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Marriaging: The Marriage Podcast with Jessica Fairfax

English, Fitness / Keep-fit, 1 season, 37 episodes, 14 hours, 56 minutes
Marriaging is created by Jessica Fairfax, a Marriage and Family Therapist on a mission to inspire authentic relationships. Every episode is designed to help provide you with realistic and helpful skills for improving communication, intimacy, and connection in your marriage. We’ll work through some of the most common and most challenging issues relationships face. You’ll also get to hear interviews with other therapists, who will share their strategies for helping young couples enhance their marriages. Listen each week to learn new practical steps you can take to building a better marriage. Begin your journey to an authentic relationship today at
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Finding Adventure and Connection in the Ordinary, with Jason Frishman, PsyD.

Jason Frishman, PsyD, shares his insights into creating adventure and meaningful connection in the everyday activities of life. We’re often taught the adventure story of the hero’s journey. We think we have to do grand, extraordinary things. It’s important for us to have a new perspective and create adventure in the smaller, daily activities needed to sustain a family. What do men experience in seeking adventure in real life vs. the hero’s journey? The hero’s journey can be harmful to men. It’s often the guiding narrative. Men are led to believe if they aren’t doing a grand gesture, an epic action, they won’t live up to the idea of who they are. Men often aren’t allowed to have the full range of emotional expression. They’re told to get to the end, slay the dragon, succeed. There can be depression and anxiety for men when they are stuck in this limiting narrative. To find ordinary adventure, It’s important to find value and vision in your day. What do you want for your family and yourself? How do you want to be with your family and yourself? What are the things that are most important for you? In finding adventure in your everyday life, you can explore these questions: What would be your practice of coming home every day? How are your actions in how you spend time with your family an expression of your values? What is the relationship between routines and rhythms? Routines, rhythms, and rituals create the other half of the plotline for the hero’s journey. Routines are important every day. But without values, they’re soul-less. Routines are an expression of your vision and your values for your family. What do your vision and aspirational values look like on a regular weekday night? What routines might express those values? Putting meaning onto a routine helps it evolve into a rhythm. Turning routines into rhythms: What are the things you’re hoping to do? Identify your vision and values. Identify the things that get in the way: Imps. Imps: patterns of behavior that are difficult to manage. They get in the way of maintaining rhythms. Look at the problems and identify them as imps. Learn about your imps and identify your vision and values. Using your imps to help you grow: Imps can evolve into something that becomes helpful. They’re protective. They want to keep you safe. Imps (such as depression or anxiety) can get out of control, but they can also have your best interest in mind. How can you change your relationship with this issue and guide it to help you? If you start to feel anxious, figure out what anxiety is helping you pay attention to. How do you create and maintain sustainable rhythms? Develop rhythms into rituals. Rituals involve everybody. What symbolic representation of what you’re doing can help you remember it? Not all rhythms need to be maintained. They can evolve and grow. You are in the middle of your story. You’re constantly creating your story. Action steps to nourish connection and create adventure in your relationship: “All great adventures begin and end around a table.” Have meals together. Spend this time being together. Share stories with each other. Ask each other: What do you remember about when we first met? What do you remember about when we began dating? What was it like? What were some of the most enriching and amazing stories? What did we do together- and what does that say about what we value? Explore these questions: What were we doing when things were going really well, and what does that say about what’s important to us? What gets in the way of doing that more often? Connect with Jason: Dr. Jason S. Frishman has been working for over 20 years to support individuals, groups, families, organizations and businesses. Whether as a psychologist, workshop facilitator, speaker, or narrative consultant, Jason's message rings consistently clear: our lives are adventurous and interconnected. We can author our life's adventure stories! Jason sees the power of transformation that comes from authoring one's own story and the strength of the Adventure-Journey metaphor. His work and play have become an expression of his love, experience and training in the practices of Narrative Therapy, Adventure Therapy and food education, activism and entrepreneurship.   You can reach out to Jason here: Email: [email protected] Facebook: Website: Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast. Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
5/4/202046 minutes, 54 seconds
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Desire Differences with Jessica Cline, MSW, LCSW

Jessica Cline, a Clinical Sexologist and Licensed Clinical Social Worker, discusses sexual desire differences in relationships. Many couples experiences desire differences and need help navigating their sexual life.   What couples experience with sexual desire differences People often set the standards for their relationship in the limerence phase. That isn’t sustainable. Sexual desire can change over time. You may get into the pattern of initiator and gatekeeper. Sex education programs we’re taught in school are based more in fear and prevention. We aren’t always taught about sex, healthy sexuality, and how to communicate about sex. Sometimes we think men typically have a higher desire, but women can also have a higher desire. We may feel shame and rejection. It’s hard to open up to your partner, or even talk with your doctor about sexual desire issues.   What are the different roles each partner may take on? Initiator- Initiation can be difficult if you’re feeling rejected and looking for rejection. Gatekeeper- When someone gets caught in the position of receiving or denying initiation, they become a gatekeeper. There can often be a lot of anxiety for the gatekeeper. Both of these roles can experience hurt. The roles of gatekeeper and initiator are also flexible and can change over time.   What defines sexless relationship? A sexless relationship: your relationship does not have to be completely devoid of sex to be considered a sexless relationship. Even having sex just once a month could be considered sexless, because it may not be enough to fit the needs of the relationship.   What are some early signals couples can recognize to know it’s important to get help and talk through desire differences before hurt builds? Ask yourself: Are you comfortable talking about these sexual things with your partner? Have you talked with them? Are you feeling resentful? Do you have feelings of rejection? What does sex mean to you and what need does it fulfill? Are your needs being met? It’s not about what’s normal, or what should be happening. It’s about how you both feel in the relationship. You can’t know what you want to share with your partner until you know what you really want and need. There are different parts of intimacy. Are the other areas of intimacy, besides sexual connection, fulfilled for you? When someone rejects sex, it might be that other intimacy needs aren’t being met.   What steps can couples take to work through desire differences together? (And remember, these steps can be done in working with a sex therapist who is skilled in helping you and your partner navigate these issues) Communicate- discuss what’s happening, what’s not happening, your thoughts and feelings about sex and what your hopes are. Explore and communicate your needs. Take sex off the table. You can create space to talk about it, without the pressure or expectation of it. Have a conversation about what you each like, how you each like initiation to happen. Journaling about touch, anxiety, sexual contact, can also help with a sex therapist. Over time, build in more intimacy and explore more of what you’re interested in. Build in a plan for how you can communicate and notice if things begin to get off track (relapse prevention). It’s ok, and even encouraged, to schedule sex. Create space in your schedule to make it happen. Remember to take the pressure off. You don’t have to do everything. It’s important to have a safe space to discuss desire and eroticism. There may be things that you don’t actually act out in the bedroom, though. Connect with your desires, and then determine what you bring into the sexual relationship and what you don’t.   What about medical and mental health-related factors and sexual desire differences? There may be a pain issue, a disability, a change in your body, or a mental health issue, that affects desire. Discuss different ways to make sure needs are met. Sex isn’t just penetration. Sometimes there are anxieties that also impact the body. A sex therapist can also collaborate with medical professionals, such as a pelvic floor specialist, or other doctors. Don’t try to work through sexual issues and desire differences on your own. Therapy can be short-term. You won’t need it forever. There are sometimes small issues that require just a few small changes.   What else can couples do to maintain growth in their intimacy? Love languages: Know your partner’s love language so you can turn toward each other Set up date nights to create a space for communication about your needs.   Resources: Gary Chapman’s Book: The 5 Love Languages John Gottman’s Book: Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love AASECT, a credentialing board for sex therapy providers, has a provider directory here: Psychology Today is another directory of therapists:   Connect with Jessica Jessica Cline is a board-certified sexologist and sex therapist. She works with couples and individuals with sexual dysfunction but specializes in working with desire differences. Jessica has been a featured expert on Bravo, Insider, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, Romper, and Elite Daily. Jessica provides services in person and online in several states. Feel free to check out her websites at and or reach out to her at [email protected]   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me: My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
4/27/202049 minutes, 34 seconds
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Love Languages with Bridget Boursiquot, MSW, LICSW

Bridget discusses love languages and how we can all have relational care through understanding the basic work needed to create a healthy foundation. We often speak to our partner in the love language we want to receive instead of understanding how they receive love. 5 Love Languages (Developed by Gary Chapman) Words of Affirmation It’s about the “why”. Speaking to your partner’s strengths, their experience, their needs, is even more affirming than just a simple “thank you” or a compliment. Actions to avoid: Insults and criticism. To someone who feels love in words of affirmation, insults and criticism can hurt on an even deeper level. Acts of Service Take something off your partner’s master to-do list. Focus on ways you can help them make the most of their time. Actions to avoid: Making more work for your partner. If you offer to help with something, but then create more of a mess or a more stressful situation for your partner to deal with later, this can be more hurtful. Gifts It’s more about the meaning behind the gift. This isn’t a superficial or materialistic love language. It’s about the thought behind the gift that can make your partner feel loved. Actions to avoid: Thoughtless gifts, and the missing of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates. Quality Time Undivided attention: it’s about putting distractions away and doing a shared activity. Focus on active listening and connection. It doesn’t even have to be a date night out. Find time at home to show up for each other and spend time together. Actions to avoid: Being on your phone or other distractions when it is set aside quality time. If you need to be engaged in other things, communicate this and be sure to still have focused quality time. Physical Touch Physical touch can be reassuring, secure. You can find small ways to connect with small, meaningful touches. It can also be an emotional lifeline in your relationship. It is not just about sex. It can start with holding hands, welcoming each other at the door, hugs. Actions to avoid: Getting into a tit-for-tat mentality and withholding affection or love until your needs are met. Instead, just focus on the small, meaningful moments to begin rebuilding connection. Applying love languages and building connection in your relationship We don’t all fit squarely into one love language. We change over time. Sometimes our love language is strongest where our need is most. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Each of you can explore what makes you feel loved, and share that with each other. Find bids for connection, a way to give attention to each other. Find opportunities to turn in to each other. Trust is important in building foundational work. Trust can be broken in big ways, like infidelity. It can also be broken in smaller ways, like asking for your needs and your partner not showing up in that way. When this happens, trust erodes and resentment builds. Tune into what your partner needs. Pick up on cues and choose to engage and connect when they need you.   Gottman’s 4 Horsemen- Predictors of Divorce Criticism: Feels like a pointed finger, attacking. Antidote: Use a gentle start-up. “I feel…” Contempt: Takes criticism to a deeper level, attacks values and character of your partner. Antidote: Build a culture of appreciation with speaking to each other’s love languages. Defensiveness: Choosing not to take accountability or ownership for your role, “It’s not my fault.” Antidote: Take responsibility for your part in a situation. “I’m sorry for my part in how you feel.” Stonewalling: Space for the sake of space, going away without a plan to come back and work through an issue together. Antidote: Take space to self-soothe and calm down, and set a time to come back and talk. If you’re noticing these in your relationship, it doesn’t mean you’ll get divorced. You can use it to build awareness and work through issues together. Remember, it takes time to implement these changes, rebuild trust, and build connection. Give yourself and your relationship some kindness.   Resources: Gary Chapman developed the idea of the 5 love languages. You can learn more here: John Gottman has researched relationships and developed insights into what makes relationships successful and lasting. You can learn more here: You can also find more information about the books Bridget mentioned here:   Connect with Bridget Bridget is a Licensed and Independent Clinical Social Worker in Massachusetts with over 12 years in the field.  With specialties in relationship issues, life transitions, and anxiety, Bridget has worked with a wide range of clients. Her skills include tailored treatment approaches to work with those who may be experiencing depression, self-esteem concerns, life threatening illness, stress, parenting concerns, trauma and abuse, loss, and infertility and pregnancy. She has coached many individuals and couples through their processes of growth and has helped them to create a better life space for themselves. Her experience has allowed her to work across the United States as well as internationally and with a wide range of ages, backgrounds, diagnoses, socioeconomic classes and the barriers that come with each.  Her counseling style is kind, interactive, and down to earth. At her core, she believes in treating everyone with empathy, kindness, and compassion. Change your worry into hope and fears into strength while cultivating healthy connection and communication. Bridget provides therapy and coaching for individuals and couples who find themselves in a challenging time and are looking for a Bridge to healthyself.   Email: [email protected] Website: Psychology today:   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
4/20/202053 minutes, 13 seconds
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Worry, COVID-19, and Your Relationship

Worry is exhausting and stressful. So many of us are experiencing worry right now. It can overwhelm your mind, your body, and your relationship. We’ve all been battling COVID-19, and there’s a lot to be worried about. I’ll be transparent with you: I’m not an expert on global pandemics and I don’t have the medical knowledge to share facts about this virus. But I do know about connection. I know that we all need connection and support. Friendship is important. Your larger support system is important. And your marriage, your significant relationship, can be one of the most encouraging, relieving, and peaceful supports for you right now. So, if you’re feeling worried, I encourage you to think about how this is affecting your relationship. Are you more irritable or frustrated? Are you venting but having a hard time listening to your spouse? Are you thinking of the worst-case scenario for every single issue that comes up? Sometimes worry can also make it difficult for us to trust our partner, knowing they may not be able to fix the problem or protect us. Worry isn’t all bad. It can serve as protection. But when it gets too strong or overwhelming, it can leave us feeling alone, scared, even angry. So, take some time to reflect on your worry. Explore how it’s affecting you and your relationship. Are you projecting onto your partner? Seeking more control as you feel out of control? Are you shutting down, feeling overwhelmed and unable to have any comforting conversations with your partner? Are you getting frustrated or angry at small things, after being stuck inside with your partner for so long and stuck with your stress and worry for so long? This is an incredibly stressful season, and people are hurting and afraid in different ways. Whether you’re dealing with worry of job loss, sickness and death, or any other effects of this virus, you may feel very afraid or hopeless. I just want to help bring you peace. Know that you aren’t alone. We’re all in this. Our worries may be different, but at the end of the day, we all need the same things. Connection. Love. Security. Hope. As you reflect on how your worry is impacting your relationship, I encourage you to explore what you each need, how you can be there for each other. Spend quality time with your partner. Talk to them and give them the space to share their worries with you, too. Remember, you can’t fix everything and neither can they. If you’ve been holding all the worry in, ask for the space to share it and process it. Ask for support. If you’ve been letting the worries out, or if your stress is coming out more as frustration, ask for understanding and patience. None of us really know how to deal with what the world is facing right now. And when we’re filled with worry, we tend to lose sight of ourselves and those we love. Our vision and our thought processing becomes clouded by all of the what-ifs. So today, I hope you find peace. As you feel the worry building within you, I encourage you to take deep, full breaths. Fill your body with calm energy. Let peace flow into all of your inner places that hold worry. Sit and allow yourself to feel nurtured in this space. Allow yourself to provide that same feeling of peace and nurturing to your partner. Simply recognize the worry and invite peace. In your relationship with your partner, invite patience. As uncertainty fills the air, let the connection and love you share keep you both grounded and secure. Let your relationship nurture you.   I hope and pray that you can find some bit of peace and comfort in this anxious world. Sending love your way.     Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
4/13/20208 minutes, 10 seconds
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Dating after Divorce with Kelly Lynch, EMT, LCSW, CPT, PN-1, Life Coach

In this episode, Kelly Lynch, owner and coach at The Unapology Project, talks about dating after divorce and the keys to building trust in yourself. We don’t talk about dating after divorce enough to help people prepare for it. The culture of dating has changed, and dating after a significant relationship has ended brings more challenges and more opportunities for growth.   How do you filter out what’s unhealthy vs. what’s healthy with dating after divorce? Figure out what your relationship with yourself looks like. When in a long-term relationship, it’s common to shift your identity into that of a married person. When the relationship ends, there’s a challenge in having to grieve the loss of your identity as a married person, while shifting to a new lens of being a single person. Explore your new boundaries. What boundaries and expectations will you go into the process of dating with? What does it mean to put effort into getting to know somebody long-term? Process and grieve. Grieve the identity that is changing and the loss of the relationship. There’s not a wrong way to try to start dating again after divorce. Do what feels like the best right fit for you. Have the willingness to meet that and explore that.   Trust In a significant long-term relationship, we place a lot of trust into the other person. But this is also about self-trust. Questions to reflect on: Why did the relationship expire? What’s my role in it? What do I want life to look like from here on out? How can I trust myself with these choices? If you’re not trusting yourself when trying to start a relationship, it’s easy to become co-dependent and continue unhealthy patterns.   Ownership and Accountability Ownership is not a behavior, but a mindset. Ownership is simply the calling out and owning of what you did. It is not self-blame. Accountability is the behavior that comes after ownership in healthy situations. It’s recognizing what you’re going to do about what you’re taking ownership of. Learn from it, and don’t beat yourself up for it. We are our own worst enemies. Know what you created vs. what you want to create now.   How do you navigate taking accountability and taking that into your new dating world? Transparency in dating. Understand what you want to be transparent about so you don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. Be upfront about what any potential partners can expect from you. If you’re working, have children, or have other parts of your life you’re setting boundaries for, set the expectation and follow it up with a boundary of what you will and will not do. Be aware that not everyone else will have the same level of transparency that you do. That’s okay.   How can you know if someone is being transparent with you or not? Love-bombing: Constant positive attention in order to get their needs met. Once their needs are met you may be ghosted or rejected. Ask yourself: Is their behavior realistic and sustainable? Remember your boundaries and expectations.   Prioritize yourself It’s not selfish to prioritize yourself. Check in with yourself. Am I being accountable to the things I decided I wanted? Am I honoring those things? Your relationship with yourself needs to be held as sacred. Do the things that take care of the essentials as well as the things that bring you fun and joy. Accountability is non-negotiable. Find a way to care for yourself. Be flexible and creative.   Important points to remember when you consider dating after divorce: Ownership Accountability Trust   About Kelly: Kelly Lynch is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, former EMT, certified life coach, certified Fitness Trainer, and certified nutrition coach. Kelly owns two businesses, a private psychotherapy practice, Turning Point Wellness, and a private life coaching practice, The Unapology Project. She has ten years experience as an EMT, and over eleven years experience as a psychotherapist. Kelly's clinical experience is diverse, including working with children, families, and people with severe and persistent mental health disorders and substance addictions. She has contributed to the development of multiple emergency services programs, clinical programs, and education curriculums for emergency services personnel and clinical therapists, as well as having taught these programs. Kelly specializes in PTSD, along with anxiety and other trauma related disorders. Her superpower exists in the realm of language and story-telling, and she uses this to teach her clients how to define what it means to live life on their terms by being in control of themselves, the choices they make, and taking the best possible care of themselves.   Kelly also referenced Kristin Neff and her work with self-compassion. You can learn more at   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
4/6/202049 minutes, 44 seconds
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Bringing Your Baby Home

Having a newborn can be exciting and sweet, and also stressful and challenging. You and your partner will experience many changes. It’s important to be able to accept those changes, and work to keep your relationship strong and close. Changes you and your partner may experience when you bring your baby home: You may both experience sleep deprivation. You’ll be tired. If the baby wakes up, you’ll probably wake up too. You’ll have to navigate new roles and parenting duties. You or your partner may need to be asking for help. With a new baby, there are more tasks on your daily to-do list. You’ll both have to make adjustments to prioritize what needs to be done. Your identity changes. Being a parent is part of your identity now. You may begin to feel differently about yourself and your values. Your sex drive can change. If you’re the partner who is carrying the child, your body will be going through many changes, even after childbirth. Along with physical changes, your stress levels will change. Your sleep patterns will change. With so many other factors, your sex drives are likely to change during this season. You’ll get less one-on-one time with your spouse. With a baby, your focus and your partner’s focus may naturally shift. As your focus and your schedule shifts, it may be difficult to get quality one-on-one time with each other. Conflict with extended family can arise. As family members may have different parenting styles and different ways of managing households, they might disagree with what you want to do. Family can be helpful, and these differences can also add stress. You and your partner may experience disagreements with family members. You may experience mental health issues. You may deal with post-partum depression or anxiety. Sometimes either or both parents can experience mental health issues upon having a child. It’s a big adjustment for each partner, and there are many factors that could contribute to depression and anxiety. If you’re experiencing this, know that you aren’t alone.   All of these potential changes can sound overwhelming, but know that you aren’t alone. And as you are on this journey, remember that it’s important to have a strong relationship with your partner, to be able to care for yourselves and each other. What you both can do to care for yourselves and your relationship: Be willing to compromise to support each other. The laundry or dishes may not be done your way, but be willing to share the load and accept help as you both make adjustments. Ask for help. From your partner, your family, your friends. Find ways you can tag team to get rest. Ask for help with meals, housework, or whatever you need. Seek support, and remember that this is for a season. Find mental space for yourself. You may not have a lot of alone time or restful time. But as you’re in this season, find small times to sit with yourself. As your identity and your perspective may be changing, give yourself time to process this. Begin recognizing and working to accept the changes you’re experiencing. You may find time to do this while feeding the baby or during naptime. If you can get some help, take a few minutes and go for a walk around your neighborhood. Find some time to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings. Find peace Schedule time to check in with your partner, even if just for a few minutes. Keep the connection alive by talking with each other. If you can find time while the baby is resting, talk over coffee together, or find time to relax on the couch together. Talk about what you each need and want. Talking is especially important, because you also might not be having sex, or having the same physical relationship you’re used to. Even if it’s a small amount of time, keep that communication open so that you’ll continue to feel connected. Speak up for yourself and your family. Your family is you, your partner, and your child or children. Your extended family (parents, grandparents, in-laws, etc…) and your friends may want to help, and that’s wonderful. Be willing to accept help. And remember that you’re allowed to set boundaries and ask for what you need. You can say no to things that add more difficulty to your life in this season. Also remember that you and your partner are a team. Have the conversations that help you to find a middle ground and come to a place of agreement, so you can support each other and support your family. Get help. Seek out healthy support and connection. Adjusting to having a child is a big stressor. You love your child, and it can still be stressful. If you begin to experience depression or anxiety or other mental health concerns along with this, please get help. Be open with your partner and your support system, and go to therapy.   Resources about bringing your baby home: John Gottman and the Gottman Institute have studied couples and have great information about the effects of parenthood on marriage. There are also workshops all across the country and internationally for parents.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
3/30/202017 minutes, 11 seconds
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Pregnancy and Your Relationship

In this episode, I talked with two women, Hannah and Andrea, about their pregnancies and their relationships- finding a balance, letting go of control, and everything else they’re learning along the way.   What was it like for you and your relationship when you began to discuss trying to get pregnant? Hannah discusses the challenge of balancing the head and heart. Lining up when it felt right to start trying to conceive, along with when it made sense. Andrea discusses her plan and how she had a timeline in mind, which helped them decide when they were ready. No matter what, you’ll have the “Oh crap, we’re pregnant” moment. Accept that there are things you can’t control.   What is pregnancy like? How does it affect your relationship with your partner? It can bring you and your partner closer together. You can bond in a special way when you’re going through this together. It can also be isolating. The partner who is not carrying may not know what you’re going through. And if your friends haven’t experienced it, it can be hard for them to be understanding. You have to put a lot of effort into staying connected and communicating. Your partner isn’t a mind-reader. Express your needs, thoughts, and feelings. Being constantly anxious and stressed isn’t good for you or your child. If you’re experiencing this, seek help. Talk with your doctor. You can learn to be open and talk about how you really feel, to talk with friends and get support and advice. “Talk to your partner. Talk to other mothers. But make sure you’re talking to your partner.”   How do you find a balance between work and life and your relationship while experiencing the symptoms of pregnancy? The romantic relationship might take a backseat in some ways, and the physical changes can be challenging. You lose control in a lot of aspects of your life. We’re often conditioned to make responsible decisions and make sure you think things through before you do them. But in deciding when to have a baby, if you’re able to have a baby, and everything else in the process, comes with so much that you can’t plan and can’t control. You may need more time off from work than you expected. You may have to give up some other activities. You need to rest and slow down. If you have the ability to take more time off, allow yourself more time to rest and relax. Say no when you can. Ask for what you need. If you can’t do something, say no and prioritize your health. The physical part of your relationship may change. Your libido may change, and you may feel bad about yourself. Give yourself grace and find other ways to connect. You have the opportunity to let your relationship grow and mature in a different way.   How have things changed more as you get later into your pregnancy? Your emotions change over time. Sometimes you feel even-keeled and sometimes your emotions feel out of control. You may be challenged to talk with your partner more and be honest about feelings. Be honest now to make the transition to parenthood easier. You get to share a special experience with your partner by having a child together. Remember how important this connection is. More resources are needed for fathers and partners who aren’t carrying. It may not feel as real to your partner until you give birth. So as the pregnancy goes on, encourage your partner to also have support. Be willing to hear their experience, even if it’s different because they aren’t carrying the child.   What advice and action steps would you give to couples who are getting ready to give birth? You can’t control how you feel, but you control what you do about it. Be vulnerable and authentic in communicating what is really going on for you. Be aware of your own needs. Are you following what you think you should do or what is authentic for yourself and your relationship? Be true to yourself. It’s not about what others think you should do. With every decision, think about what really matters to you. Seek out counseling, individual and/or couples. Put your ego aside and be vulnerable with each other. Give yourself grace. Love yourself and be accepting of changes. Date nights. It’s easy to focus on yourself and the baby. Don’t forget about your partner and your relationship.   Connect with Andrea and Hannah: You can find Andrea on LinkedIn as Andrea Atkinson Cotter You can find Hannah on Psychology Today at   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
3/23/202037 minutes, 54 seconds
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Trying to Conceive

If you and your partner are trying to conceive, it it’s important to keep your relationship strong and focus on supporting each other. The process of trying to conceive can be filled with stress and unexpected changes, so instead of getting stuck in worry, focus on what you can control. Everyone’s experience with pregnancy and having children is different. However, there are some common issues that relationships may experience in the process of trying to conceive. Problems in your relationship when beginning the process of trying to conceive: Making the decision to try to conceive together. You may not always agree on everything, but you’ll want to get on the same page with this and find some understanding with each of your ideas about being a parent. It can be incredibly stressful if you don’t agree. If you aren’t intentionally communicating with each other and working to hear each other’s thoughts and feelings about trying to conceive, just the start of making the decision to try to have a baby can be filled with conflict. Other big family-building decisions. There are many decisions to make when you begin to think about conceiving. You may want to talk about how many children you both want, what values are important for your family, your different parenting styles, traditions, and more. You may not agree on all of these things, and that’s ok. You won’t agree on everything. But this can also cause conflict for you, and it might help to go to couples therapy to address your different ideas. You can lose intimacy when sex becomes work. If you and your spouse get so focused on conceiving that it becomes more about the anxiety of tracking your cycle and having sex at the right time and in the right position, you could lose the intimacy and freedom in your relationship. When sex becomes work, you miss out on the joy and closeness needed for your relationship to thrive. All of the unexpected. Trying to conceive is filled with unexpected issues that can come up. Any issues, whether medical concerns, life changes, family problems, or anything else, can bring added stress. And so many of these things are out of your control. If you let the stress of the unexpected overwhelm you, you might find yourself getting easily frustrated or experiencing more conflict or disconnect in your marriage. It can be challenging to keep open communication and connection. Trying to conceive: tips for your relationship Maintain a solid foundation in your couple relationship. Your spouse is the person you plan to raise a child with, so you need a strong relationship. When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, don’t blame your partner. Focus on listening to each other and supporting each other. When you don’t agree on some decisions, be willing to sit down and talk it out. Keep fun in your relationship. You don’t want to lose the intimacy of sex, so allow for spontaneity. Don’t make every time you have sex become focused on procreation. Have date nights. And it’s not just about sex either. Go have fun together. Whenever you do have a baby, life will most likely be more stressful and busy. Take time now to enjoy time with your spouse so that when the baby comes, you will still have a close relationship and be in the habit of making time for each other. Talk about other things outside of trying to conceive. It’s easy to get stuck in thinking and talking only about getting pregnant. It can be consuming. Allow yourselves the freedom to put all pregnancy-talk to the side sometimes. Go out to dinner for a date night, and agree that you won’t discuss it. If all of your conversations are focused on this one goal, you can easily lose sight of each other and your relationship. Share other areas of your lives together. Remember there are multiple ways to get to a common goal. So much of this process is unexpected. You might have it all planned out- when you’ll get pregnant, how you’ll give birth, what everything will be like along the way. And sometimes our plans work, but oftentimes it’s not going to go exactly your way. Whatever your journey looks like, just remember to leave space for change and other possibilities. Remember, you and your spouse want to have a child and begin adding to your family. And while that’s wonderful, it also requires flexibility in knowing that your journey can look different from others. So instead of worrying or focusing on making it happen in the one way you want it to, just focus on the parts you can control and be willing to breathe and adjust to all the things that can happen along the way.   I know this might be a difficult season of life as you and your partner are trying to get pregnant. Whatever your story is, know that I’m thinking of you and holding hope for you, friend. You aren’t alone. And your relationship with your partner can be the most supportive and loving space to help you cope with the stress of this season. So keep your relationship strong, and you’ll be able to get through everything else life brings.     Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
3/16/202010 minutes, 57 seconds
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Infertility and Your Relationship

You and your partner may be going through a challenging season of fertility issues right now. You feel alone, scared, isolated, and anxious. You shouldn’t go through infertility and trying to conceive alone.   Miscarriages, infertility, and other fertility issues bring hurt, grief, sadness, and loss. It can be painful, overwhelming, and shocking when you learn you may have difficulty getting pregnant, or that you might not be able to at all. It’s important to know how infertility affects you and your relationship. You and your partner may experience more feelings of anxiety and stress when dealing with infertility. Fertility issues can impact the mental and emotional health of both partners in a relationship, no matter what the specific issue or diagnosis is. You may be worried about every appointment, every cycle, every trial, and what other factors may be involved. It’s overwhelming and exhausting and it can feel very out of your control. It can be hard on both you and your partner to manage normal activities when you’re dealing with fertility issues. If you see your friends getting pregnant or raising their children, this may be even more difficult. It can be hard to be around baby showers, birthday parties, or other events. You may find yourself or your partner isolating more. Shame and guilt can be heavy on you and your partner. Whether the fertility issues are linked more to one partner than the other, or even if they’re unknown, infertility can bring feelings of shame and guilt. Even though it’s not your fault, these feelings do still come up at times. And those feelings can create conflict in your relationship. You might feel blamed by your partner, or you might begin to blame them. You end up in disunity and frustration. You might focus on trying harder. If you’re trying to get pregnant, you begin to focus so much of your energy on the timing, the body temperature, and any other factors you can think of that might be conducive to fertility. It’s easy to fall into a trap of being obsessed with trying to conceive. You might lose the intimacy of sex. If it becomes a scheduled meeting filled with stress, you may find your closeness you need beginning to dissolve as you focus more on the outcome. Fertility issues might come with loss and grief. It can be harder for others to understand. Whether you haven’t been able to conceive, you’re dealing with a miscarriage, or something else, recognize that you and your partner may be grieving. You’re grieving the loss of a child, the loss of hope, the loss of expectations and dreams. If you and your partner are experiencing these feelings, you may not be sure of how to talk about it or get through it. It can be difficult to keep hope.   Here’s what you can do to care for your relationship when you and your partner are dealing with fertility issues: First, take a deep breath and work on just acceptance of what’s happening. I believe this is the first step for any difficult thing- just to be able to know and accept that what you’re going through is hard, and it’s normal to not feel ok about it right now. Plan date nights that aren't consumed by infertility-talk. Use this time to enjoy intimacy. If you do have sex, don’t make it about getting pregnant. Make it about having physical intimacy and connection with your partner. Know your limits and be willing to say no to certain events. Don’t let this turn into isolation, but know that it’s ok if you can’t go to a friend’s baby shower, or a child’s birthday party, or something else. Give yourself and your spouse the space and freedom to say no. Be kind to yourselves and each other. Remember, you and your partner might be overwhelmed with grief, loss, feelings of guilt, or even shame. Don’t let hurt turn into anger and build into conflict between you. Be kind. Extend grace, even on the hard days. It’s important to value your relationship and the comfort and support you can give each other. Don't get caught in blame. Be united. Especially if either of you get stuck in negative thoughts of guilt and blame, put a hard stop on that. Fertility issues likely aren’t something either of you wanted or even expected. So don’t let these issues tear you apart. Instead, focus on how you can work together and love each other better. Make time specifically to talk. Share your feelings and discuss big decisions together. There might be times neither of you want to talk about it. And that’s okay too. Respect that this can’t consume your life. But it is important for you to be able to talk about what you’re going through with each other. Even if you have to schedule it, set aside time to talk and share your feelings. Plan time to talk about decisions together. Work to stay on the same page and make decisions as a team. Ask for what you both need. If you need a break, take it. You may need to take some time before trying again. Or you may just need a day to yourself. If you need to talk, then talk. Talk with your spouse. Talk with your doctor. Talk with your trusted friends. If you have questions, ask. Be fully informed and united in getting information and treatment. Speak up for yourselves and each other. Create happiness in the small moments together. Clear your schedule before and after appointments when you can. Listen to good music in the car together. Take a bath. Go for a walk. Do the small things that bring your and your spouse joy. Don't isolate yourselves. Seek help. Talk to each other. Don’t isolate yourselves from each other or from your friends and family. You don’t have to go through this alone, and if you try to, you’ll only end up hurting more. So keep yourselves from isolating. It’s incredibly important to talk with a therapist and get the emotional support and guidance for yourselves and your relationship.   Let me leave you with some words of love and support. I don’t know how your journey through infertility ends and I don’t know what’s at the other side of this for you. But I hope that you and your partner remember the gift you have in each other, that your relationship grows stronger through this, that your friendships become more authentic and supportive, and that your heart heals.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
3/9/202012 minutes
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Addiction and Relationships with Ross Hill, MMFT, LMFT, CAC-P

Addiction impacts your relationship with your partner. Whether alcohol, drug, or another addiction, it doesn’t live in isolation. Your relationship is affected. In this episode, Ross Hill, MMFT, LMFT, CAC-P, shares his knowledge of addiction from years of working with substance use issues. He gives helpful advice and encouragement for both partners, whether you’re not using and trying to establish boundaries and support for your partner, or whether you’re the one struggling with addiction and unsure of how to get help.     What are the signs that may tell someone if their partner is experiencing a substance use issue? It can be hard to notice. Addiction is often hidden, whether out of fear, low self-worth, guilt, shame, or embarrassment. While you might not see the actual use, it’s the effects of substance abuse that are harder to hide. Difficulty keeping a job, problems paying bills, changes in family relationships could all stem from a substance use issue. Missing money, missing time, secretive habits, or a change in mood may all be signs. It can quickly change from recreational to dependency. Your partner coming home and having a couple of drinks can turn into avoiding family and avoiding outings that would limit their ability to drink.   What do you do if you think your partner might have a problem with addiction? If you notice any of these issues in your partner, approach them kindly and with care. Even if you aren’t sure what’s going on, but you start to see signs that there is an issue of some sort, talk to your partner. For example, you might say, “Hey, I’ve noticed that our money is a little different than it used to be and you seem like you’re not spending as much time with us. I’m not trying to attack, but I’m concerned about you. I don’t know what’s going on but I really care about you and want you to know that you can talk to me about anything.” Try to decrease fear, shame, and guilt to give your partner the space to share whatever they’re going through, whether it’s addiction, depression, low self-worth, suicidal thoughts, or anything else. Seeing your partner struggle with a substance use disorder can be confusing and very frustrating. Remember, it is not your job to “fix” this. Your role as a support person is to encourage your partner to do things that will be good for them (therapy, accountability, boundaries, social support). Know that their recovery is not your responsibility or your fault. And you can still be a support in healthy ways.   What do you do if you think you might have a problem with addiction? If you’re the one who is struggling with an addiction or unwanted habit, know that addiction feeds on guilt and shame. A substance creates a problem and tells you it’s the answer to that problem. The first step to recovering is bringing the issue into the light. Talk to your spouse. Ask for help. While you of course want to stop using, withdrawals can also be dangerous. Consult your doctor on the best way to handle quitting use of any substances. There can be genetic and environmental causes of substance use disorders. While you might not be able to change your genetics or your past circumstances in life, you can seek help now. “Mental health is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.”   What you and your partner can do today to be open about addiction and gain support in healing: Have an open and honest conversation with your partner about your family histories: are there any concerns in other family members, how did other family members cope? Whether or not there is a family history, it’s important to discuss and to recognize how each of you might be at risk for dealing with addiction. If one or both of you is already struggling with substance abuse, be willing to ask “What are you going through? How are you?” Create space for open communication and acceptance. If you’re the partner who is dealing with a substance use issue, set aside specific time for a conversation with your partner to talk with them. For the partner who’s listening, focus on just listening and know that you don’t have to fix the issue. If there’s an issue developing, seek treatment now. Don’t wait. You may be worried that having a difficult conversation and confronting substance use might ruin your relationship. But if you let the problem escalate, your relationship is much more likely to be affected or ruined.   Resources: Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong: Johann Hari, Ted Talk Alcoholics Anonymous: Narcotics Anonymous: Al-Anon Family Groups: Co-Dependents Anonymous: Favor: Celebrate Recovery (Christian faith perspective):   Connect with Ross: Ross is a Marriage and Family Therapist and addictions counselor. He enjoys working with couples & individuals and looks for opportunities to spread awareness about mental health. He believes that everyone has the strength to overcome the obstacles they face, with the proper tools. Ross sees clients at his private practice in Spartanburg, SC. [email protected]   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
3/2/202053 minutes, 32 seconds
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How You and Your Partner Can Cope with Big Life Changes

No matter what, you’ll face changes in life. The changes we face often impact our relationships more than we’re prepared for. You and your partner can grow closer together through big changes, but it will take some work.   You and your partner may face many kinds of big changes over the years. New jobs, new houses, big moves, new children, grief and loss, major accomplishments. Whatever it might be, these big life changes can affect your relationship, and it’s important for you and your spouse to stay close and keep your marriage strong when change happens.   How big life changes can affect your relationship Change can stress you each out individually. If you or your family is going through something, whether good or bad, it can be stressful and overwhelming at times. And the stress you each feel can impact your relationship. How you handle stress might be different for you compared to your partner. Think of your stress responses like fight, flight, or freeze. (This isn’t describing trauma or crisis here, but instead using this common idea to help you understand your stress responses on a smaller scale.) Fight mode: When big changes come up and we get stressed, some of us get into fight mode. We take action. You might experience this as panic, or as trying to plan or control everything. You don’t slow down. Flight mode: Some of us experience flight mode. We want to run away from the stress. We retreat. This might look like you avoiding necessary changes, pulling away and distracting yourself. Freeze mode: Some of us freeze when we face change. We shut down, we don’t know what to do. This might look like you isolating, cutting off communication. It’s natural that you might experience any of these stress responses when you go through a big life change. Your internal system responds the best way it knows how in order to protect you. But the problem is that these stress responses often distance us or disconnect us from our partner. You might experience more conflict. If you and your partner respond differently to stress, you might lack understanding of each other. If you both struggle to communicate with each other and support each other in times of stress, you can become disconnected from each other. So when big changes happen, if you aren’t staying close and connected and working through the changes together, it’s easy for your relationship to be placed lower on the priority list. If you hold all of your stress in, you end up not talking with your spouse. You don’t go to them for support or comfort. As you pull away, maybe they have a harder time reaching you. Or if you tend to externally process, you may need to process a lot of stress with your partner. But if that feels overwhelming to them and they aren’t also processing their stress, they might withdraw and pull away from you.   How to keep your relationship strong when you face big changes First, take a deep breath and recognize that you’re in a stressful season. Accept that you and your spouse are feeling stressed and that it is at least in some part a result of big changes you’re going through together. Remember to extend grace. Your spouse might be snappy of frustrated one day in the midst of these stressful changes. Give them some grace. Don’t let it start a fight between the two of you. Recognize their stress for what it is, and be there for them. And on a day that you might feel worried about some of the changes your family is going through, they can give you grace. They can recognize your stress and frustration not as part of you, but as part of the changes you are experiencing together. Prioritize your relationship. You both might be really busy and figuring out what you each need to do to manage the changes you’re making. But in all of the chaos, recognize what you each need from each other. Whether it’s a small note to remind your spouse how much you love them, or escaping during your work day for a lunch date, focus on each other. It might be as simple as just having a conversation to check in with how each of you are feeling, and to share your worries and your stresses. When this season is over, whether it’s been positive changes or negative changes, celebrate. Maybe you’re celebrating a return from the hospital, a new job, a new move, or starting a business. Or this stressful season might have brought grief, sadness, and loss and a celebration may look more like just finding relief together. Go on a date night. Take a weekend away, or have a staycation. If it’s been a sad or stressful season, celebrate that you got through it together. If it’s been a season of joyful change, celebrate the good things that came. Just be sure that you and your spouse make time to celebrate together.   Whatever big or stressful changes you and your partner are going through, I’m sending my best wishes your way. Big changes can impact a marriage. They can bring you closer together or tear you apart. So always work to stay close and be a team, to grow closer together through every season.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
2/24/202010 minutes, 23 seconds
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Validation and Your Relationship

You and your partner want to change the way you communicate with each other. You want to be truly understood and cared for, with your feelings recognized and seen as valid. You’ve probably heard about validation before and you know it’s important. Maybe you’ve experienced the peace and comfort that comes with being validated. When your partner makes you feel emotionally valid, your relationship grows. You feel closer to them. You feel understood by them. Oftentimes, the thing a couple lacks in conversation is validation. It’s the piece of communication that could give both partners understanding, trust, and security. Validation from your partner, feeling valid and cared for by each other, is at the foundation of understanding and communication in your relationship.     What emotional validation means Validation is about getting a response, some sort of feedback from your partner that tells you that you matter to them. It’s being present and seeking to understand your partner and sit in their experience with them. It’s recognizing their experience as real and important. Validation says “I care about you. I care about your story. Your feelings matter to me.” This emotional validation is a way your partner tells you they appreciate you and can listen even if they don’t agree. Validation is how you respond to your partner, letting them know that you want to hear them, to listen and truly care about what they have to say. You don’t have to agree with someone to be validating. If you and your partner are arguing about a difference of opinions, you can care about their feelings and recognize their perspective as important, while also respectfully having a different perspective. Offering validation is also not about recognizing an issue your partner is experiencing and trying to immediately solve it for them. It’s about letting them share their feelings about the issue with you, and you listening and understanding where they are with this- how they feel and what they think. It’s about acknowledging that their feelings about the issue are valid. Whether or not you disagree with your partner, or even if you see a clear solution to the problem, remember, that’s not part of validating. Before going to the problem-solving and coming up with a clear solution, it’s important for you to be able to simply sit with your partner, hear them, seek to understand them, and validate them, letting them know that their feelings matter to you.   The dos and don’ts of validating Dos in validating Do listen first. You can’t be validating of someone if you don’t know what they’re trying to communicate to you. So, focus first on just listening, without getting stuck thinking about how you want to respond. Just sit in their experience with them and listen. Try to understand how they’re feeling. Do focus on the feeling in your response. Your partner vents about a frustrating day at work. You can sit, listen, be present for them, and say “Wow, yeah that sounds really frustrating.” Or “It sounds like this feels really upsetting for you, or maybe even disappointing.” It’s that simple- you’re not telling them what to do or trying to get them to see another perspective right now. You’re trying to recognize and hear how they’re feeling. You’re building empathy with them when you take in this experience and truly understand and know that feeling. Do ask to know more. This can be a helpful step to take if you want your partner to be able to talk with you more about the issue. It’s easier to be truly validating of someone if you deeply know and understand their experience, so it’s ok to ask your partner for clarification. You might say, “It sounds like this issue with your parents is making you really sad, is that right? What else are you feeling?” or “I can hear that this does sound really sad and upsetting. Help me understand what that’s like for you.” You aren’t jumping to any problem-solving or identifying who’s right or wrong. You’re just truly helping your partner feel heard and cared for. You’re letting them know that their feelings matter to you.   Don’ts in validating Don’t say “but.” “But” invalidates whatever words or phrases came before it. If your partner is trying to talk with you through a disagreement the two of you are having, and you immediately form a rebuttal with “but…” (“But you didn’t do what you said you would.” Or “But I’m frustrated too.” Or “But you didn’t tell me that.”), it feels invalidating of everything your partner just shared. It might make them feel unheard, like their perspective and feelings don’t matter to you. It can hinder further understanding and communication. Don’t problem solve or offer instructions of what to do, at least not in this part of the conversation when you’re trying to be validating. If you see your partner hurting in some way, it makes sense that you want to solve that problem and take away the hurt for them. But your partner is probably coming to you to vent, hoping you’ll hear them and be a comforting space for them to share. So when they’re venting, or just trying to talk with you, don’t immediately begin telling them what to do next. Just listen and offer emotional validation. Then, if they need help problem solving, they know how to ask and talk with you about that. Don’t pull away. If your partner is sharing with you in a safe and healthy way, stay engaged. It can be easy to back out of offering validation and empathy with someone for a variety of reasons. Maybe you get bored, or you’re thinking about everything else you need to do. Or you might not like talking about emotions, so the conversation is a bit uncomfortable for you. Don’t let those things keep you from staying engaged and in the moment with your partner. Allow yourself to be a safe space. Sometimes validation doesn’t even happen in words. Sometimes it happens through your peaceful and accepting presence. Don’t make what they’re sharing about you. Sometimes when we try to relate, it can come across as not caring about our partner’s story. We begin talking about ourselves or our perspectives and we just kind of ignore theirs. There might be times that it makes sense for you to say something like “I think I know how you feel. You know how that issue happens between me and my parents too.” Just be careful sharing like that, because this time is about your partner’s feelings. When you share with them and seek validation, you want them to listen to you. It would probably be hurtful to you if they just talked about themselves. So, if you relate to them through a personal experience, be sure to make it about relating to their feelings, by saying something like “So I can imagine that you do feel really hurt by what they did. Is that right? How are you feeling about it?” Don’t tell them how they should feel. Your partner is going to feel however they feel, and if you tell them they should feel something else, like happy, or grateful, or less stressed, or whatever it is, your partner will probably end up feeling unheard. Or if you tell them they shouldn’t feel the way they’re feeling, that can be harsh and shaming. Remember, sometimes we all are going to feel certain ways. We are still responsible for our actions, and we don’t have to act the way that we feel. But this conversation is about your partner’s feelings. So, if your partner feels a certain emotion, don’t tell them what they should or should not be feeling. Instead just validate that they feel that way, and then the two of you can work together to figure out the healthiest way of acting or responding to the issue.     Remember that you both seek to be loved, understood, and cared for. You want to know you matter to your partner. So, when you try talking through different issues, whatever they may be, focus on emotional validation first. When you both know you are loved and matter to each other, it’s easier to solve any problems.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
2/17/202014 minutes, 35 seconds
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Attachment and the Physiology of Connection, with Dr. Rebecca Jorgensen

Dr. Rebecca Jorgensen, an educator and leader in the field of couples therapy, discusses the physiology of connection and secure attachment in relationships. Attachment is about a bond, authenticity, and a secure connection with your partner. What to know about the physiology of connection: Our bodies are involved in the bonding process. Emotion is a sensation- a physiological response with meaning and motivation. When we develop security, we are able to hold a felt sense of our partner’s experience. When we’re met with this connection, we can function better. We often have fears about the need of security with someone else. It takes courage to think about sharing from our hearts. When we’re authentically connected, we have a more congruent sense of self, meaning that our thoughts and feelings are not disconnected from each other. They line up. It’s in our biology to move toward growth, congruency, and the heart and head connection. The danger signal: We get a startled, danger signal when we face disconnection. The danger signal is often unconscious. This danger signal moves into our body and how we process emotions. It informs our human responses. We also get the danger signal when our partner is in distress. It can lead to compassion. We either move toward our partner and protect, or we move away into self-protection.   How to change insecure into secure responses: The danger signal can inform actions of security. Create compassion. Instead of fight, flight, freeze, we can turn toward and befriend, tending to our partner.   How to prevent disconnection: We need touch and close contact. Nonsexual affection and, in our romantic partnerships, also sexual affection. Six to eight 20-30 second hugs every day can create closeness and prevent disconnection. Hand-holding signals safety, signals “I’m here with you.” It calms us and safeguards from disconnection. Safe, connected touch soothes us. Physical contact and non-sexual affection sends the message of “I’m here for you. We’re safe. We’re on the same team.” Eye contact is another way we touch each other and prevent disconnection. Maintaining eye contact opens up bonding chemicals and reduces stress. Holding each other creates space between bodies for bonding and connection.   Physiology: Understand your bodily responses involved in bonding and connection with your partner When we have a stress response and feel in danger, our body prepares us. Adrenaline gets going. If under continued stress, we have a cortisol response. We can synchronize our breathing with our partner. This releases oxytocin and calms the cortisol levels. Oxytocin is also the “cuddle hormone” that increases bonding and reduces stress. Loving and kind touches can also release oxytocin. In men, during the sexual response cycle, the hormone is vasopressin.   What does sex do to build the bond for a couple and prevent disconnection? Sex releases oxytocin, increasing bonding. The physical act, in combination with the emotional bonding, increases the loving connection. Orgasms may not be synchronized between partners, but you can still have the experience together. Talk about sex and play and explore together. Women sometimes have a different sexual response cycle than men. Women are often aroused before they feel desire. Men also have this response at times. The sexual desire may follow after being aroused, emotionally and physically. Talk with your partner about how you see your cycle- how you feel aroused and how you feel desire. Why is connection and secure attachment so important for you? When you’re connected and secure, you can be more emotionally stable. Pay attention to your triggers- understand what makes you feel upset, angry, insecure. Learn how your body responds to this. Pay attention to your emotional pain. Security and connection help you maintain congruence between your head and heart, stability and safety. Connection and synchronized experiences allow for soothing.   Resources Dr. Jorgensen and her colleagues with the Building a Lasting Connection program offer workshops and connection systems to help couples build secure bonds in their relationships. You can text “connecting” to 31996 for a discount code and workshop information.   About Dr. Jorgensen: As an international relationship educator and couple's therapist, Dr. Jorgensen teaches the science of love to psychologists and clinicians throughout the world. Dr. Jorgensen describes herself as being a bit of a connection crusader; sharing the secrets of love, romance, and fulfilling relationships via workshops, online courses, podcasts and FB Lives. In addition to the best-selling course: Emotionally Focused Therapy: Step by Step and her best-selling video set Emotionally Focused Therapy: A Complete Treatment, she has produced numerous webinars and online courses on effective therapy, relationship treatment, and secure, lasting love. Dr. J is a Certified Trainer and Supervisor of Emotionally Focused Therapy, director for the Training and Research Institute for Emotionally Focused Therapy and the Lasting Connection company that produces and distributes relationship products and marriage enrichment workshops. She holds a PhD in clinical psychology.   You can connect with Dr. Jorgensen through social media @EFTdoc    FB Group for Therapists learning EFT: Emotionally Focused Therapy Group com com   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
2/10/202048 minutes, 16 seconds
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Boredom in Your Relationship

Do you ever feel bored with your relationship? Sometimes you wish it could be new and exciting again. Or you might have moments when you question if it’s still a good relationship at all. Getting bored in your relationship? We live in a society of instant gratification. When everything you want is at your fingertips, it’s easy to keep wanting more. When something feels old, we get bored. When you start to lose the excitement of your relationship, you quickly feel bored and start looking for something (or someone) new. Is boredom a reason to actually end your relationship? Every relationship is different, and sometimes there are issues that call for the ending of a relationship. When it comes to getting bored though, there are often patterns of boredom you might find yourself in. But looking for the next new thing or the next new relationship won’t solve your problem or prevent that pattern long-term. If you end a relationship just because you feel bored, without evaluating why you felt bored, what happened in the relationship over time, and what did or didn’t work to help resolve the boredom issue, you’re going to continue having this problem in other relationships. You’ll find yourself getting bored, look for something else that’s more exciting, and move on to that. But that next relationship will eventually settle too- the excitement phase might slow down as you get more comfortable with each other, and you’ll find yourself bored again. This can happen over and over again if you don’t address it. So instead of getting bored and making your first step to move on, take time to process what feels boring to you, why it might be boring, and what you may be doing differently in the relationship that you didn’t do early on. You have choices when your relationship gets boring. You might still feel that it’s best to end the relationship. And it’s important that you make the decisions that are healthiest for you. But also, be sure to look at boredom for what it is- another response to comfort and maturity. As we see our relationship grow and mature beyond a honeymoon phase, we tend to get comfortable with each other. There might be trust that has been established over time together. You might both feel like you don’t have to try so hard, like you can just count on each other to be there. There’s comfort in doing the daily necessities of life together. Your marriage may feel more established, more routine. This happens naturally, and it’s up to you and your partner to create excitement in your relationship. Boredom comes in when things get comfortable and you don’t take on the task of keeping the relationship alive and well. Relationships, like anything else meaningful, take work. When you get bored, it might be because one or both of you have stopped putting the same level of effort in to connecting as you used to. So, before you decide if boredom is really a reason to end your relationship, first identify what boredom looks like in your relationship- the signs that tell you you’re getting bored- and what you can do about it. Signs of a boring relationship: You might get slightly irritated or frustrated with your partner at little things. Maybe they have little habits that they’ve always had, but now those things annoy you. You find yourself not wanting to spend time together. You might stay late at work, or choose more nights out with friends instead of a date night with your partner. Even when you’re home together, you might not spend time in the same room with each other. You don’t really talk anymore. You don’t really talk to each other when you get home. You might eat dinner in silence, or watch tv instead of talking before bed. You find yourself thinking of other experiences, or other people. You might notice you’re thinking of a new coworker who interests you, or you think of more exciting things you would want to do with your life. This can become very dangerous very quickly. You don’t care about sex as much. You might have sex less frequently or not be as excited for it. You don’t feel curious or excited about your partner. You might think you already know everything about your partner and you aren’t interested in asking them to share more. How do you work through and improve a relationship that feels boring? First, recognize that it’s normal for relationships to feel boring at times. So, if you notice any of those signs, don’t immediately go looking for the next thing. Committed relationships take work. Just accept that it’s a normal issue and that you and your partner will have to dedicate some time and effort to working through this. Next, start talking again. Start sharing your thoughts and feelings with each other again. Turn the tv off and put your phones away at dinner. Use that time to spend together in conversation. Work on your own internal perspective. When you notice yourself getting annoyed with your partner for something- ask yourself, “Has this always annoyed me?” and “why does it annoy me?”. Then evaluate “Is this something my partner has always done, and did it actually used to annoy me?” Sometimes the things we used to appreciate become the things we get frustrated with. That’s not your partner’s fault. That’s your own attitude shift. So, when something like that happens, it’s more helpful for you to examine your attitude and keep it in check, than it is to ask them to stop. Instead, remind yourself of how you used to appreciate it, and even focus on reminding yourself of the positive perspective in the present moment. Make a list of some fun date ideas you’d each like to do, then compare the lists. Pick something together to do this week. Do at least one of those things each month, or more frequently if you can. These can be fun and unique dates for the two of you to enjoy together. Continue reminding yourself that this takes work. Find times to intentionally prioritize connection with your spouse. Text them a sweet message during the day. Ask them to share a story about their life that you don’t already know. Be interested and care for them. Start a new hobby together. You can go for walks together, or pick a book and read it together. It can be simple. If you’re interested in books specifically for couples and relationship improvement, check out some that I recommend on John Gottman and Sue Johnson have both written very helpful books for couples. Talk about sex together. If sex is one of the parts of your relationship that feels boring, set aside a specific time to talk with each other about it. Share what you each like about sex, what you’d like more of, or what you’d like to try differently. Do not be negative or criticize. Focus on positive changes you can each make. If you try these things and notice you’re still struggling, consider going to therapy or doing a retreat or intensive. Patterns of feeling bored can be hard to break. That’s ok. It’s just important when that happens to recognize that you can’t always heal issues like this on your own, and sometimes you need the extra help and support. Remember, just because something feels boring, doesn’t mean you automatically abandon it. Focus on reflecting on your own thoughts, feelings, and actions to process your experience and what you do in the relationship that contributes to the boredom. Recognize that relationships change and evolve over time. They will get comfortable. This can lead to feelings of boredom at times. But just because you’re bored now in your marriage doesn’t mean you’ll be bored forever in your marriage. Be willing to put in the consistent work over time to keep your connection strong and exciting. Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast. Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
2/3/202018 minutes, 30 seconds
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Signs You Need Marriage Counseling

Wondering if you need couples therapy? I think it’s helpful for everyone, but there are definitely some clear signs that might give you some guidance. Here are 10 of the big issues that can help couples be aware of if their relationship could use counseling.   When the majority of your conversations are negative. John Gottman, a researcher and leader in the field of couples therapy has found that in order for couples to maintain a positive relationship, a ratio of 5 positive feelings and interactions for every 1 negative feeling or interaction is needed. If you’re noticing the negative experiences more frequently, this can be an important sign that your relationship may need some help. Marriage counseling can guide you and your partner through your perspectives and feelings. It will help you recognize where you are, and build positive interactions that you can maintain to improve satisfaction in your relationship.   When you aren’t talking at all. Something I’ve noticed in working with couples is that they tend to lose the general conversations that keep them close. They lose shared hobbies and interests over time. While it’s good to have your own hobbies too, it’s still important to make time to do fun things together. So, if you notice yourselves not really talking at all, just kind of getting through the day to day as well as you can, then it’s likely that you’re missing those bonding conversations and activities that keep you close. Couples therapy can help you both reclaim closeness in your relationship and invite new ways of connecting and bonding, even when life gets busy and you don’t have as much time for the fun stuff. Another issue with not talking at all is stonewalling. This is one of Gottman’s 4 horsemen that are detrimental to relationships. When your conflict becomes silent, and you shut down and refuse to engage with your partner, this is stonewalling. It might look like you pulling away or distracting yourself with other activities. You don’t come back together to talk through something. It can be very difficult to repair and come back together when stonewalling happens, and marriage counseling can help you both learn to understand your emotional experience and communicate your true needs in a way that helps you become closer.   When you notice yourself blaming your partner for everything, or expecting them to change. If you think your partner is at fault for every wrong thing in your relationship, it’s difficult for change to happen. If you are not willing to see your own flaws or change, you might be putting pressure on them to make all the changes. This can also look like defensiveness, which is another of Gottman’s 4 horsemen. Defensiveness doesn’t allow you to hear constructive criticism and respond openly. Defensiveness makes excuses and creates unwillingness to change. Your relationship issues are likely because of a negative cycle that you’ve both been stuck in for a while. It takes both of you working together. Couples therapy will help you both recognize your cycle and how you disconnect. It’s going to create a safe space for each of you to explore your actions in the relationship and create new, healthy ways of connecting.   When one (or both) of you becomes extremely critical or even hateful. The other two of Gottman’s four horsemen are criticism and contempt. Contempt sometimes comes after criticism. You may be criticizing your partner- pointing out what you think they did wrong in a harsh way. But enough criticism may eventually shape your perspective into contempt, which then becomes you judging their character. This can be a relationship killer. If one of you is constantly being criticized or even feeling contempt from the other, you’re going to end up so far away from each other. It’s hard to repair this on your own. Therapy can really help with this. There may be trust that has to be rebuilt, security or safety that has to be created.   When you’re considering an affair (or already having an affair). If you notice yourself starting to form an attraction to someone else, or intentionally hiding messages with someone else from your spouse, this is a problem. There is a big difference between healthy friendships and something more. It’s important to have an open conversation with your spouse about boundaries. Therapy can help you both repair your relationship before any issues lead to an affair, or rebuild the trust after an affair. It can also help you navigate the boundaries you both feel are important to protect your relationship.   When you consider keeping secrets (or already are). If you or your partner is hiding something, even something that isn’t related to an affair, your relationship can suffer. If you’re hiding financial issues, if you’re hiding unhealthy habits, if you’re lying; all of this can deplete trust in a relationship. Even if your partner doesn’t find out, this secret keeps you from being able to be fully authentic and connected. If you hide something, your partner will likely eventually know. It makes it difficult for them to trust you and engage with you. Marriage counseling can help identify the barriers that originally contributed to secrets being kept, create open lines of communication and honesty, and rebuild the trust and security of your bond.   When conflicts are ongoing or unresolvable. Sometimes you have problems that you can’t seem to work through together. This is normal in relationships. It’s important to know though, that there are some issues that you will never both see eye-to-eye on, and that will continue to last. But if you let those issues cause conflict, disconnect, resentment, or hurt, it will damage your relationship. Couples therapy can help you find ways to reach an understanding even if you don’t agree, and keep your relationship strong even when a conflict comes up.   When you have the same arguments over and over and over again. This is different than having conflicts you never see eye-to-eye on. You may often have conflicts that can be easily resolved, but you continue to have them over and over again. It could be small issues that don’t really mean much. But the build up of these small issues happening over time can lead to frustration, resentment, and hurt. Couples therapy can help you both hear each other’s perspectives and take it to heart, becoming willing to listen, learn, care, and communicate.   When you don’t feel like you can be open and honest with your partner. If you find it difficult to share with your partner when something is going on for you, this is a warning sign. If you’re feeling worried about something that’s affecting your relationship, you need to be able to address it. If you’re not able to tell your partner how you’re feeling about a certain issue, whether that’s hurt, or worried, or insecure, you won’t be able to resolve it together. Or if you try to talk to them, but it only comes out as anger, this also isn’t revealing the real hurt you’re experiencing underneath the anger. Either way, if you aren’t able to communicate your true self and your needs to your partner, or if they struggle to take that information in and really listen, then this could hurt your relationship over time. Marriage counseling can help you both identify and work through the barriers that make this authentic communication difficult, and allow you both to truly open up and share with each other when something feels wrong.   When your sex life has big changes. It’s normal for there to be changes in sex over time in a relationship. One of you might lose your sex drive, or potentially want something more or different. If one of you develops physical pain issues or functional problems in sex, it’s important to be able to discuss this openly too, and find other ways to maintain intimacy and sexual closeness. Marriage counseling, or even specifically, sex therapy, can help you and your partner work through any sexual changes or issues that you may experience, to keep you both close and connected.   There are likely more warning signs, but this list covers many issues couples typically experience. These issues are difficult ones to work through together, and therapy creates a safe space to help each partner in a relationship process their experience and reengage in the relationship. Marriage counseling can be a huge commitment- of your time, your finances, and your energy. It’s also a meaningful commitment and it’s an investment in the future of your relationship. Sometimes marriage counseling may seem impossible financially. There are many options for couples, and you can often find therapists or agencies who may also offer a reduced fee or sliding scale to help with the financial strain.   Resources: The Gottman Institute has many beneficial resources and articles to help you learn what the research shows us about creating and maintaining healthy relationships. Psychology Today is a very thorough directory where you can search for a therapist based on their specialty, their location, their client age range, insurance options, and more.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
1/27/202023 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Art of A.R.E. with Dr. Debi Gilmore

You’ll learn the most important steps for creating a secure relationship with your partner in this episode. Dr. Debi Gilmore, a Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist and Supervisor, shares about her work with couples. She gives us 3 specific core values to bring connection and secure attachment to a relationship.   The main points of A.R.E. and Attachment: Attachment is the foundation of a relationship. Couples need this secure bond to create a lasting relationship. A.R.E gives us the steps to achieving a secure bond with our partner. It is the way to truly nourish and grow a relationship.   What is A.R.E.? A: Accessibility Is your partner there for you? Can you get their attention? Are they accessible and available to you? Accessibility is the feeling you have of your partner being available to you. Time and consistency give us the security in knowing our partner has been there and will be there for us. Building the track record of accessibility starts with being consistently there for each other over time. If you try to talk with your partner, but they’re on their phone (or distracted by something else) and not looking at you, that’s not true presence. True presence, true accessibility is removing a distraction and being there for your partner in that moment. Accessibility answers the question of “Are you there for me, and will you be there for me?”   R: Responsiveness Does your partner respond when you access them? When they respond, does it tell you they’re interested in your concerns and they care about what you’re sharing? Responsiveness says “I am here in your presence and ready to hold the message you’re sending.” It says “I see you suffer and that’s why I’m here for you” or “I see your excitement and joy and I’m here for that too.”   E: Engagement Engagement is the next step in creating a secure relationship. Engagement says “I’m not only interested, but I actually want to know more. Help me understand.” Being engaged is about saying “help me understand”, about you being interested and wanting to know more about your partner’s experience. This is where we find the difference between empathy and sympathy. Engagement allows you to sit in your partner’s experience with them. It tells your partner that you will remain in that moment and be there for them as long as they need.   How can couples build empathy and learn how to engage in their partner’s experience, even when it might be uncomfortable? Eye contact. Look into your partner’s eyes. Our mirror neurons register the other person’s experience and allow us to feel the other person’s emotions. Be willing and open to engage through this eye contact, to allow yourself to feel your partner’s feelings. Connect face to face with that person. It’s important to put away distractions sometimes and have conversations face to face. Don’t jump to the “fix.” Immediately solving the problem is not empathy. It’s more powerful and healing to ask what the moment, the experience, was like for your partner. It might be challenging for you, but it’s ok to tell your partner “This is hard for me, and I’m really trying to engage.”   How you can put A.R.E. into practice every day to strengthen your secure connection with your partner: Remember, A.R.E. can instantly change a relationship. Then applied over time, it creates security. Remember, meekness is not weakness. I know you and your partner are busy, but give yourselves the few minutes every day to de-stress together. Allow each other to vent out the stress from the day and practice being there for each other. Take 10 minutes to let yourself dump stress and practice A.R.E. Remember, when practicing the core steps of A.R.E.: Practice makes perfect, but perfect isn’t expected.   Why is a secure attachment in your relationship important for you? Attachment is of course beneficial for creating a lasting connection with your partner. However, it is also linked to mental health. When you can experience secure attachment with your partner, you can also have improved personal mental health and well-being.   About Dr. Debi Gilmore: Dr. Debi Gilmore is the co-owner of The EFT Clinic and owner of Lasting Connections Counseling. She works with couples, families, and individuals who struggle with multiple issues such as anxiety, depression, marital challenges, grief, betrayal, women’s issues, and other mental health concerns. She achieved her doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy with a special focus on clinical skills, clinical supervision, business leadership and business development. For her doctoral dissertation, she developed a premarital and relationship education program, and she is the author of A premarital education program: Creating and preserving a secure foundation of attachment in newly developing relationships. She has served in multiple leadership positions within the community including Board member of the Northern Utah Emotionally Focused Therapists, Chairman of the Board at West Ridge Academy, and Board member and Chairman of the Advisory Board for Enterprise Mentors International, a humanitarian organization providing micro-loans and mentoring for women in 7 developing countries. Debi lives in North Salt Lake with her husband, Kirk, and has three married children and seven grandchildren and another grandchild on the way in spring of 2020.   Building a Lasting Connection program: Debi also discussed the program’s connection system mats. Each partner stands on these together and has specific steps to practice A.R.E. together. These mats are also available for purchase at You can also connect with Dr. Gilmore and stay up to date on their news and offers by emailing [email protected]   Dr. Gilmore also discussed research on a scale for measuring attachment in relationships. It can be found here: Sandberg, J.G., Busby, D.M., Johnson, S.M. and Yoshida, K. (2012), The Brief Accessibility, Responsiveness, and Engagement (BARE) Scale: A Tool for Measuring Attachment Behavior in Couple Relationships. Fam. Proc., 51: 512-526. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01422.x   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Facebook: @marriagingpodcast Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
1/20/202041 minutes, 9 seconds
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Negative Cycles and Your Relationship

Is there a pattern in your relationship? Do you and your partner have the same kind of fights over and over again? In this episode, we’re going to figure out how the two of you get stuck in a negative cycle, and create ways of helping you reconnect.   Why do couples fight over little things? Little things like tasks around the house, who is picking up the groceries, or other seemingly unimportant things sometimes lead to the biggest fights. It builds up into one or both of you feeling unheard, uncared for, or unloved. The cycle of conflict keeps happening because with each little step, you feel more disconnected from each other. And each time that cycle gets going, you’re both carrying more hurt, armed with more reasons to stand your ground instead of resolving the deeper conflict.   Learning your relationship cycle You can find out more about relationship cycles from Dr. Sue Johnson’s resources (see link in resources section). This is just one common example of relationships, and your relationship patterns may be different. The pursuer: You get signals from your partner (avoiding a conversation, having a harsh tone, pulling away), and those signals might often make you feel unheard or unimportant. You might experience frustration or anger, thinking that they don’t care about you, or that maybe you’re asking too much. You might often appear critical, naggy, or harsh, acting out of the frustration or anger instead of expressing hurt or loneliness, or other underlying feelings. The withdrawer: You get signals from your partner (harsh tone, anger, nagging or criticizing), and those signals might make you feel inadequate or hurt. You might feel overwhelmed or also experience frustration, thinking that no matter what you do, you won’t be able to get it right for your partner. You might avoid conflict, give a half-hearted apology, get defensive, or pull away, appearing uncaring and cold.   How the cycle keeps you stuck: You and your partner have those underlying experiences that you don’t communicate with each other when the negative cycle happens. You likely aren’t recognizing the deeper feelings and asking your partner for what you really need. Instead, you each might act out of frustration or overwhelm, doing the very actions that signal each other in the negative cycle.   Here’s what you can do with this negative cycle in your relationship: First, work on recognizing it. Gain awareness into your experience in the cycle and what you really feel and need. Beyond daily tasks, you probably want to know that your partner cares enough about you to engage with you and love you regardless of your flaws. Then, work on communicating those true feelings and needs. Don’t get harsh or shut down. Instead, work on sharing with your partner how you actually feel, and asking for what you really need. Listen to you partner. Be willing to hear them and understand them. Don’t let defensiveness block your heart from connecting with theirs. Focus on your bond. You are each different and imperfect. You may always have certain tendencies, and the same situations may pop up that could lead to the negative cycle, but it’s how you handle those that matters most. Choose to focus on forming a closer connection with each other.   Resources: If you’re interested in learning more about relationship cycles, Dr. Sue Johnson, who pioneered the field of EFT, has written at length about couples, couples therapy, and specifically relationship cycles. Dr. Sue Johnson’s Books for Couples: Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
1/13/202013 minutes, 29 seconds
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How to Have a Happy Marriage

You want to find happiness with your spouse. So, lower your expectations. Shocking, right? We’ll get into what that actually means.   You have high hopes for your relationship. You might think about past joyful times in your relationship, or compare it to other relationships you see. But little frustrations build up every day, and it begins to build into resentment in your relationship. You’re getting stuck in negativity and disappointment instead of finding happiness with your spouse.   It’s time for you and your spouse to really be happy in your marriage. I know it’s important for you to have a happy marriage. You want to appreciate your spouse and to be appreciated. You want to get along, make decisions together, and not be derailed by little frustrations.   What are the facts about your satisfaction in your marriage? New research has studied sacrifice and how it impacts satisfaction in relationships (Zoppolat, Visserman, & Righetti, 2019). A “sacrifice” in this research was something you might experience in typical daily life. What the research found: When one person perceives a sacrifice from their partner, they typically experience appreciation if they perceive that sacrifice as being altruistically motivated. Also, when the sacrifice is not expected by the receiving partner, it is more meaningful. So when the receiving partner of the sacrifice holds lower expectations, that sacrifice may be more welcomed and appreciated. This also shows us how important it is to hold realistic expectations and focus on gratitude. Witnessing your partner sacrifice for you can also increase your respect for them. This increase in respect, gratitude, sacrifice for the better of the relationship, and appreciation all lead to relationship satisfaction.   Knowing what research teaches us, what does that really mean for how you can find happiness in your marriage? Lower your expectations. Don’t expect or put pressure on your spouse to make certain actions. Allow them space to do it on their own, out of love for you, instead of trying to live up to an expectation you’ve already set. Make sacrifices. Do it for the greater good of your relationship. Be intentional about checking yourself. If you do something out of motivation to meet your partner’s standards or you expect a “thank you” with it, then it likely won’t have the same impact as if you were doing it just because you care about your spouse. Practice gratitude. Start recognizing something you appreciate about your spouse, even something small, every day. Thank them. The key here is appreciation and gratitude.     Resources: Zoppolat, G., Visserman, M. L., & Righetti, F. (2019). A nice surprise: Sacrifice expectations and partner appreciation in romantic relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
1/6/202010 minutes
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Interabled Relationships with Jose Luis Tapia-Fuselier Jr., M.S., CRC, LPC, NCC

Jose discusses what couples experience in interabled relationships, and what each partner can do to work together and form a stronger bond through new changes after a disability is acquired. Jose began working with couples through his work in rehabilitation counseling and helping individuals with brain injuries. He helps couples strengthen their relationship when one partner acquires a disability.   What are some of the challenges couples face when one partner acquires a disability? Younger couples may experience an existential crisis. Their life, goals, and expectations change. The relationship may end if the couple does not intentionally work together in these changes. Mid-life couples may experience similar difficulties with change. They need to process the grief of the changes and the loss of their expectations, and form stronger bonds. Later-life couples may have more of an understanding, as our bodies naturally change with age. The partners are typically better able to easily show up for their partners. The grieving process when one partner acquires a disability can occur at all stages of life. The expectations of the relationship and each partner change, creating new and sometimes confusing relationship dynamics. What does each partner experience in an interabled relationship? The non-disabled partner may take on the role of caregiver. This can be challenging, especially depending on the level of care they are providing. Relationship dynamics change as the partner who acquires the disability may need help in new ways. Sex drives can decrease or be impacted by the medical issues, changes in the relationship dynamics, and more. The first few months may feel more stressful and require a greater focus on the basics: appointments, household changes, physical needs. If there are children, the parenting role for each partner will change, and the children will also need support in understanding the changes. Fertility issues may also be experienced depending on the disability acquired. This is another layer of grief and change. How can couples work together and form a lasting relationship? Acceptance is necessary, and hard to get to. Seek support. It is helpful when others can assist so the partner does not have to take on all of the caregiving roles. It’s important for the couple to know what insurance covers and what other resources and agencies are there to help. If the couple also has family, friends, and a support system, it’s helpful for others to step in and alleviate some of the stress. Work to get to a point where the partner with a disability can communicate about their abilities and do the things they are able to do. Trust allows the non-disabled partner to let go of some fear and let the partner who has acquired a disability to do what they can do for themselves. It’s important for both partners to talk about their fears with each other. Open communication about fears, questions, and concerns builds a stronger bond and allows for better outcomes long-term for the relationship. How can couples keep physical and sexual intimacy in an interabled relationship? Schedule a date night. Schedule sex. With doctors’ appointments, therapies, and other appointments, it’s important to schedule time together. When scheduling a date night or outing, keep in mind accessibility. Seek help from a therapist who has specialized knowledge and experience in working with the issues you are experiencing. Here are some techniques Jose discussed that a therapist can help you process through: Body mapping technique: the partner with the disability can (standing or sitting) map out their body while naked. Exploring what has changed about their body gives them space to sense what’s different and new, finding what they like and don’t like. Non-demand sensate genital exploration (sensuous shower): both partners are in the shower together (may be in a shower chair or standing), and exploring each other’s bodies, including genitals, without any pressure to have sex. The partners get to explore each other, while talking or not talking. Take these steps to understand and explore changes. The non-disabled partner may have fear about hurting their partner. Open communication allows for the couple to change their physical relationship and find what works for both partners. What you can do now: Seek help. A couples therapist can help provide space for both partners to work together. If you’re a non-disabled couple, have conversations now about what you would do if something were to happen. If you have the means, plan for insurance, short-term and long-term disability, or other methods for preparing your family to deal with any changes. A couples therapist who can help an interabled couple will: Help gain understanding of each partner’s relationship to the disability. Help each partner better understand and process how expectations change. Take into account cultural factors, socioeconomic factors, and more, when helping a couple find medical services and other support services. Understand and have open discussion with the couple about changes in sex drive and their sexual relationship. With the client’s consent, work with other medical providers and supports to provide integrated and holistic care. Recognize accessibility needs. Help the couple explore ways to form a stronger connection and keep intimacy and communication in their relationship.   About Jose: Jose Luis Tapia-Fuselier Jr. (pronouns: he, him, his) is currently a third-year doctoral student in counseling at the University of North Texas. Jose’s research is focused on clinical interventions for interabled couples in couples’ and sex therapy, and the adjustment process after one partner acquires a disability. Jose provides individual, couples, play, and family therapy with a special focus in working with people with disabilities in three languages (English, Spanish, and American Sign Language) at a private practice. Jose has had advanced training in Emotionally Focused Therapy and is on the road to certification. Jose has been a guest on Sexology Podcast and Café with Monica. Finally, Jose has presented at the national, regional, state, and local levels on topics related to supporting graduate students, counseling people with disabilities, interabled couples and sex therapy, and bilingual counseling and supervision. You can connect with Jose at [email protected]   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect with me:  The mission of the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
12/30/201938 minutes, 7 seconds
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Setting Goals with Your Spouse

Setting goals in your marriage is necessary, and difficult. If you and your spouse both have your own individual goals, or if you like to dream but have trouble putting in the action, you might feel like actually meeting your goals is impossible. In this episode, we’re discussing the importance of creating shared goals and supporting each other’s goals, and identifying how you can break your long-term goals down into small, achievable steps. It’s important to do goal-setting with your spouse and not on your own for a few reasons: Your spouse can know you better and be more understanding of your actions when they know what your end goal is. It’s ok that you both have different goals, and it’s important to be supportive of each other’s goals. You also need to set common goals together. This is a way you can be a team and work together with excitement for a shared future. Think long term and short term when setting goals together: Think about the different types of goals. Financial, physical, spiritual, relational, emotional, and more. Start with more long-term goals, like lifetime goals, 10 year goals, 5 year goals. Once you get to your 5 year goals, break it down smaller though, to begin creating action steps. Use the acronym SMART when goal-setting. It means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Keep your goals in line with SMART. Taking small steps together with your goals: You and your spouse can pick the most important goals you want to pursue together. Based on your long-term goals together, what needs to happen in 5 years that either meets those goals or keeps you on the path toward those goals? What needs to happen in 3 years that keeps you on track toward the 5 year goals? What do you need to do in 1 year that puts you on track for the 3 year and 5 year goals? Now, you and your spouse go even smaller in your steps. What do you need to do in 6 months to keep you on track for reaching your goals? Break down your 6 month goals into 3 month goals. Think about what you want the progress of your goal to be in 3 months. Once you have your 3 month goals together, break it down into 1 month goals. Break that 1 month goal down into week-long goals. What do you and your spouse need to do in one week to begin reaching those goals? What is the very first step that has to happen for you and your spouse to make a step toward your goal? Remember, you and your spouse are a team. As we close out a year and begin a new one, think of how the two of you can work together and support each other’s hopes, dreams, and goals for the future.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
12/23/201912 minutes, 41 seconds
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Eye Contact and Love in Your Relationship

In 1997, Arthur Aron developed a theory that 4 minutes of eye contact makes people closer and increases intimacy. In this episode, you’ll be encouraged to take steps to connect with your spouse and truly look them in the eyes without being distracted by all the noise around you.   What you need to know about eye contact and your relationship: You’re missing out on more intimate love without eye contact with your partner. Think of times that you and your partner are in the same room and talking, and don’t make eye contact. There might also be times you are in separate rooms and doing your own things, when you could take 4 minutes to become closer every day. Do you watch tv separately? Or talk while watching tv? Are you looking at your phone during conversations with your spouse? Do you stay busy with cleaning or other household tasks, without taking just a few minutes to connect? When you go to bed at night, how much have you actually looked at your spouse? What eye contact can do for your love in your relationship: Set aside 4 minutes today to sit with your spouse and make eye contact. Try to just connect through your eyes, without even talking. You will feel closer to your partner. Deep eye contact is vulnerable and can feel intense. It may bring up deep emotions for you. This is an experience you’re sharing with your partner, thus building a closer connection. Mirror neurons also come into play here. You’re activating neural pathways of connection and empathy through eye contact with your spouse. Putting eye contact into action every day in your relationship. You might not do this 4 minute experiment every day. But you can take time every day to make eye contact and connect with your spouse. Even if it’s over dinner or during a short conversation after work, put your phone or other distractions away and make eye contact while talking. You’ll begin to notice how each of you feel closer to each other.   Resources   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
12/16/20199 minutes, 34 seconds
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ADHD and Your Relationship, with Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST

Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST discusses how ADHD affects relationships. He shares how couples can recognize issues related to ADHD in their relationship, what they can do to improve understanding and improve their relationship, and specifically how couples can improve their sex life when one partner has ADHD.   How Does ADHD affect relationships? We want our partners to be predictable. ADHD makes it difficult for the partner to be predictable. It also becomes more difficult for the other partner to be able to rely on them to remember various needs. It can become a parent-child dynamic, a dynamic where the non-ADHD partner has to be more “responsible” and the partner with ADHD has to be “managed.” Your sex life can suffer from the parent-child dynamic. You don’t want to be in a parent role or child role, and these dynamics take away from the romance. How can couples see these issues as ADHD, without demoralizing their partner? Seek professional help to get the diagnosis clarified. It’s also helpful for the partner without ADHD to attend appointments and learn about ADHD as well. Educate yourself to understand and to develop empathy for the partner with ADHD. Remember that ADHD is part of the package deal of being with your partner. You each have differences and bring issues to your relationship, and ADHD is only one of them. Don’t fall into the trap of making ADHD the big problem in your relationship. The partner without ADHD can let go of wanting some things done specific ways. Work through some of your own anxieties to be willing to tolerate more uncertainty. What can couples do and put into action to improve understanding and improve the relationship when one partner has ADHD? Accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Seek help and work with your prescriber to find an effective medication. Do couples therapy to work with issues involving ADHD in your relationship. Work with a couples therapist who understands the dynamics of ADHD in relationships, and can see both partners’ perspectives. See the issues related to ADHD as a challenge for both partners to work. The partner without ADHD can begin to let go of some expectations, and the partner with ADHD can push themselves and step up to help their partner feel more secure. Find ways to work well together and set yourselves up for success. Set reminders, stick to the reminders. Have reasonable expectations and support each other, while each doing your own part. Don’t fall into the mindset of “I would be so much happier if it weren’t for you.” If you want something different out of your partner, you should do something different in your approach. Pick your battles. It’s important to understand that some of the issues might be related to ADHD. For the partner with ADHD. it’s important to seek help. Medication and specific strategies, like setting alarm reminders on your phone, can help. How can couples improve their sex life when one partner has ADHD? Our sexual satisfaction and our overall relationship satisfaction overlap by about two-thirds. This means that to be happy in one, you have to also work on the other. When you’re having frustrations and fights throughout the day, you may not want to be together sexually. Handle these disagreements well to preserve the good feelings for sex. Also preserve time for sex. Time management can be a challenge. You might both want to have sex, but time slips away and you don’t make time for it. Schedule it and plan backwards so you know when each task needs to happen. Remember it’s important to have a good sexual relationship to protect your overall relationship from the daily issues that ADHD can cause. The partner without ADHD can also let some things be undone to prioritize sex over household tasks. Takeaways about ADHD and Your Relationship: It takes work from each partner to improve their relationship and deal with ADHD issues. Take ADHD seriously and put in the effort, while also recognizing that it is just a difference between the two of you, like other issues you might experience. “Let it bring out the best in both of you rather than letting it bring out the worst.” -Ari Tuckman   Connect with Ari Tuckman, PsyD, CST Ari is a psychologist and a sex therapist. He specializes in working with individuals with ADHD, and works with couples and sex therapy. He has written 4 books and been featured in many media outlets. Ari’s Books: ADHD After Dark: Better Sex Life, Better Relationship Understand Your Brain, Get More Done: The ADHD Executive Functions Workbook More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD Integrative Treatment for Adult ADHD: A Practical, Easy-To-Use Guide for Clinicians Links:   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
12/9/201933 minutes, 45 seconds
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Holiday Traditions and Your Relationship

You had questions about holiday traditions and your relationship, and I’m here with answers! How do you create traditions when your significant other’s family is dealing with a loss? (1:10) Remember that grief can be complex and challenging. Your significant other may need to keep some of their family traditions to honor their loved one and to process their grief. Remember that grief also may not go away. It changes and becomes more manageable, but they might always have some hurt. As their grief changes over time, it gets easier to further build your own traditions together. First, have open communication with your significant other. Ask them what they need, and what they would like to do. Are there traditions they had with that person that they would like to hold on to? Allow space for some of those. You can also tell your significant other how important it is for you to help them grieve and honor that loss, while still creating your own traditions. Set aside one day for you and your partner to do something new to begin creating your own traditions. Think of what each of you would like to do, and what will be special for your relationship. Make this an established time for the two of you together to create new memories. Help them find small things to continue honoring the loss of the loved one, while still moving forward to create new memories. This might be a special ornament or pictures on display to help them remember this loved one. How do you decide which family to spend time with and blend traditions? (7:48) There’s no universal tie-breaker. Your families might be flexible, but it’s often challenging to get everyone together. You and your partner can talk through what events and traditions are important for each of you. If there are some family events that are always scheduled on the same day and time every year, these might be harder to move. If there are traditions that are important, but they don’t have to be on a certain day, maybe these can be moved around. First, just be willing to have open communication about it without getting defensive. Early on, you and your partner might agree to spend the same amount of time with each family. Doing this can help to divide the holidays more, but this still takes compromise. If your families are in the habit of celebrating on the same day, you either need to see one earlier in the day, and another later, or ask a family to move their celebrations to another day. It’s also important to remember that as you and your partner continue to build your own life together, you may not do everything you each used to do with your individual families. You may say no to more extended family events, or shorten the amount of time you spend at each one. You can set some boundaries and create your own traditions and blend ideas each of you like. How to mesh family traditions and time when you have two very involved families? How do you make sure one family does not feel slighted and not make your spouse feel like you want to spend more time in one place and not the other? (10:30) This does require compromise. Once you know what your plans are, remember that it is ok to set boundaries. Some family members may be upset, but they can be upset, and you can still set the boundary that you won’t be at everything. If you both have very involved families, open communication is incredibly important here. Talk with each of your families to let them know how much you care and how much you want to be involved, and that you and your spouse are working on respecting each other’s traditions and creating your own. Sacrifice is important, too. You may have to sacrifice some time with your family. Your spouse might have to do the same. You can try taking turns, and see one family one year, and one family the next year. Or you can choose different holidays over the course of the year to spend with each family, and take turns that way by switching holidays throughout the year instead of switching the same holiday every year. Being willing to communicate with your spouse about holiday traditions and splitting time between families is the most important thing. If you’re getting defensive or easily upset thinking about your side of the family and wanting to spend more time with them, that’s going to hurt your spouse’s feelings. Remember to put your spouse first and establish traditions and time with your spouse first. Happy Holidays! Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast. Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
12/2/201917 minutes, 22 seconds
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The Importance of Taking a Time Out

Conflict with your partner can get heated at times, and you end up saying hurtful things. When harsh words or angry tones come up, it only leads to more distance between the two of you. Taking a time-out in conflicts like these can be helpful, but it’s important to know how to take the time-out, and how to come back together.  How to take an effective time-out: Prior to any conflict, talk with your partner about time-outs and why you think this could help with conflict in your relationship. Let your partner know that there might be times you call a time-out. They have a right to do so as well. Agree on a specific amount of time for a time-out. This might be 20-40 minutes. When you or your spouse notice conflict is escalating, one or both of you then has a right to call “time-out”. You both agree on how long you need, or have already agreed on this and can put it into action. You each go to your own space. This might be another room, or walking outside. You don’t use this time to mope or complain or allow yourself to get angrier. Instead, you ask yourself these questions: What specifically upset me in this situation? What does this issue actually mean to me? Do I feel unheard or unimportant to my partner, or something else? How was I reacting? How did my reaction make my partner feel? How might it have impacted them? Did my reaction make our conflict worsen? Use your time-out to reflect on how you could also handle the situation differently and communicate your needs without being harsh toward your partner. How to come back together after a time out: Agree to sit down together when the time-out is done. Find a comfortable space to sit close and face each other. If you recognize that you’re still very reactive and not in a clear space to have open communication with your spouse, gently ask for more time. Agree to come back together after a set amount of time. Take turns each sharing how you actually felt, and recognize how your reaction made your partner feel. This isn’t about blaming. This is about taking responsibility and building empathy for each other. Spend time talking through what you each actually needed prior to getting into a conflict about it. This is when you can problem-solve together. Assume the best of each other and be willing to hear your partner out. What else you need to know about time-outs: Sometimes it can be hard to come back together after a short amount of time. Or if you’re fighting late at night when you’re both tired and need to sleep, it’s hard to resolve conflict. With situations like these, it makes sense that you aren’t going to reconvene after a short time-out. It’s okay to postpone it to the next day, but if you do this, you both need to schedule a time and commit to talking at that time. If you keep postponing it, it won’t actually be worked through. Time-outs won’t work well if you come back to your partner and you’re in a defensive mode. Time-outs are meant to help you calm down and really process a situation. When you come back together, it’s important for your relationship that you work to be vulnerable and open with your spouse.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
11/25/201913 minutes, 16 seconds
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Receptivity: The One Thing that will Transform Your Relationship, with Shane Birkel, LMFT

Overview of this Episode: Shane Birkel, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Certified Relational Life Therapist talks about receptivity and what it means in a relationship. Couples often have a hard time being receptive and vulnerable in communication with each other. Shane helps us learn how these challenges with receptivity developed, along with how to embrace compassion and healthy boundaries to create a healthy relationship with your partner. What problems with receptivity do couples experience? You might notice all the problems your spouse has, all the things they’re doing wrong. When you get overwhelmed seeing your partner anxious, stressed, or angry, you might get into a fight or flight mode and have difficulty listening to your partner. You minimize your partner’s reality, get defensive, fight back. It can be hard to be receptive to your partner if you experience low self-esteem and don’t have compassion for yourself or how you grew up. How do receptivity problems develop? There are two ways you learn about relationships and how to deal with the world around you: Modeling what you saw: what you noticed your caregivers doing when you were younger. If your dad was very angry, this was modeled for you, and you might tend towards acting in anger now. Reacting to what you experienced: going the opposite way of what you saw. If your mom was very anxious, you might be reacting to that by trying to be very relaxed and letting everything go. How you grew up and the relationships you had with caregivers often impact the way you experience relationships now. You may not have learned skills for understanding emotions and communicating in a healthy relationship. If you aren’t being mindful, you’re acting on the raw emotional experience you have. What does a healthy relationship look like? You and your partner learn and understand that there’s no right or wrong. You don’t blame, judge, or criticize. You express your reality from a 1st person perspective (this is how I feel, what I think, my experience with it). If you catch yourself being overly-critical or overly-withdrawing, you might be trying to protect yourself or your self-esteem. You recognize this and move from self-protection to healthy boundaries. You recognize and care for the inner child who might be hurt or angry. You also choose to respond as your whole, adult self. Your partner is not responsible for caring for your inner child. Healthy boundaries means you can focus on feedback from your partner and let that in, without accepting the criticism from them or taking that criticism in as part of your view of yourself. Receptivity and vulnerability. Let yourself feel the emotions you’re experiencing. You can choose to expose this emotion and communicate it to your partner. Allow yourself to turn toward them and take in their reality. You can’t connect if you’re letting yourself stay in an angry or defensive mode. Be willing and open to listening to your partner. This invites receptivity and connection. Choose compassion and love for yourself.   Connect with Shane at and Resources The Feedback Wheel: helps you to speak from the 1st person perspective with your partner. It includes 4 sections: What happened, the story I tell myself, how I feel about that, my request/what I hope for. You can find it here Terry Real and Relational Life Therapy Pia Mellody   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
11/18/201939 minutes, 57 seconds
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How to Keep Work Travel from Ruining Your Relationship

Overview: How Travel Affects Your Relationship Traveling for work can put a strain on your relationship and damage your connection with your spouse. You might be more stressed and worried or feel insecure about the relationship. Or you and your partner might go days or weeks without talking much, because you both understand your busy schedules, yet when you’re back together you feel disconnected. If you’re the one staying home, you might feel lonely and stressed with keeping the household running on your own. If you’re the one traveling, you might be busy in meetings, missing your spouse and feeling lonely at night. Here are 5 steps you can take to keep your relationship connected when work travel keeps you apart. Set check in times.  If you’re in different time zones, or the same, go ahead and look at your schedules. Find times, even if just for a few minutes, that you can set aside to talk with each other. Schedule that in your calendar and make it your priority. Create some guidelines together on what each of you are comfortable with when separate. Trust and honesty are important. Whatever the boundaries and guidelines are that you set, make sure there is mutual understanding and agreement of them, and that they are communicated clearly and kindly with each other. This isn’t about one of you making rules for the other. This is about both of you agreeing to the same guidelines to protect your relationship. Leave notes in their luggage or around the house before you leave Have a small gift or flowers delivered to them while you’re away Send a kind text or email message to them during the day Find ways to express love. Find ways to express love to each other before, during, and after traveling. Think about what your spouse will notice, appreciate, and feel loved by. Here are some ideas: Schedule date nights. This is especially important if one spouse is traveling for a significant amount of time, like several days to weeks. Before the trip, go ahead and schedule a date night for when they return. Plan something fun that you both can enjoy. Prioritize the time you have together.  Make the most of it. Even if you’re both just at home, focus on connecting with each other without distractions. Talk with each other. Make eye contact. Share your thoughts and feelings. Enjoy the time you have together. Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.  Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
11/11/201910 minutes, 45 seconds
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The Sprinkles Story with Laura Long, LMFT/S

In this episode, Laura shares The Sprinkles Story, a story about a conflict in her marriage and how she worked through it with some reflection, vulnerability, and connection with her partner.   Laura’s Sprinkles Story: Laura and her husband met in college and began dating. After about a year of dating, Laura was on track to go to graduate school in a different state. While she didn’t do long distance, her husband (then boyfriend) wasn’t comfortable moving without a promise or commitment. Their different stances were putting a strain on the relationship. Instead of talking about it, tension built. One day, while making a cake for a friend, they had to go to the grocery store to get sprinkles. Somehow, in the middle of Aisle 4, Laura and her husband (again, then-boyfriend) disagreed on which sprinkles to buy. But this wasn’t just any disagreement. This was a yelling and screaming fight over sprinkles that led to them getting escorted out of that grocery store.   What this Sprinkles Story Means: When sharing this story, Laura asks every couple, “Do you think that my husband and I were actually fighting about sprinkles that day?” At the time, Laura would have thought they were fighting about sprinkles. But after reflecting on this and cooling down for a couple of days, Laura came to the conclusion that we can all see, too. “We were fighting about the future of our relationship” Laura realized. Their relationship didn’t feel very secure. Would they move together, would they commit to each other, or would they break up? Spoiler alert: They stayed together, he went to another state with her while she started graduate school, and now she can look back on the Sprinkles story, laugh, and appreciate the insight it brought for their relationship.   Sprinkles in Your Relationship: You and your spouse probably get into “sprinkles” fights too: the laundry, the dishes, taking the trash out, etc. Over time, these “sprinkles” arguments build up. But when you have the “sprinkles” issues, what is it that you actually aren’t talking about? It’s important to get to the root, the heart of what’s going on, and figure out what the argument is actually about.   When you feel connected to your spouse, the smaller things like laundry and chores may not matter as much. But anything can become an argument when you’re feeling disconnected from your partner.   How You can be Vulnerable and Receptive to Communicating with Your Spouse: So often, couples get caught up in getting through the day: transporting kids, planning dinner, busy work schedules. If you’re starting to notice little arguments, or either of you are feeling more irritable, recognize this as a red flag. The socks on the floor aren’t about the socks on the floor. Take time to reflect and be mindful about what happens for you in the moment you experience that small issue. What’s really going on with you in those moments? What are you really feeling? It might be that you feel unheard, uncared for, disrespected, or something else. Look inward. What do the sprinkles actually mean to you? Also think back. When was the last time you and your partner had a big issue come up? Maybe there’s something still lingering that you don’t have closure on. Instead of making firm statements of “I think our argument is because of this issue”, you can say “I wonder if that argument was about this issue, and not what we were actually fighting about.” Wondering out loud allows your partner to also reflect and think about the meaning of the argument. You can preface the conversation by first asking permission to have the conversation, and working to discuss this at a time when you can both be calm and receptive to hearing what each other shares.   Action Steps for the “Sprinkles” Issues in Your Marriage: Sprinkles arguments will come back up if you don’t work through them. Laura shares what you can actually say to your spouse to begin the discussion and work through the issue together: “Look, I know that that was kind of silly that we blew that out of proportion. I’m sorry that I yelled at you over something that seems so silly, so trivial now looking back. I was wondering if we could have a conversation about what I think might be going on underneath that, because I really don’t think I was that mad at you about the dishes. I think it went a little bit deeper than that, and I want to talk to you about it.” Assume benevolence. Your partner likely isn’t trying to hurt you. When things escalate, we might use hurtful words. But generally if your partner is doing something that makes you angry, they may not intend to. Think about how you might have also contributed to the issue and impacted their feelings. By assuming benevolence, you’re choosing to not think the worst of your partner. You’re choosing to be receptive to working through the heart of the issue and communicating openly.   Connect with Laura at: Laura Long is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Supervisor. She has years of experience working with couples, and now works often with stressed out, burned out entrepreneurs. If you’re that stressed-out, burned-out entrepreneur who might be seeing the impact of your stress on your relationships, you can connect with Laura at   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect:  My mission with the Marriaging podcast is to help you create a more authentic and connected relationship. I’m always working to provide you with the best help for improving communication and intimacy in your marriage. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
11/4/201928 minutes, 18 seconds
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How to Get Your Spouse to Listen to You

Overview of this Episode You feel unheard. You want your spouse to tune in and listen to what you’re feeling and what you need. It can be so challenging to get them on the same page. It leaves you feeling more frustrated, and possibly stuck in conflict or further disconnected. In this episode, we’re talking about how you can approach your spouse in a way that invites them to listen, and how to share with them in ways that encourage engagement and connection.   Main points of this episode: The challenges you run into when trying to get your spouse to listen to you: When you feel unheard, you might come across as frustrated or angry. This can make it difficult for your spouse to even want to listen. On the other hand, you might feel overwhelmed and have trouble putting words to your thoughts and feelings. Your spouse might already be somewhat guarded and unsure of how to respond if the issue you’re wanting to discuss has led to conflict before. Sometimes you’re two very different people, with different personalities and different ways of expressing yourselves. This can make it more difficult to convey what you need and get a full understanding from them. Ways to approach your partner to be heard and understood: Remember that you can’t change what another person does. You can only change yourself. So focus on the way you engage with your spouse. If you think your spouse might be getting overwhelmed when you try to address something with them, slow down and write out or type out everything you want to say first. Do a brain dump. If you’re comfortable sending this to them, you can do that. But if you’ve used some harsh words toward them in the draft, edit it before sending. Once you’ve gotten all your thoughts and feelings out and are ready to share with them, you can preface that email or letter by letting them know you want to talk about it, and you want to hear what they have to say too. Give them time to process what you shared. Then, schedule a time to talk later. If you tend to get overwhelmed or upset, and have a hard time putting your feelings into words, writing it out will also be helpful just for you. In this case, you can even use what you write to read from in the conversation. This allows you to be clear, open, and genuine in your communication, and it helps your spouse to see how important this issue is for you. Remember, whether in writing or in a conversation, focus on sharing your feelings about the situation, and not assigning intention or blame to your partner. It should not be an attack on them, but instead an opportunity for them to hear what you’re experiencing. And if you want your spouse to listen to you, it’s best to also listen well to them. Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the podcast music.   Rate and Review:  My hope with this podcast is to provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews on your podcast player. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod  
10/28/201910 minutes, 5 seconds
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Know Yourself Before the Relationship, with Taylor Looney, LMFT-A

Taylor Looney, LMFT-A shares about her work with young adults. This episode is especially helpful for college-aged students and young adults who are single or early in their relationships. Overview: Taylor shares about how her work experience has given her insight into the importance of young adults knowing themselves well before getting serious in a relationship or moving toward marriage. Main Points of this Episode: It’s important to look out for red flags and warning signs early in a relationship. Relationships can be strengthened by learning communication tools at the beginning. What are the big issues Taylor sees? “Ring by Spring”: Many college-age young adults begin rushing into a relationship without knowing themselves well first. Sometimes when you’re single, you might be looking to relationships to avoid loneliness. We have to be able to love ourselves and be willing to work on our stuff before we can really start sharing our lives with someone else. Your goals and hopes change, and you and your partner might experience conflict in this change over time. It’s easy for jealousy, anxieties, and frustrations to work their way into a relationship early on. If these issues aren’t addressed and worked through, anger and resentment can build. What does it look like for you to get to know yourself and grow yourself, even while sharing your life in a relationship? First, examine yourself and how you feel in the relationship. Are there any jealousy issues or frustrations? If you are experiencing this, what do you do when you feel this way? Ask yourself what your partner might be doing to trigger feelings of jealousy or frustration. Remember, the person isn’t necessarily the problem. This is something that can be worked through in healthy situations. Benefits of taking commitment slow and focusing on yourself: Gives you time to enjoy getting to know each other and be more confident in your choice to commit to each other. You’re able to grow independently before a relationship and take the time to know yourself and accept yourself before also putting energy into a relationship. Learn your boundaries and what you most value about relationships. You can know what you will and won’t accept. What to think about before a relationship gets serious: What are your life goals and what do those goals mean to you? What is important to you? What is your 5 year plan? What are your standards? This could also be boundaries and what you will and won’t be okay with in a relationship. Explore what your attachment style might be. Do you have a tendency to be anxious and seek more closeness? Or you might tend to push people away and seek distance. Learn communication skills and tools for understanding each other’s attachment styles and ways of acting. Explore the 5 love languages and what you and your partner’s languages might be. This is about what makes you feel loved, and how you express love. Know that it’s ok to take time and get to know yourselves and each other before committing long-term. Remember that conflict does not necessarily mean break up. Are you being respected and supported? Every couple has arguments; that’s normal. But make sure the relationship is healthy for both sides. Trust your gut and don’t force what you don’t think will work.   Resources: Taylor referenced the 5 Love Languages, based on a book by Dr. Gary Chapman. You can take the quiz to find out your love language, and learn more at his website:   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast.   Connect: I always hope to provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please subscribe, rate, and leave a review to offer your support and suggestions. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
10/21/201930 minutes, 43 seconds
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Your Defensiveness in Your Relationship

Defensiveness is hard to stop in yourself, and hurtful for your relationship. In this episode, we cover ways you can check yourself and calm yourself to not let defensiveness run wild in your heart and your relationship. Your defensiveness might be escalating arguments or putting up walls between you and your partner. Try to think back on an argument you’ve had with your spouse. Did it lead to you throwing accusations at them or giving them a long list of what they’ve done wrong? I imagine your defensiveness is a way of protecting yourself from hurt, and it happens quickly, oftentimes out of your control. But once defensiveness gets going, it can be incredibly harmful. It’s so important for you to recognize it, and for us to put a stop to it. Here are practical steps to work on your defensiveness: Right now, take a big, slow, deep breath. Seriously, now. Where did you feel the air in your body? Let the fresh oxygen sink deep into your stomach, beyond the top of your lungs. Your stomach should expand as you inhale, taking in the fresh air. Take a few deep breaths until you feel more relaxed and at ease. Whenever you enter into a conversation with your spouse, or as you notice yourself getting defensive, go ahead and take those deep breaths you’re practicing. Next, find a time you can be alone and calm to reflect on things. First, ask yourself “When we have an argument, and I get defensive, what is it that usually sets me off or makes me defensive?” This might be a harsh tone or criticism from your partner. Pinpoint what it is that sets you off so you can recognize your trigger points. Next, ask yourself “When my partner does or says the things that set me off, how do I initially feel?” This might be anger, frustration, or disappointment, or something else. Figure out what that immediate feeling is that you get. Now, make sure you’re still calm as you think through this. When your spouse does the thing that pushes your buttons, what does that really mean to you? Maybe it tells you that they don’t value you and the effort you put in, or that you’re unappreciated. Whatever your partner does that leads to your defensiveness may be triggering something much deeper inside of you. We all want to be worthwhile and valued by our partner. Remember, you are so brave for doing this hard work. And, this is a continuous journey. You may have to come back to this and reflect on multiple occasions. Now that you’ve really begun learning more about yourself, set aside a time to share this with your spouse. Be authentic. Be genuine. Help them hear this new self-awareness you have. It’s ok to ask for their patience, support, or understanding as you do this. Try to have this conversation at a time when you and your spouse are on good terms and getting along. But what about when your defensiveness gets triggered? It will still happen. And here’s what you can do: Self-soothe. Take those deep, calming breaths. Stay present. Slow down and communicate what you’re feeling with your spouse. You can also share what their actions actually mean to you, and how they make you feel about your relationship. You might say “I understand this issue is frustrating to you and I want us to resolve it. I also know that right now, as I heard you say this to me, it made me feel upset and I can tell I’m starting to feel defensive. I think what your words meant to me is that the hard work and effort I put into our marriage isn’t valued by you, or that I’m not valued. I don’t believe that’s your intent, and I really want to engage in this conversation with you. But please know that when you said it in that tone to me, it was hurtful. I struggled to engage because I don’t feel important to you. I love you and want to work through this, and I need to feel important to you. So can we find another way to discuss this?" Remember this takes hard work and time. It might take several tries for you to do this. You and your spouse have been stuck in a pattern of defensiveness for a while, so it’s likely that neither of you are used to this new way of resolving issues. Be patient. Connecting with your spouse is more important than defending yourself in a moment of frustration.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the podcast music.   Connect: I always hope to provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews on your podcast player. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
10/14/201914 minutes, 35 seconds
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Your Spouse's Defensiveness and How You Can Respond

Defensiveness in your relationship is harmful. It’s important for you to know how to respond when your spouse gets defensive, and how to communicate in a way that facilitates keeping guards down and listening to each other. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with your spouse, and they suddenly get upset, or snappy with you? Maybe you try to share a concern with them, even about something small, and they begin making excuses. Defensiveness can be even worse about bigger topics, like your sex life. If you try talking with them about this, and your spouse gets defensive, the conversation can get derailed quickly. You try not to hold your concerns in, because you don’t want to build up resentments either. But the defensiveness from your spouse doesn’t make that easy. Remember, you can only control yourself. You can’t change your spouse. But there are some skills you can work on to help reduce defensiveness and respond to it better. How you can approach issues without triggering defensiveness in your partner: When you ask for something or express a concern, put it in a gentle statement or request. Don’t blame or get upset. “Why do you always leave the clothes on the floor?” can trigger defensiveness much more quickly than “It’s really important and helpful for me when the clothes are put in the basket. Can you please also do this?” You can also say how you feel when a situation happens, focusing on your feelings and not their actions. When your partner gets defensive, they may be hearing what you’re saying as an attack on them. When you approach it gently and offer positive solutions, you avoid becoming critical of your partner. When you bring something up, keep the conversation focused specifically on that particular issue. Don’t let it become a long list of all the things you see your partner doing wrong. Even when you work hard at communicating clearly, your spouse might still get defensive. Here is what you can do to respond to their defensiveness: First, think about the first sign you get from your spouse that tells you they’re getting defensive. This may be a facial expression, or tone in their voice, or something else. Keep this sign in mind, and be ready to handle it calmly. When you first recognize that sign of your spouse getting defensive, take a deep, slow breath and count to 5. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think about what they’re experiencing. Maybe they try to love you in different ways and feel unappreciated. Or maybe they had a long day and already feel very stressed. Remember that defensiveness is often an outward expression of an inward hurt. Your partner may feel criticized or insecure, even if that’s not what you intended. Once you’ve slowed down, try to think about what this inward hurt might be for your partner. Your partner is a human who needs your empathy and love. Try to understand how they feel. Then, try to approach the issue again and restart the conversation, this time possibly even calmer. You can even say “I’m sorry, I did not mean for this to upset you. My hope is that by us discussing this and finding a resolution, I also won’t build up and frustrations or resentments toward you. Maybe we both could agree on a way to work through this.” Even when your spouse get’s defensive, you can choose to engage calmly and speak with love and care. Remember that if this is a typical pattern, it can take a while to break the defensiveness and build trust between the both of you for these tough conversations.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the podcast music.   Connect:  I always hope to provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews on your podcast player. Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
10/7/201912 minutes, 17 seconds
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Time Together vs. Time Alone

Time Together vs. Time Alone Finding a balance between your personal time and time spent with your partner can sometimes be challenging. You or your spouse might be really good at spending time alone, whether that’s for your self-care, your personal hobbies, or other activities. But if that’s the case, you may not be spending enough time together. On the other hand, you might both be good at spending all your time together, but you don’t take personal self-care time for yourself. Main points of this episode: It can be really easy in a relationship to get off balance with your personal hobbies and time spent together. How you spend your time together and alone may change over time, based on your needs. This requires flexibility and understanding. How you can navigate finding the balance between time together for your relationship and time alone for your self-care: Each of you make a list of hobbies and activities you want to do each week. Print out 2 weekly calendars and get 3 different colored pens (1 for each of you, and one for shared time). On the first calendar, each of you write out your work schedules (in your own pen color). In the remaining time on the schedule, write out any other tasks you do (housework, hobbies, date time, other activities). Then ask yourself: Am I happy with the quality time I have with my spouse? And am I happy with the time I have for myself? Each of you take time to answer these questions for yourself and think about what you want to change. Then ask your spouse: How do you feel about the time that we have together? And how do you feel about the time you have on your own? Work together to evaluate what needs to change on that calendar. Based on each of your responses and thoughts to the questions, is your relationship missing special time? Or are each of you needing more individual time for self-care? Get the second weekly calendar you printed. Each of you go ahead and fill out the necessary time blocks, like your work schedule and other commitments. Then look back at the old calendar and work together to figure out what tasks and activities can be moved around. If household tasks can be moved around for each of you to have your own time, do it. If you need to prioritize date time, then schedule that and move other things around. Schedule 30 minutes to 1 hour at the end of the week for you to sit down together and reevaluate this schedule. When you meet, discuss whether or not the schedule happened as planned. Think of any changes you want to make based on the past week. Ask yourselves if you’re both satisfied with the time you had on your own and the time you had together. Once you’ve discussed this, make any important changes for the next week. Try again, and check in with each other again in a week. Schedule a short meeting every week to evaluate this until you both are more satisfied with how alone time and time together are being navigated in your relationship.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the podcast music.   Connect: I’m constantly working to further develop the podcast and provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews on your podcast player. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod    
9/30/201913 minutes
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Your Relationship is Not a Fairytale

Your Relationship is Not a Fairytale: Purposeful Love, with Morgan Huffines Morgan Huffines, LMFT-A talks about issues millennial couples face when the lust phase, or honeymoon phase, ends. Intimacy is about vulnerability. We have the rom-com idea of what we want our relationship to be like, but we never see what happens after the “happily ever after”. The “lust phase” is about early in a relationship, when hormones are excited and we interact based on this chemistry. It’s the fun and exciting time when you get to learn more about the other person and build a physical relationship. But when the long-term commitment continues, whether in marriage or a long-term relationship, the lust phase often ends for most couples. We haven’t been taught that this is normal. We grow up not always seeing how relationships function and grow and continue to develop. You may not learn what a healthy relationship looks like, or how it functions well. Purposeful: The relationship should be purposeful. When you express thoughts and feelings and respond to your partner, it has to be on purpose, intentional, with deliberation. Questions I ask Morgan: What problems happen when people don’t act purposefully, and expect the relationship to just happen and be rom-com perfect? You might think you’re falling out of love. You start to think there’s something wrong. You compare your spouse to how they used to seem. You think the relationship is broken, and you either have to fix it or throw it away. It’s often thrown away. Anger and resentment can also build up. What are some warning signs that couples can look out for to know if they’re struggling? When you’re bored. When the relationship feels boring, or you start to feel bored. What is the difference between being bored and comfortable? Your internal state: If your internal state is mostly positive and it’s ok, then you’re comfortable. If you’re more negative and getting frustrated with your partner, you need to check this. What can couples do to work through this? Just like in a career, your relationship takes hard work. Purposeful work. Everybody gives 100%. Your 100% true self may be different on different days and in different situations, but it is about you always acting in love, openness, and care for your spouse. Make sure what you’re giving is more the focus than what you’re receiving. When it comes to communication, be specific. Give a specific need and don’t let resentments and frustrations build. What else can couples do to combat the lust phase ending, to keep the romance and love alive? Spend time, energy, and effort to maintain interest in each other. Don’t stop working. Do something purposeful. Be active in your relationship. Do something, even small, to bring a smile to your partner’s face. Pick flowers to take to your spouse. Go on a date. Do things to make your partner feel special because you love them. Set a reminder on your phone, or make a calendar event, to remind you to do the daily things that express love and gratitude. This is still romantic. And it’s purposeful action. Treat your relationship like you would your career or anything else that you want to maintain and grow in. You have to continue your education and keep learning the new tools and skills to ensure you’re giving your best to it.   How you can find and connect with Morgan:   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the podcast music.   Connect:  I’m constantly working to further develop the podcast and provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews.  Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
9/26/201944 minutes, 17 seconds
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Relationship Roles in Your Marriage

Navigating relationship roles can be challenging, especially early on in your relationship, or when you and your partner are facing seasons of change. In this episode, we discuss the ways your relationship roles might be defined, and how you and your partner can have honest and productive conversations to support each other and be flexible to changing roles. Whether you are tired of managing all the housework on your own, or you’re wanting to be able to do more and take some of the load off your loved one, you can pick up some helpful skills and steps for checking in on your relationship and adjusting roles as needed. Main Points of this Episode:  Learn the different ways relationship roles might be established: You learn from how you saw your parents or caregivers handle different roles and expectations when you were growing up. Sometimes you or your partner might naturally take on various roles and tasks based on a season of life and the schedules you each have. You and your spouse might have discussed your ideas about roles and expectations, whether in premarital counseling or another setting. Identify the issues you and your partner might have with relationship roles: You each might have different expectations and not be on the same page about the roles in your relationship.  You might be carrying much of the load, and building up frustrations and resentment toward your spouse. Maybe you’ve both tried to talk about it, but can’t get past the disagreements and conflict that have developed. What you can do to navigate establishing and changing relationship roles over time: Schedule a time for you and your partner to share about the households you grew up in. What did each of you learn from seeing how your families handled various roles and household tasks? Did you like the way your family did it, or would you want to make some changes to that? Next, talk about the house you both want to build together. Now knowing each other’s background and evaluating where things currently stand, share your ideas and hopes for the future of your household. Each of you take turns discussing how you envision navigating relationship roles. Plan for the future changes. Along with this, talk with your partner about how each of you see the roles currently being defined in your relationship. How is budgeting handled? How are bills divided or shared and paid? Who handles different household chores? Who typically gets the groceries, washes the laundry? What changes need to be made in the way things are now to help each of you reach the goals for the house you want to build together? Every couple of weeks, or every month, set aside time to check in on how things are going. Be FLEXIBLE. Work to recognize any big changes in each of your lives that might require changes in the roles you each take on. Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the music for the podcast. Rate and Review:  I’m constantly working to further develop the Marriaging podcast and provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please subscribe and leave a rating and a review to support the podcast. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod
9/23/201911 minutes, 21 seconds
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Low Self-Esteem and Your Relationship

Low self-esteem can take quite a toll on your relationship. In this episode, we’re digging deeper into understanding what low self-esteem is, the signs you can look for, and how your low self-esteem affects your relationship. We’re also talking about what you can do, individually and with your partner, to combat low self-esteem and strengthen your marriage.  Main Points of this Episode:  What does low self-esteem look like?: You might be really hard on yourself, or really sensitive to constructive criticism. You may find yourself getting caught up in downward spiral of negative self-talk. You might feel pretty irritable, or catch yourself being snappy or short with loved ones. Your spouse might also feel the tension in this and start getting frustrated with you. You could be isolating yourself more, withdrawing from activities with your spouse, friends, or family. This is not the same as being introverted or appreciating some quiet time. This is problematic in that you might be worried about others’ opinions, or have a negative perspective that keeps you from enjoying this time with others. You may also be lacking motivation. Maybe you’re caring less about how well you do with work or other tasks. You might even feel worthless at times, not valuing your skills or abilities. How does low self-esteem affect your marriage? Your spouse might be struggling to connect with you. If you’re shut down, or feeling like a shell of the person you’ve been or want to be, it may be difficult for them to understand or truly support you. More distance and disconnection may develop between you and your spouse as a result. Your relationship could experience more conflict. If you’re more irritable or on edge, which can happen with low self-esteem, you’re likely to snap at your partner. They may get frustrated with this, or they may feel hurt by harsh comments. They might argue back or engage in conflict with you. You both could lose more connection with each other if low self-esteem is leading you to isolate. You might pull away from your partner, and they may feel lonely. It becomes harder for them to support you. They might go spend time with friends without you, or they may begin to isolate themselves as well. If you’re losing motivation with low self-esteem, you might also be less intentional with your marriage. Maybe you’re putting less effort into helping to keep things running smoothly at home. Or you’re possibly caving to mindless distractions, like being on your phone, instead of engaging in meaningful conversations with your spouse. Low self-esteem can also affect the physical intimacy of your relationship, and your sex life. This could be in part a result of your negative self-talk and insecurity, or a result of more conflict in your relationship, or the other issues that come with low self-esteem. But it likely means that you and your partner might have less sex, or less enjoyable sex. You might not have the sex drive you used to or would like to. What you can do to take action and work through the low self-esteem in your relationship: First, reflect on how you experience low self-esteem. What are your signs of low self-esteem? What might your partner be noticing about you? You can even write this down. Next, plan a time with your partner to talk about this. Set aside distractions and give your full attention to this discussion. Share your insights with them. Tell them what signs you experience with low self-esteem. If there’s anything else that you think might be related to this, like sudden changes in your life situation, or issues with family, mention these things too. Then, ask what they’ve noticed. Talk with each other about how you’ve both noticed this impacting your marriage. Then, begin recognizing the negative self-talk. Even write those thoughts down if you want to. And scratch them out and replace them with the truth. Dispute the negative self-talk.   After you’ve worked through the negative self-talk some (and this is certainly an ongoing process), then share this with your spouse and seek their support. This is not about making your spouse responsible for your thoughts, your self-talk, your feelings, or your healing process. But this is about building understanding and empathy in your marriage. Work with your spouse to identify the areas of your relationship, or other areas of your social life, that are affected by your low self-esteem. Brainstorm new activities you can try together. Create a schedule that works. Work together, once you know what is happening to your relationship, to put into action ways to combat the low self-esteem. When it comes to any frustration or irritability in your marriage, try to recognize if there is anything that triggers you to be irritable, anything that pushes your buttons. Then, recognize how it might make you feel (like frustrated, or hurt, or worried). When that happens, what do you do? Do you get snappy with your partner or get a harsh tone? Ask them to do this same exercise, answering these same questions. What pushes their buttons? How do they feel, and then what do they do? Talk through this with each other, and try to recognize any patterns. I imagine that there are things each of you do that push each other’s buttons. This isn’t about blaming the other person. This is about recognizing what you do when you feel a certain way, and accepting responsibility for that action and beginning to change it. If you know you tend to snap at your spouse when you’re feeling negative, then you can become aware of when you feel that way, take a deep breath, and agree to walk away and come back to discuss the issue when you can do so calmly. Remember: low self-esteem is challenging and hard to break free from. It can be helpful to do individual therapy, but it can also be helpful for you and your spouse to do couples therapy for low self-esteem.   Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for making the upbeat and fun intro and outro music that help bring another part of my personality to the podcast.   Rate and Review:  I’m constantly working to grow the podcast and provide you with the best help for improving your marriage and authentically connecting with your spouse. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews on your podcast player. Connect with me at Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod    
9/18/201917 minutes, 19 seconds
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Your Phone and Your Relationship

Overview of this Episode:  You and your partner might be feeling disconnected lately. And there’s a chance some of the disconnection could stem from too much focus being on the phone screen, and not enough focus on each other. With social media, group messages, emails, and any information you could ever think of needing or wanting in the palm of your hand, it’s so easy to get distracted from the world in front of you and the relationships around you. Romantic relationships get sidelined, and you take away from the authenticity with your partner in exchange for sharing the highlights with the world.  In this episode, we talk about all the ways technology might be harming your relationship. I’m also including some helpful information found in recent research studies on technology and relationships.  Along with that, I’m sharing some specific, simple steps you and your spouse can take to reconnect in your marriage and to set some boundaries with your phones.   Main Points of this Episode:  Learn ways to recognize when and how technology and phone use is an issue for your relationship:  Do you catch yourself zoning out, getting stuck in the black hole of your newsfeed for several minutes (or hours?) at a time? Do you stay on your phone when you could be greeting your spouse when you both return home from work?  Is the phone at the dinner table (or breakfast or lunch)? When you go to bed at night, are you on your phone instead of spending time with your spouse? Are date nights and/or weekends spent on technology more than getting some face-to-face interaction with your partner? What the research shows us:  Snubbing your partner and focusing on your phone predicts conflict in your relationship, which can then decrease your own life satisfaction (Roberts & David, 2016). Face to face interactions with your partner are more dissatisfying with the presence of phones, and it’s much more difficult to resolve a conflict if at least one partner is looking at their phone during the conflict (Roache, 2018). A partner spending more time on Facebook can be an intrusion in the relationship and can result in jealousy and dissatisfaction in the relationship (Elphinston & Noller, 2011).  What you can do to make changes with your phone use and restore connection with your spouse: Prioritize the small moments, the goodbyes before work and greetings when you return home. Put your phone down to connect with your spouse in those moments.  Find the pattern: are you choosing your phone when you feel neglected by your partner choosing theirs? Be intentional in these moments to stop the pattern and reconnect. Put the phone away for dinner or other shared meals.  Give your phones a bedtime at least 30 minutes before your own.  Create some boundaries around what times of the day and how long you’ll be on your phone, and how late in the evening you’ll be on social media or responding to texts or emails.  This is about you choosing to prioritize your relationship over your phone.   Resources:  (2012). The Effects of Cell Phone Usage Rules on Satisfaction in Romantic Relationships. Communication Quarterly, 60(1), 17–34.  González-Rivera, J. A., & Hernández-Gato, I. (2019). Conflicts in Romantic Relationships over Facebook Use: Validation and Psychometric Study. Behavioral Sciences (2076-328X), 9(2), 18.  Roberts, J. A. & David, M. E. (2016). My Life Has Become a Major Distraction from My Cell Phone: Partner Phubbing and Relationship Satisfaction. AMA Winter Educators’ Conference Proceedings 27  Roache, D. J. (2018). “Can you just put your phone away?”: The effects of cell phone use on face-to-face conflict in romantic relationships.  Elphinston, R. A., & Noller, P. (2011). Time to Face It! Facebook Intrusion and the Implications for Romantic Jealousy and Relationship Satisfaction Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking 14(11), 631-635. Special thanks to: Will Gladden of LEVEL Digital Music Entertainment for creating the podcast music. Rate and Review:  I’m constantly working to further develop the podcast and provide you with the best help for improving your marriage. Please feel free to offer support and suggestions through your ratings and reviews. Connect with me at  Instagram: @marriagingpodcast Twitter: @marriagingpod  
9/16/201915 minutes, 6 seconds
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Introduction to Marriaging Podcast

Welcome to the Marriaging podcast! This episode is created to give you a brief introduction to the podcast, and to share with you what you can expect moving forward. The goal of the Marriaging podcast is to help you approach your relationship with authenticity, to improve your communication and intimacy, and to create a more connected marriage.
9/15/20194 minutes, 59 seconds