Category: Help for Relationship Trouble

accepting differences

A Science-Based Secret to Resolving Differences with Your Partner

Accepting InfluenceHe works long hours; she wants him home for dinner as a family. He likes their place tidy; she forgets to put things away. She wants to hear what he’s thinking; he’s mum.

Couples can fight about almost anything. What matters to their overall happiness is how they learn to resolve their differences. Why do some couples go from conflict back to closeness, while others grow apart? Being able to accept our partner’s influence is key to getting along well.

The Fear of Disconnection

A common — but mistaken — hope is that “getting my way” will make everything all right. When a couple sees that their relationship is in danger, underneath is an urgent need to re-align.

“Our loved one is our shelter in life,” explains psychologist and researcher Sue Johnson. At the first sign of trouble — perceived indifference, rejection, dismissal or abandonment — something inside goes into panic mode. If we think we have lost our partner’s understanding, our fear may drive us to restore it as fast as we can. … Come Read the Rest

Listening is sometimes the best thing to do

My Wife Said She Wants a Divorce – How Can I Change Her Mind?

My wife wants a divorce. Help – what do I do?

One afternoon she sat down across from me, and said, “I need to tell you something. This isn’t working for me – the way things have been. I’m giving up trying to make it better, and I don’t want to be married to you anymore.”

The news that your wife wants a divorce is a terrible shock. You feel confused, helpless, taken aback; you may panic. Maybe she’s been after you for a while, but you seemed to be getting along well enough. You never imagined she really was THAT unhappy. You never heard “I can’t take it much more of this,” and now she’s ready to go.

Getting this news is a jolt that can leave you reeling and unsure how to respond. You’re shocked to learn she felt worse than you knew. With her admission or ultimatum you’re suddenly able to see how severe the problem is.

Dig Deep and Empathize

It’s important to know what your partner is feeling and thinking … Come Read the Rest

Road Maps for Harmony and Loving Relationships – Tools from the Experts

Relationship Roadmaps help to heal our bond with our partner

Why do our best efforts to talk to each other seem to backfire sometimes?

One reason is human nature – our brains are quick to judge to explain what we see (“My partner is stubborn”) rather than discuss to discover underlying needs (“Why does my partner say that?”). Discussion is the skill we need because it removes those assumptions that work against us when tending our relationships. But it’s complicated!

Research has made much progress recently in revealing how healthy relationships work, and what causes trouble.   Several relationship therapy experts have developed images and maps to convey their best ideas. While there is no ‘silver bullet’ to fix problems or resolve distress, having a visual aid helps a lot.

Seeing a process when trying something new can encourage us to explore a different direction and take the first steps toward healing. Here are three ‘maps for well-being’ and links where you can find out more.

Dan Siegel’s Healthy Mind Platter

Dan Siegel is co-author of the instrumental book, Parenting from the Inside Out. Siegel reveals … Come Read the Rest

Healing from infidelity

Is My Spouse Cheating? How to Face and Heal From Infidelity

Healing from infidelityDiscovering a partner’s betrayal is a trust-shattering experience that can bring you to the lowest point in your life. Whether it’s lipstick on the collar, or messages you find on your partner’s phone, the shock of learning your partner is involved with someone else will trigger overwhelming feelings.

When you discover infidelity, you have a rough road ahead. You’re angry, deeply hurt, and scared to death about what’s happening. But if you want face the affair and stay in your relationship, here is what you need to know.

Begin With the Goal in Mind

If your partner is cheating, and you want a chance to save your relationship, you need to prepare yourself carefully.

One of your most important choices is how you decide to bring this up. The overwhelming feelings involved make this a momentous effort. The challenge starts by facing your own devastating hurt, and then preparing yourself to talk about this with your partner.

It takes a black belt in self-restraint to put your relationship first. Especially when you are terrified of … Come Read the Rest

lonely in relationship - what to do

Feel lonely in an unhappy marriage – What to Do?

The number of married but lonely people may surprise you. In the US, 29% of married adults over 44 reported being lonely, says a 2010 national survey.

Lonely Marriage? How Does This Happen?

Loneliness creeps into relationships for a number of reasons. A couple may start out feeling secure in their love. But then work, family and life routines take over. The relationship does not get the attention it did during dating.

How do couples get terribly lonely?

  • They Lose Track of Priorities: Sometimes partners are unaware that the relationship still needs special care and attention. Time for each other gets put on the back burner. Then one or both people start to feel neglected.
  • They Need to Save Relationship Energy: Having demanding jobs and raising a family can add a lot of strain to a partnership. Here in the Washington, DC area, many partners both work. Careers or jobs occupy most of their waking hours. There’s just not much left over for the relationship or family. Getting paid for a high
Come Read the Rest
busy couple relationship help

How to Keep Love Strong When You’re Both Busy

It’s almost five-o’clock and you’re at work. You want to call it a day, so you reach over to shut down your computer. But your hand hesitates as you look around for one more extra thing to check on.  There’s nothing urgent – you realize with a sobering feeling that you don’t look forward to going home anymore.

All couples have their disagreements, but when unresolved arguing persists over time, it begins to take a toll on everything you do, especially on how you feel towards your relationship.  You remember how you and your partner used to enjoy some wonderful moments together. The life you began together is precious to you in many ways. But lately you may find yourself thinking: “We argue all the time, and we fight over small things almost every day. No matter how hard I try to resolve a problem, I never get it right.”

It’s miserable to feel this way.  You don’t want to keep fighting, but you’re disheartened and confused.  You may wonder if you should spend some … Come Read the Rest

Why Are the First Years of Marriage so Hard? 5 Tips for a Strong Love

The love at the core of any marriage needs frequent renewal to be sturdy. It is a continual work-in-progress. And with the divorce rate over 50%, newly married couples may worry whether they have what it takes to make it through the first rough patches, and build a happy relationship that endures.

In order for a marriage to last, couples need to maintain emotional connectedness and remain responsive to one another.

Responsive Partners Grow Strong

After your married life together begins, your attentiveness to each other is bound to wane. This becomes a problem when, instead of recognizing and addressing this, you let resentment and disconnection grow. This happens when partners are not sure how to talk about their needs and concerns with each other.

Establishing healthy, positive interactions and building on goodwill is crucial. Psychologist Dr. John Gottman discovered the key importance of respect, humor and fondness to the success of a long and happy marriage. His long-term study of couples shows that maintaining a deep understanding of your partner’s history, dreams, likes and … Come Read the Rest

Protecting Your Relationship From Damaging Distractions

You were so in love when you began. You felt confidence in your commitment. It is hard to imagine that anything could intrude and cause trouble in your marriage or relationship.

Every relationship has an ebb and flow of attention between couples. Time spent with friends or outside activities provide a balance of stress relief, in addition to sharing life with your spouse or partner.

Intrusions Come In Many Familiar Forms

Unfortunately, many couples find it increasingly hard to avoid the negative impact of outside intrusions. Competitors for time and attention include: work demands, kids’ schedules, time spent on electronics, online games and pornography, sports, and family demands. Sometimes just exhaustion and a lack of energy can challenge a couple’s quality of home life.

We often assume that our primary relationship will just rock along without any special attention. Another often-recommended approach to relationship care is to schedule a “date night” at least once a month. But when we no longer feel that our relationship provides safety and comfort, these actions may not be enough.… Come Read the Rest

How to talk with your partner when you're upset

How To Talk With Your Partner When You’re Upset: Do’s and Don’ts When You’re Mad At Your Mate

How often do we express anger to a loved one like this:

“I know you don’t do things just to make me mad. But what you’ve done really bothers me. Can we talk about this and understand what happened, so we can get back to being happy together again?”

Let’s Think About How to Express Anger to a Loved One

Our first impulse is to lash back when we’re angry. It might feel good for a split second. But the damage it does to our relationship can hurt and make us both unhappy for a long time.

We often work hard to avoid having a big argument. But we don’t see the opportunity to prevent them by speaking up when hurts are small.

Why Ignoring Small Problems Doesn’t Solve Them

Many people avoid bringing up small problems. They don’t want to start a fight. But then, they also avoid a chance to connect. When we don’t address our pain, hard feelings build up. Either they erode our good will to the breaking point, … Come Read the Rest

Avoiding the Path to Marriage Trouble, Separation and Divorce

Understand the Path to Serious Trouble In Your Relationship, and What To Do About It

What is it that leads a partnership or marriage down the path to separation or divorce?  Leading researchers and insights from couples counseling point to similar patterns. Findings from happy relationships can help troubled couples break the pattern and begin healing.

A Pattern Of Blame And Withdrawal Spells Trouble

New insights about the path to divorce comes from Dr. John Gottman, through 40 years of groundbreaking research on marital stability. Dr. Gottman identified a pattern that begins with real or perceived criticism, followed by the other partner’s defensiveness. After a time, the critic becomes contemptuous. The person who is criticized withdraws so much that the behavior is described as “stonewalling.” When this situation goes on long enough, it can spell grave marriage trouble, and partners can decide to move on. This process can happen quickly, or over many years.

Leading couples therapist and author Dr. Sue Johnson describes a similar process.  In her own studies of distressed couples, she … Come Read the Rest