Marriage Advice

Change Your Relationship by Changing Yourself

Posted on Jun 25, 2017

  When your relationship is in trouble it’s a common mistake to look at your partners behavior. Unfortunately, when your in conflict the last person you want pointing out your flaws is the person your having conflict with. When you tell them what they are doing wrong it’s likely to feel like criticism and blame. A far better idea is to take a look inward. I often ask couples to tell me the things “I” do that contribute to our conflict. It can be a guess or it can be something their partner already told them. It’s critical to take a look at your own behavior because you have 100% control over changing and altering your own behaviors. The next step is to offer solutions or suggestions for solutions. Ask would it help if I _____? Most importantly do not observe your partners behavior and make guesses about why they do whatever they are doing that causes you pain. People tend to jump to conclusions and make incorrect guesses that their partners behaviors are a reflection of how they feel about them. Keep in mind that your partners behaviors are more about them than their feelings for you. The only person who might know why your partner does something is your partner. If you need to know the why, you need to ask your partner and then believe them when they tell you. Even more important than the why is the what now. If you try to solve problems in your relationship by focusing on why something isn’t working your focus becomes the problem. If you truly want things to get better try focussing on the what if I. Asking What if I do _____ ? Would that help? Offering proposals for solutions is the best way to fix the problems in your...

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1st Step to Experiencing Your Spouse Positively

Posted on Jun 5, 2017

One of the first therapeutic models I was trained in was Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is based on the belief that we get our emotions from our thoughts. And that if we can recognize our negative thoughts, we can alter them therefore altering our emotions. I’ve seen this model help hundred of clients over the years. Our thought have a vital impact on our marriage. The Gottman’s talk about ‘Emotionally Healthy Marriages’. They describe an emotionally healthy marriage as a couple who keeps their negative thoughts and feelings about each other from overwhelming their positive thoughts and feelings. When I was a newlywed, I worked with seasoned therapist who once told me that every day he had to intentionally think about five things about his wife that he liked. I found it odd at the time until I left “romantic brain” in my marriage. When couples go in to conflict, as ALL of us do, you have to make a conscious choice to focus on the positive thoughts about your spouse or stay focussed on the negative things about your spouse. IF you get to the point where you see nothing but negative, your marriage is in deep trouble. I suggest you get counseling before this point. However, if you are having trouble seeing anything positive in your spouse, gently let them know ‘I would like to have a more positive experience of you. Might you be willing to do blank blank or blank (three tangible suggestions) that would feel positive to me? And most importantly ask if there is something I can do to help you experience me more positively. Chances are that if you are not experiencing your spouse positively, the feeling are...

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Discipline Strategies for the New Step Parent

Posted on May 19, 2017

As a “bonus parent” your first job is to make friends with your partners child. Spend one on one time with them, ask about their feelings and really get to know them. Don’t make the mistake of becoming the disciplinarian before you learn what the status quo has been. The best way to do this is when your dating. When the relationship has become serious enough for you to meet the children, spend time with them in their home. Notice what the expectations and interactions are. Ask questions about the rules, the expectations, the rewards and consequences. See if you can find acceptance for the discipline and boundaries that your partner has put in place for their children. Everyone parents differently. Don’t expect your partner to totally change their parenting style just because they are now in a relationship with you. If there are things in the parenting style that directly affect you or your relationship, talk about those things by offering to find compromise and looking for solutions. Putting your partners child down or making negative predictions about who they will be if the children are allowed to do whatever will only cause resentment in your marriage. For example: 1st Observe The kids don’t pick up their dishes after dinner. 2nd Ask your partner if this has ever been an expectation and why or why not. 3rd Accept Allow your partner to continue with their style: If there has never been a different expectation and your spouse has and wants to continue to pick up after them allow them this choice. 4th Modify If their choice affects you find solutions: If your left to pick up after them tell your partner that this won’t work for you and you need their support for the two of you to tell the children that the new expectation is that they put their dishes in the dishwasher after dinner. Remember that your partners child is not a guest in your home. They are a family member. they have rights and responsibilities. Them not being allowed in their home with their parent is not an option unless there are severe circumstances and your partner is in agreement. Never make your partner choose between their child or you. It’s not only unfair, it’s also unloving and...

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Build Emotionally Healthy Step children

Posted on May 12, 2017

  Your life will be interrupted and enriched by your partners children. Childrens needs seldom coincide with a parenting schedule. You, your partner and their ex are trying to raise children between two homes. This means you must work as a team. When the ex makes a request of your partner, the first consideration should be what the impact on the children will be. Maybe you and your partner are willing to be flexible but the ex, not so much. Do it anyway, even if it sometimes interrupts your plans. It’s not for the ex, it’s for the children. Children needs will and should very often come before your own. It’s ok to set healthy boundaries with the children and the ex but remember that the kids didn’t ask for their parents marriage to end. Participate with your partner in making decisions that are emotionally healthy for the children. Be the grown up. Their children’s long term emotional health can and will affect your marriage long term. When you are in a relationship with someone who has children, the expectation is that they will grow up and be less of a part of their life and yours. The reality is that even grown children will always be an important part of your partners life. If they are emotionally healthy they will indeed build their own lives away from their parents. When children are emotionally damaged there is great potential for them to become emotionally unhealthy, dependent adults who are unable to function on their own. This can mean all kinds of turmoil in your partners life and yours. The choice for you is to put the children first in the hope that they will become healthy functional adults or put your foot down about what you want, contribute to building an unhealthy emotional environment and face a life of dealing with unhealthy children who become unhealthy adults who are constantly in need of some kind of assistance from their...

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Coping with your partners ex

Posted on May 5, 2017

  Getting into a relationship with someone with children can be rewarding and difficult. Particularly, if you have never had children of your own. No matter how much you love your partner there will be difficulties participating in raising children who are not your own. Your best chance for success at having a healthy relationship is to have a healthy mind set regarding raising your partners children with them. The first thing you will have to accept is that your partner will always have a relationship (hopefully a good one) with their child’s other parent. Be ready to accept this reality. The best thing you can do for your partner is support their relationship with their ex. If they have a bad relationship help them find ways to make peace. When your partner is at peace, your marriage will be at peace, the children will be healthier, which will hopefully keep the stress of emotionally damaged children from damaging your marriage. If they have a good relationship, be grateful that your life will have less drama and less negative energy. It is important that you have full trust in your partner regarding the ex and their relationship. You can build this by being specific about behaviors that make you feel secure or insecure. As long as your partner hears these concerns and is willing to act on them, you can be comfortable with them having a p positive relationship. It is however, important that their relationship is just about the children. If their relationship continues to be personal, about their relationship, friendship or personal lives that is a potential issue for concern and further...

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Committing To be Married

Posted on Apr 22, 2017

I’ve been thinking lately about cohabitation. Pastor Jimmy Evans believes that it’s on the rise because people are trying to avoid problems they’ve seen in other relationships. I agree with this but I also see a fear of making a real commitment. People are leaving themselves an out just in case things don’t work. Marriage is a legal contract designed to protect my rights as a spouse financially. It’s designed to protect children and uphold monogamy. All of these things seem like benefits to me. When I see cohabiting couples they’re often having the same conflicts as married couples but they don’t have the legal rights and commitments that come with marriage under the law. One of the first things you should look at if your living together is the true level of commitment you both have in the relationship. Are you both 100% committed to working thing out? Are you the chicken or the pig? The chicken participates in breakfast, the pig really commits. Rest assured if you are living with another person, there will be conflict. If your living together so you will have a way out, you may not have to go through a legal process but nothing can protect you from the emotional consequences of the end of a serious relationship. If you happen to be christians marriage also gives you a blood covenant which makes your marriage a permanent sacrificial relationship. A lot of people don’t understand that relationships are based on giving to one another. The more you give to your partner, the more you will receive from them. There is no greater way to give than sacrificial love. Really giving up what you want because your love for the other person is so great. Thats a big concept for us mere mortals. Lucky for us theres a book about how to do that. John 3:16 “For Christ so loved the world that he gave his only begotten...

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