Category: Healthy Relationships

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

how to make love strong and lasting

5 Things to Know About Secure Love (From Science)

Love feels so good when it starts, it’s hard to imagine feeling any other way.

But if your loved one compliments you twice, and complains about you once, guess what sticks in your mind?

Humans naturally focus on what’s wrong. It’s called the negativity bias. Locking our attention onto pain can shift our mindset from thinking the best about our partner, to thinking the worst.

The happiest couples have habits and conversation patterns that help keep their relationship strong, healthy and positive. They behave in ways that rise above the negativity bias. This isn’t just opinion. Here are 5 facts about happy, lasting love that the leading relationship researchers have discovered.  They can help any couple with an open mind feel secure in love too:

1) Magic Ratio – 5 to 1

Staying friendly — especially when you disagree — is key to long-term love. Every relationship has conflict. We can’t control that. But what we can control is how we react.

When positive responses during conflict outnumber hurtful ones 5 to 1, most couples … Come Read the Rest

How to survive dysfunctional family gatherings

3 Ways to Take Care of Yourself at Dysfunctional Family Gatherings

How do you feel about the holiday season? Many of us have emerged from dysfunctional, chemically altered, abusive, negligent or toxic family relationships. Merely the thought of facing these people again can set off a firestorm of triggers.

You may feel guilty about avoiding family during holidays. You may dread family gatherings. You may decide to go, but you feel uncomfortable at family get-togethers. You worry you won’t be your best self. A part of you wants to celebrate peace, joy, and happiness anyway. If the holidays are your personal kryptonite, how are you going to take good care of yourself?

Here are three important tips for your emotional safety and wellbeing.

1) Give yourself options, including opting out

“You’re not obligated to sacrifice yourself to ‘keep the peace’ or make others happy at the expense of your own sanity and well-being,” writes poet, author and men’s life coach Rick Belden. “It’s not your job to help maintain the illusion of a happy, healthy family.”

If you are recovering from a troubled family life, … Come Read the Rest

talk about feelings with your partner

My Partner Doesn’t Understand Me: How to Fix Relationship Problems (without fighting)

When you try to talk with your partner, you may find yourself saying:

We don’t understand each other.

Everything I say is taken the wrong way.

My husband doesn’t understand me emotionally.

I can’t talk to my wife about how I feel.

Sometimes it’s true: we just don’t understand. It happens even in the strongest relationships. If misunderstandings are common between you and someone you love, you may experience some of the worst stress in your life. These tips can help make you feel more understandable to each other again.

Why We Misunderstand So Easily

Love makes it easy to know our loved one at first. We spontaneously notice and understand what matters to him or her. But that doesn’t mean we’ll understand all the time. Communication problems enter every relationship. Working through relationship issues can be some of the hardest work we do. It is also the most important.

Why doesn’t love help us understand each other by default? The problem is the quick, automatic brain.

Perception is error-prone, says Dr. Stan Tatkin, in … Come Read the Rest

Tips for when a partner is defensive

7 Helpful Ways to Deal With a Defensive Partner

Does your partner get defensive? When you try to discuss something, do you think:

“I can’t talk to him without him getting mad”

“Why is my wife so defensive?”

“My husband gets defensive when I tell him how I feel”

When you’re in a relationship, you have an extra powerful influence on each other’s emotional life. One look from you partner can send a jolt through your nervous system like nobody else can.

Intimacy gives you extra power to trigger of triggering highly charged defenses. You can also spark a deep sense of security too.

Why You Need to Address Defensive Behavior

When a problem persists, and couples can’t fix it, conditions are ripe for a toxic pattern you’ll want to avoid. Defensiveness is part of a sequence that get couples into trouble.

Defensive behavior is the second step of the four horsemen of the apocalypse for relationships according to relationship expert Dr. John Gottman. Unless you fix them, these negative cycles have a track record of driving couples apart:

  • Criticism – blaming the whole
Come Read the Rest
why you need to be vulnerable

Why You Need to Be Vulnerable

We all have a deep hunger to be known, respected and loved. But we fear being vulnerable, which is essential to being present with another. Why is being vulnerable so hard?

Our need to belong is essential to our wellbeing. But asking for the kind of connection we want is scary. It means we have to be vulnerable.

If we want to build a loving relationship or feel closer to someone, we risk rejection. Yet, we can’t enjoy the rewards of tenderness and safety without taking on some risk.

Connection starts with offering our presence. We can offer our presence in small ways — with a smile, or a safe greeting like, “How are you?” We can offer it in bigger ways like “What are you doing for lunch?” Or, “I realized today, how much I enjoy being with you.”

But the thought that someone might scorn our need, our loneliness, or our love is terrifying.

We hesitate to open up because we fear being vulnerable.

Here we look at some of our biggest vulnerability … Come Read the Rest

Deep listening for couples

Deep Listening: How to Create More Intimate Connection

When we want to show empathy, most of us have a good feel for the basics.

We can say, “You sound mad,” or “…glad,” or “…frustrated,” depending on what we hear.

Empathy does go a long way to help your relationship. When you help name another person’s experience, it’s very calming. They feel seen, heard, and supported. “Name it to tame it” is Dr. Dan Siegel’s way of reminding us how we can help each other process and manage intense feelings.

But we can create an even deeper level of conversation. We crave wholehearted connection. Yet it gets squeezed out of our high-speed lives.

I want to help more people take the time to reflect, put their thoughts into words, and share them with each other.

Reclaim Yourself

deep listening

There’s a deep part of our personal experience that many of us dismiss, tune out, or devalue instead of embrace and share. I think it leads to a lot of the loneliness — the emotional deprivation — that people feel.

Can we reclaim the art … Come Read the Rest