Healthy marriages and relationships are wonderful. They add to the excitement, acceptance, and well-being of individuals. With the garden analogy, one can agree that having help to “hoe a row” makes life less burdensome and more productive. Happy gardening!
Notice and be noticed;
One of the basic human needs is to be noticed in positive ways. Healthy relationships provide daily structure for conversations and comments about noticing a spouse’s feelings, accomplishments and gifts of service. Good practice: Each day either right before bed or earlier comment on something that you have noticed about your spouse in the past 24 hours. Have an agreement to seek new ideas and not repeat your compliments. Something new every time! Garden analogy: even if it seems trivial or common knowledge, keep the sunlight on your awareness of each other.
A foundation of any healthy relationship is to enjoy the companionship, laughter, and activities together. Planning a variety of fun activities that brings out a playful side is a key ingredient. Good practice: Have regular and also spontaneous play dates with your spouse. Find mutual activities that are easy and bring a bond of laughter, or smiles, or fond memories while doing. Garden analogy: Stop and smell the roses. Why have them if you don’t enjoy them.
Please check back next week to read part three of our three part series on more ways to “grow” your relationships.
Sharon Nelson, LCSW
Relationships are both complicated and simple at the same time. If you are struggling to stay “grounded”, seek professional advice. We, at Pinnacle Counseling are here to help.
Care about what the other needs;
Healthy relationships explore and support the needs of a partner while not ignoring their own needs. Individuals form “couples”, and they still have individual needs, wants, likes and dislikes. Honoring their special traits is key to remaining close. Good practice: Offer support of a need such as affection, attention, inclusion, time to be alone, or social groups even if it’s not a need of yours and is a little uncomfortable. Garden analogy: Some plants need more shade or grow better in sandy or cooler climate. They don’t grow if they don’t get what they need.
In a world of pressure and anxiety, the couple who can be at ease with each other has shared a gift of why most couples form in the beginning. It takes intention and dedication to cultivate a feeling of relaxation in each other’s presence. Good practice: begin some kind of meditation, centering prayer, or down time that is about stillness rather than accomplishment. This is a time when less is more. Being relaxed during the day can add to a better night’s sleep which is also healthy for the mind, body, and spirit and relationships. Garden analogy: It doesn’t help to plant the seed and dig it up the next day to see why it’s stressed. Often we need to just let it be.
Sharon Nelson, LCSW
Are you in the habit of always thinking of everyone else first and putting your own needs dead last? Well, you are not alone! That issue comes up frequently when someone shares with me about their anxiety or depression. There are likely several factors at play that cause you to sell yourself short. But in the end, you are left feeling resentful and exhausted. Who is there to meet your needs?
We have to start “showing up” and making our own needs and wants known. A favorite saying of mine is, “You teach others how to treat you by what you allow”. Powerful stuff! Think about your current relationships. Do these relationships have a 50/50 balance, with you and the other person being equally important? If not, why? Chances are, you definitely deserve to own 50% of the input in the relationship.
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be a powerful tool for overcoming the habit of people pleasing. We learn a life time of “messages” we receive from others which reinforce that our opinion doesn’t matter. We learn that it’s not ok to make others upset or disappoint them. That belief may have served you once in your life, but with those kinds of thinking patterns our souls can really take a beating after a while. CBT helps by uncovering the messages you hold to be true and teaches you to re-write the script. The technique of assertive communication is important here, too. The two extremes, passive and aggressive styles of communication, usually aren’t very helpful in the long run. Assertive communication says “Your needs matter, and so do mine”. Try to get in the habit of thinking and responding with that thought in mind.
To many, making themselves a priority has never crossed their mind. How is there room for that when you are busy being supermom/wife/employee…? You may find that by taking care of yourself first, or at least making your self-care an equal priority in the equation, you have more to give to others. You may feel guilt about this, and frankly others may try to make you feel guilty about it, but self-care is vital to mental and physical health. Self-care can be as simple as taking 15 minutes to enjoy coffee with a friend, getting to the gym for a work out, reading quietly- anything you want that is nurturing to your soul. The only requirement is that it takes care of YOU. It is ok to be nice to yourself!
Rachael Nachtigal, LPC
While there are multiple reasons couples seek professional help for their relationship, often an underlying issue is that they no longer feel connected with one another in at least one of the following areas. Take a moment to honestly answer these questions regarding your partner:
1. Intellectual: Can this person connect with me intellectually?
2. Emotional: Can this person understand/handle my emotions? Do I feel comfortable sharing my emotions with my partner?
3. Spiritual: Does this person share or respect my spiritual/non-spiritual beliefs?
4. Chemistry: Does it feel natural and enjoyable to be in each other’s physical presence?
5. Lifestyle: How comfortable do I feel and function in my partner’s “world”? (Culture, eating habits, sleeping patterns, cleanliness, health, social habits, hobbies, etc.?)
If you find yourself doubting or rationalizing your answers…if something doesn’t feel “right”, then you probably won’t be satisfied and happy in a long term relationship with your partner. Often people start relationships connecting in only a few of these five ways such as enjoying similar social habits, a physical attraction or idealizing a professional achievement. However, over time, if all five of these connections aren’t satisfied, it can often leave someone wondering what went wrong, when actually the problem is that they didn’t find someone who satisfied all of their connection needs to begin with. Before you make any decision to enter into or end a relationship, make an appointment to see one of our professional counselors to explore your feelings and expectations about your relationship. We will be able to help you make an informed decision about the right direction to take.
There are exciting things happening at Pinnacle Counseling. We have updated our website to feature the new additions to our counseling staff, Rachel Nachtigal, LPC and Joel Gray, LPC. They are proud members of the Pinnacle Counseling team, both specializing in Mental Health and Relationship Counseling.
You can follow all of the news straight from the source by checking out our website at http://pinnaclecounselingnwa.com/. Or by following us on twitter at @Pinnacle_Cares or liking us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PinnacleCounseling. So check them out and get to know us better. We look forward to hearing from you.
According to a 2010 national survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Department of Justice, in the 12 months of that year, more men than women were victims of intimate partner physical violence and over 40% of severe physical violence was directed at men. Domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects more than 32 million Americans. This number reflects the number of cases that are reported; it’s estimated that in the United States, as many as one third of domestic violence cases are never reported.
If you are in an abusive relationship it is important that you tell someone you trust what has been happening. Keep a journal of all violent incidents and take pictures of any physical damage o your body. It is also important that you have evidence of your abuse if and when you need to prove it in court. There are many cases where the abused spouse has lost everything, including the children because the abusing spouse has turned the tables on him or her and accused him or her of being the abuser.
If possible, it would be beneficial for both parties to seek marriage counseling before the violence escalates. If not, then you should be talking to a professional that can help you understand what is happening to you and give you some guidelines on how to cope and how to help your children. The abused spouse is often dealing with repressed anger, feeling hurt, humiliated, and isolated. Get help now. No one deserves to be abused!
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) ; 1-800-787-3224
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds”. Quote by Gordon Hinckley
Relationships are like a garden. They need careful tending or they don’t produce the harvest. As a relationship and mental health counselor, it’s been my privilege to walk the most intimate journey of people’s lives with them. Through my learning from others, my study and education along with my personal growth through 37 years of marriage, there are 6 skills I’ve found in common with healthy relationships. In healthy relationships it’s important to:
Build confidence in your partner;
Couples that seem to grow strong find themselves purposely lifting up their partner in private and public. They say sincere compliments and act proud to be their friend. Good practice: try several times a day to surprise your spouse with a special act or word or gesture of appreciation. Begin sentences with I’m thankful for..; I appreciate it that..; I’m excited about…; I was impressed that…; The garden analogy may be the trellis. Without a trellis many plants fall over on themselves and eventually break or stop giving.
Secrets or lies by omission are culprits of healthy relationships. In this era of technology, it’s easy to leave spouses out of the loop and create insecurity. Healthy relationships are open about their electronics, phones, and schedules. Good practice: Ask your spouse what one or two gestures would build trust and credibility. Be proactive about honoring their requests. Garden analogy: It’s more than frustrating to think you are planting corn and instead have melons.
Please check back next week to read part two of our three part series on more ways to “grow” your relationships.
Sharon Nelson, LCSW