Category Archives: Relationships

New LGBT Research Explores Gender Expression & PDA-related Vigilance

Does Having a Feminine LGBT Partner Change PDA Experiences?

LGBT couples therapy for Florida residents.

When you reach for your partner’s hand in public, what is the first thing that crosses your mind, if anything? While for many couples, public displays of affection (PDAs) are so innocuous that they may feel more instinctual than deliberate, such experiences can be more complex for individuals in same-sex relationships.

Indeed, same-sex PDAs can have serious consequences, ranging from discrimination to violence. Such was the case in the story of Melania Geymonat and Christine (Chris) Hannigan who were attacked on a London city bus in 2019 by a group of teenage boys. Melania and Chris were returning home after a date and had been casually affectionate with each other while riding the bus when the teenagers began making crude hand gestures representing sexual acts and asking the women to “kiss for them.” The interaction culminated in the women being physically assaulted and robbed.

Continue reading at Psychology Today.

Offering online LGBT couples therapy for residents of Oregon, Washington and Florida.

After the Argument: How to Begin Again with Gottman Couples Therapy

Gottman Couples Therapy Tools for Making Up Instead of Breaking Up

The Gottman Therapy Method for couples.

“Okay, but what happens after the fight?” I ask.

The various couples on my screen shift uncomfortably and exchange guilty looks. Nobody answers. You’d think I’m a principal asking a classroom of third graders who let the class hamster out of the cage and fed it my lunch? Today’s topic, making up instead of breaking up, is part of several classes on communication and fighting fair. Over the last several weeks the couples in my online program have learned how to understand each others’ perspective, identify destructive arguing styles (including the Four Horsemen) and apply the antidotes, use a detailed time-out, process the underlying causes of their disagreements, use a mindful apology, and go through a deep forgiveness ritual. But now we’ve hit a big snag. After the fight, after the processing, after the forgiveness…these folks don’t know how to begin again.

Look, we all know we are going to disagree. Whether it’s a gentle argument over a parking space on your second date or a flooded, twelve-round verbal boxing match that leaves you emotionally reeling, fights happen.

Continue reading at The Gottman Institute.

Contact me to learn how The Gottman Method can help with your couples therapy.

4 Gottman Institute Tips to Build Everyday Trust in Relationships

Be a Partner Who is Reliable and Accountable with Gottman Institute Therapy Tips

When you think of trust in relationships, you likely think of rebuilding after an incident where trust was challenged and/or lost. Some common reasons trust becomes an issue in relationships are dishonesty, unreliability, and betrayal.

Let’s focus on building a foundation of trust from the start of the relationship. To prevent the pitfalls of the issues listed above, here are four practical, concrete ways to establish trust and maintain it.

Continue reading at The Gottman Institute.

If you are looking for couples therapy, make an online appointment.

Destigmatizing Premarital Counseling

Online Marriage Counseling Can Get Your Lifetime of Love Off to a Good Start

I remember the buzz of excitement and anticipation leading up to our wedding. Choosing a location. Sampling dishes from a local farm-to-table catering company. Asking our loved ones to play music, sew table runners, and brew cider. We made a pact to focus on our relationship first and to take breaks if wedding planning ever became too stressful. Things were going pretty well, so when my parents proposed the idea of premarital counseling, we felt taken aback, slightly offended, and closed off to the idea.

I imagine we were not the only engaged couple who thought about premarital counseling. For many decades, the dominant narrative in our culture was that premarital counseling was something you needed to do if you wanted to get married in the Catholic Church or if you had obvious relationship issues.

As a bride-to-be and a Marriage and Family Therapist in training, I was aware of these different influences on my opinion and chose to purposefully set them aside. Although we didn’t have serious issues or religious reasons, we decided to give premarital counseling a shot. After all, if I was going to work as a couples therapist and wanted to break down any stigmas around relational health, I better be willing to do some work of my own.

Continue reading at The Gottman Institute.

Contact me for more information on online marriage counseling in Oregon, Washington & Florida residents.

4 Reasons Why Being Silly Is So Good for Couples

New Research on Playfulness Shows How it Can Build a Better Relationship

LGBT couples therapy research on playfulness in relationships.

How much time do you and your partner actually spend doing things just for fun? Although your pandemic and post-pandemic life can seem to squeeze the levity out of your relationship, do you still find ways to share moments of laughter? Can you even remember the last occasion when you forgot about your daily stress and goofed off with your partner? How about a recent time when you were just plain silly for no other reason than to bring some lightheartedness back into your relationship?

The quality of playfulness is one that is relatively understudied in psychology as an attribute of adult personality or relationships. Yet, the well-known psychologist Erik Erikson gave initiative, or the ability to engage in imaginative play, a central place in his lifespan model of personality. Emerging in the preschool years, initiative allows the child to explore new activities just for fun. As the individual develops, imagination retains its role in personality, theoretically allowing adults to take a creative approach to life.

Continue reading at Psychology Today.

For more information on how I can help you with LGBT couples therapy, contact me today.

Setting a Daily Gottman Method Love Aspiration

Couples Love Aspirations Using the Gottman Method

Gottman Therapy love aspirations for couples.

I’d say the road to relationship misery is paved with good intentions, too. Tell me if this sounds familiar. You intend to be more romantic, caring, sexy, or fun—you really do!—but then you forget. Why? Is it because you are a thoughtless oaf with the romantic aptitude of a sponge? Is it because you care about your work more than your mate? Is it because you are just too darn tired? No. It’s because you are a human with truly good intentions, but intentions are never enough.

You may ask, “Okay Cheryl, how can I make my partner feel more important and loved?” By making an effort to DO something that makes them feel special each and every day. If you are like me, you need some help turning what you think you should do or would like to do for your partner into relationship results. And I have the perfect tool for you: set daily love aspirations.

Continue reading at The Gottman Institute.

Contact me for more information on how the Gottman method can help with your couples therapy.

Relationship Tips Using the Gottman Couples Therapy Method

4 Tips You Need to Know in Your First Year of a Relationship

Gottman method couples therapy tips.

This June 2021, my partner and I celebrate our 16th anniversary together.

That’s no small feat today. The even wilder part about our relationship is that we met on social media. We didn’t meet on Tinder. There was no “swiping right” in 2005. We didn’t meet on Facebook or even MySpace.

I met my partner when internet dating was brand new. We met on a site called “Friendster.” It was one of the first social media sites with profiles and photos, but not much else.

Here’s how it happened for me. A guy named Alapaki messaged me. He had gorgeous photos and a cool job (as a symphony percussionist). I was a music major in undergrad, so we had that in common.

I took a chance and here we are, still together, 16 years later. We’ve really learned a thing or two about relationships—mainly what it takes to make it past the tumultuous first year.

Here I’m sharing four tips we had to learn (the hard way) in the first year of our relationship so that you might not have to.

Continue reading at The Gottman Institute.

If you are looking for someone to help you through your relationship, contact me to schedule a telehealth appointment.

3 Gottman Method Ways to Make a Better Bid for Couples Connection

Tips to Understand Dr. John Gottman’s Couples Bids

Dr. John Gottman calls bids the “fundamental unit of emotional connection.” They are the gestures between a couple that signal a need for attention. Bids can be verbal or nonverbal and include asking for anything from physical affection to help with a project.

Gottman Therapy Method for understanding couples bids

How to make a bid
The person who sends the bid desires to connect. Some bids are overt and obvious to the receiver. For example, if Sam tells Charlie, “Do you have a second? I need to run something by you,” that’s a clear bid. When Charlie initiates sex by winking and lightly massaging Sam’s thigh, that’s a very clear bid.

The more they both turn towards each other and respond to those bids, the more likely they are to send bids in the future. It’s a cyclical pattern that, when done correctly, makes the relationship happy and healthy.

Fuzzy bidding
Unfortunately, not all bids are created equal, and often the receiver will miss them by no fault of their own. If a bid is difficult to decipher, it may not elicit the response you want, because your partner does not understand what you’re asking for. Dr. John Gottman calls it “fuzzy bidding.”

There are ways to make a better bid for connection. Here are three tips that will clear up the fuzziness and get you and your partner to understand each other.

Continue reading at The Gottman Institute.

If you are interested in learning more about the Gottman Method-contact me for more info on couples therapy in Washington, Oregon and Florida.

What to Do When Your Partner Won’t Take Your Advice

Why it hurts when your partner won’t take your advice and what to do about it.

LGBT couples therapy for when your partner won't take your advice.

People give advice to each other all the time in all kinds of relationships. Whether it’s with your closest romantic partner, a family member, or a co-worker, it’s likely that advice-giving is a frequent aspect of your many interactions. Your partner asks, “Should I wear this outfit today?” You suggest something else you consider more attractive. Much to your surprise, your partner responds, “That’s okay, I’ll stick with my original choice.” Inwardly, you feel annoyed, but you decide to let it go as it’s not that important. But what if this is a regular pattern? What if your partner never listens to you, on matters small or large?

Perhaps the person who ignores your advice isn’t as close to you as your romantic partner, but is an important individual in your life, nonetheless. You might have a relative who asks you for advice in planning a (socially distanced) family picnic. You spend several hours researching various potential sites, putting together a menu, and coming up with some activities. To your annoyance, however, the relative thanks you but then goes in a completely different set of directions. All of your efforts were a total waste of time.

When people ask for advice, but then don’t take it, you can be left feeling either irrelevant or, even worse, snubbed. If it’s the same person over and over who puts you in this position, you may start to ask yourself the classic question, “Is it me, or is it you?” Maybe your advice isn’t that bad but this person is just essentially “unadvisable.”

Continue reading at Psychology Today.

If you and your partner are looking for LGBT couples therapy, I am licensed in Florida, Washington and Oregon.

Benefits of Personal or Mutual Couple Growth on a Marriage Relationship

Does Personal Growth Benefit a Relationship?

New research examines the potential impact of shared and unshared experiences.

  • Recent studies showed an association between experiences of personal growth on a given day and the passion individuals felt in their relationship.
  • The studies also add to the evidence that growth experiences shared by a couple can strengthen a relationship.
  • Chronically high individual growth, however, may be associated with lower feelings of passion in one’s relationship.

There’s some truth to the old proverb that “familiarity breeds contempt.” When we first enter into an intimate relationship, everything is exciting because everything is new. You’re getting to know your partner, and they’re getting to know you. On top of that, each of you is also changing as you adapt to the new relationship.

Over the years, we get to know our intimate partner better than any other person, and this is when the excitement in the relationship often starts to wane. What was once new and exciting can become old and boring.

But this doesn’t mean that romantic passion is destined to fizzle out over time. Plenty of research shows that couples can maintain excitement in their relationship by jointly engaging in novel experiences that promote personal growth. This could be taking a ballroom dance class, traveling, gardening—really any activity that the couple enjoys doing together and that entails some sort of novelty or challenge to overcome.

Continue reading at Psychology Today.

If you are interested in online marriage counseling, contact me or make an appointment.