Addressing Problems As A Step Parent

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Addressing Problems As A Step Parent

As a step parent it’s important that you help the biological parent establish a loving environment for one another’s children. It’s important that you don’t step in as the rule maker or the enforcer. Take a good look at how your partner sets boundaries and expectations for their children. It’s important to ask yourself if you can live in a household with the kind of parenting your new partner does. Remember that this has become a way of life for your partner and their children. You being in their lives does not and should not mean that there will be drastic changes to the parenting pattern that has already been established. Before expecting changes, talk to your partner about how they would feel about making certain alterations. If you don’t get on the same page there will be major conflict with the kids and between the two of you. Falling in love with your partner does not necessarily mean that you have fallen in love with their children. That’s ok as long as you remember that your partner loves them and will always love them no matter what they do. If you remember this you’ll be sensitive about not being negative or critical of your partners children. Being critical or negative about someones children very seldom ends well. It usually puts people into fight mode which can be very toxic to your relationship. Instead think very hard about what is bothering you and find a way to express it that eliminates criticism and blame. It’s ok to say I’m uncomfortable when little Mary does x. Then propose a solution I’d like it if they would do y instead and suggest an action plan would you be ok if I/we do z. None of this assassinates the child’s character like your child is _____ they never or always________. Your partner has no choice but to defend the children they love which makes it impossible to help you with your...

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Fear of Counseling

Posted by on Jan 14, 2017 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Fear of Counseling

Occasionally I hear from a potential client that they feel strongly that their relationship needs professional counseling but their partner is concerned about sharing personal problems with a stranger. My guess is that they fear judgement or at the very least discomforting sharing their problems. As a good counselor it’s important for me to create a non judgmental atmosphere. I often reassure my clients that there is very little that they could tell me that would cause me to be shocked. There is also nothing they could tell me that would cause me to think less of them. My training in Social Work is based on respect for others and human dignity in all situations. Counselors are also legally and ethically bound to confidentiality. That means that I absolutely can not disclose that I have seen someone for counseling unless they sign consent allowing me to do so. Because I live in a small community I tell my clients that if I run into them in public I might smile and say hello because I do that to everyone I make eye contact with but no one will know that they have seen me professionally unless they choose to tell them. I go an extra step in my office. Everyone in my building is trained in confidentiality. That includes all the professionals. My client records are secured behind three locked doors which goes beyond general practice guidelines. I believe that once people meet me, they find me easy to talk to and quickly feel comfortable sharing their concerns and issues. Its taken years to perfect my interviewing style so it now resembles a simple conversation with someone who is interested in them. I like to think that this takes away the element of talking to a stranger and they instead experience a human being who is truly interested in...

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How Counseling Works

Posted by on Jan 9, 2017 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on How Counseling Works

I’ve recently been asked how talking to a counselor can help. There was once a study in which college students wrote a letter about a problem they were experiencing. Half of the group read the letter out loud to themselves the other half read it out loud to another person. The half who read it to another person reported decreased distress about the problem. It’s no secret that as human beings confiding is someone helps us overcome problems. With a trained counselor however your also getting the benefit of years of training and experience. We know what questions to ask to help you look at your problems from various angles. We have training in specific interventions. We’ve studied research about specific techniques that are proven to help people overcome emotional and relational discomfort. The added benefit to counseling is confidentiality. You never have to wonder if someone else will discover you personal feelings. Counselors also have training in being non biased. We’re trained not to judge or to offer our personal opinions. Unlike your mom or your best friend who think they know whats best for you, our job is to help you find the answers that work best for...

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Tips for Making your Relationships Better

Posted by on Dec 15, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Tips for Making your Relationships Better

People often ask me if what they are experiencing in their relationships is “normal” I tel them that “normal doesn’t exist. We are all unique individuals making our relationships unique as well. We all have a desire to feel valued and loved in our relationship. Most of us have the hope that the people in our extended families will want to spend time with us and will be there when we need each other. Particularly around the holidays. This very difficult for more people than you would imagine. If there has been serious wounding by a parent in childhood it can be very disappointing to hope for healing from that parent in adulthood. Here are some things you can do: Try to have a conversation with the person who hurt you, have in mind what you might ask of them that could help you heal. Try to empathize with their childhood wounds to find some understanding of what led to them causing you pain. Give yourself permission to interact with them as much or as little as feels safe and comfortable to you. Most importantly, work on forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift to yourself that can erase the negative bitterness that will make you emotionally...

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Get Relational Joy

Posted by on Dec 9, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Get Relational Joy

Christmas is a great time to grow joy in your family relationships. This year focus is on gratitude. I find in my work with couples who are struggling that their focus has been on what they don’t like about each other. One of the techniques I use with couples and families is to catch each other being good. It’s important to notice the little things we are grateful for in our relationships. I notice it when my daughter’s call or spend time with me. I notice when my husband does the dishes, washes the car, cuts the grass, buys me band aids and a million other tiny acts of love. I encourage you to look for these things in your spouse, children and other family members. It will bring you joy, and if your share your gratitude with them it will bring them...

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Be Careful with Your Relationships

Posted by on Dec 3, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Be Careful with Your Relationships

Irrational conversations that lead to wounding a loved one happen a lot over the holidays. I’ve recently had interactions with extended family members whose own stress has caused them to lash out and be very hurtful. I once heard the comedian Ron White say that he was going to marry a smart woman because you can change your looks but “you can’t fix stupid”. I’ve found myself saying “you can’t fix irrational”. That’s why it’s so very important to try to stay in rational brain when your under stress. Wounding others usually leaves good people feeling bad about what they have done. Offering an apology is the right thing to do and brings great healing. If you’ve hurt someone forgive yourself. If someone has hurt you forgive your offender. Think about what really matters to you before taking out your feelings on someone you love. Family relationships are precious but people are human. If you continue to hurt them, they will eventually decide that it’s too unhealthy for them to keep you in their life. So when something upsets you, take a breath, walk away until you calm down then try to talk them using “I” statements. Using “you” statements will only make them defensive and they can’t help you when their brain goes into fight or...

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Grace Changes Everything

Posted by on Nov 22, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Grace Changes Everything

It’s Thanksgiving and there are so many things I’m grateful for! This month I’ve noticed how grateful I am for the gift of grace and forgiveness. I got pulled over for a speeding ticket the other day. No surprise to those of you who know me well. I’m always doing at least three things at the same time so I’m often running late and try to make up for lost time with my led foot. On this day though, I was totally preoccupied. I explained to the officer that I wasn’t concentrating on my driving because I was worried about my upcoming foot surgery and I was concerned about having to miss work for two weeks. I politely asked him if he could possibly give me a warning, to my surprise he showed great grace and didn’t write me a ticket. Historically, I would have been too angry to politely ask for a warning. I would have taken the ticket through clenched teeth and driven away screaming and cussing. Yes, I am very much humanly flawed. But this time, I chose to put my anger aside and use my rational brain. Just like I try and teach my couples to do when they are frustrated with their partners. Staying rational produces a healthier outcome EVERY TIME! Letting negative emotions override our rational brain seldom ends well in any situation. Particularly in an argument with your spouse. I’m grateful for the grace the officer showed me. This time I noticed that his grace made me want to do better. Instead of staying angry because I would have to deal with a ticket, a fine and all that comes with it I’ve noticed that I’m watching my driving. I have intentionally not been speeding. I’ve wanted to be better because I was shown grace. I’ve continued to be grateful and with that gratitude I’ve felt a responsibility to do the right thing. This also rings true in your relationships. When you stay angry at your partner and don’t forgive them it causes them to be angry which turns into a stressful unhealthy situation. Next time try showing your partner grace and forgiveness. I’ll bet that they will have gratitude and want to be better for you. It’s just a natural by product of receiving grace. Give it a try, I challenge...

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Find a Therapist Who is Professional

Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Find a Therapist Who is Professional

Your therapist should have knowledge about the issues you’re dealing with. They should always interact with you on a personable but professional level. You should expect your therapist to dress professionally and handle their business in a professional manner. You were therapist should never interrupt your session to take phone calls or talk to other people. They should also not engage with you in social settings or become your friend. Doing this crosses boundaries and will cause confusion for you and your therapeutic relationship. When I treat people from my church I tell them that if I see them I will probably smile and say hi to them, because I do that with everyone I make I contact with. But the conversation won’t go any longer and no one will ever hear from me that I have seen them in therapy. If you feel like your therapist is acting in an unprofessional manner, you should address them with your...

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Find a Therapist You Feel At Ease With

Posted by on Oct 19, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Find a Therapist You Feel At Ease With

Your therapy experience should be as comfortable for you as possible. Find a therapist that you can relate to and most importantly a therapist that you are comfortable interacting with. You should be able to tell your therapist anything you need to tell them. If you fear judgment from your therapist you’re in the wrong place. If you’re doing couples work, you need to feel like your therapist won’t take sides. Therapist are humans to so one of the most important qualities is that you feel comfortable telling the therapist if they’re doing something that isn’t working for you. Your therapist should be willing to try and adapt what they are doing so that you feel like you are getting what you need from coming...

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Ask Your Therapist about Their Experience

Posted by on Oct 12, 2016 in Marriage Advice | Comments Off on Ask Your Therapist about Their Experience


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