Category: Healthy Relationships

Imperfect parent

How You Can Be Imperfect AND be a Great Parent

A huge challenge for parents is knowing how help when children make mistakes. A parent’s support, especially when things don’t go well, fosters the self-worth and self-compassion it takes to learn from what happened.

I recently watched my brother coach his kids on riding new curved walls on their skateboards. There were plenty of spills, and some bruises. The kids were in charge of how many runs they made, and how fast or slow.

Their dad encouraged them, and gave them feedback on technique. You have to experience gravity and momentum, slope and speed to know how they work, right? He stayed present right along side them as they learned.

Parents want to protect their children. So, they often feel the urge to make problems go away. Yet, as children become teens and adults, they often need a safe person to talk to about challenges.  They want support to explore their own solutions. A parent can be a valuable source of strength as a trusted guide, without taking over.

Of course you want to … Come Read the Rest

Parent-child love in the digital age

How to Save Your Parent-Child Connection from Technology

Touch, eye contact, and physical play feel good. They are the building blocks of parent-child connection. What’s more, they nurture our brains, hearts, and disease-fighting systems. They help us build secure relationships.

Many parents see the value of helping children learn to use technology. They want to stay in touch, and help them master important tools. But we need to pay special attention if tech time takes away time spent face-to-face.

We need to mind what we do, because giving our in-person attention to parent-child connection is vital to our mental and physical health.

Secure Attachment Has a Physical Foundation

Did you feel seen and understood as a child? Then you probably feel safe, and expect connection from relationships now. Was your family distracted by work, illness, or relationship problems? Then you may not feel as safe or as confident about being present with others.

We learn how to connect with others from the experience of being with our caregivers. Our main caregiver connection, or parent-child connection is our model for forming self-understanding … Come Read the Rest

emotionally responsive father

How to Boost Confidence in Kids as an Emotionally Engaged Dad

You may have heard that emotionally responsive parents are important to a child’s wellbeing. What does being a good dad look like to you?

Our culture idolizes a tough man who doesn’t crack under pressure. Anger seems to be the most acceptable emotion to show. What did you see growing up?

emotionally responsive fatherSome of us had fathers who told us what to do, and who didn’t tolerate complaints. Some of us never heard male relatives talk about fear, feeling vulnerable, or admitting a mistake. Maybe affection was a bit indirect, and harder to feel.

However, many men today want a much different way to live and relate to loved ones. Often, both parents work to support the family, raise children, and tend to their needs. This often puts men in parenting roles, where they may feel unprepared for the fast-changing emotions of children.

Emotionally engaged dad

Men are perfectly able to make strong, healthy emotional connections.

Thankfully, many men dare to ditch the tough guy stereotype. One of my favorite memories is of my former boss Eric, at … Come Read the Rest

Touch in a Loving Relationship

How Touch Works In a Loving Relationship

How do physical touch and consensual sex help build a healthy relationship?

When you are emotionally uncomfortable with someone and they touch you, what happens? You shrink from them. You may even back away.

It’s only human.

For touch to be welcome, you need to feel safe, physically and emotionally.

In an intimate relationship, physical touch can instill comfort and calm. It is a powerful way to communicate feelings of acceptance, trust, love and belonging.

The touch of someone you don’t like or don’t trust can really make your skin crawl.

What if the person you’re shrinking from is your husband or wife?

The Role of Sex and Touch in A Loving Relationship

Emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy ebbs and flows for all couples.

Sometimes couples enjoy sex for its own sake. They want to feel pleasure  without the emotional attachment.

But without emotional safety, truly satisfying sex doesn’t happen or doesn’t last. Neither does the relationship. It’s not that either partner isn’t sexy enough.

It’s the way we’re wired.

We have a human … Come Read the Rest

healing a relationship after fighting

How to Grow Closer After an Argument: 3 Healing Steps

Injuries happen in all relationships. You can hurt each other even when you didn’t want to. Whether a broken relationship heals or follows a downward spiral depends on how you respond.

Some couples can work through hurts fairly quickly. They talk about what upset them so they both understand what happened. Then they can move on and feel close again.

Other couples feel an unwanted distance growing. They try to talk, but end up fighting instead. Pain and anger grow. That makes it harder to figure out what is broken and heal it quickly. These couples may need some new ideas to get back to feeling close.

Feeling cut off from the love you need can make you desperate. How to fix a broken relationship?

Most Couples Fight Over Losing Their Connection

Dr. Sue Johnson spent her life studying how to fix broken relationships. She found this:  When our need for safe, secure attachment gets denied for too long, we literally freak out. Most couples fight out of panic.

Each person needs to know: … Come Read the Rest

pursuer distancer relationship

How to Understand a Pursuer – Distancer Relationship

Scene from a Pursuer Distancer Relationship:

Partner 1: I wish you would pick up your stuff in the living room.
Partner 2: What? Well, I’ve walked the dog, paid the bills, and worked all day. I can’t get to it.
Partner 1: But it’s your stuff! I don’t want to pick up after you like I’m your mom!
Partner 2: Fine. Go away. Take the dog out. I’ll do it now.
Partner 1: Hey, don’t get mad at me.
Partner 2: Just go!

Silence follows for most of the day.

What happened in this exchange?

Partner 1 needed to feel cared about. This partner pursued it by complaining to Partner 2.

Partner 2 felt overwhelmed, judged as inadequate, and pushed the other partner away. Partner 2 withdrew.

Both feel alone, hurt, and rejected.

In an intimate relationship, you might think the pursue/withdraw (pursuer distancer) pattern would be the exception, not the rule. Committed partners are supposed to care about each other deeply, right?

Who would get angry or turn away at the exact moment … Come Read the Rest

emotionally connected couple

Feel Happier, Safer & Better Understood: Couples Workshop

Here is how Mark and Elena used to spend time together:

Here are Mark and Elena now, enjoying a moment of emotional connection:

What’s the difference?

Mark and Elena noticed a distance that wasn’t there before. So they did something about it.

Ever feel like your relationship is a little off?

But you don’t know what to do?

Life happens. Kids, work, bills. You both get busy taking care of everything. But something shifts in the relationship.

Mark and Elena tried to address it:

Elena: “Hey, hon. How are things going?”
Mark: “Fine.”
Elena: “Fine? You’ve hardly said two words to me in weeks.”
Mark: “Well, I’m tired. Work is busy. I don’t really want to talk about it.”

How would you feel in this conversation?


You’re not alone.

Don’t Settle for Silence When You Need Acceptance

Many couples settle for quiet co-existence. But they’re longing for deeper connection. They just need a bridge — a roadmap.

That’s what the Hold Me Tight workshop is about. This is a 7-step process to reconnect. You … Come Read the Rest

meeting emotional needs in relationship

How to Meet Your Relationship Needs (and not be needy)

Each of us has a basic human need for love. The need for a secure bond is hardwired in us from birth. But we are not born knowing how to express our emotional needs in words.  We need to learn about meeting needs in a relationship.

Meeting our needs for emotional connection, respect and acceptance are essential to our wellbeing. That’s why losing a sense of connection or intimacy is so deeply troubling. To feel safe, we need to know we can depend on each other to express and respond to our emotional needs.

Seeking ways to meet needs for love and comfort in a relationship is healthy and human. Building a healthy relationship means sharing needs without being “needy.” What’s the difference?

What Are the Main Things you Need in a Relationship?

The desire for belonging and acceptance is a basic human need. Connection is essential to our sense of safety and wellbeing. Recurring arguments with a loved one can feel like a life or death matter when they don’t move the couple … Come Read the Rest

love welcomes relationship needs

How to See and Express Needs In Your Relationship

When love is new, needing each other feels great. Being with someone who’s fun, sexy, kind and upbeat feels terrific. Wanting love and friendship like this is natural and human.

Sharing your fun side is easy. But learning to see and express needs in a relationship triggers many of the biggest challenges for couples.

Needing each other is more than okay. It’s necessary to welcome each other’s needs to be seen, accepted and loved. Much of a couple’s happiness depends on it.

Let’s fast forward into a relationship that started strong and then hits a bump. One partner has had a terrible day, comes home, flops down on the couch and launches a distracting phone app.

The other partner soon enters with a cheery “Hello!” The gloomy one barely grunts. The cheerful one is surprised. Disappointed. Not sure how to react.

They don’t make eye contact. And there’s total silence.

Neither person knows what to say. So nobody says anything.

How does this relationship story go from here? It depends on how the couple goes … Come Read the Rest

fun things to do in Alexandria, VA

5 Fun Things to Do On a Winter Day

Do you have places you like to go, just because it feels good to be there?

We thought about the places that make us smile when we visit.

These are our personal choices. They don’t cost anything. They aren’t complicated. They are close to Alexandria, Virginia, where we work.

Enjoy this virtual tour (video) of 5 free places to simply have fun this winter. Find a comfy seat for this two-minute video visit, or get directions with this Google map. It’s our holiday gift to you!

#1: Sunrise on the Potomac. View this time-lapse sunrise video. If you drive, there are a few free places along the Potomac River on the George Washington Parkway.

#2 A cozy corner at Hooray for Books. We like this family-friendly bookstore in Del Ray with books for all ages. Story times and meet-the-author events help you create special memories with younger children.

#3 A universe of craft supplies at Upcycle Creative Use Center. Doing crafts helps people feel better. That’s not just an opinion. The National Institutes of … Come Read the Rest