We’ve all heard it…the relationship advice “never go to bed angry.” It seems like good advice, right? Well, yes and no. Mostly no. The only reason I say yes is because it’s possible to go to bed without resolving an argument and NOT be angry. If you know the problem is going to be resolved eventually and you remember that you and your partner are on the same team in life (yes, even when you disagree), you can let go of that anger and sleep like a baby. Though I guess technically you still aren’t going to bed angry. You are just going to bed with an unresolved issue with your partner. However, I digress and that is not really the point of this article anyway. What IS the point is that it’s actually better NOT to try to resolve a problem when you are both angry to the point where you are flooded.
Being flooded is a physiological response to danger that occurs during emotionally charged conversations. During this response, your brain sends a signal to your body that danger is near and to be on alert in case you need to fight or flee. As a result, your heart rate increases and your blood starts flowing to your muscles to increase strength and reflexes. However, this also means blood is flowing away from your brain; reducing your capacity to modulate your emotions and think clearly. Now does that sound like a good time to have a fight with your partner when you can’t control your emotions or make rational, logical decisions? Probably not.
If you’ve ever wondered how your fights escalate and get out of control so quickly, you are probably continuing to fight past the point of flooding.
The solution to this problem is the structured timeout process. Check out this video I made describing more about how to recognize when you are flooded and how to stop your fights from getting so out of control.
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Recovering from an addiction makes for one of the toughest challenges most people ever face. And managing the stress it puts on a marriage can be especially difficult. Here are some strategies for navigating the journey together.
Marriage can be tough under the best of circumstances, but when your spouse is struggling with an addiction, you face added struggles. Getting your loved one into a treatment program may be your first challenge. Oftentimes when those with an addiction or substance abuse issue are confronted, they don’t want to listen to what you are saying. Your spouse may become angry because you are essentially threatening to take away the thing he or she has come to rely on for managing life. The substance (whether drugs, alcohol, porn, sex, gambling, etc) has become a coping mechanism and your loved one can’t imagine life without it. You may need to reach out to a professional addiction interventionist who will work with you and your spouse on plugging into a treatment program.
Recovery programs are more affordable than you may think, and can be vital to restoring quality of life for you and your loved one. Professional intervention can also play a key role in preserving your marriage. Many insurances cover treatment and there are government-funded facilities that provide help under certain circumstances. You can contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for information about available resources; the helpline is available 24 hours a day, every day, and the phone number is 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Adjusting your perspective
It’s important to understand your spouse’s behaviors and to separate them from who your loved one is. Addiction is an illness, in some ways not unlike cancer. It isn’t your spouse’s identity. Though it may feel incredibly difficult, try to be forgiving and accept things you cannot change about your partner in order to find healing for your marriage and move forward. Though addiction may seem like the major issue in your marriage, ask yourself if you can take responsibility for any part of the struggles you face together (hint: there is always something you can take responsibility for when it comes to relationship concerns).
Intervention is imperative
Getting help is vital to restoring your partner. As Psychology Today explains, addictions are progressive. That means that without intervention, the addict’s behavior and needs will only become worse. Life for you both as a couple and as individuals will decline. The key to making things improve lies in your spouse. The addict must want to change in order to embrace recovery, and the behavior must change in order to enjoy a healthy, happy life together. Unfortunately, a large number of couples divorce or live unhappily in their situation, and only a small percentage receive much-needed help, heal and go on with happy lives. While a separation or a divorce shouldn’t be a bargaining chip, sometimes it’s a last resort, and sometimes it’s the push someone needs to get help. Before making a decision, it’s best to reach out to a counselor or therapist for assistance.
Care for yourself
Whatever road you and your loved one travel, you’re likely to face a number of difficulties. Engaging in a self-care plan will help you through the journey. Good self-care can help you keep life in balance and provide healthy coping skills when troubles come your way. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and participate in a workout regimen. Do something creative, like dancing, crafting or painting, and engage in an activity that encourages self-introspection, like yoga or journaling.
Help for you both
Addiction can take a toll on your marriage. The best things you can do for you and your spouse is to get help and take care of yourselves. Thoughtful strategies can mean success in navigating this difficult journey together.
About the Author: Caleb Anderson developed an opiate addiction after being in a car accident. He’s in recovery today and wants to inspire others to overcome their addictions. He co-createdRecovery Hopeto help people with substance abuse disorders and their families.
Have you ever been through a breakup and wondered if and when you will ever feel normal again? If you answered “yes” you are not alone. Breakups are hard! Sometimes, when you end a relationship, it feels like a part of you has died inside.
That’s because, in a way, a part of you has died. It’s the part of you that counted on your partner and maybe even had plans for the future. When you lose a significant relationship, you grieve that loss just like you would if someone had actually died.
One of the world’s greatest experts on grieving was a psychiatrist named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. She studied death and dying and came up with a model that explains the grieving process.
The Kübler-Ross model breaks down grieving into five stages, and it is probably the best understanding that healers have of the grieving process. The five stages are as follows:
Denial is the first stage of the grieving process. In this stage, you don’t feel much besides numb. Denial, which is sometimes called shock, is an important stage because it allows you to ease into your grief. When you are in denial, you usually haven’t fully understood what has happened and you aren’t yet feeling any of the difficult feelings that you will soon be facing. It might sound like staying in denial would be better than going through your grieving process, but it isn’t because if you get stuck in denial, you can’t heal.
When you are experiencing the anger stage of grief, you feel, well, angry. You may be angry at your ex, angry at yourself, angry at whomever you blame for breaking the two of you up, or you may even be angry at God. However your anger shows up, know that it is important for you to feel it. Note: I said “feel it,” not “act on it.” That’s a very important distinction! Acting on your anger can cause you more problems for your future, but allowing yourself to feel your anger is an essential step to healing. Find healthy outlets to express your anger such as taking a boxing class, going for a run, journaling about your feelings then tearing up the paper, or talking to a therapist.
In the bargaining stage, you want to go back to the past and fix or change what has happened. You might promise to never yell again if only you could have the relationship back as it was. Or you might wish your partner would just change his/her mind and come running back to you. In this stage you might also feel guilt and regret and wish that hindsight wasn’t 20/20.
After you realize that bargaining didn’t work, you go into the depression phase of grief. This is different than Clinical Depression because what you feel in this stage is a normal reaction to the loss of a relationship. You might feel sad or lost or just not yourself. You might have difficulty eating, sleeping, or enjoying activities in this stage. Even though it feels like this stage will last forever, know that it won’t. In fact, none of the stages last forever. And, they aren’t linear either. Your grief will likely jump around from stage to stage before finally settling into the final stage.
In the acceptance stage, you begin to accept that things have changed and that the relationship you once enjoyed is not part of your life anymore. While you may not feel happy about this change, you can accept that it is true and learn to focus on other positive aspects of your life. This is also a great time to take a look at yourself and any areas for personal growth. Maybe you can finally learn French or take up gardening. Or perhaps you could learn what it’s like to date yourself for a while and just focus on you.
After a breakup is a great time to start therapy or go on a retreat. Though breakups are hard as hell, they can also be the beginning of a breakthrough for those that choose to do the inner work and reflection. Are there areas you could work on to be a better partner? Are there areas in which you could grow to become the type of person you want to attract? Would working on how you communicate concerns to your partner help you uncover red flags sooner than you have in the past so you don’t waste time with partners that are not a good fit?
Even after you have reached acceptance and done the inner work, know that anniversaries, birthdays, or other important events may bring up old feelings. Or feelings may just show up out of the blue for no reason. Grief is one heck of a roller coaster =(
Though these stages give an outline of what you may feel, there is definitely a wide range of possible reactions to losing someone. So, whatever you are feeling, know that it is okay and it eventually will pass. If you need help getting through the hard times or are ready to do that inner work,contact me to setup a free 30 minute consultation.
So, you finally have everything you’ve ever wanted. You have the career, the spouse, the two kids, and the house. You’re living the American dream, congrats!
But, wait, why is this so hard? How am I supposed to make time for everything? Why am I always so tired? Am I ever going to feel like I have it all under control?
If you are having any of those thoughts, you are not alone. If you followed the “typical” life trajectory, your story might sound something like this: When you were single, you spent a lot of time and energy looking for a mate. For many, this in itself is an exhausting process of trial and error, process of elimination, rejection and heartbreak, etc. Then, finally you found the one. Phew.
Fast forward a bit – now comes the wedding planning. Another whirlwind of to-dos and excitement accompanied by a lot of busyness and stress. After you found and married said mate, you might have enjoyed being married for a while. Then it’s time for the next milestone – kids! You have 1, maybe 2 or 3 kids, all while building your career and supporting your partner in building their career. At some point you buy a house with a white picket fence (or if you live in Los Angeles, you more likely spent a small fortune on a 2 bedroom condo).
Now, finally you have arrived. All of your life goals are met. This is when you’re supposed to feel happy, right? But now that those milestones have been met, you realize no one ever taught you how to juggle it all. You’ve been so busy trying to get to the next stage in life, you forgot what it’s like to just be still, be present, and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Not to worry, I’ve got some great tips that will help you balance your family life with staying happily married and being present to actually enjoy this amazing life you have created.
Recognize That Kids Change Everything
I know you’ve heard this before, and I know that you know it’s true, but sometimes just taking the time to acknowledge that being a parent is like nothing else in the world, is healing. This is probably the hardest job you’ve ever had. I’m willing to bet that sometimes, you don’t have a clue what you’re doing and you are pretty sure you’re giving your child plenty to talk about in therapy in his/her future. It’s really impossible to know what having kids is like until you do it. Otherwise, the population might decline severely 😉 Taking care of a child takes about 35 hours per week on top of whatever else you were already filling that time with before the kids came along. That’s a lot of time! It’s literally almost another full-time job. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s not because you’re doing anything wrong or you’re a bad parent. It’s because raising kids is hard.
Remember That You Were A Couple First
When you are knee deep in diapers and formula, it can be almost impossible to have any recollection of anything that came before giving birth. However, it’s helpful to remember (if only for a second) that the person whom you are co-parenting with is the same person that you chose above millions of other options. Even if right now, you only see your partner as someone who can take the baby so you can finally go to the bathroom, try to remember that he/she is also the one you fell in love with and treat them accordingly. Remembering that for even a split second can make a huge difference. Also, if, you are reading this and your kids are still really little, know that it does get easier.
Talk About How The Family Dynamics Have Changed Since Having Kids
One of the things that no one ever tells you about having children is that you will genuinely miss your partner once there is someone else to share him/her with. At times, you may even feel jealous of the love and affection that your partner shows your child. This might make you feel guilty, but it doesn’t have to. This is totally normal. At the same time, you’ll probably fall in love with him/her even more when you see them interacting with your little one. There are a lot of conflicting emotions involved in raising a child!
Especially if you have only one child, you might sometimes feel like the odd one out in a family situation. Talking to your partner about your feelings, and allowing him/her to talk to you about their feelings (without judging or trying to change them) can go a long way in helping all of you adjust to your growing family.
Make Time For Just The Two Of You
You will see this advice on almost every marriage blog there is, yet it’s incredibly easy to ignore. Trust me, as hard as it may seem to make time for just the two of you, things will get much harder if you don’t. You have to work at keeping the connection going between the two of you if you want to have a happy and successful relationship. No matter how busy you are, make your relationship your #1 priority – yes even above the kids. Your relationship is the foundation for the entire family. If your relationship is suffering, so will the family.
Depending on the age of your children, you can also explain to them how important it is that Mommy and Daddy have time together. You can let them know that by spending time alone, Mommy and Daddy are making their relationship even stronger, and that that is great news for the whole family.
If you would like more tips on how to maintain a strong foundation as a couple after having kids, contact me. I would love to help.
Can a man and a woman (or any two people who could potentially be attracted to each other), be just friends?
This is a debate that has been going on for centuries, with some people saying yes and others saying no way. While that is a topic that could go either way depending on the person and the situation, there is one thing I’m sure of when it comes to romance and friendship. If two people are in a romantic relationship, and they want it to last, they better be friends.
Friendship is at the core of a strong relationship. Research has shown that a high quality friendship in a marriage is an important predictor of both romantic and physical satisfaction. Couples who are friends report higher levels of happiness in their relationships than couples who aren’t. Some research has even found that friendship in marriage is five times more important than physical intimacy. Now, that’s saying something.
If you think about it, it makes sense that couples who are friends are happier than couples who aren’t. When you are friends with someone, you look forward to spending time with them, you value what they have to say, and, perhaps most importantly, you feel safe with them.
Feeling safe with your partner is extremely important, because it leads to deeper levels of intimacy and sharing. You are less likely to feel judged when you feel safe and you are more likely to have a good foundation of trust.
Ok, but what if you and your significant other are lacking in the friendship department? There are many wonderful ways to build, or strengthen, your friendship with your partner. Here are some ways to get started.
Make The Time
Just like flowers need sun and water, friendships need time and energy to grow. Set specific times that you and your partner are going to hang out alone. Consider these times a priority. If you can’t find childcare, make time to connect when the kids go to bed. Turn off all of your devices, and just talk. Wondering what to talk about? Check out these 82 fun questions to get to know your partner all over again.
Do you and your partner both enjoy bowling? Sipping expressos? Game of Thrones? Whatever it is that you and your loved one like to do, do it together. Maybe you have an interest that you think your partner wouldn’t be into. You never know unless you ask. It’s a great bonding experience to try something new together. Plus, it’s fun to be the one to introduce a new activity into your partner’s life.
Communication, Communication, Communication
Communication is to relationships what location is to real estate. Partners who use open and honest communication are less likely to hold onto grudges and more able to forgive each other for small missteps. Plus, communication will help bring to light simple misunderstandings, that might otherwise turn into huge and messy fights. Make communicating about your relationship a regular thing. Set aside 1 hour every week or every other week to discuss your relationship. This gives you both a space to air concerns without wondering how to bring it up. But don’t just complain – let your partner know what is going well in the relationship too.
See Your Partner For Who They Are
In my many years of working with couples, it’s become clear that most people just want to be seen for who they truly are – not who their partner wants them to be. Being a real friend to your significant other means seeing all of their parts, not just the shiny ones, and loving them anyway.
If you would like more tips on how to build or maintain a friendship with your partner, contact me. I would love to help.