5 Top Reasons Couples Seek Relationship Help

If you are struggling in your relationship, you are not alone. Others are struggling with similar frustrations and don’t know what to do, how to move past this painful time. It is stressful to feel like you really don’t want to walk through your front door because you have lost that connection with your partner. I understand this feeling and frustration and I am able to help. Listed below are the top 5 reasons couples feel this way and seek help in their relationship.

1. You feel like your partner is an adversary not a teammate. When you get married you have the hope that your partner will be your greatest support, someone you turn to when you are struggling, someone who has your back and cares about your hurt. But now you may feel more like your partner is the one you have to battle, nothing comes easy, they have to be convinced and pushed to be on your side.
2. Your relationship feels more like a business relationship or roommate situation, not a marriage.You function together, things get done, kids go to school, you go to work, dinner is made and the lawn is mowed but what happened to the emotional connection, the intimacy, not just sexually but also feeling like your partner knows you well and loves you.
3. You can’t talk about what is important to you. When you bring up a conversation and you want your partner to listen and show understanding instead you feel like you are in a debate, you are challenged before you are heard. You can’t get the idea across without stress and frustration. You may feel like it is too painful to bring things up so you just avoid talking, it is always negative.
4. One or both of you becomes spiteful and hurtful. You feel like they are being unreasonable and finding ways to be difficult. This may be because they are feeling resentment, disappointment and frustration and being difficult is how they are dealing with these feelings. They are lashing out, showing you their hurt but not in a healthy way.

5. You have lost the connection of feeling respected or appreciated by your partner. Where did the connection go. When dating one of the things that draws couples together is they feel like their partner gets them, cares about them, meets their needs and builds them up with respect and care. When this is no longer happening you feel alone and the connection is missing.

One of the underlying causes of these things is a lack of healthy communication. You don’t know how to express your concerns in a way that your partner can hear them without getting defensive and challenging you. You want your partner to respond with understanding and care but instead somehow you push their buttons and they get defensive and angry instead. Each of you is struggling to be heard, respected and considered but that is not happening.

Don’t give up hope, these skills can be learned and if you and your partner are motivated to break this cycle, it can happen. Make a change and give us a call at (562) 537-2947, there is no obligation and we would love to hear from you.

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Set Boundaries and Why You Should

I once asked a client what her boundaries were and her answer… blank stare and crickets in the room.  After a moment of considering my question she honestly replied “I’ve never given that any thought.  I guess I don’t really have any.”  Setting and sustaining boundaries is a skill. Unfortunately, it’s a skill that many of us don’t learn.

Having healthy boundaries means knowing and understanding what your limits are. Consider the following five ideas about boundaries, what they are and how to implement them.

1. No boundaries = little self esteem.

Your boundaries are your values. Boundaries are representative of how much or little you respect yourself.  Often times we don’t set and keep boundaries because we are afraid of how others will react to our boundaries and we are afraid of a strong negative reaction.  We are valuing their feelings over our own needs and allowing ourselves to be intimidated instead of setting boundaries to take care of ourself.

2. Decide what your core values are.

Who are you? What do you value? Figure out what, exactly, you’re comfortable with and what you need. For example, because my job requires a great deal of emotional energy, I have to schedule time for myself.  For me, this happens in the morning.  I don’t take work related calls or make appointments until late morning to ensure I have time to rejuvenate and take care of myself.  Once you get clear on what matters most to you, then you can take bigger step of communicating this to others.

Instead of creating your boundaries around a difficult relationship in your life, you must make your boundaries about you. For example, my boundaries with my morning time is about honoring the fact that I need to take care of myself in order to stay healthy and serve my clients well.  This boundary is to decrease my stress level and not about avoiding others’ phone calls or distancing myself from loved ones.

3. Decide the consequences ahead of time.

So what do we do if anyone pushes our boundaries (because they will)? Decide what the consequences are. For example, if a client calls me repeatedly during a time-frame I had shared I would not be able to talk, I know that I simply do not answer the phone and I return the call as soon as I am able. I don’t throw a fit about them calling but I do hold the line so I can keep taking good care of myself.

4. Let your behavior, not your words, speak for you.

I have a friend that just could not get her head around the fact that I wouldn’t make plans for early mornings.  She kept asking to meet for coffee around 8am even after multiple conversations and explanations on why that would not work for me.  I used to get so upset that she kept asking!  I felt completely disrespected.  But after the third go around with her I simply started replying with three words when she’d ask if I could meet early in the morning… “No, I can’t.”  I realized the issue was more hers than it was mine.  People will test, push and disrespect your limits. You’ll know you’re getting healthier when this doesn’t get an emotional reaction out of you. When your boundaries are your core beliefs (such as taking care of yourself) you will not get riled up when you are tested.

5. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

The biggest part of boundaries is how clearly you communicate them.You can have the most healthy set of boundaries on the planet but if you do not communicate them clearly, you are going to create some really confusing relationships, both for you and everyone else involved.

One way to quickly get someone to question your character or authenticity? Say one thing and do another. Sometimes we’re afraid to confront others with truth in love or relationships. We’re afraid to tell people what we really want or need, to admit that we hate going to certain restaurants, or have trouble spending time with a friend’s toxic family, or hate when people don’t consider our needs. We conceal our true feelings because we’re scared of people’s reactions. The more you ground yourself with your boundaries and values, the more you’ll be able to be very clear in your communication.  It’s a process, trust me, I get it!  But it can be done.  Get clear on what your boundaries are then start taking steps to communicate them to others and hold the line.  You’re worth it.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more support.  You’re not in this alone.

Written by Lisa Smith

How to Improve Conflict Resolution Within Your Family

Are you frustrated that you can’t seem to make any progress in resolving a conflict? It may be with a husband or wife, a child or parent or any person you are in conflict with. But when dealing with family the stakes are especially high because there is a lot of emotion involved. No one can push your buttons better than those we love.

What I have observed while working with clients is that some people really do not want to work to resolve the conflict, they just want their way.  

This is what I hear from the partner that wants their way;

  • She is not listening to me.
  • He is being unreasonable.
  • What they are asking is unacceptable.
  • My way is the best.

This is what I hear from the partner who is feeling pressured to see things a way that they don’t agree with;

  • He is so stubborn .
  • It is her way or no way.
  • He wont consider any other possibility.
  • She gets angry if I suggest anything different.
  • We can’t work together.

Working together is what is needed and there needs to be an openness to hearing other possibilities and brainstorming options. It is a battle to break through this tunnel vision of seeing only one possibility.

This inability to flex with your partner sends a message that you do not care about their feelings or ideas. This can create feelings of resentment. When you can’t flex than It feels like a demand instead of a suggestion. Consider using phrases like “How would you feel if we did this…” or “Would this work for you?” This way the partner feels like you are considering their opinion and this shows them respect. I find that people are much more likely to cooperate when they feel considered. 

Making a demand or being inflexible is often a sign of insecurity.This person is not comfortable with another option because they loose control and that can be scary. But being inflexible will tear down your relationship.Consider trusting your partner to care about you and your needs and create an environment where you can work together to come up with a solution you can both be happy with when resolving conflict. 

Written by Lisa Strong

How to Know if You are Overparenting

The other day someone made the comment to me “People are so stupid.”  I thought to myself “That’s probably because they were overparented.”  Overparenting produces ill equipped, incapable, irresponsible adults who don’t know how to problem solve, how to navigate life and usually expect others to carry their burdens.  This is never the intended outcome of a parent but it is the outcome they will get.  What a disservice to their kids.

Do you overparent?  Here’s three indicators that would suggest you do.

1. Your child calls or texts you with every problem he encounters.  If your child is contacting you all throughout the day about everything, whether it’s a hang nail or a really grumpy teacher, this shows they don’t have the confidence or skill to resolve issues on their own.  It’s likely they don’t have the confidence or skill because you have not allowed them to grow emotionally as they grow physically.

2. Your child can’t handle disappointment.  No one enjoys disappointment. But disappointment should not cause a complete meltdown.  Resiliency is one of the strongest signs of good parenting. If your child has never practiced resiliency because you have done everything you can to protect him from disappointment, he will not be able to handle the inevitable adversity he will face in life.

3. Your child avoids hard work and looks for short cuts.  Kids today are used to having service providers… and by service providers I mean parents who do everything like driving, cooking, laundry, cleaning, paying for everything, etc.  This produces unrealistic expectations in your child that everything will be done for them throughout life.  So when this child (now or as an adult) needs to complete a task they see as difficult or unappealing they will do anything they can to get out of it or take a short cut.

No one reading this blog has the intention of producing incapable, irresponsible adults.  But by shielding them from hurt, hard work and disappointment we are doing just that.  It can be really difficult to change his dynamic.  But it’s possible!  Don’t lose hope.  If you need some help with it, give me a call.  You’re not alone.

Written by Lisa Smith


What to do When You Need a Communication Time-out

Your emotions are running high, there is yelling and frustration, what do you do? Some choose stonewalling to escape the frustration. This is when one person decides to shut the other out, gives the silent treatment and won’t communicate. This is one of several unhealthy communication styles that create negative feelings in your partner and does not move you forward. Let’s look at what this technique does.

  • Your partner feels abandoned. In the middle of an emotional interaction, when your partner wants to know that you are there, this is when you choose to shut off communication.
  • You partner feels alone, like you don’t care about their feelings. They may feel scared or hurt  but you don’t seem to want to know about this.
  • They may feel confused as to what to do next. Because you won’t give any direction or input they are left on their own to figure out how to mend the relationship.
Why do we do this to our partner?

  • You may want to hurt them back because they hurt you.
  • You may want the power and control position in the relationship.
  • You may want to protect ourself from further hurt.
  • You may feel overwhelmed with emotions and don’t trust yourself to interact with our partner.
This last reason is a healthy reason and pausing the communication may be the best choice at the time. In the heat of an argument, taking a time-out might be a wise choice but do not just leave the room or the house without saying anything. Do not ignore your partner as they try to talk to you. When you do these things it brings the feelings of abandonment, loneliness and confusion that I mentioned above. Instead let’s try to have the time-out without the hurt.
You could say “I know your angry (or hurt) right now and I do want to talk about that but I am very upset so please I need time to calm down and think. I will come back and we can talk about this tonight.”

This helps your partner know;

  • You are not abandoning them
  • You do care about their feelings
  • You will come back and discuss it.
Doing this will reassure them and because you said that you need the time to make a better decision then they are more likely to give you that time without frustration. If you value your relationship then don’t mistreat it. Use healthy communication that will get you the result you are looking for.

Written by Lisa Strong