually ignore the lesser things happening in your life.

3. Communicate your “needs” not your “wants”

When we get in to a relationship we tend to “want” things from the other. Instead make a list of your needs. If the person is fulfilling your need list, you are golden.

A need is something that a person must have- something needed in order to live, succeed and be happy. A want is a desire or want for something, something that we might like as opposed to a requirement for healthy living.

When determining your list, think about this. Can I live without it? Why do I really need this? What tells me whether I want or need this in my relationship? Have I seen this need modeled in a relationship I know?

4. Compromise

Relationships do not work without compromise. Simple right? You agree on everything in the beginning! NOT! As the relationship advances, you’ll notice you share different opinions. This is normal. You don’t have to agree with everything your partner says, but you have to listen to this person to try to reach common ground. Couples who are genuinely satisfied in their relationship long term understand that compromise is the key to the success of their relationship.

5. Prepare to fight

It’s really important for couples to acknowledge it is totally normal to disagree and even have fights. In the beginning you will hear couples say “oh we never fight.” Well that is because in the beginning we are in a honeymoon phase where nothing usually bothers us. It is important to know that it is okay to disagree as long as you respect and listen to the other person.

6. Fight Fair

As individuals begin to settle in to their relationship, they start to disagree more often. Fighting is normal, but not if you do not fight fair. What does this mean? Ask yourself one question…what is my intention? Conflict arises when arguments don’t come to an end. If your intention is to resolve a conflict, you will see that the fight will not continue on…

Talk to each other and say what bothers you out loud.

Replace feelings of hostility and resentment with good will and humor. You’ll feel a lot better. If you have an argument, try not to hit below the belt. You’re fighting with the person you love most in this life, which basically means it can’t be that bad.

7. Don’t try to change your partner

Couples in stable, sustaining relationships are usually healthy, positive individuals. They see the good in their partners, and they won’t try to change them. Appreciate the person sleeping on the other side of the bed, and show him or her your utmost respect. Remember you loved everything about this person at one time, try to remember why…maybe you need to change your expectations that your partner is not “you.”

8. Be Honest

This sounds easier than it is in practice. Be honest with your loved one if you want things to work out in the long term. It is much better to tell the truth from the beginning. Couples tend to present their best self in the beginning which could include fabrications about the past. If you build the foundation on honesty from the beginning, it will most likely continue throughout the relationship. Your partner will be more understanding and forgiving in the beginning because whatever you are spilling most likely happened prior to meeting your partner. Your partner will more likely give you a pass than if they find out that you lied.

9. Lose your Ego

A lot of people go to couples therapy because they can’t give up their ego in their relationship will work. For things to go smoother, you have to give something up in order to get something else in return. Accepting that you are not always “right” is important in relationships.

Being able to say “I am wrong” or “I made a mistake” is very powerful and will often solve a lot of problems.

10. Say “I am sorry”

Saying you are sorry to your partner is powerful. Couples tend to hold on to “I am right” and this leads to conflict, stubbornness and ultimately our partner not wanting to give us what we “need.” Saying you are sorry when indicated shows your partner that you are willing to admit when you are wrong, or that you feel their pain, care about their feelings and ultimately do not want them to feel hurt by something you said or did.

Couples therapy is indicated for anyone in a relationship who wants to enhance, improve and hone their communication skills with another…who doesn’t want that????

Holidays and 8 Coping Strategies to Combat the “Holiday Blues”

Holidays can be a time of joy for many… yes. But for others it can be the most depressing time of the year. For some people it can be a lonely, anxiety filled time of dread. You’re not a Scrooge and you’re most definitely not alone. The “holiday blues” are real and much more common than you think.

Here are some coping strategies that you can implement to help during this difficult time.

Here are 8 ways to help you get through the holidays:

1. Plan in advance

If you know that the holidays are a difficult time for you, try to plan something based in self-care. Do something that you enjoy doing. Do something out of your comfort zone.

2. Avoid Conflict with others

Chances are you are already feeling down and in a negative head space. This is not the time to call someone who you tend to get in to conflict with. Reach out to people who support you. If you do not have anyone in your life you falls in to this category, go to a local support group. There are resources for people who are having trouble around the holidays, or people struggling with depression.

3. Honor your loved ones’ memories

If you have lost a loved one around the holidays or it is the anniversary of this loss, plan to honor this person around this time. Remembering the good times, celebrating fond memories can help with holiday blues. Whether you visit a loved ones grave, visit a place that they enjoyed, create a memory box with special items, pictures, etc. and go through it on a special day.

4. Relaxation and Sleep

Schedule rest, relaxation and sleep. Listen to relaxation tapes, guided imagery or sounds of nature in an attempt to meditate and quiet your mind. Try to do things that will help you sleep. Do something for yourself like taking a meditation or yoga class. Another way to assist with this process is breath work. This is something that can be done on your own or in a class setting with a certified breath work expert.

5. Exercise

If you have trouble with this one…you are not alone. This does not mean go to the gym if this is not your regular routine. But we know exercise produces endorphins and makes us feel better. So even if you simply go for a walk around your block or at the beach, you are producing endorphins that will help with the holiday blues.

6. Sunlight

Sunlight can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD so getting some exposure to sunlight can help with the holiday blues as well. Simply sit in the sun at the beach or you can use a lightbox if the weather is not conducive.

7. Focus on what matters

The holidays should not be all about the presents. Financial stress is real around the holidays and stress adds to the holiday blues. Try to rein in the stress. Get back to basics. Focus on self- care, people you care about and spend quality time, not quantity.

8. Try to be in self-care, not self-harm

Holidays can be a time to indulge. Instead try to focus on healthy eating by preparing healthy meals in advance. Limit alcohol and sugary foods because this will tend to create mood swings and depressive symptoms in excess.