Tag: relationship

couples therapy alexandria va

10 Tips for a Happy Relationship: Love Thrives On These

Relationship Care Kit

Build a Stronger Love With These 10 Tips

Think of your relationship as a garment you want to last a lifetime. To keep it looking and feeling great, you would strengthen the seams, mend any small rips, and avoid damage to the fabric.

Here are 10 ways to help refresh, reinforce and repair your relationship. And they work. All are backed by research!

1) Show You Care When You Argue

gottman 5to1

Conflict doesn’t have to damage your love. There’s a tipping point, though. Studies show that couples who stay happy together show at least 5 times more positive signs to their partner than negative ones when they argue.

The ‘magic ratio’ is 5:1. For every 1 negative exchange (especially in conflict), at least 5 positive things happen for couples who stay happy after fighting.

The math comes from Dr. John Gottman. Among other things, he counted positive and negative interactions between couples during a disagreement.  When he compared couples who stayed together with those who divorced later, he found the couples who stayed together happily also … Come Read the Rest

how to heal a relationship after a fight alexandria va marriage counseling

How to Heal a Relationship After a Fight

Why Does Fighting with Your Partner Hurt So Much?

Relationship problems trigger huge emotions. You want to talk with your spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend without getting angry. So why does it keep happening?

Fighting threatens a person’s sense of safety. People often fight out of fear without even realizing it.

We rely on each other for protection, companionship, and love.  It’s human to seek out secure, deep attachment with each other. It’s our nature. When something happens to hurt what we have together, we feel threatened. Our body gets triggered to act in self-defense. Our nervous system may even signal downright panic.

Deep down, we know that if our love relationship goes away, we lose something important and vital to feeling safe, stable, and okay in the world.

When We’re Emotionally Triggered, We Can’t Stop Fighting

A sense of danger drives up your pulse. It literally raises your blood pressure. That’s when partners start talking and from fear more than love. The nervous system takes over. Suddenly another argument happens, even if we don’t … Come Read the Rest

Couple comforting each other

How Kindness Keeps Love Alive When You Argue

“It feels like we have the same arguments over and over again.”

“I know deep down that I love him, but too often, I just don’t feel it.”

“Why does it take so little to set her off? I barely walked in the door before she started in on me again!”

“Why can’t we solve anything? We can’t stop fighting.”

Couples can love one another very much and still struggle to connect. They can be extremely committed to their relationship. But for some, minor spats keep turning into big arguments.

We see many couples who struggle to communicate. Why do disagreements get worse the more you try to talk?

You might be thinking: “There are so many things to like about him. But for some reason, I just can’t satisfy him.” Or: “She doesn’t see that I’m trying very hard to make her happy.” The paradox is, both partners are unhappy, both want to fix it, and neither seems to know what to do.

Most People Aren’t Selfish Jerks; The Danger is a Habit of Thinking

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how much to work on a relationship

The Biggest Sign that You’re Working Too Hard on Your Relationship

We’ve all heard that every relationship takes work. Care, time and attention are necessary – that is indeed how we maintain good relationships. But at some point, you may find yourself asking, am I trying too hard in my relationship??

Often, people can mistake working really hard for being in a good relationship.

Working hard in a partnership is not enough by itself to create a relationship that is healthy and satisfying emotionally for both people. It’s the quality of your connection that counts.

Signs That One Partner Is Trying Too Hard in the Relationship

How can you tell if the work you are doing is feeding a good relationship — or not so much?

The relationship may not be healthy for one or both of you when one partner is doing much more than the other out of concern for the relationship. People in this situation may tell themselves, “This is just what I have to do.”

It’s often hard for the overworking person to see that their partnership can be much more than … Come Read the Rest

Depression support for couples

Could Depression be Wreaking Havoc with Your Relationship?

Depression support for couples

Sometimes the greatest stress in a marriage or partnership isn’t about poor communication or a loss of love and affection.

The hidden issue for many couples is depression.

This condition often plagues couples who come to therapy confused and distressed about changes in their relationship that they don’t understand. Neither one realizes that a mental health issue has developed behind the scenes.

When one partner is struggling with depression, the other frequently feels overwhelmed and hurt, and does not know what to do.

It is good to finally know what is troubling someone you love. But now you have a new challenge: How can you help yourself and your partnership through this incredibly tough time?

Why Depression Often Goes Undiagnosed

Depression can take hold without notice, often because it has no clear onset. About two-thirds of people with symptoms of depression never seek treatment, says the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

Depression has no single cause, but several factors can bring on symptoms. It can be situational – following an event that has turned … Come Read the Rest


Five Favorite Findings About Healthy Relationships


Many of us hope the new year will find us growing closer and more secure in our relationships. If you are taking time to think about the kind of partnership you want to build, and what you personally can bring to it — what a wonderful gift.  Your thoughtful attention is a priceless present in itself — more unique, important and valuable to a healthy relationship than anything you can put in a box.

We, too, are reflecting on what it means to have a relationship working well. We want to highlight some favorite findings about building secure and happy relationships.  Here are our top 5 tips to help love grow and flourish in the coming year:

#1 Give positive motives a chance. 

Relationship experts agree, we have a negativity bias when it comes to the way we understand the world around us. It means, we give more credit to darker, more hostile versions of ideas, experiences, and sensations when something unpleasant comes to our attention.

This negative bias is good news and bad news.  Come Read the Rest

5 tips for arguing with love

5 Love-Saving Tips When Arguing With Your Partner

Arguing with your partner can really hurt.

Handled one way, it can cause pain and injury. But handled another, something beautiful and tender may unfold. It depends on how you go about arguing with your partner.

When an important issue raises your different views on any matter — money, parenting, sex, work, life — it is natural to feel angry, upset, maybe even chilled to the bone. Arguing with your partner may not necessarily damage your love – it depends on what you do with them.

Partners who love each other can still feel negative and critical thoughts toward each other sometimes. Those who are able to work around the negativity can find their way back to happiness together. Others get stuck in a downward spiral, where nothing gets solved and animosity grows.

Is the Problem Your Partner, Or Your Pattern?

Gridlocked couples fight differently than happier couples do. Struggling couples often misunderstand the reason for their growing (and unwanted) hostility: They think the issue is the kind of person their partner is. More likely, … Come Read the Rest

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

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

How to Stay Together When Work Pulls You apart

When a friend was a little girl, her father once travelled for six months from the U.S. to Australia for work, leaving her mother in the countryside with three little girls and a newborn. It was the snowiest winter in years. Once a week, he would send a letter, an aerogram, detailing his work and trip. They had one phone call the whole six months, since long distance was so very expensive back then.

Well, things have changed in 50 years! Now we can text, Skype, email, make video calls or an affordable long-distance phone call. How can we possibly feel disconnected during travel, or when one of us is deployed to far off lands?

Technology Eases Some Pains and Causes New Ones

Technology gives us ways to keep in touch and can ease the pain of separation somewhat. Yet a phone call can go only so far to convey what’s going on in your partner’s world, and the limitations can be frustrating.

Additional adjustments that separate you can start to develop. The one left … Come Read the Rest