Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tip of the Week, December 26, 2010

This is the time for resolutions. As you think about ways to improve your relationships, consider some of these possibilities:


Resolve to spend 20 minutes a day … every day … with each other just talking about your life and your day.

Resolve to visit your children’s rooms, go into their space, for 10 minutes every day and ask about their music, their friends, subjects of interest to them as people, not to you as a parent.

Those going through divorce or death of a spouse:
Resolve to build your friendship network with people of the same sex rather than rushing to find a new partner.


Practice random acts of kindness.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Strategy Number 6: Beat the Holiday Blues by Honoring Rituals

Honor important old rituals and develop new ones. Rituals help promote a sense of well-being. Old ones can provide a sense of continuity through times of transition while developing new ones aids in accommodating to new situations.

Evaluate which rituals you want to keep and consider developing any new ones that might mark the positive things about you or your life right now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Begin a holiday gratitude journal. Every night record just 3 things that have happened that day or in your life in general that you are grateful for and really appreciate.

Focus on what is good in your life right now rather than what is missing.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tip of the Week, December 20, 2010

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...

~Norman Wesley Brooks, "Let Every Day Be Christmas," 1976

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Strategy Number 4: Beat the Holiday Blues by Joining Others

Find a way to be around other people.
Look for groups through your community, neighborhood, church, synagogue or volunteer organization.

You don’t have to be with crowds and, unless you have family, probably not around others with family.

Look for opportunities to connect with others who might be in a situation similar to your own rather than with people who are bonded with others.

Look for others who emphasize the goodness about you rather than what is missing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Strategy Number 3: Beat the Holiday Blues by Doing for Others

Do something for others. Putting your life’s situation in perspective can be helped by recognizing what others are experiencing. While their situation may not even be as difficult as your own, focusing on someone else and taking the focus off of yourself can be an important mental health antidote for the holiday blues. Besides, it feels good to help someone else and lift their own burden.

Bake cookies for neighbors. Adopt a family from an angel tree. Make some crafts and visit a nursing home. Invite a niece or nephew to a holiday program. Consider inviting those without family connections to your home for a holiday meal.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Strategy Number 2: Beat the Holiday Blues by Setting Realistic Expectations

Have realistic expectations for yourself and your family.

Remember holidays of the past and do not expect this year to be much different.

Remember, you can work yourself into a pretzel trying to make them special, but you have no control over others in your family and they may never appreciate what you do for them.

You may fantasize about your hopes and dreams for the holidays, however, it may only BE hopes and dreams.

Be realistic about yourself and your family as you move into the holidays. Look for small positive things and focus on them rather than what is missing.

Find ways to create meaning in these holidays for yourself but know that it may not mean the same for others.

Counseling Relationships Online

Couples Counseling of Louisville
Healing from Affairs

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tip of the Week, December 5, 2010

The way that you think about your relationships and your life affects the way that you feel about yourself, your life and others. When you are able to think positively about life, you will feel better.

Try an experiment for today. Choose one relationship that is troublesome to you … and find a way to look for a positive in that situation or that person.

If your boss is difficult, think of one thing about her/him that is positive such as “He does have a good smile” or “She did say that she likes the way that I handle customers.” If that is not possible, think of a positive thing about the situation such as “I am only at this job 40 hours a week and have many other things in my life that are fulfilling such as my spouse, children, home, etc. … and I can put this all in perspective.”

One woman recently told me that she was surprised by how much better she felt after she changed one habit. She no longer spent time with co-workers who were unhappy with the job and constantly complaining. Instead, she tried to only talk with others about neutral or positive things about the job … or about her life. Her job and the problems did not change but they were no longer so overwhelming for her and she no longer found herself thinking so much about them.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Strategy Number 1: Beat the Holiday Blues by Shaking Hands with Them

Shake hands with your loneliness or sadness. Recognize that this is just something that affects you. It is NOT you; however, just something that you are experiencing and may have experienced before.

This may be a familiar feeling or may be new due to a change in your life or circumstances. Acknowledge its presence. Take some time to think about it and then look for ways to focus on other things.

Talk out loud about it. Write about it. Cry about it, if that helps. Do a little work to understand the meaning of it in your life and then find ways to let it go, at least for awhile.

You may need to allow yourself time to think or grieve throughout the holidays but look for ways to let it go the rest of the time.

Counseling Relationships Online

Healing from Affairs
Couples Counseling of Louisville

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

6 Strategies for Easing the Holiday Blues

Are you alone and lonely over the Christmas Holidays?
Do you look with sadness on those who seem to be happy with their lives and feel that yours is empty?
Do you dread the looming, empty New Years Eve?
Do the holiday blues seem stronger than ever before?

Holidays can produce a time of loneliness and sadness for many people who regularly experience the holiday blues.

What causes the holiday blues?

The causes of holiday blues are varied. Sometimes they are caused by childhood experiences which seem to always bring a pall of sadness over the season. No matter how you try to shake it, memories, smells, sights and sounds seem to bring on sadness.

Jean could not understand why, but every time she smelt a cinnamon candle, she found herself feeling sad. She remembered that her mother always burned a candle over the holidays and they were not happy times for her.

Tom hated Christmas Eve. His father would always begin his celebration by drinking heavily and the family pretty much expected him to become abusive and angry for the rest of the holiday.


At other times, holiday blues are brought on by a change in life. Divorce or death of a spouse impacts in so many ways. Death of a parent or close friend can also be hard to handle at any time but especially over the holidays.

Moves from home, living alone, a change in health or friendships can also impact happiness and bring on the holiday blues.

Is the best strategy to beat the holiday blues to just keep your head down and plunge through?

Usually, that is not the best approach. There is no one right answer for how to handle the holiday blues but there are some strategies that can have an impact. We will be sharing them over the next few days. We would also be interested in your experiences so please share them here with all of us.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tip of the Week, November 28, 2010

During the holidays we often experience a high level of stress. Sometimes it brings excitement and fun and sometimes sadness and disappointment.

Find time to slow down and pay attention to the good things in your life right now. Try to think about which things are important to be doing, spending time, money and energy on … and which ones are you doing to impress or please another.

This time in your life, and in the lives of your relationships, will never come again.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tip of the Week, Thanksgiving Week, 2010

This week of Thanksgiving, take the time to sincerely and truly thank those in your life. Be specific about what you are giving thanks for … and , if possible, give them an example of how that characteristic operates in your lives together.

Some examples are:

“I am so thankful that you are my friend. You are always there for me. Last month, when I was feeling overwhelmed, you appeared with a pot of soup and said that you did it … just because.”

“I am so thankful that you are my spouse. Your sense of humor and playfulness really brings joy to my life. I especially like the silly notes that you leave on my bathroom mirror. You just bring a smile to my lips .. even early in the morning!”

“I am so thankful that you are my child. Your hugs and kisses make me feel loved … and I will never get tired of them.”

Counseling Relationships Online
Couples Counseling of Louisville
Healing from Affairs

Monday, November 15, 2010

Learn to Enjoy Life‘s Simple Pleasures

John and I just returned from a trip to the Amalfi Coast where we spent 8 days traveling through the towns of Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Sorrento and Naples. Our “home base” there was the small fishing village of Minori.

What a great time we had … so what does this have to do with the title of the blog entry “learn to enjoy life‘s simpler pleasures”!?!

Actually, traveling through this beautiful area caused us to slow down and really appreciate the many things along the way.

Some of our simple pleasures involved food. How wonderful to be able to slowly eat a slice of pizza and taste the fresh cheese and herbs or a fresh salad made with just picked lettuce and vegetables and marinated perfectly with a nice blend of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Some of our simple pleasures involved the water. We were able to sit at a seaside café for a couple of hours and watch the waves splash against the rocks. Some days they were smooth and playful, other days, affected by a weather front, they were so vigorous that they hit the rocks with splashes 30 feet high.

Some of our simple pleasures involved sound. We were fortunate enough to be in Minori, Italy for the Feast Day of their patron saint and found a traveling concert band marching right in front of our hotel. We attended Mass at the cathedral the next day and were mesmerized by the voices of the combined choirs of the area churches bouncing around this marvelous church over 500 years old. We had nowhere else to be and could just sit and enjoy the wonderful sounds.

Some of our simple pleasures involved watching the people. We would stroll down the boardwalk at night and watch the citizens spending time together playing ball, leaning against the fishing boats and talking or sitting on a bench enjoying gelato.

We rode the buses for destinations between towns … or just because we wanted to ride and see some of the sites. How wonderful to listen to the Italian voices as they hurried home during their lunch break or at the beginning or end of their work day.

What simple pleasures have you noticed lately? We would love to read about your experiences.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tip of the Week, November 19, 2010

Here are the words of a grandfather talking at his granddaughter’s wedding about the experience of losing a spouse, someone he loved dearly.

“People imagine that losing a loved one works kind of like missing cigarettes.
The first day is really hard and the next day is less hard and so forth, easier and
easier the longer you go on. But instead it’s like missing water. Every day, you notice  the person’s absence more.”

~ Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Marriage Advice: What is it about Some Couples Who Seem to Be So at Ease While, for Others, Marriage is a Lot of Hard Work?

Ever wonder why some people seem to have an ease about their relationship while others really have to work with it?

What secrets do those couples who have an ease and natural way of relating know about healthy relationships?

Sometimes it is about their natural temperament. They may both be the kind of people who do not let a lot get to them, who know how to work through differences without getting upset with each other and who generally have the same values and ideas about life so that their differences are not about significant issues.

Couples who handle problems with ease, also know how to give each other the benefit of the doubt. They see each other and the differences as “normal” and not “deal breakers” even if they may be pretty significant.

When faced with problems between them, they are more likely to figure that it is a puzzle to put together rather than something to “win”.

These couples also feel secure in their partner’s love and commitment. They know that, even if they have a fight or do something to hurt the other, their marriage is safe and they will recover.

Finally, couples who get along well, for whom their relationship is easy and comfortable, find ways throughout their days and nights, to reaffirm their good will and positive feelings about each other and about their marriage.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tip of the Week

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh,” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Friday, October 29, 2010

7 Secrets Women Should Know About Men

Men think that women are complicated … well, men can be even more complicated! If men could just be more like women life could be so much easier, at least some of the problems would not be there.

When a woman turns to a man and says “honey, we need to talk,” he would not immediately say … “whoops, meeting Bill at the bar to watch the game in 10 minutes. Maybe next month we can talk.”

Shopping would sure be a breeze as well. You could also count on a real opinion when you ask for a comment on your new dress or drapes.

Yes, we would miss a few things. Some things more than others. Women do have to spend a little time “figuring out their guy”. Here are a few secrets to share.

Click here
to read the rest of the article and learn about the 7 secrets.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

5 Tips for Falling Back in Love

“I love him but I am not in love with him.”

“We seem to have lost that spark and I do not have those same feelings for her any more.”

“We seem to be just roommates … and have lost the good feelings that we once had.”

Those are words … and feelings … that go through the minds and hearts of almost all of those who are involved in long-term relationships. It is rare for both partners in a couple to have those same warm and connected feelings all of the time. And, yes, it is possible to fall back in love with your spouse.

Sometimes, hearing those words from a spouse can mean an affair …either emotionally or sexually. An attraction to someone else brings excitement and a marital partner generally cannot measure up to the thrill of newness and the thrill of risk and secrecy. If infidelity is the issue, the challenges are much more complex and require stepping away from the affair before feelings of being in love can even begin to return.

Often feeling and thoughts of losing love; however, are more about taking each other for granted, devoting more time to career, children, social lives or other activities that prevent prioritizing the marriage and nurturing the couple relationship. When partners do not nurture their relationship, they tend to become distant and feel more lonely and isolated.

Click here to read the 5 tips.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tip of the Week, October 17, 2010

If you haven’t worked on changing yourself, it is a bit of a cop-out to say that your marriage is hopeless because your spouse will never change.
Bill Doherty.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mothers-In-Law: 7 Tips for Cultivating a Tolerable Relationship With A Difficult Mother-In-Law

Are you lucky enough to have a terrific mother-in-law, or is she someone who is challenging to like?

Does your mother-in-law think that you are just not a good enough match for her child or do your personalities just rub each other the wrong way?

Whatever the reason for having a relationship with a difficult mother-in-law, the fact of the matter is that she is the person who is connected to your spouse and with whom it would behoove you, and your marriage, to develop a tolerable relationship. (Notice I did not say “good” relationship. Tolerable is sometimes the best that can happen.)

Here are 7 suggestions for cultivating a tolerable relationship with a difficult mother-in-law.

#1. Take leadership in change.
Rather than waiting for her, or your spouse, to take the first step, make it yours. It is also quite okay to take the second, third and fourth steps before anyone else moves.

Click here
to read the rest of the article.

Counseling Relationships Online
Healing from Affairs
Couples Counseling of Louisville

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Marriage and Sex: Tip Number 7

Create an environment for intimacy throughout the day and see what happens in the evening.

For women, this often means just thinking about it. Think about the things that you DO like about intimacy with your spouse. Think about the pleasure you have received in intimate moments. Push negative thoughts away and focus on the positive ones about intimacy and your spouse.

For men, this means helping out with housework and childcare. It means finding ways to create some romance with a flower, a card, any way that says “I love you very much” rather than “let’s have sex”.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marriage and Sex: Tip Number 6

Dream together about your ideal sex life and sex partner.

Does your spouse perceive you as a “poor lover”? Do you wish that he or she had a better idea of what pleases you when making love?

Talk together about your ideal love-making. Think of it as more of a “dream” or miracle conversation. Find a time when the two of you are relaxed and alone. Play with it. Be creative and a little humorous.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Marriage and Sex: Tip Number 5

Men: Women feel much more interested in an intimate sexual experience if they have intimacy outside of the bedroom.

This usually does not mean that you have to cry or talk a lot about … feelings, heaven forbid!

One small step would be to ask her about her day and then tell her 1 fact about what happened with you. Simple conversation about what is going on in your life and in hers is a way to begin.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Marriage and Sex: Tip Number 4

Women: Your man may not understand what you mean by “intimacy“.

He really may not have the same idea that you do about how to be intimate and connected outside of the bedroom in order for you to be ready for intimacy in the bedroom.

For men, intimacy often means activities together, which includes sex. Men often feel connected and intimate AFTER making love and then are more able to talk and act in loving ways.

Gently and lovingly share with your partner what you want and need, then look for his efforts in that direction and let him know how much you appreciate them.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Marriage and Sex: Tip Number 3

Talk together about what you like about the marriage. Be the first to begin. Make it fun and without pressure.

Creating an environment between you that is positive and loving has the greatest possibility for increasing intimacy. Spouses want to be closer, both emotionally and physically, to those that they like and enjoy.

Focusing more on what is good about your partner and your marriage, rather than the negatives and struggle, are much healthier and much more likely to lead to the results that you want.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Marriage and Sex: Tip Number 2

Be the first to take a step forward.

Waiting for someone else to change, even if they really SHOULD be the one to take the first step, can be destructive and really not worth the damage it does to a relationship.

Take that first step graciously, maybe even a few times, and look for even small positive signs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Marriage and Sex, Tip Number 1

Consider the question: Is this stand-off worth the problems that it creates in your marriage?

Think long and hard about whether or not you want to continue with this pattern.

Think about how the problem has affected you and your spouse and then think about how things could and, hopefully, will be different when the problem is resolved.

Each person is half of the problem … and half of the solution.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Marriage and Sex

We often hear couples complain about their sex lives. Wives are generally less interested in intimacy inside the bed and more interested in intimacy outside of the bedroom. Men often say that they feel more connected, and so, more intimate, if there is intimacy inside the bedroom.

Struggles then subtly erode into long-term stand-offs with both feeling hurt, disappointed, unloved and misunderstood.

Has this happened in your marriage? How have you two broken the impasse?
We are interested in your experiences and will share some of out thoughts in later posts.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tip of the Week, August 15, 2010

Limber up your brain by thinking of 5 different view points for the problem you are experiencing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dating Relationships and Women: 7 Tips for Successful Dating

Dating can be fun and it also can be scary. Who has it harder when it comes to the dating scene, men or women? Not a question that can be answered; however, for women, dating often requires a lot of patience, waiting and appearing to be available and friendly while also having a bit of mystery and intrigue.

Dating Relationships and Women: Never Married or Re-Entering the Dating Arena

Sometimes dating does feel like an arena … a boxing arena, sports arena or even a bullfighting arena! Dating relationships are challenging.

Women who have never married may have developed a style that works for them and a tougher skin that will help them survive the ending of a dating relationship. At times, skills can be well-developed but, more often than not, if there has not been a successful match after several years, a woman may need to rethink her approach to dating.

For those entering the dating scene after a divorce or the death of a spouse, self-confidence and knowledge of the art of dating are not high and women need a refresher course to learn to date again.

Women cannot be passive about dating and dating relationships. The right person will most likely NOT show up on her doorstep. The man who asks her out may NOT be a good choice. Dating is bound to be much more successful if women make a game plan about how to meet men who might be a good match and make choices from those who are compatible.

Click here to read the dating tips.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Seven-Step Process to Resolve Conflict in Relationships

There is nothing that can be as destructive to a relationship, whether the relationship is a romantic, family, friend or work one, than having conflict.

There is also nothing that can be as healing and helpful to a relationship as resolving conflict and handling it well.

I would like to share with you a 7 step process for resolving conflict. This process is especially helpful when finding a solution and resolving conflict seems to be nowhere on the horizon.

Often, when locked in conflict, people are not able to see and understand any other perspective than their own. Understanding WHY someone feels differently is also hard to do. (Think Democrats and Republicans in highly contested races.)

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tip of the Week, August 1, 2010

Sexiness wears thin after a while, and beauty fades. But to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that's a real treat.

Joanne Woodward

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tip of the Week, July 25, 2010

Emotions are not monsters that need to be contained. We all need how to shake hands with them and handle them with emotional intelligence.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Savers Marry Spenders

Money Conflicts Can Be Strong in Marriages

For many people, money is not just money. Money can symbolize love, power, control, dependence or independence, security and peace of mind, freedom and so much more.

How we are reared, how our parents thought about money and how much we had as we were growing up affects our habits and thoughts about money and relationships.

Spenders + Spenders = Conflict

enjoy splurging on extravagant dinners, the newest cars, interesting experiences and stylish clothes. Spenders live more “in the moment” and want to enjoy what is interesting and pleasurable today.

sleep better at night when they know that their bank account is in the black and they have money saved for emergencies and retirement. Savers can make do with old cars, fashions from 3 years ago and have little need for the latest technology. Having a solid nest egg helps savers relieve their anxiety and feel more secure.

Childhood Experiences Affect Our Attitude Toward Money

Some people grow up in families that talked a lot about money while others grow up without talking about money at all.

For some talking about money is as “dirty” as talking about sex. This is dangerous however, because often our attitudes about money are so strong that we cannot be flexible enough to think that there is any other right way to handle finances than the ones that we hold.

When couples each have their own belief about the “correctness” of their position, they often cannot entertain any openness to other possibilities and can become judgmental and disrespectful in their thinking and in the way that they approach their spouse. Money negatively affects their relationship.

Money disagreements are one of the top reasons that couples fight and how those fights about finances go are one of the best predictors of divorce.

Check back here for Part 2 of our article on Spenders and Savers.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Women, Sex and Thinking: Discover 3 New Ways to Think Your Way to a Better Sex Life

Many healthy men think about sex several times a day.

Many healthy women think about sex several times a month.

That, in and of itself, causes sexual problems for men and women. Men often want sex a lot more frequently than women want sex. Neither is happy with the process and the tension that it can create in a relationship as a man pursues his wife and his wife feels pressured. Each of them feels like a loser, even though they have different reasons.

In some relationships, it is exactly the opposite … Women are much more interested in sex than their male partners. Nothing is “always” or “never”.)

The reasons that many women have less interest in sex than their partners are complicated. Much more complicated than we will explore in this brief article. Check back with us for more on this topic at a later date and we will discuss women, men and intimacy as well as other related topics.

We want to address just one of the reasons why women are less interested in sex. It comes from a woman’s innate ability to multi-task. This means that she is thinking about and often doing, many things at once.

When one’s mind and body are so busy, how can a woman possibly relax and think about and enjoy a hot rendezvous with her husband!

We have all heard jokes … or experienced first hand … the many different things that go through a woman’s mind while having sex. (Hard to call it “making love” sometimes.)
* Laundry
* Dinner
* Errands
* Work
* Problems with children
* And on and on.

The person who loses most when this occurs is the woman. The emotional and physical rewards of being in-the-moment and sharing lovemaking with a partner are many. Researchers have noted the positive hormonal changes in brain chemistry after sex as well as the effects on the ability to handle stress.

Women Can Learn To Focus on the Experience and Enhance Their Sexual Experience

Here are 3 steps to help you think your way to a better sex life.

Click here
to read the rest of the article.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tip of the Week, July 11, 2010

For some moments in life there are no words. 
~David Seltzer, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How DO Singles Meet Each Other?

A new way for singles to meet was profiled in the New York Times Sunday Styles section on July 4, 2010. This website, with a companion face book page, offers singles ideas, along with different opportunities, for meeting up.

Want to meet another single for a tarot card reading?
How about at a volleyball net?
Want to meet at a local museum?
How about swing dancing?
Interested in joining a local scuba club?

Sign up and meet other singles with the same interests and ideas. This website,, which launched first in New York City, has singles suggest activities by completing the phrase How about we…, and users are sent possible matches based on their activity preferences.

Get to know others who like to do some of the same things that you like to do in an easy and casual way.

Click here
to read more about this idea.

Come back and share your comments and ideas with others. We would love to learn about your experiences.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Affairs, the Hurting Spouse

I just found out that my husband has been cheating on me. All of the advice that I read is to go slowly and not overreact. HOW CAN I NOT SCREAM, YELL, CRY AND THROW THE CHEATER OUT OF THE HOUSE!!

The advice that you have been given is good. Many a marriage that could have survived ended abruptly and with a quick reaction rather than a well-thought-out plan.

Finding ways to calm yourself as you talk through the experience … over days, weeks and months, will help your marriage and each of you as individuals. You will have an opportunity to grow and learn more about yourself.

This is not easy and each person has to find ways to think clearly. It does not mean that you cannot let your spouse know how hurt, angry, disappointed and deceived you feel … in strong terms. It does mean that your marriage has a much greater chance to succeed and grow if you allow yourself and your spouse time to think through what has happened and work through it (mostly) calmly.

We would be interested in learning about your experiences in this time of first revelation of an affair. Please head over to our Healing from Affairs forum and share your experiences, comments, questions and successes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Healing from Affairs

Check out our new resource and online counseling website, Healing from Affairs.

We decided to develop this website because we have so many couples that we meet who have been impacted by an affair. Healing is never easy but, if couples move through it with thoughtfulness and respect for each other, most marriages do recover and can even grow stronger.

Yes, there are many painful thoughts and feelings that this engenders in couples … certainly for the one betrayed but also for the one who betrayed. We hope that this can become an opportunity for learning and sharing issues, concerns and even successes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to Handle Jealousy and Insecurity in a Relationship

* Do you notice yourself feeling jealous and insecure in your relationship?

* Do you often wonder what your partner is doing and wish that you could calm your thoughts and worries?

* Do you sometimes think that there is someone more attractive or interesting than you?

If you answer "yes" to even one of these questions, then jealousy and insecurity may be taking up too much space in your mind and in your relationship.

Click here to read more about this topic. We have some ideas for how to identify what this means in your life and some suggestions for how to deal with it.

Counseling Relationships Online
Couples Counseling of Louisville

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Trial Separation: How Can Couples Do It Responsibly?

Sometimes a trial separation can save a marriage. That seems to run against what many people might think. Often couples believe that they need to stay together in order to try to work things out; however, there are times when the space and distance offered by a trial separation can make a big difference by interrupting destructive patterns and giving couples the space to each think about the problems and their own part in the “dance“.

Here are some times when a trial separation might be considered as a possible remedy.

* When the couple is fighting frequently, at least daily, with little or no resolution about any problem.
* When the ugly pattern been going on for months and neither of them can find their way out of it.
* When there has been physical violence … even once.
* When the fighting has escalated to such a point that there is frequent name-calling and use of explosive language.
* When one person has asked for space a lot but their spouse has not been able to allow that to happen and has continued to push for more time together.

Couples who answer “yes” to any one of these questions may want to consider a trial separation.

When talking about a trial separation, it is good to think about how to do it responsibly and respectfully. We want to share with you some factors to consider if a trial separation is a possibility.

Make Some Rules For the Trial Separation

Here are some of the decisions that must be made and agreed upon in a trial separation,

1. Will someone be leaving the home and, if so, which spouse?

2. How will the household property be divided? This might include cars, furniture, electronics, dishes, etc.

3. How will visits with the children be handled?

4. What are the responsibilities of each spouse … for children, bills, chores, etc.

5. What kind of financial decisions need to be made? Some agree that financial arrangements remain the same as they were during the marriage while others come up with a specific formula for bills/child support, etc. There is a calculator that can give a fairly simple and concrete estimate about how that can be determined. One of them is on the website, Child Support Calculators.

6. Plan for a certain length for the separation, preferably 1 to 6 months, and then evaluate whether or not to continue with the separation or to make changes.

7. Most couples can figure out by that time whether or not they are headed toward a divorce or are healing their relationship.

8. Is there a need for a marriage counselor? Some couples want to meet with a therapist to learn new skills and understand what they need to do to change their patterns. This is a good thing to do whether or not the marriage works. You don’t want to get back into the same old pattern with another partner and it is helpful for each person to understand their contribution to the problems.

9. How often and about what should you communicate? Constant interaction is not encouraged although the couple usually agrees on how often they will speak to each other. The intent for this time is to have a cooling off period and to gain some space.

10. Decide together about confidentiality and who you each can talk with about the marriage and your spouse. Both should agree that they will not gossip with many other people but that each might need 1 or 2 close friends or family members to talk with during this time.

11. Sex and intimacy should be discussed openly. Will you continue to be sexual with each other or will that also be precluded as part of the trial separation?

12. Privacy is important as well. Set clear boundaries around ways that each of you can feel that your privacy is respected.

13. Agree that neither one of you will seek legal counsel and move toward divorce.
Make a plan for what to do if either of you wants to renegotiate the contract.

To date or not to date?

This is a good time for you and your spouse to date each other, not other people.

Therapists differ on whether or not couples should decide to date others during a trial separation. If the goal is to find out if they can break patterns and develop a healthy relationship and/or fall back in love, then dating others is too much of a distraction.

The single life can seem alluring and interesting and commitments become less important. The distraction of dating complicates any effort to see if healing and change can happen in a marriage.

With that being said, many who claim a need for a trial separation are doing so because they have found or think that they will find someone else. They may already be involved in an affair or intrigued by someone special or by the single life. Their plan, no matter what they say, is to explore other options. It is far better when that is said out loud rather than when it is kept secret.

In instances where one partner really wants to date others while the other partner does not, the agreement to allow dating is most probably the only decision to make.

Can a Trial Separation Work If Both People Live In The Same House?

Some couples can separate and still live in the same house. It might seem to make sense because of finances or children. This is very difficult to do; however, because it really does not allow for the space and distance that best helps to change unhealthy patterns. Couples must set clear and specific boundaries using many of the same rules that are outlined above.

Couples who decide to try it this way often attempt it and then find that they need to do something different.

Formal Versus Informal Trial Separation

Formal Separation: Some people choose to have a formal separation with papers drawn up by a lawyer and agreed to by both parties, both of whom may be represented by counsel.

There are both positive and negative aspects to this approach. The positive factors involve legal representation and an agreement that is legal and “fair”. The biggest drawback to a legal separation is that it is more likely to lead toward divorce as attorneys become involved in the emotional pull of dividing up their lives and their property.

Informal Separation: Many choose to try an informal separation. Together they decide on some of the major components for healthy distancing. Some may even choose to separate while both are living in the home, just choosing different floors and different “on call“ times with the children.

With an informal separation, there is no involvement of attorneys or the court and, when done with respect and trust, each works with the other for everyone’s best interest.

Does A Trial Separation Really Work?

A trial separation can be a message that a marriage is salvageable.  It can mean gaining an understanding of what happened during years of marriage. 

Questions like “what did we do wrong?” or “What did we miss?” are common. A trial separation means that there is desire and willingness on the part of husband and wife NOT to take the drastic road to divorce.  People make mistakes and by using a trial separation as a time to turn inwards and reflect on the problems and solutions of their relationship.

Would you like some help negotiating your trial separation? We would be glad to help. Consult us at Counseling Relationships Online.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Intimacy and Marriage: Keeping the Love Alive

We have been talking a lot in our household about intimacy, marriage and growing apart since the Gore’s announced their separation.

One of the things that we agree on is that we need to focus a lot on the nearly 40 years of Al and Tipper Gore’s good marriage as well as the dignified way that they seem to be ending this relationship.

It takes a lot of work and energy to maintain a healthy relationship through the stresses and trials that the Gore’s experienced. They survived serious challenges as parents, a couple and individuals and always handled them with dignity and grace.

Growing apart can be easy in any marriage. It can happen in even the best of them. When projects, careers and children demand attention … or seduce partners, it is hard to keep the thread of intimacy alive and vital.

Here are just 3 of our suggestions to maintain connection and intimacy, even in the busiest of times.

* Spend 20 minutes each day catching up on what has happened in each other’s lives. Make sure that your knowledge of your partner and his or her life is current, up-to-date.
* Share affirmations and positive feelings every day. Make sure to say “I love you” and talk about what you most appreciate about your spouse that day.
* Keep physical touch, sexual connection and romance alive on a regular basis. You will lose it if you do not use it.

Counseling Relationships Online

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Forgiveness: What It Is and What It Isn’t

Sandy was sexually abused by her uncle between the ages of 5 and 7.

Tom’s wife, Helen, had an affair with his best friend.

Andy was repeatedly bullied and beaten by an older brother until he became big enough and strong enough to stand up for himself.

Each one of these people has a clear reason to be hurt and angry for the treatment that they received by someone with the power to affect them very intensely. They are all on a journey to discover ways to forgive their perpetrator, in their own heart and in their own heads, even if their offender never finds out.

Could you do that? Is it even a good idea to invite the thought of forgiveness for Sandy, Tom and Andy?

True forgiveness brings about an inner peace in your heart and in your mind. It allows you to be different than the events in your life. You no longer define yourself by your injuries.

Let’s talk for a minute about the idea of forgiveness, what it is … and what it isn’t.


Forgiveness isn’t:

The offense happened and affected your life. Shake hands with that experience but develop a richer and fuller story about yourself, about who you are and what your life is about.

There was nothing okay about what happened and forgiveness does not mean that you find a reason to explain, excuse or even to accept part of the blame.

Letting the offender off the hook.
You can choose what relationship, if any, you want to have with the perpetrator. You can choose to involve family or legal authorities if needed. You can take control of what, if any, consequences there should be because of the offense, and then let go.

Some offenses require cutting off and do not allow for any reconciliation. Forgiveness does not mean that you have to reconcile.

Allowing it to happen again.
With forgiveness, also comes a need to learn self-protection and self-care. It is important to keep from harm’s way and any chance of being hurt or abused again.


Forgiveness is:

Letting go of the desire for revenge
, not investing any energy in fantasizing or planning ways to get back at the offender. It is reinvesting that energy in taking care of yourself in protective and healthy ways.

It starts with a decision to forgive
and does not “just happen“ over time.

Forgiveness is a process
, not an event. It is a walk, not the destination. Forgiveness is a journey.

Forgiveness involves protecting yourself
and not letting the offense continue. It may mean a cut-off from the perpetrator or finding very different ways to be around him or her.

It is more about you than the person you are forgiving
. Most likely, you will never tell the offender of your forgiveness, rather you will engage in life with a freer heart and mind.

True forgiveness brings about an inner peace in your heart and in your mind. It allows you to be different than the events in your life. You no longer define yourself by your injuries.

Consider forgiveness with some of those who injured you. Would you be healthier if you could let go of the impact of those injuries on you today?

Would you like to explore this more fully? We would be glad to talk more with you about this. Contact us through our online counseling site,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Tip of the Week, April 25, 2010

Take into account that great love and great achievement require great risk.
The Dali Lama