How to Use Aftermath of a Fight

A great resource about how one couple uses the Gottman resource Aftermath of a Fight in real life. Reach out and schedule a session if you could use some help or resources like the one mentioned here.

Self care: Myths and Misunderstandings

As I reflect on the short break from work that I've taken this week, I am reminded of the simplicity of waking up, completing tasks toward the good of my family, and the deep sense of wellbeing that comes from organization. 

I think that for the last few years, time off has come with a sick child or appointments which require more emotional or physical investment (not to mention financial). I have forgotten that finding "the time" doesn't have to mean "me time", and focusing on finding me time has almost felt like a mythical odyssey of a journey--too many barriers, too many partial truths, too much thought and not enough payoff for the energy. 

This week, though, I've cleaned the house, taken walks, spent time with my son and taught him to garden. The gardening in particular has been a revelation wherein I am remembering that expense and time are not equal to afford deep satisfaction. I need low expense, high creativity and choice, and the newness that comes with teaching my son how to care for our house and plants.  This combination feels like self care-- I know that I am more solid and in tune because of how I have spent my time.

It is nice to remember this part of myself that I had forgotten while working, under daily and life stress.

Self care: Making Choices to Live a Life You Don't Want to Escape

The following article resonates with me. If we make active choices to live a life that we don't want to escape from, then I agree we care promoting long term self care. Try to make financial or spiritual wellness a priority rather than a bubble bath and chocolate cake and see what the outcome is.

Remarkable Parents

It takes time and experience to have insight as a parent. This blog was written by a family therapist who has had 10 Insights into what it takes to be a Remarkable Parent.


How To Use Yoga to Regulate Anger in Children

I'm so excited to share this PRINTABLE resource for those parents out there who struggle with their child's anger. This is a great printable resource that can be a visual reminder for your child what it takes to calm down, breathe and regulate--through practice. And let's be honest, as our children practice how to honor their emotions, even anger, we remember to do so too!

Link Between Family Systems and Physical Illness

The question is: chicken or the egg? Are the highs and lows of medical conditions enough of a contributing favor to mood to create disorders OR are the disorders simultaneously and inextricably related OR do the mental health disorders create various other medical conditions?

I would love to know more and for anyone who needs more info, please click the link below. It appears that most people do have a link between the two, and if nothing else, having a positive mood and medical history can provide more resiliency.

Power and Control

You may or may not have heard about the Power and Control wheel, or a tool that I often use in sessions to talk about the dynamics related to power in a relationship. 

If your partner exhibits any of the dynamics described in the wheel, you may be in need of help. Consider reaching out to a therapist, or at least to a friend who has resources to help you safely navigate an exit from the relationship.

We Marry the Wrong Person

An impressive New York Times piece on modern marriage and the reality that many people may not need to divorce.

Small Talk v. Intimacy

So how do you spend the (sometimes small) amount of time you have to talk to your partner? Do you promote connection or do you talk past each other? The difference may not be as obvious as you would think.

Take a Vacation

Taking a vacation is not always a viable option for couples. The extra time we spend together may be the first thing that goes in a marriage. What you can do to make your marriage work:

Improve Your Self Image

Developing your relationships starts with you. You cannot know where you are going or really assess what is happening on the other side of the feedback loop without knowing yourself. This involves some work--sometimes intense work--to manage your emotions or thoughts or behaviors.

Chicken Soup for the Soul developer, Jack Canfield, has a concept which sums up this process: any given event plus your response equals the outcome. In that equation, most people will focus either exclusively on the event (a trauma, a perceived slight, act of God) or exclusively on the outcome (feelings of hurt, loss of resources). This focus is not only a recipe for helplessness and a decrease in self esteem, it also gives power to ALL the parts of the equation that we do not have control over. We only have the power to change our reactions.

Now, this is 100% easier said than done, but it is also true that no one else can do the work to change our reactions. If we react with hopelessness and focus on all the things that are happening wrong around us, then we continue to stay powerless. You can see that if that happens regularly, or even semi-regularly, your perception of what you are capable of being and doing can become negative and so can your self esteem and self image. Soon, negatively approaching each new day becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. 

So, where do you start? First is becoming aware of what you have control over each minute--your emotions, your thoughts and your behaviors. Is complaining to your colleague a stress reliever or does it keep you verbally and mentally stuck? Did having that second (or third) drink help you to forget or did it just push the problem off until the next morning? 

Second is developing the self awareness to know which strategies to use instead of the ones you've identified that no longer work. Maybe you remember that running is an excellent destresser and brings you clarity. Or you know that watching a certain comedian will leave you in stitches and more able to cope. Maybe talking a walk at lunch (by yourself if you cannot stop the vent from becoming a complaint) will keep your energy up for the rest of the day. If you don't know, it's time to explore--and remember not to settle for good enough for these strategies.  

Finally, use the strategies. Simple, but not really because unless these strategies are consistent and a habit, then it will be easy to fall back to the strategies which created the low self esteem.

Remember, you are fighting a negative frame of mind and it is very powerful. You can fight it though, and you will believe it too once you are in a more positive frame of mind. Until then, hang in there and call me if you need some session time.


Depression Can Be A Result of Resources

A fascinating take on how low resources can result in depression or depressive symptoms. When you struggle with depression, the self doubt, blame and learned (and reinforced) helplessness can be high. I highly recommend reaching out for help with depression because it is treatable, even if it feels insurmountable.

Which Areas Do You Work On?

Being in a marriage can be difficult territory, especially if you don't know what your fights mean. The Gottmans have narrowed down the top 6 fights that all married couples have, and the areas of work needed as a result. 

Same Sex Couples and Lessons to Learn About Emotional Intelligence

Same sex couples' successes and failures were studied alongside straight couples', and the bottom line is that same sex couples tend to operate from a healthier set of principles.

Emotional intelligence appears to be higher in same sex couples, where hostile and controlling emotional tactics were fewer. Humor and positive perspective were more often used to start disagreements, and disagreements were more easily forgotten when done. The research goes on to show the differences in lesbian couples' and gay couples' argument patterns, likely a result of gender socialization.

How NOT To Argue

The article below talks about the four things you cannot do when you argue with a partner if you plan to keep your relationship.

The Gottmans refer to these as the "Four Horsemen", or the ultimates in what not to do, and this article does a great job of laying it out there.

Keep in mind that these four things are not easy to change if they are part of your argument style, and contempt is the ringer when it comes to predicting the end of a relationship. If you are stuck in contempt or struggling with ANY of the four, give me a call and we can work on changing not only the argument style but also make sure your voice is heard.